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Super Mario Brothers

Review – Super Princess Peach (NDS)

Nintendo – 1 Player

Princess Peach aka Princess Toadstool, makes the occasional player controlled appearance in games many Mario games. You can cruise around as her in Mario Kart, you can get her in your party during Mario RPG, you can even control her directly in Mario Brothers 2. Still, she’s always pretty much second fiddle to Mario. Actually it’s more like 4th or 5th fiddle to Mario, there is a whole slew of cast members that take more spotlight than Princess Peach.

Not anymore! As the title suggests, Super Princess Peach stars, Mario! Er, Peach! This time Mario gets to play damsel in distress as Peach tromps across the ever evolving mushroom kingdom to rescue him (and his brother Luigi) from the clutches of the evil Bowser.

As expected, this game has a very Mario Brothers feel to it. The ability to pick up enemies actually gives it a very Mario Brothers 2 feel, but there are more than enough elements to keep this game grounded with the rest of the mainstream series. Yes, Princess peach can pick up enemies just like she could in her last platform appearance. This time however she picked them up with the aid of her trusty talking umbrella.

The umbrella serves many purposes throughout the game. In addition to picking up enemies, you can smack them with the umbrella, absorb them to refill the Vibe Gage, float, ride rails across the sky, and turn it into a submarine. This is a very versatile piece of rain gear. Did I mention that it talks? It gives the occasional piece of helpful advice or explanation about some object. Between worlds you even get bits of story about the umbrella’s background as it dreams.

But princess peach isn’t just the story of one Umbrella’s dreams of finding his grandfather, its about a Princess saving her heroic plumber friend from the clutches of an evil fire breathing turtle.

In addition to her umbrella, Peach has several “vibes” at her disposal, 4 to be exact. There is the Happy Vibe which causes Peach to fly and make tornadoes, the Angry Vibe, which causes Peach to turn into a furious ball of flaming rage, there is the Sad Vibe which causes Peach to sprint along as tears pour from her eyes in classic Anime style, and finally there is the Calm Vibe which gradually restores Peach’s health.

These vibes are present all throughout the game world in the enemies too. In the intro, Bowser’s minions accidentally unleash the power of the vibe Wand on the world which causes anyone afflicted to have one of these random vibes. You’ll often encounter wobbly happy Koopa Troopas, Crying slow Goombas, and speedy angry Spineys. The Vibes are not limited to these combinations either. Generally speaking though only the angry enemies cause any extra trouble.

Disappointingly, these Vibes are lacking in their presence in the actual gameplay. Sure, you’ll use them quite a bit, but many times they are not a requirement to pass on to the next stage. It starts out ok, and gets better near the end of the game, but in between use of Vibes just seems kind of needless most of the time. When you DO need to use them, the presence of Vibe bar refilling jewels are plentiful. If not there are always plenty of easy enemies. Alternately, most of the “real puzzles” that don’t involve vibes can be completely avoided by using vibes. You may come across a really clever jumping style puzzle but most of the time you can easily just fly past it.

Unfortunately, easy is the word for this game. There is barely any truly inspired game play elements to this game, despite so many potential opportunities to use the Vibes in more interesting ways. However the healing vibes coupled with how easy it is to refill the vibe gage make this game a cakewalk. It doesn’t help that there doesn’t appear to be any sort of lives system or even any real penalty for falling in pits. Basically no matter how bad you are, you’ll eventually make it through this game. The extra levels add a bit of challenge fortunately. It’s too bad they appear after completing the game and don’t serve much other purpose than to allow the player to collect music notes and puzzle pieces.

Another frustrating point is the level design. Each level hides three captured Toads that must be rescued in order to finish the game. Many of the levels, especially later in the game, are very non linear, which means you’ll spend a lot of time ducking into pipes and going in circles trying to track down each of the Toads. Also the few decent puzzles that are present have solutions spelled out directly in helpful information boxes present throughout the world.

The game is pretty fun though, despite its flaws. Or at least it’s a nice holdover for those awaiting a decent Mario Platformer and can’t wait for the upcoming New Super Mario Bothers. There are also a few mini games and a ton of extras in the form of puzzle pieces and music notes to find hidden in the game’s levels. Not to mention that after completing the game you can replay it with several additional levels added to each world. Princess Peach is a so-so Mario Game and a decent overall game, but it may not be for those who don’t like their games to be too easy.

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.