The 'Shroom:Issue 149/Strategy Wing
Hello and welcome to our post-Awards and pre-issue 150 edition of Strategy Wing. I want to thank those thirteen voters who cast a nod towards Strategy Wing for Favorite 'Shroom Team this year. We have some wonderful dedicated writers in this team, and I can't tell you how good it feels to see those writers get some well-deserved recognition. Of course, the Awards wouldn't be possible without the dedicated work of many users in this community, so I offer a sincere thanks to all of you who contributed to Awards in any way, as well.
As you might imagine, many of our writers have been caught up in the flurry of activity in the community this past month, so Strategy Wing is a little smaller than you might have expected this month. Meta Knight's Dream Land Journal isn't here this month, as Meta Knight (talk) spent a great deal of time working on Awards presentations and would rather prepare for an issue 150 edition. We also lose PK144's Course Corner this month, as Parakoopa144 would like to work on refocusing his efforts away from level analysis. If you see him around, be sure to thank him for his months spent giving us detailed breakdowns of Super Mario levels. Don't fret over a few missing sections, though. Superchao (talk) and Yoshi876 (talk) have endeavored to deliver all of your favorite F-Zero, Mario Kart, and Pokémon content. On top of it all, we also have our Super Mario Maker 2 contest to introduce this issue, so make sure to check it out at the bottom of the page after you read our three sections this month.
Just because this month is a little on the shorter side doesn't mean that next month will be, though. I know folks have already reached out to me about guest sections for Strategy Wing in issue 150 or debuting new regular sections, and I encourage all of you to follow their lead. We have some great surprises lined up for you next month here, and I invite all of you out there to contribute, too. If you have any ideas for a guest section, a new regular section, or any other ideas you think would fit well in Strategy Wing, now is the time to share it. Send your ideas to me if you want, even, and we can talk through them. Otherwise, go check out the sign-up page, take a look at our application process (it's not that much work, once you have your idea written up), and send in your guest sections and demo sections to our Statistics Manager, LudwigVon.
That said, I don't have much I can add beyond that this month, so I ought to end it off there. Enjoy the post-Awards euphoria, take a look at the excellent presentations we had in the Awards Ceremony over on the forum, and start thinking about your contributions for issue 150. Of course, make sure you take the time to read through our line-up of sections and vote for Mach Speed Mayhem's issue 150 edition before you head off. It will be worth your time.
Section of the Month
Congratulations to Superchao (talk) and Yoshi876 (talk) for taking a joint first-place with Strategy Wing's two staple racing sections last month. An informative examination of Beastman from Superchao and Yoshi876's recounting of his experience using Mario Kart 7's Dino Dino Jungle staff kart certainly delivered!
Tips and Challenges
Does Cheep Cheep Lagoon's staff kart combination sink or swim?
Racing Like the Staff
Hello readers and welcome to Racing like the Staff, a section where I do 150cc on different Mario Kart games, but the twist is, I take on the Grand Prix by using the combination that a staff and expert staff member used in that Cup. If you're still a little confused, by this I mean if the track is in the Mushroom Cup, then that's the Cup that I race in. Unfortunately, I don't have copies of the Mario Kart games before Mario Kart 7, so it's only that, 8 and Deluxe that will be getting this treatment.
Well this month we return to our first ever Cup, courtesy of a lack of space for me to use either my Wii U or Switch, and we return to the Mushroom Cup of Mario Kart 7. One of the things this game introduced to the series was racing underwater, and the Cup had a track specially designed for that, Cheep Cheep Lagoon, and this is what we will be racing on today. Cheep Cheep Lagoon was clearly made to show off the uses of driving underwater, and as such I don't really have any feelings toward it, but let's race it!
