Friday, November 20, 2009

New Super Mario Bros. Wii (Wii) Review

Last Friday we reviewed New Super Mario Bros. for the DS. Now it's time at long last to take a reviewer's eye to New Super Mario Bros. Wii for... the Wii! Sit back, relax, and enjoy this brand-new review.

Nostalgia Off, Propeller Cap On.

Magical isn't a word I throw around loosely. There really aren't many games or series that come off as magical when you play them. The Super Mario Bros. games, on the other hand, are magical. They may vary in degrees of magic, but most often than not you're getting a whimsical journey that touches upon what memories of nostalgia are made of. It's been a few years shy of two decades since we last saw a console 2-D Mario. Sure, games like Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Galaxy are excellent 3-D platforming adventures, but you can't escape the fondness some of us have for 2-D wonder. Thankfully, the wait is over as New Super Mario Bros. Wii has hit the planet like a foot stomp to a goomba. No cute rhetorical questions like "is New Super Mario Bros. Wii a superstar or will it need a pack of 1-ups to survive" as this new 2-D adventure delivers in spades.

Our story begins with Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, and two of her Toad guardians celebrating a nice celebration of some type inside Peach's castle. A giant cake is delivered, but oh-ho! The cake is a lie. Instead, Bowser Jr. and the seven once long-forgotten Koopalings pop out of the cake, capture the princess, and dart off with her to an airship with Mario and the gang giving chase. This is our story, and it's a simple one. Check out J.K. Rowling if you want something whimsical and meaty in your stories.

In four-player, the screen zooms out
to accommodate all players.

This time, Mario doesn't have to be alone this time if you choose not to. For the first time in a Mario game, there's full multi-player functionality. There's no online which may frustrate some, but seeing a PS3 title stumble with four players online in LittleBigPlanet, that may be for the best. The first player must always be Mario, but a second, third, and even fourth if you're feeling particularly crazy, can jump in and out on the world maps at any time. The choices for the playable characters seems odd. There's Luigi, of course, but the other two are a pair of no-name Toads, one blue and one yellow. Perhaps someone like Toadette could have been the fourth player, but that's purely nit-picking. Regardless, I actually found the game much easier with two players than while working alone with four-player games reserved for fun solely as there's constant bumping, running into one another, getting into each others' ways, et cetera. With two players, you can actually use the game's mechanics against it. For instance, there was a valuable item down near a bottomless pit. Traditionally, you'd use the propeller suit to jump down into the chasm, shake the Wii remote, and fly back up to safety. We didn't have the luxury of such an item. Instead, one of us leaped into the hole, grabbed the item, and just before the suicide jumper would die, he'd press A and fall into a safety bubble. These bubbles can be used strategically when players need room to maneuver, or a section is too difficult for the other players to complete. However, if every player winds up in a bubble, you have to start back from the beginning of the level or at a continue point.

Having two heads is definitely better than one sometimes while others it's a hassle. Tower levels are made more difficult because in single-player, if you fall down to a place in the level you've already been, the screen scrolls down normally with you. Not so in multi-player. Instead, the screen stays put, and your falling character will fall down as if he entered a bottomless pit, losing a life. When a player loses all of their lives, they can no longer continuing playing until the level is complete, and they get a whole new set of lives to work with. Now back to the bonuses of having more than one player playing. Item boxes generally only give out one item in single-player, but in multi-player they erupt with as many items as their are players. Getting certain items would be much more difficult alone than with a buddy. There's one level where you have to scurry to keep up with a bullet bill. The bullet bill needs to be kept up to because you need it to bounce off of to reach a higher platform where a secret is. In multi-player, you can just bounce off the head of one of your friends, and reach the platform without that pesky enemy!

Welcome to the jungle.
We got fun and games.

This time around, Mario has a lot of new items in his repertoire. Standards like the mushroom, fire flower, and star return, as does the mini mushroom from New Super Mario Bros. for the DS. Although this annoying item doesn't serve as much of a purpose as it did in the original NSMB. Only a few levels require it to reach a secret, and this time, the mini mushrooms are in the levels where the secrets needing the mini mushrooms are. (Take that, DS Super Mario Bros.!) New to this version of Super Mario Bros. are the ice flower, which can freeze enemies allowing Mario to leap on top of them, perhaps reaching otherwise inaccessible items and areas. There's also the penguin suit which while running, Mario can leap on his belly and glide, as well as swim much more easily. He can also use iceballs to freeze enemies. Finally, there's one of my favorite power-ups in any Mario game, the propeller suit. I talked about this one a little earlier, but here's how it works. You shake the Wii remote up ever so smoothly, and your character propels into the air, hovering down to the ground. It's great to use to jet past problematic platforming perils with ease. And while not a power-up in the traditional sense, there's everyone's favorite dinosaur pal, Yoshi. Yoshi operates pretty much the same way as in Super Mario World except in New Super Mario Bros. Wii he can flutter in the air a la Yoshi's Island. Unfortunately, Yoshi is underutilized as he only appears in about four or five levels throughout the entire game. He can also not accompany you to other levels which is okay as that would make said levels much more manageable otherwise.

As if Cheep-Cheep weren't despised already by me!

Eight main worlds encompass the adventure, and they just beg to explored fully. Each level of the game's near-eighty levels is brimming with secrets, obstacles, enemies, hazards, and surprises. The fact of the matter is that each level is masterfully designed. Each level is one cohesively enjoyable experience. Super Mario Galaxy had plenty of moments, but they were strung together by small interruptions of standard platforming. Not New Super Mario Bros. Wii. This game packs a punch from beginning to end. It grabs a hold of you in the very first level with new surprises such as rotating pieces of land, and it doesn't stop. It doesn't let go. One level you'll think can't be topped, and then the next single-handily destroys your expectations. It's a phenomenally designed game.

Old and new are mended together wonderfully in New Super Mario Bros. Wii. Remember those spiked pillars that would smash you in Super Mario World? Now they're even larger in New Super Mario Bros. Wii, spinning and churning with rapid rotations. Airships from Super Mario Bros. 3 return with three levels of challenging platforming action. They were always the most impressive and difficult levels in Super Mario Bros. 3, and they're no slouch in this version of the series either. Enemies old and new are ready to get in your way, too, from fire-spitting piranha plants, to punching and pummeling poltergeists, giant, ghostly boos, ball-chucking spikes, plumber-consuming fish, sledge, fire and ice-throwing hammer bros, and many, many more. Just like SMB3, you can hoard items and use them on the overworld map. There's even challenges when you encounter an enemy on the world map where you must collect ten Toad balloons before you perish, and Toad-saving missions where the goal is to bring Toad all the way from the beginning of the level safely to the end.

All you have to do is chill in World 3.

