Tag Archives: Super Mario Bros

Super Mario Odyssey (Switch)

Developer(s) – Nintendo EPD

Publisher(s) – Nintendo

Director – Kenta Motokura

Producer(s) – Yoshiaki Koizumi & Koichi Hayashida

Released in the holiday season of 2017 for the Nintendo Switch, Super Mario Odyssey presents players with a return to the open-ended 3D style of play of Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Galaxy, and invigorates the series with new abilities and environments, as well as incorporating elements of classic Super Mario gameplay, such as side scrolling. From start to finish, I thoroughly enjoyed this title, and whilst it didn’t become my favourite Super Mario game of all time, certainly goes above and beyond many other games in the series in recent years.

Graphics – 9/10

The first thing to say about the visuals is that on a technical level, this is the best that Super Mario has ever looked. Each character and level found throughout the game is wonderfully detailed, and the blending of 3D and 2D make for something particularly special in terms of graphics. Conceptually, the game does fairly well to stand out from the rest of series in addition, which is quite remarkable given the astounding amount of transition the series has gone through over the 32 years it’s been around. After having watched the trailers for the game before it’s release, I was sceptical as to how some of the environments that were shown would fit with a series like Super Mario Bros, but after playing, I was posthumously proven wrong. Each level especially the Metro Kingdom, which I was most sceptical about, adds a new dimension to the series that I hadn’t thought possible beforehand.

Gameplay – 9/10

Much like Super Mario Galaxy 2, the objective of the game is for the player to find power moons, instead of stars, to power up Mario’s newfound ship named The Odyssey to advance from one level to the other in order to reach Bowser and rescue Peach from him. The most standout feature in terms of gameplay is Mario using his new anthropomorphic hat named Cappy to possess certain enemies throughout the game, and thus use their abilities to the player’s advantage. Much like the new settings, it adds another unique twist to the series’ tableau, as well as a new approach to gameplay, which has scarcely been seen in games before. And in lieu of 3D Super Mario tradition, the game simply doesn’t end with Peach being saved from Bowser. After the main game has been completed, there is a plethora of additional power moons to find, as well as additional objectives given to players for completion on a scale never seen before in a Super Mario game.

Controls – 10/10

Since the 3D Mario formula has existed for over 20 years, it would be more than reasonable to think there would be no issues with the controls; and so there aren’t. Super Mario Odyssey plays out as seamlessly as any other 3D Mario game since Super Mario 64, and the way in which new combat abilities and enemy abilities that Mario can adopt are also seamlessly integrated into the rest of the formula.

Lifespan – 9/10

The base game will take players there around 10 hours to complete, but after which, that hardly even counts as scratching the surface. Each level has an amount of collectibles to pick up that is unfathomable compared to every other Super Mario game before it. It will easily make for 60-70 plus hours of gameplay, and an excellent addition to the collection of extremely long games on the Nintendo Switch along with Breath of the Wild, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 and Skyrim.

Storyline – 7.5/10

Following the usual Super Mario Bros formula, Super Mario Odyssey follows the story of Mario having to save Princess Peach from Bowser; only this time, Bowser plans to marry Peach after stealing various relics from each kingdom throughout the world. Mario is also joined by the aforementioned anthropomorphic hat named Cappy, who is also out to rescue a female anthropomorphic hat named Tiara, whom Bowser has Peach wear in preparation for the wedding. Though for the most part the story is largely unoriginal, especially for anything seen in a Super Mario game prior, what makes the way in which is story is told in Odyssey stand out fractionally more than other Mario games is the projection of emotion found throughout. Mario is portrayed as slightly less of an unstoppable superhero capable of beating anyone he comes across, and is shown to feel the difficulty and hardship of what it is he is setting out do. On several occasions, Mario comes painfully close to rescuing Peach from Bowser before the final battle, but he is shown to suffer setbacks, which visibly frustrate him, and though these are not things that haven’t been seen in games prior to this by any stretch of the imagination, it is something new to the series, which in terms of story, has needed for quite some time. But in terms of depth in plot, it still leaves players wanting much more in this respect. It’s certainly my biggest criticism that I have to levy against this game.

Originality – 8.5/10

With that one main qualm I have out of the way, the fact of the matter remains that this game is the most unique Mario experience released since Super Mario Galaxy 2 in terms of every other aspect aside from story. The settings are outstanding and the gameplay is even more so. In recent years, the originality of this series has been very much hit and miss in my opinion, with me contrasting the uniqueness of games such as Super Mario 3D World and Paper Mario: Colour Splash, but Odyssey could possibly pave the way for more unique Super Mario experiences in the future, introducing new elements to the series, which could potentially be either expanded upon or could be spun off into even more new elements depending on what direction Nintendo want to take it into.