The combination for normal staff for Cheep Cheep Lagoon is Princess Peach with the Royal Ribbon, Roller tyres and Peach Parasol, and the stats are as follows:
I thought I got a good start, but so did everybody else so I remained down in eighth place. However, going round the first corner I was able to drift into fourth place. This increased to third when I got a Mushroom and was able to use a shortcut. Despite getting a Fire Flower, I remained in third, being passed by Lakitu but overtaking DK. On the straight into the corner, I got maneuvered past Bowser, and was gaining on Lakitu but he took me out with a Green Shell. DK passed me at this point as well, and I managed to get in front of Lakitu, while DK was taken out by a Blue Shell. I then held off the other racers until the finish line.
I initially kept my lead, however a series of slipstreams behind me saw me fall down to fifth. Thankfully, Metal Mario quickly took himself out on a goat, and I was able to pass DK, Lakitu and Wario. DK got ahead of me, after for some reason I took the slower path on the roofs of the houses, but a Blue Shell took him out. Lakitu stayed behind me for a while, before mysteriously vanishing, and on the third lap although DJ was never far behind me, he could never challenge for the win, and I got the second win of this section.
Cheep Cheep Lagoon
I seemed to get the knack for holding onto my lead, as I managed it again this time, before DK overtook me just before we got into the water with his Triple Mushrooms. He kept the lead until the same place on the second lap when he took himself out on a Banana. And much like in the race before, although he was never far behind, he could never challenge for a win.
Shy Guy Bazaar
I started off well again, but some slipstreamers got ahead, putting me down to fourth, but using the quicker route in the market I was soon out ahead again. I kept this lead until an inconvenient Blue Shell hit me, and dropped me into third. I regained the lead during the S-section after the market, and even took out Princess Daisy with a Green Shell for good measure. Through this I extended my lead convincingly, so when a Red Shell was thrown at me as I was exiting the market, it still had not caught up before the jumping section and destroyed itself falling down.
This was a mostly fun combination, and I would recommend it. I didn't find myself enthralled with it, but maybe that's just because the Princess isn't my character. I managed to win all four races, and generally stay ahead of the rest of the pack, so I can't say it's bad.
The expert staff combination is Princess Peach with the Tiny Tug, Roller tyres and Peach Parasol. The stats are as follows:
I got a marginally better start than last time, and by that I mean I got up into seventh instead of remaining last. I was able to hug the corner to get into fourth, but that's when issues began to develop as the lack of speed really showed. It didn't feel like I was gaining on people and I'm at a loss as to how I passed Lakitu and DK, especially since the only way I gained on Metal Mario was because the AI seem to slow down when hit with a Blooper. After finally passing Metal Mario, I was only able to fend an attack by him off with a Fireball, and that's when the Blue Shell came, dropping me back into second. I managed to keep Lakitu off, and the only reason I passed Metal Mario for the victory, literally on the line might I add, was because of the AI slowing down with Blooper. So thank you, Blooper, you got me 10 points from this race.
I got a good start, but the slowness of this Kart showed as I was soon down into sixth anyway. Koopa took himself out, and I got past Princess Daisy, but I couldn't gain on the top, as per usual. I used a Mushroom to pass Lakitu and Metal Mario, leaving them with the goats, but DK still kept ahead of me. That was until the final lap, in which we were shrunk down by Lightning. When I went back to normal size, I was just able to pass him before he became normal again, and I used a Mushroom by the windmills and sealed the win.
Cheep Cheep Lagoon
My start was better than expected, and by that I mean I only fell down to third place. I thought I'd kept Koopa at bay to seal myself second, but he got the position off of me, before driving into a stalactite. I had resigned myself to second due to Lakitu being nearly an Item Box ahead of me, but then our Lord and Saviour Blooper descended from the heavens, and slowed him down just around the clams. And with that, I was able to drive home to victory.
Shy Guy Bazaar
Halfway through the race, I thought I'd be writing how I had the situation I thought I'd be in all the time, in which I fell down to third and was unable to pass anyone. However, Lakitu and Koopa both inexplicably slowed down on the final lap, and a Red Shell dispatched Koopa and I ended up winning again.