Each of the eight worlds has a series of ordinary levels (well, as ordinary as they can be in this game), occasionally a ghost house, a tower where you face a Koopaling in an easy-ish battle, and a castle where you face the same Koopaling in a fiercer fight. For example, in Wendy O' Koopa's first battle, there's nothing in terms of challenge save for her thrown golden rings of doom. In the second encounter with Ms. Koopa, the chamber changes from flooded to unflooded as you try to avoid her rings and damage her. Each world map has multiple optional paths which are home to item-bestowing mushroom houses, 1-up houses, and starman-giving houses.

Secrets aren't just on the overworld maps either. They're very much in the levels, too. Every level has three star coins resting in each level. Some are hidden well, some are kept in precarious places, while others are right in plain sight ready to be collected. These can be used to purchase super skill videos where the CPU shows off in the game's various levels. Perhaps there's something greater for gathering star coins in every level of the game? Additionally, some levels house hidden exits. These usually open up the way to warp cannons that will allow players to skip huge chunks of the game, but with how much virtuosity these levels show and contain, why would you want to?

Collecting all 231 star coins may lead to something special...

Controlling Mario or whichever character you play as feels great. It's a little more loose than Super Mario World, and small things like being unable to kick shells upward are missing. Regardless, overall the game is superb. Something I was concerned with was inadvertently moving the Wii remote, and causing an action I didn't want to happen to happen. Thankfully, this was a worry unwarranted. There were only a couple of times where such an instance happened. The Wii remote is also used to control a spotlight in one level and tilt and move platforms in another. These work well, but I can see criticism for a lack of classic control support. Nonetheless, the Wii remote by itself is the optimal option.

The final piece to the New Super Mario Bros. Wii puzzle is the Super Guide. What is it? What does it do? Can I just let it play the game for me? Can it slice and dice my tomatoes? If you're having trouble with a given level, Super Guide will play through the level for you. However, it only pops up after you've perished eight times in one level, it won't collect star coins or get secret exits for you, and it's merely optional anyway. It's a fantastic addition to make the levels as difficult as the designers wanted. Another beef some might have is the overabundance of 1-ups players will receive. If you just had five lives the entire game and used them all up in an especially difficult level, you'd have to redo the level all over again. Perhaps you'd make it near the end and lose all your lives once more. Having so many lives allowed the designers to concoct dastardly levels and reward the player without frustration which I imagine only having five lives to deal with would give many players, new and veteran.

Ice to see you, too!

New Super Mario Bros. Wii is a bright and charming game with plenty of colors, awesome animations such as enemies dancing in time to the music, and breath-taking backgrounds. The game runs at a smooth clip without any problems, and it looks fantastic. The soundtrack is a mix of old and new tracks. Many from Super Mario Bros. 3 and New Super Mario Bros. for the DS. I'm happy to announce that it's a much more enjoyable and lively soundtrack than the DS incarnation. Many tunes you'll be humming and tapping your toes to.

If there was one game that I could call magical this year and mean it 100%, it'd have to be New Super Mario Bros. Wii. Nearly everything fits together like a nicely-designed jigsaw puzzle. Sure, a piece or two might have been less-than-gently squeezed into place, but the package as a whole is brilliant. The levels are constantly surprising, challenging (especially the later worlds), and the game is a blast to play alone or with friends. One isn't better than the other-- they're just different experiences and ways to play. Without a doubt, New Super Mario Bros. Wii is one of the best games released this year, and perhaps even a greater 2-D Mario than Super Mario Bros. 3, nostalgia goggles off.

[SuperPhillip Says: 9.75/10]

Thursday, November 19, 2009

SPC Quickies - Volume Four: Wii Blockbuster

Today is the three year anniversary of the market leader this generation, the Wii. To celebrate this anniversary, I'm going to do exactly what I did for the DS in September. I'm going to review and rate every game in my Wii collection-- all seventy-five games (or at least the ones I've played)! Some are fantastic, some are great, some are merely good, while others are less than stellar and/or suck horribly. So here are we are! As always, all quickie reviews are from 1 to 5. Let's crack our knuckles and get working on this, shall we?

Animal Crossing: City Folk - The third Animal Crossing release to hit North America may not have changed the formula up as heavily as Wild World did before it, but did it offer a quality experience with friends and with your many animal neighbors. New holidays meant new experiences, and the city brought with it new shops and fun. Online play with Wii Speak (a much underutilized gaming peripheral) is the icing to this proverbial Animal Crossing cake. 4/5

Battalion Wars II - Ten hut! While much more serious wars are going on halfway around the world, Battalion Wars II takes the concept of war and makes it light-hearted. Of course, war is a deadly, sad, and brutal concept, but somehow Battalion Wars II makes it work with colorful visuals, real time action and strategy, new units, and a surprisingly robust online mode. This is one war that you will want to enlist into. 4/5

Blast Works: Build, Trade, and Destroy - The concept of Blast Works is based of a game called Tuniki Fighters where destroyed ships could stick to your own vessel, allowing their weapons to be used for your advantage. The most impressive feature of this bargain bin game is that ability to create your own ships, enemies, and levels. To use the word again, this creation system is quite robust for only twenty bucks! While the developer created shmup is pretty bland, you can create some very interesting things to share with the Blast Works community. 4/5

Boom Blox - Here comes the boom! Boom Blox is the first game based off the collaboration between famed Hollywood director Steven Spielberg and Electronic Arts. Those expecting some huge epic blockbuster probably became disappointed once viewing what the game was about. It really is a blockbuster, however, in the most literal sense imaginable. The ability to create your own puzzles and levels, tinker around with the various tools and blocks makes for an enjoyable experience. 4/5

Boom Blox Bash Party - And here comes the blox! Boom Blox: Bash Party adds even more to the formula with new levels, new challenges, and new puzzles. You can now send your created levels to be downloaded by all. The goal of Boom Blox is always changing. Sometimes it is to knock down towers of blocks in as few throws as possible while others it's to knock down as many point blocks as possible or protect a fort from invaders by chucking balls and bombs at them A great sequel to a great game. 4/5

A Boy and His Blob - A boy, a blob, and a mystical fantasy platforming/puzzle adventure that only a strong friendship could bring. A Boy and His Blob puts you in control of said boy as he throws beans around to transform his newly found blob friend into all sorts of useful objects to bypass danger whenever possible. There's approximately forty main levels in all and forty harder challenge levels to tackle when you've grown brave enough. A charming little platformer. Recommended. 4/5

Bully: Scholarship Edition - Let's face it. High school blew for most of us. Not so much for Jimmy Hopknis. He's taking it to every clique, teacher, and principal he can get his hands on in his efforts to rule the school. From the developers of Grand Theft Auto, this game features the same mission structure and open-world (well, open-town) gameplay. The Wii version shows off its awesome controls with various classes from dissecting frogs to solving math problems. 4/5

Call of Duty: World at War - War is hell, and if there isn't any other series that glamorizes war I'd hate to see it. With that said, that doesn't stop the game from being enjoyable to play, and it doesn't hurt when you're destroying Nazis either, I guess. Released at the same time as the other versions, this game went onto sell over one million copies worldwide. Not bad for an okay port. 3/5

