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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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AppDate: uKheshe bring banking to the masses

In his apps roundup, SEAN BACHER highlights uKheshe, FNB’s banking app with its will feature, Split Payments, Momentum Safety Alert and Fleetonomy.

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uKheshe micro transaction platform

Financial inclusion took another step forward as local start-up, uKheshe, South Africa’s cheapest and most convenient QR cash card and micro transaction platform, won the 2019 Global Fintech Hackcelerator @ Southern Africa competition. 

“The issue of financial inclusion is a global one and the more we can do to uplift the unbanked and under banked, the healthier their respective economies will become,” says Clayton Hayward, co-founder, uKheshe.

While 1.2 billion people have opened a financial account since 2011, there is still an estimated 1.7 billion adults worldwide (or 31% of adults) who don’t have a basic transaction account.  Globally, two-thirds of adults without an account cite a lack of money as a key reason, which implies that financial services aren’t yet affordable or designed to fit low-income users.

To find out more about uKheshe click here

FNB’s banking app with will feature

First National Bank now lets its customers draw up their own wills via the FNB Online Banking platform at no cost. To date, the bank has seen a significant increase in the number of clients who drafted their own wills online, with over 52 000 clients already accessing the functionality.

Approximately 80% of South Africans don’t have a valid will in place; and many people believe that it’s a need only when they get older, or later in life. 

“Whilst the digital process is simple and easy to use, the solution also helps with a dedicated client support centre should clients need further assistance or advice regarding the drafting of their wills,” says Johan Strydom, Growth Head, FNB Wealth and Investments. “The solution aims to simplify the process and allows customers to easily draft a will online anytime and at any place, at no cost. In addition, FNB will keep your original will in safe custody at no extra cost.”

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download

Stockists: Available the FNB app which can be be downloaded here.

Split Payments

PayFast has launched Split Payments, a South African-first that instantly splits a portion of an online payment with a third party. The service is designed to facilitate fast, safe payments for platform-based businesses, including online marketplaces.

For those who run a marketplace that brings together multiple sellers or merchants looking for new sales channels, Split Payments addresses payment headaches with a simple API integration.

Consumers are used to engaging with large global transactional platforms such as AirBnB, Uber, and Amazon. The benefits and extended reach of these types of platforms are catching on locally, and organisations like estate agency groups and even community marketplaces are setting up digital trading platforms.

The app allows businesses to instantly split out commission, membership or listing fees, when a payment is made via one of its supported payment methods.

For each online payment received  the business can determine what the split is, either a fixed amount, a percentage, or a combination of both. Custom recurring payment integration, such as subscriptions payments, can also be split automatically.

Platform: iOS and Android

Expect to pay: A free download

Stockists: Download Split Payments here

Read more about Momentum’s new Safety Alert app and Fleetonomy.

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Why 4G is still a thing

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Even with the 5G era already upon us, investment in 4G/LTE networks is still vitally important for operators in sub-Saharan Africa and must remain a core focus of network construction for the immediate future. This is according to David Chen, Vice-President, Huawei Southern Africa. 

“Currently, the mobile broadband penetration rate in Africa is only 47%, while 4G penetration rate is merely 10%,” Chen said.

“Insufficient coverage causes LTE users to fall back to the 2G or 3G networks, resulting in significant decline in user experience. It also leads to congestion on the 2G and 3G networks and makes it difficult to release spectrum used by 2G and 3G.”

Chen said that LTE and 5G complement each other and are evolving in parallel. In the next few years, 5G will mainly be used in more industrial communications.

LTE will remain the primary choice for global mobile communications through 2025. It will form the basic layer of national networks, especially when it comes to the mobile broadband access.

“It will take a long time for 5G to provide nationwide continuous coverage. Before that, enhanced LTE networks can guarantee optimal user experience for 5G users, including services such as VR, AR, and cloud gaming,” said Chen.

He said that it is important for operators to invest in 4G to secure future growth, as it is estimated that there will be an additional 80 million LTE users in sub-Saharan Africa by 2025.

Driven by this growth, LTE traffic in sub-Saharan Africa will increase by a factor of 8.8. By 2025, about 80% of all data traffic in the region will be over an LTE network.

LTE will also be the main source of future revenue for operators.

“According to GSMA Intelligence, 2G and 3G users in sub-Saharan Africa will gradually migrate to 4G,” said Chen. “By 2025, the proportion of 2G users will drop from 46% to 12%.”

Part of the reason for the migration to 4G is because the ecosystem is mature.

“The price of feature phones supporting VoLTE in the sub-Saharan Africa market has been as low as $25,” Chen said.

Since 5G equipment is already available, there is an opportunity for operators to build out their 4G networks while ensuring that they can evolve to 5G in future.

Chen offered the following tips to operators to ensure they are ready for 5G:

  • All future equipment installations should be 5G ready, allowing easy upgrades to 5G through software updates.
  • Software should support multi-standard spectrum sharing to improve spectrum efficiency, and to allow the smooth migration of 2G and 3G users.
  • Networks must support 4G and 5G coordination, in terms of spectrum, operation and maintenance. This will ensure that users have a consistent experience as we enter the 5G era.
  • The value of existing ICT infrastructure, such as base station sites, must be maximised to avoid overlapping services and wasted resources. This would mean boosting the capacity and coverage of every station for optimum efficiency.
  • Carriers should explore the business case for all possible 5G innovations when building 4G networks, and not just embrace 5G for its own sake. This will mean building business models around IoT, video, live broadcast, augmented reality, and virtual reality.
  • It is important that operators build partnerships with providers that can support the ongoing spectrum evolution with fast site upgrades and large-capacity solutions. The idea is to maximise the value of 4G networks, and smoothly evolve to 5G without unnecessary infrastructure investment.

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