Super Mario Fun Run

The third Nintendo mobile app should have been its first.

Super Mario Run is here! Finally! The one thing that no one wanted was Mario on the mobile phone1. We were wrong. After Miitomo launched and was unapologetically a classic Nintendo move2, we got Pokémon Go, which Nintendo benefitted from but wasn’t directly involved in. People loved it! Nintendo previously announced Animal Crossing and Fire Emblem games in 2015. But to our surprise, an announcement of Super Mario Run came at an Apple keynote presentation in September with Miyamoto himself on stage. A surprise indeed3.

Super Mario Run falls in line with a genre of similar games on mobile devices called “endless runners,” but Super Mario Run isn’t endless. There are obstacles and a goal. The only difference is Mario keeps moving. He’s on a mission and he’s not going to stop. Some have said the game doesn’t feel like a Mario game. This game is called Super Mario RUN after all4. Mario always feels different based on his venue. The first time he showed up on the Nintendo 64, it felt nothing like the Mario we were used to – but it wasn’t bad, it was great!

Super Mario Run is the first Mario game you can play with one hand. It makes it super accessible. It is also one of the largest reaching Mario games, as it was released in over 100 countries. It’s a new frontier for Nintendo to make software on non-Nintendo devices5.

This game is one of the most polished gaming experiences on a mobile phone, period. It has great level design6, a simple yet deep control mechanic, and all levels require skill and can be mastered without cheap hits or other lame mobile game mechanics. It’s simply one of the best games to come out on a mobile device since the iPhone debuted.

Super Mario Run does have flaws, however. The Toad Rally mode feels like grinding, and it has inconsistent difficulty with the opponents. The World Tour mode feels like a game though. A real game. It’s not perfect by any means, but it’s a Mario game and it’s fun.

I couldn’t write about this game without talking about the price. Nintendo is asking $10 for this game. Compared to other mobile games out there this may seem expensive, but mobile pricing for apps and games has been unsustainable for quite some time. I’ve had friends who have told me they were unwilling to pay $3 for an app they use everyday. But the fact is, developing and maintaining software or games is expensive. If you like something, support the developers with your wallet. Several great apps and companies have closed their doors because people were unwilling to sustain them, which hinders competition and allows for shit to flood your app stores. Most app stores have a refund policy now, so if you don’t like something, you can return it – just like real stores. It really disturbs me that everyone expects everything for free but will complain about what they get.

Nintendo is going about their pricing scheme the right way. They are presenting three levels of the game you can play without limits. If you like the game, you can pay $9.99 and unlock the full game forever. Nintendo is not presenting it with any micro-transactions. One and done. Try it out – if you want more you can pay, and if not, don’t. This seems to be hurting the success of the game, but I think it’s better than if you saw a $10 price tag for a game you couldn’t try. I don’t agree it’s a bait and switch even if it does show up in the “Free” category.

All and all it’s a good start for a new world for Nintendo, and I’ve had a ton of fun playing it. I think it’s fun for everyone and my friend explained it best:

I’m not a very strong video game player. This game is great for someone like me though, because the worlds are short and survivable, and the lives are essentially infinite. It takes the pressure off, a LOT.

Sidenote: I’ve also really enjoyed the marketing Nintendo has done for the game. See the two videos below:


  1. People were imagining a port Super Mario Bros. with touch screen buttons. Not a new experience. 
  2. Meaning that it didn’t make sense, and was kind of weird but kind of cool but only for a minute. 
  3. Nintendo and Apple working together! 
  4. I love the parkour moves and acrobatics Mario performs in this game. They are so fluidic. I hope they make their way into another Mario game someday. 
  5. Hard to imagine a few years ago. 
  6. A Nintendo standard. 

There’s A Map For That: Part One

How To Make Your Own Digital Map

Fortunately there are several free tools out today that allow you to store your own created maps. The best by a large margin is Google, who has put an amazing amount of effort into their mapping business since 2005. Anyone who recalls the Mapquest days can attest to this.

Google offers a feature called My Maps. My Maps allows you to easily create your own maps with pins, or routes, or even areas. You’ll need a Google Account in order to use this.

Google My Maps
Google My Maps

From there it is pretty simple. You can search for addresses or businesses or if you know the exact latitude and longitude, that’s available as well.

You can choose from different map views such as street view or aerial imagery. You can put your pins into different sets, add hyperlinks, or other information. You can even select different markers.

Google Maps Interface
My Maps Interface

Google allows you to share maps privately or publicly. If you share them publicly you can embed them on a website. Like so:

Once you’ve saved your map, it’s saved in THE CLOUD (Google Drive). But if you want to take things a bit further, there are more options. You can export your map, print it, or save it to a PDF.

How to export your data.
Export your data.

The export feature allows you to save your map in a KML format, which stands for Keyhole[1] Markup Language. KML is based on XML, and has become a standard for displaying location-based information on a map along with GPX (which we’ll get to in Part Three). As of right now, KML is a fairly reliable way of storing your location data to import into other programs, such as Google Earth, where you have more options to manipulate your data.