The Conduit - You conduit if you really try. That's what High Voltage Software did. Sure, IGN Wii made total jackasses of themselves by essentially being their cheerleading marketing team, but the game isn't half-bad. The level design is pretty poor in early stages, the story is riddled with lame cliches, and the art design could use some touching up majorly, but HVS nailed the controls of how a Wii FPS should feel. Despite being an average game, the controls show that Wii FPSes can handle much better than their dual-analog counterparts. 3/5

Dead Rising: Chop Till You Drop - The original Dead Rising is one of my favorite 360 games. Chop Till You Drop takes the 360 game and moves it to Wii into a more streamlined experience. No longer do you have to worry about a time limit or a silly saving system. Instead you do things at your own leisure in a linear mission progression. While there aren't as many zombies, the RE4 Wii controls lend themselves well to this overlooked and underrated game. 4/5

de Blob - The other blob in my collection is simply known as "de Blob". His adventures take him to coloring up the dull confines of Chrome City, and taking on the evil INKT corporation. This is one of the more creative platformers that have come out this generation, and it's one that will certainly color your mind, heart, and spirit... Whatever the hell that means. The point is that de Blob is one Wii game that platforming fans should leap on immediately. 4/5

Dewy's Adventure - Do the dew! No, not Mountain Dew. I'm talking about Dewy's Adventure. This was another cool platformer that you controlled by tilting the Wii remote to move little Dewy around. Unfortunately, the controls feel a little too loose. This is a problem in later stages where the platforms are very small. Regardless, if you can find it for cheap, Dewy's Adventure is an admirable adventure worthy of your time and perhaps money, too. 3/5

Donkey Kong Barrel Blast - The first game on our list that was supposed to be a Gamecube game before being moved to Wii, Barrel Blast was originally supposed to utilize the DK Bongos from Donkey Konga and Jungle Beat. Now you have to drum the Wii remote and nunchuk. One to move right, one to move left. This works fairly well, yet it was pounced on by critics. Perhaps my love for the hairy ape got the best of me this time around? 3/5

Dragonball Z Budokai Tenkaichi 2 - Dragon, dragon. Rock the dragon. ...The f%#$? Stupid lyrics and stupid show aside, DBZ Budokai Tenkaichi 2 comes with a cast of more than fifty incredible battlers in this 3-D fighting game. The story mode takes you through the various sagas of the Dragon Ball Z franchise. It's amazing how I can despise the show, but fall in love with some of these games. Good work, Atari! 4/5

Dragonball Z Budokai Tenkaichi 3 - Take the fighting engine of the second Tenkaichi game, add even more new characters to the roster (a DBZ fan's dream), and keep pretty much the same gameplay and you have DBZ Budokai Tenkaichi 3. If you've played the second, there's really not too much of a reason to move onto the third-- unless you're a fan of broken online play. 3/5

Elebits - The goal of Elebits is to suck up and capture as many of the electricity-empowering creatures as possible in order to open up new doors and areas in this 3-D first-person puzzler. It's somewhat like Katamari Damacy as the goal is to get bigger so you can access different areas of each level. This was an early Wii game, so turning and opening doors wasn't quite as up to snuff as I would have liked. Despite this, this is a very imaginative game that comes from the same fine folks that made Dewy's Adventure. 3/5

Excitebots: Trick Racing - I didn't know what to expect with Excitebots. I knew I enjoyed Excite Truck, but I didn't know if I'd love this goofy style of gameplay. The fact of the matter is I loved it to pieces. Playing as various animal bots, speeding and careening around turns, leaping off ramps, getting super sandwiches (SUPER SANDWICHES, MY GOD!), vaulting off red bars, spinning around gold bars, playing online seamlessly, and very much enjoying myself. Without a doubt, this is my racer of the year. 5/5

Excite Truck - The type of truck that would give Grave Digger a run for its money, Excite Truck was one of the many launch games for the Wii console three years ago. It had the same type of gameplay as Excitebots which was gathering as many stars as possible (by performing tricks, getting first place, etc.) to advance to the next race. Excite Truck remains my second favorite game of the Wii launch despite its grating soundtrack. 4/5

Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo's Dungeon - I was new to the roguelike-style games, and this one is practically one for beginners. That isn't to say it isn't challenging though. Chocobo took take on new jobs giving it new skills and abilities to unleash on the various familiar Final Fantasy monsters infesting the game's various randomly-generated dungeons. The soundtrack is some of the best remixes of Final Fantasy music ever heard in a game-- even beating out Dissidia. If you're looking for an RPG-style experience-- one genre missing heavily on the Wii-- then Chocobo' Dungeon is for you. 4/5

Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn - The one thing that angers me about this game is that there's no Mii integration. No, I'm just kidding, of course. Radiant Dawn was the fourth title to hit North American shores, and it's also one of the more difficult games in the series. The traditional gameplay is all present and accounted for with beautiful visuals and an engaging story. 4/5

Ghost Squad - This is was an arcade game before it was ported to the Wii. It's your standard on-rails shooter. There's only three levels total, but the trick is that you can pick different paths through the levels. As you complete a given mission, new paths open up to explore. As you complete missions, you earn points that earn you new weapons and costumes from police officers to panda bears. 4/5

The House of the Dead: Overkill - While Agent Washington may be getting sick of zombies, Wii owners don't seem to be. House of the Dead: Overkill lasts six missions of zombie-blasting, head-sniping fun for the whole family. As you play through the levels, you earn points to purchase and upgrade new weapons. Nothing's more fun than bringing and overpowered shottie into battle with the zombie menace! No, sir! 4/5

Klonoa - Klonoa went under the radar of many Wii games. Why shouldn't it have with the meager marketing given to the title? I digress since those who frequently visit SPC know my stance on that. Anyway, this three-hour platforming adventure is a wonderful, whimsical good time. Klonoa can grab enemies, and then leap off them to gain more height in his jumps. Now don't be alarmed by the the three hour nature of the game. That's roughly ten dollars per hour, but this is the type of game you'll want to go through more than once. Trust me. 4/5

Kororinpa: Marble Mania - Roll with the changes. The object of Kororinpa is to tilt the playing board so your marble can reach the goal at the end of the level. There's over eighty Kororinpa (the playing board) in total, and multiple types of marbles to unlock from slow-rolling pandas to oinking pig marbles. While on the short side, Kororinpa is the type of game where going for the high score is always a fun distraction. 3/5

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess - The premier launch title for the Wii and later the Gamecube's last hurrah, Twilight Princess brought with it an epic tale surrounding Hyrule and the mysterious twilight, engaging gameplay, horse-based combat, and wolf-based gameplay. It also brought with it traditional dungeons with big keys, keys, maps, compasses, and big bad bosses, new items such as the clawshot, spinner, and ball and chain, and a haunting world to explore. Some may not like the wolf portions of the game and the desire of wanting to know what to do or where to go next, but Twilight Princess was a wonderful adventure regardless of these problems. 4/5

