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Team up with amiibo in Mario Tennis

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Nintendo will be releasing Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash for the Wii U. In addition to court competition, the game will offer users the ability to team up with amiibo figurines.

Coming exclusively to Wii U in Europe and South Africa on November 20, Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash offers fun for court competitors, including the ability to team up with amiibo. Supported amiibo can be a partner in online doubles matches, or join players to battle strong computer-controlled opponents in the offline Knockout Challenge mode. The more matches an amiibo plays, the more experience it’ll gain, becoming a powerful team-mate as its abilities increase over time.

New faces like Rosalina also hit the courts, along with returning characters like Luigi, Waluigi, Boo and more for tennis with a distinct Mushroom Kingdom twist. On top of standard shots like topspin, lobs, slices and more, the new Ultra Smash move sees characters leap high into the air and smash the ball down to devastating effect. Adept tennis tacticians can also gain the advantage by hitting the right shot while standing in the coloured Chance Areas that occasionally appear, unleashing super-strong smashes or bamboozling slices to flummox adversaries on the other side of the net.

Using a combination of controllers including the Wii U GamePad, Wii Remote, Wii U Pro Controller and Classic Controller Pro, up to four players can get together in supported modes for lively tennis battles. And with a choice of camera angles, there’ll be no more defeats blamed on having to play on the far side of the court – the TV and GamePad screen can each show a different end of the court, so both teams will always have the perfect view.

According to Nintendo,an array of gameplay modes offer “plenty of opportunities for tennis tomfoolery”:

  • Knockout Challenge: Tense tiebreak matches against increasingly difficult computer-controlled opponents await in this single-player mode. If the going gets too tough, you can call in a supported amiibo as your doubles partner.
  • Mega Battle: Your character grows to gigantic proportions after grabbing a Mega Mushroom, dominating the court with their increased power and range. When rivals on both sides of the net are giant-sized, anything can happen!
  • Classic Tennis: For those who prefer their tennis a little more traditional, Classic Tennis offers two variations: Standard mode features Chance Shots and Jump Shots but no Mega Mushrooms, while Simple puts competitors between the tramlines with no Chance Shots or power-ups – a real test of tennis prowess.
  • Online multiplayer: Go up against distant adversaries from all over the world in competitive ranked play in either Mega Battle or Classic Tennis modes, or quickly jump into more casual matches. Two players on the same console can team up to take on all-comers, or a supported amiibo can join you on as your doubles partner on the online courts.

As a limited launch offer, anyone who purchases Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash from Nintendo eShop in its first four weeks on sale will receive a download code for the Nintendo 64 game Mario Tennis on Wii U Virtual Console. This N64 title not only kick-started Mario’s tennis career, it also introduced the world to Waluigi for the very first time.

Compete to see who’s the top seed in your household, train up a compatible amiibo as a powerful doubles partner and match up against online opponents in Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash, coming to Wii U in Europe and South Africa on November 20th. Two colourful new controller designs – Wii Remote Plus Toad and Wii Remote Plus Bowser – will also be available on the same day. To get a taste of the tennis action, check out the Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash trailer on YouTube.

Arts and Entertainment

Netflix to make SA series

The world leader in streaming movies has announced the first South African production to join its Originals roster.

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World leader in entertainment streaming services Netflix this week announced its first Original series in Africa, with South African series Queen Sono.

The news comes immediately in the wake of local rival Showmax announcing it’s first original drama production. In this context, it heralds a new phase in the evolution of streaming video-on-demand in South Africa.

The action-packed series follows Queen Sono, the highly trained top spy in a South African agency whose purpose is to better the lives of African citizens. While taking on her most dangerous mission yet, she must also face changing relationships in her personal life. The series will be created by Director, Kagiso Lediga and Executive producer Tamsin Andersson.

South African actress, Pearl Thusi, will star as Queen Sono, with the character having been created with her in mind. Thusi is also known for her performance in the romantic dramedy, Catching Feelings, available on Netflix.

Pearl Thusi stars as Queen Sono in Netflix’s first original series in Africa.

“We are excited to be working with Kagiso and Pearl, to bring the story of Queen Sono to life, and we expect it to be embraced by our South African users and global audiences alike.” said Erik Barmack, Vice President of International Original Series at Netflix.

