Mario

‘Super Smash Bros. for Wii U’ review

In my earlier review, I gave Super Smash Bros for Nintendo 3DS a 9 out of 10 and predicted the Wii U version would be the superior version. Is Super Smash Bros for Wii U worth 10 out of 10? Hell yes! If there was just one game I would bring to a deserted island, this would be it.

3f474b14be03e49f88be8d9e8a126144

Ever since Smash Bros. Melee, I’ve dreamed of playing 6-player Smash. I hoped it would be possible one day. Imagine how surprised I was when not just 6 players were announced…

BUT EIGHT.

EIGHT PLAYER SMASH!!!

OH. MY. GODDDDDD!!!!!!

Even the original eight Smash Bros. characters were excited!

10417752_348400085333678_4022915764038895013_n

I’ve played 8-player Smash with my friends and it is absolutely insane. Some may think it makes an already chaotic game too hectic, and it certainly seemed that way at first, but overtime you just relax and revel in the craziness. If eight players are too much to you, at least the fourth or fifth person at your gathering doesn’t have to sit out. Nintendo seems to be the only company pushing multiplayer in the living room, and Smash Bros is perfect for the homely gathering.

entry10-2

The Wii U version has an exclusive mode called Smash Tour, which is quite simply Smash Bros mixed with Mario Party. Your Mii characters spin a dice to move forward to collect stat boosts and extra fighters. The mini-games in this case are the battles where you fight to steal other player’s fighters. At the set number of turns, the fighters compete in a final battle, with each fighter they collected acting as an extra life to play. Just like Mario Party, the outcome is heavily influenced by random events. Just like Smash Run on the 3DS, I’m glad this mode was included but it’s not my favourite way to play.

10731193_348418761998477_8805439869621414281_n

Andddd Nintendo’s obsession with extra peripherals continues. I bought the Gamecube adapter bundle plus a super special Smash Bros. Gamecube controller, because I’ve used that controller since the Melee days. However, the Gamecube adapter is only compatible with Smash Bros and not other Wii U games for reasons unknown. I don’t think this will change, because it even said on the peripheral’s box that it’s only for Smash Bros Wii U.

Thanks for that Nintendo…

In addition to the Gamecube controller, you can use the Wii U Gamepad, Wii Remote, Wii Remote + Nunchuk, Classic Controller, Classic Controller Pro and Wii U Pro Controller to play. So many options available! You can even play the game with the 3DS as long as you have the 3DS version. I don’t think there is a game out there with so many controller options, thus making an eight-player battle not such an impossible task.

Smash-Screenshot-18

This is the best Smash Bros. to date, but it makes me wonder if the game could have been ever better if they just made the Wii U version. Would we have had more characters, stages and modes if the dev team focused exclusively on the home console version? I wouldn’t say the 3DS version held the franchise back (and that wouldn’t be fair as so many more people have a 3DS), because both versions of the game are incredibly polished. Thankfully, the game physics and character moves are the same on both versions, so the many 3DS owners can still easily go to a friend’s house with the Wii U version and be on a level playing field.

entry5-1

Don’t worry Brawlers, unlike Smash Bros Brawl, the online is at least playable. As you’d expect, the Wii U performs better online than the 3DS version. Any lag you do experience is generally because of the connection of either you or an opponent, unlike in Brawl where it was just bulls**t. Obviously the usual Nintendo online limitations apply, for example they recommend you buy their ethernet adapter for wired play because they didn’t include an ethernet port on the console. No regional option means that it’s bad luck if I’m battling someone on the other side of the world, which is obviously more prone to lag. Finally, there’s the usual Nintendo lack of online options compared to other games, but the For Fun and For Glory modes were pretty neat ideas, so Super Smash Bros. online is still very, very enjoyable. I’m too competitive at this game to stop playing it, damnit!

gamemode1-1

The customisable character feature from the 3DS return intact in the Wii U version. You can create your own Mii character from one of three types (Brawler, Swordplay and Gunner), customise their appearance, their attack, defence and speed stats, and select from nine special modes. All the other characters can be customised too, and have altered special moves to choose from. Aside from the Mii Fighters, Palutena is the only character with completely different special moves to use (but they used the worst ones for her default).

entry2-8

You can use customs in all modes except online play against strangers, and that includes the Mii Fighters. I think an option to use Mii Fighters in For Fun mode with default stats should have been included.

entry2-9

Custom is a completely optional mode that you can use to make multiplayer mode more enjoyable or assist in single player modes. Outside of the Mii Fighters I didn’t have much interest in it myself, but a significant barrier to enjoying it was the way custom moves are unlocked. Mii Fighters and Palutena’s custom moveset are unlocked from the beginning, but to unlock the derivatives for the other characters…well you have to keep playing and just hope you get a custom move for your favourite character on the rewards screen. While you can import your customised character from the 3DS version, or export one to it, you still have to unlock the custom moves in both versions. Such a pain.

entry2-1

Then there’s amiibo, Nintendo’s answer to Skylanders and Disney Infinity, well it was only a matter of time wasn’t it? In Smash, you get the figures of Nintendo characters into the game as customised computer controlled players registered to that Amiibo. I would probably have more fun with them if I had all the custom movesets. You have them battle other players or amiibos to level them up and their AI becomes smarter. Amiibos are a nice but non-essential feature.

entry8-8entry8-2

That’s the beauty of Smash. There are so many modes, options and characters to play, that the way you want to play is limitless. You can go through all features, but even if you choose to ignore a mode or two, there’s plenty to do, in both single player and multiplayer.

entry9-5

This is the best version of the best series ever, making Super Smash Bros for Wii U the best game ever, and obviously my Game of the Year for 2014. The HD visuals look amazing, the online play is functional enough, the variety of game modes is unbelievable and of course the local multiplayer can last forever. The multitude of game options allows so many options and unlockables that it feels meaningful and rewarding every time you pick up and play. You can play how you want. Don’t care for online multiplayer? Despite a lack of story mode, the single player options will keep anyone occupied for a long time.

Man I wish I had this game where was I 8. I was free of responsibilities, yet free of the ability to play video games for hours and hours. Smash Bros for Wii U is a game that can last an entire generation.

Rating: 5/5 – best game ever!!!

This review was originally written for radio. The pre-recorded review was aired on 5th December on the Australian digital radio station SYN Nation, on the show Player One. Unlike the 3DS version review, I’ve revamped this review, because the radio segment aired less than a week after I got the Wii U version. I’ve been playing the game since late November so this adjusted review is the better for it. I paid for the game copy.

Advertisements

‘Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS’ review

Super Smash Bros is my favourite game series, and I’ve been there since the very beginning on the Nintendo 64. Needless to say, I was hyped for this game. Do I love it? Hell yeah brother.

Smash Bros is very different from most fighting games where you simply attack an opponent to deplete their health gauge. A typical Smash game takes place on a 2D stage with up to four players, and the objective is to attack opponents to increase their percentage of damage and then knock them out of the stage. The higher their percentage is, the further they fly when attacked. All K.O.s are ringouts, essentially.

The fighting itself is as good as ever. The game has been slightly sped up from Smash Bros Brawl, taking us back to the Melee days. Nothing major has changed, but it is all in the little things that make the experience better, and makes Brawl feel obsolete in comparison. The new stages are well designed, some being utter chaos, something only this series can get away with.

1370981035-super-smash-bros-3ds

It amazes me how well the 3DS captures the feel of a console Smash Bros title. While the 3DS does obviously have hardware limitations, the game didn’t feel like a dumbed down handheld port. The only thing that didn’t feel right was the controls at first. The GameCube controller or the Wii Remote nunchuk is the way I play Smash, but the 3DS control layout isn’t as well equipped to handle the fast paced action of Smash Bros. Sometimes the screen zooms too far out and the characters appear too small on screen, even when two players are up close and personal; this is when it’s not necessary to zoom out that far.

Another thing that sets the game apart from other fighters is its aforementioned controls. Many fighting games have players memorise different button and control stick combinations per fighter to have an advantage over other players…but then of course you are easily beaten by the damn button mashers. In Smash Bros, once you figure out the core control commands, you can use them for all characters.

entry3-2

Despite every character following the same general button commands, each fighter feels incredibly different. Marth’s swordplay is very different from Little Mac’s boxing chops, for example. A rewarding challenge is learning how to utilise the unique attributes of each character.

Super Smash Bros is of course, the Avengers of the Nintendo universe. About 50 characters are playable, from decades of Nintendo history. Mario, Pikachu, Link, Kirby, Samus and many more recognisable players enter the fray, along with some unexpected surprises. Capcom’s MegaMan and Namco’s Pac-Man also make welcome guest appearances, fitting right in with the cartoony ensemble cast, along with Sega’s Sonic the Hedgehog making a welcome return. A handful of characters from the game’s predecessor have been cut. Konami’s Solid Snake, who started the entire guest character concept in Smash, hasn’t returned, presumably because he may not fit in as well as some other characters. Ice Climbers were cut because of the 3DS limitations. The 3DS’s limited horsepower also led to Zero Suit Samus, Shiek and Charizard becoming full characters rather than as part of another character’s transformation, but this is a welcome change.

Characters are customisable now, and you can unlock badges to change their stats. Even their special modes can be altered. There are also special Mii characters that come in three classes: Brawler, Swordfighter and Gunner classes, and these are essentially three different characters that are completely customisable. The customisation options are very impressive and can be used in all modes except when playing online with strangers.

entry4-2

A staple of the Smash Bros series has been its multiplayer from the very beginning, but lag is an issue. It’s not as bad as Brawl, in fact, nothing is as bad as the lag from Brawl. Even in online matches with one friend who lives 5 minutes away I’ve suffered lag. It’s not a deal breaker, and I’ve had plenty of enjoyable online matches, but the times where the game lagged so much it was almost unplayable just simply isn’t fun.  In fact, I was playing a local match with someone with 3DSs literally centimetres apart and we suffered from latency issues.

Online matches with randoms are split into ‘For Fun’ and ‘For Glory’ modes. For Fun selects stages at random and items are on. Only your wins are recorded. For Glory pits you on flat stages with no hazards and items are turned off. Your wins and losses are recorded. Both For Fun and For Glory have Free for All and Team Battles, and For Glory also having the one versus one, a true test of skill.

The usual Smash versus mode is the star of the show, allowing you, the computer players or friends to battle each other with an astonishing level of customisation. There are free-for-alls and team battles, survival or timed matches, and you can turn items on and pick whatever characters and stages you want. It’s play how you want, and it is excellent. You can have all these same options when you play with your friends online.

Exclusive to the 3DS version is a mode called Smash Run. I was pretty excited about it because it’s based on the City Trial mode from Kirby Air Ride, and oh the memories I have from that mode, and what a great game too! Four fighters are placed in a large map, and you are given five minutes to attack enemies from other Nintendo games in order to collect stat boosts. After time runs out you take that boosted character over to a battle, or sometimes a race.

gamemode2-1

Smash Run is a fun distraction, but wasn’t as executed as well as it could have been. In Kirby Air Ride you could attack other players, while in Smash Run you can see the other fighters on the map screen but can’t interact with them. That would have been a fun element. Also, while I gushed about the options of Smash Bros just before, Smash Run is surprisingly restrictive. Searching the map is locked at five minutes, and after all that, your fight lasts one minute. It would make the hunt for stat boosts more meaningful if you could set longer end matches. A lack of an option to actually know what the match is going to be means you won’t necessarily be hunting for certain stat boosts, and I died a little inside when I saw my awesome attack and defence buffs at the end, only to find out the match was a race and I had almost no speed

Classic Mode returns as the single-player mode where you fight one character after another, sometimes giant, sometimes, metal and sometimes in teams.  All-Star mode allows you to fight every character in chronological order starting in 1980 with Pac-Man and ending with Greninja in 2013. Returning modes include the Multi-Man Smash where you defeat as many foes as possible, Home Run Contest where you rough a sandbag up and send it as far as possible with a home-run bat. Target blast is Smash Bros Angry Birds where players fire a bomb with a timer in the hope that it blows up in the right spot to hit all the targets. I haven’t personally spent much time in any of these modes because I’m all about the battles.

There is so much damn content in this game such as trophies, characters, customisations and ways to play with your friends that you’ll be playing it for months. And defeating strangers online is too satisfying to stop. I have been playing around with the new characters and trying to figure out whom to main. Smash works well as a portable game as most matches are very short, so the time on the train has all but disappeared. This game is a must buy for anyone who owns a 3DS. I am hoping the Wii U version won’t have the control or latency issues, but the 3DS version is a very, very, very damn good game. Oh my lordy I love Smash Bros.

4.5/5, Smash it out!

This review was originally written for radio. The pre-recorded review was aired on 31st October on the Australian digital radio station SYN Nation, on the show Player One. I’ve edited the article a bit to make it read better, but all opinions from time this was originally written have been kept intact. I paid for the game copy.

Roster-720x405

“Sonic Colours” review

Image

I grew up liking both Sonic and Mario, so I was in neither camp, although me owning only Nintendo consoles automatically placed me on the plumber’s side. Sonic’s adventures in three dimensions have not been as well received as the ones in his 2D heyday. Sonic the Hedgehog and his series often end up on lists arguing against their existence, due to the poor quality of the games released in the 2000s.

The new 3D Sonics followed this formula: it would be announced that the new game would return Sonic to his roots, and all the fans would truly believe that it would be the first great 3D Sonic and that their mascot was back. The game would be released, and it would strike hatred in the hearts of the fans, and they swore they would never fall for it again. Then the next game would be revealed and the cycle would restart. This happened quite a few times, from Sonic Heroes to Sonic Unleashed. It hit its lowest of the lows with Sonic the Hedgehog 2006. If you type in Wikipedia “List of video games notable for negative reception” (a formal way of saying “list of games that suck”), you will find Sonic ’06 on there.  I never had the opportunity to play it, but I know it had a killer soundtrack. I also quite liked the 3D Sonics I did play, even Shadow the Hedgehog, although I can see why they are disliked as such.

Before Sonic Colours was released, Sega de-listed all the games in the franchise with a low Metacritic score, to “increase the value of the brand”. Seems like a good plan, to keep Sonic ’06 out of unsuspecting gamers hands and let them buy Sonic Rush instead. Sonic Colours is pretty good too, so it looks like this mission is succeeding.

So is Sonic Colours finally the 3D Sonic to break the mold of mediocrity? Well, according to the fans and critics that answer would be yes. I agree too, but I wouldn’t say Sonic Colours is a great game, but it’s definitely the most well made 3D Sonic in years.

Sonic Team listened to the fans and critics complaints of the other games, and got rid of the gimmicks, such as the sword in Sonic and the Black Knight, and all the playable character that aren’t Sonic. This just leaves the player in control of Sonic and his speed.

Sonic Team says that this game is marketed towards a younger demographic – Mario fans in particular. It’s easy to see what they mean by this, as the story, setting and dialogue are quite kiddy. Dr. Eggman wants the world to believe he has stopped being evil by opening an intergalactic amusement. Sonic and Tails obviously don’t buy it and vow to stop whatever the mad scientist is preparing. Sonic, Eggman and Tails are the only core characters from the franchise to appear in this instalment, with only Sonic being playable and the rest in cutscenes. I was a bit disappointed that Knuckles didn’t make an appearance, but I suppose the writers would have ruined him with cheesy dialogue, which makes me breathe a sigh of relief that Amy wasn’t included. The cutscenes feel beyond juvenile; I think they tried to make gamers feel like they are watching a Saturday morning cartoon. The cutscenes go on for far too long and the dialogue is full of jokes you’d see on ABC3 (kids channel in Australia) that have nothing to do with the simple plot at hand. This game made me think whether I’m getting older and less patient because I rarely skip cutscenes, but Sonic Colours made me do it!!

Gameplay is a mix of 2D and 3D Sonic. 3D Sonic controls smoother than past games. Homing attack, charge attack and riding on rails, business as usual. The perspective occasionally shifts to 2D, where the controls are the same but you can only move on a 2D plane obviously. This gameplay is taken from Sonic Unleashed, but without the God of War rip-off Wolf sections (thankfully I never played this game). So we have the best bits of Sonic Unleashed gameplay. The goal, like always is to reach the end of the level, or beat the bosses reach them.

Sonic and Tails discover an alien race, whose power Eggman is utilising for his evil purposes, called Wisps. These Wisps help Sonic out throughout the course of the game by acting as powerups. These remind me of the powerups in Super Mario Galaxy, which may have been the inspiration. I liked the Spike Wisp, which allows Sonic to turn into a spiky ball that can spin up walls and attach himself to terrain. The Block Wisp allowed you to switch blocks into solid or “fall through”, a bit lame I thought. The Drill Wisp was a lot of fun, where Sonic can digs through dirt very quickly, as well as move swiftly through the ocean. Those are just a few of them, and most of the time Sonic uses them in his 2D perspective. Powerups are great additions to the Sonic series, and I’d like to see them expanded upon in future games.

The levels are a little bit different this time for the franchise. Instead of classic zone/act after the other, the game features a world map. Each world has six acts and a boss, rather than the two or three acts and a boss in most Sonic games. The levels vary in length; I’ve beaten some of them after six minutes whereas others I’ve reached the exit in just one minute. It makes each Act feel like they were developed around an idea, which is a nice idea. The level design is good, but technically flawed, as in the deaths are a little unfair. At times you may get stuck and struggle to find your way out, which isn’t good for a Sonic game as it ruins the flow. There’s that spring that follows you, but only to a certain point, which lead me to losing a lot of lives because I didn’t jump to the bloody thing’s standards. The issues in the level design create a rather inconsistent difficulty curve. One level I would easily complete on my first try, when the level before that I had lost all my lives multiple times. These kinds of problems have plagued Sonic’s 3D adventures since the beginning, but at least it’s improved.

The god damned live system returns, which is just really annoying in this day and age. I could complete a level with no extra lives remaining, and then get far in the next but start again because I made a mistake and died. Dear developers: GET RID OF THE EXTRA LIVES SYSTEM IN PLATFORMERS PLEASE. Thank you Rayman Origins for doing just that.

The music takes on a bit of a less rocky feel present in most Sonic games and more of an electronic direction. It sounds good and suits the game very well. The graphics look great, and make everything visually stand out.

Overall, a fun back to basics title in the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise, that feels like it could have started  where Sonic 2 left off (but in 3D of course). By sticking to why gamers loved the series in the first place, just him and his speed jumping through levels, Sonic Colours has succeeded where many of the other 3D iterations failed. There are great ideas here I’d like to see in future 3D titles, (which they did use, in Sonic Generations). The levels are designed well, but they needed to be tested a little more to stop the accidental deaths that shouldn’t be my fault. Some of the Wisp powers also feel clunky.

If you never liked 3D Sonic games, I still recommend giving this a go as it fixed many of the problems present in those games such as glitchy gameplay, too many playable characters, over convoluted plot, awkward controls and broken camera system. If you liked them regardless, you’ll definitely like Sonic Colours. Fans of the 2D Sonics should give this a go. Younger gamers who never played Sonic before will play a great introduction to this long-running series. To Sonic virgins I recommend this game (Wii) or Sonic Generations (PS3/360), or Sonic Rush on the Nintendo DS to take the hedgehog for a spin.

Rating: 3.5/5.

New Super Mario Bros. 2

Image

New Super Mario Bros. 2 is a direct sequel to New Super Mario Bros. on the Nintendo DS, and a follow-up to the Wii title, New Super Mario Bros. Wii. Like most Mario games, the plot involves Mario trekking across the Mushroom Kingdom to save Princess Peach, who has been kidnapped by Bowser. This is tradition, and no-one really cares about the plots in 2D Mario platformers. Gameplay is very much like the other 2D Mario platformers. You run, jump, stomp on enemies, go through warp pipes, become bigger after grabbing a Super Mushroom and shooting fireballs after picking up a fire flower. The goal is to reach the end of the level. There are a number of worlds with many levels in each, with the last level in a world ending with a boss battle. If you’ve played a 2D Mario platformer before, this will instantly feel familiar.

New Super Mario Bros. 2 looks, feels and plays exactly the same way as the previous games in the New Super Mario Bros. series. The game places a huge emphasis on coin collecting, much more so than previous games. So much emphasis in fact, that all the levels have much more coins than usual and are designed to allow as much coin collecting as possible. You can jump through a gold ring which will temporarily turn your surroundings into gold. So kicking Koopa Troopa shells with this effect on, for example, leaves a trail of coins for you to collect, and stomping on Goombas gives you a bunch of coins. There’s also a gold block that goes on Mario’s head that generates coins as he progresses through the level until it runs dry. The only real new power-up in this game is the Gold Flower that essentially turns Mario into the Golden Child for the rest of the level (unless he takes damage). He fires golden fireballs that turn blocks and enemies into more gold for him to collect. Every coin you collect, even if you die (but not if you quit), will add to a grand total that you can see on the main menu and level select screen. The game’s ultimate goal is for the player to collect one million coins. At least Super Mario 3D Land had the decency to explain why there were so many Super Leaves, whereas this game doesn’t even give a hint to why there’s so much gold. With so many coins around, isn’t the Mushroom Kingdom going to experience a hyperinflation crisis that will easily surpass the Hungarian pengo in the 1940s?

A new mode in the game, known as Coin Rush, is one way the player can collect a plethora of coins quickly and easily. The mode picks three random levels, and the player has to guide Mario through them without time running out and collecting as many coins as possible. The records will be exchanged through the 3DS’s Streetpass feature. Having Spotpass on allows your personal coin total to be added to a worldwide grand total. The Coin Rush was fun the first few times I did it, as well as provided a challenge the rest of the game lacked, but the novelty wore off fairly quickly.

In fact the novelty wore off the entire game fairly quickly. New Super Mario Bros. 1 came out six years ago, and nothing has changed besides a 3D effect and a Coin Rush mode. Oh, and I completely forgot to talk about the 3D effect. I know this is a 2D game with 2.5D graphics, but it could’ve done a lot better, especially as it’s a first-party Nintendo game. All it does is make the foreground three-dimensional and blur out the background. I left it off most of the game to save battery-time. The game is also way too easy. You still get extra lives every time you collect 100 coins, so with the extra emphasis on coin collecting, I had over 100 lives when I beat Bowser. That world was the only time the challenge ramped up, but only a little bit. There wasn’t even a point in having lives at all.

There’s multiplayer too, just like the Wii title but with half the players. You can co-op with a friend for the entire game and have the coins collected added to both your totals. And it really restricts you to following one player, which is strange when players have their own screen! I missed the competitiveness of DS title’s multiplayer. I must admit I enjoyed this game’s co-op a lot more than I thought I would, because it’s for everyone. You can work together just fine, but you can also muck around just fine too (with so many lives there’s no issue there…). It depends on what kind of friends you have. When I played with my friend, we worked together at times but killed each other to get power-ups and it was actually quite fun. Having it online would be cool though, I don’t see why they don’t do it, because then I would have more reason to play the co-op.