Little King's Story - It's good to be king. Really, it is. Commanding a squadron of different-classed citizens, some who can build bridges for their king to cross, some to shoot down foes from afar, and some who can build rising elevators to reach otherwise inaccessible areas. You can also lead your troops to their deaths and not even attend the funeral! You have the power, my liege! Try out the best third party game of the year on Wii. 4/5

MadWorld - A game that I think was doomed to fail just by being black and white and in the same genre as God Hand, MadWorld is an unapologetically visceral, violent, and crude game that goes over the line many, many times. If you can get over the repetitive nature of the levels, you'll be treated to an incredible army of boss battles that are some of this gen's more interesting. 4/5

Major Minor's Majestic March - Keep... on... march... ing! I received this game as part of my work at another site. While the game is rather cute and sports interesting characters, the controls just kill the game. The Wii remote without Motion Plus is like a horse carriage without wheels. It just doesn't work as well as it should. That's the problem with this budget-priced title. Avoid. 1/5

Marble Saga: Kororinpa - When you have a good thing, you should keep it, right? Why fix something that isn't broken in the first place? Well, apparently the developers of Marble Saga didn't read or hear this bit of wisdom as they completely ruined the physics of the Kororinpa franchise making for an extremely frustrating game with near broken controls. The level design is as great as ever, but it's not worth the aggravation at all. Avoid this one, too. 2/5

Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games - Waggle. It's often used to describe all types of motion control. Unfortunately, not all forms of motion controls is actually waggling (i.e. shaking the Wii remote back and forth furiously). However, if one would describe the majority of the controls to Mario and Sonic's first outing, waggle would be an appropriate term. While the game sold great, it didn't really control all that great. 2/5

Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games - This time around, SEGA got rid of waggle for most events. There's few occasions where you have to shake the controller, but these make sense under the context. It's easier than button-mashing at least. Regardless, new dream events allowed players to take on skiing the slopes of Sonic Heroes' Seaside Hill and Mario Kart's Mario Circuit. Very cool. Almost all of the events are enjoyable to play, and it's great multi-player game with friends. 4/5

Mario Kart Wii - Featuring the most complete set of options, tracks, racers, and online play the series has ever seen, Mario Kart Wii is a fantastic edition to the Mario Kart series. There's absolutely nothing wrong with it. Wait. Am I forgetting-- *gets hit by series of CPU items* Ah, yes. The ridiculous amount of items being used since there's now twelve racers. If you can lower your frustration levels, this game can be quite fun to play (save for 150 cc and up). 4/5

Mario Party 8 - What was supposed to be a Gamecube game was given Wii remote controls in several of the mini-games, and they work quite well, too. The main problem of the series is that the odds are stacked against you against the computer, and the game is all too much luck-based. With friends, however, this party game is a blast to share with one another in heated competition. 3/5

Mario Strikers: Charged - Here in North America, soccer [see: football] isn't a very popular. That didn't stop Mario Strikers: Charged from lighting up the charts here, however. Made by the same developer who would later go onto make Punch-Out! for Wii, Charged is a fast and frenetic soccer game full of power-ups, powerful AI, and a wide number of arenas, characters, and Waluigi crotch chops. 4/5

Mario Super Sluggers - Now baseball... that's more in line with North America-- especially the U.S. And Japan... but they're not in North America, so let's move on. Mario returns to the diamond with more characters, stadiums, and options than ever before. The motion controls for this game are pretty spot on, though I'd love to hold the Wii remote like an actual bat to swing. Nonetheless, this game is one both for Mario fans, baseball fans, and both! 4/5

Medal of Honor Heroes 2 - This was the first major multi-player FPS for Wii. It also came out for PSP hence the lackluster visuals. The game itself suffers from severe linearity, drab graphics, and poor AI. The controls serve their purpose well, and the online (even though there's no voice chat of any kind) runs rather smooth. 3/5

Metroid Prime 3: Corruption - The climax of the Metroid Prime trilogy comes to a glorious end. This is still one of more artistically-pleasing games on any system, and it also has one of the best uses of the Wii remote with all of its aiming and shooting fun. The world was much more broken up than in past Primes with three different main worlds to explore. Rest assured, all your favorite power-ups were present and accounted for from the space jump to the screw attack. This is as close to perfection as Metroid can get (besides the original Prime and Super Metroid). 5/5

Metroid Prime Trilogy - Take one of my favorite games of all time in Metroid Prime, add in a touch of Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, and finish it off with a bit of Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, and you get Metroid Prime Trilogy for Wii. If that weren't enough, the game has most of the bonuses from each Metroid Prime game included such as the Metroid Fusion costume for the first Prime, the multi-player from Echoes, and the achievements from Corruption. 5/5

The Munchables - What do you get when you combine Katamari Damacy with Pac-man? You get The Munchables, a cute and charming action-platformer where the goal is to gobble up as much as possible as you progress through more than twelve levels of gobbledy-goodness. The visuals are nice and colorful, the gameplay is fast and fun, and the unlockables are vast and many. For only thirty dollars, pick The Munchables up today. 4/5

Muramasa: The Demon Blade - Muramasa is an absolute work of art. The game is gorgeous, the backgrounds are oozing with beauty, and the framerate makes everything steady. My main problem with this game is all of the repeated backgrounds and backtracking that the game forces you to suffer through. 4/5

MySims - MySims was EA's attempt to tap into the Japanese market. They failed to do this, but they managed to get a hit franchise in the Western world all the same. The object of MySims is to get as many people in your town as possible, search for essences, the building blocks of MySims, and help build furniture and items for various Sims. If you can get past the dreadful slowdown and loading times, you'll be in for a fun adventure! 3/5

MySims Kingdom - In MySims Kingdom, you and two friends go from island to island by request of the king, solving each islanders' problems. Some want you to build specific objects using specific essences. Others want you to connect pipes to irrigate their soil. The performance problems of the previous MySims have been fixed, and this time the writing has been touched up to be suitable for kids and adults. 4/5

New Play Control! Donkey Kong Jungle Beat - The beat is on with DK Jungle Beat. This game was originally designed for the Gamecube's bongo controller, but now it's been retooled to work on Wii, controls and level design. Now you use the analog stick to move around, and the A button to jump. Simple enough. The motion controls come in when attacking enemies. It works surprisingly well, and it's a great game for anyone looking to play a game from the Mario Galaxy team. 4/5

New Super Mario Bros. Wii - After more than a decade without a 2-D console installment, Super Mario Bros. is back and with a vengeance this time around with New Super Mario Bros. Wii. It takes some familiar aspects from previous Mario games, constantly throws in new challenges and surprises at the player, and makes each world better than the last. Wiping away nostalgia, I'd claim this game to be superior to Super Mario Bros. 3. I don't think I can say the same for Super Mario World (still have nostalgia on that one). 5/5

NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams - The NiGHTs gameplay you know and love is back. Unfortunately, it's been given so much filler that it's ruined the experience! Why could it not have just been more flying around through rings all whimsically? In addition to that problem, the cutscenes are unable to be skipped, and the on-foot sections of the game are poor. 2/5

