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The stars will align for ‘Mario’ movie

Word of the Nerd

Thursday night’s Nintendo Direct presentation was arguably the best one in years.

It didn’t have everything I personally had hoped for, but it had a little bit of everything for everyone, with so much good that it’s too much good for this week’s column. Seriously, we’re not even going to talk about “Bayonetta 3” at all. Believe me, I wish I had the space today.

Go check it out on Youtube if you want to see everything. It will run you about 40 minutes, probably longer if, like me, you have to keep stopping after some things to collect your breath.

It felt like a long troll

Shigeru Miyamoto, the creator of Super Mario Bros. and many other famous Nintendo characters, spoke for several minutes about his and Nintendo’s recent collaboration with American film studio Illumination and its producer/CEO Chris Meledandri on a Mario Bros. animated film that Miyamoto announced would be set to release in North American theaters on Dec. 21, 2022, with release dates in other regions to be announced later.

He then proceeded to drop what at first appeared to be an elaborate troll from a beloved gaming icon, but turned out to be a star-studded casting announcement.

Our favorite red capped plumber will be voiced by Chris Pratt. An odd choice, sure. But it’s Chris Pratt, so who am I to say what he’s capable of.

Charlie Day of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” fame will voice Mario’s brother, Luigi. Comedy. Goldmine.

Anya Taylor-Jay will voice

forever-the-damsel, Princess Toadstool Peach.

Then it got weirder. Jack Black was cast as King Koopa Bowser, Penn State’s own Keegan-Michael Key will be voicing Toad and Seth Rogan was tapped to play Donkey Kong. Charles Martinet, for years the voice of Mario and other Nintendo characters, will also be involved.

THEN IT GOT EVEN WEIRDER. Kevin Michael Richardson as Kamek, Fred Armisen as Cranky Kong, Sebastian Maniscalco as Spike. Sure, all likely to be minor roles. But Miyamoto and Nintendo really nailed it here. This is a cast of high-profile names that, to steal the phrase from professional wrestling, will put butts in seats.

Actual game news

Chief among the many interesting things to come out of this Direct was the announced update for the Nintendo Switch Online membership system.

The addition of a new price tier will come with the added benefit of – take a breath – Nintendo 64 and SEGA Genesis games. Yes, you read that right, ’90s kids. Both of them.

Members can choose to keep their current plans if they want, and will be given the option to switch when the service goes live. Nintendo says it will provide an update in October with pricing details and a launch date.

The starting games are ones you’d likely expect to be there, with only nine to start for the N64 and eight on the Genesis, but a lot of the major titles are ones that people have been asking for.

“The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time,” “Star Fox 64” and “Mario Kart 64,” are going to be there, with others like “Zelda: Majora’s Mask,” “F-Zero X,” “Paper Mario” and “Banjo Kazooie” planned to release later on, and games with multiplayer features will be able to be played both locally and online.

As I wrote in a previous column, if you give the players what they want, they’ll pay whatever you ask and do it gladly.

It helps that they’re doing this as a subscription service vs. the ala carte style of the Virtual Console of old, but it’s nice nonetheless to see this happen with it being the 25th anniversary of the system this year.

Nintendo even introduced new wireless N64 and Genesis controllers (available at $49.99 USD to members only) to, as Miyamoto said, “ensure the games can be played with the same style controls from their original releases.”

But I’ll end with probably my only gripe. The brilliant name they came up with for it? Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pass.

Riveting.

Dan Isenberg writes about gaming, tech and general nerd culture for the Altoona Mirror. He can be reached at disenberg@altoonamirror.com. Follow him on Twitter @TheseDanTweets.

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