my new Nintendo crush — the WiiU

So. Pretty old news that I absolutely love Nintendo. Not just the gaming systems, but the company too.

Well, the weekend before last, my friends at Nintendo and Brand About Town invited myself and a good handful of other ambassadors to the WiiU Experience that was visiting Chicago.

News about the WiiU has been out for a while, but not many have gotten a chance to try it. So Nintendo is touring their new system to various cities across the country for an invite only experience to try out the system and some of the new games.

The big thing with this new system is the Game Pad–the tablet-looking controller with a touch screen.

There have been a lot of skeptics of the WiiU. Even I wasn’t too sure what to think. I was definitely hopeful. And I’ve got to say I was delightfully surprised when I finally got my hands on it!

Each game utilizes the Game Pad differently. Some games barely use it, like Just Dance 4. Which, was tons of fun–I placed 2nd and 1st the two times I played. It’s pretty similar to the rest of the series, but just as fun. With New Super Mario Bros 2, the player with the Game Pad assists the other characters through the levels. Doesn’t sound all that exciting, but it was kind of tricky to place the blocks in the right places so my friends wouldn’t die.

Wii Fit U was a lot of fun. There’s a great balance game where you’ve got to run desserts through a banquet and not drop them. You watched your Mii run through the room on the TV, but you hold the Game Pad horizontal like a tray and you can watch your food items on that screen. (Though I recommend watching the screen so you don’t hit people and know where you’re going!) I personally liked the one where you shot water at mud-covered Miis. You utilized the Wii Fit board as a pedal for the water, and aimed with the Game Pad. Looking at the TV game you an overview of the whole game.

One of the great things? The Game Pad is surprisingly light. I found that when I was using it, it felt comfortable. Not bulky and overwhelming at all. At times I forgot I was holding this larger controller, it just felt natural with the game!

The game that surprised me, as far as my liking it–was ZombiU (by Ubisoft). I find zombies to be amusing, but most zombie video games are just a tad over the top in the gore department for me. This one’s not necessarily pretty, but it’s not too bad. I’ve got to admit I only tried the multiplayer mode. But it was fun. Humans vs. Zombies. I was trying for the humans (keyword: TRYING). It’s a first person shooter game, which I happen to secretly love… I’m just not that great at them. It uses the Pro Controller (which sort of resembles the old classic controllers). For me, it brought back all my memories of failing at Halo on the xbox. The walking is the same… use one circle pad to control where you look, and another one to walk… aka Erini looks at the sky and the floor a lot and walks in circles. The Game Pad is used to control the swarms of zombies. I gave it a good try, but after getting my face eaten off five times in a row, I passed the control on for someone else to try.

Anyway. The event was super fun. There’s still a lot of titles I didn’t get to try… and really, I’m just super excited about this system. You’ve really got to get your hands on it before you can pass any judgments. And try various games since they are all pretty different.

The event was great, just for getting to hang out with other ambassadors too! Rebekah was flown in, as was Lacey… and I finally got to meet Terence! It was good to see familiar faces from the Seattle trip too, like Melissa, Mikey and Sam. And of course my Chicago girls: Jenn, Rachel, and Jamie.

I was sad to leave early–during our amazing dinner, just before dessert. (But I was informed, my new friends Tessa and Kayla took care of that for me.) But I had a Steinomite show to go to, and though that day was busy, it was so much fun.

Now I’ve just got to wait until this holiday season when the WiiU will finally come out!

*Oh, in some more #NintendoEnthused news, I made the finals of the Mario Tennis Open 3DS tournament!

Game. Set. Match! (#NintendoEnthused Mario Tennis Open Tournament)

I’ve had a lot of Nintendo stuff going on this week. And it’s all been fantastic. Rather than try to tackle it all in one big post, I’m going to break it up into two. So I know you’re all dying to hear about my thoughts on the WiiU Experience, but that should hopefully be coming tomorrow.

Today, it’s all about Mario Tennis Open for the 3DS.

