Samuel McConnell / KMUW

Super Mario Maker is a hard game to evaluate because, at its core, it’s more of a tool than a game. You use it to create levels for Super Mario Bros., and then upload them to the internet for other people to play. It’s more akin to reviewing a bottle opener: without bottles to open, what good is it? But with Super Mario Maker, the actual creation of the levels is at least half of the fun.

bagogames / Flickr / Creative Commons

A few weeks ago, I heard the bad news that Satoru Iwata, the president of Nintendo, had passed away.

Iwata was interested in games from a young age, developing them on a calculator in high school. He later attended the Tokyo Institute of Technology to study computer science and formed a club with several of his friends to create games. This club eventually became HAL Laboratory, the company behind the Kirby and Smash Brothers game series.

Joi Ito / Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Sony Computer Entertainment is one of the most successful video game companies ever. The PlayStation 2 is the best-selling game system in history, and had it not been for their partnership and eventual falling out with Nintendo, the PlayStation may never have ever happened. / Flickr

Nintendo’s Wii U is a fantastic console. It plays some of my favorite recent games like Mariokart 8 and Super Smash Bros, and I’m looking forward to playing the upcoming Super Mario Maker and Star Fox Zero. But compared to other home consoles, not a whole lot of people are playing these games.

onefish2 / Flickr / Creative Commons

When I play my Nintendo 3DS, I almost never use the 3D feature. It’s really cool-- it lets you see the game in 3D without having to wear 3D glasses like you do at the movie theater. But the field of view where it works is very narrow. If you shift your hands even slightly, like you would if, say, you’re playing a video game, the 3D effect breaks and everything on the screen gets very blurry.

The holiday season is always big for entertainment. Lots of big movies come out, and video games, too.

The new entry in the Call of Duty series, Advanced Warfare, came out earlier this month. The series is best known for its multiplayer, but I really enjoyed the single player campaign. The story wasn’t overly complex, but it was compelling, not unlike a big Hollywood action movie. The appearance of Kevin Spacey as a villain in the vein of his character in "House of Cards" was a pleasant surprise.

  The Super Smash Bros. series has always been one of my favorites. When the original came out for the Nintendo 64 in 1999, I discovered it at Blockbuster Video and rented it at least a dozen times. Thirteen years ago, I stood outside a Gamestop all night in line to get Super Smash Brothers Melee for the then newly released Nintendo Gamecube, and I played it with three of my friends until after the sun came up.

The Electronic Entertainment Expo, also known as E3, is the biggest video game industry trade show of the year. Last week at the Expo, Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo all showed off the games they’ll be releasing in the next 12 months.

Fletcher Powell / KMUW

I play games on my Nintendo 3DS pretty often. Some games are better suited to portable systems, and the 3DS has a few features completely unique to it.

Maybe my favorite of these is called StreetPass. When your 3DS is off, in your pocket or backpack or wherever, it periodically sends out a ping using its wireless radio. If there is another 3DS in range, it will receive that ping, the two systems will exchange data, and a little green light on the top of the 3DS will light up to tell me I’ve StreetPassed with someone.

Morku / Flickr / Creative Commons

Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda series is practically mythical at this point.