This is by far and away the worst combination I have used in the entirety of this section. I deserved to win none of the races in which I drove this combination, although an argument could be made for Cheep Cheep Lagoon. A lot of combinations I've done have had low speed, but this really shows its low speed. This was my first time ever driving with the Tiny Tug, and unless other combinations call for it, it will certainly be the last!
I hope you enjoyed this section, and I'll see you next month where I'll take a look at a combination from Mario Kart 7, probably. If you've got a combination you'd like me to review next, feel free to private message me on the forums.
Mach Speed Mayhem
Hello, 'Shroom readers! Welcome back to Mach Speed Mayhem! Once again, I've had a completely out of nowhere vote winner that was impossible to predict. Good thing I can roll with it, and that's why we're covering #22: Gomar & Shioh for this month! The short one is Gomar and the tall one is Shioh, so let's learn some more about them!
Introduced like so many others in F-Zero X, not much was known about the short Gomar and the tall Shioh back then. Their biography just informs us that they always act as one person, they're known as members of the Furikake people, and their race is a very strange one. The most interesting piece of info is that it's actually against the rules for multiple riders to use one machine, but the F-Zero Committee gave these two a special exemption to race together. F-Zero GX expanded and clarified a few things, giving us some real information. Their species is called the Fukikake, but they're natives of the planet Huckmine, and everyone in their race pairs up with a partner as soon as they're born, doing absolutely everything together (and we do mean everything). Gomar is short and smart, while Shioh is tall and athletic, and the two of them deeply admire each other's capabilities - Shioh even lets Gomar take the lead on everything. They work together with perfect precision, managing an F-Zero machine built for two as if it just had one pilot! However, they're each going to get married next year, which will naturally shift their partners from each other to their new spouses. Rumors are swirling that this will be the final F-Zero Grand Prix for the two of them... but we don't know how true it is.
F-Zero GX provided more information through the interviews. Though they do everything together and even speak in unison a lot, they're not completely in sync on everything. For example, Shioh wants to save the prize money they won, while Gomar plans to use it for gambling. Shioh is also the one who prioritizes money in life, while Gomar treasures his partner above all else. However, they agree on plenty of other things! They agree that they have the best team, and that their combination was vital to victory. They'd never pull it off alone! Unfortunately, most of their interviews are just general "we're great you know" lines, but there is one interesting item - those red scarves they wear are the symbol of their friendship. I'll have more to say on that... later. For now, it's worth mentioning their involvement in the GX Story Mode... or lack thereof. They pretty much don't have any, solely appearing to help bring Chapter 7 up to a 30-car field - and not even being that significant there. What a shame.
Onto their machine, fittingly numbered 22 for the pair of two! The Twin Noritta, constructed by the Onigiri Drive Yard Company... well, the first and most obvious thing about it? It's light. Really light. Weighing in at a mere 780 kg, the Twin Noritta is the lightest F-Zero machine in the series. The machine's biography explains that this is because it's built from wakamili, an extremely light special metal found on Huckmine. That way it can remain at full power despite the changes to the design required to accommodate two pilots. The big tradeoff? A very weak body - get shoved into the walls and you're going to pieces! In F-Zero X, the E body is made up for with the C grip and A boost, especially the latter. Heck, a lot of people consider the Twin Noritta one of the best machines in the game. High acceleration, top boost... the main problem is the curvier tracks, where only a few crashes will completely shred the machine. The machine is most recommended for time trial, blitzing through the straight tracks to set amazing times. As for F-Zero GX, despite the stat weirdness in that game, it's actually quite well-labeled! Very weak body, very strong boost, and medium handling, plus a strong acceleration in case you do slip up. It's one of the best computer machines, too; alongside the Black Bull and Queen Meteor, you will often see the Twin Noritta placing high and ruining your perfectly good runs by swooping in to take the victory from you. ...I'm not bitter.