Having loved Mario Sports Mix for the Wii, I was excited to see what they’d do with Mario Tennis Open on the 3DS. Let me just say, I’ve only had this game since Monday and it’s already my numer two most played game. It’s a lot of fun.

There’s a slight learning curve with this, but they give you hints in the game. They’ll tell you how to use the “chance shots”–which are really like power shots. Not to mention, the touch screen has all the shot combinations right on it. So you can either hit the appropriate shot on the screen, or hit the corresponding button(s).

You can play singles or doubles, exhibition matches or compete in a tournament, or there’s also fun little special games like Ring Shot (hitting balls through coin rings to earn points before time elapses), and Super Mario Tennis (hitting balls against a screen to play through the original Super Mario Bros levels). Special games are key. It’s through the special games that you really earn coins. And coins let you modify your Miis.

 I mean, look at my little Mii in her adorable Bullet Bill dress, with POW Block sweat bands and racket. Not only does she look cute, but these outfits help improve my stats. There are also character costumes too, so if I wanted to, I could dress my Mii up like Yoshi. (Oh, and search for QR codes, because thanks to those, I have 6 more yoshis and Metal Mario as playable characters. You can unlock more as you continue to play through the game.)

The gyro motion sensors come into play in this game. And at first I didn’t think I’d like them, but really, they are key for doing well in this game.

Now, thanks to my amazing friends at Brand About Town, I’m participating in a Mario Tennis Open tournament. Round one was yesterday, and I was up against my longtime Nintendo friend & rival, Rachel. I thought for sure I was doomed. But miracle of miracles, this is one game I can beat her in, no blue shells required! (And thanks to Rach for being a super sport about it.)

Since I’m still in the tournament, I won’t give out any more tips. At least not until I win it all. (Granted, I’m up against my buddy TOPolk, so yeah, this could all be over by tomorrow night. He plays this game every night.) But this game was a nice surprise and I can’t wait to get more outfits and win all the cups! (Though maybe not in doubles–that was a bit tricky for me, especially to trust that my computer partner to hit the ball all the time.)

Anyway. This has been a great game. If you’ve got a 3DS you should check it out. Play tournaments against friends locally (and only one of you needs the game card!), or play strangers online in sets or quick “tie-breaker” matches.

Don your skorts. Put on your sweat bands. Practice your grunts. And get ready for a fun time. I know I sound like an ad, but this really is a great game and makes my top 3 list for the 3DS.

Nintendo Enthused: Just call me Tanook-Rini!

Last Thursday was a fun day for me. Not only did I have Reading Band, but I got a called that FedEx had a delivery for me! I love surprise packages. However, waiting all day and evening until I got home–which was around 10-ish, I think–was not easy.

I got giddy, and giggly, when I opened this up. I’ve been overly excited about the new Mario family titles coming to the 3DS. In fact, there were so many that I liked and wanted, that I just sort of lost track of them. (Plus, with my previous unemployment, games weren’t in the budget at all.) So receiving this amazing Super Mario 3D Land package unleashed some sort of bouncy school girl in me.

Now, in case you didn’t know, Brand About Town is simply the best and always send the most awesomest gifts. This one was no exception. Included with my new 3DS game was the mirror shown above, a Mario hat and mustache, and… my very own Tanooki suit hood! (If you follow #NintendoEnthused on twitter, I’m sure you’ve seen a whole horde of us suiting up.)

I’m in love with it. So much that I took it to work with me on Friday. (Which it came in very handy because it’s pretty chilly up there.) I think I’ve worn this, around the house, at least once a day so far. Also, I’ve been playing the game every day since I got it…

… and I’m now in the middle of the last world (World 8). I don’t think I’ve ever gone through a game this quickly. And I’ve been finding all three of the star coins in most levels now. I’m even going back to get ones I’ve missed. I truly hope that there are bonus levels past World 8, because I’m at W8-6 right now, and I’m not ready for it to be over.