Happii

Overall, despite lacking in story, Super Mario Odyssey delivers players, which is in my opinion, the best Super Mario game since Galaxy 2. And whilst it may not be anywhere near as good as the former, it certainly spells a bright future for the franchise, as well as giving players what is probably the longest Mario experience ever.

Score

53/60

8.5/10 (Great)

Yoshi’s Story (Nintendo 64)

Developer(s) – Nintendo EAD

Publisher(s) – Nintendo

Director – Hideki Konno

Producer – Takashi Tezuka

Back in a time when the 2D side-scrolling genre was being phased out and the 3D platforming genre was coming into prominence, Nintendo attempted to revive the former by releasing a spiritual successor to Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island; but with considerably less success on both a commercial and critical level.

Graphics – 5/10

Whilst the scenery of the game is fairly diverse and the game itself is very well polished, the overall visual style made it feel far too much like a kid’s game; even for Nintendo. Everything from the storybook style to the pretty annoying sound bytes used for the Yoshi characters made me think very little of what was on offer, and severely lacks the kind of atmosphere that came with games such as Super Mario 64 or Ocarina of Time. This title for me, just didn’t seem to give that kind of prominent impression, which other Nintendo games had; even for the time.

Gameplay – 6/10

Though it’s somewhat satisfying to rack up the highest score (something that was lacking in prior Mario titles), I still felt the game’s play was wanting. As it was clearly developed with kids in mind, the game is consequently very easy. The bosses, in particular, stand out as being some of the easiest bosses I’ve ever encountered in video games. Yoshi’s Story also had attached to it the most pointless and least threatening Nintendo character in my opinion; Pak E. Derm, who is an elephant with a stop sign, who blocks the player’s path. The player must pound the ground in order to make Pak E. Derm fall to the ground, allowing the player to pass. That mechanic is one of the most senseless things I’ve ever seen in any video game.

Controls – 10/10

There are no problems with the controls, at least. The game plays out very similarly to Yoshi’s Island, except there is no Baby Mario to accompany Yoshi on the adventure. But by that token, I think the game becomes much less intense as a result, but that’s down to gameplay.

Lifespan – 2/10

As the late 90s was undoubtedly a pretty poor time to try and bring back the 2D side-scrolling genre, I was at that point used to playing games that would last in excess of 30 to 40 fours, such as Ocarina of Time or Final Fantasy VII. It took me inside a day to complete this game, which whilst that may have been acceptable prior to the release of the Nintendo 64 and the PlayStation, it certainly wasn’t them, and it definitely isn’t now. One fact about me is that I believe the longer a game can be made to last, the better. That opinion of mine was developed in me throughout the fifth generation of gaming, and since, I’ve never looked back. I’ve grown to think little of games, which seem like fleeting experience, unless they have other decent elements or substance in gameplay.

Storyline – 5.5/10

Yoshi’s Story involves Baby Bowser turning Yoshi’s world into a storybook and stealing the super happy tree, with the Yoshis resolving to reverse the damage. The game looks like a kid’s book; plays out like a kid’s book, and the story is very reminiscent of something someone would find in a kid’s book too. It’s as outlandish as anything else that Nintendo had come up with prior, but it’s just considerably more simplistic, and considerably less appealing and entertaining in my opinion.

Originality – 6/10

Nintendo can’t be faulted for attempting what they have succeeded at so many times; revolutionizing how video games are played out. But this time round, they failed in my opinion. Though they would eventually go on to revive the 2D side-scrolling genre with the New Super Mario Bros series, they didn’t get off to the best start with Yoshi’s Story.

Angrii

Angrii

To summarize, Yoshi’s Story is a forgettable title on an otherwise legendary console, in my opinion. Nintendo created some great experiences on the Nintendo 64 when 3D gaming started to find popularity, but they went back on themselves in a negative way with this game.

Score

34.5/60

5.5/10 (Below Average)

Wario World (Nintendo GameCube)

Developer(s) – Treasure

Publisher(s) – Nintendo

Director(s) – Kouichi Kimura & Hitoshi Yamagami

Producer(s) – Takahiro Izushi & Masato Maegawa

Release somewhat late into the GameCube’s shelf life, Wario World provided a different take on what players had seen on that in particular console, but not so different to what they had already seen on past systems. I have played much worse games, but this is the first and last Nintendo game that Treasure ever developed, and understandably so.

