MARIO, MARIO, & PUSHMO: WHY I OWN A 3DS

Being the sucker I am for Nintendo, I knew from the get-go that no matter how hard I fought it I would find myself in a Best Buy or some equivalent retailer picking up a 3DS at launch. That said, I've had a 3DS since all the way back in March. The hardware itself is great, and all of the built-in features are cool, novel, and interesting for about the first day or two. Unfortunately, there weren't really any games to play after that besides one especially good Ghost Recon game (and maybe the recent Nintendo DS release of Pokemon White/Black). A lot of time has passed, but finally, the drought of games for Nintendo's new handheld seemed to have ended. Here are the games that are making me happy and proud to be a 3DS owner.

1. Super Mario 3D Land:

It's really no surprise that Nintendo's first real, entirely new effort on the 3DS would be a must-own title. While Mario has certainly never fallen out of popularity over the years, he saw a bit of a rebirth with New Super Mario Brothers on the original DS which brought the series back to its side-scrolling roots along with Super Mario Galaxy on the Wii which took Mario and literally removed him from any and all sense of reality, meaning, and logic (in a great way). Super Mario 3D Land is the logical conclusion of both of these games. Taking some of the best parts of Mario titles past and present, the game moves seemlessly between 2D platforming, more modern 2.5D levels (somewhat like that of Little Big Planet), fully 3D Galaxy-like levels, and even the occasional Legend of Zelda style top-down area. Because it does not feel the need to stick to one specific type of platforming, the level design is some of the best the series has ever seen. The designers really played with the system's ability to display 3D and built perspective puzzles and interesting areas into each and every level. Simply put, it may be my favorite Mario game to date.

2. Mario Kart 7:

Mario Kart DS was not only one of the best games in the series but also one of the best games ever released on the DS. That's why I had to pick up Mario Kart 7 when it released earlier this month. While not straying too far out of familiar MK territory, MK7 keeps the MKDS mix of equal parts new tracks and old tracks by featuring 16 new tracks across four cups and 16 slightly-remixed versions of prior tracks in the series pulled from everything between the original Mario Kart for SNES up to Mario Kart Wii. Coins have been brought back from some of the older titles in the series and Diddy Kong Racing-esque flight and underwater mechanics have snuck there way in (and really do make for a lot of fun moments). While I would have been happy to see the series go fully behind the concept of planes, karts, and boats, these new mechanics are well executed and still feel great, even if they are a bit half-baked overall. If you have loved Mario Kart in the past, you'll love Mario Kart 7. It acts as a "Best-Of" of the series while also having some of the system's best uses of 3D (after the other two titles on this list).

3. Pushmo (3DSware):

Nintendo has always been lagging behind in the Internet and downloadable game areas. While the Wii's Virtual Console is nice, it tends to be quite overpriced overall and suffers from a few glaring omissions. With the launch of the 3DS, we also saw the launch of Nintendo's 3DSware store. Despite my weekly check-ins on the service since March, it has been extremely slim pickings aside from the ocasionally awesome 3D Classic (Xevious, anyone?). That all changed though with Pushmo, a new puzzler game from Intelligent Systems Co. Reminiscent of Picross 3D for the DS, Pushmo puts you in control of a tiny but chubby sumo wrestler look-alike that must navigate a number of large, pixel-based puzzles, pushing and pulling the blocks along three different planes in order to reach a lost child, normally located towards the top. The central game concept is simple at first, but more and more different mechanics are added on as you go along. The ability for users to create their own levels and distribute them both in person and online via QR codes gives Pushmo an absolutely vast amount of levels and content, especially for the $7 price tag. On the original DS, this would have been a full $40 release (and one of the best games on the system). Do yourself a favor and pick it up!

I am happy to see the Nintendo 3DS finally beginning to take off. Hopefully, this holiday season coupled with these great titles will take the system from possible failure (in the long term) to a worthy successor the the original Nintendo DS. We'll see!

For more like this, check out my website/podcast: Joystick Tuggers!

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Episode 23 - Xbox Live Indie Games

On this week's episode, we change things up and decide to record the episode LIVE over the internet to one viewer and dig deeply into the depth of the Xbox Live Indie Games Marketplace and take a look at the bottom of the barrell. Do you want to see how far down the rabbit hole goes?

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Show Notes:

Intro: LET'S SHOOTING - zabutom

Game: Xbox Live Indie Games

Music: Big Giant Circles <-- Seriously, buy this guy's album. It rules.

We need your feedback and your responses for the show!

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Joystick Tuggers Ep 22 - Decap Attack and Vectorman

In this week's episode, we throw off their heads and embrace their chest penises in Decap Attack, resurrect the Austin Powers reference, and stray so far off topic that the topic can never be found again with Vectorman.

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Show Notes:

Intro: LET'S SHOOTING - zabutom

Game 1: Decap Attack

Game 2: Vectorman

Outro: The Fictional Death of Fictional Robert Rodriguez and Fictional Danny Trejo

We'd love any and all feedback! We are always look to tweak the show, get some special guests, etc.!

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Joystick Tuggers Ep. 21 - Toejam, Earl, and Boogerman

In this week's episode, Jared and Christian (that's me!) learn to truly get funky in Toejam & Earl in Panic on Funkatron, discuss the finer points of the Batman films post-Burton, and fart in the face of opposition in Boogerman: A Pick and Flick Adventure!

Next Week's Theme: Potpourri/Potluck

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Episode 20 - Captain Crunch Brush (3-D Worldrunner / Forsaken 64)

Joystick Tugger - Episode 20

In this week's episode, Jared and Christian enter the realm of the Dark Sun with 3-D Worldrunner, skip the Question of the Week for an indefinite period of time, and enter the world of fallen angels and crying Indians in Forsaken 64.

Next Week's Theme: Bodily Fluids/Human By-Products/Terror Goop

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We need your feedback and your responses for the show! Comment right here on Giant bomb, at www.joystick-tuggers.com, @joysticktuggers on Twitter, or join the Joystick Tuggers group on Facebook! Yippee!

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Episode 19 - Glover and Hatris

In this week's episode, CritThreat and I venture into the bizarre and potentially drug-induced world of Glover, spread the gospel of the merkin in the Question of the Week, and explore the midget-filled Russian landscape with Hatris.

Next Week's Theme: Why Have You Forsaken Me?

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A Tribute to Gaming Dinosaurs

As early as the halcyon days of the Atari 2600 (and most likely even before that), dinosaurs have always been an important part of video games. Whether it is their appearance in 1983's Roc 'N Rope or as recent as 2011's seriously bad Dino D-Day, gamers have attempted time and time again to escape, destroy, or (in the case of Mario) befriend these fierce and noble creatures. Let's take a loot at some of their more notable appearances over the years.

Released only for arcades in 1992, Cadillacs and Dinosaurs was released and one of the greatest video game combinations of all time was born: dinosaurs and, unbelievably, Cadillacs. Based on the Final Fight game engine, the game pits a group of slick, cool, and ecologically-focused dudes (and dudettes) against an unholy swarm of nefarious humans looking to disrupt the new balance of life this world's post-apocalyptic landscape in which dinosaurs have re-emerged from extinction. While most games pit the player against dinosaurs, here you are acting on behalf of nature which often sides with the dinosaurs. The only thing that made my discovery of this game even better is the fact that it was based on an early 90s cartoon series of the same name as well as a comic book series (which I must locate copies of as soon as possible and consume entirely).

Having dinosaurs (and Cadillacs) at the arcade is fun and all, but sometimes you need something a little more portable to get your dino-fix and that is where We're Back! A Dinosaur Story for Game Boy had you covered.

Also based on a cartoon of the time, We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story was a fairly basic platformer putting you in the role of a Tyrannosaurus aptly named Rex who must save his two friends from the dark and endlessly-evil Professor Screw Eyes. While I'm sure many a Game-Boy-toting child had a blast with this game, they never knew about the most interesting fact behind the origins of the game (neither did I, until I did some research): this game was one of three re-skins of an earlier Game Boy title named Baby T-Rex. Where the U.S. was treated to a game based on the We're Back! cartoon, Sweden was treated to a game named Bamse based on a cartoon of the same name and putting the player in control of some kind of white bear. In Australia, the exact same game with all of the same levels, item placement, etc. (just with different sprites) was Agro Soar which was based on the very popular character at the time Agro, a muppet-esque creature of unknown origins. While I was shocked when I first discovered that the United States' Mario 2 was, in fact, not the real Mario 2 but a re-skinned version of a Japanese NES game, I have simply never heard of one game seeing four different (but fundamentally identical) versions depending on the specific country of its release.

Our look into the history of our reptilian video game forefathers ends with one of the best video game titles of I have discovered in all of my long and painful years upon this dark orb you humans like to call Earth: Booby Kids.

Released only in Japan, Booby Kids is, perhaps thankfully, not about a group of young children toting some serious sets of gozangas. Most certainly just an unfortunate example of bad Japanese to English translation, the game actually puts you in command of a child time traveler that must navigate an increasingly complex and mundane series of mazes in order to collect different items from a wide variety of characters and locales, one of which happens to be a prehistoric era filled with cavemen and dinosaurs (a time that "scientists" tell us never existed). Booby Kids, I don't doubt your historical accuracy! After all with a name like that, this game definitely knows what's up.

I hope you liked this brief but fittingly obscure look at dinosaur video game history. On next week's episode of the podcast, we are focusing on games that are all about clothing accessories (most notably ones worn on the head and hands). Trust me, you will glove it. There is absolutely no way that you will hat it.

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Joystick Tuggers - BC Racers and E.V.O.: Search for Eden

In this week's episode, fellow Giant Bomb user CritThreat and I enter into a prehistoric millionaire's rock hard bike race with BC Racers, ponder the nature of children, religion, and velociraptors (somehow) in the Question of the Week, and break a few horns (the hard way), climb out of the primordial sludge, and learn how to become human in E.V.O.: Search for Eden.

Next Week's Theme: Haberdashery

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Let us know what you think about these two games, this week's question, or what you'd like to see us cover in the future! We are always on the hunt for more obscure, crappy, and under-appreciated games!

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