About John

I talk about Nintendo games at the Nintendo Fun Club Podcast and Star Wars at The Blockade Runner. Interests: Being a dad, eating vegan food, punk rock. Twitter = ArcadeGhost Miiverse = ghostinthearcade Email = ghostinthearcade@gmail.com

NFC Goes to the Nintendo Switch Holiday Experience 2018

Nintendo is doing another holiday mall tour this year, the Nintendo Switch Holiday Experience 2018, and luckily one of the 11 locations they’re setting up residence in is just about an hour from where I live in Schaumburg, Illinois (just outside of Chicago). We needed to make a trip to Whole Foods for some vegan Thanksgiving food anyway and it’s right next door, so we decided to not kill any birds all with one stone and make a day of it.

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The event was really cool, but also today was probably not the best day to check it out. There was a celebrity make-up artist doing a signing of some kind at the Woodfield Mall today and the place was PACKED. Plus today was the launch day of the Switch Holiday Experience (which runs from now until December 16th), so it was maybe the busiest day of the event’s entire run.

Still, once Ryan texted me and let me know it was happening in my area, I had to go and I’m definitely glad I did. The primary attraction is Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and that’s actually the only game I played. We waited in line for probably 90 minutes to get less than five minutes of game time, but that’s roughly what I expected and it was super cool. I played as Simon Belmont, my son Owen played as Incineroar, and he actually finished in second place in our four player battle. Every character was unlocked and available to play, and I’d imagine if you’re able to check out the event on a Tuesday afternoon or something, you could spend plenty of time checking it out.


Other games being demoed include Overcooked 2, Super Mario Party, Just Dance 2019 and the Labo Vehicle Kit. Pokemon: Let’s Go Pikachu and Evee will be playable too, but not until November 16th which is when they launch anyway.


As an added bonus, My Nintendo members can check in with their QR codes and receive a gift like stickers, bags, posters, or even $20 eShop cards. I walked away with a sticker set and Owen bagged a MyNintendo pop-socket, so while the giveaways aren’t terribly exciting, they’re still worthwhile.

Check out Nintendo’s site for a list of Switch Holiday Experience locations; if you’re lucky enough to have one nearby it’s definitely worth stopping by, though I’d recommend learning from my mistakes and waiting for a less crazy day at the mall to check it out for yourself.

Nintendo World Championships 2017 – Chicago Qualifier Event

Nintendo fans from across the country will be competing in the Nintendo World Championships once again in October and I was lucky enough to attend one of the qualifying events today just outside of Chicago, one of the eight cities hosting preliminary competitions this month and next leading up to the main event.

Chicago’s event is happening at a Best Buy in Evanston, IL this weekend (August 26th and 27th), so my friend Rich and I decided to make the trip in and meet my brother Jason for the second day of qualifiers there. We showed up at about 9:45 for the 10 a.m. start time and I’d guess we were somewhere between 50 and 75 in line. All the Nintendo fans we talked to in line (including Ness!) were in good spirits and even offering one another helpful tips for scoring their best possible times in Mario Kart 7. After waiting in line for roughly 30 minutes after the store opened, Rich and I were ushered into Best Buy’s Magnolia room to tables hosting five New Nintendo 2DS XL systems and given the opportunity to complete two time trials on GBA Bowser’s Castle in Mario Kart 7. I finished with a (possibly?) respectable 1:31 time, but considering the leaderboard already hosted numerous times under 1:20, we turned our attention toward our real reason for attending: the Samus Returns and Mario Odyssey demos!

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Nintendo Switch Event – Chicago February, 2017

UPDATE: Now with video!

Nintendo’s Switch and Play hands on tour continues making its way through the country as we approach the system’s launch on March 3rd and I was lucky enough (thanks to some help from Jeremy of Qoopa Klub) to attend the Chicago stop on February 18th. Ryan and I recorded an episode all about it (listen here), so check that out for hardware and game impressions. Check out the photos below (click on one to scroll through them one at a time). I’ll probably update this post soon with a little video too. The event was super fun and everything ran really smoothly, so props and thanks to Nintendo for a great time and for the Switch-branded pretzels, goldfish, and cookies!  If you live in San Francisco, LA, or can make it to PAX East or SXSW, definitely try to make it out to play some Switch. Either way, it’s not long now until we all have the chance milk virtual cows and play Breath of the Wild in every conceivable venue or location. Can’t wait!

