The Boy’s Top 10 Games Ever: Monthly Roundup May 2018

Please see here for previous Top 5 Round Ups from 2018:
January: Top 5 Rocket League Showroom Battle Cars
February: Top 5 Open World Games
March: Top 5 Mario Kart 8 Items
April: Top 5 Underappreciated Games

The Boy and I recently had a conversation about what his favourite video games ever are and he said that his second favourite was Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle. I wasn’t buying it! For sure it’s a great game and we both enjoyed it (and are looking forward to enjoying it again when the DK DLC comes out!) but I said to him there’s no way he liked it more than Mario Kart 8 Deluxe or Rocket League. However, despite my insistence (or maybe because of it!) he wouldn’t budge, so we ended up doing a whole Top 10 of his favourite games. No surprises for guessing what #2 is but here they are in reverse order:

#10: Super Mario Run – iOS
He played this game on his iPad and for a while was ahead of me on it and was advising me where to find the black coins!screenshot_20170525-162126-e1524734181386.png

#9: NBA Live 16 – Xbox One
We played NBA together a lot in the year this iteration was out. Our team is the Toronto Raptors because, you know, dinosaurs!25-09-2017_22-10-07

#8: Super Lucky’s Tale – Xbox One
The most recent addition to this list. I just recently finished it and The Boy is well on his way too. This is a kid-focused game but don’t sleep on it – it’s well made.08-04-2018_20-17-43

#7: Trials Fusion – Xbox One
We have spent hours playing the Speedcross multiplayer tracks in this game. He almost always wins due to using the, easier to drive, quad bike. Much trash talk follows.23-02-2018_07-25-14

#6: FIFA 17 – Xbox One
He never quite got into FIFA 18 in the same way, despite us having that on the Switch. We have PES 2018 now via Xbox Game Pass, so time will tell how much he enjoys that.2017120508093500-062DD3BC3CF59885A6762E5A30A14CD1

#5: Jurassic World The Game – iOS
The first game on this list that is entirely his rather than ours. I never got into it but The Boy has spent hours and hours battling dinosaurs in it.IMG_0839.PNG

#4: Rocket League – Xbox One and Switch
I don’t want to look at the number of hours we have both sunk into this game on the Switch. It will probably make me wonder what I’m doing with my life!2017112017512100-6F4D679ED7D2A016B654B265B956C5F0

#3: Mario Kart 8 Deluxe – Switch
The Boy loves this game so much he has created multiple new accounts on the Switch just so he can play through the single player modes again!2018012513254400-16851BE00BC6068871FE49D98876D6C5

#2: Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle – Switch
Here it is. The Boy has never even finished this game, although I’m sure he eventually will. But apparently it’s the 2nd best ever!2018010308503700-9600BAE614E6833B1A261F5FB229CDBA

#1: Hot Wheels Race Off – iOS
Hot Wheels Race Off has been indisputably his number one game ever since he got it. I have never played it and at the beginning he used to ask me to play it when he got stuck. Quickly he realised he was better off by himself!IMG_0819

I’m looking to pick up Super Mario Odyssey this weekend, so we will see eventually if that makes it into this list. The Boy does seem to love Mario above most other things!

What about you, do you have small people you play games with? What are their favourites? Let us know in the comments below.

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Top 5 Mario Kart 8 Items: Monthly Roundup March 2018

