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Super Mario

Review – New Super Mario Brothers (NDS)

Nintendo DS – 1 to 2 Players

What do you get when you combine an 8-bit mindset with modern technology? You get New Super Mario Brothers of course! Just about the only thing missing is the inability to move left.I’m not real sure what the idea behind the “New” in the title is though. There isn’t all that much new to this title. It’s not a remake of the NES’ Super Mario Brothers either. They could have just as easily called it say, Adventures of the Super Mario Brothers and it would have been just as relevant. It’s likely the new plays off the idea that this is the first 2D Super Mario Brothers game since Super Mario World hence what is old is new again.

Story 6/10
There’s a basic format to the story in pretty much every Mario game. Travel across several worlds, usually eight, then rescue the Princess from Bowser. It’s extremely formulaic. Still, many good games are formulaic. Mega Man, Sonic, Metal Gear. It works if there’s enough extra to make it seem different. Such si not really the cane here. It’s the same exact plot as Mario 1 in a new wrapper.Additionally, it’s not a particularly strong plot. Nintendo’s other flagship series, Zelda, tends to keep the same formulaic approach while providing a much deeper story experience. Metal Gear is another series that does this, basic concepts, new shinny experience. Even some more recent Mario games have some sort of worthwhile story going that varies the theme a bit. This story is pulled right from Mario 1, 3, and World, and others.

Graphics 8/10

The DS comes off as a portable N64, except the NDS seems to feature superior 3D graphics. That’s possibly due to the small size of the screen though. It’s hard to make out ugliness when it’s half a millimeter in size. New Super Mario Brothers, while being a 2D game, features these nice 3D graphics. Despite the 3D, many enemies still come off as just the same as their 2D counterparts. Often things get distorted during such transitions. Then again, we’ve had 3D Mario for years now.As a result, everything moves fluidly and we get lots of nice scaling effects such as those apparent with the Mega Mushroom. The engine actually seems to be a take off of the Mario 64 Engine, though I don’t have anything to suggest it actually is.

Sound 6/10
I’m probably not the best judge of sound quality on any DS title since I often play with the sound turned all the way down. Still, what I have heard is a bit mixed. Many of the sound effects are ported straight from SMB1 which is a really nice touch. On the other hand, these same old sound effects just don’t mix too well with the modern style graphics.The music in mostly underwhelming as well. I couldn’t hum one tune from the game if I had to which tells me none of it was particularly catchy or memorable.

Control/Gameplay 8/10

The game play itself only marginally feels like old school Mario. The basics are there but it completely lacks the speed. With the original Super Mario Brothers, you can easily run full speed through almost every level. New SMB requires a lot more strategy and stopping. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; it’s just one more step towards why this doesn’t feel like “New” Super Mario Brothers.Still, everything handles very solidly, even when you’re gargantuan Mega Mario. Pretty much the main exception is the Turtle Shell power up, which spins out of control so fast the power up is completely useless for regular play.

Balance 5/10

Most often the case is that a game is too difficult. This one is almost too easy. With the exception of a handful of tricky spots, there’s not much to keep this game challenging. Most levels rely on a single gimmick of some sort, once you figure out the way to thwart each gimmick, there’s not much to keep you from breezing through the level.It’s not helped that most of the gimmicks are recycled from previous Mario games, primarily Mario 3. The solution is likely something you’re already familiar with if you’ve played through previous 2D Mario games.

Replayability 7/10

This is a category solely dependant on how obsessive you are with collecting every item in a game. Specifically, the gold coins. Each level has 3 hidden gold coins that can be spent on the world map to unlock new levels and bonus mushroom houses. You can play through the game pretty quickly, but chances are you’ll miss a ton of the hidden coins and likely two entire worlds. The worlds are more likely to bring you back than the gold coins but not having every coin means you’re also going to miss out on some levels too.As you complete the game, your save files gains one of three gold stars. One star for completing the game, one star for playing every level, one star for spending all the coins. It will take you a fair amount of time to find every coin, but only a couple are truly well hidden to the point of being difficult to find.