Unfortunately Google doesn’t currently allow you to edit My Maps on iOS, but they can be viewed in the Google Maps app on iOS. This is unfortunate as you’re most likely going to have your phone on you when you want to record your location. Android users are a little more fortunate. You can, however, send yourself a link of where you are, and add it once you get to a computer. Hopefully they fix this in the future.

My incomplete map of places Ive been
My incomplete map of places I’ve been

 

There are other ways of recording your locations on your phone without ever touching a computer. My suggestions for this are:
* Day One: A journaling app for iOS and Mac OS that allows you to record your location and more.
* Gaia GPS: A more advanced GPS app for your phone that allows you to store maps on your phone without a cellular signal, and record hikes or runs and export them a number of ways.

Now with this general information you can start building your own digital map. In Part Two, I’ll go over some social media apps like Foursquare/Swarm and Flickr, and show you how you can use them to add to your lifelong digital map, which will be a bit more advanced with xml data types. So if you want to go more in depth, stay tuned.


  1. Before Google Earth was Google Earth, it was Keyhole. Surprisingly the founder and CEO of Keyhole is the founder and CEO of Niantic, the creators of the new popular app Pokémon Go.  ↩

Six Months of Cameraphone

I realized the other day that I hadn’t posted any non cameraphone photos since October, and truth be told, I haven’t taken many. I don’t know why. But it’s inexcusable , and I owe it to myself to take more. I believe that will change shortly this weekend.

I love my iPhone, and I really love Hipstamatic. And I know that those apps that make your photos look… hipster-ish (even though that’s not what the “Hipsta” stands for in Hipstamatic). But even though the iPhone takes better photos than most cameraphones, it’s still pretty crappy, so applying an analog (digital) filter helps compensate for its inadequacies with an unpredictable touch. At least that’s how I look at it, and I like experimenting with it. But it’s time to move on to Summer, and some awesome pics.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

 

Thoughts on Handheld Gaming

Handheld gaming. Gamers are pretty decisive on the subject. Either you like it or you don’t. One criticism I often hear is “I don’t like playing games on a screen that small”. I’ve never really thought that was the reason though. I’ve always believed that people see handheld gaming as something more childish or simplified than their console brethren. I think a true fan of games plays great games regardless of platform.

 

When the iPhone game out, I don’t know how many articles I read that were predicting a huge rivalry between Nintendo’s DS and the iPhone. I can assure you that’s not close at all nor will it be anytime soon. A friend of mine wrote a very good article on smartphone games that you should definitely read. Now don’t get me wrong, I love me some Angry Birds. It’s a good time killer but it doesn’t have the depth of some truly wonderful handheld games.  There are some great games that are transitioning over to a smartphone platform that I recommend. Infinity Blade, and Superbrothers Sword & Sorcery are amazing and original.

Graphics are also cited as another reason that people don’t like handheld games. And I think that all goes back to when the Wii came out and people complained that it wasn’t in HD and didn’t have a chance. If it’s a good game, you won’t notice as much, and there are some Wii games that are much more artfully inspired than the other consoles (Donkey Kong Country Returns, Kirby’s Epic Yarn, the Bit Trip Series to name a few.)  The PSP has tremendously better graphics than the DS, but hasn’t sold nearly as well. The PSP also offers a large number of ports or interquels of console games in lieu of original concepts.

 

If you like games but cite the reasons above for why you don’t play handheld games, give it another shot. With the 3DS out DS prices should drop more and more as time goes on, and there is a wealth of awesome games that you won’t find counterparts on consoles.

 

Now, I’ll go back to playing Pokemon White. Gotta catch ’em all as they say.

 

My Thoughts on the iPad

The iPad Arriveth

Ah yes. The iPad has come. I seriously thought the internet was going to crash just covering it’s announcement and release. So what is it? A tablet computer, a giant iPod touch, or a plate to make fresh salsa? A little of all those really.

When it was originally theorized that Apple was making a tablet computer , most mockups showed a tablet computer running the Mac OS X. In January when it was finally announced, and that it would be running the iPhone OS, and the reception was chaotic at best. Why would they release a giant iPhone? Doesn’t Apple know that people want to run Photoshop on a touch interface? I want to word process on it too!

Hype soon took over regarding how this was the future. This was computing going forward. I think that statement can be misleading. We aren’t going to abandon the keyboard and mouse anytime soon. Not when we’re working. But we will when we are consuming. The internet has so much media… and we must consume it all! This is the gap the iPad fills.

Surprisingly, a good number of people who have laptops uses them most of the time just to surf the web. Why do that on something that only has 2 hours of battery, a full keyboard, and a crappy trackpad (unless you’re on a MacBook). You could have 10 hours of battery life, something easy to hold, and very small and portable.