I was talking with TOPolk on twitter, and we both agree that Nintendo got it right with this game. It’s not insultingly easy, but it’s not so much of a challenge people just give up. Now, there are nice little boosts Nintendo’s put in there if you are having trouble. Die 5 times in a level? Nintendo gives you a shiny, sparkly, white Invincible Tanooki suit. I’ve definitely used this more than once to get through something that was just getting to be frustrating. However, this suit won’t keep you from just walking/falling off the edge of the world. (Something I’m also familiar with.) Die 10 times? You get a P-Wing Power Up (something you might remember from Super Mario Bros 3–not sure if it’s made an appearance anywhere else). It takes you to the end of the level. I’ve never used it, and it’s only been offered to me once. Sort of reminds me of the Super Donkey Kong on Donkey Kong Country Returns… At least with the Invincible Tanooki suit, you’re still playing the game rather than watching the AI go through it.

This game is amazing. I highly recommend picking it up. Especially if you’re a longtime Mario fan. (I’m also happy Mario Kart 7 is coming out for the 3DS soon.) There’s lots of nice hidden surprises, and this has been one game where I’m actually eagerly trying to find them all rather than just trying to get through everything. And when you add in extra bonuses for StreetPasses, well, the fun never stops. Even if the Princess is never in the f*cking castle.

Fun Fact: The Tanooki suit is based off of a raccoon-dog, commonly known as Tanuki. And well, a lot of people think of the Tanooki suit as a raccoon or fox suit–but it’s not. Tanuki are a different family from the raccoon–though there’s been a lot of debate about how they should be categorized taxonomically… and well, yeah, not foxes. Those would be Kitsune.

Important Facts: The game, hat and Tanooki hood (a Red Wolf hood from Spirit Hoods–completely faux fur, btw) were all a gift from Nintendo and Brand About Town. I did not receive them in return for writing this, nor any type of payment. The opinions here are all my own.

and the nerdiness continues: how the 3DS blew my mind

Okay, so the Nintendo 3DS event was amazing.  Getting to see friends that I’ve missed and meet a TON of seriously awesome other Brand Ambassadors totally made the trip for me.  (Read more here.)  Icing on the cake: a complete mass of nerdiness. The Nintendo 3DS is absolutely incredible.

look how cute I am in Mii form!

One of my favorite commercials for the 3DS?  This one:

This? It’s a game changer, and quite literally.  I was very interested in just how this would work.  It’s 3D without glasses.  That’s huge.  I hate 3D glasses — there has never in the history of ever been a pair that has played nice with real prescription glasses.  Thus, watching movies in 3D is not my first pick.  Playing the 3DS was quite awesome.  (I’m going to run out of positive adjectives soon…)  It really is 3D without glasses.  Games and pictures — yes, you can take pictures — in 3D.

The best way to experience this is the AR Games.  AR is Augmented Reality.  It brings the 3D games into your world.  Those cards you see in the commercial, point the 3D cameras at them and BAM, you’re playing in your world.  The same with the Face Raders game — and both of these are included.  Between this and Street Pass, you can keep yourself entertained for a while without actually purchasing another game.  Street Pass was a favorite for us Ambassadors.  As you pass someone with a 3DS, if you have this activated, you collect their Mii, which will in turn you can collect puzzle pieces as well as play a game called Find Mii.  In this game, you’re the ruler of your kingdom — which, thank you Nintendo for recognizing my royalty — but you’re trapped in a cage.  You need heros — other Miis — to set you free from the ghosts.

As I mentioned, Street Pass only works when you have it activated.  This is something really awesome with the 3DS; it has built in parental controls.  You set the passcode and you can block the ability to share and receive information from other 3DS’.  Also, you can control your little one’s ability to use the 3DS.  You can control the amount of 3DS with the depth slider on the right side of the top screen, but with the parental controls you can just turn it off.  Now, why do this?  Well viewing 3D images is not recommended for children under 6.  But with all these controls, Nintendo is putting the ball in your court.  Do your own research and decide what’s best for your kids.  That’s the only way to do it.

