You're probably wondering why Mario Day, the annual celebration of the entire Mario franchise, takes place on March 10th.

Well, there's a very good reason for that. See, if you shorten March to "Mar" and write it next to "10," it looks like this: "Mar10." If that's not a good enough reason then sorry, go ruin someone's day elsewhere. The world is dying and we don't have time for your bad attitude, Gregory.

For everyone else, it's Mario Day, and that means lots of sales on Mario games, which is pretty great considering it's one of the only franchises in history where you can pick up almost any game and trust it's going to be phenomenal. Seriously, if you haven't played Super Mario Odyssey yet, there's no better time to play it. If you start today, you might even finish just in time to leave quarantine.

But the most exciting Mario Day news comes directly from Nintendo's official Twitter account with a not-so-cryptic Tweet:

Yes, at long last Nintendo and LEGO are teaming up for a LEGO Super Mario collab.

The trailer brings to mind the Mario Zone from Super Mario Land 2: 6 Gold Coins on Gameboy, and while its probably not an intentional homage, one would expect that a LEGO foray into the Mario franchise would be full of easter eggs.

Mario ZoneNintendo

A Mario LEGO collab is a big deal for a few reasons. Firstly, LEGO fans have been musing about how cool Mario LEGOs would be since at least as long as LEGO forums have existed. Secondly, Nintendo rarely licenses their franchises out to major toy companies, so despite the obvious market for Mario LEGOs, this was never an inevitability. And finally, the potential for a Nintendo LEGO line is insane.

While pre-constructed Mario sets would certainly be cool, imagine building an entire Mario level out of LEGOs? What better tool could their possibly be for modeling block-based levels in physical form than, well, toy blocks?

Of course, Mario isn't the end of the line either. Mario LEGOs open the door to tons of other Nintendo franchise LEGO sets. We could see Legend of Zelda LEGOs, Metroid LEGOs, and maybe even the holy grail of all "I wish this existed" LEGO series of all time––Pokemon LEGOs.

But alas, we don't even know if the Super Mario LEGOs will be physical yet. There's a distinct possibility that we'll just get a LEGO Super Mario game, which would certainly be fun and exciting, but not quite the same as actual, buildable toys. With no stated release date, we'll just have to wait and find out (assuming the world survives long enough). Until then, we might as well escape to Mario Odyssey, because New Donk City doesn't need to worry about infectious disease.


Mario Kart Tour, the new mobile app for iPhone, iPad, and Android, has only been out for a couple hours, but the best player in the world has already emerged, and it's me. I'm the best. What up?

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Google Stadia Is the Dumbest New Thing in Video Games

Google Stadia is the Netflix for video games subscription service that still makes you pay for new games.

Video Games

Photo by Sean Stone on Unsplash

Experience Google Stadia, the dumbest innovation in video game technology since the Nokia N-Gage.

Imagine if there was Netflix for video games! Wouldn't that make consoles a thing of the past? Except on top of a monthly subscription fee, you also have to separately buy the streaming rights to most new games! Wait. That's not good. Also, the controllers are $70 each, and you need to buy Google Chromecast for an extra $35? And Google still owns the rights to all your games and can take them away from you at anytime? Seriously?

Google Stadia's business model is absolutely baffling. Netflix for video games is a great idea, especially if it allows you to stream newly released AAA games––a service like that would probably give the gaming industry establishment (or at least Microsoft) a run for their money. But that's not what Google is doing with Stadia. While they've set up the infrastructure for that (a high-res, cloud-based video game streaming platform, no console required), they're still charging extra for new games. This puts them in direct competition with every other console, except Stadia has no exclusives, and you don't own the actual games. It's like Sony's relatively unpopular PlayStation Now subscription service, except you need to own a Chromecast and some extra-expensive controllers instead of a PlayStation.

The Stadia Founders Edition costs $129, and includes a special "Night Blue" controller ($70), Google Chromecast ($35), and three whole months of Stadia Pro subscription service ($9.99/mo.) which gives you EXCLUSIVE DISCOUNTS ON SELECT GAME PURCHASES. Whoa. Let's break that down.

For $129, you're saving an entire $6 on buying all those things separately, so that's already an insane bargain. But wait, there's more! Aside from the few games featured at launch (including Destiny 2: The Collection), you get to spend more money on future months of subscription and even more money on new games. Most of the included games are pretty cheap now, too, with $20 getting you the disc know, the irrevocable right to play anytime without an Internet connection.

Speaking of bargains, a refurbished Xbox One will run you $150. It might not be the greatest current-gen console on the market, but at least you'll own your own games.


Highlights of New Games and Announcements from Nintendo Direct

The Livestream on Sep. 13 Unveiled News, Trailers, and New Gameplay

On Sep. 13, Nintendo Direct aired with a livestream of the newest announcements, trailers and information about Nintendo, their consoles and the respective video games.

The company stated that they will focus on the Switch and 3DS as their primary topics, along with some details about Nintendo Switch Online, a paid online service that launches next week on Sep. 18.

Only small details have been shared about Switch Online so far — there are pricing tiers, and subscribers will have access to 20 games from their NES library. The company unveils more in their livestream, a week late due to a delay from Japan's earthquakes.

The official pricing tiers announced were $3.99 for a one-month membership, $7.99 for three months, and $19.99 for 12. A Family Membership is also available for $35 a year and can be shared with up to seven people. The 20 classic titles have been revealed to include soccer, tennis, Super Mario Bros., Tecmo Bowl, The Legend of Zelda, and others. Three additional games will be released each month for the rest of 2018. Switch Online will also have classic controllers that will be available for $60 for two, and the service will have the ability to save data on Cloud Saves.

