The 'Shroom:Issue LXI/Review Corner
Mario Party 9 (New Super Mario)
Mario Party 9 came out this week, so I figured I would review that.
Mario Party 9 is one of my favorite Mario Parties. There are plenty of good modes to keep you entertained for a while. If playing alone, try Solo mode. In Solo mode, you play against the computers in each board. By beating each board, you unlock the two new characters in the game! Solo is good if you are home alone, however once you complete it, it doesn’t have much replay value. You can always go into Party mode and play though instead.
The gameplay is very unique. Instead of the traditional moving style, players now move in a kart, and try to collect the most Mini Stars. Players must also avoid Mini Ztars which subtract from your total. There is some luck involved which can be a downer, but it still provides great fun. Party Mode is pretty fun. You can choose your character, and choose the number of players. Plus you don’t need CPUs which is good if playing with 3 players. Then you choose your board and begin! The addition of bosses is nice also and provides a new challenge.
There are 12 playable characters in MP9. Mario, Luigi, Peach, Daisy, Wario, Waluigi, Yoshi, Birdo, and Toad return from past parties. It’s a shame they took out other good characters such as Dry Bones and Toadette. But there are new additions such as Koopa, Shy Guy, and Magikoopa. I like these additions, and enjoy playing as Shy Guy a lot. If they added Dry Bones and Toadette, I feel the roster would be great!
There are 7 boards in the game: some good, others not. Toad Road is a basic board, and is good for beginners. But it’s not that fun once you get the hang of the game. It seems more of a tutorial board, and I wish they included more elements in it to make it feel complete. It’s not a bad board, it just could have been better. I do like the design of the board. It gives you a good classic Super Mario Bros. feeling. The two bosses of the board are Lakitu and Wiggler. Lakitu is an ok boss. All you do is go around and hit blocks to fire bullet bills at him. He throws Spinies in defence which loses you a point. It is somewhat luck-, somewhat skill-based. Wiggler is a better boss. In this boss battle, you watch for Wiggler coming out of the forest to ground pound the segments on his body. Purple segments give you one point, while red gives you two. If you hit a Piranha Plant on the ground, you lose a point. This involves more skill and is a pretty decent boss battle.
Bob-omb Factory is a great board. In this board, conveyor belts can move you to different parts of the board, sometimes good, sometimes bad. Bob-ombs occasionally come on to your vehicle too, and the after ten moves, the Captain is exploded and loses half of their Mini Stars. Once again, the scenery is amazing and it’s cool to see all the Bob-omb parts being made in the background. This board is one of my favorite boards in the game. The two bosses in this board are Whomp and King Bob-omb. Whomp’s battle is pretty fun in my opinion. Although there is some luck, there is a small amount of strategy to it. Basically you select to move 1 or 0 moves around a circle, each player standing on a moving section. After everyone chooses, all of the numbers are added and the machine moves around that number. Whoever is left under gets stomped on my Whomp and loses 1 point while the others ground pound his back to earn points. The process repeats until the end. However King Bomb-omb isn’t as good as the Whomp battle. To put it lightly, it’s terrible. All it is, is luck. You just choose a Bomb-omb, the bigger the more points you get, and hope no one else chooses it. If someone does, you run into them and don’t get to use it while the other players throw their Bomb-ombs at the king. You get points for the Bomb-ombs you throw. But it won’t matter much in the end because it’s all luck.
Boo's Horror Castle is an average board with some good parts and some bad parts. The main gimmick is that Boos some and chase you and if they get you, you lose half of your mini stars. If you are in a lighted area, the Boos can’t get you though, so you have to move accordingly. At the end, you have to roll above a 6 or you don’t get through. If you don’t you go back around an annoying circle filled with Bowser spaces until you get there to try and roll a 4. This part is annoying, especially when you’re going around forever with Boos and Bowser Spaces. The two bosses on this board are Dry Bones and King Boo. Dry Bones's battle is ok at the beginning. Until he gets mad, it’s basic memory. Just look at the cards and select the one with the platform Dry Bones is standing on. Once he gets mad though, I get screwed up all the time because he mixes the cards up in a way some people can’t follow them. It’s still a good boss, but there are better. King Boo is a pretty strange boss. I can’t explain it that well, but basically there are different images at the bottom and you have to switch them around to line up three or more of the same kind (Such as Fire Flowers). The more images, the more points. Also getting a lightning bolt can help too. You must also avoid Boos that chase your cursor. I’m really bad at this one, but it’s still pretty good.