Now, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to get a new game since we were getting a gift card.  Originally, I heard good things about Pilot Wings.  So I was really tempted to get this.  By the time I got to the store, I’d only done half of the game demos — so I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted.  But in the end, I went with Combat of Giants – Dinosaurs 3D.

Rini picking a Dinosaur game? Never…. Yeah, hard to pass this one up.  I’ve read a little bit about it and even asked some of the Nintendo employees about it.  At the point of where I was when we shopped, of the games I’d tried I really liked Street Fighter IV and Steel Diver.  But I wasn’t sure I’d dedicate hours to them.  And after trying Pilot Wings, I’m glad I went with this game instead.  Pilot Wings is still fun and challenging, but just not quite my scene.  With this game I’m able to get the SMASH & KILL that I enjoy as well as OMG DINOSAURS.

It’s not an overly complicated game.  A tyrant dinosaur has overtaken the world as an evil overlord, you must defeat him and his minions.  You have a variety of dinos to pick from, and yes, you can customize them.  I haven’t unlocked it just yet, but trust me, I will be playing with a pink t-rex very soon.  You name your giant, you customize how it looks (including making it a skeleton), you equip it with various tools and resources.  As you roam around you come across the minions you’ve got to destroy.  It’s not “memorize all these combos” strategy, but there is strategy to defeat your opponent.  But, in saying that, it’s a game that I can indeed spend hours on, or I can step back and just play casually.  It’s just what I want in a game.  (Video trailer here.)

Now, after a while, my eyes do tire.  As one employee from Nintendo put it, it’s like wearing new glasses, your eyes need to adjust.  But overall, I’m absolutely sold on this device.  It’s going to push other game makers to take big steps too.  Hell, this will make all technology and gadgets have to step up.  But in saying that…  I don’t know how responsible it would be to make a 3D TV with technology like the 3DS unless there’s a lot more education about it out there.  (Basically, I’m saying it might be risky letting people watch 3D images for that long, because let’s face it, people will — at the same time, what’s stopping us from doing that with the 3DS?)  … either way, whatever.  I love my 3DS and that’s that.  I’m a little sad that NO ONE in Chicago that I’ve been near has one so I can collect more Miis in Street Pass.  Go out and get one now so we can play.  Please and thanks.

Enough of me rambling.  Go out and try one for yourself.  It’s freaking amazing.

While Nintendo and Brand About Town did pay for my flight and hotel out to Seattle, and I did receive the Nintendo 3DS as a gift, and a gift card for the store… I was in no way paid to write about it.  These opinions are purely my own.

that time Nintendo flew me out to Seattle

I’ve been talking about and mentioning this trip a lot.  A few days in Seattle all courtesy of Nintendo and Brand About Town.  Nintendo’s new 3DS handheld system has just launched this past week, and well, what better way to get to know the system than at the Nintendo of America headquarters?  So, thus, about 100 Brand Ambassadors (almost all of us in the program plus some extra bloggers/internet folk) all here for one big geeky party.

Day 1 – Thursday

I knew a good handful of bloggers would be coming from Chicago… maybe 6-ish… but there were definitely more than that when we landed and finally found everyone.  And that wasn’t even everyone.  When we finally got into the cocktail reception, well, the Chicago group looked small.  There were a lot of people.  Anyway, before that.

Despite this being a Nintendo trip, one of the things I’ve really been excited about was seeing some of my friends again.  I haven’t seen Rachel since possibly before she was pregnant with Dylan (who’s now 3 months and ADORABLE, and yes, came with us to Seattle).  Even longer since I’ve seen Jamie, Katelin, and Doni.  It’s been since the fall since I’ve seen Rebekah and Stacey.  I’ve never met Lacey.  And, well, the last time I saw Jenn we were very drunk and something about CHEESEBURGERS!!!!  So.  Yes.  Getting to spend time with some amazing women that I’ve missed a lot was something I’ve been very much looking forward to.

