Drawing again because of… the Wii U?

Who would’ve thought that Nintendo’s latest console would be responsible for getting me back into art again? While many people — included myself — scoffed at and cast doubt upon the GamePad, in my opinion, it’s more than proven its worth.

Games like The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD really benefit from it with its nice quick-access inventory/menu functionality, and off-TV play is fantastic for the games that support it. However, I think it’s the Miiverse — Nintendo’s social network for the Wii U and 3DS — where the GamePad truly shines.

It’s nice to type up messages like you would on Facebook and Twitter, but it’s the handwritten notes, hints, and pictures that you can leave for the community which I find the most fun. There are so many amazing artists out there, and many of them have inspired me to dust off my stylus and take a crack at drawing again.

I haven’t created much for the better part of 17 years. I loved doing anime-style work traditionally with Tria/Prismacolor markers on Letramax paper, and I took it pretty seriously at the time, dumping lots of money into supplies. Honestly, I don’t know why I stopped for so long. Doing it again now, I realize how much I missed it.

All of the sketches I did initially were for NES Remix. I drew little pictures here and there earlier this year, but I decided to jump in with both feet and sketch something bigger every time I got full rainbows on any of the games:



This drawing for Mario Bros. was first up. It’s become one of my more popular ones on the Miiverse. I don’t like the way his hat looks, but for a first attempt, I think it turned out OK. At this point, I was just getting used to the tool set, which is very light, but I think they work great.



Balloon Fight turned out to be a fun game, similar to the old arcade game Joust. For this one, I tried to make it look like his hand was stretching out towards the viewer, but I’m not sure it was all that effective.



I hated — and I mean really hated — Ice Climber when I first started playing it. It was one of the few games I honestly thought was broken! Over time, though, I learned how to play it well enough to get all the rainbows in it.

What do I think of it now? It’s OK, but I don’t know if I’ll be rushing out to play it again. For this sketch, I created an original character based loosely on the female second player from the game. The hammer inadvertently turned out looking like the mallet from Donkey Kong.



Here’s a Wind Waker-style Link to celebrate getting all the rainbows in the original Legend of Zelda. I loaded up a picture via Google for reference, and this is what I ended up with. Most of the shading is true to the original image, but I added more to give it a three-dimensional look.



My Simpsons-inspired Luigi that I drew shortly after starting NES Remix 2. I forgot to add highlights on his hair, and I totally got his mustache wrong. However, after several drawings in a row, I was starting to feel really comfortable with the sketching tools, trying new techniques with shading, and spending more time touching up my handwriting to give it some additional style.



As I’ve been progressing through NES Remix 2, I’ve been taking time to share some of my times as simpler, less time-consuming posts. Since this game doesn’t have leaderboards, this is the only way to share them in-game, which is unfortunate.

Anyway, I started off with this one using a Tanooki Mario stamp and more experimentation with hand-drawn motion effects and fonts. These only take a few minutes, but they’re still fun to make.



A “remix” of my own using Punch-Out!! and Super Mario Bros. 2 stamps, along with some hand-drawn elements to show motion and depth.



This one’s just silly, but I wanted to mess around with changing the look of the stamps themselves. Little Mac’s about to go Super Saiyan!



Running out of ideas, I tried something a little different with the bounce/impact effects, but besides that, there’s not much going on here…



…and so, I decided to detail out and stylize some numbers, which I loved doing back in high school.



When I got to Kirby’s Adventure, I went back to drawing the characters again. I’ve never tried to draw him before, and it’s harder than it looks! I took some liberties with his face design, but I like the way he turned out overall.


20140722_ghg_miiverse_7Another one of Kirby. Keen observers will notice that he’s actually blowing out instead of sucking in, but I guess in the context of displaying a score, it still works.


Anyway, as much fun as Miiverse posts are, I wanted to try my hand at getting back into color work too. I downloaded Art Academy: SketchPad on the Wii U, which is cheap at only $4, but it’s pretty limited in terms of functionality and drawing options.

I’ll write up a full review at a later date, but here’s my first piece: Finn the Human from the great cartoon Adventure Time:



All in all, I’m having a great time getting back into drawing, and again, I owe it all to the Wii U. It’s not only been a surprisingly good console for games, but it’s proven its worth on the creative side as well.