Please see here for previous Top 5 Round Ups from 2018:
January: Top 5 Rocket League Showroom Battle Cars
February: Top 5 Open World Games
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is such an amazing game. In fairness, all the Mario Karts have been since Super Mario Kart on the SNES. It doesn’t seem to matter how much I play it – I still want to play it. That’s a lot of racing! The Boy is just the same – he has started multiple new accounts on our Switch so that he can play all the way through the single player game again and again. So, after all that time, between us, we have come up with our Top 5 items that we are hoping to get when we smash through those item boxes on each track.2018012508053000-16851BE00BC6068871FE49D98876D6C5
#1: Banana
The lowly banana! At #1! That’s right! Why? Because if you want to win that means you need to be at the front and when you are in 1st place you are most likely to get a banana. As such, we’ve come to rely on it, not for attacking but for defending. Driving around pulling it behind you – not even a red shell can stop your ride to glory!2018012508005500-16851BE00BC6068871FE49D98876D6C5
#2: Red Shell
The red shell is easily the best attacking weapon in the game. You can still get them in 2nd or 3rd places, unlike the really powerful items, but they are a sure fire hit on someone in front of you, if used well. And there’s no way they can backfire on you. They’re perfect!2018012507540500-16851BE00BC6068871FE49D98876D6C5
#3: Super Horn
So you’re driving around with your banana already imagining the glory of the top step on the podium. But then on the map you see that little blue blur zipping towards your position. Impending doom! Or is it? Not if you have a super horn – blast that blue shell to smithereens and carry on your way to the winners circle. #smugface2018012507582000-16851BE00BC6068871FE49D98876D6C5
#4: Mushroom
This was The Boy‘s idea – the boost needs to be in this list because of the shortcuts it opens up. He’s absolutely right. There’s a reason that you are given one for each lap in Time Trial mode. Used at the right time they give so much more than a boost – they mean that you are racing on a different track to everyone else.2018012508000300-16851BE00BC6068871FE49D98876D6C5
#5: Star
Da da da da da da da da da da da… You know you are singing this in your head! The Star doesn’t just make you invincible and give you a slight speed boost – it brings musical joy to your life as well! Lovely.2018012508001200-16851BE00BC6068871FE49D98876D6C5
Bonus: Spiny Shell
Ah, the demon. The evil weapon of all that is wrong in the world. The very symbol of how unfair Mario Kart can be. It doesn’t make the Top 5 because you don’t really ever want to be so far behind in a race that the game ever gives you one! But it has to be mentioned. It’s both the best – when you are anywhere from 2nd to 12th – thing in the game and, of course, the worst, if you are in front. Surely the most well known Mario Kart item – but not one of the best when you are racing.2018012513254400-16851BE00BC6068871FE49D98876D6C5
What about? Which if your favourite Mario Kart item? Or your most hated? Let us know in the comments below.
Click here to purchase the game on cart from Amazon.co.uk:

Click here to purchase a download key from CDKeys.com:

Gold Wheels at last! MK8D is done.

Finally The Boy and I have completed Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and collected the Gold Wheels! 2017080820012500-16851BE00BC6068871FE49D98876D6C5See our previous post on Gold Mario (here) for our progress at that point. What we had left to do was beat the ghost set by the staff on all 48 tracks in Time Trial mode. It has taken a long time and a lot of effort but we are there!

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Here we both are in a race afterwards showing off our All-Gold Marios:2017080820160900-16851BE00BC6068871FE49D98876D6C5

The Top 5 tracks that we found the hardest were:
5. Dolphin Shoals
4. Cloudtop Cruise
3. SNES Rainbow Road
2. Big Blue
1. Wario Stadium
Most of them were reasonably straight forward with whatever character and vehicle customisations you liked but there were a few that really made you have to figure out what characteristics you needed to go with to get the best time. To beat our nemesis, Wario Stadium, we ended up with Bowser Jr, the Koopa Clown kart and Roller tyres.2017080820002100-16851BE00BC6068871FE49D98876D6C5

Thankfully it proved to be just enough! The whole process has been a lot of fun – Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is such a good game, how could it be anything else?! Now when we play online we can show off our All-Gold Mario to the world!

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Click below to purchase Mario Kart 8 Deluxe on cartridge from Amazon.co.uk:

Or click below to purchase a Mario Kart 8 Deluxe download code from CDKeys.com:

Portability For The Win

Let me be clear about something: I love the Nintendo Switch! It has some great games already but what really sets it apart is the portability. The ability to play ‘proper’ games on the go has changed the opportunities that I have to play and how much I enjoy playing.
Last weekend I was in Brussels with the family. Before the Switch this would have meant a few days without games but no longer. Here we are playing on the Eurostar on the journey there:

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Even once arrived, it was easy to play when we were relaxing between bits of exploring, be it in a sports bar:

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Or even in Starbucks overlooking the Grand Place:

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Mobile games are fine but touch screen controls are restrictive compared to full controllers. The Switch is the best of both worlds and I would no longer consider getting a game that was available for the Switch on any other system. Why tie yourself to the TV when you can have the flexibility of playing anywhere, any time? I reckon this is exactly what Nintendo was aiming for with the console and they have nailed it. Long live the Nintendo Switch!