The reception was amazing.  The food?  Holy crap.  Amazing pulled pork, seafood, duck, this watermelon-cheese thing on an asian spoon… and then dessert… mini cupcakes, tarts, and CAKE BALLS.  It was all incredible.  I even had steak on a biscuit, which I later learned was actually a small piece of Kobe beef, in a port wine reduction.  I drank champagne (before switching to a rum and coke).  I dance.  I stuffed an entire mini cupcake in my mouth.  And at the end of the night I got to head to my private suite.  I was a little sad about missing some lady-bonding time, but really, I’m okay with it.  For one, it kinda makes me feel like even more of a rock star for having a swanky hotel suite all to myself.  And secondly, it’s nice to come back and relax, turn up Jon Drake & The Shakes as loud as I want on the in-room iPod dock/speakers, set the heat as high as I want, and be as naked as I want for as long as I want.  Sharky* and I enjoyed it.

Day 2 – Friday

Despite going to bed after midnight, I still woke up at 5am.  My body was still on central time.  I wasn’t the only one awake though.  So after getting ready, I spent the morning with Rachel & Dylan before heading down to the breakfast buffet.  Bacon and fruit and tiny condiments… We boarded buses at 9 — and despite our bus leaving last because I forgot my ID in my room, we still beat everyone to Nintendo HQ (aka The Mothership*).

The Nintendo building is just amazing*.  They moved in back in May of 2010.  It’s LEED Gold certified — which means not only is it awesome, it makes a minimal impact on the environment.  Everything from spinny vents on the floor so the heat rises naturally, to bamboo floors, and even a living roof.  And it’s done beautifully.  Even if this wasn’t the Nintendo building, I’d want to live there.  The building is divided into four color coded and themed sections: Mario (red), Yoshi (green), Wario (blue) and Donkey Kong (yellow).  You can find conference rooms with names like “Funky Kong”, “Toad”, and “Moo Moo Meadows”… or one of my favorites “Another Castle”.  The top floor is dedicated to the Zelda franchise and also has some amazing garden areas.  For lunch, we ate at Cafe Mario.  Nintendo didn’t just plop down in any old corporate office.  They thought about it, and made it not only beautiful but fun and responsible.  And from the employees we talked to, it seems like an amazing company to work for.

Back to the event… They divided us into various groups.  I was in the Daisy group.  We rotated through the areas, trying a lot of different games & features: Street Fighter IV, Mii Maker, Asphalt 3D, Pilot Wings, Steel Diver, Nintendogs + cats, Kid Icarus and AR Games.  Now, I actually want to dedicate an entire post to the system itself and the games, so I’ll talk more about those later.  In the middle of the day, my group went on its tour of the building and then to the Nintendo store located conveniently inside the offices.  Awesome bonus from Nintendo?  A gift card for the store and some discounts if you wanted to buy some systems.  Kid. In. Candy. Store.  OMG.  I am very thankful for self control.  I walked away with a water bottle, wallet, tshirt, and a game.  So tempted to buy two games and a little plush goomba… and everything else in the store.

lots of brand ambassadors! and if you look closely, you can see men!

We finished up the day with what everyone had been waiting for… The Oprah Moment.  Everyone walked away with a brand new Nintendo 3DS.  Yeah.  So I’m now in love with my shiny new Cosmo Black 3DS.

Hard to follow that, right?  Well, our massive group split up and we went out on the town for dinner.  I choose the Purple Cafe.  I was tired by this point, but it was awesome.  Private area in the loft.  Super nice server.  And a great menu (we got an abbreviated one for our group).  I went with the lobster baked mac and cheese and a malbec to drink.  The dish was amazing, though rich and heavy.  So I barely made a dint into my deceptively large bowl.  Dessert? A ruby port chocolate torte.  After dinner I crashed.

Rebekah and I are staying an extra night here (crashing with a friend of mine), so we can explore the city a bit more.  Then it’s back to the Chicago so I can start classes on Monday AND sign my lease.

It was an amazingly diverse group and I met a lot of really amazing people.  Too many to list.  But I hope to keep in contact with them via twitter as well as hopefully see them again soon either at another Nintendo event or just elsewhere!