Graphics – 7/10

One aspect I don’t think I should criticize too much is the visuals. There is some diversity present in both level and boss designs, and the enemies and characters that can be found throughout the game are not as generic as they seem at first glance. To list a few examples, the five Spritelings to be found in each level (in itself a reference to the Jinjos in the Banjo-Kazooie series) closely resemble Pikmin, the fact that the Cractyl enemies are purple flying dinosaurs can be seen as a homage to Ridley from the Metroid series, and the Magon enemies found from the very first level closely resemble Bowser from the Super Mario series; the fact that there is a skeletal variation of the Magon would seem to clarify this even further.

Gameplay – 6.5/10

The game is a 3D platformer, but not made in the same vein as what was popular at the time; but rather made to be much more linear, and as a result, I think it suffered. I is enjoyable for a time, but it could be argued that it is far too easy; even for a Mario game, and even to complete it to 100%. Its level of difficulty made obvious to me by the fact that there are even the Magons in the first few levels don’t attack the player. However, it is interesting to be able to identify different influences the developers took to create the game’s play; not just from Nintendo games. For example, the level and world layout is very similar to the first three Crash Bandicoot games, and the ability to spin enemies around and throw them hearkens back to the strategy of defeating Bowser in Super Mario 64.

Controls – 10/10

Another thing I shouldn’t complain about is the game’s control scheme. Although it is an easy game regardless, it could have done with no complications in terms of controls, and thankfully, there are none.

Lifespan – 4.5/10

As a 3D platformer made in the same vein as classic Crash Bandicoot, the linearity of it unfortunately made for a particularly and disappointingly short experience of about 5 hours. Particularly from Nintendo’s point of view, I imagine that it would have seemed like a particularly underwhelming experience, since many other games released on that system, including 3D platformers, were made to last considerably longer, and provide much more entertainment.

Storyline – 6/10

The story of the game follows Super Mario antagonist Wario, who is on a quest reclaim his riches after they are turned into monsters by the evil anthropomorphic black jewel, which Wario had recently acquired. The only good thing I would say for it is that it is slightly different to most other plots across the Super Mario franchise, since it tells a story from the point of view of evil ass opposed to that of good, but it still can be seen as nothing overly special and pretty mundane.

Originality – 4/10

Although the game does have its charms here and there, in lieu of Nintendo tradition, it’s still bland enough and far too packed with recycled elements for me to be able to legitimately call it original; especially in terms of gameplay. After pioneering the 3D platforming genre with Super Mario 64, and then going on to make a ton of successful games in the same genre, it seems to me that with this game, Nintendo were actually going back on themselves; something that they rarely do. Nintendo had always pioneered themselves as innovators, but it’s evident to me that innovation wasn’t a watchword at Treasure during development.

Niiutral

Niiutral

In summation, Wario World isn’t the worst game ever developed, but it’s certainly not one of the best either. It was below par by any level of standards ever set by Nintendo, and gives testament to the fact that not all developer collaborations can work out well.

Score

38/60

6/10 (Average)

Super Smash Bros (Wii U)

Developer(s) – Sora Inc. & Namco Bandai Games

Publisher(s) – Nintendo

Director – Masahiro Sakurai

Producer – Shinya Saito & Masaya Kobayashi

The latest Super Smash Bros game is a new variation of one of Nintendo’s most brilliant ideas for a series (one of which many gamers dreamed of before it was finally invented), with new characters, new game modes, new unlockables and new features in the form of compatibility with Nintendo’s Skylanders-esque Amiibo toy line. In my opinion, though it doesn’t match up to the quality of many other Nintendo games, and is not the best in it’s series, it’s certainly a worthy sequel, and one of the best video games on the Wii U so far.

Graphics – 8/10

Many people have argued the case that the newest game in the series either looks the same as Super Smash Bros Brawl, or even that Brawl actually looks better. Although I think there is some basis in the opinion that Brawl looks better, with more textural detail, there is also just as much diversity in stage design; if not, more so. So I happen to think that both games look as good as each other, since the visuals in both games have their own strengths, and they are played to extremely effectively.

Gameplay – 7/10

With most of my preferred features of the series kept intact, such as the trophy hoarding, variety in game modes and plethora of characters, I’ve found the latest game in the series to be particularly enjoyable, and definitely one of the standout titles of the 2014 holiday season following the disappointment I felt after playing Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric. That being said, I was very sorry to see the departure of the story mode, since I believe that alone made Brawl the best game in the series in my opinion. The story mode was handled exceptionally well for one within a fighting game, and I see no reason why the same could be repeated and kept fresh at the same time with the inclusion of so many new characters, such as Pac-Man, Mega Man and Palutena from Kid Icarus.