GP Legend Series
Just like with Beastman last month, we've got a character of the day situation going on here. Gomar and Shioh appear together in episode 19, and it's all about their grand operation. You see, in the anime, the two are perfectly in sync - they speak every single line together, as opposed to the game where they do occasionally speak independently. They also have the goal of becoming the galaxy's greatest villains! Why? Fuck if I know, it's never touched on even slightly. We just have to accept these two admire Black Shadow and his evil ways because they do. Anyhow, in order to become the greatest villains, they need to become Black Shadow's minions, but in order to do that, they need an F-Zero machine... and that needs money. Where will they get it? Well, that's where the episode's plot comes in.
You see, Lucy Liberty starts off the episode getting taunted over potential weight gain, and decides to work it off. But working out is hard, so when she comes across these two friendly aliens offering her a magic weight loss backpack, she's happy to drop a huge amount of dosh on it! Of course, it turns out to be one big scam, so she storms back to complain... and gets convinced to buy a magic goblet that will help her lose weight instead. That, naturally, is also revealed as a fake, and the cycle continues of Gomar and Shioh fleecing Lucy for every penny they can get out of her. Finally, a pack of useless tea is what gets Lucy to snap out of it, and she instead storms down to the office to complain in person! What she finds is an empty office, with Gomar and Shioh arguing about a half-built F-Zero machine in the garage. They feed Lucy a sob story about working through hardship and difficulty to build an F-Zero machine, and she's so moved by it... she volunteers to help!
Since Gomar and Shioh can't split up, even to race, the big issue is making sure they can both race together. That's why Lucy and the two of them remodel their half-built machine into a two-person one, at which point Rick and Jack start to catch on to what might be going on... especially since it turns out Gomar and Shioh are wanted across the galaxy for a long history of fraud. By the time they arrive, though, Lucy's already finished the machine, allowing the two aliens to start their grand scheme of winning races to get Black Shadow's attention. At the race itself, Lucy has nothing but respect for the duo now that she knows why they scammed her, and stops by to give her advice - including that the machine is too fragile to boost more than twice. The race itself is pretty short, showing off the acceleration of the Twin Noritta and power of its boost... and the fact that when they try to boost a third time? Unsurprisingly, the machine goes to pieces. Lucy warned ya, guys!
After the race, Gomar and Shioh are finally arrested. On the plus side, Lucy is feeling pretty successful with herself after creating a highly effective F-Zero machine, and is happy to tell them that if they ever want to return to racing, the machine will be ready for them. Even Jody's interested in seeing how her machine does against Lucy's creation! ...Not that she ever will, considering that Gomar and Shioh never appear again in the anime after this. They have no role in the F-Zero: GP Legend game, and oddly enough, their F-Zero Climax biography explains nothing of their adaptational villainy. Heck, it doesn't even mention Lucy Liberty's involvement in creating their machine. Some of the Climax bios shed interesting new lights on the anime versions (looking at you, Baba), but some just... phoned it in hard.
There's not that much other information to say about Gomar and Shioh, but there is one thing that's never been proven in any kind of way but is an interesting enough theory with enough evidence to mention here. Namely, Gomar and Shioh wear red scarves as symbols of their friendship. Just with each other? Perhaps, but Dr. Stewart also wears a red scarf. This alone wouldn't matter much, but when asked about said scarf, Stewart says that he wears it for someone else... as a symbol of their friendship. So, it's entirely possible that Gomar and Shioh are friends with Dr. Stewart - as last month shows, F-Zero doesn't mind linking unexpected characters. It's also possible that this is just a character design quirk. We need a new F-Zero to find out. But until that day comes, go tell me who I'll be covering for the big Issue 150!
Hello everyone, it's me, Yoshi876 again with a new edition of Pokédex Power, the section written by the person who has recently rewatched the Pokémon Direct, and noticed that Duskull is one of the returning Pokémon, and given how Duskull is my favourite Pokémon you can imagine how excited I am, especially since it'll be getting new Pokédex entries.
