Pixels & Ink Presents: Coffee & Cartridges – Episode #2 Do Graphics Make the Game?

Pixels & Ink Presents: Coffee & Cartridges - Episode #2

The Pixels & Ink Podcast is bringing back Coffee & Cartridges in an all-new segment. Our intrepid panel of experts delves into some of gaming’s biggest questions.

Read morePixels & Ink Presents: Coffee & Cartridges – Episode #2 Do Graphics Make the Game?

Pixels & Ink Presents: Coffee & Cartridges – Episode #1 Games to Get You Into Gaming

Pixels & Ink Presents: Coffee & Cartridges - Episode #1

The Pixels & Ink Podcast is taking a break this week to introduce a brand new podcast: Coffee & Cartridges! This new, bi-weekly feature lead by our panel of industry experts digs deeper into some of gaming’s biggest questions.

Read morePixels & Ink Presents: Coffee & Cartridges – Episode #1 Games to Get You Into Gaming

No Other Games Need Apply: Super Mario Odyssey is Game of the Year

No Other Games Need Apply: Mario Odyssey is GOTY 3

Picking out a game of the year is a painful and thankless task. There are always so many options, and everyone has different criteria. For some, diving into an open world universe that sucked up the bulk of their life for weeks at a time is the only video game experience to be celebrated. For others, bang-bang shoot em’ ups and carpal tunnel-inducing fighting beat em’ ups are the height of the medium. Many gamers refuse to acknowledge anything other than arty indies as the height of the art form. And of course, there are those who demand that some sort of “woke” message be part of any game that they are willing to consider great.

No Other Games Need Apply: Mario Odyssey is GOTY 2
Super Mario Odyssey – gameplay image via Nintendo.

Me? Hey, I’m a simple man of simple pleasures. For my game of the year, I need something that sucks me in through “easy to learn, difficult to master” gameplay and plasters big dumb smiles across my face from start to finish. I’m unapologetically nostalgic. I loved Nintendo even through their least successful console cycles (yeah, I bought a Virtual Boy and you best believe I treasured it). I also just straight up love Mario. He’s an adorable guy and it never ceases to amaze me how Nintendo is able to come up with new ways to use their Italian stereotype mascot. I was predisposed to love Super Mario Odyssey before I even picked up a controller to try it for the first time. However, I didn’t expect it to be my favourite videogame experience of the year. That was gravy.

Nintendo had a big year in 2017 with the release of The Switch, an ingeniously designed bit of hardware that bridged the gap between handheld and home consoles. They launched with an amazing Zelda title that brought such freedom and depth to a familiar franchise that it was enshrined an instant classic. Most will be dubbing Breath of the Wild Game of the Year if they decide to give that honour to Nintendo at all. I get it. That’s a beautiful game filled with ingenious design choices. The thing is that I just happen to find Super Mario Odyssey equally beautiful and ambitious, just in a less pretentious way.

No Other Games Need Apply: Mario Odyssey is GOTY 1
Super Mario Odyssey – gameplay image via Nintendo.

There are few gaming franchises less pretentious than Mario. Most of the time the designers can’t even be bothered to include or story or remotely alter it from the familiar “monster kidnaps princess, plumber saves princess” trope. Obviously that’s here. It’s a Mario game, how could it not be?! But the designers behind Super Mario Odyssey were flippant and subversive with how they played it out. They know it’s silly, if required. So they mocked the plot with some winks and let it play out as quickly and painlessly as possible before letting the meat of the game take over.

