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Super Mario Odyssey – not your everyday voyage

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The new Super Mario Odyssey game has been touted as the best Mario Bros release yet. SEAN BACHER finds out what all the fuss is about.

Super Mario Odyssey, the new Mario Bros instalment from Nintendo, has been released for the Nintendo Switch, the hottest gaming platform of the past year.

It brings together various characters from previous Mario Bros games, along with a myriad of new ones.

The plot remains similar to the original 8-bit, 2D game that many of us grew up with and got us into TV games – where Mario finds himself on a quest to save his beloved Princess Peach from his old time nemesis, Bowser.

However, Odyssey’s gameplay is in 3D, with 17 worlds or kingdoms, ranging from the Metro Kingdom to the Moon Kingdom – each offering different challenges, puzzles and game dynamics. I have found that many other game manufacturers can’t quite get the idea of a 3D landscape to work properly, with characters getting stuck or with me just wandering around with no idea on where to go next, finally just giving up.

Not so with Nintendo and Super Mario Odyssey. They managed get it right with Mario Odyssey and a lot of it has to do with the Nintendo Switch gaming console.

In addition to the main 3D kingdoms, various hidden mini games transform the modern, detailed Mario into the old 8-bit, 2D version. You enter through a green sewage pipe and have to knock down bricks by jumping and moving left and right through the maze. Once cleared, Mario is rewarded with Power Moons, which need to be collected before moving onto the next world. There are on average 70 moons per kingdom and, although only a few are needed to advance, the more collected, the more rewards are offered.

As mentioned, Super Mario Odyssey brings with it new characters – good and bad. For instance, Mario is given Cappy the cap, which is used to destroy enemies and possess those that can’t be destroyed, like the Chain Chomps. Once Cappy has been thrown onto one of the Chain Chomps, Mario can use them to destroy walls and reveal treasures and additional hidden games.

Cappy also acts as a temporary platform to jump onto when scaling buildings or mountains. But Cappy can be difficult to control, which is why the Switch is a great console on which to play the game.

Although you can play the game with the controls attached to either side of the console, I found this rather limiting, and felt that using them wirelessly with the console hooked up to a TV offered more freedom – especially when in tight corners or executing difficult manoeuvres. There are even hints throughout the game that recommend using the latter for a better gaming experience.

In terms of playability, Mario needs to wander the kingdoms, getting his white-gloved hands on as many collectables as possible. The gold coins are still the main collectables, as they give Mario life and he loses them when attacked. There are also purple coins located throughout each stage, and these can be used to customise Mario and Cappy before beginning the next mission.

I found it rather motivating to explore each world as much as possible to find these coins to make my Mario unique. Many games would charge real currency for a customization like this.

Although the game starts out fairly easy, it gets more and more difficult as you progress. But, checkpoints throughout each of the worlds are relatively close together, meaning you don’t have to redo an entire world if you accidentally jump off a cliff or get defeated by a main boss.

In conclusion

Super Mario Odyssey is a fun game that will appeal to adults and kids. Although it can get a little challenging, its creators have designed it so that it’s not so difficult as to put a player off. Some patience and determination will get Mario through this odyssey.

Super Mario Odyssey is available from the following retailers for R850:

  • Makro
  • BT Games
  • Dion Wired
  • Musica
  • Toyzone
  • Takealot
  • RARU
  • LOOT
  • Nintendo Switch Pop Up Zone
  • Toys R Us
  • Nexus

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Queues and cash-only frustrate SA’s commuters

A new study by Visa reveals the success factors for improving travel and creating smarter cities

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The use of cash-only payments was a frustration for 38% of Johannesburg commuters and 37% of Cape Town-based commuters, according to a new global study by Visa. Another commuter frustration when paying for public transport has been long queues – 67% of Johannesburg commuters and 64% of Cape Town commuters.

Visa, in collaboration with Stanford University, came up with these findings in one of the largest global studies examining the growing demand for public and private transportation, and the important role digital commerce plays in driving sustainable growth.

According to the UN[i], by 2050, 68 percent of the world’s population will live in urban centres – and the number of “megacities” with populations greater than 10 million people will rise from 43 today to 51 within that same period. South Africa is no different, with the majority of the country relying heavily on the public transport system. In fact, according to the General Household Survey (GHS) for 2018, a total of 54 209 000 minibus/taxi trips take place in South African per month. 

Building on Visa’s experience working with transit operators, automotive companies and technology start-ups, Visa commissioned a global study, “The Future of Transportation: Mobility in the Age of the Megacity” to better understand the challenges commuters face today and in the future. The key findings were combined with a view of existing and near horizon innovations provided by experts at Stanford University, to better understand the technology gaps in addressing their pain points.