No More Heroes - Now announced for the HD consoles, so all can enjoy this quirky otaku's dream. The Wii version offers something everything else doesn't though, cool motion controls. These aren't shoe-horned in. They're used for finishing blows and other awesome moves. The overworld hub, however, is pretty poor in general, and levels can be quite linear and repetitive. Overall, if you have the money, check out the cheap Wii version or wait for the HD port coming sometime next year to North America. 3/5

Okami - Some consider this game better than Twilight Princess. I can't really agree, but I do see where they are coming from for sure. Okami is very much a visually-impressing game. The Wii version features Wii remote brushing that works much less often than not. For those looking for a better experience, I recommend playing the Playstation 2 original. You won't even have to deal with a stupid IGN watermark either! 3/5

Punch-Out! - This one may be unpopular, but I didn't really enjoy the new Punch-Out! It's a wonderfully made game, but it's all about timing. From timing your shots to blocking your opponent's shots, the game just felt repetitive and not very much fun. I do love Next Level Games' effort, but perhaps another franchise would have excited me more. 2/5

Rayman Raving Rabbids - The rabbids are without a doubt one of my favorite new characters this generation. Forget that boring old Rayman-- the rabbids are where it's at! Their premier game had a co-starring role with Rayman as he played through various mini-games in order to save his captured friends. The mini-games used all of the abilities of Wii remote and used them well, but at the end of the day, this is just another mini-game collection. 3/5

Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition - On my top ten, I listed Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition as one of my favorite games period. This still holds up true today. Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition is without a doubt the ultimate version of the game with all the great bonuses from the Playstation 2 version and terrific controls exclusively to Wii (plus traditional Gamecube controls for those disliking the Wii's controls for whatever reason). While more action-themed than previous Resident Evils, RE4 takes the adrenaline to a whole 'nother level. Masterful game. 5/5

Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles - With Darkside Chronicles releasing this week, it's a good time to look back at this game, yes? Umbrella Chronicles was a very comprehensive package full of goodies to unlock and zombies to blow away. The game took players to an all-new chapter in the snowy northern regions of the world where Umbrella was planning even more no-nos for our heroes to take out for good. I didn't really care for killing zombies in one-hit by hitting the edge of their skulls, but other than that, this was a great game. 4/5

Samba de Amigo - This is another game that would have greatly benefited from Motion Plus because as it is the Wii remote just isn't fast enough to catch all the required movements the game throws as you. It's a shame, too, because the soundtrack is excellent with many familiar tunes like Take On Me and Walking on Sunshine. 2/5

Shaun White Snowboarding: Road Trip - Road trip! That's exactly what a bunch of friends decided to do in their attempt to make the coolest snowboarding video ever. I loved how you could either use the balance board and Wii remote or just use the Wii remote. Both control methods worked absolutely flawlessly a majority of the time. The tracks were designed well with lots of white powdery snow to skim over. A great snowboarding game, and I'm very interested in checking out World Stage now. 4/5

Sonic and the Secret Rings - One of the best 3-D Sonic games since Sonic Heroes, and I guess that's not saying much. You used the Wii remote to tilt Sonic to move him left and right, thrusted the Wii remote for a jump and/or homing attack, and it was pretty much good. Some of the level design was questionable as was trying to back up in a given stages. I also didn't like mission formula. I wanted a cohesive experience, not a repeat level but this time collect all rings deal. 3/5

Sonic Riders: Zero Gravity - Who hasn't dreamed of racing with Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, Eggman, and others? ...Anyone? How about if we replaced "dreamed of racing with" with "killing"? Yeah, I thought so. Regardless, Zero Gravity is a challenging racing with a host of options, tracks, and characters to unlock including SEGA characters like Billy Hatcher and Ulala! The only thing I really didn't like about the game was that there was no difficulty option. The difficulty just got harder and harder the more you unlocked! 4/5

Super Mario Galaxy - There's a reason this game is one of my favorites of all time. The level design is cohesive, and there's multiple moments during gameplay where you just stare in awe at the new challenges constantly being presented to you, much like New Super Mario Bros. Wii. A good half of the soundtrack is actually orchestrated this time around, the visuals are some of the Wii's best, and pacing is just phenomenal. Run, don't walk to pick up Super Mario Galaxy if you haven't already. 5/5

Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz - Another launch title for the Wii, Banana Blitz drove me bananas with its crazy courses and finicky controls. They weren't horrible, mind you, but the jumping was something that made levels much more difficult than usual. The other half of the game was a cesspool for broken mini-games. Thankfully, the upcoming step and roll will have not emphasis on jumping. 2/5

Super Paper Mario - This game had a cool gimmick to it, if not under-realized. As Mario (and only as Mario unfortunately), you could switch between 2-D and 3-D on the fly. This opened up hidden areas, items, and enemies that you otherwise wouldn't be able to see! My main gripe with Super Paper Mario is that there's way too much talking. Way too much talking. Why does one need to talk so much to make a point? Just stop talking already. Talk, talk. That's all they do. Just stop. No more talking. Okay. 4/5

Super Smash Bros. Brawl - The brawl for it all! Super Smash Bros. Brawl featured a huge single-player experience known as the Subspace Emissary, 35 characters including Solid Snake and Sonic the Hedgehog, multiple-tiered arenas, online play (though broken on random), and vast amount of trophies, music tracks, and stickers to collect. By the time you're finished experiencing everything Brawl has to offer... Wait. Are you even done experiencing everything Brawl has to offer? 5/5

Super Swing Golf: Season Two - Get into the swing of things with Super Swing Golf: Season Two. This game features and impressive story mode where you have dozens of challenges to complete. You can even doll up your characters with purchased costumes and gear. If you don't wish to play with the motion controls, you can always play via analog input. The only unfortunate part of this package is that their isn't any online play which would have been fantastic. 4/5

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Smash Up - Cowabunga, dude! The turtles are back after a short video game break with an all-new Brawl rip-off. Don't take me the wrong way as this rip-off is a rather good and competent fighter. There's a wide variety of characters (though a better pick for some would have been better), a fair amount of destructible arenas, and online play thrown in for good measure! 4/5

Tenchu: Shadow Assassins - Known as Tenchu 4 in Japan, this game is also available on the PSP. The difference between the versions are the Wii has motion control that doesn't always register whereas the PSP version uses button input for stealth attacks but suffers from longer and more loading times. I very much enjoyed renting this game, so much so that I decided to buy it. It's well worth the money spent. 4/5

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 09 All-Play - This was my first time playing a Tiger Woods game, and it was fantastic. This was the year prior to Motion Plus, but playing without was much easier. No need to worry about whether the ball would unintentionally hook or fade. Online play was terrific, too, with real-time matches where everyone could play at the same time, and also a lack of friend codes. Despite the All-Play moniker, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 09 is a great golfing experience. 4/5