Originality 3/10

This game is more or less selling itself on the merit of being a remake/remix of old school Super Mario Brothers game play. As such, pretty much every level comes off as being a direct rip off of some old concept. There’s very little here that’s truly new, especially in level gimmicks.So what is new. There are a couple of new Power ups. The Mega Mushroom makes you turn into “Really Big Mario” allowing you to crush pipes and walls and enemies alike. The Mega Mushroom is the most fun. The Mini Mushroom turns you into “Really Small Mario”, which lets you access tiny pipes and pass through other small tricky areas to discover secrets. The Micro Mushroom is the most useful. Then there is the Turtle Shell. Mario dons a shell that will protect him while ducking and allow him to speed along when running. The trick is that you can’t generally stop yourself while speeding along. This can make for some quick pitfalls. The Blue Shell is the most useless and lame. I believe it’s required for retrieving one of the game’s gold coins, so you’ll be force to use it at least once.Some of the bosses are nice though. Particularly the frantic Monty Mole tank battle and the Mega Manesque Super Lakitu (a boss that gave me serious Cloud Man vibes). Still, the mini boss battles against Bowser JR are very simple and repetitious and back to unoriginality, are almost straight rip offs of the old SMB3 Boom-Boom battles.

Addictiveness 10/10

This is a game you’re going to want to come back to. Even replaying the same levels trying to track down all the coins doesn’t get tiring. Most levels play fairly quickly, though they lack the full on sprintability of SMB1. Still, it’s a blast to play and it will keep you wanting to play more.

Appeal Factor 10/10

Who doesn’t love Mario? Probably the most memorable gaming icon ever created, with inly maybe Pac man rivaling Mario’s famous image. Even new gamers should be able to appreciate the simple addictiveness of smashing blocks and stomping Goombas.

Miscellaneous 7/10O

One of the best returning stars here is the Fire Flower. I don’t know about anyone else, but since the advent of Flying Mario in Mario 3 and Mario World, I never use Fire Balls. In this game you’ll rely on them religiously. In fact the complete lack of flying is really hard to get used to at first.There also Mini Games included to help with replay value but most, if not all of them are carried over directly from Super Mario 64 DS, and they were boring crap when included with that game too.

Final Scores:
Story: 6
Graphics: 8
Sound: 6
Control/Gameplay: 8
Balance: 5
Replayability: 7
Originality: 3
Addictiveness: 10
Appeal Factor: 10
Miscellaneous: 7While I feel like I’ve been a bit hard on the game, it’s still a lot of fun to play. Nothing in it is particularly new or original, but side scrolling Mario Action is always fun, and this game serves it up considerably better then Princess Peach did. Unless you absolutely hate Super Mario Brothers games, which of course means you also have no soul, you should definitely give this game a go.

Final Score 7/10

Review – Super Mario 64 DS (NDS)

There are re-releases of games, and then there are remakes of games. Super Mario 64 DS certainly falls into the remake category. It’s essentially the same game at the core but it adds so many new features that it feels more like a remake. I suppose really it would need more of a graphics overhaul to be a true remake.

I didn’t set out to own Mario 64 DS (Abbreviations from 2 systems? How does that work?). When I purchased my DS, Best Buy was running a promotion to get the game free. One might conclude that I didn’t really want this game, and they would be correct. However I’d have to say it’s probably the most enjoyable game I have for the system. And that’s saying a lot. I own 5 DS games and only Metroid Prime: Hunters was a disappointment.

At the core, this is the exact same game as Super Mario 64 DS. However there are many really nice additional features added to the mix. Most notable is the new characters, which changes the plot slightly. Instead of starting as Mario, you start off playing as Yoshi. Mario’s been locked up, along with Luigi and Wario. That’s two Mario based games in a row where Mario’s been captured (see also Princess Peach), it would seem our persnickety plumber is starting to slip a bit with age.

