Blueshell Magnet http://blueshellmagnet.com Behind the wheel. Thu, 22 Oct 2009 17:15:29 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.1 Different Objectives http://blueshellmagnet.com/2009/10/different-objectives/ http://blueshellmagnet.com/2009/10/different-objectives/#comments Thu, 22 Oct 2009 17:15:29 +0000 Snag http://blueshellmagnet.com/?p=106 One problem I have continually had through out many Mario Kart games is the different objectives for the human player and the AI players. For example, in Super Circuit, you are attempting to collect coins as you go through the tracks. But the AI does not have this… hindrance, if you will. The AI is only trying to take first place in each race. Not only that, in MKSC, MKDS, and MKWii, the human players are attempting to get star ratings which pretty much require 4 first place finishes, as a prerequisite. So, not only are we trying to take first place, but were trying to do something above and beyond that. The AI doesn’t care about rating because there is no rating. They can play as “dirty” and as imperfect as they want; all that matters is #1.

Consider, for example, you are trying to achieve a double star rating. You need to take first place in all 4 races and be in 1st for most of the time and not fall off, etc. You may run a really good race but only get one star. And you next closest opponent’s rating? By the standard you are set to, they would get a silver trophy and probably get a rating of D or E.

This might be a criticism of the rating system, which we have discussed before. This may just be me whining. As human players, are we held to a higher standard? Should the ultimate objective be the same for all, human or AI? I can’t account for Super Mario Kart, but MK64 and MK Double Dash don’t have the star ratings and the only thing for the player is to finish in first place in the cup. In Double Dash, your point total is recorded, but does not determine if you unlock anything. I feel that this is ideal. Those games were still considered to be good games and were challenging, but maintained the same standards for all racers.

What do you think?

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Mario Kart Game Ratings http://blueshellmagnet.com/2009/10/mario-kart-game-ratings/ http://blueshellmagnet.com/2009/10/mario-kart-game-ratings/#comments Wed, 21 Oct 2009 21:14:12 +0000 Snag http://blueshellmagnet.com/?p=104 I was recently introduced to the website, metacritic, and page that compiles all reviews of a game, movie, cd, etc. and gives it one aggregate score.

I was curious to see how the Mario Kart games stack up. Unsurprisingly, all of the games (excluding the original) scored 80 or greater (out of 100). But I was surprised to see how they were ranked among each other. The list is as follows:

1. Mario Kart Super Circuit (93)
2. Mario Kart DS (91)
3. Mario Kart Double Dash (87)
4. Mario Kart 64 (83)
5. Mario Kart Wii (82)

Remember, these scores come from multiple sources, and as anyone who is familiar with statistics knows, it only takes one score to screw up the whole average, but from my experience, I don’t see how these ranking can be right. Here are my thoughts:

Mario Kart DS blew compared to the others. It’s a good game and I am glad I played it, but the tracks weren’t particularly difficult, Rainbow Road specifically. I literally blew through this game in two weeks. Not challenging in the least. I would call it the worst of the series.

MK64 and MK Super Circuit has the same major flaw when racing in grand prix mode: they claimed you were racing 7 other players, but only 3 of them would score in the top 4 of each race. Both are good games, but have a limited scope of game play. As far as difficulty, each of these have one or two tracks that are particularly hard at 150cc or Mirror modes. According to metacritic, I agree with the Mario Kart 64 score, but could place Super Circuit lower, around an 85.

Now, my favorite games, Double Dash and Wii. Double Dash has an interesting gameplay element and strategy for selecting characters. Not only that, one of the best features of all of the games: All tracks mode. I wish there was an all games mode where you could race all tracks from all games. Over all, a smooth game that is challenging and fun.

And then Wii. Almost perfect. A new element with bikes, dozens of unlockable aspects, and some really fun new tracks. Literally, months of gameplay is provided by this game. I would rank this slightly below Double Dash because of overall enjoyment.

So, I must ask, how are my judgements so off here? Am I the only one with this opinion? Is it possible these scores are related to release date (newer games lose flavor after several sequals), game availability (handhelds cost less and games cost less, thus more are available to the public) or are these games REALLY that good?

Anyway, here is a link to the review that gave Mario Kart Wii the lowest score of 42 out of 100. Read it and tell me if it isn’t entirely convoluted.

http://www.gamechronicles.com/reviews/wii/mariokart/mariokart.htm

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Super Mario Kart on Wii Virtual Console http://blueshellmagnet.com/2009/10/super-mario-kart-on-wii-virtual-console/ http://blueshellmagnet.com/2009/10/super-mario-kart-on-wii-virtual-console/#comments Mon, 19 Oct 2009 13:08:28 +0000 Snag http://blueshellmagnet.com/?p=107 As many of you know, I am a huge fan of the Mario Kart series (duh).  As such, in one was or another, I own most of the games, but there is one that I do not own, and that is the original, Super Mario Kart.

Since I live in America, at this moment, the only way I would be able to own this game is to purchase a Super Nintendo (which would obviously be used) and a copy of Super Mario Kart for the system (also used).  If I were to purchase these via ebay, they would cost a minimum of $50.  $50 that Nintendo won’t see a dime for since they have gotten all they can out of that system.

Now, when I heard about the Virtual Console idea, I thought, “GENIUS!  I could own EVERY game Nintendo ever made (except Gameboy games, but I think they should do that anyway) and play them all on this ONE console.  But Nintendo is lacking several staples from their library from this list, namely Super Mario Kart.

I see no GOOD reason for Nintendo not to release this on Virtual Console.  Super Mario Kart was the #3 top selling SNES game.  It would seem to me that it would be quite successful in the new format.  Also, it has already been made for the Virtual Console in Japan.  The transfer to US consoles shouldn’t be extremely hard.

Bottom line is that somewhere down the line, I will own this game, and chances are, I will wait until it is EVENTUALLY put on Vitural Console.  But there is a chance I will spend $50+ to get the SNES and the old cartridge of Super Mario Kart.  $50, as mentioned before, that Nintendo won’t get, but could see at least $10 of it if this were released on VC.

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A new copy of Super Circuit http://blueshellmagnet.com/2009/10/a-new-copy-of-super-circuit/ http://blueshellmagnet.com/2009/10/a-new-copy-of-super-circuit/#comments Fri, 16 Oct 2009 12:04:37 +0000 Snag http://blueshellmagnet.com/?p=105 I recently received a new copy of MKSC (for Mario Kart Day). I played through the 50cc and 100cc regular cups once and here are the results (just for fun):

40 races
39 1st place finishes (1 second)
10 gold cups
12 stars (some doubles), 1 A rating

Also, fun note, I had a blue shell chasing me in a 50cc cup, and I actually out ran it. I went for about 10 seconds without slowing down at all, so it gave up!

Nothing really important, but I felt I would share my achievement.

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Bad Interface Choices 101 http://blueshellmagnet.com/2009/09/bad-interface-choices-101/ http://blueshellmagnet.com/2009/09/bad-interface-choices-101/#comments Sun, 06 Sep 2009 13:18:43 +0000 Blueshell Magnet http://blueshellmagnet.com/?p=100 I don’t know who designed the menu system for Mario Kart Wii, but whoever it is should either be fired or required to talk to me for three hours on the concept of user interfaces.

On the main screen of Mario Kart Wii, you can see the cups you’ve won as they are displayed on your license. This was a very good idea, it makes it very easy to see which race you’ll want to play next before you even start the game. The problem with this system is that it only shows you the medal you got (that is, gold, silver or bronze.) Unfortunately, there is no way for you to see your rankings.

I am in the process of trying to get a star rating on every cup. I know I have some star ratings for each class, but I can never remember which class I need to be working on. Class, however, is the FIRST thing I have to decide after I click on Single Player Race. Choosing Class first is not *bad* per-se, but I then have to choose a character, vehicle and drift type before I can even see the rankings that I have in each cup. At which point, if I have picked the wrong class I have to back all the way out and start over again.

Now, this could be easily solved by having a “View Records” tab, which actually showed you your racing records for each track and not a bunch of mildly interesting but mostly unimportant statistics. (Some of the statistics are neat to see and I do wish they had more of them, but that is not the point I am trying to drive at right now.)

But a second solution and potentially more beneficial one would be to simply choose the Cup right after the Class. First off you would choose a Class, then choose a cup. This way, if you chose the wrong Class you would only jump back one page to make your change. After choosing the Cup you could then choose your Character, Vehicle and Drift and you would be set to go. You could even throw in a “Here are your settings, all set?” page at the end.

Is this important? Overall, this really isn’t going to bother most gamers who play Mario Kart Wii. It’s a little thing. That said, little stuff matters. It’s the small fine tuned perfections that make a good game into a great game.

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Coins on the race track http://blueshellmagnet.com/2009/08/coins-on-the-race-track/ http://blueshellmagnet.com/2009/08/coins-on-the-race-track/#comments Wed, 19 Aug 2009 15:11:22 +0000 Snag http://blueshellmagnet.com/?p=65 Now, I can only attest to half of the experience for this particular topic since I have only played Mario Kart Super Circuit, and not Super Mario Kart, but I am still very opinionated.

One of the worst things I think was done in the Mario Kart Series is to put coins on the race track. I know it was part of the original, and people make mistakes and can amend those. In fact, it was amended! Mario Kart 64 had NO COINS in it. But then it game back in Super Circuit.

Here is my biggest problem with coins: they basically make you drive in a particular path (or at least attempt to get you to go in that path) for the whole race. In my opinion, it is hard enough to get a good rating while battling with you opponents, attempting to stay on the course, and dealing with whatever else, even before dealing with the coins.

I think the idea that you have to have so many coins to unlock certain things (like extra cups) is actually a creative way of doing it, but I don’t think the number of coins should determine your rating. This is why when I have gold on all cup in Mario Kart Super Circuit (only one away) I will consider the game conquered.

Apparently, Nintendo developers (and possibly other gamers) had the same thoughts, as I do, and coins have not made an appearance on the race track since.

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Mario Kart Wii: Three Star Rating http://blueshellmagnet.com/2009/08/mario-kart-wii-three-star-rating/ http://blueshellmagnet.com/2009/08/mario-kart-wii-three-star-rating/#comments Mon, 17 Aug 2009 16:30:57 +0000 Blueshell Magnet http://blueshellmagnet.com/?p=68 If you don’t want to hear my personal philosophy on the rating system, you might want to scroll down.

The Rant:

coverIf there is one thing that I loathe in video games, one thing that I cannot stand, one thing that sends me into controller wrenching rage, it’s arbitrary rating systems. Having a rating system is bad enough. HONESTLY, if I wanted a computer to tell me I suck at video games, I’d write program to insult me while I played.

The rating system in Mario Kart Wii (and DS) is absolutely worthless. All me to reiterate: the RATING SYSTEM is ABSOLUTELY WORTHLESS.

Let me explain.

First off, the rating system is a cross between a letter grading system and a star rating system. You can get an E, D, C, B, A, ☆, ☆☆ or ☆☆☆ rating. E is bad, it means you are a terrible person and probably don’t have any friends. It also means you need to play more Mario Kart or go back to collecting those pet rocks you find in your driveway. ☆☆☆ Is the best rating you can get. It means that you are either an arrogant hack, who doesn’t have any friends or a nerdy gamer who has playing nothing but Mario Kart for 5 years straight and as a result doesn’t have any friends. (Please send your complaints to complaints@blueshellmagnet.com)

Having one rating system is bad enough, having two is downright ridiculous. How am I suppose to know that a star is better than an A? How do I know when the star ratings stop? Most star ratings go to five stars! ( ☆☆☆☆☆ ) Why does this one go to three?

Secondly, a rating system is designed to judge and compare things. When I am awarded an A, I don’t have a clue as to what I am being compared to. I won all the races in first place, I finished a full lap in front of the computer players, (*cough* 50cc) I blocked a huge number of items, etc… Maybe I feel I did awesome on this set of races. I felt really good about it and everything went well. Yet, my rating is lower than last time I played, even though I thought I did awful back then.

Even more annoying than Nintendo’s mutated rating system is the lack of documentation that supports it. I could live with the brain-dead judgement system that some disgruntled underpaid misanthrope developed in the bowels of Nintendo headquarters, (complaints@blueshellmagnet.com) had they just provided instructions with it.