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 - Foooore! Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 was one of the first games to support Nintendo's new Motion Plus peripheral for added precision. Boy, did it ever give added precision. Now not only did the speed of your follow-through matter, but so did the angle of your wrists. This made the experience all more realistic. Add several more courses to make the total 27, and you have one of the best golf games period with enough modes (career and online) to last months. 5/5

Wario Land: Shake It! - Wario Land is one of my favorite platformers on the Wii. Most definitely my favorite 2-D one next to New Super Mario Bros. Wii. Sure, you could dart through the levels not exploring, but that would be like going to Toys 'R Us for just batteries. Did that metaphor even make sense? Moving on. No, it's truly exploring the levels that you see the intricacies of the level design, searching for treasure, completing level challenges, and racing through to the finish on the last leg of each level. Great, beautiful game. 4/5

Warioware: Smooth Moves - This game was essentially a tech demo to show off the things the Wii remote could do. Each micro game, most of which being 2-10 seconds in duration, has you holding the Wii remote in a set position, over your head, in front of your nose, to your side, etc. The problem with this game is that the single-player is very short, and multi-player is only unlocked after the game is beaten. Not very cool, Nintendo! I say "Nintendo" like they're actually reading this blog. 3/5

We Love Golf - Remember Mario Golf? That was great. It was also made by Camelot who developed Golden Sun and yes, Mario Golf. Well, We Love Golf is better-- at least from the Gamecube version. We Love Golf had eight distinct courses, an easy driving, chipping, and putting interface with motion controls used, each character being able to wear a Capcom costume from Apollo Wright to Arthur from Ghosts 'n Goblins, and entertaining online play. Perhaps it's just SuperPhillip Loves Golf, but it's still a fabulous golf game. 4/5

Wii Music - I never understood the hate for Wii Music as evidenced by the many articles in support of the game. I guess message board gamers are just overly whiny about everything nowadays. Anyway, I had a blast playing my own interpretations of various songs and fooling around with each individual instruments from bugles and trumpets to cat meowing and dog barking. 4/5

Wii Sports - Not much more of a game than a tech demo for the possibilities of the Wii remote, Wii Sports included five individual sports with different events to them. There's baseball, bowling, golf, tennis, and boxing. This is a great game to just unwind to-- pick up and play. It's not much for long sessions, however, at least to the hardcore gamer. 3/5

Wii Sports Resort - WSR presents twelve sports, two of which returning from the previous Wii Sports, bowling and golf. This game is Nintendo's premier game using Wii Motion Plus, and the new peripheral works great. Some of my favorite sports are bowling, archery, table tennis, and air sports. There's also several stamps that can be earned by performing certain in-game tasks-- achievement style. No matter what your preference, Wii Sports Resort has a sport for you. 4/5

Zack and Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure - This was a creative game that once again proves that IGN Wii has an agenda to push with their Buy Zack and Wiki campaign. Regardless, the game was fun early on, but one mistake could send you redoing an entire level. Motion Plus would have been perfect for this game because as it is now, many of the motions required just don't register. A slammed and then broken Wii remote can attribute to that, no? 3/5

There we go! Even more Wii games than DS games. Crazy!

No More Heroes (PS3, 360) - First Screens

Look at these gorgeous screens! Will the game be worth a double-dip for Wii owners? It's nice that everyone gets a chance to play this game. Not so nice that PS3/360 owners (the ones who yell at Wii owners asking for HD games) are now asking for more Wii exclusives. Very sad indeed!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks (DS) - North American Commercial

The next Legend of Zelda adventure is due out next month, and here's a sneak peek at the North American commercial before it's set to air. It's rather artistic, really reminiscent of the Gamecube era line of commercials. I really dig it. What do you think?

Diddy Kong Racing DS (DS) Review

Yesterday was a brand-new retro review for Diddy Kong Racing. Today we're looking at the remake on the DS with an absolutely terrible review. One of my first reviews, here's Diddy Kong Racing DS for the Sony PSP. C'mon. It's for the DS, of course.

A Kong-fused kart racer 

Diddy Kong Racing was a game that originally came in the hey-day of the Nintendo 64 back in 1997. This was when Rare and Nintendo were still joined at the hip. This time around Microsoft owns Rare and has allowed the company to continue developing for Nintendo's handhelds, thus Diddy Kong Racing DS is here. Playing this game I couldn't help but wish Rare left DKR alone.

Voices have been given the boot for text.
Weird choice at first but with how bad the in-game voices are,
maybe that's a good thing.

It's not to say the game is bad. It's a far distance away from bad, but some of the design choices with this game makes me wonder if Rare is just trying to screw with their classic games to get revenge on Nintendo for selling them. For one, Rare opted to use gimmicky options to start off each race. In a car, you have to rub the bottom screen up and down repeatedly to gain speed. In a hovercraft you need to blow into the microphone. Hopefully no one playing has asthma. Finally, a quick circling of the stylus to the bottom screen starts off the plane. These ways to boost are simply gimmicks and hinder the experience. I'm blowing into the mic, and then I have to quickly raise up and begin the race? Whaaaaaaat?!

Additionally, silver coin challenges have been removed from adventure mode replaced by touch challenges. These are mostly unresponsive, needing you to drag the screen to look in different directions, trying to grab coins and pop balloons simultaneously. It's just a jumbled mess. A handful of the boss touch challenges require you to draw lines to guide your racer to the finish. Completely terrible controls and design choices. Thankfully the latter chore isn't required to complete the game. Furthermore, a new mode called T.T.'s Wish allows players to draw their own tracks-- albeit very simplistic tracks.

This game won't win any graphical awards.

Graphically the game looks a little grainy compared to its big brother.
Audio-wise the voices have changed drastically. Some are ear-curdling to listen to quite honestly. David Wise returns to compose tracks for this version of the game. The quality is lessened compared to the N64 version as expected. It's still as catchy as ever, so it's nothing too major unless you absolutely loved the original's soundtrack and do not want to hear any changes whatsoever.

After all of those questionable or mediocre changes you may be wondering what decent upgrades there are. For one, four new characters have been added to replace Conker and Banjo (removed for obvious reasons), two of which are Dixie and Tiny Kong. The other two are unlockable characters. Also, four new themed tracks of DK Isle have been included as unlockables. The biggest draw to this version of DKR is the inclusion of online play. The game supports six players via Wi-Fi in a variety of modes such as trophy race (a four race cup), battle mode (which was missing from Mario Kart DS), T.T.'s Wish (players take turns drawing and racing on tracks) and token tussle (a collect before your opponent does mode). Online lobbies allow you to see if your friends are online, and they allow you to join them freely.

Pre-race minigames are a pain in the ass.

Diddy Kong Racing DS isn't 100% faithful to its N64 brethren, but it does give more to the table than the N64 ever did. ...Unfortunately. Online play is a big plus with this title, and although other modes may have been replaced or stupidly given gimmicks to, DKR DS remains nowhere near as satisfying as its N64 counterpart.