*Yes, I brought my stuffed hammerhead shark — and yes, I do sleep with it.
*Totally said first by Jenn.
*Take my word on it, because other than in the main conference room, we couldn’t take pictures — which, well, I couldn’t find my camera anyway, so you’re stuck with cell pictures.
***If you were on the trip, say hi! Remind me if/when we met, your twitter handle, and yeah, let’s keep in touch!

The flight, hotel room, and Nintendo 3DS were all gifts from Nintendo & Brand About Town.  I was not asked to write about this trip.  The opinions here are my own. I cannot say thanks enough to the wonderful people at Nintendo and Brand About Town.

Get Enthused. (I am!)

It’s Thursday!  It’s Thursday!  That means…..

So freaking excited.  I get to see some of my favorite ladyfriends AND meet a lot of other geeky nerds.  And, you know, the whole “getting to visit Nintendo of America Headquarters as well as check out the new Nintendo 3DS system” thing… that’s pretty sweet too.

Enthused: let me wow you with my athletic prowess!

Probably the last thing you think when you see me is “athletic prowess”. But I’ll have you know… I played soccer for a full season. Back in seventh grade. And um, yeah, we only won once. But I did surprise my friends in China when we played badminton — apparently my spastic reactions do help some.  And there are at least two touchdowns to my name from my youth group days in high school.  But this has nothing to do with soccer or badminton or parking lot football.

It has everything to do with me apparently dominating on the basketball court.

Thanks to Nintendo, I’m a superstar athlete.  At least virtually.

The ever wonderful folks at Nintendo and Brand About Town invited me, and 29 other ambassador teams, to try out Mario Sports Mix for the Wii.  I was pumped.  And super excited.  And quickly contacted Rebekah to see if she would be my partner.  Sadly though, a trip to visit her was just not in the budget… so I ended up playing solo.   It was just me versus Ilina (of Dirt & Noise) and her husband.

So it was time to practice.

thumb warm ups

Luckily, Nintendo & BAT sent us these awesome sweatbands to get us motivated.  And because, yeah, it was time to kick some butt.

Mario Sports Mix is awesome.  It’s got 4 games — Basketball, volleyball, hockey and dodgeball.  And despite the nervous and tiny middle-schooler in me, I was most excited about dodgeball.  I know, I KNOW.  But at least this time I would actually have balls flying toward me, and I wouldn’t have to rely on cowering in fear in the back until I was inevitably one of the last people standing.  (Why oh why was this my strategy?)  However, Wii dodgeball?  Bring it on.

I tried out the games, realizing that volleyball and hockey weren’t really in the picture for the competition.  In all fairness, I didn’t quite give hockey much of a try.  I blame that on the stage I picked.  Some western junction.  It had a turntable in the middle of the playing area.  Which turned.  AND THEN A TRAIN RAN THROUGH MY GAME.

And volleyball?  I’m going to blame that on playing AGAINST Bowser Jr.  That little guy is a BRAT.  Each player has a special move, and his?  He blobs paint all over the court making you slide around, unable to stand up and get the ball.  But is it oh so awesome when your Mii breaks the screen and gets this killer “oh it’s on” face and does their special move.

So, Ilina, her husband and I decided on Basketball.  I had beaten the computer a couple of times, and was feeling confident.  I even tried playing the computer on “hard”… which well… you can see I barely scraped by playing AI versions of my mom and brother…

Eventually… it was time for the game…

bring it.
bring it.

It was me and Yoshi vs Ilina and her husband!  I’ve got to admit, I was really nervous.  Not only had I not met Ilina before — so I had NO CLUE if she or her husband were avid gamers or not — but I was going to be playing 2-on-1.  But there was no going back now.

action shot! taken during the game.

