The 'Shroom:Issue 100/Critic Corner
Before I get into the main festivities, I just want to pay my respects to a deeply passionate and important figure in our beloved games industry; Satoru Iwata, who was the president and CEO of Nintendo for a good thirteen years between 2002-2015 until his passing at the age of 55 just last week on July 11th. I have a love-hate relationship with Nintendo, due in no short part to the almost cult-like fanbase, but this genuinely hit me in the gut hard… Iwata was always passionate about the fun and life-changing experiences video games can offer to us, and like Reggie, was always able to make gaming an exciting, funny, and colourful environment to be in. Gaming has lost a great trooper today, and it’s with the utmost respect that I honour his passing. You were a great man, Satoru Iwata-san; you continue to live on in our hearts. See The 'Shroom staff’s tribute to Satoru Iwata for more.
So to move on from that; happy birthday to me! Happy birthday to me! Happy birthday, dear hideous blue Australian sniping electric rat thing! Happy birthday to meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! Haha, you bloody pikers don’t know the half of why such an occasion deserves to be shouted from the heavens, ordained as a sacred day of worship and reverential contemplation in awe of the magnificent Crocodile Dippy! For on this very day, yes the very release day of this issue, I have finally stepped over the line of semi-adulthood into the realm of true adulthood, as I am officially now 21 years old! Which would mean a lot more to me personally, but Australians are allowed to legally drink grog at the age of 18, so I’ve been pissed out of my brains for three years already! Jokes on you lot!
So on a more serious note, THANK YOU to all our wonderful writers and readers who have helped us reach this momentous 100 ISSUE SPECIAL for The 'Shroom! So hard to believe that this whole project started as such a small and silly idea from the wacky mind of HK-47 (talk) back in late 2006, to become a massive, multi-facet machine fuelled by the love and effort of the MarioWiki’s fantastic community! Critic Corner, if you may remember, started in Special Issue 64 as among the big special changes made for what’s been considered our best release yet. I proposed the idea after noticing an increasing interest in review sections, and after a great deal of work, we got it going steadily into until-now the most stylised team of The 'Shroom. I’ve been around for most of that time, aside from late 2013 and all of 2014, and I am so glad to have you all with me to keep Critic Corner and The 'Shroom in general alive and beautiful for everyone.
Several sections have been added and/or moved here into Critic Corner, including Character Comparison, Game Comparison, Location, Location, Graphic Novel Reviews, and Television Series Reviews, which are all open to be filled in over at our new and improved sign-up page! Check 'em all out!
Anywho, we have a massive writer turnout this month, which is fan-bloody-tastic! Yoshi876 (talk), Pyro (talk), FunkyK38 (talk), and myself, have all done our best to ensure our sections are particularly special for you today, and we have Marshal Dan Troop (talk) writing Virtual Console Reviews on a permanent basis now, with Nabber (talk) as his editor, so look forward to that every month. One-time guest sections have been provided by Henry Tucayo Clay (talk), MrConcreteDonkey (talk), and myself, which has all added up into the highest quantity of sections Critic Corner has ever seen. I’m so proud to be here on this occasion. We also have a lovely reformat for y’all, done by Twentytwofiftyseven (talk) and me, and a stunning portrait of my adorable self, drawn by Gabumon (talk). Don’t get the gag in the portrait? Clearly, you are not a Team Fortress 2 fan. Last but not least, we have Smiley the Hun (talk), who graciously drew me a beautiful celebration for my birthday. Thank you so much, you adorable little muffin.
Hey, don’t let me keep you any longer. Enjoy the show, check out all the amazing content we have for you today, and please, have a fantastic time. That’s what we’re here to provide!
Section of the Month
Yoshi876, to everyone’s great surprise, displays his fondness for Yoshi.
Can’t pull the wool over Dippy’s eyes in Yoshi's Wooly World.
Pyro rebirths an old binding review, while sitting on his nuclear throne.
Can-can, can you do the Mario in Super Mario Land?
Funky is the hero that the ‘Shroom deserves, but not the one it needs right now.
It's the big one. 'Shroom Issue 100, so for the Character Review I thought I'd treat you folks to what will probably be an extremely biased review seeing as it will be of my favourite character in the series, Yoshi.
As an idea, Yoshi came about following the release of Super Mario Bros. in 1985, as Shigeru Miyamoto stated that he wanted Mario to have an animal companion on his adventures. Unfortunately, graphical limitations kept us from meeting this companion until the release of Super Mario World on the (then) new console, the SNES. However, this is the only time Yoshi is actually important within the main series Mario platformers, here they were required to get keys to progress further into the levels which created a fun gameplay mechanic. But after that, he and his species were just relegated to certain levels and all they do in those is eat enemies and nab the occasional star coin.
In the platformers, Yoshi is seen more as a member of a species rather than an individual, but in the 3D games, this is thankfully an entirely different story (not counting Sunshine, or whatever the hell they were thinking for Galaxy). Whilst his appearance in Super Mario 64 is just simply a shoe-in, all he does is congratulate the player and give them more lives and a make a grammatical error, he took on a lot more important in Super Mario 64 DS, where he is the key character; without him, Mario would still be trapped. This was absolutely amazing, gone were the days of shite speech giving, and here were the days of full playable appearances in main series games. Yeah, no. In Super Mario Galaxy they decided all Yoshi was worth was a cameo, and whilst this was fixed for Super Mario Galaxy 2, it was still a massive kick in the nuts that a character was simply relegated to a freaking planet.
Yoshi would go on to make various appearances in spin-offs, but these are kind of annoying as yet again his individuality is called into question. How can we be sure that the scared shitless Yoshi in Mario Tennis Open is the same guy as the smug Yoshi who appears in Super Smash Bros. Melee? You can't, really, which is a shame with the overall character; for his design they should have given him some unique crest or something that makes him stand out from the rest of the crowd. The only time a possible Yoshi has appeared as a single entity is in the Super Smash Bros. Brawl mode The Subspace Emissary, but like with Super Mario 64 this feels like a shoe-in, Yoshi serves no overall purpose to the plot, and it feels like he's in the mode because he's a character in the game.
