Okay, so we’re two-thirds of the way through the 30 days’ worth of video game posts. And I still haven’t found a more eloquent way of describing that. Anyway, we’ve got another “what’s your favorite something-or-other” topic to discuss, my favorite game genre. As usual, I find this to be a pretty difficult question indeed because I have a wide variety of favorite games spanning several different genres. Continue reading Day 20: Favorite Video Game Genre
No matter how many times Mario’s adventures are hashed and rehashed, games that prominently feature that famous plumber, his princess, and that evil dinosaur we call Bowser, remain fresh, fun, and playable dozens of times over. Mario games are level-driven games — you’ve got to make your way through stages or levels in a series of worlds in order to reach the final battle with Bowser. And only a few games, like Paper Mario and Super Mario RPG, have deviated from the platformer tradition started by Super Mario Bros. Despite that fact the games usually contain worlds of similar themes, each is unique in presentation and design. Even so, I will never cheer upon traversing a snowy/icy world because Mario is already slippery enough, no matter how many penguin suits he owns. I will never get excited for those pre-Bowser, fire worlds, as I will never have enough patience with lava and fireballs. So when it comes to my favorite Mario levels, there will be nary an ice storm or fire waterfall in site. But there will be something “big.” Curious? Read on!
Big Island (Level 4): Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES)
You’re going to find a recurring theme in my list — I like oversized Mario things. I really can’t explain why, but I’m almost certain that the seed for this quirk was planted upon first playing around in Big Island in Super Mario Bros. 3. So like the moniker says, everything on Big Island, is …well big. The koopas, the goombas, the piranha plants, heck, even the clouds and backdrops are larger than life. I simply find it highly enjoyable to be a little Mario running around a land of giants, and being able to squash those giants as easily as anything!
Video by YouTube user MegamanNG
Yoshi’s Island (Level 1): Super Mario World (SNES)
Last week I wrote a post for UWG on the importance of any given game’s first mission or level or quest, and in it I mentioned how most Mario games have great lead-in levels. Yoshi’s Island in Super Mario World is a perfect example of this. Not only does this level contain a plethora of Yoshies (my favorite Mario character), but it’s a fun place to be generally. The individual worlds aren’t extremely difficult to traverse and there’s plenty to stomp on and collect. Plus, it introduces some of the best Mario musical theme renditions available.
Video by YouTube user bpblu
Tiny-Huge Island (Level 13): Super Mario 64 (N64)
Following in my preference for all-large-things-Mario is Tiny-Huge Island from Super Mario 64. But as much fun as it is to take on gargantuan enemies, this level is especially wonderful because it can be played in two different ways, with or without the giants. And it’s not just a matter of choosing to play one way or the other, you must play the level both ways, often switching between the tiny and huge, in order to get all the stars. Tiny-Huge Island occurs somewhat late in the game, and after repeatedly going through static level after static level, the notion of working through a level that changes, if only through the size of the enemies, is refreshing and welcome.
Video by YouTube user Nintendo64Movies
The “Invincible” Tubba Blubba (Level 3): Paper Mario (N64)
I hold the two Paper Mario games I’ve played in pretty high regard as I enjoy not only the turn-based style of combat and the games’ stories, but I simply adore the graphics. It looks like the characters were all colored in and cut out of a coloring book — so cute! The “Invincible” Tubba Blubba level sticks out in my mind because it contains friendly boos. Little, ghostly boos have been haunting and taunting Mario for years, but in Paper Mario, Mario has to help save their town from the clutches of the ghost-eating Tubba Blubba. One ghost even helps you along the way! I love the role reversal, as it was something so in contrast to the traditional enemies in Mario games.
Video by YouTube user luigifan64d
Soda Jungle (Level 5): New Super Mario Bros. U (Wii U)
Did you think I wasn’t going to end with yet another ode to the oversized?? I recently completed New Super Mario Bros. U and I think it’s the best interpretation going of Mario’s original Princess-saving story. The Soda Jungle is a perilous place with acidic seas and other things to avoid, but it’s also got one level with huge enemies and one level with an enormous wiggler that made me want to laugh and cry at the same time. It’s also a level with lots of variety, spanning from above ground to underground challenges. But by and large, that introduction to Giant Brick Blocks, Grand Goombas, and Gargantuan Koopa Troopas really made my day; and I love going back to that level simply because it brings me joy to do so.