[SuperPhillip Says: 6.5/10]

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Diddy Kong Racing (N64) Retro Review

You might be asking yourself, "Phil. SP. You always have a reason for posting a certain review at a certain time, so why are you posting a review of Diddy Kong Racing now?" And I will answer with, "Um... well... I played it again recently? I don't have a good reason." And thus here we are with a retro review of Diddy Kong Racing.

Kong Kart

Up until the November of 1997, Mario Kart 64 had a stranglehold on the multi-player kart-racing mindset. It's because that November, Rare's Diddy Kong Racing roared onto the Nintendo 64 with more options, more things to do, more tracks, more racers, and subjectively more fun. Does Diddy Kong Racing rev its way up to first place, or does it get lapped by its predecessors?

In order to get the full story (of what little there is) of Diddy Kong Racing, you'd need to check out the instruction manual. Otherwise you're just thrown into an adventure with little direction. A friend of Diddy Kong's, Timber, is in trouble. His parents are away, and an evil invader known as Wizpig has arrived on Timber Island to take over. With the help of a genie pachyderm, Taj, and a little help from friends far and wide, it's up to Diddy Kong and company to save the island and give Wizpig a going away party that he'll never soon forget.

Ew. Where did this mountainous monstrosity come from?

The cast of Diddy Kong Racing stars none other than Diddy Kong as well as several one-off characters, Timber the Tiger, Pipsy the Mouse, Bumper the Badger, Drumstick the Rooster, and Krunch the Kremling. There's also several characters that would make appearances in future Rare games such as Banjo the Bear of Banjo-Kazooie fame, Tiptup the Turtle who would make a cameo appearance in said Banjo game, and Conker the Squirrel who is apparently bipolar as he appears cute and cuddly in this game and in Bad Fur Day he's violent, foul-mouthed, and grumpy. Alas, that's the life of a squirrel.

Each number is the required amount of
golden balloons needed to access a given level.

The main single-player mode is Adventure which can be played with two players via a magic code. Already, this is awesome. Adventure mode's goal is to collect as many golden balloons as possible. You collect these helium-filled beauties by completing races in first and finding them hidden around Timber Island. There are five themed worlds in Diddy Kong Racing connected by a decently-sized overworld. Each world has four races in them. You can only enter a race if you have enough golden balloons. Once all races are won, you take on the boss of the world in a one-on-one race to the death... well, maybe not so much to the death as to the embarrassment. You'll take on a bubble-spewing octopus, a dragon who sounds like the current governor of California, a tricky triceratops, a blubbering blue walrus, and of course, Wizpig himself.

"Help me lick the back of my neck!"

After the a boss is completed, he will challenge you to collect all eight silver coins in each of the tracks in his world. They're placed in hidden and precarious positions all along each track. You must collect eight coins and win the race to get another golden balloon. Once that goal is finished, you once again challenge the boss to a more difficult race. For example, Sherbet Island's boss shoots out mines the first go around which will impede your progress while the second go-around will have the same octopus shooting out entrapping bubbles which will cost you even more time if you hit them. With the boss defeated, you earn a piece of the Wizpig amulet. Collect all four and you get to take on Wizpig in a not-so final showdown.

There's also trophy challenges to take on where you play all four races in a world one after the other, grand prix-style. Additionally, each world has a hidden key in one of the four tracks. These are fiendishly hidden and will take a lot of search for (well, except the first one). Grabbing a key will unlock the door to a bonus mini-game. These range from collect ten bananas before your three other opponents, grabbing and hatching three eggs, and battling it out to the death... well, maybe not so much to the death as to the elimination in a battle royal competition. Completing these will earn you a part of the T.T. Medal which is the only way to take on Wizpig a final time.

Get set... Go!

What's even cooler about the Adventure mode is that once it is completed, you can take on Adventure Two where all the tracks are reversed, the racers and bosses are harder, the silver coins are placed in more devious locations, and gold balloons are now differently colored. Once again, you can take on this mode with a friend which makes for some serious fun. Of course, in silver coin challenge races, only one of you needs to collect all the coins and make it to first. Furthermore, whoever won the last race controls their character on the overworld and in boss races.

There's twenty tracks in all to compete on. The first group all takes in a prehistoric world, the second in an icy wonderland, the third on a tropical beach, the fourth in a forest, and the fifth in Wizpig's outer space realm. Tracks are masterfully designed with plenty of twists, turns, hazards, and shortcuts to look out for. While one track has you watching out for a giant dinosaur that wants to crush you, another has you dodging laser fire from all directions in a spaceship. These tracks are fun to explore, fun to race on, and fun to challenge yourself in the wonderful time trial mode.

Haunted Woods is a short but tricky track.

Speaking of which, most tracks have three different versions. What do I mean by this? You can choose to race cars, hovercrafts, or airplanes on them (save for Adventure mode where these are predetermined). Cars are your standard kart-racing fare while hovercrafts control loosely and can race over water with ease. Meanwhile, planes are high-fliers which can perform barrel rolls and flips with a double tap of the shoulder button. Each type of vehicle has an optimum path it should follow in a given race giving different strategies depending on the vehicle chosen.

The control of Diddy Kong Racing feels tight for the most part with hovercrafts feeling a tad loose as they should. You can drift around corners, drive over speed-increasing zippers, and press brake and the shoulder button to make a tight turn. Much like Mario Kart, items are an important part of the game, but unlike Mario Kart, they don't always make the difference between victory and defeat (hello, blue shells). In Diddy Kong Racing, there's five different varieties of balloons. Reds are missiles, green are projectiles that you place behind you, blue and boosts, yellow with purple stars are shields, and rainbow are magnetic-propelled which attract you to players ahead of you. Collecting two or more balloons in succession will give you a stronger item to use. For instance, collecting two reds in a row will turn your ordinary missile into a homing one, and collecting two blues will make your weak boost into a stronger boost.

Line up and get revvin'!

Visually, what more can we expect from the early days of the Nintendo 64? That isn't to say the game is strikingly ugly, but it obviously has aged. The colors are still as vibrant and bright as ever, and the framerate seldom slows down unlike future Rare games. The soundtrack by former Rare composer, Dave Wise, is masterful. Just masterful. There's so many memorable tunes here to listen and enjoy. It's a real treat.

Diddy Kong Racing doesn't just beat out Mario Kart 64. It's the best racer on the entire system! No other kart racer on the system comes close in accessibility, fun, secrets, tracks, racers, and longevity. If you're stuck between this game and the ill-fated port on the DS, take no substitute for the original. It's just an overall better game. Diddy Kong Racing takes what's fun about the kart-racing genre, adds in an N64-era platform game style of collection, and turns it all on its head. For the optimal kart-racing experience, check out Diddy Kong Racing on the Nintendo 64.