Many of you are probably waiting for me to throw my hat in and get cracking onto the Yoshi's Island series. Well here's that part of the review. In these games, Yoshi is given nothing other than being a peace-loving block alongside his species, which totally explains why they kill an entire island worth of creatures and ransack their castles. That's basically it, in a series that focuses entirely on Yoshi and his species the developers do nothing to stand him out from the crowd, or give any meaningful form of characterization, which is one of the biggest mistakes in the overall Mario series.
Overall, character wise Yoshi gets nothing. He's a kind dinosaur that helps out small children when they need him. That's literally it. However, there is one thing to note that is very interesting; various bios have depicted him in a relationship with Birdo, who according to varying sources is transgender. This makes Yoshi one of the most accepting characters within the franchise, which arguably makes him the kindest out of the whole Mario bunch.
Anyone who knows me, should know my thoughts on Yoshi, he's my favourite character in the entire franchise, even though he less characterization than unfinished characters in my unfinished novel. I like Yoshi so much that not even the childish incarnation who gets confused by simple arithmetic in the Super Mario World television series put me off. I wish there was something that'd make him stand out in the spin-off rosters, but as long as he continues to make appearances there I will continue to choose him until the end of time, and beyond.
This probably won’t earn me many fans around these parts, but I must confess that I haven’t bought a new Mario platformer since 2007, and haven't played a new one since 2010. I mean I’m sure they’re still alright and fun in their own way, but they all began to look the bloody same to me, and after launching into space there’s really not much else the chubby bastard can do to keep my interest aside from trading his overalls for baggy sweatpants, turning his cap backwards, and making wicked diss rhymes against Big Bow$ah and his hype man posse. However, the extended universe games tend to be a different kettle of fish entirely, partly because they tend to do a bit more to keep things fresh and interesting, but more importantly, they don’t release 50 of them every bloody year… unless it’s Wario Land, you were taken from us too soon. The years hadn’t been kind to Yoshi, however, since his last two attempts to prove he’s not just Mario’s personal taxi service have been… well, let’s not mince words here, quite shit.
But if there’s anything I have a deep fondness for, it’s pretty fabrics, and Nintendo’s certainly no stranger to using their children’s art and craft sets as design bases for their games, as testified by Paper Mario and Kirby Canvas Curse. Yarn, however, seems to be something they have a particular affection for, which I choose to believe is because the humans at Nintendo are just a front for a team of business-savvy cats, but whatever the reason has resulted in the phenomenally mediocre Kirby’s Epic Yarn and now Yoshi’s Wooly World, which is the game within my firing line today. Following in the standard Yoshi affair, Kamek kidnaps a bunch of
In fact, a lot about the game feels airlifted from previous titles, with the core gameplay primarily being the typical platform-based drive-by egg throwing simulator we’ve come to know from Yoshi just with a knitted reskin, but there are some notable differences. Foremost, there are semi-transparent platforms and objects that require you to throw a yarn ball – the game’s replacement for eggs – at them in order to make then tangible, which most often just allows you to progress through the level but occasionally leads to secret areas. Yarn balls also serve the purpose of entangling trickier enemies to leave them helpless, or to annoy the hell out of your mate when they’re just trying to collect a flower.
Oh yeah, there’s two-player co-op in Wooly World, a curious choice given most co-op games are fixated with having four players running around screaming profanities at each other, but a choice that I certainly welcome. One of my biggest problems with New Super Mario Bros. was how all the players had friendly collision, causing players to constantly bounce off each other into hazardous shit in what I’ll dub “The Friend-Losing Factor,” and while Wooly World still fails to discriminate between friend or foe the same way Rayman Origins does (Rayman master race), it’s so much more easily managed with just two players. It helps that you’re provided with your choice of a ridiculous amount of different Yoshi patterns that help distinguish you and your mate efficiently, especially the Poochy Yoshi which can only be explained as an orchestrated effort to concentrate cuteness into a lethal weapon. It’s so fluffy.
Yeah, this game is very cute, almost shamelessly so. The knitted art style lends itself well to giving even the ugliest Yoshi enemies a sweet appearance, which almost makes it a shame to slaughter them so cold-heartedly… well except the Blargs, fuck those guys. Amiibos can be scanned to provide more Yoshi patterns for use, a cute prospect that I never partook in because I’m a hoarder who refuses to take my precious, sexy Captain Falcon figurine out of its original packaging. There are also Yarn Yoshi Amiibos, also tailor-made to be unfairly cute, which I didn’t buy because getting a hold of new Amiibos is like finding an animal that doesn’t hurt you in Australia, but I do know they add a function similar to the pointless Double Mario feature from Super Mario 3D World. You know, that trite mechanic they introduced so even lonely berks like me can pretend they have friends.
Yoshi’s Wooly World is, as you would expect, easy as sin, even granting the option of a casual mode for babies and scrublords alike, which isn’t really a huge problem in and of itself despite my frothing desire for more Dark Souls-style whipping to keep me in check. The developers pride themselves on the game’s difficulty being personally managed, with the core experience being a breeze while all the collectibles being where the real challenge comes in, which would hold more weight if said collectibles weren’t bloody obvious. There are the usual flowers which grant a bonus level in each area if they’re all collected, but there are also stamps for boring dads, and pieces of wool for sweater-knitting grandmas. Actually, stamps just give you stickers to be used on Miiverse and thusly were of no interest to me, while wool grants you more Yoshi patterns.
Thing is, they’re all usually in obvious locations anyway, such as pipe-accessed areas or behind scenery which can be unravelled, and the Power Badge feature provides several power-ups that make it even easier to find said collectibles. Oh yeah power badges, by the way, are Wooly World’s way of holding your hand even further by offering benefits and power-ups before each level at the cost of the game’s currency, beads. They range from fairly small things like bringing our lord and saviour Poochy into the level with you (who kindly barks in the direction of nearby hidden wool, like a caring God), to big things like preventing you from falling to your death for the entirety of the level. All of which fails to acknowledge that the biggest difficulty in the entire game is dealing with your asshole co-op partner, especially when that person is your brother and he wishes to see everything you love burn.