Controls – 10/10

With so many different kinds of peripheral compatible with the Wii U, including the GamePad, the Wii remotes, a third-party controller and even a compatible GameCube controller, there’s no reason why either fans of the series or newcomers shouldn’t find a style of play to suit them; especially fans of the series, since virtually every previous control scheme is available, bar the one from the original game. However, I would impose the same precaution as I did in my review of Hyrule Warriors if playing with the GamePad; regarding not to tense your hands around it too much, which can result in prolonged cramping in the hands and/or fingers.

Originality – 7/10

Though there isn’t much present to differentiate this game from other fighting games, especially since the basic premise of Super Smash Bros itself has been around since 1999, the series’ general formula has been kept relatively fresh with the inclusion of new characters, stages, game modes and incentive. There have certainly been many fighting games throughout the years that have come and gone trying to be the next Street Fighter II, and failing profusely; especially during the fourth generation of gaming. The difference with many of them compared to Super Smash Bros is that elements such as character design are much, much weaker.

Happii

Happii

Overall, Super Smash Bros for the Wii U, whilst not living up to overwhelming hype spanning over 3 years, is regardless an enjoyable game, and it comes highly recommended from me. I’ve been a fan of Super Smash Bros since the GameCube era, and this game does an excellent job of bringing one of my favourite Nintendo franchises into the generation of gaming.

Score

32/40

8/10 (Very Good)

Super Smash Bros Melee (GameCube)

Developer(s) – HAL Laboratory

Publisher(s) – Nintendo

Director – Masahiro Sakurai

Producer(s) – Masayoshi Tanimura, Hiroaki Suga, Shigeru Miyamoto & Kenji Miki

Developed as a launch title for the Nintendo GameCube back in 2001, along with Luigi’s Mansion, Pikmin and Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem, Super Smash Bros Melee made a multitude of significant improvements on the original game in every imaginable way, and it made for what was ultimately one of the greatest games on the system. Although the likes of Wind Waker and Metroid Prime were yet to have come along by that time, this game was more than just a suitable placeholder in anticipation of greater titles.

Graphics – 7.5/10

I don’t think that this game did as good a job showing off what the GameCube was capable of on a graphical as Luigi’s Mansion did with it’s very effective use of lighting and textural detail, Melee certainly makes up what would have potentially been lost points by including a level of variety in stage design comparable to any other great fighting game, featuring many different universes from Nintendo’s vast repertoire of game series’. In particular, they did a particularly decent job of presenting the Metroid universe, when by that time; they had considerably less source material go from than many other Nintendo franchises.

Gameplay8/10

The most significant improvements made on the original game were undoubtedly in the gameplay. There was increased variety, more unlockable characters, the advent of the unlockable trophies and additional game modes on top of that. It can be argued that Nintendo had to introduce variety on this kind of scale to continue to perpetuate the series in the long term, but the variety introduced in Melee was unlike anything I’d ever seen in a fighting game prior, and would have been a major factor in turning the series from a casual interest into a major system-seller for Nintendo.

Controls – 10/10

The control scheme employed in Melee was also a massive improvement on that of the original game, since more characters in turn, meant more move sets for each of the characters, and therefore made for more to do on a smaller controller than the preceding system; the Nintendo 64. Aside from that, however, despite the lack of the immensely popular combo system synonymous with the fighting genre, I find there to be no issues with the control scheme.

Originality – 8/10

At the time, the Super Smash Bros formula was fairly new anyway, but with significant improvements made after the first instalment, it felt like an entirely new game at this point, and in my opinion, surpasses the quality of many other great fighting games to have come before it as a result.

Happii

Happii

In summation, Super Smash Bros Melee is one of the best games of the sixth generation of gaming, and a must-have for anyone with either a GameCube or a Wii. The series may have gotten even better after this once Brawl came out, but for me, this was the instalment that said to me that Masahiro Sakurai meant business with this series.

Score

33.5/40

8/10 (Very Good)

Super Princess Peach (DS)

Developer(s) – TOSE

Publisher(s) – Nintendo

Director(s) – Akio Imai & Azusa Tajima

Producer(s) – Shigeru Miyamoto, Yasuhiro Minamimoto & Hitoshi Yamagami

Released in the early years of the shelf life of the original DS, Super Princess Peach was designed to be a unique take on the classic 2D side scrolling formula pioneered by Nintendo, whereby players take control of Princess Peach for the first time, as she assumes the role of the heroine as opposed to the damsel in distress. Though it does have some basis in uniqueness, I found the game to be particularly easy compared to most Mario games, and by proxy, nowhere near as good or interesting.

