Good Things

//Good Things

Reviews: Batman: Arkham Origins

He's brooding.

I’m not entirely sure I played the same game that other reviewers have played. Indeed the reviews elsewhere have been lukewarm at best or frothing mad at worse. In some ways I can understand the vitriol, but only as far as it pertains to the actual development and underwire part of this game. Arkham Origins is a game that feels painfully under tested and this really hurts what is otherwise (I feel) an exceptionally good time. That’s the only thing I’m going to talk about before the cut and everything after that will likely be spoilers.

  Edit: Turns out I didn’t really spoil much of anything after the cut. But still enter at your own peril?

I played this game (and will continue to play it seeing as I want to get 100% on New Game +) on the Playstation 3. On the PC I can at least accept when a game has problems because I understand that there might be something wrong with my PC. But on a console there is no excuse. No game should ever have framerate drops, no game should ever crash, and no game should ever freeze on a console. This is the entire point! This is why people buy consoles! They want something inexpensive (ish) and consistent.

Console players want predictability in the stability of the games they play. They want it to work the first time and work every time. Arkham Origins fails this miserably I’m sorry to say. I’ve had buildings not load, people not load, I’ve had weapons in their hands not load, I’ve had framerate drops into the teens, and I’ve even had the game freeze. Sometimes the audio doesn’t load and when video sequences start up they cause incredible lag and jumpiness. All this is very serious and very very very bad.

Yet, I beat the entire game and am working my way towards 100%. I am willing to put up with all the things listed above and when my game freezes I end up restarting my PS3 and playing for even longer. This is why I have such trouble shrugging off poor opinions of the game (but I understand they are opinions, just like mine). I’m not looking at Naughty Bear, this is something special.

Onward then we go into the guts of this third installment of the Arkham series.

He's just sleeping.

rate4[1]

 

(more…)

By | 2015-02-08T21:09:41+00:00 October 28th, 2013|Good Things, Reviews|Comments Off on Reviews: Batman: Arkham Origins

Reviews: Saint’s Row IV

Welcome to Saint's Row

Saint’s Row IV is a lot of things and I have some trouble pinning down just how I feel about it. What we’ll do instead is quickly recap my experience and then I’ll give some insight into what I found good and perhaps less good about this game. If you are hoping for the kind of rage that a poor product can stir me into this won’t be one of those days. I promise to try and not forget to write about things that deeply disappoint me. Its just for now I’m getting rather lucky.

I set out to make myself in the game. I set the webcam to my right screen and meticulously built a character as close to me as I could muster. I’ve always wanted to do this in a game and I thought one of my favorite sandbox series was the way to go. Historically I’ve felt that Saint’s Row II was their best, with III being more fun than I, and we’ll see where I stick IV at the end of this (if you are impatient feel free to click page down and then come back to the rest of this).

Fuck Cancer

Keith David is so fucking high right now (apparently).

  The introduction is heavily spoiled in their marketing campaign and even the summary of the game. I don’t think most people buy these games for their story (though Saint’s Row II has one of the best sandbox stories ever written in the mainstream market). I’ll try my best not to spoil anything but this is basically the story of a super hero and you know how almost all of those end.

I found the introduction to be well designed and somewhat clever in its presentation. You spend the beginning being setup as this god among men. You are the Boss, a seemingly immortal leader of the world’s most popular and powerful gang. In the first twenty or so minutes of the game you save the united states, can potentially cure cancer or end world hunger, and find yourself effectively the most powerful man in the world.

You are become death, the destroyer of worlds.

Or so you thought.

Ah, to be powerless.

Enter Zinyak, a charismatic educated leader of not the worlds most powerful game. Oh no, he is the leader of the most powerful army in the entire galaxy (perhaps universe, I forget). As the Boss you are not prepared for this though you put up a valiant battle. I watched my avatar try his best to overcome this monstrously large villain but inevitably drive and passion cannot overcome complete control of physics and otherworldly power.

You are defeated and broken and put into the simulation. I won’t explain the why or anything like that but I highly suggest you collect the text adventures in the game because they dramatically reshaped how I felt about the simulation. This villain has one of the most interesting rationales for what he does and how he does it. I found myself not loathing this villain but nearly loving him.

It's Da Zinyak!

This guy has a silky smooth voice.

  Zinyak is voiced by JB Blanc and his performance is utterly stellar. He steals every scene he is in big or small. Zinyak is arguably my favorite villain in the entire series. Some of his actions in the game unfortunately upset me a great deal and marred the game but nothing I’m willing to spoil. You’ll know it when the “What is love” song finishes. The entire Zin army is pretty entertaining, their ships are fun, their weapons are ok (I much prefer the non-alien silly weapons).

A short while into the simulation you gather super powers. What unfolded for me next was the best superhero game I’ve ever played. Now that I was a superhero though I needed a new name. I could not merely be Michael the Boss – oh no – I was something great. I was the wet, I was the ocean, I was…

Few people see this guy and live to tell the tale.

Captain Sharkbite!

Captain Sharkbite is a superhero with a passion for doling out punishment for evil. His shark hat is actually an alien parasite that helps sap any kind of guilt he might accrue from mass murder. You could say that it has turned him into a sociopath. You could – he would kill you for it – but at least you’d die being right.

I set out on my quest as Captain Sharkbite to cleanse the simulation of Zinyak’s dark visage. His presence stunk the entire zone and I needed power…more power.

Boom power!

There are 5 guard towers in the game that I presume you are supposed to climb later in the game because they give you an insane amount of experience for converting. I saw their alien chrome exteriors and decided that I would be on top of them by the end of that virtual day. I started a large ruckus and got into a gunfight with Zinyak’s digital army. He brought in air support and I promptly shot them in the head.

Oh great, I thought, he’s brought me a flying vehicle! I used it to fly to the top of all 5 towers and leveled quite a few times. My rise to superhero super stardom had begun. I finished every quest no matter how small, ever challenge (nearly, I have a few floating), and over the course of a couple real life days I completed 96% of the game.

Over time my gang grew larger and I soon found myself manning a space ship with a crew of fellow super heroes. We set out across the simulation and doled out extreme punishments for the evils of Zinyak.

Sorry granny!

It is a good thing that my Sharky all feelings of guilt because it turns out that nearly half of all my kills were of civilians. I have actually killed more innocent people than I have villains. Naturally I can’t let this get in the way of justice and it has never crossed Captain Sharkbite’s mind, at least not without being eaten up by Sharky.

I am the 1%.

In terms of my performance against the rest of the video game I’ve pretty much obliterated community averages. I am within the #1% in all facets. I’m not sure if I’m proud to say that this is with 0 cheats or not. Regardless I enjoyed myself and really that’s what is most important when playing games I personally feel.

After a long and arduous build where I gathered every single power and upgraded nearly every single weapon I stormed the great capital ship that Zinyak hid within. He did not know it yet but his days were naturally numbered. Every villain that rises against Superman does eventually meet their maker. Frankly Superman has nothing on Captain Sharkbite.

The greatest egos in the galaxy meet one last time.

I had found a set of power armor in the real world which was fortuitous because my incredible powers do not exist in reality. Or they didn’t until I donned that armor. I had shifted from Superman to Ironman and I couldn’t have been more pleased. It was a power fantasy that I’m sure every nerd can relate to and relate to happily.

What ensues is a relatively exciting boss battle. I had some troubles but I took advantage of some rather silly clipping (which exists throughout the game) to help tone down the nearly instant death his shots dolled out. I won’t tell you how it ends but I’ll give you a hint.

Welcome to my Galaxy.

This is where we end the little story. I don’t think I’ve spoiled anything really. If you expected to lose in the end you don’t know the Boss. I suppose in a way you are the boss in every boss battle and they are trying to overcome you. Not the other way around.

This has been the natural progression of Saint’s Row. From nobody, to the leader of the saint’s, then from leading a gang to leading a world famous brand, and from world famous brand to nation leading. Finally you escalate to the leader of the entire galaxy (effectively). Other things happen and I find the prospects of them all fairly fascinating and interesting.

But how does the game hold up? Graphically it is as pretty as Saint’s Row gets, which is to say more than pretty enough for me. I was deeply disappointed that I couldn’t turn off the “simulation” effect where things flicker or unload in the game. I understand that they want us to never forget that it is a simulation but when the game isn’t “glitching” it is absolutely gorgeous. The texture work on much of the game is really well done and it’s a shame that some artist had their work hidden behind this clever but ultimately distracting design decision.

I didn’t listen to much of the radio but from what I heard I liked. The sound of all the weapons are great and the dubstep cannon is one of my favorite things in any shooting game. Its also incredibly gorgeous and firing it is addicting if for no other reason than it fills the screen with a beautiful menagerie of color.

The controls are fairly solid but the super powers can get you moving with such incredible speed and jumping to such great heights that your mere mortal reflexes can’t prepare for where you will be going or what you’ll be flying into. Luckily you don’t take damage (usually) from smacking into things. These same powers make the map feel incredibly small also which is unfortunate. The map is just as big as the previous games (as far as I can tell) and its much taller now. The game evolved vertically but evolving vertically is something that is incredibly hard for people to grasp. We fear height and our senses are not built to appreciate it. Humans, like most predators, favor horizontal growth. It is in horizontal growth that you expand your food base.

I played through the game on the highest difficulty level but only a few times did I find myself stuck. I can’t figure out if this is because I’m just better at games than I give myself credit or if this game was a bit too easy. I never got bored of combat certainly! The super executions and all your tools to dole out damage are incredibly entertaining and not once did I groan at them. That might be a bit hyperbolic seeing as I disliked the alien rocket launcher, but other than that it was pretty good times.

There is no reason to use vehicles which is highly unfortunate because the new method for storing them in your phone is fantastic. You find the vehicle you want and hold down on the dpad, boom saved. It’s genius and sadly I had almost no occasion to need it other than to call my tank. That tank made most of the missions fairly easy because you could just spawn it the second you might die and dish out 80 megatons of kickass.

My fist ends worlds.

Subtle is not in Sharkbite’s vocabulary!

  Mission design is pretty much spot on. They rarely dish out something that you groan about undertaking with a few exceptions. The collection quests are mostly good but the little glowing orbs that you collect to expand on your superpowers are far too numerous (1255 iirc). Admittedly I collected all of them but there is no reason that there weren’t only say 300 of them. Over a thousand of these things is just too many.

The upgrade system for gear, powers, and abilities are all well done and more or less what you expect from Saint’s Row. The game design itself is largely good and I don’t feel like this was a cash in. I’m not going to argue with people who believe that. I have trouble believing anyone with any sense of the work that goes into game design and development would ever say that though.

I bought the PC version which means this cost me 40 USD. I also got a 10 dollar certificate towards my next video game purchase which sort of brings the cost down to 30 dollars. Did I have 30 dollars worth of fun? That’s difficult to quantify but I did enjoy this. I don’t know if I consider this a Saint’s Row game. That is my biggest hiccup. It’s the best superhero game I’ve ever played but I missed all the things I had come to love.

I love driving around, I love the tense firefights in alleyways, I love the pinch of fear when I get the army called in on me. When you are causing atomic explosions with your punches it becomes difficult to feel that fear. As I had mentioned earlier I started this game with my avatar believing he was Vishnu and in a short time he most certainly became him.

That rags to riches story is what we all connect with and what we (or at least I) enjoy the most. If the powers had perhaps come a little slower or if my enemies had grown in strength to match me perhaps I would have had a better time or enjoyed it more. I certainly felt like a badass from nearly beginning to end as I have in all previous installments. Frankly though I see myself more likely to play III if given the choice over IV.

Oh America. How I will miss thee.

Saint’s Row II is my favorite, III is a better game than I (though I has a better story I feel), next comes IV, and finally I. This is taking into account their age and what they have and do not have. I don’t want every game to be as serious as Grand Theft Auto (and frankly I feel GTA IV really missed the boat, it is inferior to San Andreas in almost every way to me) but I would like some sense of challenge and perhaps the occasional serious moment.

This is a game that you will likely enjoy if you play it. It’s not something that I think you are lesser for not experiencing but if you do plan to make a superhero game I highly recommend it. This is a great model for what a superhero game should and should not do. It does many things right and I feel like the controls were pretty good given the ridiculous stuff I was doing and the speed at which I was doing it.

It’s a good game, but just barely I think. My feelings about it border somewhere on that fine line between average and good. Saint’s Row III is a more solid title and though even it goes a bit too wacky I think I had a better all around experience with it. This game, like many before it, will likely continue down this path that I doubt many people actually are asking for. Or maybe it won’t? The ending of IV (following the credits I believe) is considerably more serious than I was expecting. The expression of Sharkbite, the way he spoke, and the way he moved were all somber and reserved.

Perhaps, just maybe, the next game will be a bit more serious. Though they did say this is the concluding adventure so perhaps not. It would be a damn shame if they end on this though.

Fabulous!

Fabulous.

rate4[1]

PS. If you were curious – yes – I fell in love with Captain Sharkbite and yes he is now an official character in my universe. Sharky included. I am a big enough fan of Zinyak to assimilate things I want.

By | 2015-02-08T21:07:49+00:00 August 24th, 2013|Good Things|Comments Off on Reviews: Saint’s Row IV

Reviews: DuckTales Remastered HD

ducktalesheader

DuckTales was and still is one of my favorite games from my childhood. It might be in the top 25 games of all time for me. This is one of the only games that was every stolen from me and it is something that I have nothing but fond memories about. The sprite work, the music, the controls, everything about the original was tight and damn near perfect. It was one of the only instances in gaming history that a tie-in from a popular show or movie turned into a great game.

So how does the HD Version of this game hold up? In many ways it does what the original did just as well and possibly in some ways it does certain things better. I’m just going to run through each facet of the game really quick and give you my opinion on the Remastered HD edition of DuckTales.

2013-08-13_00006

Visually the game is stunning. The backgrounds are stunning, the character art is perfect, the color and depth are all lush and inviting. This is one of the most gorgeous remasterings of an old game that I’ve ever seen. Visually it is as close to exactly what I want as humanly possible. In fact from the very second I started watching the cutscenes to the first few seconds of the game I was hooked on just how overwhelmingly beautiful this game is.

One of the features in the game that you can use involves spending your in game cash to buy HD wallpapers, sketches, and music from the game. These items really highlight just how amazing their work is. I literally plan to use the HD wallpapers listed in game for my own computer. Which is saying something as we move along in this review.

The sound in the game is stellar. You can switch between the 8 bit originals or the new remastered music. I do not know which one I like better and frankly I don’t think I (or you) needs to choose. These are all handled exceptionally well and help to establish a level of perfection that is not often seen in these kind of projects.

Level design is great as well. They mostly took the original levels and just gave them touchups which I don’t mind. I originally played it on hard which meant I didn’t know there was a minimap. The collectables were perfectly fine for me but did upset some folks who remember the original. If you have never played the original before you will probably not find this annoying. What you will find annoying is that you can’t quickly skip through the scenes. This means that if you are playing on hard like I was you will likely be learning some quick button commands to skip. I was playing with an Xbox 360 controller so I was pressing start and X in one swift motion to nearly instantly skip scenes after many playthroughs.

Why was I playing the levels over and over you might ask? Well this gets down to the weakest part of this game. The controls are atrocious. The original game (to this day) has tight controls and you would expect it to because it is running on the megaman engine (TIL eh?). Almost 90% of my life loss and indeed most of my deaths were caused by me pressing the button for Pogo and Scrooge just-not-doing-it. This is a big deal and by that I mean a really really big deal.

There is literally nothing more important in a game than the controls. The most beautiful game in the world means shit if you can’t interact with it in any meaningful way. This game is nearly perfect and would so quickly end up on my great titles list if the controls were as tight as the original. It needs those tight controls to be the real DuckTales experience. A few times during my twitch stream of this game I found myself bordering on infuriated because I was teabagging villains instead of Pogo staffing them.

2013-08-13_00003

This game borders on average to good because of this problem. That might sound like a really incredible response to a single problem when the rest of the game is basically perfect but it is extremely serious. If they patch out this problem I will gladly change this review to be a great. For now it will be under good but only barely so. I do think you should play this but I think even more so you should play the original. It’s a piece of brilliance that really proves that some games are exceptionally good regardless of generation.

In the end I do plan to get all the achievements for this game and I love the updates that came with the remastered edition. Whoever handled the controls for this game deserves a reprimand however. This sort of unresponsiveness is unacceptable. (I think Super Meat Boy has broken me in terms of expectations.)

By | 2015-02-08T21:04:01+00:00 August 15th, 2013|Good Things, Reviews|Comments Off on Reviews: DuckTales Remastered HD

Reviews: Magical Kids in Danger (Penny Arcade)

 

Penny Arcade 8  I’ve been reading the Penny Arcade books since I first found out they were publishing their online comics in books. It has been a while now, I suppose, and I haven’t regretted a single one. It’s remarkable how much you can get out of these books and how well they are presented. Each strip is just as funny the second (or third) time you see them and the commentary by Jerry Holkins is top notch. While my brain continually tries to call him Mike (seeing as my name is Mike and I like to write) I have come to terms with the fact that the actual Mike in their duo is the artist.

I don’t know what all to say about a book of this genre. Basically do you like video games? Do you like good writing? Big fan of pictures on every page? Do you enjoy Penny-Arcade? If you answered yes to any of these questions then this is the book for you! If you said no to all of these questions I’m surprised you ended up on my website because I’m likely not targeting your demographic.

But perhaps you are not someone that likes any of these things, it is likely that if you find some sort of connection with me and my way of thinking that you will in turn enjoy this book and all the books before it. I think the hardest part for me reading these books is knowing they are living the life that many would fight a Viking to experience. I don’t have much else to say about these books because there is almost nothing they are trying to do that they don’t do exceptionally well. As such its just “look this is a great novel of their work and you should read it.”

My next read will be from the world of science, more specifically one of the Feynman books that has been cluttering my “to-read” section. After that there is a strong change I’ll be reading something from Tolkien.

The Penny Arcade series is, as a rule, a good thing to experience. I might not agree with them on multiple fronts but that has never been something I required of the people or things I admire.

By | 2015-02-08T20:18:25+00:00 January 5th, 2013|Good Things, Reviews|Comments Off on Reviews: Magical Kids in Danger (Penny Arcade)

Reviews: Super Mario Wii U

 

supermariowiiu  Today I’m going to write a short review for Super Mario Wii U. I’ve completed the main story and am missing a few coins to go check out the “star world”. Maybe there is an entire secret game attached to this one that I’ve already played but I’m going to assume that I’ve experienced what there is to experience.

Normally I’d be worried to make such an assumption but I think it is pretty clear that this game is predictable.

That’s not to say that you shouldn’t play it. This is one of the most solid and well designed platformers that I’ve experienced in years. Also as a social experience it is delightful to play with your friends or family (my experience being with my wife which was grade A, would play again). In fact if I had to just come out and say it right now I’d say on my grading scale this is a solid “good”.

So if that’s all you want to take away from this you will not be less for it. But I do want to discuss the problem with this game that I find somewhat alarming. I’m not sure if it was a matter of turnover, maybe a lot of the visionaries involved have quit and moved on, or perhaps the superiors at Nintendo have started putting in more input where they shouldn’t, but it is painfully obvious that Nintendo doesn’t know why Mario is popular anymore.

Allow me for a moment to take you through my personal history of the Mario Brothers.

supermariobros

  There you are playing Super Mario Bros, possibly the most amazing feat of video gaming platforming that has existed up until this point. You are experiencing something surreal, something visceral, you are experiencing something that hasn’t been perfected quite like this in your lifetime. This game admittedly has lost a bit of its strength in modern times, the controls are a bit floaty but if you can get passed that you will find yourself genuinely impressed with how well this game was designed.

The foundation was set for the future. Each villain had their place and each location had memorable music and visuals to enthrall you. Hell if you look you’ll notice that bush up there is the same sprite as the cloud in the top left. Crazy stuff? Never noticed that before I imagine.

So you thought there is no way that there could be a genuine improvement on this, Nintendo is in for a hard time. Then the next genuine release in the US hit and if you are anything like me it blew your mind.

supermario3

What was this game?! It’s almost vulgar how damn good this game is! They took literally everything about the first game and they made it explode in front of you! The game looked gorgeous, the characters all fit. Each location was memorable and fantastic. The music was even better! The villains were fantastic and the Koopa Kids were each delightful and captured your heart. Nintendo was so baller that Mario had become more well known in the US than Mickey Mouse.

So obviously, this was it. This was the pinnacle. They understood how to do this, they knew what people loved and what a true experience was. They knew how to make you feel like this lost plumber in an epic adventure to save a beautiful and innocent princess. Games of this quality destroyed my young grades, this is still a masterpiece. Go download it or get out your NES, it still handles like a dream and is a genuinely wonderful experience that nobody should miss. This isn’t nostalgia, I ran through this game in the last 6 months. And I’m experiencing, once again, the next grand step in the Mario Journey. Nintendo looked at Mario 3 and said.