[SuperPhillip Says: 9.75/10]

Monday, November 16, 2009

SuperPhillip's Favorite VGMs - The VGM is Not Enough Edition

Welcome to another edition of SuperPhillip's Favorite VGMs. This week we're jam-packed with excellent tunes starting with a duo from EA, SimCity 3000 and 007: The World is Not Enough. Then we head to Locoroco country, read a chapter from Little King's Story, and duke it out with signposts in MadWorld. Saddle up, and get truckin', buckaroos!

v431. SimCity 3000 - SIM Broadway

SimCity is one of my favorite franchises. I was always enamored with the construction and design of cities, so this series seemed right up my alley so to speak. SimCity 3000 brought with it better visuals, more features, and other goodies. SIM Broadway is one of the first themes you'll hear as you construct your city.

v432. 007: The World is Not Enough - Main Theme

EA attempted to ride on the success of Goldeneye with The World is Not Enough, and they did an admirable job. There was objective-based gameplay, non-linear levels, and enough Bond charm thrown into the mix to keep things fun. A great game with an interesting score, this is the main theme heard in the main menu of TWINE.

v433. LocoRoco 2 - muimui

"muimui" plays during the Loco Stamp mini-game, something optional and enjoyable to do. The LocoRoco series has an eclectic mix of saccharine sweet music, and "muimui" is one of many great tracks on the soundtrack.

v434. Little King's Story - William Tell Overture

The entirety of the Little King's Story soundtrack is made up of classical pieces of music, remixed for the game by a cavalcade of composers. This theme, better known as the William Tell Overture, is played during the little king's many battles with area guardians. Once defeated, the area controlled by the guardian will fall under the little king's control.

v435. MadWorld - You Don't Know Me (Explicit)

MadWorld was a visceral action beat-em-up where it wasn't just about killing-- it was about killing in style. Impaling foes with sign posts, sticking them through spikes, electrocution, et cetera. Sure, the action got sometimes repetitive, but it was a great game to work off some frustration. You Don't Know Me is one of the only vocal tracks performed by a female.

Next week we'll have even more music to cruise to! Hope you look forward to it.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Rank Up! - Super Mario Bros.

New Super Mario Bros. Wii hits store shelves in North America today, so since now we can play it together, let's say it together... Rank Up! The Mario series has been around for more than two decades, so let's celebrate by listing the best and worst (like there's actually a worst) game from the Super Mario Bros. franchise. We will not be listing anything other than official Super Mario Bros. games, so no 3-D Mario and no Yoshi's Island.

Here are the games we'll be ranking:

Super Mario Bros. (NES)
Super Mario Bros. 2 (NES)

Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES)

Super Mario Bros. The Lost Levels (NES/SNES)

Super Mario World (SNES)

New Super Mario Bros. (DS)

In 1981, a carpenter set to rescue his girlfriend Pauline was merely called Jumpman in the arcade classic, Donkey Kong. It wouldn't be until Mario Bros. that the character would be called a plumber and given the name Mario. His first breakthrough console outing was none other than Super Mario Bros., a game that is credited for revitalizing a dying gaming market. Now Mario is a household name appearing in over one-hundred games from standard 2-D and 3-D platformers to racing to fighting to sports to refereeing to... you get the idea. His latest title, New Super Mario Bros. Wii, releases today in North America. What's old is new again.

6) Super Mario Bros. The Lost Levels (NES/SNES)

The Lost Levels is merely Super Mario Bros. 2 for Japanese audiences. It was deemed to difficult for North Americans, so a little known game called Doki Doki Panic became the US's Super Mario Bros. 2. The Japanese version was devilishly difficult with warp pipes that would send you back a world or two, poisonous purple mushrooms that would revert back to Mario or Luigi's previous form, and levels so fiendishly crafted that they'd make an expert weep with rage. The first time players were able to take on the Japanese version of Super Mario Bros. 2 was in the Super Nintendo collection, Super Mario All-Stars.

5) Super Mario Bros. (NES)

The one that started it all, Super Mario Bros. is the game that revitalized a dying game market in the United States. While this Mario is obviously easier than the dastardly Lost Levels, it's still challenging as a Mario title. The physics are completely different from future Super Mario Bros. titles with its slipperiness which I didn't prefer. Regardless, this was the game that brought warp pipes, mushrooms that made Mario or Luigi bigger, secret blocks that would give players extra lives (1-ups), and enemies like goombas, piranha plants, bloopers, koopa troopas, bob-bombs, lakitus, bullet bills, and yes, King Koopa (who we would later simply call Bowser).

4) Super Mario Bros. 2 (NES)

As stated already, the US version of Super Mario Bros. 2 was created from the Japanese game, Doki Doki Panic as what we now know as Super Mario Bros. The Lost Levels was way too difficult for gamers coming off the original Super Mario Bros. Nonetheless, I really dig this game. It may not be socially correct to say so, but deal with it. The gameplay was a drastic departure from any other Mario game. Jumping on enemies didn't destroy them. Instead you could lift them over your head like vegetables and chuck them at other creatures. In fact, all bosses could only be defeating by lifting up projectiles and tossing them at foes. Super Mario Bros. 2 was also the game that brought us shy guys as well as Birdo. Take that as you will.

3) New Super Mario Bros. (DS)

The game that brought 2-D Mario out of retirement, New Super Mario Bros. for the Nintendo DS is loved and disliked by many. Some call it uninspired, lacking "soul", lacking the creative flair of past Mario titles. I chalk it up to nostalgia as this game has it all. It has interesting levels with plenty of new challenges and obstacles constantly being thrown at the player, new items, eight new worlds to explore, three star coins hidden away in each level to collect, secret exits to warp cannons, mushroom houses, and new areas, and a fun diversion in the multi-player mini-games and modes. Some may not love this game as much as I, but hey, some people actually like the FPS variety on the 360.

2) Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES)

The battle between second and first places was tough. There were many casualties, but Super Mario Bros. 3 was edged out barely by our next game. Nonetheless, Super Mario Bros. 3 for many is the pinnacle of any and all Mario games. Who as a kid didn't suffer through The Wizard just to see the first glimpse of this game? It brought with it cool power-ups like the hammer suit, tanooki suit, frog suit, and tanooki suit, it had a very cool overworld structure that would be used in every Super Mario Bros. game since, a massive amount of secrets, challenging and well-designed levels from ghost houses to fortresses to scrolling airships. Super Mario Bros. 3 has it all, but only one title could outshine it.

1) Super Mario World (SNES)

Here it is-- the piece de resistance. It's the creme de la creme, the best of the best, Super Mario World, known as Super Mario Bros. 4 in Japan. I love this game. It brought everyone's favorite ride-able dinosaur, Yoshi, into the world, it gave players eight worlds (one hidden and super hard) to play through, it brought with it secret exits that actually listed whether or not the level had a secret exit or not (take that, New Super Mario Bros.), and it was the last time we'd see all of the koopalings together in one game for more than a decade. It's a bittersweet adventure as this would be the very last game in the New Super Mario Bros. in over ten excruciating years.

That's all, folks! Wait, that isn't a Mario saying. Do you have a series you'd like to see get the Rank Up! treatment? Let me know via e-mail or in a comments section near you!