Example Instructions:

Finishing in each place gives you points. The three racers with the most points at the end of the cup will receive a trophy. Your driving will also be graded. Try to get the highest rating you can! (We want to encourage you to do a good job in this game, because we know you are an under achieving slob who always tries to lose at games and don’t understand the concept of being the best!) To get a three star rating (the best rating, because five stars was too much after we added in all those obnoxious letters), just do the following during the length of the cup:

__ Get first in all races
__ Hit 10 opponents with red shells
__ Be hit with 327 Blueshells
__ Spend 5 minutes doing drift turns around corners
__ Throw the blasted Wii-Mote through your television screen
__ Shove a screwdriver into your left eyeball
__ Draft behind one opponent
__ Pull of 3 tricks while going off jumps

But instead Nintendo sends us out with these instructions:

Actual Instructions from Page 12 of the game manual:

You earn points based on your placement in a race. After you complete all four courses, your points are added together to determine your overall ranking. Gold, silver, and bronze trophies are awarded for first, second, and third place overall. Your driving technique will also be ranked.

Screenshot of the manual, page 12.

Screenshot of the manual, page 12.

Mario Kart is a game about control. Most of the game is out of the control of the player. I can’t control when a computer uses a lightning bolt, throws a blueshell, barrels into me from behind with a star and throws me off the course. The gall of Nintendo to offer to rate me on my performance, which is not entirely under my control, and then not even tell me the requirements for the rating is so amazingly stupid I can’t even come up with a decent anecdote for it! They might as well rank me on the performance of the person in second. Or the time of day I play. Or the weather outside. I don’t know, maybe they do.

No, I’m not bitter at all.

Okay, that’s enough ranting.

The Info You Are Looking For: How to get a 3 Star Rating in Mario Kart Wii

This is not easy. This is so not easy. I have yet to get a three star rating in Mario Kart Wii. I also have yet to find anyone who is capable of explaining the rules to me.

Tough to Find has a series of posts which offer a series of marginally helpful tips ‘Tips from Marv.’ You can find his articles here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.

But I’ll post his main points here for your convenience. (His site offers a paragraph or two of description and explanation for each tip.)

1. practise [sic]
2. choose a character and vehicle and stick with it
3. bikes are better
4. turbo after spin out
5. what counts as a 3 star race? …no-one exactly knows!
6. give up on the wheel
7. learn from others
8. trailing items to defeat red shells
9. turbo at start and on corners
10. go manual
11. use tricks
12. turbo when you fall off
13. Avoiding POW blocks
14. you can sometimes avoid a blue shell
15. hang back slightly on the first course
16. use drafting
17. stay on the main part of the track
18. be lucky! Or patient…

Many of his points are just simple rules to play by, others a speculative suggestions. Overall I didn’t find it terribly helpful, as I did most of those things anyway.

Potentially more helpful was a video I found on YouTube called “How to get 3 stars: Mario Kart Wii” where PhyRemind posted information in the video discription:

All information is factual based and in no way speculated.

50cc: Stay on the course at all times and dont hit walls or edges.(so you cant use mushrooms to do a jump/shortcut by going off course.) Falls allowed: 2 Go ahead and get hit by all the items you want, it wont make a difference.

100c: Wheelies and Tricks. Going off course is okay. 2 Falls allowed

150c: Tricks, item block, take out others with items. 2 Falls allowed

Mirror: Just do all you can do (tricks, items**, dodging.)
2 Falls allowed. (Though its kinda over when you fall just one time)

General Info for all Engine Levels: Dodging a blue shell with a mushroom will give you bonus points in getting a 3 star ranking. Not getting hit a lot in 100cc 150cc Mirror will give you higher chance of 3 stars. You must get 60 points for a 3 star rank. (No, Really?)
**Drift Boosts are always fun to do**

I found this information also to be lacking. Following his advice I was unable to get three stars in 50cc, although, some commenters claimed that it helped them.

Yahoo Answers, interestingly enough, has been rather helpful on the whole issue.

Tim asks this:

How do you earn 3 stars on Mario Kart Wii?
I’m playing through the tracks on Mario Kart Wii. Sometimes when I come first all the time and get 60 points I get one star. Sometimes, (although more rare) I get 2. I’ve read on the Internet you can get 3. How is this determined? We seem to have misplaced the manual so I can’t look it up!

I think the discussion that follows offers some good insights into how things seem to work. Matt A says:

You can get killed, not spend the whole time in first, and still get 3 stars. There seems to be an algorithm at work here. I think that it is based on some of the following criteria:

Time spent in first place
Opponents that you hit
Number of times you were hit (fewer is better)
Items dodged (probably includes running a clean race and trying not to fall off ledges or run off the road)
Total seconds that you win by
Tricks performed during the races

If you can max out these criteria, you are certainly in a good position to reach the 3 stars. Good luck!