Please add me as a friend if you’d like to see more and follow my doodles. I’m ghibli99 on the Nintendo Network, so I’ll see you online!


Progress Report: NES Remix 2 (Wii U)

20140721_nes_remix_2_2I cannot tell a lie: I’m all sorts of addicted to this game.

Now, as much as I played the heck out of the first NES Remix, the sequel does just about everything better this time around, providing an experience that is more fun from the get-go.


First of all, the selection of games on display here is arguably better, mostly because they are newer and more refined in their gameplay and controls. Some, like Kirby’s Adventure and Wario’s Woods, were originally released in 1993 and 1994, respectively.

This is quite impressive given that the 32-bit PlayStation came out in 1994, two generations removed from the 8-bit NES. I always like seeing the differences between launch games and those from the end of a console cycle. It’s like night and day.


Anyway, another area that has seen noticeable improvements is the Miiverse. You can now watch replays from your friends — which are prioritized — and other players to see just how they got those low Clear Times. This is a terrific addition, and one of the best features of NES Remix 2. In my opinion, it’s always best to try figuring out how to get as low a time as possible on your own, but once you’ve hit a wall, watching ultra-fast runs really opens your eyes to shortcuts and other tricks.

Knowing what you need to do and actually doing it, though? These are two very different things that can be very difficult to replicate. I’ve retried stages many, many times in order to shave off a tenth of a second or two. It can be infuriating when you can’t seem to improve upon or even match the best Miiverse times, but it’s so much fun, and I find it nearly impossible to tear myself away from the game until I’m successful.


My mentality and approach to playing this has also changed. In the original NES Remix, I was perfectly satisfied and would move on if I just got 3 stars. I would eventually go back and rainbow star everything, but that wasn’t until much later. In NES Remix 2, I find myself almost obsessing over each stage, wanting to beat the lowest Miiverse times that appear for each one.

Doing things this way has made forward progress in the game a lot slower, but it has also given me a very deep appreciation for each individual title, and it underscores how well these old Nintendo games were designed. Even the ones that are just OK are elevated when the element of time comes into play.


Getting back to the Miiverse, another addition that makes a huge difference is that now the individual game and stage names are tagged in Miiverse posts. In the first NES Remix, if you were viewing updates outside of the game, you wouldn’t have any context, unless the person who wrote it put it in their post. Here, you can see which game and stage a post pertains to, so it’s a lot more helpful now.

I’ve been having a blast comparing times and doodling pictures for other Wii U players. I’ve mentioned it before, but the Miiverse is by far my favorite implementation of a console social network. It’s smooth, easy to use, and a lot of fun.


In terms of the actual Remix stages, I’ve barely scratched the surface. As I did with NES Remix, I’m going through all the individual games first before I take on the wacky and unique challenges to be found there.

I also haven’t really messed with the modes outside of the main game, namely Super Luigi Bros. and Championship Mode.


Any gripes so far? Yeah, one thing I’ve never liked in this series is that you can’t just forfeit a life and retry the current sub-stage you’re on. It’s annoying when your only options are to (a) restart the entire thing from scratch, (b) waste time trying to lose a life, or (c) wait for the sub-stage timer to end. Depending on the circumstances, this can take a long time, and a slight tweak in design could have made this so much more streamlined.

Another quibble is that occasionally, you’ll run into a challenge where one of the sub-stages is simply a long, drawn-out, non-interactive demo. I’m looking at you, Punch-Out!! and Kirby’s Adventure. Why they decided to put these in the game baffles me. If you replay these to improve your times, you will learn to hate them quickly.

Finally, I wish there were traditional leaderboards, with sorting options for friends, regions, and time periods. Currently, the only way to know what times your friends achieved is if they manually post them in the Miiverse. A more automated leaderboard system would have been so much better for a game like this.


Besides those things, however, this is one fantastic game. It takes the addictive formula of NES Remix and polishes it into a better experience. I look forward to playing through the rest of it, and I’ll keep my fingers crossed that SNES Remix isn’t far behind!

For more first impressions of NES Remix 2, check out my YouTube video HERE.