One huge announcement was that the beloved game Animal Crossing will be coming to Switch — the feel-good animal simulation started out on the DS, moved its way to mobile, and now scoots its way to the Switch console, arriving sometime in 2019.

Going off of that, Isabelle — your local Animal Crossing guide — will be joining the cast of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. The trailer shows Isabelle sporting some on-character attacks with a fishing rod and bucket, but we definitely don't know how powerful she is yet.

Turning over to Super Mario Bros news, Nintendo Direct also announced that a Luigi's Mansion sequel will be coming to Switch in 2019, a powerful accompaniment to the game already headed to 3DS. The livestream announced that the 3DS game will have a two player co-op option and amiibos.

Nintendo revealed a new Yoshi game, too — Yoshi's Crafted World sports a look very similar to Paper Mario animations and will be the first official Yoshi themed game on Switch. The Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Bundle was also revealed — the pack will include a Smash Bros-themed dock and Joy-Cons.

Additionally, a deluxe version of New Super Mario Bros. U is coming to the console in 2019 — the Switch debut will include 164 courses, new playable characters such as Nabbit and Toadette and the Super Luigi U option.

Other non-Super Mario Bros news included Final Fantasy 7, 9, 10, 12 coming to Switch along with Katamari Damacy, Just Dance, NBA 2K19, Lego DC Super-Villains, and more. Splatoon 2 will be getting an update, and tabletop games will also be coming to Switch — titles include Settlers of Catan, Carcassonne, and Pandemic.

In other 3DS news, Kirby's Epic Yarn will be transitioning from Wii to handheld.

There will definitely be more releases — and probably surprises — along the way for the rest of 2018 and all of 2019. We might not know what they are but we do know this — Nintendo isn't going anywhere.

Amber Wang is a freelancer for Popdust and various other sites. She is also a student at NYU, a photographer and intern at the Stonewall National Monument.

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VIDEO GAY-MER | A short list of trans characters in video games.

From Birdo to Crem, trans characters do exist in games.

Trans visibility in video games is so not-talked about. People toot their own horns about having queer characters in their games, but I can count on my hand how many well-known trans characters I've actually seen in gaming. It's a travesty! Gays and lesbians, while they do not have a lot of characters, at least have a good and growing amount. It's even the same for bisexuals (even though half the time they never actually say they're bisexuals).

So, what's the deal with trans characters in gaming? Are they just never going to have characters? Well, no, they do have a very small few. And honestly, except for a few examples, these characters are either inconsequential, villains, or played off as some sort of joke. It's hard, especially when you're part of a community that mostly consists of cis, straight, men who really don't like the diversity. (Hello, gamergate, anyone?)

Still, trans characters do exist - and I think they deserve to be showcased somewhere. And I'm only sticking to characters that I know are trans. So, characters that are genderless or androgynous characters are out of the running. If you know any other characters, please tell me as I'd love to keep updating list. To show the good and the bad, so we can see what works and what really, really, really needs to stop:

Birdo - Super Mario Bros. 2

Here's the deal with Birdo - most people can't really decide what they want her gender to be. Originally, she was originally named Ostro and her description said, "He thinks he's a girl and he spits eggs from his mouth," according to the Super Mario Bros. 2 handbook. And eventually, all mentions of Birdo's "gender confusion" was erased from the game. Still, characters in later series would mention how it was strange that Birdo had a male body. Oh, and she is also Yoshi's girlfriend in some games.

I don't know how to feel about Birdo. Part of me definitely feels like Ostro was originally supposed to be a joke - and in that game you did kill her. So, while that's not ideal, Birdo did appear in later series as a not-so-negative character. So, there you have it? I guess?

While it's not the best - Birdo is technically the first trans character in gaming. So, much like Vivian in Moonmist - she has to count for something right?

Poison - Final Fight

Poison is another character that is definitely controversial. Poison wasn't originally intended to be a trans character - she was supposed to be a female character. But, the developers didn't think it would look right to hit a woman - so instead they decided to make her trans? It's a really gross sentiment, and I don't like it at all. However, American gamers didn't see her initially, because she was later replaced by two male characters: Billy and Sid.

However, later appearances that Poison made seem to be much more forgiving. The character was definitely trans - but the language around her identity was still really gross. Yoshinori Ono, a producer of Street Fighter IV, said, "Let's set the record straight: in North America, Poison is officially post-op transgender. But in Japan, she simply tucks her business away to look female." And it just bothers me.

So, while Poison has been confirmed as being trans by the producers of the games she's appeared in - I don't feel like that's an incredibly good thing? Although, I have also never seen her in action? Perhaps her character in game is a lot better than the way she's talked about outside of the game.

Krem - Dragon Age: Inquisition

Krem! Kre-e-e-e-e-em! Krem is so unapologetically trans that I was just over the moon when I saw him. BioWare are rock stars in the queer world, and they're doing their best to do be as diverse as possible - and despite how terrible Andromeda was - I think they're doing a good job. Krem is the only trans character I've ever seen in a major video game (or any video game for that matter) that really went the extra mile.

Not only did Krem have a backstory, but he was given an amazing group of people that supported him. That's so important for trans people. I've said it before and I'll say it a million times, positive representations of LGBTQ+ people are so important. They impact people's lives in ways you cannot imagine. That's what makes Krem and the rest of Dragon Age so important.

So, that's all I have for now. Most other characters that I read about were either never stated outwardly as trans, or they were considered genderless. However, I am an imperfect human being and I would love to be proven wrong. So, if you have any more trans characters anywhere - I'd love to see them and add them to this list!

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