None of it honestly costs that much in the grand scheme of things, especially if you’re playing co-op and thusly able to collect more beads, and I found the game easy enough without the power-ups so the only one I ever consistently used was bringing Poochy in because POOCHY. I do like the bosses, though, since they actually have an escalating difficulty curve and are all really nicely designed, especially the literal hot dog whom I now choose to believe is the satanic counterpart to our beloved Poochy, and that shall be canon. They do phone it in a bit with the mini-bosses, however, since they just bring the same Monty Mole and Paratroopa back with a helmet and/or cannon to try to spice things up, and it’s honestly more than a little dull. “Reused bosses, reused bosses everywhere,” as one Miiverse comment accurately quipped.
I do really like the aesthetic, however, since it’s inarguably the most visually appealing game I’ve played on the Wii U thus far. Its visuals are very easy on the eyes and have the kind of colourful dynamic I love to see employed with HD graphics, certainly a step up from the hideous pseudo-crayon bullshit of Yoshi’s New Island. Level structure is solid enough and throws enough novel ideas at you to keep things interesting, and the inclusion of non-linear levels speaks strongly to the Metroid fan within me (RIP, we knew you well…), even if they can be a bit confusingly structured at times. Musically, this game is top notch with both a very mellow acoustic tinge akin to smooth jazz rhythms or light Terry Riley-style ambient beats, which makes it more hilariously jarring when you enter the lava levels and are met with blasting rock jams in your face. There’s even a track that sounds so much like Tears for Fears’ “Everybody Wants to Rule the World,” and it’s every bit as glorious as you’d expect.
So in conclusion, I really like Yoshi’s Wooly World; it’s cute, very pretty, and is just generally a great deal of fun, with plenty of replay value to keep players coming back. It’s one hell of an improvement over both Kirby’s Epic Yarn and the last few entries into the Yoshi series, and certainly ensured that the Wii U was not, in my eyes, just the Splatoon platform and that’s it. I do find myself a bit disappointed that even the extra content fails to quench my thirst for a more intensive experience, but then again, the idea of having to go all Battletoads on a level with my brother throwing his shitty little yarn balls at me all day is probably going to become my new idea of hell.
The news came out that Satoru Iwata was dead as I was writing this. Rest in peace, Mr. Iwata; you were a great man.
It's the 100th issue?!?! Holy crap, I've been here for a long time. I remember the 50th issue. I wrote something for that. I've been in the 'Shroom for 50 issues...I find that hard to believe.
To commemorate this momentous occasion, I'll be reviewing not one, but two games! Except one I already reviewed. The one I reviewed before, however, took the form of a stupid complaint list that probably no one read. Let's get the previously reviewed one out of the way first, The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth.
Uh, yeah. I'm not sure if I've made this opinion clear before, but I don't like Rebirth. I will not deny that it is a huge improvement over the original in some categories, especially the technical and graphics departments, but I'm superbly sour about it for a number of reasons. Mostly the prerelease. Edmund constantly sugarcoated everything and blatantly lied about certain things on top of that. Then Rebirth came out and there were way too many stupid decisions that hurt my opinion of it; but first, I'll try to list the positives.
The game looks absolutely fantastic, and the art style in general is far more polished than the minimalistic Flash game that now looks ugly by comparison. It has a lot of neat details, like bugs crawling around, and a lot of neat lighting effects, especially in the Cathedral. The controls are great, and the game runs extremely smoothly (provided you have a lot of the effects turned off, saying from my experience). Some items that were horrible in the original were made much more valuable here (Brimstone, Chocolate Milk, Cat-O-Nine-Tails). Some of the new items are pretty good (Dark Bum) to amazing (Pyromaniac). Neat ideas like upgrading the shop were presented. However, a lot of Rebirth's flaws lie in its execution and other new content.
Dear god, are the new enemies and bosses mostly terrible. Some are fine (the poop family), but a lot of them are extremely annoying in the case of enemies, and have way too much health and annoying attacks in the case of bosses. The Adversary and The Cage have insane health compared to other Depths/Necropolis bosses, and both have random, hard-to-dodge attacks. Wizoobs (the ghosts), Walking Hosts, and Cod Worms (the hiding worms) tend to just sit and be invincible.
3 out of 4 of the new characters are pretty bad. Lazarus' gimmick will really only help new players, and even then Lazarus' revived form is extremely weak. You have only one heart container and the item you gain from it is an...on-hit item...? What's the logic in that? Azazel is stupidly overpowered and boring to play as - its low-ranged Brimstone is hardly an issue when it will murder everything in seconds. And I don't even need to say anything about The Lost. Everyone hates him.
Some items have absolutely no benefit and only seem to be there because of their (non-existent) awesome synergies; I'm specifically thinking of Strange Attractor and Tiny Planet. Other items seem to believe that you're always willing to commit suicide on a run (Bob's Brain, BBF, D100, D4, Missingno., Experimental Treatment). The game is also plagued with silly/stupid/dumb/horrible design decisions. The donation machine breaking mechanic only serves to stagnate your progress, and the whole thing is a crapshoot. How Meat Boy and Bandage Girl work is awful - the Horsemen are a crapshoot, even if you have Book of Revelations. The Dark Room is severely unbalanced and the Chest is favored by everyone. A notable amount of the tracks are just ambiance and Latin chanting.
I think I'm done complaining about this. I still recommend it to everyone, but I was let down by it. Am I excited for Afterbirth, the upcoming expansion DLC? No.
And now for the new game! It's a Steam early access game called Nuclear Throne. It's a top-down roguelike where you play as a bunch of characters trying to reach the Nuclear Throne. You collect XP to level up and choose abilities, and find guns and other weapons to kill enemies. It's actually pretty fun.
There's a daily run feature, which is always good to have in a roguelike. Another plus is that you unlock almost all of the characters extremely quickly, so you have lots of options early. I'm personally a fan of Y.V., who has a higher rate of fire than all the other characters, and Chicken, who starts with a melee weapon and can survive for a few seconds after your HP hits 0. I actually saved myself once with this mechanic, surprisingly.