Sure that’s cool.

I mean yeah, we did pretty darn good guys. Back rubs and hookers all around.

But follow me here, what if we took all this and we cranked the awesome up to 9 trillion?

supermarioworld

  Done. Send me my check I’ll be at the Villa.

  Super Mario is, speaking as someone who was just playing it in December, a masterpiece. A work of art in every sense of the word. The secrets, the gameplay, the music, the controls, the characters, the story, the every single gosh darn thing. There is so much to this game that you almost feel like Nintendo just said “You know what?! Fuck it, lets just make the best game and then we’ll never have to work again.”

They understood where things went. Each time you saw a boo, each time you saw a koopa, or a goomba, or a bullet bill it felt organic. You understood and it all felt right. You never found yourself stumbling over two awkwardly matched up villains, each experience was carefully crafted by artisans.

You probably had to consult your doctor because the response you had to this certainly lasted longer than 4 hours.

I remember watching my parents hook up the SNES and sit down and get locked into this thing. They never play games, or at least rarely did then, and this was the complete focus of their attention. I tried to sneak my food to the dog so that I could join them and got caught. I remember this clearly, I remember watching my mother try and learn the cap bounce with Mario and having the grandest time of her life.

This was no casual nonsense, this was a genuine experience that any person could enjoy. This was not patronizing nonsense, there was no clapping of children or cheers. You were Mario, you started your adventure at a Hut and you’ll be damned if you will experience anything but immersion. Bowser is going to feel your boot up his ass by the end of this, and the princess is going to give you a smooch on the forehead.

Shit. is. going. down.

So what do you do? What do you do when you’ve conquered the two dimensional world. You’ve shown people how an adventure game is done, how to make secrets copious and exciting. How to make putting a key into a hole a moment to celebrate. Well you look at all those people doing three dimensional games and say.

Yeah, cute, but you know.

I mean, not to be smug, but I was just thinking.

How about we make the most baller ass experience to be felt yet in three dimensions?

supermario64

That’s cool, I don’t need this many groupies. Some of you will need to come back for the next segment.

  Super Mario 64 did things nobody else had done and it did them incredibly well. They took risk after risk and the entire experience was so dense it threatened to create a black hole in your living room. I took to this game like a fish to water and my father was dumbfounded at how well I was able to move around in this three dimensional world.

But it felt organic, I felt like the controller was an extension of my body. I’ve heard recently some people badmouth the controls as feeling floaty now but for the life of me this feels game still feels much easier to control than Super Mario 3D on the 3DS. I loved every second of this game. The same comments from every previous game were true here, by todays standards it might not be “beautiful” but for the time it was a breathrough in every sense of the word.

If you like something about a 3D video game you are playing now, this game probably should be thanked for it. Super Mario 64 was one of the boldest experiences in my life. I would even find Super Mario Sunshine to be an excellent polishing of a superb first attempt.

And so we reach the crescendo, the moment where the quality of Mario collided with my literal emotional feeling towards the series.

supermariogalaxy

Ho-

Ly-

Shit.

What was this? Who made this? Certainly not the current Mario teams. You see how badass he looks up there? There is a reason, because he was in a badass game. Super Mario Galaxy was an experience and not one that I’ll ever regret having been a part of. It was the final chapter on a series of games that truly made my life happier. I had seen time and again moments of excellence that far shadowed all the competition.

The moment I became worried was when I played Super Mario Galaxy 2 and something  felt off. There was something about the game that was less interesting, less enjoyable. It  felt more like they were just going off a checklist. A lot of the experience felt more linear than Galaxy and I was wondering who they were catering to. I ended up getting every single star in Super Mario Galaxy 1, I couldn’t even finish 2.

You might think it is a matter of nothing feeling as grand as space, but I still love every previous title I’ve mentioned. They are all fairly timeless and I could easily list another 6-10 spinoffs that are excellent. In fact if you haven’t played Luigi’s Mansion or Super Mario RPG, buy them now, lock yourself in your room, and if anyone tries to stop you from experiencing these games you need to take them out with orbital strikes. It’s the only way to be sure.

