The 'Shroom:Issue LXVI/Critic Corner
Oh bugger, I was a bee's dick close to not actually doing this this month. I felt so sick, the back my throat must've resembled a low-budget horror movie. In any case, this month is our bi-monthly writer’s time to shine… except only Nabber (talk) sent his section in, whereas Xluidi (talk) didn't send anything in. Thanks for your dedication, mate.
Just a more varied issue than last month, so enjoy. Now let me go back to resting.
Critic Corner Section of the Month
Marioverse Reviews - 21 votes (72.41%)
Nabber questions the value for money you get from New Super Mario Bros. 2.
Non-Mario Game Reviews
Super Nabber Reviews
When I got New Super Mario Bros 2, Mario's first 2D platformer on the 3DS, I wasn't expecting much. In fact, I got it simply to review - and because I love coin-looting. The trailers for the game showcased vast amounts of coins being collected by none other than Mario, with all kinds of tricks such as Gold Flowers and Gold Rings to help him out. What I didn’t realize is that the Gold Flowers and Rings were pretty much all that was contributed to the game.
Oh yes, there's the raccoon tail, but while there are plenty of those in the game, they're never used except for the first level it's introduced in. Nintendo also brings back the Mega Mushroom and the Mini Mushroom, but these items are so rare and insignificant that I almost forgot to include them in this review. Mysteriously, despite the absence of actual Mini Mushrooms, there are plenty of tiny pipes in random levels. As for the Gold Flower? That makes an appearance in about three different levels. This is probably due to the fact that it destroys everything in its path and is incredibly overpowered.
As for the levels themselves? Not very good. If you’ve played either of the previous New Super Mario Bros, then you should know what to expect. The only difference is that the majority of the secrets (which seems to have drastically been reduced) are hidden in cheap ways, often requiring you to hit random hidden blocks or take unnecessary risks. Oh yeah, the Star Coins which are used to buy extra powerups and open new paths? Half of them are “hidden” right in the open, with nothing guarding them. Honestly, it’s pretty sad.
I suppose I should mention the bosses. To put it simply: they suck. Reznor was always an easy boss, but having to face him six times screams of laziness. The Koopalings are again employed for nostalgia, but the fights do little to deviate from each other. The final battle was especially disappointing, considering it was extremely similar to a fight in another game. Not only was it simple, easy, and unacceptably quick, it was boring, a good sign of a bad game. It doesn’t help that Nintendo makes you fight it twice with little change.
I usually like to find some redemption in a game’s soundtrack, but I found myself listening to my own music instead. The whole soundtrack consists of maybe ten songs, tops, and nearly all of them are remixes of previous New Super Mario Bros. Unfortunately, the remixes actually make them worse, with extra vocals added in that make my ears bleed. The only song that might have been new to this game was in the final battle, but unfortunately the sound effects were too loud for me to hear it properly.
A note on some miscellaneous things. I did enjoy the 3D that was in this game, though only because I was taking careful note of its use. The 3D casts a barely noticeable effect, in which the background falls back and fades away. A few objects, such as pipes and castles, appear to be rounded slightly, and enemies pop out a millimeter when killed. It’s the one thing I actually enjoyed about this game, which is really depressing. Another thing I noted was that there were virtually no new enemies. The only thing Mario encountered that could be considered as “new” were dry versions of Goombas and Piranha Plants, which are exactly like their regular counterparts.
Many of the concepts in the levels were taken directly from New Super Mario Bros, too. Shrinking platforms, platforms that rise and fall as you step on them, the likes. The only new concepts I can think of off the top of my head were jets of fire that could temporarily be turned off. That’s it. Lastly, there’s another mode I haven’t mentioned: Coin Rush. This randomly selects three stages and challenges you to get as many coins as possible during a set time limit. It’s good to get a lot of coins at a time, but it’s not really anything special.