There are quite a lot of options in terms of weapons; you can obtain bullets, shells, explosives, etc. to be used in various kinds of weapons. I'm the type of player that tends to prefer melee and rapid-fire weapons, and there are plenty of options for that, including screwdrivers, wrenches, sledgehammers, and machine guns. There are other types as well, such as weapons that will shoot bombs that go off after a while. I accidentally killed myself with an explosive weapon once. LEARNING! And since it's in early access, it's constantly being updated. I'm looking forward to playing more of this! I'd recommend it if you're a fan of roguelikes.
And, uh, that's my anniversary section. I feel like I'm not doing a good enough job. Uh...oh well. Happy advance birthday, Dippy. Bye!
Crocodile Style Reviews
Alright, so we have ninjas, pirates, and zombies on the list of things nerds are waaaaay too into and probably need to see a counsellor for, and now I think we can safely add cephalopods as a bullet point now as well. Between Octodad, that creepy as sin Handsome Squidward thing, the entire Japanese animated porn industry, and now Splatoon, the sea-dwelling invertebrate are slowly taking over the internet to create yet another page in the Edda of the Hopeless. Although those last two points intersect to an alarming degree, which is sad when you think about it because we all kind of saw it coming, but really Nintendo, you could’ve tried to help the situation a little bit by not giving the little squid girls shapely hips that sway more aggressively than a paper bag in a hurricane.
The rather... questionable ethics of the now-aged fandom aside, here’s Splatoon, Nintendo’s first serious attempt at creating a dedicated online shooter in what essentially amounts to glorified paintball but with ink instead. You are put into the shoes of a customisable kid called an Inkling, with the ability to instantaneously transform into a squid at will and swim through ink, which sounds like Charles Dickens' wet dream. While I’m tempted to just throw the game in the bin for not allowing you to play as the objectively superior octopus instead, the apparent reason for this is because the game’s story concerns the Inkling’s power source, the Zapfishes, being stolen by the villainous Octarians, whom no one seems to take seriously probably because they look like if The Purple Tentacle was turnt the fuck up.
I have no shame in saying that Splatoon, with its youthful energy and hip and urban thematic design, is the dopest shit I’ve seen since Puffer the Beatboxing Pufferfish. This game is more 90s than the actual 90s were, with hoodies and sports-brand sneakers reigning as the supreme fashion sense, overlayed with a rich score of cheery pop punk guitars and scratching turntables, and even the final boss music is a glossy bubblegum pop tune. It all evokes a strong “too cool for school” attitude which, as a 90s kid, gives me a sense of nostalgia that makes me feel utterly sick to my stomach. But in a good way! And I don’t care what anyone says, but Crusty Sean is officially my new favourite Nintendo character, and I will fight you.
We'll start with the single-player campaign, because if you’re selling a game for full retail price it better damn well have something I can do offline to keep me from interacting with other human beings for an extra few short, beautiful hours. Splatoon's story mode feels like a Super Mario Galaxy romhack with a gun awkwardly thrown into the mix, which I knows sounds like a joke but the emphasis on platforming through sparse, floating collections of incongruent assets, and rocket launching yourself to the next area once everything is left dead, puts me in the same headspace as Super Mario Galaxy. The progression is linear and the levels fairly short, reminiscent of other dedicated multiplayer games with tacked-on single-player modes like Call of Duty or Battlefield, but without the rampant destabilisation of foreign nations. Lacking any collectibles or hidden areas does kind of stab replay value in the heart, and the whole campaign is easier than your mum, but it certainly makes for a nice break from streaks of bad online games. Also to Splatoon’s credit it certainly tries its damndest to keep things fresh with a steady introduction of new enemy types and gameplay mechanics, such as turret sections or ink tightropes so I could live out my dream of being a circus squid, and any story campaign that ends with a space rave against a samurai octopus DJ is certainly a bit of alright.
Of course, the primary selling point of Splatoon is in its online multiplayer, of which the most apparent comparison would be Team Fortress 2, both being heavily stylised cartoon-ish shooters with an unhealthy fixation with throwing tacky decorative shit on your character until they look like a fucking mandrill at a rave. Except here, the clothes actually have practical use by giving you stat upgrades, instead of just being a fashion statement for idiots. Given my previous agonising experiences with Nintendo’s Wi-Fi connection, the online functionality is actually surprisingly stable, as I only very occasionally got connection errors, and if there was any lag then damned if I ever noticed it. This is supported by the game’s effective segregationist stance on lobby searching, ensuring my connection’s stability by only putting me in the playpen with fellow beer-stained British rejects, or overly skilled blokes with Japanese names that I’m going to assume were dick jokes.
You are put into a team with three other players with the goal of marking the most territory in Normal play, and enforcing land ownership over zoned areas and evicting anyone who isn’t the same ink colour as you in Ranked play, earning experience points as you play (with more awarded if you win) which increase your level and upgrade your clothing accordingly. There are a variety of weapon choices to pick from, including the standard rapid-fire gun, sniper rifles, mid-range ink-bomb launchers, close-combat brushes, and those motherfucking rollers, all of which possess secondary abilities that you’ll only use every other game, and special abilities of varying usefulness that can only be acquired after inking a certain amount of turf. It’s actually nice seeing different weapons applicable to different scenarios, and the satisfaction of seeing your squad roll out with a perfectly balanced loadout and bring the motherfucking ruckus to the enemy team is equated only to the sweet touch of pavlova on my tongue.
Given my Wii U handle is The Sniper, I dedicated myself to the art of blowing people up, especially those bastard rollers, from the safety of my perch like the cowardly scumbag that I am, which was easier said than done because aiming is dependent on the Wii U's gyroscope. While it’s nothing new that when compared to the precision you get from using a mouse on PC, shooters tend to communicate poorly to consoles and even worse to motion controls as seen in Metroid Prime 3 and Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles, Splatoon’s approach was particularly disastrous since trying to aim precisely with the Wii U’s constantly jerking gamepad felt about as intuitive as spitting goldfish into a glass cup from the cockpit of a helicopter.
