The 'Shroom:Issue LXXIV/Critic Corner
Loads of weapons this month! I think we only have two sections not about gun, sword, or fire fights this time around, but I guess that's just the way things go when… something or… rather… So alright, few things to mention: Dippy's Matilda is dropping to bi-monthly because my studies have become somewhat overwhelming, and I need to lighten the load a bit.
Other than that, we still have these sections available to be filled in:
AS WELL AS additional openings for any of the sections you see in this issue today. Again, I'm not fussy about having several versions of the same section.
Anyway, I've been piled with loads of homework and assignments, so instead of winding this one on, I am pissing off and studying about how paracetamol and aspirin will kill you. Have a nice day!
April Section of the Month
Whoa was not expecting this one. I never win these anymore unless I'm the only person writing for that issue, or am only going up against Senor Caiman (because honestly, crocodiles would kick caiman's asses any day). But yeah, I won last month's section of the month for Dippy's Matilda with 8 votes in total, which concerned further issues the gaming industry continues to have with women protagonists.
And finally, in third place, we have What Could Have Happened If… written by Yoshi K (talk), who spoke about a hypothetical scenario illustrating if SEGA had won the console race against Nintendo, rather than the reverse reality.
Good job to all of my writers, I love you all to pieces. Now enjoy this issue.
Load up your guns, and bring your friends, for YoshiMonsta's gritty review.
Non-Mario Game Reviews
Dippy defies physics and takes to the skies in BioShock Infinite.
Hey guys! It's YoshiMonsta with the next entertainment article in The 'Shroom. Today we'll be reviewing a video called Mario Warfare, made by beatdownboogie, and I'll warn you, it includes a little graphic content. Though, I will have it underneath the review, check it out if you want guys!
The story in this film really impressed me. The actors made it very clear what was going on, and not one bit of it really escaped me. From when the Koopa army invaded to the end where Mario and Luigi were joining the military, I, and all of the other viewers (hopefully) understood it all.
Well, Mario Warfare is one of the videos that is kind of hard to comment on, since there is not much wrong with it at all. I'll start with the compliments. As a start, the scenery is great, and it is obvious they put a lot of effort into it. The costumes are great, and they give a great personification of the character before they even talk. The acting is much better than many other Mario-themed videos I have seen before. You can get things about the characters without even having known them that long, thanks to the actions of other characters.
Now, as always, I must get on to the criticism. When the Shy Guy Soldier cut the Toad Soldier's throat it was pretty unrealistic. Also, the lack of ammo in that bothered me; how Toad could do all that without even reloading once with his dual Uzis (I'll call them that since I do not really know guns). Peach may have had some acting problems when she was sad because she had to leave her father and toad to die, she seemed like she may have been smiling. When Toad attacks a group of enemies, he can kill them all before even one can pull the triggers. When Toad turned the pistol on the Shy Guy Soldier, his Uzis seemed to disappear. When Bullet Bill (yeah that's his name) headed toad, he just slid backwards, unrealistically. Also when Toad and Bullet Bill were staring off one could have easily shot the other. And if they were trying to prove who the fastest shot is, Bullet Bill cheated! He pulled up his gun first! The pipe animation kinda bothered me, but it wasn't bad.
Well, despite all of this this was a great video; check it out below and like it if you want to see #3 (yes there is a 2). And if you would like to see me review a video, please send a message to my page YoshiMonsta.
NSM's Review Corner
After waiting for over a year, I had finally gotten my hands on Fire Emblem: Awakening in February. I've been a huge fan of the series ever since The Sacred Stones came out in the 3DS Ambassador Program, and I know lots of members on the forums share my love for the series. Let's dive into my review of Fire Emblem: Awakening.
Now I figured I'd explain what the Fire Emblem series is about before we talk specifically about Awakening. Fire Emblem is a turn-based strategy game developed by Intelligent Systems. Fire Emblem games are set in medieval times. You play on a map with a small army of characters, ranging from nights, to paladins, to wyvern riders. Each map has a goal, usually to defeat the enemy units or the boss. The game is divided into chapters that further advance the story and gameplay. Don't think that these games are too easy! While easy or normal modes are available, if one of your units dies, they die for good. Of course, I sometimes freak out and shut off the system so the game doesn't save and they don't die, but then I have to start the chapter over. Each move in Fire Emblem is critical! Now I am not telling you a lot, simply because I want to get onto the review of Awakening, but to get more details on the gameplay, there are plenty of videos on YouTube and other sites.
But if you are looking to get into the Fire Emblem series, Awakening is a perfect game to start with. Awakening's story doesn’t continue from any other games, so no previous knowledge is needed to play the game. Additionally, there are lots of features that help new players, like loads of tutorials, and a “Casual” option where players will return if they die in battle.
The story is just awesome. Fire Emblem is one of those series where you get devoured into the story like a good book or movie. I won't talk about it too much though, since I think it's better if you experience it yourself, but a story hasn't been this good since the release of Skyward Sword for the Wii in 2011. The game stars Chrom, the prince of a nation known as Ylisse. The nation next to Ylisse, Plegia, calls for war against Ylisse, which cause Chrom and a group known as “The Shepherds” to stop Plegia. Not only that, but you get to join the whole story as well! At the beginning of the game, your avatar wakes up in a field, and claims to have amnesia. Your avatar is greeted by Chrom, his sister Lissa, and Frederick, one of The Shepherd's best soldiers. Even after the wars with Plegia, there is a whole new storyline that sort of continues off of that and I'm sure the story will keep you up all night. If you think the whole war thing sounds a bit cliché or something, trust me, I'm leaving lots of details out so you can experience it yourself.
One of my favorite things about the Fire Emblem series is the characters. You get so attached to certain characters in this game it's crazy! You can experience different character's personalities through the support option. In the support option you can gain relationships with other characters by fighting side by side, and you can even get married! Whether you like Virion and his hilarious “magnificence” or Tharja and her dark side, there will definitely be a character for you. Each character comes with a unique personality and class. I hope you pick up Fire Emblem: Awakening to experience the characters for yourself.
The new features in Fire Emblem: Awakening are awesome. One of these new features allows you to pair up units in the battlefield. By pairing two units up to fight together you can often get bonuses in hit points or whatever. Two units paired together do REALLY well if they are married, since they get more bonuses them people who aren't. The higher relationship the two units have, the more beneficial they will be when paired together. Like I said earlier, relationships can be built in the support. More support options will open if the two units are fighting together on the battlefield. Supports are a crucial part of the game because they eventually lead to unit's getting married, and having kids.
When two units reach the S support, they will get married. Married couples do awesome when paired together on the battlefield, so always make sure your supports are high. But the best part is, couples can have a child! You can recruit their child in an extra chapter. Children are awesome since they tend to be some of the best units in the game. The children can then marry other children, and even become more awesome. Whether you pair up units to create the best possible child, or just to get a certain hair color, this feature is one of the best things in the game. It also allows for a lot of replay value, since you can try different couples out and such.
Awakening also has some DLC that's great fun if you're willing to spend the money. Sadly, I didn't so I can't really say anything, but it seems a lot of the forum members have really enjoyed the DLC. You can also enjoy lots of free content available through SpotPass. I will say though, that Fire Emblem: Awakening is definitely my favorite Fire Emblem game, so I hope you guys consider picking it up if you haven't already.
Pros: DLC (if you are willing to pay), Marriage and Children, Awesome support system, pairing units up, awesome characters, unique classes, Super awesome story, great for players new to the series
Crocodile Style Reviews
Well well well, it sure has been a fair while, hasn't it, Mr. Levine? For a moment there you'd almost think BioShock Infinite was doomed to the bottomless pit of endless delays, kept breathing only by the life support of the almighty hype machine, but here it finally is in all its carefully sculpted glory. For me, it's in the shape of a Songbird statue because I bought the collector's edition because I'm a massive raving fanboy, and I fear removing it from the box less icky dust and pathogens threaten the sanctity of my waste of money. Oh God, what have I become; you did this to me, Levine! Bollocks to you and your beautiful cranial grooves!
So yeah, BioShock Infinite has been a game very high on my wishlist for a fair while now; an exception to my critical standpoint of never getting my hopes up for a game less it crushes them into pellets and feeds them to the sinister rabbits of the corporate prairie. So after its long journey climbing out of the pit, was it worth the wait? Yeah, I reckon so… what? It's a good game, even a great one, but something about it just failed to get me as riled up as all the anticipation did. I think I have a new way to evaluate relative game quality; length of time before release times consistency of hype, divided by trustworthiness of development studio (if even applicable), equals shit quotient. It's not an exact science, I'll admit, but it should do for any future hype factories to cool their furnaces every now and then.
OK I'm stalling; BioShock Infinite! Taking place in 1912, we follow one Booker DeWitt, who in stark contrast to the protagonist of the first BioShock has a voice and appearance, latter of which you'd be forgiven for forgetting due to him seeming to be a pair of floating hands as far as the eye can see, but who am I to question modern American science, right? Knee deep in debt to an unseen organisation, he is sent to the city of Columbia to retrieve the lead supporting character Elizabeth in exchange for not having to do an honest day's work for once in his life. Except Columbia floats in the clouds, it's run by nationalistic white religious zealots led primarily by one Zachary Comstock who wishes the best for the “sinners” below via endless streams of fire and smoke, and Elizabeth is basically a witch, so all in all kind of a raw deal when you think about it.
Infinite seems to function as half-shooter, half-tourist attraction; you don't fire a single bullet until about twenty minutes in even if you're trying to play it fast, as the first impressions of the game seems to be about showing off the scenery and culture of Columbia. But honestly why wouldn't you want to spend that time taking in the intelligent, informed cultural beliefs held by such a perfectly reasonable, peace-loving, cosmopolitan society? The game seems to be approaching America's glory days from the left side of the history books, which may prove to be quite the jimmy-rustler for conservative gamers especially when a poster of John Wilkes Booth portrayed as an angel shooting a demonic Abraham Lincoln that's seen plastered in the office of a racist institution is one of the more benign insults. Not that I have much of a problem with it, being Australian and thus apathetic to everything Americans do, but I figured I'd mention that before anyone with a Filipino slave boy considers indulging in the latest in video game patriotism.
The shooter half itself is a whole different kettle of fish, by which I mean it's quite a ride, in many ways superior to the first BioShock although it does do the two-weapon limit thing I find so cumbersome in modern shooters. The game does make an attempt to compensate for this by providing heaps of different weapons to use, all of which are just sitting down in the streets readily available for casual use because this is traditionalist America we're talking about, but I much prefer having the choice of armoury at my beck and call. It does add to the tension, though, when you've brought a shotgun and machine gun to a fireball launcher contest and you need to run for the hills less you get your stupid hair-do singed off. Oh yeah, there are guns that shoot fireballs in this game, put that on the list of pros Infinite has over the fifty-seventh bloody Call of Duty clone.
Aside from the guns, the series continues its trend of offering an array of superpowers to use in combat, although this time instead of using more syringes than a backhouse disco club, all DeWitt requires for activating his crimes against nature is copious ingestion of ammonia! This has always been one of the best parts of the BioShock games, as being a competent shooter is all well and good but there's always something missing from my lead-overdose if I can't throw bees at people or trap them in a whirlpool tentacle. You can also find articles of clothing along the way that all have different buffs and debuffs much in the same way Team Fortress 2 does, albeit with less wallet emptying, although I never could figure out how to access the “maybe” pile whenever I decided not to bother equipping them, but that could probably just be blamed on homework deadlines forcing me to overlook some details. Although the necessary problem with these kinds of varied power-ups is that you're bound to find a choice few that just work for you and stick to those throughout the entire game, which was particularly true for me concerning the crow and water ones, which is perfectly reasonable because fuck yeah, murders of crows.
Another major improvement the combat has over the first BioShock is no more fucking stockpiles of healing items. The excess supply of health kits and EVE Hypos was the biggest detriment the series had concerning genuine challenge and difficulty curve, and while I'd hesitate to call Infinite the new Battletoads of first-person shooters, it's definitely a welcome change of pace having to actually play smart to avoid having your vital organs plastered to the clouds. Aiding that adequate game balance is that Infinite also doesn't make a hassle out of Elizabeth, who is the best kind of escort for not confusing oncoming bullets with airborne cupcakes (perhaps because enemies can't seem to harm her), for actively searching out resources and weapons for you in dire times of need, and being capable of employing her aforementioned witch powers to create a new range of tactical options during combat. See, Lizzie's thing is opening up dimensional tears that conveniently all seem to house assortments of weapons, cover, overhanging crane hooks, or medical supplies, and it can come in tremendously handy when the enemies try to hurl founding father robots your way and you have a readily available turret or rocket launcher all neatly tucked away in the airbourne closet to Narnia.
I quite like that the game takes the time to just relax and allow you to take in the atmosphere of Columbia and its people, as thin as it may be given its altitude, hardy har haaarrr. While other action games would have you knee-deep in same-y action at all times less they start giving the player some time to think for themselves and realise they're not having nearly as much fun as the loud noises suggest they're having, BioShock Infinite gives the player time to reflect on their performance in the fire-fights and distinguish exactly what made them special, and perhaps what they could do better next time. This feeds into the strong focus on character interaction this game establishes, with the relationship between Booker and Elizabeth being the front and centre of the game's intrigue. Which is particularly useful because aside from a fairly decent lead protagonist in Mr. DeWitt (especially towards the end), Elizabeth is the true star of this game as a fantastic character of her own accord, absolutely stealing the show any time she so much as makes a facial gesture, and a character arch with so much strength and an ending with such bitter sweetness that it's just impossible not to appreciate her adversity. Which I know isn't funny, but fuck off, I don't need to make a joke for every honest analysis.
But where I feel the game lets itself down is in the overarching story component, which is upsetting because that should be the strongest force this game has going for it. Goes without saying there are spoilers here on out, so either gear up or get lost. It's everything I typically like in a video game story; detailed in a rich, fascinating world with developed characters I actually care about, presented through the player's own interaction rather than cutscene exposition, and yet the more the story progressed the more I twitched my eyes and felt like screaming “Can someone please tell me what the fuck is going on now?” When the finite details of what should be a central aspect of the overarching plot are delegated to a collection of fetch quest items that you aren't likely to completely collect through a normal playthrough, I feel I'm well within my right to call bullshit on the narrative approach. It doesn't help that the game is built strongly around the many-universes theory that's alright in theoretical discussion but when applied to a dramatic narrative becomes more incomprehensibly jumbled up than the metaphor I had originally planned for this sentence.
Even the villains tend to be quite comical, which may be a consequence of the particular socio-political demographic this game is intended to piledrive into the floor, but crazy, overly screamy religious zealot who thinks everyone but him and his followers are irredeemably evil is a bit of a step down from hyper-calculated, restrained male caricature of Ayn Rand who only wishes to lord over a capitalist, libertarian utopia separated from the evils of welfare and love that plague the rest of the world. Although I guess that may have just been a lucky shot for Mr. Levine, since even the first game had its fair share of unsubtle Batman villains, and at least Infinite doesn't have that fucking awful last quarter of the game that felt like a washed up circus clown staying for dinner long after the party has finished and the alcohol has worn off.
But at the end of it all, do I recommend BioShock Infinite? Absolutely! It's fun, creative, insanely engaging, built around fascinating, likeable characters, and above all currently remains the greatest game of 2013 I've had the pleasure of touching so far. You don't even have to have played the first one to know what's going on, although don't feel too bad if you can't grasp that even with the first game under your belt because I sure as hell didn't and I spent the entire first paragraph droning about how I adore Mr. Levine's wonderful joy bits... I mean this series. I'd still definitely give the story thumbs up for being far better than most big shooters in the market; it just may prove far too dense and vague for the uninitiated to penetrate, but hey at least the shooting is fun and the superpowers are cool, and really, that's all you can ask for from a shooter. Well, that and a lemon meringue, but can't win them all, I suppose.
Hottest Reviews Around
Hello everybody, it's Pyro. Welcome back to my incredibly unfunny reviews, stealing images from MCD since May 11th.
This month, we're reviewing VVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVV-fuck, just VVVVVV. I ran out of new games to review, so I decided to review this nice little indie platformer that MCD coincidentally did for Should Have Been last issue.
VVVVVV is a puzzle platformer, and is about this blue...thing named Captain Viridian and his crew getting stuck in Dimension I Don't Fucking Care How Many V's There Are, aka "Dimension VVVVVV". Their ship gets wedged into rock, and everyone except one gets randomly teleported somewhere. Viridian must find all his crewmates and get out of the dimension.
The main mechanic is gravity flipping. You flip yourself with any button on the keyboard, practically. There's no jump button or any jazz like that - just tedious gravity flipping. You use this to dodge traffic signs and spikes, and to advance in the game. The mechanic is very simple, and is used in creative ways - in one part, rooms wrap around in directions and you have to flip through the two room boundaries to get out. I have no idea if I worded that right, though.
There are many "levels", which are colored areas with a specific gimmick and a crew member to rescue. For example, the Warp Zone has wrapping levels and warp tokens, and the Laboratory has lines that auto-swap your gravity when touched. There are conveyor belts and autoscrolling rooms, too. Other than the levels, the game has an open-ish world that lets you explore around and find the levels.
Plus, there are little shiny balls called trinkets that you can collect to access a secret lab. Some of them are difficult to get (for fans, "Veni Vidi Vici" might be your berserk button), and some are pretty easy to get. They really don't have any other purpose besides adding replay value and unlocking a achievement showcase and a minigame.
The one OH FUCK BIG problem with this game is that it's extremely short. Hence why this review is short - there's not that much to talk about after you've gotten down the main story. The campaign is condensed to a relatively small map, and even after that the two intermissions and The Final Level are outside of the map. There are "Time Travel" challenges, along with Flip Mode (flips the game vertically) and No Death Mode (take a wild guess), which I've heard is cock-pulling hard, but I never bothered to try it out.
Finally, there's a level editor! Yes, but don't go rushing to your 3DS just yet - the 3DS version lacks the editor itself, but has many preloaded DLCs with maps, unlike the PC version, where the map in the menu just says "NO SIGNAL", like the intermissions and The Final Level. However, it's never fun to be stuck with only a few DLC packs. The level editor is very easy to use, and even the scripting is ridiculously easy once you know the commands. I've made some DLC myself, but it's unfinished and has no scripted events outside of "make the gravity lines disappear!" puzzles and music changes.
Overall, VVVVVV is a very fun game, but its lack of lots of non-user generated content makes you get bored easily. Get the PC version if you plan on buying it - it's less expensive and has the level editor. Also,
What Could Have Happened If...
Paper Mario: Sticker Star was on the Wii U rather than the 3DS?
Ah yes, let's take a look at the worst Paper Mario game to date. (not that it's bad, I just liked the other 3 more)
I mean sure, this game was the way for handheld gamers to get the Paper Mario experience, but let's get real. Can a handheld device really copy the experience of one of (in my opinion) the greatest video game series of all time, when all of the previously launched titles were on a console?! The answer is...
Now I'll rant about all the things that were wrong with Sticker Star:
1. What's up with these levels?
I have to admit, I never liked the fact of an RPG using platformer style levels. I mean, it was ok in SPM because the game was half-platformer, but why Sticker Star?
Of these, half could be fixed by sending it to the Wii U and it's updated memory and better overall quality design. A Wii U version of Paper Mario is probably going to come out eventually, but I really wish Sticker Star was on the Wii U.
If Sticker Star had been placed on the console I might not have gotten too lazy to play it after I had only made it to World 2 (Then again I stopped playing SPM at World 3). Honestly there are more things that the Wii U could bring than a simple 3DS, in conclusion…
Answer: It would have been a much better game