The South African Perspective

Payments lie at the heart of every form of travel, and will continue to become more integral as more cities move to contactless public transportation, digital payments for parking and rental services such as bikes or scooters.  Malijeng Ngqaleni, Deputy Director-General of the South African Inter-governmental Relations, states that a high as 60% of South African households spend on average of 20% of their monthly income on transport, while in rural areas this number can be as high as 31%.

Aside from cash-only payments, another commuter frustration when paying for public transport has been long queues – 67% of Johannesburg commuters and 64% of Cape Town commuters. Over the last few years, a number of mobile-driven taxi-hailing apps have been launched in the South African market to counteract these concerns and commuters are open to the possibilities presented by mobile apps. The Visa study echoed this by showing that 77% of Johannesburg commuters and 76% of Cape Town commuters would be willing to try a consolidated app to make payments for public transport.

 Mike Lemberger, SVP, Product Solutions Europe, Visa says: “The future success of our cities is intertwined with – and reliant on – the future of transportation and mobility. Visa and our partners have an important role to play, both in streamlining the payment experience for millions of commuters around the globe, and supporting public transportation authorities in their quest to build sustainable and convenient transportation solutions that improve the lives of the people who use it.”

Herman Donner, PhD and Postdoctoral Researcher from Stanford University co-authored the report and summarised: “When looking across the technology landscape, there already exist many products that could easily address people’s daily frustrations with travel.  However, none of these solutions should be developed in isolation. A major challenge therefore lies in first identifying relevant technologies that provide suitable products for the market then managing implementation in conjunction with  a broad set of stakeholder including  mobility providers, technology companies, infrastructure owners and public transport agencies.  From our research, we think that many of these small, incremental changes have the potential to make a significant difference in people’s daily travel,  whether it’s to help find parking, get the best price to refuel their car or plan their journey on public transportation.”

Click here for the detailed global findings.

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Women take to tech, but more needed

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By HAIDI NOSSAIR, Marketing Director META, Dell Technologies

$12 trillion – that is the value in additional global GDP that remains locked behind the gender gap. This is according to the latest Women Matter report from McKinsey, which also reveals startling disparities in the workplace. Even though women make up more than half of the human population, only 37% contribute to GDP on average – and in some countries that proportion is significantly lower.

The reasons for this can be put in three areas. Fewer women – 650 million fewer than men – participate in the global labour force. Women are also more likely to be in part-time employment and thus work fewer hours. Finally, female employees are more common in lower-productivity sectors than in higher-productivity areas.  Are women not being offered the opportunity or are they holding themselves back?

Among STEM careers this ratio is particularly dismal: only 24% of engineering professionals are women, and as few as 19% of careers in ICT are filled by women.

What is the cause of this? Studies have found that women pursuing STEM careers are higher in countries with more oppressive policies towards women, because those careers hold the promise for financial freedom and more social autonomy. In contrast, countries with progressive attitudes towards women tend to produce fewer female STEM graduates. Then how can we encourage women from early ages to take the path of STEM education?  And how can organizations ensure women have equal opportunity at the hiring stages.

Certainly addressing gender inequality is crucial and must not stop.. Where women are increasingly more part of the workforce, there are often still barriers preventing them from assuming higher management roles. Female entrepreneurs often struggle more to gain investment capital. Corporate cultures are rarely aligned with the pressures of balancing work and family obligations. Decision makers may simply lack exposure to the potential of female candidates. Female pioneers have also argued that women are too risk-averse when compared to men. 

Whether these assertions are true is a matter for debate – and that’s exactly why every professional man and woman should be talking about them and identify action to change the status-quo. This is not just about female rights, but about social upliftment: companies with a mixture of male and female leaders perform better across the board and companies in the top-quartile for gender diversity are 21% more likely to outperform on profitability.

The digital economy we live in today represent a golden opportunity for increased women contribution to the workforce as technology breaks the boundaries of location and time for the workplace and where labor intensive jobs may today be performed by data scientists. 

For two days in March, top professionals will gather to talk and exchange ideas around creating more roles for women, larger appreciation for female professionals, as well as counter the attitudes among women holding them back from greater career success and autonomy.

If you want to be part of this conversation, join the Women in Tech Africa summit today at the Century City Conference Centre in Cape Town – learn more at https://www.women-in-tech-africa-summit.com/ and use the code DELL20 for a 20% discount.

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