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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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Android Go puts reliable smartphones in budget pockets

Nokia, Vodacom and Huawei have all launched entry-level smartphones running the Android Go edition, and all deliver a smooth experience, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Three new and notable Android Go smartphones have recently hit the market, namely the Nokia 1, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 and the Huawei Y3 (2018). These phones run one of the most basic versions of Android while still delivering a fairly smooth user experience.

Historically, consumers purchasing smartphones in the budget bracket would have a hit-and-miss experience with processing speed, smoothness of user interface, and app stability. The Google-supported Android Go edition operating system optimises the user experience by stripping out non-important visual effects to speed up the phone. Thish allows for more memory to be used by apps. 

Google also ensures that all smartphones running Android Go will receive feature and security updates as they are released by Google. This is a major selling point for these smartphones, as users of this smartphone will always be running the latest software, with virtually no manufacturer bloatware.

Vodafone Smart Kicka 4

At the lowest entry-level, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performs well as a communicator for emails and WhatsApp messages. The 4” screen represents a step up for entry-level Android phones, which were previously standardised at 3.5”.

The display is bright and very responsive, while the limited screen real estate leaves the navigation keys off the screen as touch buttons. It uses 3G connectivity, which might seem like an outdated technology, but is good enough to stream SD videos and music. Vodacom has also thrown in some data gifts if the smartphone is activated before the end of September 2018. 

Its camera functionalities might be a slight let down for the aspirant Instagrammer, with a 2MP rear flash camera and a 0.3MP selfie snapper. Speed wise, the keyboard pops up quickly, which is a huge improvement from the Smart Kicka 3. However, this phone will not play well with graphics-intensive games. 

Nokia 1

Next up is the Nokia 1, which adds a much better 5MP camera, improved battery life and a bigger 4.5” screen. It supports LTE, which allows this smartphone to download and upload at the speed of flagships. It also sports the Nokia brand name, which many consumers trust.

Although the front camera is 2MP, the quality is extremely grainy, even with good lighting. This disqualifies this smartphone for the social media selfie snapper, but the 5MP rear camera will work for the landscape and portrait photographer. 

The screen also redeems this smartphone, providing a display which represents colours truly and has great viewing angles. Xpress-on back covers allows the use of interchangeable, multi-coloured back covers, which has proven to be a successful sales point for mid-range smartphones in the past. 

Huawei Y3 (2018)

The most capable of the Android Go edition competitors, the Huawei Y3 (2018) packs an even bigger screen at 5”, as well as an improved 8MP rear camera and HD video recording. The screen is the brightest and most vibrant of the three smartphones, but seems to be calibrated to show colours a little more saturated than they actually are. 

Nevertheless, the camera outperforms the other smartphones with good colour replication and great selfie capabilities via the 2MP front camera – far superior to the Nokia 1 despite the same spec. LTE also comes standard with this smartphone and Vodacom throws in 4G/LTE data goodies until the end of September 2018. The battery, however, is not removable and may only be replaced by a warranty technician.

Comparing the 3

All three smartphones have removable back covers, which provide access to the battery, SIM card and SD card slots. The smartphones have Micro USB ports on the bottom with headphone jacks on the top. The built-in speakers all performed well, with the Y3 (2018) housing an exceptionally loud built-in speaker. 

Although all at different price points, all three phones remain similar in performance and speed. The differentiators are apparent in the components, like camera quality and screen quality. It would be fair to rank the quality of the camera and battery life by respective market prices. The Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performed well, for its R399 retail price. The Nokia 1, on the other hand, lags quite a bit in features when compared to the Huawei Y3 (2018), bwith oth retailing at R999.

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SA gets digital archive

As the world entered the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth on Mandela Day, 18 July 2018, South Africa celebrated the launch of a digital living archive. 

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The southafrica.co.za  site carries content about the country’s collective heritage in South Africa’s eleven official languages.

Designed as a nation building,  educational and brand promotion web based tool, the free-to-view platform features award-winning photographic and written content by leading South African photographers, authors, academics and photojournalists.

The emphasis is on quality, credible, factual content that celebrates a collective heritage in terms of the following: Cultural Heritage; Natural Heritage; Education; History; Agriculture; Industry; Mining; and Travel.

At the same time as reflecting on the nation’s history, southafrica.co.za celebrates South Africa’s natural, cultural and economic assets so that the youth can learn about their nation in their home language.

Southafrica.co.za Founder and CEO Hans Gerrizen conceptualised southafrica.co.za as a means for youth and communities from outlying areas to benefit from the digital age in terms of the web tool’s empowering educational component.

“We can only stand to deepen our collective experience of democracy and become a more forward planning nation if we know facts about our nation’s past and present in everyone’s home language,” he says.

Southafrica.co.za, with sister company Siyabona Africa, is the organiser and sponsor of the Mandela: 100 Moments photographic exhibition that runs until 30 September at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront-based Nelson Mandela Gateway to Robben Island.  The 3-month exhibition, which runs daily from 08h00 until 15h00, is showcasing one hundred iconic Nelson Mandela images taken by veteran South African photojournalist and self-taught lensman Peter Magubane.

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