Graphics – 7/10

In lieu of Super Mario tradition, the atmosphere is happy-go-lucky, and the game has no shortage of vibrant and colourful environments and an array of different enemies and worlds. An interesting element of this game is Peach’s weapon; an anthropomorphic umbrella named Perry, which was actually a young man once, as revealed through various flashbacks throughout the game. Back when the original Super Mario game was relatively new, there was a cartoon film made of it in Japan, featuring a dog, which turns out to be Peach’s prince and it returned to normal at the end of the film. I can’t help but think that this in particular element of the film may have inspired this game in turn.

Gameplay – 6/10

As in most Mario games, the objective is simply to get from point A to point B. But in this title, there are 3 Toads to find in each level, as well as an array of different abilities for Peach to use in the form of different emotions. For example, crying projects water, which may be used to water beanstalks, growing them to advance. Though there is that small element of puzzle solving to it, it is still a particularly easy game, since Peach is at a great advantage with her umbrella, which can be used to attack enemies. To me, it highlights why it was such a bad idea that Nintendo originally wanted to give Mario a gun.

Controls – 10/10

As far as the control scheme goes, whilst there shouldn’t have been any problems with the basic layout (and so there isn’t any), at this point, it wouldn’t have been particularly hard to add other features to the mix along with them. I was pretty happy to see the touch screen being put to decent use, at least. Other than this, however, there isn’t much else to say about it unfortunately.

Lifespan – 4/10

Though it does indeed last around the same time as most other conventional Mario games, clocking at about 3 to 4 hours, the game’s paltry difficulty level can make it seem as if it lasts a great deal shorter than even that. The side quest can keep more intrepid players busy for a short while longer, but not as long as its world layout would suggest. The map looks a lot like that of Super Mario RPG, so I was somewhat disappointed to learn that it lasts nowhere near as long.

Storyline – 3/10

Not differing to any great extent from the plot most typically associated with Super Mario, Princess Peach, along with her umbrella friend Perry, are on a quest to save Mario and Luigi from Bowser as opposed to it being the other way round. Though the game didn’t necessarily need a decent story at all, what I don’t like about it is how much it contradicts the entire premise of the series. If Peach has always had these different abilities, then it makes me suspicious of why she couldn’t use them against Bowser whenever she is kidnapped.

Originality – 6/10

The game does have at least some basis in uniqueness at least, with the different range of abilities Peach has throughout the course of game. Ultimately however, it plays out essentially like any other Mario game, and doesn’t stand out to any significant extent. I think the developers could build on what they achieved with this game if they ever decided to make a sequel, but the first game in this potential series was a question of trial and error.

Niiutral

Niiutral

Overall, Whilst Super Princess Peach isn’t one of the worst games I’ve ever played; it unfortunately doesn’t stand out as one of Nintendo’s better efforts. I cant help but think that with a bit more challenge, it could have been much more than what it turned out to be, but given the less-than-satisfactory sales figures this game has garnished, a sequel seems unlikely.

Score

36/60

6/10 (Average)

Super Mario Sunshine (GameCube)

Developer(s) – Nintendo EAD

Publisher(s) – Nintendo

Director(s) – Yoshiaki Koizumi & Kenta Usui

Producer(s) – Shigeru Miyamoto & Takashi Tezuka

Following on from the immense success of Super Mario 64 back in 1996, Nintendo released Super Mario Sunshine on the GameCube in 2002, and went on to receive overwhelmingly positive critical acclaim, with many publications giving it a perfect score, and Japanese website Famitsu also giving a near-perfect score; one of very few games at that time to achieve such an honour. Personally, however, although I can understand why critics and players alike appreciate this game to the extent that the do, with it presenting a new and outlandish style of play that had never been seen in a Super Mario game prior, it seemed like too much of a step down from Super Mario 64, and there were fundamentals that I feel the developers didn’t handle as well as they should have done.

Graphics – 7/10

In terms of conceptual design, Nintendo were at least able to break away from many of the normal conventions there were within the series at that time, and take it to an entirely new setting with new types of supporting characters, very effectively expanding the mythos of the entire Super Mario universe; something that arguably needed to happen for some time prior to the release of this game. It was also the first time at FMVs had been implemented in a Mario game, which helped it to showcase what kind of graphics the Nintendo GameCube was capable of processing in it’s early shelf life.