Mario games are all about experience and gameplay. That’s what you sign up for and Super Mario Odyssey is no different. On the surface, the game is similar to many previous Mario titles. There’s a sandbox exploration element from Mario 64, familiar landscapes from titles dating back to the NES days, the almost psychedelic surrealism from Mario Galaxy, and all the other familiar tropes. The major new addition was Mario’s now living hat (aka Cappy, my buddy) which allowed for new platforming techniques, new attacks, and the ability to take control of villains both familiar and fresh. It was a simple new dynamic that opened up so many new platforming possibilities. Beyond that, Super Mario Odyssey offered a sense of freedom beyond what previous Mario games delivered. It was a game that could be explored at your own pace with few guidelines. Yet at the same time, it was tough to get stuck or lost. The experience feels so intuitive that you’re always acutely aware of what you need to do next without tutorials or story to guide you. My game of the year is a game that unfolds purely in the language of videogames. Nintendo is so brilliant at guiding those experiences at this point and Mario is so familiar to players that you can simply pick it up and know exactly what to do while still being surprised and challenged at every turn.

No Other Games Need Apply: Mario Odyssey is GOTY 4
Super Mario Odyssey – gameplay image via Nintendo.

Playing Super Mario Odyssey was like reuniting with an old friend, enjoying all the familiar pleasures, and then learning that your old friend has changed in so many ways that they are now your new favourite person. There’s so much to explore. So much to discover. So many surprises. So much originality. So much nostalgia. So much Mario. It was an endless barrage of video game pleasures, some founded by Mario and some not. There was something for every player to fall in love with, from palm-sweat challenges to goofy dress up costumes. Old players could geek out in 8-bit nostalgia levels. New players could discover all the old tropes while also getting to control a giant T-rex, because why not? It was a game of endless delights. No moment in any game this year thrilled me more than playing through the New Donk City finale, feeling like I was dabbling in original Donkey Kong, discovering the new game’s connection to the past, geeking out on a hilarious Mario-themed big band number (“run with me, grab coins with me”), marveling at the gorgeous design, and feeling elated by the firework celebration all around me. It was pure gaming pleasure on so many levels, executed by the company that got me hooked on this gaming stuff in the first place.

Super Mario Odyssey was both a celebration of Nintendo’s past and a promise to the future. Proof that the company can tickle our old pleasure centers while still providing rich and deep new gaming experiences that can match other AAA titles. My game of the year is a game that I’m still playing months later, either to find pesky stars and secrets hidden throughout or simply to re-experience moments that delighted me to no end the first time. It’s a masterpiece. Something that seems so simple that you can fall into it, yet is so deceptively massive that it rewards endless replay. Simply put, it’s hard to imagine a better Mario game. This is one title that I actually anxiously await DLC for and I know I’m not alone.

No Other Games Need Apply: Mario Odyssey is GOTY
Super Mario Odyssey – gameplay image via Nintendo.

Somehow Nintendo made us all fall in love with their ancient mascot once again while proving that they have an eye on gaming’s future. That’s a special achievement. Sure, Breath of the Wild accomplished many of the same things, but not within a design that both the smallest child with no gaming experience and the most experienced aging Nintendo fan can enjoy equally. Some might dismiss Super Mario Odyssey as puffy populist nonsense and they have a point. The thing is that making any work of art that actually achieves universal appeal is a near impossible task, especially when consuming it has to conceal all that effort. This is a game to be cherished and one that promises Nintendo will have plenty of new surprises in store for us throughout The Switch’s life cycle. Sign me up for more. I’m ready.

A retail version of the game discussed was provided by the publisher for a previously published review. You can find additional information about CGMagazine’s ethics and review policies and procedures here.


Liked this article and want to read more like it? Check out Phil’s take on Blade Runner 2049, Happy Death Day, and It! He also had a chance to sit down with Guillermo Del Toro. Check out his interview here!

Want to see more videos? Subscribe to our YouTube channel and check out the First 15: Star Wars Battlefront II, Sonic Forces + Episode Shadow, and  Super Mario Odyssey!

Don’t forget to tune in every Friday the Pixels & Ink Podcast to hear the latest news, previews, and in-depth game discussions!

Never miss when new CGM articles go out by following us on Twitter and Facebook!

CGMagazine is Canada’s premiere comics and gaming magazine. Subscribe today to get the best of CGM delivered right to your door! Never miss when a new issue goes live by subscribing to our newsletter! Signing up gives you exclusive entry into our contest pool. Sign up once, you’ll have a chance to win! Sign up today!

5 Games from 2017 I Might Have Actually Played if They’d Come to Switch

5 Games from 2017 I Might Have Actually Played if They'd Come to Switch

In 2017 I have lived quite the hectic life. Along with being in school full-time, working two jobs, and attempting to have a social life, my time to actually play games is usually reserved for a very particular time of the day (read: night). However, that all changed when I finally got my very own Nintendo Switch. I’d been holding off for a while, but after seeing the Super Mario Odyssey bundle and those gorgeous red Joycons I knew it was time for me to make the jump.

In the time I’ve had my Switch I’ve become obsessed with the device, carving out time between classes and during work breaks to slowly pick away at the Power Moons and puzzles Odyssey has to offer. If it hadn’t been for the Switch, I think I would have been inclined to put Odyssey down after I reached the credits. But using the Switch to take the game wherever I go has given it some longevity in what little playtime I have. Conversely, games like Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus sit in my PS4 awaiting my return. Whereas if I were playing the game on Switch I could be picking away at it like I have been Mario. As such, I have come to the conclusion that every game should be on Switch. Every game should be free from the tethers of a television or monitor.

2017 had so many good games I missed out on just due to a lack of time. But the Switch, this wonderful little thing I can carry around with me to all my time-sucking responsibilities, fills holes in my gaming life that my PS4 or PC can’t.

Here are the games I would have actually gotten around to if they were to grace the Switch.

Cuphead

5 Games from 2017 I Might Have Actually Played if They'd Come to Switch 7
Cuphead – gameplay image via StudioMDHR.

Who wants to sit down with a controller and endure several hours of getting beaten down by the unrelenting difficulty of Cuphead? Well, a lot of people, apparently. But those people have a lot more patience than I do. Something as staggeringly difficult as Cuphead requires a level of tenacity I don’t usually have the time or energy for. However, if it were on the Switch and I could just pull it out of my bag and give myself a few chances at overcoming any of the game’s many challenges, it would be easier to parse. Cuphead is too much of a stressful ordeal to use what little time I have with my TV in front of me, but if it were more easily accessible and easier to put down, I think I’d be more than willing to jump into StudioMDHR’s arduous genre masterclass.

 Doki Doki Literature Club!

5 Games from 2017 I Might Have Actually Played if They'd Come to Switch 2
Doki Doki Literature Club! – gameplay image via Team Salvato.

I play some visual novels, but I’ve never been huge on playing them on consoles or PC. In the past I’ve used my phone or Vita to play these text-heavy adventures because it’s the closest equivalent to reading a book, and I can read short sections in my downtime rather than committing to several hours at a time. Doki Doki Literature Club! has been making the rounds with several people in the industry these past few months, and I still don’t really know why, given that visual novels are generally considered a niche genre, but the thought of finding out on a computer I’d have to lug around just doesn’t have the same allure as playing it on the Switch.

 Persona 5

5 Games from 2017 I Might Have Actually Played if They'd Come to Switch 3
Persona 5 – gameplay image via Atlus U.S.A., Inc.

Unlike every other game on this list, Persona 5 is one that I managed to see through to completion when it launched earlier this year. However, Persona 5 is a lengthy game full of content I missed out on the first time. Characters to meet, stories to hear, other Personas to collect etc. But when you’ve already sat in front of your TV for 100 hours, another 100 to see everything the game has to offer is a big ask. I played both Persona 3 and Persona 4 on my Vita, and being able to chip away at the days each of the social sim/RPG hybrids had made it all more manageable, and my play time in Persona 5 was already twice as much without seeing everything. Hopefully we’ll see a definitive edition on the Switch, because I’d love an excuse to go back to its twisted version of Tokyo.

Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite

5 Games from 2017 I Might Have Actually Played if They'd Come to Switch 5
Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite – gameplay image via Capcom.

If you want to actually be good at a fighting game, you have to invest a lot of time into any given one. In my limited play time I’ve indulged in my ongoing addiction to Injustice 2, so adding another timesink of a fighting game wasn’t feasible unless I wanted to divide my time between the two. I’ve spent several months honing my skills in Injustice, so despite my interest in Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite, it would have been a detriment to me ultimately to give it the time it deserved. However, had it been on Switch, I could have played it more casually, taking part in a few matches at a time, rather than spending hours I would need to competently play it at a competitive level. If Injustice and Infinite were sitting in front of me in my PS4, why would I give up the game time with the one in which I’ve already invested so many hours?

 Pokémon Ultra Sun & Ultra Moon

5 Games from 2017 I Might Have Actually Played if They'd Come to Switch 6
Pokémon Ultra Sun & Ultra Moon – gameplay image via Nintendo.

Nintendo has already confirmed it has plans to release a mainline Pokémon game on the Switch in the future, but that didn’t stop it from making one more set of games as a swan song for the 3DS. Pokémon Ultra Sun & Ultra Moon are a second shot at exploring a side of the Pokémon world I skipped over with the original Sun & Moon, but after you’ve played the Switch who really wants to go back to the 3DS?


Liked this article and want to read more like it? Check out more of Kenneth Shepard’s reviews, such as Life is Strange: Before the Storm – Episode 2, and find out why Kenneth thinks Danganronpa V3’s ending makes a polarizing case for letting the series go!

Want to see more videos? Subscribe to our YouTube channel and check out the First 15: Star Wars Battlefront II, Sonic Forces + Episode Shadow, and  Super Mario Odyssey!

Don’t forget to tune in every Friday the Pixels & Ink Podcast to hear the latest news, previews, and in-depth game discussions!

Never miss when new CGM articles go out by following us on Twitter and Facebook!

CGMagazine is Canada’s premiere comics and gaming magazine. Subscribe today to get the best of CGM delivered right to your door! Never miss when a new issue goes live by subscribing to our newsletter! Signing up gives you exclusive entry into our contest pool. Sign up once, you’ll have a chance to win! Sign up today!

First Fifteen: Battle Chef Brigade – Chapter 1

First Fifteen: Battle Chef Brigade - Chapter 1 1

Join CGM’s Cole Watson as he takes you through the first chapter of the epic culinary adventure, Battle Chef Brigade!

“In the fantasy realm of Victusia, the members of the elite Battle Chef Brigade are revered for their ability to skillfully take down monsters and transform their kills into delicious cuisine! But joining the brigade isn’t easy; chefs from across Victusia must vie for their spot in a high stakes competition. Play as two unique contestants, Mina and Thrash, as their journeys through the tournament unfold.

Battle Chef Brigade is equal parts old-school brawler and combo puzzler with light RPG elements. The game features completely hand-drawn characters and enemies, two playable chefs brought to life in a charming campaign through unique VO, daily challenges for leaderboard domination, and an original soundtrack.”

Battle Chef Brigade is available on November 20, for Nintendo Switch and PC. Check out Cole’s review of Battle Chef Brigade here!


Want to see more videos? Subscribe to our YouTube channel and check out the First 15: Star Wars Battlefront II, Sonic Forces + Episode Shadow, and  Super Mario Odyssey!

Want to read more by Cole? Check out Cole Watson’s reviews of Assassin’s Creed Origins and Gundam Versus!

Don’t forget to tune in every Friday the Pixels & Ink Podcast to hear the latest news, previews, and in-depth game discussions!

Never miss when new CGM articles go out by following us on Twitter and Facebook!

CGMagazine is Canada’s premiere comics and gaming magazine. Subscribe today to get the best of CGM delivered right to your door! Never miss when a new issue goes live by subscribing to our newsletter! Signing up gives you exclusive entry into our contest pool. Sign up once, you’ll have a chance to win! Sign up today!