Super Mario Run Reactions

mario-appleEarlier today at Apple’s iPhone 7 reveal event, Nintendo announced Super Mario Run, a long-anticipated Mushroom Kingdom spin on the endless runner genre for iOS devices. Unsurprisingly, the game has proven to be quite controversial with Nintendo’s core fanbase. While it undoubtedly seems long overdue for more casual fans of Mario’s many previous platformers, those of us who follow Nintendo and its mascot more closely are just as likely to be outraged as excited. John and Ryan weigh in below:


Watching today’s Apple event (as I always do; full disclosure, I’m a pretty big fan and follower of the company), I couldn’t help feeling growing excitement when it became more and more clear that Mario was indeed coming to iOS. I was surprised for sure, as I think most of us were; Nintendo had made it clear that Fire Emblem and Animal Crossing were next for mobile, and while Mario may happen at some point, it wouldn’t be one of the company’s first cell phone games.

But feeling good about Mario on mobile was just as surprising as the news it was happening at all.

I rarely play games on my phone, and when I do they’re puzzle or social games. Games that don’t require quick reflexes and games that aren’t dependent on super accurate control. So, not Mario. I’ve played an endless runner or two, and while I won’t claim to have hated them or detested the genre, they certainly didn’t do much for me. Plus, like for so many of us, Mario in many ways represents the pinnacle of pure game design for me.

All of which is to say I didn’t think I wanted Super Mario Run, and while I’m still not completely convinced that I’ll love it, I like what I saw. The idea of having access to a quick Mario-fix on my phone is kinda exciting. Super Mario Run surely won’t live up to its traditional console and handheld counterparts, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun in its own right, right?


Well, Nintendo did the thing that everyone said they should do, and it’s about as unexciting as you expected. Super Mario Run is quite possibly the least-inspired game Nintendo has developed internally since Color-TV Game 6. From the NSMB art style to the endless runner trappings, everything about this game feels depressingly 5 years ago. I’ve actually really enjoyed Nintendo’s mobile output to this point- I had a fun couple of months with Miitomo, and still check it occasionally. But watching this video of Super Mario Run, the only thing I feel is a desire to get back to New Super Luigi U. Part of Nintendo’s mobile strategy is to get people to play their consoles, so I guess Super Mario Run is successful in that regard? I just never realized a Nintendo success could be so depressing.


Watching Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto grace the stage at the Apple event today to show off Super Mario Run made me sad. It also made me feel stupid for feeling sad. This is not how I like to feel after Nintendo announcements. I know it’s silly to have such a strong, personal, and emotional reaction to news that a company I love is bringing a franchise I adore to a bigger audience, but I am afraid this could be the beginning of an upsetting trend for many long-time Nintendo fans like myself. I understand that Nintendo is developing a new console right now, and that Super Mario Run is not the company completely giving up on their own hardware. But I have spent the last decade watching the general public largely ignore masterful Nintendo games like Mario Galaxy and Super Mario 3D Land. Now I will likely watch Nintendo score a big hit with a game that appears at first glance to be much less imaginative and expertly crafted. Of course, I won’t know for sure until I play it and will definitely give it a shot. But everything from the art design to how I imagine the gameplay will feel  leaves me unenthused and worried. I’m afraid millions and millions of people are about to buy Super Mario Run, telling Nintendo that this is the Mario they’ve been wanting for the last several years because that could affect Nintendo’s ideas of how to bring Mario into the future. Hopefully I’ll read this in two years, after playing a brilliant, smash-hit Mario NX game and having some fun with Super Mario Run, and laugh at my overreaction.

Episode 93.5 – Disney Infinity 3.0


Download this episode (right click and save)

Games: Disney Infinity 3.0 (Wii U)

Topics: Force Friday, Star Wars Rebels: Siege of Lothal, Lords of the Sith, Star Wars: Aftermath


Ash – Lose Control

John Williams – The Trip To The Naboo Temple

John Williams – The Forest Battle (Concert Suite)

Saves The Day – Stand in the Stars