Gameplay – 5/10

After the prolonged success of 3D platforming games on the Nintendo 64, Super Mario Sunshine was Nintendo’s attempt at bringing something new to the table, introducing new gameplay mechanics in the form of Mario’s new companion, F.L.U.D.D; a water hose which Mario must use to clean areas of land in order to get around and to use a weapon against enemies and bosses. The problems I had with this game, however, is that there are a number of game-breaking glitches throughout, which made me believe that it was left unfinished overall. It was highly unorthodox by Nintendo’s standards, making this game one of the first true signs of weakness I personally witnessed within the gaming industry. Yoshi’s Story did little to impress me when I was a kid, but I naturally expected much more from a Mario game, and unfortunately in this instance, my expectations were not met.

Controls – 8/10

Another way in which Nintendo could be seen as going back on themselves in this instance is in the game’s control scheme. It ultimately plays out almost identically to Super Mario 64, but the new mechanics can take some getting used to at first, and even after this, I found them to be somewhat unresponsive at times. Overall, it was a little dissatisfying to see this after Nintendo had pioneered such a sophisticated control scheme with Super Mario 64.

Lifespan – 8/10

One good thing I can say about this game, however, is that for those who may not experience as much of a problem with it as I did, there is certainly a fairly lengthy experience to be had. Lasting just as long as any 3D platforming Mario game, around 30 to 40 hours time can be clocked, which is pretty impressive. In general, it surprised me how such long games could be stored on mini discs when I first started laying the GameCube. I saw it with both Wind Waker and Metroid Prime, but his game is yet another shining example of this.

Storyline – 6.5/10

The story of Super Mario Sunshine takes place on a vacation island called Delfino, in which an unidentified figure has been vandalising large sections of the resort. Once Mario and company touch down ready to take their own vacation, Mario is immediately and wrongfully identified by the Delfino authorities as being the vandal, and is sentenced to clean what mess has been made with the aid of F.L.U.D.D. At first it seemed like a positive change from the damsel in distress story that had become synonymous with the series even at that point, but overtime, that’s exactly what it unfolds into, overall making it not much different to any other Mario game.

Originality – 7/10

Despite Nintendo unwilling to provide a great deal of uniqueness in terms of story, I do respect their willingness to have tried something new in terms of gameplay; which after all, is much more important than the former. There would be many more 3D platformers released throughout the sixth generation of gaming that would blow this title out of the water in my opinion, such as Jak & Daxter and Ratchet & Clank, but this game was able to at least stand out among these others to the extent that it did.

Niiutral

Niiutral

Overall, Super Mario Sunshine is my least favourite 3D Mario game, but it’s by no means the worst game in the franchise overall. There are gamers out there who hold this title in much higher regard than I do, and this is understandably so, but to me, there were far too many faults I found with it to be able to call it a classic game.

Score

41.5/60

6.5/10 (Above Average)

Super Mario Maker (Wii U)

Developer(s) – Nintendo EAD Group No 4

Publisher(s) – Nintendo

Director – Yosuke Oshino

Producer(s) – Tazashi Tezuka & Horiyuki Kimura

Partly inspired by the Super Nintendo classic Mario Paint, Super Mario Maker is a game in which players are given the facility to design their own Super Mario courses, and share them across the Internet with players from around the world. Personally, whilst I was mightily impressed with the practically infinite amount of replay value there is to be had with this title, I did have a few issues with it preventing me from being able to call it the ultimate Mario experience.

Graphics – 8/10

The templates available to players to create their own Super Mario levels consist of the conceptual and technological design of the original Super Mario Bros, Super Mario Bros 3, Super Mario World and New Super Mario Bros U. By proxy, players will already know that they will eventually be in for a whirlwind of customisation options involving some of the most wonderfully outlandish conceptual design in video game history. If that weren’t enough, Nintendo have also added a few new elements into the mix that can be implemented, such as distorting scenery to add to a stage’s level of challenge, and a whole range of sound effects and scenery effects like fireworks, and funny noises activated whilst interacting with certain object in each stage. In some of the better level designs I’ve encountered so far, I’ve been impressed with how Nintendo have managed to keep the franchise relatively fresh and creative even after thirty years.

Gameplay – 7/10

As mentioned, what this entails is players designing, sharing and playing a multitude of different Super Mario courses based on four templates of four classic Mario games. Different elements can be unlocked through either playing other people’s courses, or through the nine-day unlocking cycle; but there is another way of getting round this for anyone who would prefer to have these features unlocked even sooner. All that the player must do is experiment with the creating mode for 5 minutes at a time, at which point they will receive a notification that new features will soon be available, After this, the player can then set the date forward by a day in the system settings, reload the game, and the new features will become available. This can be done multiple times until all the features are unlocked. However, one problem that I think will always apply to this game is that the levels present will always vary in quality from either masterful to exceedingly boring, since content is almost solely user-generated. I’ve already encountered this problem whilst playing, and I don’t think this at least is likely to ever change.