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Click here to purchase the Nintendo Switch from Amazon.co.uk:

Click here to purchase the Switch stand that we use from Amazon.co.uk:

Click here to purchase Puyo Puyo Tetris from Amazon.co.uk:

Click here to purchase Mario Kart 8 Deluxe from Amazon.co.uk:

Click here to purchase a code for Mario Kart 8 Deluxe from CDKeys.com:

REVIEW: Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

  • Released: 2017
  • Played on: Nintendo Switch
  • Also available on: –
  • Time to get into: 10 minutes
  • Time to complete: 40 hours
  • Multiplayer: Yes, local and online

Fans of racing games really are spoilt at the moment. If you enjoy braking zones, suspension settings and tyre wear then Forza Motorsport 6 is the best racing simulation game ever. If you enjoy tyre smoke, dodging traffic and open world racing then Forza Horizon 3 is the best arcade racing game ever. On the other hand if you like being on four wheels (or two!) but prefer boosts, shortcuts and weapons then we now have the best go-kart style racing game ever: Mario Kart 8 Deluxe! It’s takes everything that is good about the series to the max and puts it both in your hands and on your TV on the Nintendo Switch. It’s not far off perfection.

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Recipe
I’ve enjoyed every Mario Kart game that I’ve ever played but for me, until now, Mario Kart 64 was the best. It brought three dimensions to everything that was good about the original and thereafter every tweak to the formula – two characters per kart in Double Dash, motion steering on the Wii, anti-gravity in the original Mario Kart 8 – was fun in itself but didn’t improve the overall racing experience. What Mario Kart 8 Deluxe does so well is bring together the best parts of every installment into one package. The basic racing hasn’t changed since Mario Kart 64, (although it has benefited from enhancements to handing, graphics etc thanks to improved technology) but we now have all the extra ingredients from those other titles in their best format. Take, for example, the two characters per kart from the GameCube version: here we have kept the double weapon boxes, which add additional tactics to the races, but not the double characters, which was complexity for the sake of it. In Mario Kart 8 Deluxe you can choose whether to steer with motion controls like on the Wii, or keep it simple with the analog stick. It’s like Nintendo has been tweaking it’s recipe over time and has finally come up with the perfect cake. If you want to know what the cherry on top of that cake is, keep reading!

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Grand Prix
The main meat of the game is Grand Prix mode. The game has an entire 48 tracks – many new ones (or at least new in Mario Kart 8) and also a ton remastered ones from across all the previous 7 versions of the game. These are split into 12 Cups for you to go and win by getting high enough places to get the most points over the 4 races. For difficulty you can choose from progressively faster speeds of 50cc, 100cc, 150cc, Mirror (which is the same speed as 150cc but with everything mirrored, left turns are now right turns etc) and 200cc. Together these form a good learning curve – 50cc is very straight forward and 100cc reasonably so as well. After that the game decides that you’ve had it easy enough and there’s quite a jump up in difficulty to 150cc and another up to 200cc. It achieves this in two ways: increased speed but also by giving you a generally harder time of it compared to your competition. You’ll never really notice it in action but the catch up mechanic in the game (whereby you are slightly slowed down and given worse weapons at the front and vice versa) get more active on the faster settings. If that sounds unfair: it is. Deal with it!

My speed is my weapon
It’s important if you’re going to play on the harder settings to accept something: this game hates you! Or at least it does if you’re in first place. But this actually makes the game, as it forces you to get better and faster and to play more tactically, adding more depth to an initially simple game. Making sure you are collecting enough coins, power sliding into double weapon boxes and having a solid defense against those attacking you become the gameplay rather simply corners/straights and accelerating/braking. I’ve actually almost completely stopped using the weapons to attack other racers: I use them for defending and tell myself: my speed is my weapon!

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Other modes
Otherwise, you can get stuck into Time Trial mode where there’s a ghost for each track set by the Nintendo staff for you to beat. These are sometimes easy but mostly very challenging and teach you lines and shortcuts you can take back into races. This stuff is important if you want to ‘complete’ the game and get Gold Mario. See another blog post (here) to explain more on him!