I think Mario is officially being milked now. Why now, you ask? And hasn’t Nintendo been milking their mascot since games such as Super Mario Kart, Dr. Mario and Mario’s Time Machine? Well, those games were spinoffs that had their own distinct gameplay from the main series of Mario games, and with the exception of the latter, they were good games. Mario is not just the mascot of Nintendo; he’s not just the most recognisable video game character in history; Mario is the pinnacle of Nintendo’s innovation.

When you think back to the first Mario game, the arcade hit Donkey Kong in 1981 that was revolutionary as one of the earliest platformers, and featured one of the first instances of cutscenes to advance the game’s story. Then 1985 saw the release of one of the best-selling video games of all time, and one of the most revolutionary too, Super Mario Bros., saved the video game industry from certain death. It also had precise controls, huge cast of characters, and was one of the first games to have an ending, instead of just being about how high the score can go. It changed video games forever. Later on, Nintendo revolutionised three-dimensional video games with Super Mario 64 in 1996 and motion controlled action games with Super Mario Galaxy in 2010.

It wasn’t just the main Super Mario series that saw the portly plumber bring innovative, intuitive and accessible gameplay. Guinness World Records crowns Super Mario Kart, the first in the Mario Kart series, as the best game ever (based on initial impact and lasting appeal, apparently). While I wouldn’t place Mario Kart as the best series ever, the series is definitely groundbreaking in its own right. Many of the Mario sports titles, such as my favourite, Mario Tennis, are just really good games. The Mario RPGs made the genre a lot more accessible as well as introducing a number of gameplay innovations that made them so much fun to play. All these games injected Mario flavour to a great extent. The New Super Mario Bros. sub-series has overstayed its welcome however.

New Super Mario Bros. came out in 2006 with a clear purpose, to give the fans a new 2D Mario platformer. It was the first 2D Mario platformer since 1992’s Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins on the Game Boy. It did leave a big impression on me and the rest of the gaming community, and it deserved all its praise. Sure, it had more of the same general gameplay introduced in the original Super Mario Bros. game, but it had a bunch of new features too, such as a head-to-head battle mode. It didn’t feel like the sequel to Super Mario World, but felt like a tribute to all the 2D Mario platformers released on consoles, by incorporating many from these into the game. It even had some elements from Super Mario 64, such as wall jumping and triple jumping. There were some new power-ups too. The blue shell didn’t add much, but at least it was something we hadn’t seen before. The Mini and the Mega Mushroom were game changers, and I think it’s what that game is remembered for the most. My point is, it was a great game with excellent design that introduced 2D Mario platformers to a new audience and reminded the veteran Mario gamers why we loved these games in the first place.

Then the Wii title came out, I haven’t played much of it, but I do believe it had a reason to exist. Obviously the most significant thing is for the first time you could play a 2D Mario game with 3 other people at the same time. It also brought back Yoshi and introduced a few new power-ups. Other than that, it was really similar to DS game, but it had a good reason to exist as it broke new grounds for the Mario series. The 3DS follow up on the other hand, has failed to convince me it needed to be made.

New Super Mario Bros. 2 is a great game with excellent controls and level design. The problem is that the core gameplay hasn’t evolved at all. The minor adjustments made it fun for a while, but after 8 or so hours of game-time, I just had enough, with my coin tally sitting at 60,000. C’mon Nintendo, give us something original! I’m not buying the upcoming New Super Mario Bros. U, because it looks just like the Wii title, just with more levels…In the meantime I give New Super Mario Bros. 2, a score of 3/5 because it feels more like a level pack than a fully-fledged sequel and I got tired of playing this game as I’ve played it before. If you haven’t played Mario 2D platformers to death, just for you I’ll give this game 4/5…4.5/5 if you’ve never played one ever and I’ll heartily make a recommendation.

For those interested, here’s my review for the previous Mario platformer on the 3DS, Super Mario 3D Land https://stefanb33.wordpress.com/2012/08/25/super-mario-3d-land/

Super Mario 3D Land

Image

Since New Super Mario Bros. 2 just came out this week on the Nintendo 3DS, to celebrate I am going to review it…later. In the meantime, here’s a review for its counterpart, Super Mario 3D Land. It’s great to have a brand new Mario title to play, and Super Mario 3D Land is fun, albeit flawed in a number of ways.