Controls – 10/10

There isn’t hardly anything to say about the game’s controls, since it consists of a control scheme, which has already been around for thirty years, and has been perfected all this time. Super Mario Bros set the standard of how a 2D side scrolling video game should be correctly developed, and by proxy, there was never going to be an issue with controls.

Originality – 6/10

Though the entire concept of user-generated content and modding is by no means anything new to the world of gaming, Nintendo have still managed to at least keep the Mario franchise relatively fresh by adding a gameplay concept new to it, whilst along the way, adding new elements never seen in Super Mario stages before. Ultimately, the majority of what uniqueness this game holds lies with the player’s ability to design as many rich and varied courses as possible, and from what I’ve seen so far the quality of that has ranged from captivatingly unique to courses that Nintendo themselves would despair at if they were to see them for themselves.

Happii

Happii

Overall Super Mario Maker is a very decent game. It also has the potential to be even better still if Nintendo decide to provide players with even more course templates and elements as the next few months or years go on. In my opinion, it could potentially pave the way for Nintendo to make even more of these kinds of games, which could be extremely interesting if they decide to do so. It would be just another example of how this franchise could possibly continue to establish new trends in the world of gaming.

Score

31/40

7.5/10 (Good)

Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins (Game Boy)

Developer(s) – Nintendo R&D1

Publisher(s) – Nintendo

Director(s) – Hiroji Kiyotake & Takehiko Hosokawa

Producer – Gunpei Yokoi

As another Game Boy Game developed under the watchful eye of the late great Gunpei Yokoi at Nintendo R&D1, Super Mario Land 2 is, in many ways, a massive improvement on the original Super Mario Land, introducing a new world in the Mario series, as well as a new objective. It was also the first time gamers were introduced to the character of Wario, giving the Mario universe a new and more stable villain than Tatanga from the previous Mario Land game. After having first played this game only very recently, I can say it is definitely a must-have for anyone with a Game Boy, or a 3DS, since it is on the Virtual Console.

Graphics – 9.5/10

One of the most noticeable improvements is most definitely in the visuals. Whilst settings and character sprites may take up more of the of the screen than they did in the original game, that sacrifice is most definitely worth it, since not only does everything in the game look in far more detail, but unlike in Metroid 2, there is a very even balance between graphical detail, and how much of the screen is taken up by this, not causing as much of a hindrance as many people have cited about the second outing of Samus Aran for the Game Boy. Also, whilst the game’s soundtrack may not be as stellar as the original Super Mario Land, one noteworthy thing is that Kazumi Totaka composed it, and the fabled Totaka’s Song Easter egg can indeed be found within the game. On the game over screen, wait for 2 minutes and 30 seconds, and it will play.

Gameplay – 9.5/10

Although the visuals have been drastically improved, and the adequate level of variety in setting design has been very much adhered to, the most significant improvement to me, is the gameplay. Playing out less like the classic Super Mario Bros game, and offering a gameplay experience more akin to Super Mario World, it offers greater variety in gameplay as well as the ability to finish it in any order the player so desires. Indeed, 6 Golden Coins was actually one of the largest games ever developed on the Game Boy at a whopping 4 megabits. It may seem like a very small amount by today’s standards, but at the time that was a big deal; especially for a handheld monochromatic system. As well as that, the same amount of stern challenge is also present as it was in the original game.

Controls – 10/10

The only gripe I had with the control scheme in the original Super Mario Land was that the controls could be somewhat unresponsive at time, and that it could cause a bit of pretty unnecessary frustration. Thankfully, however, the developers didn’t repeat the same mistake with this title, and there are fortunately no issues to address.

Lifespan – 5/10

Another improvement made was to the lifespan. The original Super Mario Land could be completed in a time of merely half an hour, but the second game can be to last closer to 2 hours. Whilst that isn’t really that significant an improvement, especially compared to Super Mario World itself, the thing to bear in mind is that a Game Boy cartridge could only hold so much memory, and it would still be a fair few years before advancement in cartridge technology would allow for significantly bigger open worlds and even more gameplay, like that which would be seen in the Pokémon games.

Storyline – 7/10

Aside from the gameplay being an improvement, there is also a slight positive deviation from the regular story of Mario having to travel a land to save a princess in the form of something quite different. In this title, Mario must retake his castle, which has been stolen by a new villain named Wario. To do this, he must travel the land in order to find the 6 golden coins needed to regain access to the castle, and thereby entering to defeat Wario.