But despite my love of Duskull, we will be looking at a Generation V Pokémon instead. However, I do believe that I saw this Pokémon in the Direct, so it too will be receiving new Pokédex entries. This Pokémon is the Fighting-type Sawk, and it is a karate expert.
For the most part, I'm not too into Fighting-type Pokémon. I used a Hariyama a lot in Ruby and Emerald, but other than that I often avoid them. However, Sawk and Throh are Pokémon that I have soft spots for, and I have used both of them throughout by Generation V adventures, but not my Generation VI one. Sawk is one of my favourite Fighting-types for that reason, but does that mean I'll enjoy its Pokédex? Well, let's find out.
As Sawk wasn't a Pokémon that existed before Generation V, it needed new entries for this one, and they do a good job at setting Sawk out. I do have one small bone to pick, and I will bring this up, the entries mention how they train in the mountains, and yet in Black and White you can find them outside of Pinwheel Forest, which is not in a mountainous area of Unova. Admittedly, there are trees there for the Pokémon to punch, but I feel placing them in these areas was a small oversight on the team's part. However, I feel that the entry is a decent one, giving a decent barometer on Sawk's strength, in that the sounds of it training can be heard so far away. I also like the idea that tightening the belt helps them train, giving it a reason to be there, and them appearing as wild Pokémon also makes sense as a Trainer running through could disturb a Sawk's training, hence leading to it attacking them. The 'without sleep' feels a little bit tacked on, especially since it's a common trope with fighting things, in which they train way beyond the limits of their bodies. One thing I do wish the Sawk entries did do is give a better barometer of its strength. I wrote earlier what was there was a decent barometer, but many other entries of Pokémon can talk about things they can destroy, and how easily they can do so, and I wish this was the case for Sawk.
It was like looking in a mirror with Generation VI, which is often the case.
Conclusion Although it only has one set of entries, Sawk has some good ones. I can forgive the small oversight about the mountainous regions, as the rest of the entries provide some really good facts about the Pokémon. Like I've already said, I would love to have a different barometer of its strength, but this doesn't take away from the entries. Likewise, given how Throh is almost its rival in a sense, I would love to know whether it has any interactions with them, and how these interactions go.
Super Mario Maker 2 Contest
Hello, Strategy Wing readers. I'm pleased to announce that we, GBAToad and I, are hosting a Super Mario Maker 2 contest to celebrate our upcoming milestone issue 150. What game would better exemplify the work we do here at Strategy Wing. Whether you create a wild level for the fun of mixing and matching mechanics and enemies or you try to make an artistic statement using its unusual set of tools, Super Mario Maker 2 encourages players to consider the finer points of level design, those elements and design tricks that make Super Mario levels engaging and full of surprises. In an effort to make this contest appeal to as broad an audience as possible, we've split this contest into two pieces: creating and playing. That said, we need to have levels before anyone can play them, so why don't we get to explaining what you need to know to create and submit courses?
For the first part of our contest, we're giving all of you aspiring level creators out there a chance to get creative and showcase your inner platformer designer. What do you need to do? Create one original Super Mario level in Super Mario Maker 2, upload your course to the Course World, and send the code for your course to Hooded Pitohui and GBAToad on the forum. It's as simple as that. What kind of levels can you create? Well, there's no particular theme to follow or elements you have to include, so feel free to let your imagination take you anywhere as you build the level of your dreams. You may send in any level you wish, so long as it is your own original level. All submissions will be featured in issue 150 for other users and readers to play. You have until September 18th to upload your levels and send us the codes, so start thinking about what you might make.