Super Mario 3D Land has a rather simple premise – it’s a “3D Mario that plays like a 2D one”. It plays exactly the way you’d expect, New Super Mario Bros. breeding with Super Mario Galaxy. The graphics are quite reminiscent are those two titles too. Of course, just like most Mario games, there is plenty of nostalgia and elements from past titles. Yes, Princess Peach is kidnapped by Bowser, but that’s been the premise of nearly all Mario platformers, and the last thing a Mario platformer needs is a plot.

Gameplay involves reaching the exit in each level, just like the classic games, but you do so in three-dimensions this time as well as in stereoscopic 3D if you hit the 3D slider. Fire Flowers and Super Mushrooms return as power-ups to help you on your way just like all of the traditional Super Mario Bros. games since the 1985 original. If you don’t know, basically if you are hit as regular Mario, you turn into small Mario and if you’re hit as small Mario, you lose a life. Grab a Super Mushroom and you’ll go grow to regular Mario again. You gain an extra hit point if you have an additional power-up. These include the Fire Flower, allowing you to shoot fireballs; the Tanooki Suit, allowing you to hit enemies with your new tail and float in the air; and the Boomerang Suit that gives you an unlimited arsenal of boomerangs to throw.

Most of the boss fights are lame, and evident that Nintendo want to stick to traditions again as you fight the Boom Boom from Super Mario Bros. 3 many times and defeating involves…you guessed it, jumping on his head three times. The Bowser boss battles repeat themselves, but are pretty damn cool nonetheless and at least they don’t involve just hitting him three times in the head. This game seems to be a call-back to Super Mario Bros. 3 in a lot of ways that become obvious as you play. This isn’t New Super Mario Bros. though, so it shouldn’t be resorting to old elements from old titles, it should be in a zone of its own, like Super Mario Galaxy. It takes the special coin system from New Super Mario Bros., so each level features three special coins to find that unlock more levels.

The game is a rather short experience, even when I played through the second quest (not all of it as I couldn’t be bothered finding the special coins to unlock the last few levels), I only put in about 10 hours into the game. Yes the game is fun, which is the most important thing. The problem is the level design. There are some really cool levels here, but a lot of them seem to lack inspiration, especially during the first quest. The second set of levels you unlock, are much better, although some of them are copied and pasted from the first quest with small changes, which is disappointing. The other good thing about the second quest is that the levels are much harder. The first quest is way too easy. If you’ve played a 2D Mario title before, have no fear because you’re almost guaranteed to never run out of lives. Honestly, having a life system at all in games these days is pointless, but Mario games will never remove them because 1-Up Mushrooms are a tradition.

This is hands down the best use of 3D I’ve seen on the 3DS so far. Turning it on does make it easier to see where to jump at times, not that it’s hard with the 3D off. It certainly adds to the very nice visuals too. Despite this, it doesn’t change the fact that 3D is still a very optional thing, and turning it off won’t detract from the experience much at all.

Super Mario 3D Land is fun with tight gameplay and tight controls. It does lack the inspiration of other Marios, such as the wonderful Super Mario Galaxy. It also suffers not just from cutting and pasting from other games, but also from itself. After playing the incredibly innovating and near flawless that was (yes once again) Super Mario Galaxy, I was hoping Super Mario 3D Land would break new ground, rather than turn Super Mario Bros. 3 in three dimensions. I do recommend playing this game, because even though it lacks the spark of other Mario titles, it has more newness to it than the New Super Mario Bros. subseries. The 3D effect works great, but I’ll never use the 3D effect to recommend a 3DS game to anyone because it’s completely optional with such little effect on the gameplay. I rate Super Mario 3D Land 3.5/5, but it would’ve been a 3 if it wasn’t for the awesome second quest.