Well, I think we were all in for a little surprise.  It’s hard to sound humble, or be humble, when you are completely dominating.  (Maybe I’m too used to Rachel COMPLETELY PWNING MY ASS in Mario Kart, that I didn’t realize I was kinda good at this stuff…)  I never thought I would have loved a basketball game so much, and that’s not just because I was winning.   Game play is relatively simple.  I used a nunchuck, but you don’t have to.  It’s a lot of running around, shaking the remote and pressing A.  Or at times, pressing as many random buttons and shaking the Wiimote as much as you can as soon as you are close to the goal.  There still is some strategy.  Setting up combos, passing to your partner (and if you’re playing 1-player, then you can change characters — a very helpful thing).  But yes, there I was… rocking out on the court like I was Lebron or something.

I WON. 56-9.

I’ve got to completely thank Ilina and her husband for a fun night.  Before we could play another game, her boys had the Wiimotes and my 10-year-old sister was itching to play as well.  It was a fun time, and I’m looking forward to meeting Ilina at a future (super awesome) Nintendo event.

I’ve also got to thank Brand About Town and Nintendo for this awesome opportunity.  This game is a lot of fun.  I’m looking forward to more games — so if you want to play, send me your friend code!  I’m curious to see if more than two people can connect online to play (*ahem* Rachel & Jenn)…  But yeah, gotta thank them for the uber fun night… plus, what I am now dubbing my lucky socks:

As a Brand Ambassador, Nintendo & Brand About Town occasionally send me free stuff, like this game.  However, the opinions above are my own and in absolutely no way influenced by either Nintendo or BAT.

Enthused: this sh*t is bananas. B-A-N-A-N-A-S. (Donkey Kong Country Returns)

As a Brand Ambassador for Nintendo (through Brand About Town), I receive free products from time to time.  I’ll admit, it’s a really sweet relationship — especially given my deeply rooted love I’ve had for Nintendo that started since I first discovered gaming.  My opinions stated below are my own, influenced only by my own experience.

This week I went through another adventure of the mystery package, and yet again, I received an amazing surprise from Nintendo and Brand About Town.  Something I’d been hoping for — and boy it felt good to cross that off my Christmas list…

All the joys of DK I experienced as a kid, returned in one swoop!  With bananas!  Okay, before I get ahead of myself…

Volcano blows up and these tribal mask/head guys pop out.  They sweep the island, hypnotizing the animals with their sweet jungle mind-controling groove.  With this they’ve gotten the animals to do their bidding — steal all the bananas.  All except DK at least.  And oh they try, but DK is just like “uh, no. WHABAM!”  And the game is on…

What these tribal head people want with bananas, I have no idea.  But they’ve taken all of DK & Diddy’s and you’re supposed to get them back.  Brand About Town helped with that, with their crate of bananas that came with the game.

The controls take some time getting used to.  There is definitely a learning curve… but according to the packaging, this game is supposed to allow players (well, two) of any skill level to play cooperatively together.  Thus, enhancing the gaming experience for all.  When I play two player with some other people, I’ll let you know how that goes.

But basically, if you remember Donkey Kong for Super Nintendo — which is how I spent a lot of my gaming youth — then the game here will look familiar.  Better graphics and a whole new controller setup… but it’s still got that great DK feel.  Which makes me uber happy.

Things you should know:

  • You only have two hearts to start out with.  Which, well, sucks when you’re getting used to a new game because if you’re like me you’ll get it all confused and one of those stupid giant parrot vultures will walk into you.  Twice.  And then you lose a balloon (aka a life).  But once you get Diddy (for solo gaming), you technically get 4 hearts, but once you get hit twice, Diddy and his awesome barrel jetpack are gone!  You can also buy the option to add another heart if you want.
    Also:  It’s sort of rediculous how easy it is to kill DK.  I mean, come on.  He’s a HUGE FREAKING GORILLA!
  • There are secret under caves.  You’ll see a little bit of a change in the ground — no more dirt, and well, it might have this blue glow to it.  Ground pound on that for some awesome bonuses.  (Plus, there are other things to ground pound for extra fun — play an area in the background for more bananas and points? Yes please!)
  • Always take the time to blow the dandelion seeds… And pound the yellow flowers.
  • Collect puzzle pieces for something special… no, I haven’t completed a puzzle yet with all the pieces, BACK OFF.
  • At the end of a level, bust a barrel to receive a prize!  It’s sort of like how you’d end the level on Mario Brothers 3.
  • Don’t blow all your coins at Grandpa Cranky’s shop…  (So far, I have yet to find that parrot Squawky worth the coins.)
  • Master the shaking movements and actions quickly… otherwise you’ll find yourself barrel rolling when you don’t want to… like when you’re near a cliff… (though, there are certain times when you should do this… and then jump.  Remember to jump.)
  • The rhino still rules.
  • Sunset level.  Just… just… wow.