Video by YouTube user At the Buzzer
Today’s 30 day video game post is number seven, my favorite video game couple (which is perfect for Valentine’s Day, no?). Now I am not normally the type that is into love stories, as I have mentioned in previous posts, but video games are an exception, probably for two reasons. One, because I love them. And two, because never have I found a video game that focused mainly on the love story more than anything else. There aren’t any romance video games, as far as I can tell, though there are certainly books and movies of the romance genre, which is far too upsetting to me, as I can only stand it in small doses and only when it isn’t too…icky.
And so, despite this normally being a topic that repels me, I was able to think it over with no gagging whatsoever. Yay. And several couples came to mind, Cloud and Aerith from “FFVII”, Yuna and Tidus from “FFX” (and even Vincent and Lucrecia from “FFVII”, which is not a favorite, but it came to mind when I realized all three of these couples ended tragically). I even thought of Kafei and Anju from “The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask”, a couple that will always have a special place in my heart simply because I had to do so much darn work in that game to make it work out in the end. But, no, those are not my favorite couples. Why did I even bother listing them in the first place? I don’t know. What’s it to you? Ahem, my favorite game couple…contains spoilers for “Super Paper Mario”, so read at your own risk.
Yes, my favorite couple is not one of those more well-known pairings from famous “Final Fantasy” games (alliteration), but from a “Mario” game. A “Paper Mario” game, but still. This couple is one which remains secret until later in the game. Oh, we know this couple exists, as we get little snippets of dialogue whenever we complete a chapter, but the people involved in this particular love story are not known to us at first. One of them is injured, while the other nurses them back to health. One of them is from the Tribe of Darkness and is shocked to find this fact does not bother the other. And they meet with opposition from a father that doesn’t approve of the union. It’s really quite typical, really, but it kept my attention because of the mystery surrounding it. Who were these people? Who was this Blumiere and Timpani? And how does it relate to the game?
Eventually we find that Blumiere now goes by the name of Count Bleck, this game’s main antagonist, who was not always evil like we see now. We know his heart aches for this Timpani, whoever she is, and despite the fact that this fiend is trying to destroy all dimensions with the Void, you can’t help but feel a bit of pity for him. This Timpani was lost to him when his father banished her to wander the space between dimensions due to him not wanting his son to marry someone of another race from theirs, and though Blumiere looked for her, he never found her, and his anguish caused him to create the Void in an attempt to destroy all worlds, worlds that are too terrible to be allowed to exist, if something like that could happen. A bit rash, I must admit, but his story is still a tragic one, nonetheless.
Well, we do end up finding out the fate of his beloved, and she turns out to have been with you all along, though unrecognizable from her previous form. Mario’s sidekick, Tippi, turns out to be the lost Timpani. Once an ordinary woman, she was found by Merlon, near death after her wandering between dimensions, and the only way he could save her was to turn her into a Pixl, though this also caused her to lose her memory of her past. Her memory does finally return to her towards the end of the game, however, and she and Count Bleck are reunited, at which time he has a change of heart. This is not enough to stop the Void, however, as someone else still wishes to see all worlds destroyed, and after a nice, epic final boss battle (necessary to a proper love story, wouldn’t you say?), Tippi and the Count find there is only one way to fully stop the Void, which was created by the Chaos Heart when Count Bleck forced Bowser and Peach to marry at the beginning of the game. This solution (a rather corny one, but hey, we’ve been collecting Pure Hearts the whole game through, so I guess it’s unavoidable at this point), in so many words, is true love, basically. The former Timpani and Blumiere marry, at which point the Void is destroyed (I rhymed), but the couple cease to exist.
And so Count Bleck has redeemed himself, as Tippi and he sacrificed themselves to stop the Void (he really shouldn’t have created it in the first place, though). Things are both sad and triumphant, as the two seem to have been wiped from existence, but at the same time, all worlds are safe from the Void again. However, we find things to not be so sad, after all, as we then get a short scene with the silhouettes of the Count and a certain woman in the distance, on a grassy hill in a beautiful place, where they stay for a short time before they walk over the hill and are lost to sight. So it seems that, things did finally work out for Blumiere and Timpani in the end, after all.