“We are delighted to create this original series with Netflix, and are super excited by their undeniable ability to take this homegrown South African story to a global audience. We believe Queen Sono will kick the door open for more awesome stories from this part of the world” added the director and executive producer of the series, Kagiso Lediga.

The series is due to start production in 2019.

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Showmax shoots its first local drama

Showmax has completed filming its first commissioned drama, as it builds out its roster of original content.

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The Girl From St Agnes, Showmax’s first original drama, wrapped on 28 November 2018 after filming in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands and Johannesburg. The eight-part whodunnit premieres on Showmax on 31 January 2019. It is the second series in a programme designed to build out its roster of exclusive, original content.

As Netflix takes hold as South Africa’s preferred streaming video-on-demand service,  Showmax owner MultiChoice has made a string of strategic announcements designed to take the DStv paid satellite broadcasting service into the streaming era. Original content is critical to this strategy, as Netflix is on track to become the world’s biggest movie studio.

Showmax is available in 70 countries.

Photographer: Patrick Toselli

“Our first Original – last year’s light-hearted comedy Tali’s Wedding Diary – had the most successful launch day of any series on Showmax ever,” says Candice Fangueiro, head of content at Showmax. “This is a complete change of direction: The Girl From St Agnes is a dark murder mystery that will keep you guessing and taps into the current conversations in South Africa about #metoo and teen sexuality.”

At St Agnes, a prestigious all-girls boarding school in the Midlands, a popular and beautiful student is found dead at the base of the old mill. Fearful of the scandal it might cause, the school is quick to declare the death of Lexi Summerveld a tragic accident.

But drama teacher Kate Ballard doesn’t believe it. On the night of her death, an upset Lexi had been trying to contact her, and Kate had ignored her. Now wracked with guilt, Kate attempts to piece together the terrible truth.

The more she investigates, the more Kate realises that she didn’t know Lexi or the school at all. Behind the imposing walls of St Agnes, Lexi’s killer won’t be the only person exposed…

Newcomer Jane De Wet was handpicked to play Lexi by legendary South African casting director Moonyeenn Lee (Tsotsi), who’s been nominated for two Emmy Awards in the last three years, for The Looming Tower and Roots.

Kate is played by Nina Milner, who modelled for Vogue Germany and at Paris Fashion Week last year and most recently starred in Troy: Fall Of A City as Penthesilea, queen of the Amazons.

Jane and Nina are joined by an impressive supporting cast that includes internationally recognised South African talent like Robert Hobbs (District9), Tyrone Keogh (24 Hours To Live), Tessa Jubber (Wallander), Karl Thaning (Dredd) and Shamilla Miller (Troy: Fall Of A City) opposite local favourites like Celeste Khumalo (The Queen), Richard Lukunku (Happiness Is A Four-Letter Word), Zakeeya Patel (High Rollers), Graham Hopkins (The Lab) and three-time South African Film and Television Award (SAFTA) winner Jerry Mofokeng (Heist, Tsotsi), not to mention hot new talent like Paige Bonnin and Tristan de Beer.

The Girl From St Agnes is being produced by Quizzical Pictures, winners of the SAFTA for Best Drama for six of the last eight years, as well as a Peabody. Producer Harriet Gavshon, Quizzical Pictures’ managing director, is drawing on her own private school experiences, which sparked the original idea for the show. This is the first time Harriet has produced a series, rather than just executive producing, since 2009’s Hopeville, which won Best Drama and Miniseries at Rose d’Or, was nominated for an International Emmy, and was a finalist at Monte Carlo.

Catharine Cooke, who won this year’s Best Director In a TV Drama SAFTA for iNumber Number, co-directed the shoot with Cindy Lee, a commercials director helming her first drama series, having previously worked as the social media director on the Emmy-winning Black Mirror. Double SAFTA winner Gillian Breslin (Umlilo; 4Play: Sex Tips For Girls) is head writer. This makes Girl From St Agnes a rare TV series commissioned, produced, written and directed by women.

“What links Girl From St Agnes, Tali’s Wedding Diary and the other Showmax Originals in the pipeline is our aim to work with the best South African talent and be the home for brave, quirky and at times edgy local stories you wouldn’t find anywhere else,” says Candice. “Creating new characters that audiences come to love and follow is an incredibly rewarding experience and we want to establish a platform for more ‘Tali’s’ across varied genres.”

All eight episodes can be binged on Showmax from 31 January 2019.

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