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January, 2017:

Review – New Super Mario Brothers 2 (3DS)

The Good

  • It’s Mario, it’s pretty good in all the ways Mario is good.
  • The return of the Raccoon Leaf, generally reminiscent of SMB 3 all around
  • Build in mechanisms for if things get too tough

The Bad

  • It’s Mario…  It’s not a particularly original Mario either
  • There are a few tricky points but not much is super difficult, which makes the game go by pretty quick
  • The Coin Collecting aspect is interesting but serves little purpose

In Depth

If there’s one consistency in Nintendo’s world, it’s Mario.  I’m not even going to attempt to figure out just how many Super Mario Brothers titles there have been, let’s keep it at “a lot”.  A few years back for the original Nintendo DS, we got the first New Super Mario Brothers, a sort of, return to roots restart of the Super Mario Brothers franchise.  There have also been a few New SMB titles on the Wii and WiiU as well.  New Super Mario Brothers 2 comes to the Nintendo 3DS.

It’s not a remake of any previous title, despite the name, which can be a bit confusing, given how much Nintendo rereleases it’s old SMB titles.  I didn’t expect it to be a remake but they seem to have taken the same idea with the Yoshi’s Story series, there is a New Yoshi’s Story, that apparently isn’t a remake of the original as I had thought it might be.  Though not a remake, there isn’t a whole ton here that’s super original.  While the more old school Super Mario Brothers titles would get newer graphics and power ups and music, this game looks and feels very much like it’s predecessors, especially New Super Mario Brothers for the DS.  There aren’t even really any super original power ups in this title, the primary two being the Fire Flower and the Raccoon Leaf.

I really like the return of the Leaf, SMB 3 is one of my favorite titles in the series.  Of all of the ways Mario has been able to fly over the years I always felt like Raccoon Mario was a good balance between functionality and being too over powered like say, the Cape.  If you fail a level too many times you will be rewarded with the chance to use a White Raccoon Leaf, which gives you unlimited invincibility as well as (normal) flight power.  This isn’t always the best choice though hen trying to collect the Star Coins necessarily though, as some coins require you to perform tricky bounce maneuvers across enemies, with the White Raccoon power, you’ll simply push right through the enemies.  Also, while completing the stage with the White Raccoon lets you proceed, the stage will remain red and incomplete for actual completion percentage.

The real addition to the gameplay here is the coin accumulation.  In addition to score, you have a counter for how many total coins you have collected throughout the game.  The only real change that occurs as you collect coins however is that the pile of coins on the title screen will gradually grow larger.  This feature is similar to how Wario Land worked.  It might have been a nice twist to the classic formula for Wario or maybe the genie from Wario Land to show up, giving this coin total purpose, but sadly, it’s just the slightly tired 8-9 worlds with Koopa bosses.

Which is another nice nod to Super Mario Brothers 3, and Super Mario World, the return of Reznor and the Koopa Kids.  Bowser Junior was the villain of the first New SMB, instead Bowser’s other kids get to take control here, one in each world, just as you’d expect.

If you really like the coin mode there’s also the Coin Rush Mode, where you play 3 randomly selected courses with a very limited time set to see how many coins you can gather.  These coin records can be saved and shared via the Street Pass system, to let you try to beat other’s records.  It’s an alright additional mode, though nothing special.  You can also purchase additional course sets, which I believe is the first time a Mario game has had paid DLC.  Honestly, I don’t find the mode fun enough to justify buying more stages for it.  I’d rather just buy another title.

 The Verdict

What’s the final call here?  Well, it’s a decidedly adequate Mario Game.  It’s fun, it’s got some good references to older titles here and there, it’s everything you’d expect.  It’s also… everything you’d expect, with nothing overly new.

Review – Marvel Legends – Abomination Wave – Scarlet Witch

As much as I like that Hasbro keeps putting out these C and D tier characters in their line ups, sometimes it feels like they go a little overboard and overlook some of the more obvious and popular characters, especially when it comes to their MCU line up.  I am sure the die hard comic fans hate to accept it sometimes, but the movies really feel like they are driving Marvel these days.

Thankfully, they didn’t wait too long to fill in the Scarlet Witch hole in the current Avengers line up.  Not like they did for, you know, Falcon, who has been around for a while now.  Somewhat unfortunately, she was stuck in an otherwise pretty throw away wave for an Abomination BAF.  It kind of feels like she should have been a part of the Giant-Man wave with the Abomination Wave being pushed elsewhere.  I’m not making these choices, so it’s all anecdotal at this point, I just worry about Marvel Legends getting a little too saturated, a lot of these figures tend to sit on the pegs for a while, if they show up at all.

At least we got a figure for her.  I doubt we ever see a Quicksilver to go with her, that’s a character that is definitely aught up in the rights holder hell tornado of Marvel, Disney, Fox, and X-men.