Blooper Beach is a pretty good board too, probably as fun as Bob-omb Factory. Dolphins run away from you in this board. If you catch up to them, you get five Mini Stars. Sushis also chase you. If they catch up to you (Like Boos) you lose half of your mini stars. There are also other gimmicks involving the sea such as a whirlpool. Blooper Beach’s bosses are Cheep-Cheep and Blooper. Cheep-Cheep is one of my favorite bosses in the game. You have to swim around and get shells, which you then shoot at Cheep-Cheep to gain points. Cheep-Cheep also charges at you sometimes which will lose you a point. There I no luck involved, which is a plus. Blooper is an ok boss too. All you do is shoot at him as he jumps through the water and avoid incoming Urchins. More shots get you more points.
Magma Mine is my favorite board in the game. In this board you travel in a mine cart trying to escape the rising magma levels. By landing on Magma + spaces, players can make the level rise. Players can also choose different ways at times for the better or for the worse for their opponents. The scenery is very cool. Not sure why I like it, but I bet you’ll enjoy it if you ever get the game. The two bosses for this board are Spike and Chain Chomp. Spike is a very dumb boss. All you do is select a hammer quickly, golden ones giving you more points when you hit him. I feel there should be more gameplay with it besides just clicking a hammer faster so you don’t end up without one. Chain Chomp I enjoy then. In this one you watch the rails that lead to cannons (Gold and regular, or none) and choose the right rail that leads there. It’s very fun and competitive with a group.
The minigames in this game are amazing. They have also added Bowser Jr. minigames, fun games where you and another player work together to beat Jr. I won’t describe the minigames in-depth, but you can read about some of my favorites. Some of my favorites would be: Logger Heads, Skipping Class, Ring Leader, Peak Precision, Twist Ending, Manor of Escape, Magma Mayhem, and Pizza Me, Mario. These are just some of the great minigames Mario Party 9 has to offer.
I saved one of the best modes for last. Choice Challenge. I got addicted to this very quickly. It’s so fun playing with siblings and friends. In it, you choose 3 out of 5 minigames selected and battle other players to get points. It can get really competitive, and is a great way to kill 10 minutes when you’re bored.
Super Mario 3D Land (Nabber)
What is this? Nabber is back to Review Corner with an all new review, in which I review a 3DS game that is just begging to be reviewed! Have I gotten your attention with my multiple utterances of the word “review”? Then good, let’s get to reviewing this god-awful game: Super Mario 3D Land!
Okay, SM3DL is not actually that bad. It plays like a portable version of Super Mario Galaxy, and it borrows a lot of gameplay concepts. It also draws its inspiration from Super Mario Bros. 3 for the SNES – there’s a jump button and a run button, just like the classic games, and there’s also a the return of the Tanooki suit. The Tanooki suit’s flying powers have been reduced to a flutter jump (a la Yoshi) to make the game harder, but it doesn’t really serve its purpose – the flutter jump makes the game infinitely easier than it already is.
And that’s Super Mario 3D Land’s main flaw: it is simply too easy. It takes about half an hour to get through the first few worlds, and that’s if you’re taking time. If you’re speed-running, then the game is a cake walk. There were only a few levels that actually challenged me. The only level that was genuinely hard was the one you unlocked after 100-percenting the game. Really, Nintendo? Is this what you’ve come to?
That’s not to say that the game isn’t fun, though. It may be short, but the time that I spent playing it was entertaining. It does get tiring having to face the same three bosses (four if you count rehashes of Bowser battles in the form of Dry Bowser), however. The levels were well-designed (if not easy) and the new power-ups worked well. I also have to commend the game’s 3D effect. While my friends prefer to play with the 3D off, I find that it adds to the experience. The game world feels deep in the rich 3D, and there are little puzzles and tricks that are meant to mess with your depth-perception.
The graphics work fine with the 3DS's power. There's not really much to say here - it looks like Super Mario Galaxy, but portable.