Nintendo issued a challenge to every player of this game to see if they can get 1,000,000 coins (minor spoilers ahead). This achievement takes time and effort to get, and only those who are really dedicated can meet this goal. So the reward is worth it, right? Amazingly, no. For your hard work, Nintendo gives you a golden Mario statue on your title screen. That’s it. For maxing out the coin counter to 9,999,999 coins? You get a notice telling you that you’re good. Way to reward effort. When you realize that it’s not worth grabbing a million coins, then you realize that there’s no replay value to the game.
That pretty much wraps up the game. If you’ve played either New Super Mario Bros. game, then you’ve pretty much played this game. While it’s good for a few days, it doesn’t have any lasting value. In fact, I knew what I was going to write in this review after only a few hours with the game. So my final score for New Super Mario Bros. 2 is a 6.5/10. If your money is burning a hole in your pocket, then you may as well spend it on this game, but I would honestly recommend spending your forty dollars on something more worthwhile.
Guys, do you know that feeling? That churning in the pit of your stomach, the mad craving for Super Mario Galaxy? Well I felt that when browsing the Piranha Plant article and that explains why I chose this week’s review. This week I will be looking at Dino Piranha.
I like the part where Dino Piranha hatches from an egg in the Good Egg Galaxy, but once again Nintendo has made a flaw that is inherent to many of their world bosses - they appear quite randomly. There is no prelude to Dino Piranha's appearance, you simply land on the planet and have to fight him. Though unlike other bosses, it does make sense why he would want to fight you - you broke his egg!
I personally love the idea of a prehistoric piranha plant, and I think Nintendo did a really good job designing one. It has elements of a Tyrannosaurus Rex with the tail of an Ankylosaurus. Not to mention how they incorporated a strategy to defeating him in his design; very creative! Though when Dino Piranha is defeated, he looks really bad without the flower petals. Also, how does he see?
I think Dino Piranha is a bit funny, though they could have done better.
The potential I see in a Dinosaur + Piranha Plant mutant is as a world boss, probably of a prehistoric galaxy full of various prehistoric-styled enemies. He doesn't display any speech, and that is important in a galaxy boss, so I don't see the potential for that. On a side note, Dino Jungle.
Well, obviously Nintendo didn't do all I thought they could do, with the prehistoric themed Galax(ies). However they did include Dino Piranha as a world boss, which is what I see him being made for.
I really like Dino Piranha, and don't think there's much that can be worked on. He really can only appear as a random encounter boss, and he makes a very good one. Nice job Nintendo, 9/10.
Crocodile Style Reviews
OK, let's quickly punch up a new cardinal sin of game development while we have some time; you are not allowed to just automatically assume every last console gamer is rich enough to have a top-range high-definition television the size of two commercial kitchen refrigerator units, especially not in a game heavily dependent on text to convey important gameplay information. I could not for the life of my read half the text in Darksiders II even when leaning right up to the screen, partly because I was so sick that reading had become akin to shoving spark plugs into my eyes, but mostly was because the text was so fucking miniscule that a group of ants could be moving across the screen in convenient formation and they’d be worlds more noticeable.
You can probably guess from that rather weak opening that I'm not really on the ball with Darksiders II in general. To recap, Darksiders was a bland, repetitive, and oversimplified action game with a strange fetish for wearing the clothes of other, much better games, mostly the frilly garments of Zelda. It concerned the apocalypse mythos of Christian scriptures with the words 'liberal reinterpretation' in the boldest possible font hanging over it, putting you in the shoes of the least intelligent of the horseman War whose dress sense was in itself a global catastrophe. With that out of the way, we now follow Death doing what any good brother would do by trying to redeem his brother War after he accidentally caused the complete annihilation of the entire human race that totally wasn't the apocalypse, hoping to do so by seeking out the means to bring humanity back to life. I think the joke here is supposed to be the irony of the personification of the big sleep seeking to instead bring life back to those he spends his job and free time killing without mercy, but if that is indeed the case then the developers deserve a swift kick to the jaw for how predictably unclever that is.
What's more amusing is how Death seems to have more life to his character than his robot of a brother, albeit not that much more. Whereas War had all the personality of a scowling capsicum, Death instead has all the personality of a scowling eggplant with a throat full of hermit crabs, which is fitting since my throat felt the same way whilst playing this. When he isn't mumbling every line, he's insulting or threatening those whom he requires aid from only to express dispassionate frustration when they refuse to assist him; this is whom we in the business call “a cunt”. All the characters either speak in a clichéd “mysterious fantasy” manner, or indulge in trite sarcasm that has all the sophistication and wit of a nerdy 15-year old trying to fit into the cool kids club, which would be somewhat forgivable if the characters weren't all several thousands of years old.
Anyway, the story is bollocks so let's just move onto the gameplay. It's the same old repetitive hacky slashy God of War gameplay mixed in with the frequent Zelda-style dungeon, and like its predecessor it hasn't remedied how tedious that gets. To their credit they have introduced a secondary weapon slot to feign some semblance of variety, but there still aren't any really useful combos and you can get by just fine with the default attack pattern so gameplay still just boils down to spamming the square button a whole bunch, with the only degree of added complexity being occasionally spamming the triangle button instead.
Although like every other pissing action game of the modern age RPG elements have creeped their way even into the casual reaping of souls. Levelling up grants Death skill points that he can invest in any number of branching skills, all of which will go completely unused because the first Necromancer skill summons a bunch of ghouls to maul enemies at an alarmingly rapid rate. Getting one of the bonus upgrades for it returns all of the Wrath spent on the attack allowing you to just keep spamming it, so there's literally no reason to use anything else. There's also a similar skill later on involving crows that can return health to you, but I'm not a pussy so I never used it. This made all the boss fights cake walks aside from the puzzle-based ones, and those ones were even easier; worst of all is that the cutscenes always deal the final blow against bosses for you. Hands off my fucking kill, game, that was my handiwork so I deserve the goddamned satisfaction!
War always looked like a walking rubbish bin, but Death takes a more simple, restrained approach to his appearance, at least until you get some new equipment and start playing dress up with him. In true RPG fashion you can buy or randomly find new equipment, “new” meaning the same handful of models with randomised stats and some “manly” buzz word prefixed to the name. Of course I couldn't actually read what each item was supposed to do, so I always wound up just picking the ones with the most green arrows next to them until I looked like a complete spastic, even at one point looking somewhat like The Prince from Sands of Time if he were one of the sand creatures and casually wore the skulls of his enemies as facial decoration. Hang on! Am I playing Diablo?! Shame on you, Darksiders II, your older brother's already on probation for all those games it ripped off, why did you have to go and tarnish the family name further? But unlike Diablo, the micromanagement only creates a sense of unneeded dull routine to the central HIT THINGS style of gameplay that Darksiders II is based around, and the fact that you are just going to be hitting things undermines the purpose of the statistical approach to weapons anyway.
Lumbering around the yard like a Frankenstein of far better games that saw success in the past few years, Darksiders II just feels so heartless, insubstantial, and padded especially given how ridiculously long it is. To hold up a 20-hour game you have four puzzle-solving equipment, three airlifted from the first game (including the fucking portal gun) and one taken from Spirit Tracks, so that's variety out the window. The game has large open areas in a few of its world with very little that's candy for the eyes, but it encourages you to just fast travel everywhere anyway so what the hell was the point? The game has an excessive reliance on fetch quests to drag the game on, doing that Skyward Sword thing of requiring you collect three magical McGuffin, then another three, and so forth until they've literally layered fetch quests within fetch quests to make up the majority of the game's playtime. This is not how you make a grand epic, this is testing how long my patience can hold out before I repurpose the game disc as a coaster for my glass of cough mixture.
But what really sets my tits alight is how the story nullifies a lot of your progress through the game, and so many of the things Death does don't seem to matter. Early on you have to awaken some colossi by collecting three magical crystals for reasons too boring to elaborate, but then it gets corrupted and you have to destroy it in one of the game's most underwhelming segments, only for the dickhead that sent you in the first place to bring it back to life immediately afterwards by turning himself into only one crystal! Good to know that entire segment of the game was for nothing, game! Later you have to travel all across the underworld to find three spirits to get an audience with the lord of the dead which also forms one of the power-ups, only for that asshole to kill all three of them before your eyes. Don't shove bubonic rats up my nose for running your bloody errands, Darksiders; I get enough of that already with the 'Shroom core staff!
I never saw the end to Darksiders II, and that's not just because I was too sick to bear playing it for more than a few hours every few days. I won't say it's not a very mild improvement over its predecessor, but those are hollow words at their absolute best considering how utterly putrid that game was; it's a complete bore to play, with its run time and repetitive gameplay only accentuating how little creativity and ideas the developers actually had. Besides, why would you even make a game glorifying the horsemen of the apocalypse in this day and age of paranoia? People don't want to be reminded about the possibility of complete global socio-economic collapse and the complete destruction of everything we hold dear, it seems like bad marketing to me to somehow say this is something we should embrace with glee. No, a genuinely smart developer in these troubled times would tie the horsemen to target-painted walls for the player to hurl dodge balls at them, being rewarded with peace, longevity, and long-term financial security every time they reach a certain amount of points; if a hermit crab happens to fall out, you can keep that as a bonus prize!
Should Have Been
Hey, guys, it's MCD, and welcome back to Should Have Been. Thanks for voting for me as Issue 64's Critic Corner Section of the Month! It means a lot to me, especially when I was up against great reviewers like Dippy, Nabber, Xpike and everyone else.
Now, if you're here, I'm guessing you know that New Super Mario Bros. 2 has been released in the past month. So, as always, we'll be covering a previous game in the series because I'm behind on everything! I can't see myself doing a section on New Super Mario Bros. 2, as I don't want to buy this game, because, quite frankly, it looks bad. So, without further ado, what should have been in New Super Mario Bros.?
What should have been in- wait, I've already asked that
New Super Mario Bros. was...alright. I don't think it was a masterpiece, but I guess it was enjoyable. I always felt it was somewhat lacking in something. Unfortunately, it's been quite a while since I played it, and my old DS is out of charge and the charger's broken, so I can't really give a better starting paragraph that that.
Okay, so, starting off, I felt the Tower boss fights were...well, not good. It was just the same fight with Bowser Jr., the only change being he got a new attack somewhere around the third world. The only thing that changed was the arena, and, in my opinion, this was lazy on Nintendo's part. I think the Bowser Jr. battles in the later worlds should have given him some new attacks, as opposed to just reusing the same Koopa Shell-throwing attack. I don't really have much other problems with the Bosses in the game - I especially liked the Bosses in the castles all being different from each other, as opposed to just the Koopalings. I'd go as far as saying this game has my favourite bosses in the New Super Mario Bros. series. Though I thought a few of the Bosses didn't really fit the worlds they were put in: for example, I've got no idea what Petey Piranha has to do with ice, and I'm not sure how a Mega Goomba fits into a forest world. I think a Mega Goomba would've been a much better boss for World 1 (though that does beg the question of what to do with Bowser - but I don't think leaving him until World 8 would be a huge problem), and Petey Piranha could be moved to World 4, where he would fit a lot better. Perhaps a new boss could have been introduced to World 5 - I'm not sure why, but I feel King Boo could be fitting enough for that world.
It may be just the amount of time since I've played the game, but I don't find many of the levels in the game memorable. The only one I really can remember is the sewer level in World 2. From the sequel, New Super Mario Bros. Wii, I can remember the level on the boat, the level with the giant Wigglers, the level with the Parabuzzies...and that's just from World 5. I think the levels in New Super Mario Bros. should've included more memorable levels, with more unique gimmicks.
I also didn't like that how you couldn't gain access to some worlds unless you beat a certain boss when you were tiny. I think I did use a Warp Cannon or two when playing through this game, but, otherwise, I'm sure I went through most of the worlds - except World 4 and World 7, because you have to defeat Mummipokey and cold-as-ice Petey Piranha as Mini Mario (yes, the smaller than small one) to gain access to these worlds: this really confuses me: 1) Who would use a Mini Mushroom to defeat the boss of a world? and 2) Why couldn't it just go 1, 2, 3, 4 etc.? Yes, you only have to go through six worlds to beat the game, in this way, but I'd much rather have eight worlds, as that'd equal more gameplay, and more fun, usually. It's a shame for me, because, personally, I'm quite fond of forest levels, and World 4 of this game looked great to me. I think, instead of keeping two worlds secret, the game should've progressed through each world, regardless of the powerup you used to defeat the boss.
Something else about the worlds is that the overworlds...quite frankly, are very boring. This was improved in New Super Mario Bros. Wii, thankfully, but I think they could have been improved as early as this game. I mean, something this boring is a huge downgrade from the great overworlds of Super Mario World and even Super Mario Bros. 3. My main problem with the overworlds is that they were way too linear. Also, the imagination of the creators when thinking about placing objects in the overworld barely ever extended past Mushrooms, trees and Blocks - which, of course, there aren't already enough of in the levels themselves. The overworlds are all just long, linear chunks of land, on which Mario starts at the left and makes his way to the right. I mean, they could've swapped that around a bit - just to be different, for once.
Something else that I feel could have been better in this game that was improved in the Wii sequel is better replay value after the game has been beaten. I mean, you didn't unlock Luigi at the end at the game, he was playable from the start (which is another thing I commend the game for, and should have been in the later games of the series). There was the challenge of getting all the Star Coins, but what do they unlock? Mushroom Houses and, occasionally, more levels. You could argue the same thing happens in New Super Mario Bros. Wii, but there are a few differences, and they make the Wii game's system much better.
First, in NSMBWii the levels are unlocked by collecting all the Star Coins in all the levels of a world, unlike spending an amount of Star Coins, as in this game. In addition, in the Wii sequel, the levels that are unlocked are much harder levels, in a brand new World, World 9; whereas, in New Super Mario Bros., you just get new levels in old worlds, which you can play at any time in the game, and are as difficult as the rest of the levels in the World, which is normally pretty easy, unlike NSMBWii. So, if I lost you for a second there, basically I think, in this game, collecting all the Star Coins in a world should have unlocked harder levels in a brand new World, unlocked after the game - à la New Super Mario Bros. Wii.
Yeah, I think I went on for a bit there. So why don't we settle down, and look at what enemies should have been in this game?
What enemies should ha- okay seriously stop that
No, we aren't there yet. Go back to the last one.
Still what enemies should have appeared in this game?
So now we move on to...
Starting off, Mega Goombas were going to be a regular species instead of a boss, and were the result of a Goomba picking up a Super Mushroom. Considering the existence of Super Dry Bones and Super Piranha Plants in the final game, it can be assumed this would've worked on most enemies. There was also planned to be a Mario and Luigi co-op mode, which did eventually happen, in New Super Mario Bros. 2. The Blue Shell can be obtained by defeating a Blue-shelled Koopa Troopa in the final game's VS. Mode, but not in the Single Player mode - however, in an early version of the game, this was possible in Single Player, although you had to Ground Pound to enter it.Item reserve spots, as opposed to just one. Spindrift was, at one point, an enemy in the game, but it was replaced by those blue spinning spring platform things. The Mega Mushroom was originally just a Super Mushroom from Super Mario 64 DS, and then was updated to its final design, but with the palette of the Super Mushroom. A Manta Ray was once seen in an unused VS. Mode level, though it's unknown if it was an enemy or just background scenery. Wrecking Crew can be found among mini-game data, and, apparently, were going to be used in a single and multiplayer minigame. Also, a snowball-throwing minigame, which was used in multiplayer, was also going to have a single player mode. Mario was able to punch and kick in an early version of this game, and also be able to sideflip. Mega Mario could run, and there was a point counter. World 3-B, a sky level, was apparently meant to be a desert level. Finally, some of the worlds appeared to be themed differently - World 4 was called "ancient", and World 6 was called "machine".
That's all, folks! PM me on the Super Mario Boards if you want to suggest a game for me to cover in an upcoming Issue. See you next month!