So it may not be the best love story out there or the best couple, really. But, I still enjoyed playing this game and wondering who these two people were. It was the most interesting part of the game for me, as I wanted to know so badly who they were and what would happen to them next. And how shocked I was to find this couple was the main villain and one of the main protagonists! So this couple turned out to be my favorite, both due to the mystery of this particular story and the two people involved in it, the sweet Tippi and the charming Count Bleck (if you can get over his attempts to kill everyone, that is). This is a love story I can handle.
Favorite Duck Couple, Couple of Ducks
“Super Paper Mario” has some good music, and while I started to lose the love I once had for this game my second time through, listening to the music when I was preparing for this post caused my love to return, as it brought back the feelings I had when I first played the game. Why not take a listen to the delightful songs?
10. “Gloam Valley” is a strange song that I have mixed feelings about. This song plays in a swamp or something, and the music really doesn’t fit. And is very bizarre. And much too thumpy for my tastes, causing me to have to turn the volume down whenever I played in this area. Nevertheless and ironically, I still can’t help but have fun listening to this strange song, and so it still received the coveted spot of #10.
9. “Floro Sapien Caverns” plays in the place of the same name, where the plant people called the Floro Sapiens live. It’s a pretty song, and it sounds…adventure-y.
8. “Memory” plays during the flashback scenes that tell the story (through dialogue only) of two people we don’t know the identities of until later in the game. Their story is one of love gone tragic, as it always seems to do, and each time as their story progresses, the music is slightly different, and this is just the first version. This song repeats a lot, but I like that it’s slow and peaceful. It almost sounds like it’s being played on a phonograph to me.
7. “Sammer’s Kingdom” is home to the 100 Sammer Guys and this delightful song. I think this song is quite lovely and relaxing.
6. “Fort Francis” is the castle of a super geeky dude named Francis (who wears a frannypack…). This song has a different sound to it, and I find it to be a rather fun song to listen to.
5. “The Underwhere” is where people go when their games end, and it is supposed to be like the Underworld from Greek and Roman mythology, complete with a three-headed Chain Chomp (instead of Cerberus), the River Twygz (instead of Styx), Charold the ferryman (instead of Charon), and Jaydes (instead of Hades). I like this song a lot. It’s just…good, and it’s a great song for such a creepy place. Yeah. (It takes about a minute to get started.)
4. “In the Darkness” is a rather strange song that has always stuck with me. It only plays a few times in the game, and I’ve always liked it because of all the feelings I think it conveys. A feeling of being lost and wandering. Mystery and loneliness. I just love songs that really add to the experience of the game, and this one certainly does. (I wrote a more in-depth post on this on “United We Game“.)
3. “Merlee’s Mansion” plays in, well, the mansion…that Merlee lives in. This song gives me the feeling of sneaking around a big mansion, and then it takes a more sinister tone shortly into it.
2. This may spoil the ending of the game, so watch out. “The Ultimate Show” is another great song that plays during the final boss battle. I like this song quite a bit, and it is a bit different for a final boss battle. There’s another version of this that I like, as well, but the title may spoil the ending of the game, through mere association with the first song, so don’t click the link if you don’t want to risk spoiler-y-ness….
1. “Count Bleck’s Plan” is my favorite song by far. It is the best version of Count Bleck’s theme and plays in the scenes with him at the end of every chapter. It’s quite diabolical sounding. I also included the link to the theme for “Castle Bleck”, which is another version of the song I like. This song has a style that makes it sound like it’s from a much older game, but it’s a good song and goes well with the Count’s dark castle. Some parts of this one sound sad, too.
I recently decided to replay “Super Paper Mario”, the third game in the “Paper Mario” series. This game took quite a departure from the games that came before it by making major changes to the gameplay, including the ability to flip between 2D and 3D, having four playable characters, and real-time battles unlike the turn-based ones of the originals. This game appeared to be trying to be more like the old “Super Mario Bros.” (hence the “super” in the title, though I do wonder if we’ll ever have an “Ultra Mario Bros.”), while including the RPG elements of the “Paper Mario” series, such as an interesting story and characters and the ability to level-up whenever you get enough points (as opposed to experience). While I found this game to be a rather good time, I have to admit that there were some disappointing aspects to it, some of which I didn’t really notice until my second playthrough.
First of all, I’d just like to say that this is by no means a bad game. It is quite a good game, but I couldn’t help but be disappointed. I love the “Paper Mario” series. These games have such a charming style of graphics, with interesting stories and delightful characters. And they always are tons of fun. And so, when I bought this game, so excited to play yet another “Paper Mario” game, I wasn’t happy to find this game is not the “Paper Mario” experience. Sure, the characters are still paper, but that’s not enough to make it a “Paper Mario” game. If we had a “Metroid” game with a paper-thin Samus, would it be “Paper Mario”? No, negative, and a sequence of head shaking. Obviously, this game isn’t that drastic of a departure from the series, but it differs from the previous games in several important areas.
First and possibly foremost, the battle system has changed. I remember the first time I simply jumped on a Goomba, and I wondered, um, is that it? Several battles later, it was confirmed. Yeah, that was it. This game has real-time fighting, not unlike the “Super Mario Bros.” of old, with the addition of Pixl sidekicks to help you, like one that lets you toss things and another that acts like a hammer. And while I prefer real-time fighting to turn-based, “Paper Mario” games always had turn-based battles and a rather fun version of it, too. And so while this did really make the battles more fun and fast-paced, it really took away the feel that this was a “Paper Mario” game. Maybe I’m just a complainer when I whine that the battle system in this game is more fun, but it’s the fact that this makes the game not feel like it’s from its respective series that saddens me.
Plus, it makes the game much simpler, this form of fighting. This game is just too easy, which is disappointing when the other two games were a challenge. The game is also too short and has too little to do. You can beat the game in 20 hours (I did both times), which is good for the average game, but not for an RPG. Then, when you beat it, there is nearly nothing to do. You can beat the 100 Sammer Guys, which is boring and doesn’t get you an award that makes it worth it (I didn’t prevail in this place, as I got to the 80’s or so before I got a Game Over; I simply looked on the Internet to find what you get). There are also two Pit of 100 Trials, which is fun, but again, not all that worth it. Oh, and you can look for useless treasures and do cooking, when you’d be better off buying items that are more useful than what you can cook.
There are also some minor things. The game is not one big world to explore, but a hub world, with various doors leading to other locations. And I don’t like the new artwork style. They did a good job for some things, particularly the villain, Count Bleck, and his minions, but… I hate those people in Flipside. They did nothing to me, but I hate them and all their stupid, straight lines. Look at me and my straight lines! Boo (not the ghosts, though), hiss, thumbs down!
Ahem. This game does have some good changes, though. For example, I liked that you can eventually play as four characters. Besides the obvious, Mario, we have Peach, who can use her parasol to float and to avoid taking damage, Bowser, who can breathe fire, and Luigi, who can jump high and even damage enemies from below. And Mario is the only one that can flip between the usual 2D of the game to 3D. Now, some people say the 3D landscapes are not as interesting as the 2D, and I agree. But, it is an interesting idea I’ve never seen before, and it has some useful applications. Flipping to 3D lets you see items hidden behind objects. It lets you see paths that are perpendicular to the main ones that would otherwise be invisible in 2D. It also helps you to get hints for puzzles, such as hints that appear on the side of objects or objects that look completely different in 3D. My only problem is it’s a pain in the butt, as you can only flip for a limited time before you take damage, and it makes the game way too easy early on, as every time there is an obstacle that may give the game some challenge, you flip and stroll right on past it. I was tempted not to flip just to make the game harder.
And I have one more thing that is a mix of good and bad. The story and the characters. First off, I really like the characters in this game. Besides the good characters we all like, I liked the villains of this game, Count Bleck himself most of all, and I liked his minions to varying degrees, as well. I can’t say the same for whoever the villains of “The Thousand-Year Door” were. I think one was Grodus, but who was the other? I don’t remember. I also really liked the story my first time through. Seeing as I haven’t told you about it yet, well, the rather dapper and rather strange Count Bleck forces Princess Peach and Bowser to marry. This unholy union of good and evil (not to mention, human and turtle, so I’m not sure which is worse) brings about the creation of the Chaos Heart, just as it was foretold in the Dark Prognosticus, a book that contains the events of the future. The Chaos Heart then creates the Void, a hole in the fabric of all dimensions, that will eventually swallow every world. The story involves love and betrayal and, um, brainwashing, and…well, it’s good.
At least, it was. The first time I played this game, the story was so interesting. I had rarely ever been so interested in a story ever. Throughout the game, there are also these memory scenes that involve dialogue only, a love story between two people that we don’t know who they are until much later in the game. And while I usually do not like romance stuff, icky poo, yuck, I couldn’t help but be so enthralled by this game that I played it constantly in an effort to get through it and find out the identities of these two people. I needed to know who they were! Needed! I loved this game my first time through, loved it so very much with a love normally reserved for brownie edges, as I wanted to know so badly what would happen. And then, something happened. Wait, I just used that word in the previous sentence. Let me try again… And then, something occurred!
I played the game a second time. And it just was not the same experience. At all. Of course, the first time through a game is always the best because everything is new, and you don’t know what will happen in the story. But, for this game, once you find out who those two people in the memory scenes turn out to be… Once you know the plot twists that originally made it so suspenseful… Once you know all these things, it really just becomes a rather simple, rather unexciting story. Like I said, I know this is always the case, but it just was worse in this game. Not to say the story is uninspired. It’s not. It’s still good. It’s just that some games still have complex stories even when you know what happens. This one does not. Not really. Count Bleck creates the Void. His minions try to stop you from stopping the Void. This happens to someone. This person does that. And it’s over, and they all live happily ever after until the next time Peach is kidnapped. There. I’m sorry I spoiled the story for you, but there it is.
So, maybe I’m not making any sense, but this game, for me, was just not the same the second time through. To be honest, I didn’t even care quite as much for the characters I loved my first time through, either, not even Count Bleck, who is just not as delightful and charming as I remember (seriously, he’s a villain who’s actually nice to his minions and talks in third-person, what’s not to like, and yet, I’m not feeling the same affection for him that I once did). And this loss in love for the game saddens me. I loved this game’s characters and story so very much, and to have it become such a flat experience (I didn’t even intend that as a pun, but why not, you may consider it as such, if you would like), it disappoints me. I mean, really, now that I play the game over and know the story, nothing much happens throughout. Not as much as I remember, at least. (Having all worlds at risk of total destruction isn’t as stressful as one would think.) So with the game being so short and simple and the story no longer being anything to get excited and do a jig over, the replay value has gone way down. This was honestly my favorite “Paper Mario” until I played it over, and that is not a good thing.
And so, in short, this is a fun game. It is a good game, overall. And it is quite possible that many of my complaints stem from the simple fact that, after loving the game so much my first time through, I probably had such high standards this time that the game couldn’t hope to measure up. But, few can deny that it really is only “Paper Mario” in terms of style and the fact that it has more of a plot than a “Super Mario Bros.” game. This game could have really been something. If the story had been spiffed up a bit, and the game was more like a regular “Paper Mario”, with an open world and turn-based battle system, and if the game was longer and harder, it really could have been great. And that is what is most disappointing of all. (I wish someday they’d make a normal “Paper Mario” game again. I don’t have high hopes for “Paper Mario: Sticker Star”. Guess which word is bothering me most of all.)
Super Duck Mario
Just recently, I have teamed up with several other bloggers (which I secretly have been calling the Q-Force after Captain Qwark’s team in “Ratchet and Clank: Up Your Arsenal”, well, it’s not a secret now) for the purposes of
world domination getting more views to our blogs. Those other bloggers are the authors of My Two Caps, Recollections of Play, and Planet Zombo (the last of which is not doing this post, though, as it doesn’t fit in with their blog). We have decided one method of making our blogs just that more awesome would be for each of us to write some posts on one single topic. So that’s what I’ll do. Are you ready?
Our first topic is which character would we most like to hang out with. The characters we decided to pick from are the well-known characters from the “Mario” series, Mario, Princess Peach, and Luigi. I am going with the “Paper Mario” versions of the characters myself because I feel those games show the characters’ personalities a lot more. And they’re adorable.