But enough commentary, what about Wanda here?  She’s a pretty nice figure.  It’s not an amazing likeness of Elizabeth Olsen, though it’s not a super ugly likeness either.  I imagine Scarlet Witch has ended up in the same boat as Captain America in the MCU as far as likeness, none of the Cap figures look particularly like Chris Evans either, maybe the actors wanted too much money to use their likenesses for these toys.  That’s understandable a bit in the case of Scarlet Witch, who knows if we’ll ever get another figure, but there’s an Evans based Cap in every other wave these days, I can’t imagine they wouldn’t have gotten their moneys worth.

This version is Wanda from Civil War.  While similar to how she looked in her Age of Ultron debute, she wears a slightly different jacket, pants instead of a skirt, and is a bit less… gothy, in her design.  She includes a pair of fireball effects which slip over her hands.  They work well and look decent, though it’s not a real great representation of how Scarlet Witch’s powers work.  Her hands are also sculpted with her fingers all crazy though, which is accurate to how her powers work on screen in the MCU.  It’s a nice touch.

The sculpt as a whole is well done which is helped by having a good solid paint job.  Articulation is standard fare for the line with no major limiting factors.   It’s a good representation of the character and a good figure overall.  She is a welcome addition of the MCU Avengers line up.

Review – Transformers – Titans Return – Chromedome

Wave 2 of the Titans Returns line wraps up the redesigned versions of the original 7 Headmasters from G1.  Today’s review is for Titans Return Chromedome with Stylor.  There haven’t been a whole lot of easy to get options for an updated Chromedome since the original Generation One release.  There was a repaint of Transformers Prime Wheeljack for the Collectors Club, and at least one 3rd Party figure in Fansproject CODE.  He’s a fairly popular character in the IDW comics but he is admittedly kind of a bland design with all of his squareishness and brown shades.  It’s understandable that he’s not the first choice for a toy.

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If you’re familiar with the previous Transformers line, Combiner Wars, you might look at this figure and see it as a remold of the overused Breakdown/Prowl mold.  While Chromedome certainly has a lot of design queues from that figure and a very similar Transformation, he is a very different figure and doesn’t seem to actually share any parts with that older mold.  It’s an understandable mistake, but it’s not an accurate one.

Titans Return Chromedome

The differences are kind of similar to the old complain that Transformers Cybertron Starscream was the same toy as G2 Smokejumper, which share a transformation but are totally different figures.  I feel like Hasbro does such a good job of making every transformation unique despite how many Transformers there are, it tends to just stick out on the rare occasion that they reuse a Transformation.

Titans Return Chromedome

He’s a nice solid toy as well, there have been some budget cuts on the Transformers design process in the last few years (mentioned by the design team) which resulted in a lot of hollowness and weirdness for a few years but it’s starting to really be apparent with this line that the designers have managed to get a good hold on working within these confines.  It kind of feels like it’s helped the line as well, we’re starting to get a lot of good designs that still have simpler transformations with less random flippy bits.

Titans Return Chromedome

The headmaster Stylor is identical to all of the other Headmasters.  The fit on the head peg is solid, which tends to be the biggest issue on some of these figures (say hello Scourge).  The fit of the smaller robot in Chromedome’s cockpit is nice and solid as well, the cars are particularly great for the little guys to drive around in.

Titans Return Chromedome

The colors are definitely Chromedome’s colors, but it does make him pretty bland.  He’s not a flashy sports car, he’s not a sleek looking car, he’s just a very, brown car.   There is a bit of an issue with his hood being a little tricky to get lines up but otherwise it’s an alright design and rolls along easily.

Titans Return Chromedome

Titans Return Chromedome isn’t an amazing entry to the Transformers line but he’s not a bad one at all either.  He’s pretty middle of the road with no major flaws but nothing that makes him stand out.

Figma – A Link Between Worlds Link (DX version)

The Legend of Zelda has kind of a crazy continuity, or more, a crazy lack of continuity.  Despite there being many many Zelda title in the series, more or less all about Link fetching the Triforce to save Hyrule, there are few that are direct sequels or even that take place in the same world.  Link has had many different designs over the years.  Generically, he’s kind of an elf looking person in a green tunic.  Sometimes he’s an adult, sometimes he’s a child, sometimes he’s somewhere in between.  This version of Link is based on his appearance in the game A Link Between Worlds, a 3DS title that is a sequel to the SNES classic, A Link to the Past.  This is the second Figma Link, the first being one of the older designs from Skyward Sword.

Figma Link - Left Handed

This design really hits all of the right points for my preferred link.  Most of my experience with the Zelda series is in the older games, before Link was a grittier older warrior type like in Skyward Sword or Twilight Princess, and before he became a kooky cartoon caricature like in Wind Waker.  It’s not exactly the same as the classic Zelda 1 style art but he’s a lot closer to that design than other options available at this time.  It also helps that A link to the Past is probably my favorite Zelda title.