Lastly, you should probably give your fingers a nice good stretch!  I’ve been playing with the nunchuck, and boy wow are my hands hurting some.  Here’s hoping I can convince a certain someone to give me a hand massage…

Enthused: Professor Layton & The Unwound Future

About a month ago I received a super awesome package from Nintendo & Brand About Town…  (Have I mentioned I love BAT?  They’re incredible and make me want to do my happy dance 24/7.  Not to mention that Justine is probably one of these sweetest persons I’ve ever met.)  Anyway.  Once I stopped bouncing around in joy I got down to ripping into this great gift: The lastest installment of the Professor Layton series: Professor Layton & The Unwound Future… and this kickass swanky mini top hat*.

This is actually the first Prof. Layton game I’ve ever played, but I love puzzle and strategy games.  Don’t get me wrong, I love a good round of SMASH & KILL too… but I’d probably pick a strategy game first.  Best thing about this series, even though it’s a story driven game, you can just jump in with any title.  I don’t need to know anything about the game to get started.  It gives me little “how to’s” along the way in case I do need some help.

I also have a mildly short attention span for story based games… Luckily that’s not an issue with this.  There’s enough puzzles thrown in that it’s not too long before I find another one and dive right in.

If I can give you any hint about the puzzles:

  • Don’t over think them all.  Yeah, some of them are tricky.  But some times it is the easy answer.
  • Use the freaking memo function! Doodle all over that screen until you figure it out.  It truly does help.

I want to give a HUGE thanks to BAT & Nintendo for this awesome package.  Without it, my hours stuck at the airports for my recent vacation would have sucked majorly.  Also, now that I have a 90-minute commute one way… yeah… going to beat this game.

*With such a swanky top hat… I did what any nintendo enthused gal would do… Put it on my cats.

Tuija: “Where’s the bunny??”


of friends and games (weight. stop. love.)

On Friday I had the honor of hosting a movie and game night through Brand About Town, Nintendo and Netflix.  An opportunity for my friends and I to gather, watch a movie instantly through Netflix streaming on my Wii… and then play some games.

People gathered, we had a lot of amazing snacks and goodies — mini cupcakes by Sugar Bliss!  A Mario Kart tournament took place (I took 3rd), and some old school Nickelodeon shows were watched.  And overall, it was a grand time.


Now, I say this because during the night a comment was made, and it wasn’t right.  A harsh comment.  “People who are size zero should die.”

I looked at my roommate as she stared blankly, shocked at comment, and the conversation around her.  “But…. I’m a size zero.”

Now.  I love all my friends.  And I realize that none of us are perfect (myself included).  But that comment was just wrong.  Uncalled for.  Spoken out of a personal issue that shouldn’t have been express as it was.

Lovely’s put it down beautifully… and I highly suggest you go over and read her post:

Weight. Stop. Love.

Weight is a very hard, personal thing.  I’ve struggled with it for years, even though I’ve never been overweight.  I’m 5’4″.  And last I checked (which was a while ago) I was around 140-145lbs.  Thing is, I’m still the same size as I was in high school, yet I’ve gained about 20 or so pounds.  (Size 11 in juniors, 6-8 in women’s/misses.)

It’s taken a lot of work for me to just be happy with who I am.  To feel beautiful.  We need to stop perpetuating hate — just like Lovely states — and we need to love each other, and support and uplift each other, for the wonderful, beautiful people we are.

Let’s join her in promoting this message of love and respect.