As Yoshi you’ll have to progress along collecting a few stars on your own before you can even think of rescuing anyone. Each new “floor” of the castle (divided by Bowser Keys), presents a new hero to be unlocked. Each hero adds new skills to the mix. This 4 way cast is analogous to the cast of Mario 2, whether intentional or not. Mario and Luigi have comparable differences that they shared in Mario 2, Luigi jumps higher an is more “floaty”. He can also run on water for a short period of time, a skill that is ultimately useless. Wario takes the place of Toad. Wario jumps lower and moves more “bricklike”, but he’s generally stronger. Yoshi replaces Princess Toadstool with his short range flight ability.

The old “cap System” is also gone, or at least revamped. Instead of special ability caps, you have character change caps. Only Yoshi lacks a cap of any sort. All of the power up blocks contain he same power flower, the effect they give is dependant on the character. Luigi becomes invisible, matching is floaty high jumping air based personality; Wario becomes metal, matching his strong stocky personality; Yoshi breathes fireballs; and Mario turns into a balloon (or flight cap on certain levels).

There are many obstacles that only certain characters can pass. For example, Mario may need his wall kick and only Wario can break the large dark blocks. This makes some previous tasks a lot easier, especially Luigi’s ability to helicopter high jump from the ducking position. The Shifting Sands land can be traversed easily by Luigi with this move where previously you’d have to make a lot of treacherous trips over quicksand.

There are also new stars. Thirty new stars to be exact. Each level now has 7 stars to find and there are a mess of new hidden stars. Some of the missions have even been altered slightly to accommodate the new cast.

Finally there are also a bunch of mini games to be unlocked. As you travel through the castle, you’ll encounter rabbits. Catching these rabbits yields a key that unlocks a new mini game. I personally did not find the mini games that fun. They all involve the touch screen and most are repeated several times only with new graphics sets. I’ve never cared for mini games since they tend to serve no ultimate purpose to the main quest.

Other than the boring Mini games, this is one spot on title. Despite being a remake, it offers plenty for gamers to enjoy. Super Mario 64 was a solid game to begin with, the new features don’t change that one bit.

S.H. Figuarts – Mario

Nintendo has long been weirdly stingy with the license for their properties.  Sure, there has always been merchandise for Super Mario Brothers, but only recently have they really opened it up, at least for more toy style merchandise.  They seemed to have opened the flood gates too, between the Amiibo figurines, and the World of Nintendo toy line.  There is also a line put out by Bandai under their S.H. Figuarts lineup.

World of Nintendo is alright, but if you want the “Cadillac level” of figure, you’re going to want to spring for the Figuarts Mario.

SH Figuarts Mario

Figuarts Mario is a bit of a departure from the standard Human figures put out in this line.  Sure Mario is human, but he’s considerably shorter and ore stocky than your average anime school girl.   The joint system all around also feels a lot more study than the other Figuarts I’ve handled.  I’m not saying the others are garbage, just that Mario here definitely seems to have a different mindset in mind on his design choices.  It kind of feels like that whole “Nintendo Quality” hand was probably involved in the design of this figure a bit to make sure he looks nice and solid in most poses.

SH Figuarts Mario

This also is almost a determent however.  He can make a lot of “classic Mario poses” but he’s also limited in a lot of ways due to his sculpt.  He can’t stick his arms out from his sides, for example, due to how his shoulders work.  He doesn’t have any alternate faces either.  In fact eh doesn’t have any alternate parts at all, though there are some alternate hands included in one of the accessory packs.

SH Figuarts Mario

What he does include is a Power Mushroom, one coin with stand, and a ? Block.  There isn’t even a stand (That is also in an accessory pack).  He’s plenty solid enough to stand without the stand though having one to do jumping poses would have been nice.

SH Figuarts Mario

There is an upside to the lack of extra parts however, and it kind of makes the whole argument moot.  Mario costs considerably less than your average Figuarts toy.  In fact Mario plus the two initial “Playset” packs, probably puts him about your average Figuarts price, with an above average number of accessories.

SH Figuarts Mario

Accessory woes aside, the figure is really nice.  It’s build solid, as mentioned and the sculpt and paint are all spot on perfect for a modern Mario.  Despite his limited articulation, he can pill off a lot of very Mario-like poses.  Mario isn’t exactly a Ninja after all, he’s a fat, squat plumber.  SH Figuarts Mario pulls this off nicely.