This was enough to make me lose my cool a multitude of times, which is of particular note given I am a distinctly calm gamer who didn’t complain even once during my entire Bloodborne playthrough. It’s this overwhelming uncertainty of whether the patch of ink where my body used to be was my own fault or because the camera has a grudge against me, and it’s really frustrating; I mean at least in Dota 2, your 10 deaths are most definitely your own damn fault. Even the games where I brought my A-game often resulted in a loss, because Splatoon is still a team game at its core and if your mates are exploding left, right, and centre and not getting anything done in return, then no amount of MLG-level play is going to salvage that mess. It can be easy to forget the teamplay aspect due to the lack of effective communication in the game, which I understand was to combat the gruesome abusive behaviour that often plagues competitive gaming, but give us a better chat wheel than just “To me!” and “Nice!”
But I think my biggest problem with how the multiplayer works is in its matchmaking system, where I was witness to twitchy, fresh-off-the-block players as low as level 5 being pit against teams of max level 20 players. This isn’t aided by Splatoon going the Call of Duty route of placing an unfair advantage on players who have been playing longer, opening up a well of better equipment to higher levelled players that just throws all fair balancing out the window. Ranked play is a little better with a minimum requirement of level 10 and a numerical school grading system to create the illusion of a balanced system, but in reality it’s about as balanced as a vegan diet when they still don’t address the level disparity beyond a gate of “you must be THIS tall to ride!”
However, this is not to devalue the core gameplay itself which is absolutely spot on and a true bloody rippa. While it’s not nearly as deep as other competitive games, it honestly doesn’t really need to be since it’s coherently packed together nicely and, much like Awesomenauts, provides a nice distraction from the more intense online titles I’m used to. If you can get past the infuriatingly twitchy controls and rubbish matchmaking, then you’ll find even the worst teams are made up for by the rounds where you successfully splat the entire enemy team, smearing their discoloured oozing ink on your face to ritualistically assert your dominance over these lands, striking terror into all who dare follow in your unfortunate victims footsteps. Stay fresh!
Shoey's Shoetacular Reviews
Hello 'Shroom readers, my name is Shoey, and I would like to welcome you to my new 'Shroom section SHOEY’S SHOETACULAR REVIEWS (technically it’s a continuation of my old Virtual Console Review section, but nobody remembers that so whatev's). In this section, I will be reviewing video games (shocking, I know), but I will mostly be sticking to Virtual Console titles because I feel that they get less attention because they technically weren't new releases, with the occasional modern game as well. So without further ado, let me reveal the topic of this month’s review!
This month, I will be reviewing Super Mario Land for the Nintendo 3DS eShop. Super Mario Land is an 8-bit platformer that was originally released as a Game Boy launch title in 1989. The plot of this game is that Mario has travelled to the nearby kingdom of Sarasaland to rescue the land’s monarch, Princess Daisy, who has been kidnapped by the mysterious alien invader Tatanga (who is my personal favorite Mario villain). So obviously the plot isn’t all that good, but hey what did you expect from an 8-bit platformer? So now with plot out of the way, let’s move on to gameplay (yep that’s right, almost 3 years later and I’m still bad at transitions.)
Gameplay-wise, Super Mario Land is similar to the original Super Mario Bros. , with Mario having only his basic moves such as jumping and running. However, there are some differences in the two games - for instance, instead of fireballs bouncing left and right, Mario instead fires Superballs which bounce off walls and can go in any direction. Another difference is that instead of flagpoles, the game has two end rooms; the first you can enter with no problem to beat the level, but the second one requires you to do a little platform challenge to get to it and allows you to play a little minigame to earn extra lives and power-ups. But perhaps the biggest difference is that this game contains two shooter style levels where Mario enters vehicles (a submarine and an airplane) and fires torpedoes or missiles at enemies in order to defeat them as the camera autoscrolls. I rather like these levels (with the submarine one being my favorite level in the game), and I wish that they would bring these back in modern Mario games. Another thing to note it that this game doesn’t have any swimming levels, with that mechanic replaced with the submarine. As for the basic mechanics, the jumping is fairly good but it seems like the momentum can be a little wonky which can cause you to miss jumps because Mario won't jump far enough. It also sometimes seems a little random as to whether or not you will be able to make it. But other than that, the jumping is solid, and since jumping makes up most of the game we shall now move onto difficulty/ length.
One of the only real flaws in this game is that it’s not very long, consisting of only 4 worlds with 3 levels each. The game can be completed in about 30 minutes if you’ve beaten it before and maybe a little over an hour if you haven’t. To put it in perspective, I’ve probably beaten this game 7 times and I’ve only played for a total of 6 hours and 44 minutes. The levels aren’t that hard, either, and most of them are short. Although on your first attempt they can be difficult, after a few goes they won’t cost you more than a few lives. One thing to note is that the game does feature a hard mode after you complete the game (a mode which I’ve never really used), and in the Virtual Console version you can actually save in this mode by creating a restore point (unlike the Game Boy version, which doesn’t allow you to save). With the length out of the way, let’s move on to the graphics.
The graphics are black and white 8-bit graphics that look pretty much like what you would expect to see in a Game Boy launch title. I personally like them and I think the backgrounds in some of the levels have good aesthetic appeal: in the third world, there is a cave level which contains waterfalls, and the basic ground has a more rugged rock-like texture. An interesting thing to note is that it’s possible to change the colors from black and white to the original green colors of the Game Boy. While playing, all you have to do is hold L and R and then press Y, and BAM, you have yourself a green-colored Super Mario Land. Overall, though, the graphics are basic like you’d expect, with some nice touches such as sphinxes in the first world’s last level (the Egypt world) and tiki heads in the third world’s last level. Now that we’ve finished with graphics, let’s move on to the music.
This game doesn’t have very many songs, but each song (besides the third world’s) are fairly boppin' and make me excited to play the game. My personal favorite song is the world four song which has an Asian style feeling and makes me happy to listen to it. I think the music really complements the levels, and unlike the music in most handheld games, I actually listen to it. My one real complaint is that they changed the star music from its iconic song to the Can-Can. But overall, I think that Super Mario Land’s soundtrack continues the Mario series' tradition of great soundtracks.