It’s a media consumption device at it’s best. You aren’t going to use this to write articles (even though Apple is bring iWork to it) , you aren’t going to do massive photo editing with it,  and it certainly won’t replace pen and paper.

Final thought. I got to play with one… it’s fast, nice to read on, and wonderful to hold. If you have a desktop computer, and want a laptop… mostly for browsing… get an iPad. Will this changes things? Yes. This is the newspaper/magazine of the future… and it’s here now!

Image Credits:
Armed And Dangerous qwghlm via Flickr
Sky Light Peter Kaminski via Flickr

Apple’s War on Innovation

For those who know me, you know that I would give my first born child to Google. So what happens when my beloved iPhone creator Apple rejects something Google makes? I get sad and depressed like Mommy and Daddy are fighting. Recently it was announced that all Google Voice related apps on the iPhone App Store were removed for “duplicating functionality already on the iPhone.”Google Voice

Google Voice is a service that allows you to keep one number and forward it to any phone you own. Google gives you one number for life, for free. Tons of features come with it, it’s essentially your own personal call center. You can block callers, screen calls, and set times for which phones ring. There’s tons more that I’m not mentioning. It’s absolutely amazing and it’s something that the Telcos should have come up with years ago. But they didn’t. Now Google’s got it and there isn’t even a competitor for this type of service, let alone one for free.

Google recently opened the flood gates for Google Voice to the public and has been sending invites like crazy. This must have what triggered the events that recently passed. Two apps were already available in the App Store – GV Mobile and VoiceCentral. They’ve been around since May. They were paid apps developed by third party developers. The main reason people want these apps is to be able to show their Google Voice number on outgoing calls, and to review all history on their Google Voice account. These apps also integrated with your iPhone address book. But these apps were pulled this week, and then Google admitted that Apple denied their official app that was submitted six weeks ago. Again, the apps were pulled for “duplicating functionality already on the iPhone.” You may want to re-read that. And come on, how many notes apps are in the App Store?

There are several reasons why this is and should be upsetting to iPhone users.

First, Apple is now aggressively blocking an incredibly useful app. Something that is new, that no one else has. Their acceptance to date has been pretty inconsistent. They’ve hindered functionality of apps like Google Latitude, and Skype. But this was a flat out block, and a retroactive one at that. The apps that were already in the store were APPROVED for months, then retroactively denied. People paid money for them, and now if they need to clear their iPhone, they won’t be available.

Second, Google has already released this app to all Blackberry phones, including those on the AT&T network. So AT&T already has this app functioning on another device on their network. Some have suggested that AT&T is not ready for the growth of the iPhone userbase, even though they’ve dropped the price of the phone down to a mere $99 to gain… more iPhone users.

Third, most people are placing the blame entirely on AT&T. AT&T is scared of Google Voice, even though to use the service… you have to have a wireless phone number to use it wirelessly. It’s not a VOIP app. I will be using my AT&T minutes to make calls on my iPhone. You can also text from Google Voice, which is maybe what they are afraid of. But most people are going to keep their texting plans too (because $30 a month is a reasonable price). So if AT&T thinks they are going to lose money on it, they are wrong. They will lose money by for blocking it, as a lot of people will move to the Android platform which has a much more open acceptance for applications developed for it.

Fourth, and last. Apple has been so inconsistent with its approval of apps that developers may not want to take a chance on any kind of application that “duplicates functionality already on the iPhone” or improves upon it. Why spend money and time developing an application if you have no certainty on whether that app will show up a month or two later? Apple and AT&T are blocking true innovation on an already innovative phone. Why not improve it and foster even greater unimaginable uses for the phone?

I am greatly upset with this new trend Apple is setting, and as a consumer I should be allowed to put whatever I want on my phone as long as it doesn’t interrupt with AT&T’s network. Android and the Blackberry will have time to catch up to the iPhone if this continues. Even if you aren’t a Google Voice user, you should still remain concerned. Hopefully these are just growing pains that we can laugh at in a year.

Radio. Schmadio.

Radio. Do you listen to it anymore? Any type? I do. I love radio. It decides what I’m listening to. I signed up for an XM online radio account. They have some good stations. One of my faves is Hair Nation. It’s all 80’s hair bands music. Great music. I also have some quality classic music listening in there. XM has a pretty broad range that will allow you to expand your music listening.

I also have an app on my iPhone called WunderRadio. It aggregates several radio stations streams and let’s you play them on your phone.  They can be be from anywhere too. Most of my local radio stations are there. CNN and NPR are also listed. It also has police scanner channels and railroad channels, which allow me to be an old man. Clear Channel came out with their own radio streaming app called I :heart: Radio. It only had 12 stations when it first debuted. It’s slowly growing now. NPR has their own iPhone app out too.

I can’t wait to get XM on my iPhone. That will be sweet. Do you listen to any radio, or have you moved to podcasts and mp3s? I am curious.