You also have Battle Mode. I have never been that bothered by the battling in these games – I just want to race – but again in this game it is tweaked close to perfection. I really enjoy this mode for the first time. The arenas are of a similar ilk whilst each having it’s own unique parts and the different battle types mean that there will be something for everyone. Team games in this mode online are particularly crazy and enjoyable! Shine Thief is my favorite.

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The Cherry
So what’s the cherry on top? There are two more things that this game does better than any other: Auto Accelerate and Smart Steering.
Auto Accelerate should be fairly self explanatory. I’m amazed that no game of this type has instigated this before. In a game where you are literally accelerating the entire time in every race, having to hold the button isn’t ideal for either the players hand or the controllers life span. This is such a simple but hugely wonderful tweak.
Smart Steer is a setting for beginners that means that you can never fall off the track. If you don’t do any steering of your own you’ll trail in last so it’s not a game-ruining ‘cheat’. In addition it does actually slow you down in order to ensure you stay on the track, so once you get good and you start pushing the limits of the tracks you’ll want to turn it off as it then becomes frustrating. The reason it’s so great is: The Boy. He’s been able to really dig deep into the game and compete on the higher speeds because of smart steer. It has quite literally made the difference between this being a brief foray in Mario Kart and it being his favourite game ever. That said, I refuse to use it – it feels like reducing the challenge too much from what it’s intended to be but for making the game inclusive for inexperienced or casual players it’s brilliant.

Any flaws?
If I really wanted to get picky I might ask why you can’t swap your your two weapon boxes to use them in a different order. Or why you can’t edit the buttons to your own preference – particularly in multiplayer when you are only using one Joy-Con, they aren’t that comfortable. Or ponder whether the menu system is a bit uninspiring. But really I’m stretching the point. These are tiny problems in the over context of endless fun that this game offers.

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Verdict
How else to conclude this review but with this: buy this game. Now. Unless you really don’t like this kind of game, for some crazy reason, this is the essential version. The only question is: how on earth can Mario Kart 9, whenever it comes, possibly be any better?

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Click below to purchase Mario Kart 8 Deluxe on cartridge from Amazon.co.uk:

Or click below to purchase a Mario Kart 8 Deluxe download code from CDKeys.com:

Gold Mario!

The Boy has completed Grand Prix mode in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and got his reward: Gold Mario!

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You need to get win the championship in every cup in 50cc, 100cc, 150cc, Mirror and 200cc to get your hands on Gold Mario. That is a lot of work! With a bit of help from me, The Boy has succeeded. Most of it we did competitively but towards the end of Mirror and 200cc we started doing what he has dubbed ‘team play’, which essentially means that if I was ahead of him at the end of a race I would let him through on the final straight so that he could win each cup!

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The fun doesn’t stop there though. In addition to Gold Mario himself you can also unlock a gold kart, gold wheels and a gold glider.
The Gold Kart is for getting at least 1 star on each cup in 150cc and Mirror. In other words you have to win 3 of the 4 races and be at least 3rd in the other. Some ‘team play’ was employed to get here too!
The Gold Glider is for collecting 5,000 coins overall. That just happens eventually as you play, particularly multiplayer – they rack up quickly there.
Where he is still lacking is the Gold Wheels. For this you must beat the staff times on the time trials on every track. Some of these are hard!! This will take a long time I think, probably just as long as unlocking Gold Mario himself.

He had best get on with it!

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Playing outside

I was greatly amused when I came across this on Pinterest the other day:

That’s right! Thanks to the Nintendo Switch we can now satisfy the naysayers by officially ‘playing outside’! Hurrah!

However, there is one issue…

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The glare from the sun doesn’t make it easy. The Boy and I tried to play Mario Kart 8 Deluxe outside but in the end we had to give up and retreat to the kitchen.

Here’s one more photo that really shows how tricky it was:

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The screen was more reflection than image. This is with the screen brightness maxed out. Perhaps a more shaded area would make it possible but certainly for us in our garden, this is not a viable option.

Click below to purchase Mario Kart 8 Deluxe on cartridge from Amazon.co.uk:

Or click below to purchase a Mario Kart 8 Deluxe download code from CDKeys.com:

Or click below to purchase the Switch ‘playstand’ we use from Amazon.co.uk: