The 'Shroom:Issue LXXII/Critic Corner
So I'm back from holidays and I wish I wasn't. I'm so busy with school and work at the moment; I can barely stand to write Director's Notes. I'll get straight to the point, then; Game Soundtrack Reviews has been moved to Music & Artwork, so if you want to write for that section then contact FunkyK38 (talk).
Meanwhile, New Super Mario (talk) has begun writing a review section titled NSM's Review Corner, which will focus primarily on Non-Mario games but he's able to alternate to Mario games. Pyro (talk) has started writing a Non-Mario section titled Hottest Reviews Around, because we needed more of those! (welcome to the team, guys)
Yoshi K (talk) has started writing a personalised opinion section called What Could Have Happened If…, which discusses ways a game could've been changed dramatically had the development process gone in a different direction. Cirdec (talk) has also written a one-time submission for Game Comparisons, although it's a shame he won't be writing permanently.
Critic Corner Section of the Month
There were only two sections last month, both of which were mine. So uhh yeah… this is awkward. Dippy's Matilda won with six votes, just one more than my other section, Crocodile Style Reviews. Congrats to me? I'll, uhh… just scurry off to the side there. Enjoy this month's sections!
Dippy defies laws of physics and logic in his gun-heavy review of Dead Space 3 and Crysis 3.
NSM's Review Corner
Imagine yourself in a forest. Blades of grass reach miles above your head. The pools of water that you see in front of you are actually small droplets of water. Large, hungry Bulborbs are looking to devour you with their sharp teeth, and all you have to protect you are small, plant-like creatures to protect you. I hope you at least have an idea of what game I’m referring to! If not, listen up. The game I'm referring to is Pikmin.
Pikmin, for the Nintendo Gamecube, has to be one of Nintendo's best series. If you haven't given the series a try yet, I suggest you start with this game (or maybe Pikmin 3 for when it comes out for the Wii U). Don’t have a Wii U? That still leaves Pikmin 1 and 2 open for Gamecube. Additionally, both games have been rereleased for the Wii if you want to get it on there. Enough about where you can get the game, let’s dive in to the game.
The game stars Captain Olimar, a Hocotatian employed at a deep-space shipping company known as Hocotate Freight. The beginning cutscene shows Olimar in his spaceship, the S.S Dolphin, flying around in space when he gets hit by an asteroid. Many parts of the S.S Dolphin fall off as Olimar plunges into an unknown planet.
Now this planet happens to contain oxygen, a gas poisonous to all Hocotate inhabitants. Olimar realizes he can't get off of the planet unless he finds all the parts he needs from his ship. Of course, he only has 30 days before his life-system support will fail, and he will die. The main goal of the game is to collect the parts he needs before the time is up. Not all parts are needed to beat the game, but it's always fun to see if you can get all of them in the time limit.
How is Olimar going to get all the parts he needs, though, just by himself? That's where the Pikmin come in. When Olimar crash lands, he discovers the Red Pikmin. The other two types, Yellow Pikmin and Blue Pikmin, come to play later in the game. Pikmin are basically a plant and animal hybrid. They follow all the orders of Olimar. Olimar can throw the Pikmin to collect parts or defeat enemies. All Pikmin pretty much looks the same other than their color, besides some slight differences. Reds have noses, Yellows have ears, and Blues have gills. It's also very important to know what type of Pikmin to use for every part you need to find. Need to find a part in the back of a lake? Take Blue Pikmin, since they can go in water without dying. Need to get past a large wall in order to get a part? Bomb rocks should do the trick, take some Yellows and have them destroy the wall. Need to get pass those annoying Fiery Blowhogs? Fire-resistant Red Pikmin should work perfectly. Of course, it's nice to have a balance, so you'll have to plan out what 100 Pikmin you want to take on the field depending on what part you're getting. Pikmin however, are vulnerable to enemy attacks, so it's important you know the enemy's weakness and what Pikmin are most effective. But what happens if all your Pikmin die from enemy attacks? How do you get more Pikmin?
You can replenish Pikmin by having Pikmin carry pellets or dead enemies to the Onion. The Onion acts as an incubator to the Pikmin, allowing them to stay there during the night to be unharmed. Each Pikmin type has their own Onion, so it’s important to replenish Pikmin so you don't run out. It's so cute watching Pikmin carry their prey back to the onion to give you even more Pikmin! The Onions are one of the most important features in the game. You get your Pikmin from there and make more Pikmin there.
The thing I love most about Pikmin is the strategy. If you don't like strategy and challenge, this game isn't for you. However I do, and I think Pikmin is a great strategy game. You have to use your time well, know enemy weaknesses, and make decisions that can further your progress. Each day lasts about 15 minutes, so it's important that you know you will be able to get everything you want done. Pikmin left on the surface after the day ends die, so always make sure that they are with you or that you can get back to the Onions before the day ends.
After each day ends, you'll get to read a small log entry from Olimar and view the results from the day. The logs that Olimar writes are often amusing, and also can provide you with helpful information about the Pikmin and enemies. You get a detailed list of how many Pikmin died that day and if they died in battle or just because you left them behind. Getting this feedback and learning how to improve about it is super important.
There are 5 locations in Pikmin, each with their own unique setting. I won't talk much about The Impact Site and The Final Trial, though, since those are more like tutorials and final level respectively. After your first day, you head to The Forest of Hope. Here you discover Yellow Pikmin. It's also very important to make more Red Pikmin as you’re here, since they are probably the most useful of all the types in the game. I love The Forest of Hope, for all the different elements faced in it. Keep in mind you'll have to come back here and The Impact Site once you get Blue Pikmin, so knowing when to visit each location is a must. Once you land in a location, you can't go back, so try not to waste locations by landing in the wrong location! The Forest Navel is the next location. This one is rather annoying, but again, I love to hate it. Challenging areas are needed (but this isn't the MOST challenging one, that's next) for the game to be a good strategy game. Blue Pikmin are a must for the location, so be sure to make lots of them, especially since those annoying Wollywogs might destroy a bunch of them. Now the most challenging location is The Distant Spring. Basically, there is water everywhere, so make sure you have lots of Blues. Keep in mind; lots of optional parts are here, so try to get required ones first.
There are very few problems with the game, which make it a must buy. The game isn't for everyone, if you aren’t a fan of challenging strategy games, because this game requires lots of thinking. Sometimes the game can be frustrating when facing annoying enemies like Wollywogs, or when you make stupid mistakes. The only big problem with the game that I can think of is how annoying it is when Pikmin get stuck under bridges. It's so hard trying to climb up a bridge without having Pikmin go under, or fall off the side. Getting them all up can be tedious at times, so try to find the most efficient way back to the Onion (I can’t tell you how many times this has happened to me in the Forest Navel).
Pros: Challenging Game, on Wii and Gamecube, Pikmin types, Time management, unique settings, good strategy game
Cons: If you aren’t a fan of strategy games, annoying enemies like Wollywogs, getting Pikmin stuck under bridges
Overall rating: 9.5/10
Got an idea for a review? Send me a message on the forums!
Crocodile Style Reviews
|Dead Space 3|
|Platform(s)||PlayStation 3, XBox 360, Windows|
|Genres||Third-person shooter, |
|Platform(s)||PlayStation 3, XBox 360, Windows|
Crikey, game publishing is a cynical operation, isn't it? When they're not outright lying to the consumer, churning out an endless wave of generic sequels for full price, and desperately trying to convince everyone they're still relevant just because they mutated a new business trend to suit their old ways, they're denying them the right to trade in their shit games, and charging $5 in-game for a bloody ammo pack. At the very forefront of the tomato-throwing competition always seems to be Electronic Arts, to the point where I'm wondering if they get a rise out of it. I bring this up because they chundered up two big sci-fi shooter releases last month with Dead Space 3 and Crysis 3, and of course they've got to be fucking shooters less their core fans start forming minds of their own and pull the money vacuums out of their asses. Glass houses, I know.
For those not in the know, Dead Space is a series that's been held up by many people as a shining example of how to marry action gameplay with horror atmosphere, a very progressive view that may have been more beautiful had the horror been given any voice in the matter. The problem with the action horror formula is that horror games only truly work when the player feels alone, hopeless and in desperation, which just doesn't work when you've got enough firepower to make Rambo blush, but let it be known that my archaic sentiment that Dead Space is the most mediocre of mediocre in the industry is no longer, as I found it to be quite a solid action game on harder difficulties. And now we have Dead Space 3, which has pulled horror's legs off, wrapped it up in a carpet, and thrown it off a pier.
It's been a few years after the events of the second game, and we catch Isaac Clarke during one of his man-periods – reflected by his helmet now looking more pissed off than before – whereupon he gets dragged back into the quest to end the necromorph epidemic made all the worse by the crazed Unitologists – who are increasingly resembling a bad parody of Scientology – finally breaking down society and injecting copious amounts of batshit into the populace by way of non-specific alien mutation. You following this so far? Even in context the story isn't particularly interesting, and I'm still not too fond of the characterisation which never really gets past the big book of action game clichés. The religious nutjob with a slimy Austin Powers accent just seems a little desperate to me.
I say this because things have escalated into Michael Bay-esque drama now, the entire destruction of the whole universe being used as leverage to raise the stakes, which is the exact opposite of personalised fear. It doesn't help that there's now a co-op feature so one of your mates can give you a reassuring cuddle whenever things start to feel slightly tense. It's just weird to me, is all, especially given that the series has finally deviated from mangled up spaceship and placed most of the game on a frozen wasteland of a planet which could've opened up a whole new well of options, but instead we effectively just fight the same batch of enemies a hundred zillion bloody times. Mind that the core gameplay of hacking off enemy limbs instead of just randomly shooting at them until they stop moving is still fun, but it hasn't really evolved past that; hell, you want to know how many bosses there are in this game? Two, and without spoiling too much, the final boss is a fucking joke.
The two-weapon limit and universal ammo, coupled with some of the most goddamned sloppy cover-based shooting I've ever seen in a video game, gives me the feeling that personality was sacrificed to be more like every other major shooter on the market at the moment. Resource management seems to be simplified as well; new armour doesn't really mean anything anymore, and the broken monetary system has instead been replaced by a somewhat broken crafting system. Not to say I don't prefer the crafting system, it's certainly a hell of a lot more interesting than just spending the ludicrous amounts of cash that necromorphs always carried for no discernible reason, but it gets broken once you realise that the default weapons will get you through most of the game so you can just sell off all your extra parts for more ammo than should be possible to carry in that suit. The three scavenger bots you'll accumulate by the third quarter of the story doesn't help matters, adorable as those little things are.
But let's move away from one Ridley Scott rip-off into another with Crysis 3, EA's other stylised sci-fi shooter starring the remarkable faceless men wearing tire rubber for casual wear. So following the crusade against Korea in the first game, and the decimation of New York in the second, we now come back to New York to play as Prophet, who happens to be black so that's how you know shit's gotten real. Except New York is now overgrown and flooded, but they at least got that second part right, teehee. The aliens are planning a massive invasion against Earth that Prophet has been spending the behind-the-scenes of the whole series working towards combating, but no one seems to believe him until shit hits the fan because powerful alien warlords and super-soldier projects are fine, but full-scale extra-terrestrial invasions are just a little too farfetched for this world.
I think that's my problem with the series; they have this potentially amazing gameplay concept with the actually well-detailed and interesting Nano Suit, yet they seem to squander it in a generic military setting with a hefty dose of Alien for good measure, possibly in a bid by EA to progressively diminish any and all independent thought from its development studios. Evidence of this can be found in the form of no significant changes being made to the gameplay, still just being the same generic first-person shooting with a few alien weapons thrown in for good measure, and an upgrade system that adds absolutely fuck-all to the suit's functions given they've been reduced to just Armour and Cloak rather than the large well of functions it had in the first game. The greatest combat machine in the history of mankind, and its biggest enemy is software rot; I wonder how the engineers are going to explain that one to the commanding officers when the next extra-terrestrial sea creature invasion hits Earth.
Although they probably won't have to worry too much given how the squishy aliens are as physically durable as Samuel L. Jackson in Unbreakable, as it's almost impossible to get killed aside from clumsily falling off a cliff or stepping on a mine. Cloaking is as broken as ever, especially so now with the new bow weapon that offs most enemies in no more than two shots without turning the cloak off, and in case the stealth goes tits up, alien weapons spawn on the ground like fucking dandelions which makes most combat scenarios a complete breeze even at the worst of times; there are even levels that grant you invincibility and unlimited alien ammo for an extended duration of time, probably so they didn't have to waste time on petty things like game balance and valid challenge.
With so little innovation, a boring finale to an already unimpressive story, and a severely underweight single-player campaign running for no more than six hours at the most, Crysis 3 is just another exercise in phoning it in; I mean at least Dead Space 3 has a personality, dumb as it is. Perhaps this was so they could invest more resources into the multiplayer, but what sort of excuse is that? Why the fuck does every major release these days want me to socialise with other people? What if I don't want to assimilate into society and have friends, what if I'd rather be a social outcast who spends his happiest days throwing bits of plastic across the room and muttering nonsense to himself about power-ups and digital creatures with disproportioned heads?
Usually this is where I mention which of the two I prefer, but honestly, they're both quite dreary to deal with in their own ways. This must be what it's like to run the confessional. All this high-octane, attention deficient sensory overload is less symbolic of a tense, action-packed atmosphere and more a systematic decimation of all my higher motor functions, and I found it all just so exhausting by the end. File both under “for the hardcore fans only” and just wait for BioShock Infinite to come out, at least that game will have evil George Washington robots to shoot.
Well, they always say that it's good to be back. I really don't have much to talk about before the review, but I would to point out that anyone who supports indie games and likes fighting games should take a look at the Skullgirls IndieGoGo fundraiser that’s currently going on to fund new characters. It’s pretty interesting, to see that just one single character requires so much money and time, but that’s not the point. So, without more build-up, let's review Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance.
So, Metal Gear Rising, in case you haven't heard, is the newest game in the Metal Gear series. But this one's…different, to say the least. You see, instead of playing as a stealth agent like Solid Snake or his father Big Boss, you play as Raiden again. But, it isn't stealth, Metal Gear Solid 2-Raiden, either, but rather the Metal Gear Solid 4 Raiden, which, in case you haven't played the game, is a Cyborg Ninja, like Gray Fox. This means that instead of hiding from enemies, this time it's an action beat-'em up, and the game itself isn’t developed by Kojima Productions like always, but rather, it’s collaboration between Platinum Games of Bayonetta fame and KojiPro themselves. This involves Platinum Games taking care of everything related to the gameplay, while KojiPro takes care of the cutscenes and some of the history.
So, to start it off, I'll just say that if you expect any kind of story that takes itself seriously, you’ll probably leave disappointed. While there are some serious moments, they're way overshadowed by most of the “wow” moments, like jumping on rockets in order to slice a giant robot in half (that's just the first boss, in the prologue, so don't worry about spoilers), until the final boss battle just decides that it just doesn't care anymore and hits you with ridiculous, awesome nonsense.
To say a little about the story, it starts four years after Solid Snake destroyed AI Bigger Bad the Patriots in Metal Gear Solid 4, and he's probably dead, but Raiden has learned to use his fighting skills for good and is now in the contract of Maverick Security, a PMC that strives to keep peace in war-torn regions around the world. Well, the game starts with Raiden finishing a job on some African country when SHIT HAPPENS and he ends meeting Desperado Enforcement Inc., another PMC that wants to keep war going because it benefits business. Well, Raiden meets another Ninja named Sam and, short story, gets his eye and arm cut off. So, the game follows Raiden, in a new and improved body, getting revenge on Desperado while also trying to foil a typical evil plan. It's not as complex as other Metal Gear games, but it's interesting enough.
However, for the Metal Gear fan, there's still the Codec, and there's actually a good amount of optional conversations to be had, from information on the bosses, to explanations of how things work on the Metal Gear universe, to just useless information like Raiden and his token save contact talking about Mexican food. This is where the game's characters really shine, and it would be a waste to never listen to it.
So, onto the most important part of an action game: the gameplay. To put it bluntly, it's probably the closest to perfection I've seen in the genre since Devil May Cry 3. (Not Devil May Cry 4, because it has horrible level design, which is part of the gameplay) The levels never seem to drag on for too long, you don't have to go around finding a bunch of weird items with vague descriptions, the action is always varied, with quick stealth sections to calm you down, and there's no weird stuff like arcade shoot-'em-ups in the middle of the level.
You may have noticed that I said stealth sections up there; well, it's because even if the game may not be based around stealth, it's still a Metal Gear game, so you can also sneak your way around enemies, but this time in a more predatory way, hunting them down one by one. They're good, quick sections that serve their purpose of pacing the action so that it’s not just enemy wave after enemy wave, without overstaying their welcome. And, if you don’t like stealth, you can of course just get discovered and go all ninja on their asses.
And this is where I start talking about the combat. The combat is what you'd expect from gods of the genre like Platinum. Your sword (and other weapons you can unlock later) is perfectly responsive, quick, and fun to perform combos with. And in case you ever get lost, there's a full combo list accessible by pressing the Start button any time. The original KojiPro Metal Gear Solid: Rising was based around the concept that you could cut anything, so Platinum has gone and implemented that too in the form of Blade Mode, which is a time-limited gimmick that allows your sword to cut everything how you like it. This is where the other kind of gimmicky part of the game comes in: Zandatsu. You see, Raiden's cyborg body is kind of rushed, so it doesn't have natural healing capabilities like all other cyborg ninjas, so in order to recover health you have to cut with Blade Mode a certain part of the enemy and rip their spines out to recover health. You can also cut shit like glass or even cardboard boxes if you want. It's actually kind of fun, and you don't get tired of slashing shit however you like.
However, that isn't the best part about the system for me. Platinum has decided that, as a true ninja, you don't need a defense, but to always be on the offensive. So, instead of having a block button, you have to parry attacks in order to defend yourself. It ends up being incredibly satisfying, so in order to parry, you have to hit your own attack button and the direction of the incoming attack, so it truly feels like you're fighting fire with fire, so to speak. I've heard of other people having trouble with this mechanic (it isn't taught well, it's inconsistent), but at least on my end I've had no problems with it, and there's a certain boss early in the game that forces you to use it if you ever want to beat it, so it all comes down to STOP BUTTON MASHING AND PAY ATTENTION TO THE SCREEN. If this whole section seems like just a paid commercial for the game, keep in mind that I'm not getting paid for this, so it's genuine 100% fanboy bullshit, I really love the battle system for this, and it's what I expected to do since seeing Gray Fox killing like 10 guards in a row in the original Metal Gear Solid.
The last noteworthy aspects of the gameplay are the boss battles. And holy crap are they awesome. I've always been a fan of well-done mano-a-mano fights of you and your similar opponent (see: Vergil in Devil May Cry 3, Nelo Angelo in Devil May Cry, Jeanne in Bayonetta), so having all your boss fights be that way in this game is a godsend. All of them are against the Desperado elites, except for the one that I won't spoil, and they truly push your abilities to parry, cut with Blade Mode, and keep on the offensive to the limit. All of this is accompanied with probably one of the greatest inventions in the genre: a soundtrack that keeps adding more instruments to the music when you keep getting to certain phases of the fight, until you reach the final part and the vocal come in and oh my is it awesome. Instead of the normally calm Metal Gear Solid music, this time it’s a full on power metal soundtrack (because this is Metal Gear Rising), so it just serves to keep you pumped.
I could talk about the presentation, but honestly that's kind of the weak part of the game. The locals look really nice, but that's more because of the art style passed on from Metal Gear Solid 4 than anything, and honestly, it's for the better if that's the sacrifice you need to get a constant 60FPS. The music, like I said earlier, is awesome, but apart from that there's not a lot of interesting stuff to talk about.
But, not everything is perfect. There are some camera issues that seem really evident when the game throws like 40 enemies at you at a time. The game sometimes slows down while performing a cinematic part, but that is really rare. And, the most common complaint is that the main game takes about 5 hours to complete, which is really not an issue for me that is currently replaying it on all difficulties, but I can see how it can turn people off, especially ones that aren’t really fans of the genre. At least they’re planning to release from DLC to increase the playtime, so let’s see how that works.
In conclusion, this is probably the most unprofessional review I've ever written, since it's mostly a love letter to the match made in heaven of Platinum and Kojima Productions, but if that is what it takes for people to get this game and experience the magic for themselves, then so be it. Honestly, it's probably one, if not THE best game of the generation for me, and I would hope you experience this ride too, because it's one that you can't miss if you enjoy fun, over-the-top video games.
Hottest Reviews Around
|Publisher||Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment|
|Platform(s)||Wii U, 3DS, Windows (also available on Steam)|
Why, hello, fellow readers. After spending too much time watching Zero Punctuation, I've finally mustered the courage to apply for the Critic Corner! Now, I'll just cut to the chase immediately. This month, I'm reviewing the latest installment in the "spawn Cthulhu and destroy the world" series, Scribblenauts Unlimited!
My first impressions of this game were generally positive. I enjoyed playing Super, partly because you can play as Barack Obama and fight off hordes of zombies with a flaming chainsaw, or, for the Republicans, tossing him into the horde of zombies and let him die. I'm neither. It was still a mess when I played as him, though. After seeing the Object Editor in action, I made sure I was able to pick this game up, as this meant I can create all the people I hate and make them explode when they touch water.
I got this game with my Wii U, and, naturally, I played it before the bullshit bundle game or the generic Mario launch title, because in that situation, Scribblenauts has the priority by a longshot. And by "longshot", I mean really fucking big longshot.
The game tossed a rock at me in the form of a horribly attempted storyline. Honestly, the storyline was one of the few huge flaws in this game, particularly for being half-assed, like it was made at the last second to answer screaming fanboy's wild mass guesses. The other half was to shove a moral down our throats. Why did they bother with a moral in a game where you can be as cruel as you want to babies, like killing them with a knife or shooting them with a gun?!
Now, onto the gameplay. It's what you would expect from a Scribblenauts game - write stuff on the notepad, drop it into the scenery, cue clusterfuck. Except in this game, you have an object editor! I was disappointed when I couldn't import any Nintendo-related characters in there, because it would make it much easier to make Wario and such. Instead, I had to make objects out of generic objects. After saving whatever object you can make in the editor (and it probably will still look like shit no matter how hard you try), you can set up a gallery in Punctuation Plaza and share your objects with other people. Then, you see other people who magically make objects that don't look like shit, and then you cry.
The difficulty of the puzzles has reached a significant decline, somehow. They actually give you hints that give it away and make beeping sounds if you wait thirty seconds or so, as if to say "WAAAH WHY AREN'T YOU FIGURING OUT OUR PUZZLES FAST ENOUGH". Later puzzles like the ones in Super took me some time to actually figure out, but in this game, every time I was thinking "Hmm..." for more than a few seconds, the game pretty much screams at me.
There's a world map now, which is nothing more than clicking an area on the Game Pad. The areas are puns on things involving whatever literature/writing/grammar class you take, like "Capital City", "Punctuation Plaza", and "Paper Plains". There are some more clever ones, but I can't think of them off the top of my head. Each area has a bunch of beggars taking advantage of your magic notebook because they're too fat and lazy to go do it themselves. For example, one gardener claims she can't make the plant grow. Gee, I wonder what I have to do here? Let me ponder for a sec...
Oh yeah, water! Or, if you really want to stray from what the game's crying out from you to do, try some "fertilizer". Completing these bullshit "puzzles" will give you a shard, which counts nothing toward your game goal. Then, there are some puzzles that are designed like the prequels to this game that reward you with the Starites you're actually looking for.
A perk to this game is that you can now spawn iconic Nintendo characters. It's not just the protagonists of Super Mario and The Legend of Zelda (oh, and that Goron) that they threw in to please fans - you can spawn some neat stuff, like Navi and Shy Guys. I was pleased to hear Navi say "LISTEN" when I spawned her. You can also spawn a variety of other things, like the fucking Yoshi rainbow and Ganondorf. Sadly, other than basic colors for Yoshi, you cannot apply adjectives to any of them. I was really hoping for a Flaming Orange Shy Guy.
I would certainly recommend this game if you have the cash, but keep in mind it's not as good as Super Scribblenauts, due to the lack of a sandbox mode, Barack Obama being playable, and as many puzzles as Super. If you enjoyed the other two games, you will enjoy this one. Also, keep in mind that the 3DS version doesn't have the object editor, which sucks cocks.
|The 'Shroom: Hottest Reviews Around|
Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! Why'd You Steal Our Garbage?!
Pokémon X and Y First Impressions
The Basement Collection
Mario and Luigi: Dream Team
What Could Have Happened If...
Hello everyone! It's me Yoshi K with what could have happened! This month, I decided to use a question that fans of a certain 7 villains have been wondering about for nearly a decade.
What could have happened if... Bowser Jr. was not introduced?
Yep, I'm doing this. I'm pretty sure you know those certain 7 villains are the Koopalings.
Now, to start off let me get one thing straight. Now, don't get me wrong, I do kinda like the Koopalings, but The Koopalings were already dead before Super Mario Sunshine came out. If you don't believe me, take a look at some stats.
Introduction of Bowser Jr.: 2002
Last time the Koopalings had been seen before this: 1990
A 12-year gap. Pretty long I think. Let's also take a look at Super Mario 64, yes, I know this was before Bowser Jr., but tell me this, how could Nintendo have worked the Koopalings into the game? I don't know. But why is this true? You may ask. The Koopalings worked great in Super Mario Bros. 3 and ' ' Super Mario World, so why wouldn't they work in the 3D Mario games? It all comes down to one thing. Format.
Games like Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World have this format for worlds.
8 worlds, which is perfect for 7 Koopalings and Bowser, but what about Super Mario 64? It has 15 worlds, not including Bowser fights and secret levels. How could the Koopalings fit into that? Nintendo was probably asking themselves the same question, and came to one answer, they couldn't. So they made lots of different bosses in different worlds.
So now, back to our big question, let's use ' ' Super Mario Galaxy as an example. In this game, there are 3 Bowser fights and 3 Bowser Jr. fights. Since we're saying Bowser Jr. wouldn't exist, what would happen? 6 Bowser fights? Or would the game be changed completely to fit 7 Koopalings? I think the game is fine the way it is, I mean sure, you have to do the exact same thing in the 3 Bowser fights, but the Bowser Jr. fights actually have different bosses and different ways to defeat them. If we had the Koopalings in there, not only would we have to add at least an extra dome, the boss fights would either be like the Bowser Jr. fights (in which case what's the point), or the boss fights would be almost exactly the same thing. I can imagine right now, me playing Galaxy, controlling Mario, jumping on a Koopaling's head, 7 TIMES IN A ROW. BOR-ING.
Okay, this isn't Bowser Jr. vs. Koopalings. So let's get to the other possibility of 6 Bowser fights. We could make it so that it is like the Bowser Jr. fights (but wouldn't Bowser want to fight Mario himself?), or we could make it so there are 6 boss fights that are exactly the same, again, BOR-ING. Basically what would happen is New Super Mario Bros. tower fights (the same thing over and over again).
Although I can't say this wouldn't benefit a single game. New Super Mario Bros., we had 8 tower fights, and all were against Bowser Jr. The Koopalings might have actually made that better, because at least they're SUPPOSED to be different bosses. Then that would leave the question of the World 8 tower boss, without Bowser Jr... Ummmm, all the Koopalings together? I don't know...
To conclude, if Bowser Jr. wasn't around many of these games that we like, would completely change. For better? Maybe. For worse? More likely.
Answer: If Bowser Jr. wasn't around the 3D platformers would be changed drastically, and that still leaves the question of the World 8 tower boss...
G'day everyone, lovely to see you all again after my fantastic holiday. As everyone is likely well aware by this point, Sony recently held their annual press conference announcing their new PlayStation 4 console, which has left me mildly excited for the next generation but I'm maintaining caution as I always do, especially given Sony neglected to show us what the console even looks like. But what caught my notice was David Cage's presentation about the polygon count in his upcoming game Beyond: Two Souls, which once again displayed a severe lack of understanding in what it really takes to make a meaningful gameplay experience. He equated technological power and graphical quality to “emotion,” a word he seemed to believe was the word of the day, and it's an attitude that's still so pervasive among developers and even the community.
2K Games' president Christoph Hartmann said last year that games can't expand outside of action until we have photorealistic graphics, while Crytek member Mike Read stated the same year that once a console generation has maxed out its graphical possibilities, there is no longer anything left to be done with the consoles and the generation is over. But this very attitude is the reason that the triple-A industry continues to stagnate as badly as it is, with a grander interest in having the shiniest images rather than the best of gameplay, stories, or characterisation. To equate visuals with emotion is a sign that these developers don't truly understand how entertainment mediums manage to impact their audience so strongly, and even serve to fully disgrace and disrespect the importance of literature, a medium that for thousands of years has engaged readers through writing and characterisation alone.
Visual cues do form a very big part of human behaviour and social interaction, and it's important to remember that actions can speak far louder than words in any form of fiction, especially in an interactive one like video games. But you don't need a massive polygonal count and HD compatibility for that body language to carry actual weight and meaning to it; it's shallow to think that simply looking like a real human is the same as feeling like a real human, because then you're just creating a caricature that has all the conventional traits that create a character, but none of the feeling or depth to make it mean anything, and most people are able to see through it.
For comparison, Crysis 3 is a beautiful game visually, but aesthetically it's generic, uninteresting, and lacking any sort of depth outside its graphical quality; meanwhile, Mother 3 – a seven-year old GameBoy Advance game with SNES graphics – still, to this day, tugs at gamer's heart strings and renders them teary-eyed, because good writing and a strong focus on character and world building will always trump the most detailed of graphics. A game like Ace Attorney that only employs the simplest of character animations still manages to create a rich, varied array of characters – many you'll love, many you'll hate – without the need for hundreds upon hundreds of animation frames, while a cel-shaded game like The Walking Dead was able to deliver a more thrilling and personal experience through its characters and dialogue than a dull, heartless game like Medal of Honor: Warfighter despite the latter's superior graphical strength.
Which now brings me to another big problem that the over focus on shiny graphics has created; this confused attitude that equates photorealism with dreary, brown and grey misery, which has been the very cause of stagnation for much of the triple-A industry. Many big shooters are noted for their extremely limited colour palette, expansive wastelands with the same scenery, and lack of visual variety and intrigue that it's left so many of them looking and playing exactly the same. Not to mention that the amount of funding invested into HD graphics is so massive that it incentivises publishers to steer clear from new ideas and risks, since they have to ensure they can make a large profit as quickly as possible. And yet so few gamers would claim these games to be any sort of emotionally engaging.
You'll find more in-depth discussion and emotional responses from games like Thomas Was Alone, Bastion, and Journey, or older releases like Final Fantasy VI, EarthBound, and The Longest Journey, than you will from high-definition releases like Gears of War, Final Fantasy XIII, or David Cage's own Indigo Prophecy and Heavy Rain. The former games have been carefully crafted and designed in such a way that they represent something beyond their immediate appearances, something that resonates with the player in ways that a photorealistic facial expression alone just can't hope to match. The players can understand the feelings and essence of the game's world and the people populating it through gameplay interaction, writing, symbolism, and above all, the actual character interactions and behaviour, even with such simple visuals.
That's not to say that all games need to have a cartoon aesthetic to have good, impacting narratives, because that's just silly and would be cheating us out of a tremendous amount of amazing games. Metro 2033, L.A. Noire, Assassin's Creed II, Mass Effect, BioShock, and Half-Life 2 all employ detailed graphics that strive towards realism (albeit to varying degrees of stylisation) to compliment amazing stories and better present and articulate the game's world to the player, having found that balance between a realistic look and an amazing story. You'll find that these games (excepting L.A. Noire) are generally not the absolute high point of graphical power either, but they're still considered some of the most compelling narratives in the medium. And with the Walking Dead example before, it is entirely possible to craft realistic settings and character designs through more simplistic visual styles that have just had a bit more detail put into them.
To sum this all up, the constant endeavour towards having the greatest high-definition graphics is a problem in itself, but for developers to treat that endeavour as if it's the only factor to consider in the story and innovation departments is just shallow and is going to do a lot of long-term damage to the industry. It's not only distracting from all the variables that go into making your game affect the audience, but it also spits in the face the developers that came before and the ones still operating today that employ stylised cartoon aesthetics. By all means don't stop experimenting with what we can do with the technology we have; otherwise, that's just stagnation of a different kind, but remember that those graphical experiments alone are not going to be what sticks with the audience ten years down the track; after all, Deus Ex is hideous, but people are still playing and discussing it even thirteen years after its initial release. Just… keep your priorities straight before you start telling us that wrinkled faces on a television screen are what's going to bring us to tears, is all I'm saying. See you all next month.
Five years, that is the time between Mario Party 8 and Mario Party 9 releases. In five years lots of changes can happen, and effectively the difference between the two games is probably the most important in the Mario Party Series.
The main change is Mario Party 9 is the board system. The old formula, present since the first Mario Party, which consists to move on the board and buy Stars, has been completely removed. In Mario Party 9 everyone is in the same vehicle, the winner is the player who got the most Mini Stars. You collect them by passing them in the board and in the minigames. The dice block has also changed for the first time in the series, while the dice block number was 1-10 in Mario Party 8, and in the previous titles as well, the dice block is limited to 1-6 in Mario Party 9. Since everyone is on the same vehicle there is less liberty, each dice block result can affect you, whether you want it or not. Notably a bad thing can happen to you just because of bad luck. For example you can be the one who gets 10 Mini Ztars, or loses half of Mini Stars because of a Bob-omb, or a Boo, or lava. There are special dice block who limit the luck factor but sometimes you can do nothing if you are unlucky. While in Mario Party 8, there are not such punitive events, and because everyone is free to go where they want the luck factor is less important. Another thing is the minigames are less rewarding in Mario Party 9, you can at best get 5 Mini Stars in a minigame, and since you don't play many minigames in a board, winning all minigames doesn't guarantee you the win. Another thing is because of this new system, there is not a number of turns set, the game finishes when the vehicle has reached the end of the board. Because of this, the time played on the boards of Mario Party 9 is shorter, compared to a standard 15 turns game in Mario Party 8, which makes the luck factor even more decisive.
About the mini games, there was some change compared to Mario Party 8, first we see 2 vs 2 minigames have disappeared (unless we count the one in Extra Mode), the Battle minigames as well. But Mario Party 9 features Bowser Jr minigames who are cooperative two player's minigames. And notably, Boss minigames. These are totally new to the formula; there are cooperative Free-for-All minigames which consist of working together to defeat the Boss. In the previous Free-for-All minigames, it is generally the first player who is rewarded and the others got nothing. But in Mario Party 9, everyone gets a reward in Free-for-All, which makes the ranking more important. Another change is the Free-for-All minigames can be played with two or three players, and the 1-vs-Rivals minigames can be turned to 1-vs-2 minigames.
These were the major change between the two games, the modes are quite similar.
In conclusion, despite Mario Party 9 being the next game after Mario Party 8, the changes are the most important in the series. If you loved the board mechanics in the previous Mario Party games, you will probably don't like the new one in Mario Party 9. About the minigames the difference is less major, you will probably like Mario Party 9 minigames if you like Mario Party series minigames.
If I had to say which I prefer, I would say Mario Party 9, because I like its minigames, I found the Boss minigames very interesting. I also find the new board mechanic has potential; Nintendo can make something more balanced with this in the next game.
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