So ahem, time for my choice. The character I’d most like to spend my time with would be Princess Peach, but like I said, the “Paper Mario” version. Whichever princess you’re talking about, Peach is a sweet and kind person that I’d enjoy being friends with. And she even manages to be a princess without being a spoiled brat, which earns her a thumbs up AND a gold star. But, I like the “Paper Mario” version best, for several reasons.
Paper Peach, while still being the victim of frequent kidnappings, is a stronger person in the “Paper Mario” series. No longer does she sit back and wait for someone to save her. In this series, she manages to find ways to make herself useful and actually assist Mario, whether it was from Bowser’s flying castle in the sky or from the X-Naut Fortress. She repeatedly managed to escape from her room and investigate in “Paper Mario”, and in “The Thousand-Year Door”, she was able to talk to the computer TEC and even disguise herself as an X-Naut. In “Super Paper Mario”, she actually escaped from Count Bleck’s castle and didn’t need to be rescued. In this game, she helped Mario with his adventures. She may often be a damsel in distress, but in her very adorable and very thin paper form, she can be much more helpful than many other distressed damsels.
And there’s one more very important reason why I like Peach. The players once had her make a cake in “Paper Mario”. While that ended up being a much harder task than it should have been, I still like a character that makes cake. I like cake. It’s good. We would both make cakes and have great times.
Now as for why I didn’t choose Mario or Luigi, Mario was the first to get marked off my list. While I like him in “Paper Mario” a lot more than in the regular games (once again, paper people are adorable), Mario has always, well, creeped me out. I’m not sure exactly what it is. It could be his bizarre, stumpy proportions. It could be his terrible fashion sense. Overalls, and red and blue? What were you thinking, Mario? It could also be some deep-seated hatred stemming from how difficult the old games were and how stupid Mario slides when he lands after a jump, resulting in much of the crying and yelling I directed at the old games. I know that’s not the same version of Mario, and I shouldn’t blame poor paper Mario for the crimes of his non-paper version, but I can’t help it. I’ve been wronged by that other Mario too many times to trust this one.
And then there’s the issue of Mario’s mushroom addiction. It’s no secret that the somewhat plump plumber has been addicted to mushrooms for a couple decades now, an issue that even appears in the “Paper Mario” series. He is so desperate for the stuff, he’ll even eat those useless dried ‘shrooms! He’s out of control! Do you see the amount of ‘shrooms he consumes (rhyme) in each of his games? No one loves mushrooms that much unless something more shady is going on. That’s why everything has eyes, even the clouds and other parts of the scenery. You’re hallucinating, Mario! Admit it! Just admit you have a problem. You have people that care about you. Not me, but Peach and Luigi. Yoshi, too. Get help. And I’m not going to help you find any more coins. You’ll just spend them on more ‘shrooms.
As for Luigi, I don’t mind him as much as Mario, but I still couldn’t choose him. Nothing against him, really. Not really, really. But, he seriously needs to grow a spine and stop being a wimp. And step out from the shadow of his younger brother. Seriously, Luigi, Mario is shorter than you, how’d you even end up in Mario’s shadow in the first place? Oh, it’s a figure of speech. But, honestly, do something more with your life, Luigi. And stop wearing the same clothes as your brother! It’s creepy. Maybe it was cute when you were children or something, but you’re a grown man, for crying out loud! Once Luigi gets some semblance of bravery or self-confidence, I’ll consider being his buddy. But, for now, Peach and I are going to eat some cake.
And now that you’ve read my thoughts on the subject, why not check out the other two posts. Cary, like I, chose Princess Peach, focusing on the Peach we see in “Super Mario Bros. 2”, whose ability to float using her dress showed her appreciation for properly functioning knees (it does make sense, read the post). Peach is a sensible lady like that. My Two Caps chose our good, old hero, Mario, who may not have as much concern for his knees, but is still someone who gets to go on all kinds of adventures and never complains about always having to save people (*cough* Peach *cough*) time after time. Mario certainly has the more interesting life of the three. As for Luigi, well, no one chose him. Sorry, Luigi. If it makes you feel any better, I did think “Luigi’s Mansion” was fun.
The Duck Who is Eating Treats With Princess Peach