Thursday, 3 February 2011

Mario time!

I grate my teeth just saying that; I got the annoying as hell Mario voice in my head when I read it. I really don't care for the Mario character and I wonder what weird person would even think that an overweight, big-nosed, Italian plumber is even a remotely good or humorous character? I never really liked him as a child either, growing up on the NES! Looking back through the years at least Sonic the Hedgehog was hip and “awesome” in the mid-nineties (the new version of him is disgusting though) and Donkey Kong had some comic charm, but Mario? Just no.

Every time I hear Nintendo being shouted down the loudspeakers in Mario’s voice I just want to turn off whichever Nintendo console I'm sitting in front of, before even entering the game. But here I am reviewing two Mario games I have recently played! And enjoying them!

New Super Mario Bros. Wii

The first is a sort of reinvention of the old 2D Mario games and is a Wii version of a DS game. A great idea to take trip back to before Mario went 3D. My favourite Mario game of all time is Super Mario Bros. 3 on the NES, and this game sort of takes me down memory lane and recaptures some of the glory SMB3 deserves. In fact the feeling and physics of New Super Marios Bros. Wii is probably closest to SMB3 of all the 2D Mario games.

There is a lot of visual variety in each game world in NSMB and each level within offers some sort of new element; be it a new type of enemy, obstacle or gameplay style. Every level feels unique and you never get the feeling of a copy-paste function being used during the development. You’ll play through all the levels without repetition or boredom. The challenge of getting through each level progresses in a perfect learning curve too.

I played this game coop and it is indeed a game that is developed with coop in mind. It actually supports up to four players simultaneously. Playing cooperatively adds an element of trying to work together to help each other out (this of course depends on who you are playing with) and is very entertaining. I would actually really recommend people to play this game at least with one other friend.

All in all NSMB is a very good game, it doesn’t reinvent anything new and has some small nuisances (like the lag each time a player dies or gets a power-up in coop), but it will give a great 2D gaming time. The colourful graphics, the varied level design combined with perfect controls definitely warrants this game as a must-but for any platformer fan.



Mario Kart Wii

The other Mario game I played recently is Mario Kart on the Wii. I have fond memories of Mario Kart 64 on the Nintendo 64 (must have clocked up tens of hours on it) and the entertaining double karts and coop fun in Mario Kart Double Dash on the Gamecube. In other words, a series I have liked and so my expectations for this one were high.

First the controller, a plastic steering wheel with tilt control. Well it’s shit and you should play the game with a Wii remote and nunchuck or better still a Gamecube controller. The precision with an analog stick far surpasses anything tilt controls ever will do. Once you play with this setup and put the game to manual drifting is where Mario Kart really gets going. The serious amount of boost you can gain with manually drifting adds en extra element to the gameplay and lets you really challenge your competitors.

There is a generous amount of tracks in the game, in fact over 30. The design of them vary, and while environment elements such as a pirate ship firing grenades onto the track or minecarts running freely add a real challenge, they all are a bit random and end up annoying you more than actually serving any addition to the gameplay. The tracks are a bit too crowded with stuff going on and the results of the races become even more random than they did in Mario Kart 64. None of the laps really matter until the last one.

More comparisons with MK64 and MKDD are to be made and thus more negativity becomes more apparent. When me and a friend discover that the double kart element from the Gamecube game is abandoned, we ask ourselves; why?! This continues into the battle mode, where it’s overcrowded with AI you can’t remove and split into teams which you cannot alter. You can’t simply have a free-for-all battle against only human players. I stress the question again; why? The new powerups are too many and they serve only to annoy the hell out of you rather than add anything to the gameplay. Mario Kart 64 had the kind of perfect setup for the amount of powerups, MK Wii has too many variations only to confuse more. The powerups that literally fuck every one of the track are just annoying and should never have been in the game. Even the combination of characters and the special power-up idea from MKDD is abandoned.

Can I recommend this game? Well it is entertaining enough to play through, but MK64 is available for download on the Wii and a far better game. Even MKDD can be bought and played on the console. The online part should be mentioned, it works smoothly and ends up being a nice relief from playing against the cheating and annoyingly rubberbanded AI. MK Wii needs to stop cutting out features from previous games, tighten up the power up system and focus more on player skills rather than random encounters and far too many racers on each track. Casual gaming doesn’t need to abandon fans by making the games simpler. Add a quick game mode for casuals and a more in-depth mode for fans.



Back next time with a sci-fi special, where I review Mass Effect 1 & 2!

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