The music here is catchy, though there aren’t many new songs. There’s the title theme, which I walk around humming often, but other than that most of the music consists of remixes of classic songs. That’s not to say that the music was bad, but it would be nice to hear something worth of Galaxy fame.
Another thing to be noted is that besides the main mode, there aren't any other features in Super Mario 3D Land. While this would be okay normally, SM3DL's main mode isn't anything substantial. Really, there isn't much to say here: the game is short, and there's nothing else to talk about. No multiplayer mode, no mini-games, no side quests. You can replay the game to get Star Medals and get 1-ups on every flag, but they're pointless goals that don't actually do anything other than put a star on your file.
Overall, Super Mario 3D Land is a good game, but falls short of Nintendo’s standards. It looks and plays great, but it isn’t anything that we haven’t seen before. I’ll rate this a 7/10 - it’s worth getting, but if you’re on a budget then you might want to skip over it.
Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door (Nabber)
This month I’ve been replaying Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door, the Gamecube RPG that is considered by many to be one of the greatest Mario games. Hopefully most of you have played this, but if you haven’t it’s not too late to buy it! Now let’s get rid of my lethargy and start this review.
Paper Mario: TTYD starts off with Mario receiving a letter from - big surprise - Princess Peach. This time she gives him a treasure map and invites him to come to the town of Rogueport. Yeah, nice name. So Mario heads off to this place and of course it turns out that Peach has been kidnapped bla bla bla. Mario discovers that his map leads to a series of Crystal Stars, which, when gathered, will open a mysterious door underneath Rogueport leading to fabulous treasure.
The game is set up like its prequel: you move Mario around the overworld, and when he touches an enemy, gameplay transitions into a turn-based battle. Here he can attack, use special moves and items, and choose a partner to fight alongside him. Each partner has unique abilities that must be used strategically, and they can also be powered up by collecting Shine Sprites hidden around the world. Partners are used continuously throughout the game - unlike Zelda, you’ll be using these characters in more than one dungeon. Their uses are clever, from Vivian, who can hide you in the world of shadows to Flurrie, who can blow away layers of paper to reveal hidden chests and doors.
TTYD has a limited item system, which does hinder gameplay a bit but also forces players to be more economical with their money and items. You can only carry a maximum of 10 items at a time, so you must choose whether to stock up on health-restoring power-ups or damage-dealing attacks.
We’re still not done with the gameplay yet. Mario also gets “cursed” a total of four times in this game, exploiting his paper abilities. He can turn into an airplane and a boat that can glide on water. Mario also can turn sideways to slip through cracks and roll into a tube to go through small spaces. It makes for some neat puzzles and helps to keep many of Rogueport’s secrets hidden until you unlock these abilities.
The soundtrack is also incredibly catchy. Some of the tunes may be a bit repetitive, but you’ll find yourself humming along nevertheless. It’s a great addition to a great game.
That being said, The Thousand Year Door isn’t perfect. The badge system, which powers up your characters and allows them to use new moves, can easily be exploited to win otherwise tough boss battles in a matter of turns. Other times, you’ll face enemies who have insanely high stats and are nearly impossible to conquer. Side quests are accessed from one place, which is helpful. Unfortunately, the side quests themselves are bland jaunts across the land doing menial errands for people. This is never fun, but the reward is usually only a bit of pocket change - definitely not worth the trip that some of the missions force you to take. Another thing? Many of the badges are in hidden blocks, which are impossible to find without a guide or random jumping.
Something that I want to talk more (minor spoiler alert) about is Nintendo’s attempt at putting in backstories. Each place you visit - and each partner you get - all have a story to find out about. Most of these are rather shallow, but it’s a nice touch anyway that one wouldn’t usually expect from a Mario game. In one place, you find a fighting arena full of fame and glory - but underneath the exciting cover is a conspiracy involving a greedy fighter who is abusing his power to benefit himself. Then there is Admiral Bobbery, a sailor who has literally locked himself away from the world after a traumatic loss. This is something I hope Nintendo improves upon in the future, because it really helped set the mood of the game.
While it may have flaws, the positive aspects of Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door greatly outshine the bad parts. Its great gameplay and wacky characters make it a truly memorable game. It deserves a 9/10. Hopefully, Nintendo’s next RPG outing will be as great as this one was.