In issue 150, we'll share all of the level submissions we receive, and we'll give our readers a chance to play through the submissions and vote on their favorite. The winning level will be featured in a special edition of our Course Corner section written by Hooded Pitohui in issue 151. However, the popular vote won't be the only means to win. To encourage users to think carefully about their level design, we're also going to have a panel of three judges play through the submissions and judge them in three specific categories. In issue 151, our judges will provide a short write-up of the level they feel best represented each category, explaining what elements of the level's design stood out above other submissions. The three categories you should keep in mind while designing your levels are Gameplay, Aesthetic, and Creativity. Submissions will be judged in all three categories.
Gameplay - This category takes a holistic look at how you designed the level from a gameplay standpoint. How do you introduce new elements through the level? Do you make effective use of space and directional guides? Do antepieces gradually ease players into the mechanics of your level before challenging sections? What does a player discover and notice first as they play through? How intuitive is your level? What about experienced Mario players or people replaying your level? Are the extra challenges, finding, and rewards for people who explore and already possess considerable platforming skill? What do you do, as a level designer, to create a worthwhile and memorable gameplay experience for experienced and novice players alike? This is the category in which you want to channel Nintendo's philosophy of gameplay and think carefully about how you can construct a level that would feel right at home in a traditional 2D Super Mario title. Hooded Pitohui (talk) will be judging this category.
Aesthetic - How visually appealing is your level? Do you make good use of course elements to create a cohesive theme? Do you add sound effects in appropriate places which enhance the feeling of your level? Are you game mechanics integrated with the visual design and them of your level? Overall, you earn points in this category for making use of the level parts to create a level that looks cohesive with a strong and appealing visual theme. Your resident Fun Stuff Director, Roserade (talk) will be judging this category.
Creativity - This is where you earn points for any stunning creative efforts. Do you tell a story with the environment of your level? Do you have something that particularly stands out in terms of creating an overarching theme? Are any game mechanics used in surprising and memorable ways? This is where you really want to make your level stand out, to make it memorable with something particularly exciting and unique. GBAToad (talk) will be judging this category.
And that's it. You'll have about a month from the release of this issue to go forth and build a level with all of these in mind. Then, you send it our way and wait for issue 150. Come September 21st, make sure to return here to Strategy Wing and see what kind of creations your fellow users submitted with a chance to play them yourself.
But, say you aren't interested in creating levels. If you'd prefer to simply play through levels others have already created and put your Mario mastery to the test, then it will also behoove you to return next issue, because…
The second portion of this contest is made for those of you who prefer playing through the levels of other players and testing your abilities to beat the levels in the shortest amount of time. In issue 150, we'll be sharing codes for four levels created by GBAToad and Hooded Pitohui that will make up a challenge we'll call "World Mushroom." These four levels will take advantage of Super Mario Maker 2's clear conditions and the different mechanics available in different gameplay styles to provide four distinct challenges. The intent is that you can replay these levels over and over to optimize your playthrough so you can achieve to aim the best clear time on each of the four courses.
We'll share more details when the four courses are revealed next issue, but you'll have a chance to play through the four courses as many times as you'd like, and then you'll send us a screenshot of your best clear times on the victory screen for each course. Clear times will be kept secret until issue 151, when we will share the results tables and show the fastest clear times for all four courses among the submissions we receive from readers. For those readers who submit a time for all four courses, there will also be a results table for total clear time made by combining a participant's four clear times for the individual levels.
If this interests you, stay tuned for additional information and the unveiling of World Mushroom in issue 150.
We hope this contest appeals to all of you Super Mario Maker 2 players out there, and we hope to see plenty of level submissions by September 18th. Remember, the more readers that submit a level, the more levels there will be for you to play when issue 150 releases.
Oh, and there's one more thing. Since we here at Strategy Wing are always thinking about what goes into effective level design, we invite anyone who submits a level to submit a short write-up detailing the thought process that went into creating the level and highlighting any significant elements of the level's design. It isn't required that you submit any writing with your level, but we highly encourage it. Think of it as a chance to explain the inspiration behind your level and any elements of your level that stood out to you as integral to the design of the level when you created it.