And of course suggerdaddy wins the clueless answer of the week award:

go on and keep trying.because i am about to get it and when i get the manual i will tell u right away

(complaints@blueshellmagnet.com)

A three star rating implies that it’s a ‘perfect’ match. I would guess that’s a misnomer. For reasons mentioned in my rant, if Nintendo required perfection most certainly the computer players would mess everything up every time.

I think the main criteria is track time. I’m guessing there are other criteria, but time has to be pretty strongly counted. If you can pull of an amazing time in grand prix mode, that means you are driving *really* well and are not getting hit by many items. Getting hit by items really slows you down.

I’m sure there are little things like wheelies, tricks and turn boosts that are taken into account as well, but those things really just boil down to a faster time.

If you came to me today and said “I *need* to get three stars on everything. How Can I do it?” I would have to say, unlock and beat the expert staff ghost on every track. Then go and play grand prix mode until your eyes bleed.

As for me, I’ll be content when I can get one star on every cup and unlock the blasted karts and karacters. (Characters. Sorry, Donkey Kong slip of the fingers.)

If you know something I don’t, please post it here. As I find out more, I’ll update things as well.

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Greenshell Magnet http://blueshellmagnet.com/2009/08/greenshell-magnet/ http://blueshellmagnet.com/2009/08/greenshell-magnet/#comments Fri, 14 Aug 2009 16:57:22 +0000 SSJ Ranulf http://blueshellmagnet.com/?p=24 I can’t be the only person in history that this has happened to. You throw three Greenshells into a crowd, and they all come back and hit you. Several people fire Greenshells, and they all hit you. It’s painful, it’s humiliating, and it’s downright unfair. How could this be? Why is it me?

Simple, you’re this games Greenshell Magnet.

You’re the shmuck who drew the short straw. You get nailed by all the shells. This is Kartma. It lasts throughout the race, sometimes the entire 4 race series.

It gets better! The mirror image of this: The Greenshell replant (boy, that need’s a catchier name.) This lucky jerk just won’t get hit. This always seems to be a computer.

I can’t be the only one feeling this. Someone help me believe that it’s not just a curse on me!

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Toughest Track http://blueshellmagnet.com/2009/08/toughest-track/ http://blueshellmagnet.com/2009/08/toughest-track/#comments Thu, 13 Aug 2009 14:55:57 +0000 Snag http://blueshellmagnet.com/?p=50 I know there are a few tracks throughout the games that are I find most frustrating. I am curious what track(s) others feel are the MOST difficult. Here are a few I would like to offer up as difficult:

N64-Toad’s Turnpike (Mirror)-The definition of “fuster cluck”
SNES/GBA-Rainbow Road
Wii-Rainbow Road
SNES/GBA-Broken Pier
Wii-Wario’s Gold Mine

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Mario Kart sequel vs current generation/download expansion http://blueshellmagnet.com/2009/08/mario-kart-sequels-to-current-generationdownload-expansion/ http://blueshellmagnet.com/2009/08/mario-kart-sequels-to-current-generationdownload-expansion/#comments Wed, 12 Aug 2009 16:28:24 +0000 Snag http://blueshellmagnet.com/?p=51 I have been playing through as much of the Mario Kart games as I can as of late, but it wasn’t long until I wanted more, at least on the Wii. I know the current Mario Kart game on the Wii is not even one and a half years old, so I don’t expect a new game for that platform as soon as I would for the DS (the current version was released in 2005). (And btw, if they make a Mario Kart game exclusively for DSi, I will be pissed that they’d make me drop $170 for the system). So, Nintendo could come up with some sequels for both systems, or offer additional content to be downloaded.

This is something I’ve been thinking about for a while… compared to the PS3 and Xbox 360, the Wii is seriously lacking when it comes to additional content to games that you need to play with a disc or download. Now dont get me wrong, I want the game creators to put out the game they intended to make. It’s ridiculous when creators put out a game, and then make additional content available 3 weeks later. But I feel Mario Kart Wii was the game they intended and after almost a year and a half, it wouldn’t hurt to be able to download an expansion. This could even be more retro tracks, but people would eat them up!

I would totally pay 500 Wii points to get another set of 4 races to add to the current ones. Ideally, I would like to play all tracks from all games on one platform.

Am I asking too much here? Will a sequel be more likely than an expansion?

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