After Super Mario Galaxy 2 I played New Super Mario Bros on the DS and it felt so dry. So boring, it also was the beginning of a warning sign for me. This fetish for collecting coins. Do you know why people collected coins in older Mario games? They did it to gain extra lives, because Mario could be fucking hard sometimes. It was an experience that had no problems shoving a bomb up your little overall’d ass if you got too complacent.

But now the games are so easy most of the time that you’ll be stuck at 99 lives from a very early point. So then what? Every single secret is either a big ugly coin or little regular ones now. Once you realize this you realize there is nothing to see. Just make your motions through the level and finish it. Stars felt like they made sense, they were a part of the universe and had incredible power. Stars made you invincible, something many children dream of being, what do coins do? They get you an extra life, maybe, if you aren’t already maxed or at some silly high amount.

Coins are fucking boring.

So next came Super Mario 3D and I saw the Tanuki advertisements. “Hey guys look we have old Mario! You liked that right?! LOL!” Followed by “Coins, Coins, Coins! You like coins!” The game handled like snail turds, I often found myself uncomfortable and not confident in my actions. The long jump, the back flip, and other staples of Mario’s Repertoire since Mario 64 were gone.

The levels to had begun to feel uninspired. I felt like if you took the game and replaced all Mario assets with literally anything else it wouldn’t feel wrong or out of place. Mario was more a fixture and his enemies and items gimmicks than actual parts of the world. They had no genuine connection.

New Super Mario Bros for the Wii carried this on further. The worlds were linear and dry, the over map was tired, and the entire thing felt like they were just designing a standard platformer and throwing Mario in it. I can’t quite put my finger on it but it just feels so design by committee. They are excellent games in their own right, had I not played the previous games I would be far more kind to them.

But I have played the previous games, I know what Nintendo is capable of, worse I know what Mario is capable of. So when I see this “average” quality it really bothers me because I know deep down there is a genuinely genius IP there. There is power behind Mario and genuinely incredible experiences can be delivered through him and its been proven the same can be said about Luigi.

Now we return to Super Mario Bros Wii U. I enjoyed myself, I finished the game, but otherwise I don’t think about it. It is not even a case of me just being “too old” to feel that way about a video game anymore, my love for Batman: Arkham City is likely quite unhealthy. It doesn’t take a lot for a game to capture me and carry me along a journey of joy.

But so many times I found myself playing Mario on the Wii U and thinking “Why are these bad guys here? What is that guy doing there? Why is this level here?” Constantly  the game has content from the old games nearly copy and paste, it doesn’t know what to do so it just copies the previous titles. The introduction from Super Mario 1, levels from 3 and world. I’m sure if they had made the game have three dimensional portions they’d have just bitten off of the newer titles.

Why are the Koopa Kids on airships but I just go straight to the boss fight? If you are going to take the air ship story and bring it back why gimp it? Why are all the secrets either coins or coins? What happened to hidden levels? Why is the star world just a “new game +” mechanic instead of a fantastic secret hiding in the wings?

Why are the statues from Super Mario 3 just alive, what is the purpose of the wizard enchanting them if they are already alive?

Why are the third and fourth players toads?

Who likes toad?

Why not a Toad and Daisy? Or perhaps a new character and Daisy? Does Mario really have so few friends that he’s hanging out with two pallet swaps?

What joy can I find in collecting coins when I’ve literally got 99 lives 3 worlds in? There are another 5 worlds do go…literally thousands of coins that do nothing for me.

The reason I’m upset is not because it was a bad game. Nintendo is so ridiculously good at designing a platform game that they can make them with their eyes closed.

Unfortunately it was obvious they made this one with their eyes closed.

You could literally take 100% of the assets and replace them with a complete new IP and it wouldn’t feel any different. Mario wasn’t the center of this game, he was just the marketing tool. From the very first second you no longer feel like you ARE Mario.

Nope, now you are just playing him.

That, to me, is the tragedy.

PS. The Wii U is pretty cool. Nintendoland is far too good for its own good, I was shocked. Very pleased with my gifts and did enjoy myself with Mario. The promise in the future is that if they can get a hold of context again they will have something for the record books.

By | 2015-02-08T20:17:17+00:00 January 3rd, 2013|Good Things, Reviews|Comments Off on Reviews: Super Mario Wii U