Overall, I think that Super Mario Land is a solid game. While it's annoying that it isn’t very long, I find the game to be very replayable and very easy to just pick up and play - I’ve found myself picking it up just to kill a little time and being compelled to finish it. I like that it mixes things up a little bit with its shooter style stages, and I think that the music is solid, and even though the jumping can feel a little off at times, other than that there aren’t any real mechanical problems. Super Mario Land isn’t perfect, and it isn’t the greatest Mario game, but it’s a solid game that you can get some good enjoyment out of.
Final score: 7.5/10
Graphic Novel Reviews
For this exciting issue of the 'Shroom, I decided to review something as equally exciting and chose Batman: Year One. I hope to make this review column a mix of books of different genres and graphic novels of different publishers as well, so here’s the first of the latter!
Year One is a graphic novel that collects the story arc of the same name that ran in DC Comic’s Batman from issue 404 to issue 407. It’s supposed to be a reimagining of Batman’s beginnings after Frank Miller’s previous work on the comic arc of The Dark Knight Returns. This particular comic arc received critical acclaim, and many have said that it’s some of Miller’s and Mazzucchelli’s best work of their careers. I heard about this one on a list of important graphic novels that all comic book fans should read, and picked it up myself.
First off, I’ll cover the art. For someone like me, who grew up with the curvy, vibrant style of Archie Comics, this book is a major style shift. Even when reading Batman stories, I usually prefer the style of Bruce Timm, but I’ll get to that in another review. Year One has a dark, edgy style of linework by Mazzucchelli, and the colors are all very subdued, matching the darkness that one usually associates with Gotham City. You won’t find any bright colors here, except for the yellows of headlights and the white of the snow, and even those colors are looking a bit dull. Again, this isn’t my usual preferred style, but it matches the subject matter at hand perfectly. Simply put, the art here is really beautiful, and it really sets the tone for the story Miller is telling.
On the subject of subject matter, then, I’ll say that this isn’t a comical Batman. If you liked Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, you’ll like this one as well; in fact, Batman Begins is loosely based on this arc. The story focuses largely on the Gotham beginnings of Batman and Lieutenant Gordon, who has just moved to the city with his wife to start a new job in the politically-corrupt Gotham City Police Department. Gordon goes through all kinds of moral dilemmas, as his tale becomes nearly as dark as Bruce Wayne’s is, and much of the comic is about him trying to get settled and clear out the near never-ending corruption in the city. If you keep your eyes open, you’ll see other Batman regulars like Selina Kyle, Harvey Dent, and Alfred pop in and out. You won’t find much humor in this one, and of the little humor that is there, it’s dry and gritty, appropriately enough.
There are a few different copies of this particular graphic novel out there, but the copy I have (and most of the copies sold nowadays) are the Deluxe edition, which you can get in paperback and hardcover. It comes with ‘behind the scenes’ content that shows beginning sketches, inkings, deleted scenes, scripts, and multiple pages and covers from the story’s first release in the comic books. Also included is a short story by Mazzucchelli (right, by the artist, so it’s fully illustrated in comic form) about the legacy of Batman and what they hoped to achieve in Year One.
Bottom line here: Batman: Year One is a really incredible story that you should read. It plays out like a modern-age crime drama, with the traditional Batman touches everywhere, and fans of Batman and comic books in general shouldn’t miss picking this one up.
HI, readers! I'm your chivalrous guest writer, Tucayo, here with another Book Review! So far, I have covered three very different genres (short novels, magic-realism, and science fiction/dystopia), which means I'm missing one of my very favorite ones: thrillers. So this time I will be reviewing The Zero Game, by Brad Meltzer. I'll keep spoilers to a minimum, so please, read on!
The story begins in present-day Washington D.C., where we meet two members of the Congressional staff and good friends - Matthew Mercer and Harris Sandler. Matthew is a full-on idealist; he sees the good in people and he fights the good fight, inspired by none other than the Lorax. Harris, on the other hand, is way past this stage; he enjoys his job even if he knows nothing substantial will come out of it, and he spends his time pranking those around him, something that doesn't sound remotely as appealing to Matthew. For Matthew, the eight years he spent doing paperwork for a Congressman were more than enough; they were all he needed to realize idealism is best left for other career paths. But his good compadre was not about to let him quit just like that. Enter the Zero Game.
What do you do when your work life just isn't the same anymore and you need to spice it up? You start betting, of course. The Zero Game has people wagering on the results of voted bills, whether some minor projects will receive funding, and even things as trivial as being able to switch a Senator's jacket. Sounds way more fun than real politics, for what it's worth. The main rule in the game is total secrecy. No one can know who else is playing and in order to join the fun you need to be invited by someone who is already part of it. And to further protect the confidentiality of the game, there is no betting on "major" issues, just on things that wouldn't have any noticeable impact.
Up to here it all sounds like good fun. Just a couple of friends and a bunch of the most powerful people in the US betting on national laws so they can have more fun in the workplace. What could go wrong? To be honest, a lot could go wrong. And it does (well, that's obvious, there wouldn't be a plot otherwise). The book then goes full-thriller mode and has us following the story through the many intricacies of DC. And, by a fiction books standards, this novel is pretty accurate in several areas, thanks to the work of many experts in the matter, as it can be seen on the author's acknowledgements. Lawyers, professors, architects, lobbyists, Congress appropriators, Congressmen, and even a blind man gave their input to make this book as accurate as possible.
If you are into thrillers and don't mind reading through a bit of political talk, I can guarantee this book will keep you entertained, despite several genre clichés (really, how many times can you break a door open?). I'm not the best at predicting what will happen in any given story, but I'm sure even people who are will be surprised every now and then. However, if you're looking for a memorable plot or a life-changing experience (who knows?), I suggest you keep looking. The Zero Game is a good book, but there is nothing that makes it take the jump towards the "really good" category.
Well hello there, my mere mortal readers, and welcome to a very special instalment of Character Comparison, where I ascend this mortal plane to explore two timeless beings who will forever survive in the hearts and minds of all human beings. I am, of course, talking about our own beloved Mario, who celebrates his flagship game's 30th anniversary this year! But he isn’t the only one getting recognition today; nay, today we also have a similarly infinite God whom we all know as Zeus. Not just any Zeus, either… no, this is a Zeus that Russians and Peruvians, not Greeks, fear. The Lord of the Heavens Zeus from Dota 2, a very popular MOBA game that has taken over my life and will never let go until I am bleeding on the floor, malnourished without the hydration to even cry myself to an eternal sleep. The game is wicked fun and you should all play it!