Figma Link - Size Comparison

If I had any real complaint it’s that he is a really small figure.  Like 4″ tall short.  Admittedly this is kind of personal preference, I like to mix up my figures across lines, and I was hoping for a Link that didn’t come off as being a 5 year old kid next to my other ~6″ figures.

Figma Link - Accessories

Personal gripe aside, it’s a fantastic figure to be sure.  The accessories on the basic Link feel a bit lacking, though there is a DX version that includes a whole slew of extra bits.  The basic Link includes a stand, two faces (total), the Master Sword and Link’s Shield.  He also includes a flat cut out Link that is part of the gimmick of A link Between World’s gameplay.  There are also alternate hands and a bracelet that can be removed if desired.

Figma Link - Accessories (Disassembled)

The DX version also includes a Tornado Rod with a flat effect piece, a Hookshot with long and short hooks, a Bomb, a Rupee, a Pot and a Baby Maiamai.   All of the accessories are well designed and easily used.  There’s a lot of “quality of life” sort of features to these accessories alone.  For example, the sword isn’t one piece, forcing you to jam it into his hands, the hilt is removable so it can easily be slid into the hand and reattached.  The shield and hook shot handles both disassemble into several pieces to be easily put into Link’s hands as well.  The shield can even be adjusted so it can be held in both Link’s left or right hand (since Link is a southpaw except when facing west).  Little touches like this really help sell the figure.

Figma Link - With Bomb

Pose ability is nice overall as well.  The skirt part of Link’s tunic is a flexible rubber sort of material that allows for free movement in the hips, something that can often be a problem for figures with similar sort of outfits.

Figma Link -

My only actual complaint with this figure is that his hair and face come off a little too easily.  This seems to be somewhat of a Figma problem, since I have similar issues with Figma Motoko.   There isn’t quite enough friction to hold things in place solidly.  It’s really not a huge problem but it can be a problem.   Another “Figma Issue” is that often when swapping the hands, the peg comes out of the wrist instead of the hand coming off the peg, which can make the peg hard to remove from the hand, since it’s so small.  This is another issue I’ve had with other Figma as well.

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Figma A link Between Worlds link is a pretty good figure.  Some of what it comes down to is, which Link Design do you prefer.  Also, given his small size, he’s a bit pricey, even for an import figure.  Higher prices aren’t uncommon for import figures but the tiny 4″ size makes that harder to take, especially with the anemic accessory count on the non DX version.

Figma Link - Right Handed

Figma Link - Left Handed

Weekly Wednesday Haul – These Are the Droids I’m Looking For Edition

I want to make a bit of a behind the scenes confession.  Sometimes I sit on stuff a bit to better balance out these posts.  Or to make them work for “clever titles”.  Or to be sure I have something for the future during a slower week.  Like Black Series 3PO, which I’ve had for a few weeks now, but I wanted to wait to pair him up with other “gets”.

Star Wars Black Series C-3P0

This “normal” version of C-3P0 is a Walgreens exclusive repaint of the Episode 7 one with the dumb pointless red arm.  Personally, the Red arm should be the exclusive, but then we’d just have a new shelf warmer for Walgreens.   His main issue is that Black Series R2-D2 came out in like Wave 1 or something, years ago, so he is impossible to find.  That’s where my other pick ups come in.T

Star Wars Black Series C-3P0, Bandai R2-D2 and BB-8

Bandai makes model kids for Star Wars.  1/12th scale models kits.  There’s a 3P0 and R2 kit, but there is also a newer kit with R2 and BB-8, which ended up being perfect for my wants.  I’ve been torn on BB-8 somewhat, Black Series BB-8 comes with Rey.  I already have a Rey from the K-Mart set that includes the display base and saber, but no BB-8.  Getting this set gets me a really really nice R2 and really really really nice BB-8.  I may do a full review down the road, but I cannot stress more how incredibly impressive both R2 and BB-8 are, especially since the set cost around the same as a single Black Series figure.  They have add on bits, and all of the articulation you would need, this includes BB-8 with his really clever engineering.

Keeping int he Star Wars theme, I also picked up a couple of Black Series figures on deep clearance at Wal-Mart.

Star Wars Black Series Jyn Erso

First off is Jyn Erso.  I’ve been holding out a bit hoping for a mark down of the Target 3 Pack that includes the proper Cassian, but I’m not real sure I even like that figure at all, and for the price, I decided to just stick with the single Jyn.

Star Wars Black Series Kylo Ren

I also picked up Kylo Ren, minus the mask.  I have the original release of Kylo Ren, and I didn’t really want to pay another $20 for what amounts to a better light saber and an unmasked head, but for $7, I could go for that, especially since he spends more time minus the helmet vs with it.