Originality – 7.5/10

With a new world, a new villain, and even a couple of new power-ups thrown in for good measure, I’d say that the second Super Mario Land game keeps the series a fraction fresher than the original game did. The difference being is that more things that were introduced to the franchise in the second game would go on to become stables of the series, which was good in the way that that, in itself, would lead to Nintendo taking the character to greater heights of success in the future, with the likes of Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Galaxy.

Happii

Happii

In summation, 6 Golden Coins is a thoroughly enjoyable Mario game, and I would recommend it to anyone else that may not have played it yet, or have been sat on the fence about trying it out. It may be a considerably aged game, especially compared to the many Mario games that have come out on other handhelds since, but it plays out just as well; if not better.

Score

48.5/60

8/10 (Very Good)

Super Mario Land (Game Boy)

Developer – Nintendo R&D 1

Publisher – Nintendo

Director – Satoru Okada

Producer – Gunpei Yokoi

Super Mario Land is one of the most outstanding Game Boy game to me for a number of reasons. Developed by Nintendo R&D 1 and produced by the late great Gunpei Yokoi. Super Mario Land for me, definitely earns its place as one of the more fairly memorable instalments in the illustrious Super Mario franchise.

Graphics – 9/10

Carrying on from Super Mario 3, Super Mario Land present players with a pretty decent level of variety in level design, with courses ranging from being influenced by Egyptian and Chinese cultures, as well as other courses having the more classic Super Mario feel to them. The variety in level design compensates for the initial lack of colour on the Game Boy’s screen nicely. But what I absolutely love about this game, and the biggest source of childhood memory for me personally, is it’s stellar soundtrack. Composed by Hirokazu Tanaka, the theme for the first level in particular has had a huge nostalgic impact on the gaming community, and does a flawless job of setting the happy-go-lucky tone of the entire game.

Gameplay – 9/10

Whilst Super Mario Land pretty much plays out like any other typical Mario game before it, and many other future Mario games afterwards, what stand out about Super Mario Land for me is its surprising level of challenge compared to that of previous instalments in the series. Though Super Mario Land is short, many level do require a bit of lateral thinking to get through I find. Even after over 20 years, there were parts of game that I struggled with when I played it to finalize my review. Another standout feature that came with Super Mario Land, which had never been seen before in any other Mario game before, and few since, is the rail-shooting aspect of gameplay. Inspired by Gunpei Yokoi’s Kid Icarus series, Super Mario Land presents players with the challenge of guiding Mario through level on either a place or in a submarine, with guns attached to them to shoot enemies along the way, which made for a very nice change of direction in terms of gameplay; one of many examples of Yokoi’s philosophy of lateral thinking with withered technology.

Controls – 9.5/10

Compared to other instalments in the series prior, Super Mario Land’s controls seem a little bit unresponsive. Mario sometimes may not jump when the appropriate button is pressed, which can cause some mild frustration. But other wise, the entire formula works as it was intended, which, as it had been long since perfected in the video games industry, was to be expected.

Lifespan – 3/10

For me, this is the aspect whereby the game falls short of the most, as it can be completed inside half an hour. Whilst the game is extremely enjoyable to play, like most titles in the franchise’s history, it still feels like far too fleeting an experience, given how short a time it can be made to last. Beginners will spend quite some time losing lives, but for experienced players, it can be completed in less than twenty minutes, which even for a Mario game at the game, was just far too short.

Storyline – 6.5/10

The story of Super Mario Land follows Mario’s adventure to rescue a character new to the franchise at the time, Princess Daisy, from the mysterious alien Tatanga, who plans to force her into marriage. Whilst the basic premise is identical to any typical Super Mario game, it is fractionally different from other prior entries in the series, and did introduce a few new characters who would later become much more stable in years to come, and incorporates a new villain to the Mario series as opposed to simply bringing back Bowser again. But overall, the game’s story is not exactly what one would call a blockbuster; especially as this game was designed in a time before video games were officially considered to be a valid form of artistic expression.

Originality – 7/10

Although Super Mario Land does ultimately play out like most other Super Mario instalments, it was kept fresh enough with the introduction of new gameplay elements as well as new characters and scenery to go with it. I think it’s pretty regrettable that the rail-shooting aspect of gameplay has appeared in no other mainstream Super Mario title since, as it was a good idea, and it kept gameplay intense as well as challenging.

Happii

Happii

In summation, Super Mario Land is a must have for old and new fans of the series. For me personally, it doesn’t get any more nostalgic than this, and will keep newcomers to the series for the short time it lasts, and present them with a fairly stern challenge along the way.

Score

44/60

7/10 (Fair)