But moving on to the more relevant topic, we have the similarities between Mario and Zeus, of which there are many. To be honest most of their similarities actually come from their appearance, as both are short and stubby, have a bit of a gut on them, topped off with glorious facial hair. Of particular notice is their moustaches, with Mario’s being brown and far bushier while Zeus’ is white and has a sharp lightning bolt shape to it to reflect his electrifying personality. One could even argue that Zeus has Mario beaten out, as while Mario’s hair is much neater and far more fitting for a lovely dinner date on the town, Zeus’ sideburns are so pronounced they’d make even Martin Van Buren blush. Similarly, the two have a very similar colour scheme going on, as Mario dresses with blue and red attire, while Zeus… well, his costume is all blue, but he killsteals enough with his Ultimate ability that he probably has plenty red on his hands anyway. They’re even both south European, Mario being Italian (well, Italian-American, but still) and Zeus being Greek. Only thing missing is a hat on Zeus, but I’m sure there’s a mod out there for that. #PCGamerMasterRace
In terms of abilities, one could draw a more direct comparison to Mario’s less popular brother Luigi, as both Zeus and Luigi possess control of the powers that cause the zapping. They both shoot lightning out of their hands, is what I mean. But Luigi has only been shown to use this power in but a few instances, while Zeus has the forces of nature at his beck and call, something even Mario, with his powerful control of fire, could only dream of. I hesitate to say their powers have similar functions, as Zeus’ arc lightning – which sends a bolt of lightning that jolts off to all nearby enemies – is hardly similar to Mario’s straight-forward fireball technique, but they are both spammable and beyond infuriating. Like, OH MY POOCHY, Groden (talk), stop shooting your bloody balls at me, they’re not even that hot! You may say I’m stretching the comparisons a bit here, but fire and lightning are both really hot, and they’re considered part of the same sub-set of bending in the Avatar series, so leave me alone.
Zeus and Mario are also both omnipresent, given their positions; Mario is the most prominent video game character in the industry, known by almost everyone, even those who aren’t gamers. It’s hard to take a step into this industry without seeing Mario’s face looming over you like an Orwellian figurehead, and I mean bloody hell, have you seen how many games this guy has? Jason Voorhes would look at Mario’s discography and say “geez dude, tone it down a bit.” Zeus is likewise everywhere by virtue of being an Olympian God; can a God truly be nowhere? Absolutely not! Indeed, Zeus is very well known for being a potent killstealer as his Ultimate hits every enemy player no matter where they are on the map! No matter where you are on the map, if you’re on low health, Zeus will find you and will kill you, so it’s just a matter of where you think the nicest place to be buried is. And given Mario’s perpetual grin and soulless dead stare, I wouldn’t put it past him to abuse his fame and deified status to bury a few unsavoury obstacles in his way. I wonder if there’s a comic about that…
But the best part of all this is that even Valve has caught on to the similarities! Just recently, like seriously just three months ago or so, they added a Taunt cosmetic for Zeus that makes him jump exactly like Mario, complete with 8-bit coin sound effect and a coin popping up above him. It’s absolutely glorious! So much so, it makes you want to spam that piece of work everywhere you go on the map, even if it means giving away your position when you’re hiding in the trees waiting to ambush your foes, because that coin sound be loud, bro. Now all we need is for someone to hack in an adorable little dinosaur mount for him and we’ll be all set!
So I leave you with this very important question; are Mario and Zeus actually long-lost brothers? Or could Mario be a descendent of Zeus, born of his constant fooling around with mortal women (much to his wife, Hera’s, chagrin)? If so, is this perhaps where Mario gained his superhuman abilities? These are questions one can only speculate on, but certainly the one thing we know for sure is that there is no running. No hiding places. Just submit to your mortality and perish before these mighty Gods.
Should Have Been
I haven't written this section for ages, but welcome back to Should Have
Now, two massive games have been released since I stopped writing this - of course, I could only be talking about Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Games and Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars. However, I'm going to go for two obscurer titles, namely Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS / Wii U.
Also, in this section, I normally talk about beta elements, because...I'm gonna be honest I'm not even sure. But that's been moved to the The 'Shroom:Issue 100/Strategy Wing#Beta Blockers section in the new Strategy Wing sub-team, which you should definitely check out.
I would actually call Mario Kart 8 my favourite Mario Kart game, like, ever. I wouldn't have said the same about Mario Kart 7 because, I don't know, it felt like a bit of a downgrade from Mario Kart Wii, which I guess isn't its fault as the 3DS is (I'm pretty sure) less powerful than the Wii.
But what...(wait for it I'm going to do a title drop)...Should Have Been in this game? (aw yeah)
What should have been in this game?
I'm going to be honest here, I can't find that much to nitpick about this game. A lot of my problems with the game are more problems with the series itself (i.e. being a bit too luck-based).
Firstly, I didn't like how the Battle courses were very slightly (if at all) reworked versions of some of the standard tracks - honestly, that just felt a little lazy to me. I mean, I wouldn't have minded if they were included alongside with more traditional battle courses (there's more than enough they could've brought back from previous games). Admittedly, they do work as Battle courses - Yoshi Valley can be quite fun due to its twists and turns and whatnot, but then there's tracks like Mario Circuit, which just feel boring and linear. Even the tracks that this works well with just feel too large for it to work well enough. Like, if there's only 30 seconds left and there's only two or so people left, it's unlikely you're going to run into each other, and the fact that you run into people less just makes it a lot more boring. So yeah, I feel they only should've included standard tracks as Battle courses if they included more traditional courses as well.
I didn't really like how you couldn't get another item while holding an item behind you in this game. I mean, it just seems like a pointless thing to remove. It doesn't affect the game too much but it'd be nice if that feature came back.
It would've been nice to see Mario Kart DS' Mission Mode (or something inspired by it) return in this game. Mario Kart Wii had online tournaments, which were pretty similar, but since then that kind of idea's been forgotten.
This isn't a problem with the game itself, but Nintendo's policy concerning YouTube videos of the game is, from what I've heard, very dumb. You have the option to upload footage from the game to YouTube, but apparently Nintendo takes down (or at least puts a copyright claim?) on anything with the '8' logo on. One of the items in the game is the '8' logo, the Crazy Eight, so it's practically impossible to go an entire match without seeing it in the item roulette - so, yeah, if that is what they're doing, it's quite stupid. It'd be nice if they solved that.
What characters should have been in this game?
Of course, this is assuming none of these characters are revealed as DLC. I wouldn't be surprised if a few of these were added as DLC.
Also what happened to Dry Bones?
I can't really think of any new characters I'd add to this game that weren't previously in the series - at least, not from the Mario series. It'd be really cool for Kirby or Captain Falcon to pop in, but, otherwise, I can't really think of any good newcomers from the main series itself. I guess Nabbit would probably be the most likely.
I'm not sure yet whether I'd describe 3DS/Wii U as my favourite game in the Smash Bros. series - I still feel more attached to Brawl, but that's probably due to the hours upon hours I had available to play it. Nonetheless, it's a really good game and you should definitely play it.
What should have been in this game?
I would like to preface this by revealing one of my deepest secrets - one that could possibly ruin me should it fall in the wrong hands: I'm not actually very good at Smash Bros.. There, I said it. I mean, sure, I can win matches against friends and stuff, and I can sometimes hold my own against Level 9 CPUs but a lot of that's down to luck (also none of my friends play Smash Bros., which may be a contributing factor in my victory).
Also, this means I'm not particularly knowledgable of a lot of the terms and special tricks and whatnot that the competitive community likes to use, or how they've been changed since Melee. While we're talking about Melee, I don't think every game in the series should be exactly the same as it, and I think a lot of the changes in Brawl and 3DS/Wii U should be adapted to rather than changed back to how they were - but we're not here to talk about that.
Now, anyway, onto what I'm actually here to talk about.
Smash Run was arguably the main selling point of the 3DS version, but honestly, I thought it was a bit of a letdown. I'm not even too sure why. I was really glad when it was revealed because I really love Kirby Air Ride and the City Trial version of that, and I guess I was hoping for something more similar to that. In hindsight, I have realised that Kirby Air Ride and Super Smash Bros. are two completely different games, but, I don't know, there's something about Smash Run I don't find as endearing. The enemies are somewhat harder to defeat, which isn't too much of a problem, but getting attacked by them can do quite a lot of damage, and this can kind of set you back a little too much from making progress. Again, I'm bad at the game, so it might just be because of that.
I liked how the Classic modes for the 3DS and Wii U version were different - it's really minor, but it's a nice difference. However, it is quite annoying how a lot of the equipment you win - especially Mii outfits (and especially in the Wii U version, I've noticed) - is normally stuff you already have. Like, it'd be nice if the game couldn't do that, especially as there's only a small amount of Mii outfits available. I'm not sure if Master or Crazy Orders have the same problem, but at least you can kinda control what kind of equipment you win in those modes. I also don't really see the point of having All-Star mode available from the start - it doesn't really make the game any worse, it just seems kinda pointless.
I usually leave talking about characters to a separate part of the section, but I really don't think the Ice Climbers should have been cut just because they didn't work on the 3DS. I think I speak for everyone when I say I would've prefered them being Wii U-exclusive than not in the game at all. Like, I get that would've kinda hurt the symmetry, but I don't think that's really enough reason to remove them, especially considering they've been in the series since Melee. Heck, even one Ice Climber would've been totally fine.
In terms of the stages in the game, I wasn't particularly impressed with the new Animal Crossing stage Town and City - I mean, I just think it's too similar to Smashville. I'd be more interested in a stage where you're actually, like, in the town/city, instead of suspended above it on some kind of giant awkward-looking platform. I also though the Paper Mario stage in the 3DS version could've cycled through more different areas, and included areas from the first Paper Mario and Super Paper Mario. I also thought Magicant should've appeared in both the 3DS and Wii U versions of the game, so one version could've used the Mother 1/Earthbound Beginnings theme and the other could've used the Earthbound theme.
I think the inclusion of an 'Omega' version of each stage was a good idea, especially for pleasing both the competitive and the casual community. However, I'm not particularly sure what would and wouldn't make a stage tournament legal, so I could be entirely wrong, but it'd be nice if there were, like, minor differences in some Omega versions. Like, platforms and stuff. A-are they legal?
Target Blast is definitely an interesting minigame, and it's pretty fun, but I don't think it should've replaced Break the Targets (or, at least, not in both versions). Break the Targets tended to work more differently for each character - even in Brawl, where each character didn't have their own stage. Also, Target Blast is quite similar to the Home-Run Contest, so Break the Targets would've at least provided something different. It would've also been nice to see Race to the Finish return in some capacity.
The Stage Builder included in the Wii U version also felt a bit disappointing to me - I really loved using it in Brawl, but in this game I found it kinda harder to use (possibly because I wasn't using a stylus), and also harder to fix any mistakes you make. It just feels really finicky and dysfunctional, as opposed to Brawl's, which I found really fun and easy to use. Plus, something about the stages you create just feel less customisable to me.
What characters should have been in this game?
People have a lot of diverse opinions about who does and doesn't deserve a place in the game. Often character bias is involved. For example, I would say Lucina definitely deserves a place in this game and that's in no way connected to the fact that she's my favourite character in Fire Emblem: Awakening. *shifty*
So, yeah, this part is largely a matter of opinion. A lot of people are going to disagree with me, but I'll at least try and make a case.
*I actually found when watching an old episode of Wacky Races. Dick Dastardly and I believe the Anthill Mob get involved in a game of baseball. Dick Dastardly throws the ball and I kid you not it splits in two. JUST LIKE WALUIGI'S SPECIAL MOVE IN THE BASEBALL GAME. I informed the MarioWiki of this but nothing came out of it - in fact, they tried to silence me, and cover this fact up from the public. Also it's run by snake people, or sneeple.
And that's everything! See you in another 50 issues! Maybe! Probably not...