My relationship with the Mario franchise has been a rocky one. Early games like Super Mario Bros 1-3, Super Mario World, and Super Mario 64 turned out to be some of the most troublesome games I’ve yet to own, with the latter two taking literally YEARS to beat, while the original trio has yet to be conquered and likely never will be. I have also found myself to be rather indifferent to the New Super Mario Bros games on the Wii and Wii U. I have a feeling my lukewarm attitude towards these games stemmed from the fact that I had been hurt by the famous mustachioed plumber just a few times too many. Continue reading Mario, I Forgive You
It is probably safe to say that The Legend of Zelda series is one of the most beloved in video game history. With a history of 30 years and counting, it is only natural, then, that such a series would need to change, either to keep up with improving technology or to prevent itself from becoming stale. For these reasons, the series has indeed undergone many changes in its long history, with varying levels of success.
Ocarina of Time was revolutionary for the series just as Super Mario 64 was for the Super Mario Bros. franchise, for the Nintendo 64 characterized the grand change from the 2D games of the Super Nintendo era to brilliant, albeit rather polygonal, 3D. With the GameCube, we started seeing larger worlds with Wind Waker’s Great Sea and Twilight Princess’s expanded version of Hyrule. Twilight Princess also remains, to my knowledge, the only T-rated game in the franchise (probably because of Thelma’s…upper body), as this was apparently the series’ attempt to become darker and more adult. Skyward Sword for the Wii tried to mix things up further by placing some of the game’s challenges outside the dungeons and incorporating advanced motion controls. Continue reading Breath of the Wild: A Review
What many gamers often point out as being a problem is not having enough time to play as much as they want, and it made me wonder, when we have limited time, what motivates us to spend that time playing games when we could be doing something else? We have various reasons why we might buy a game, but once you’ve spent your hard-earned money on it, what causes you to spend hours playing them when time is often even more limited than our money is? For me, my favorite kinds of games involve good stories and characters, and I can spend countless hours playing them because I want to experience the entire story and see what happens to the characters. But, that doesn’t cover all the genres out there. What about games that have no plot, or at the very least, where the plot is not the focus?
Well, in addition to games with good stories, I do enjoy platformers and other such genres, because I like the satisfaction it brings me to get 100%, story or not. And yet, I recently bought two games on the Wii U that largely don’t really fit either category and which I think act as a good illustration in what might motivate someone to play and what might not. Continue reading What Motivates You to Play?
I had trouble getting into the first Donkey Kong Country Returns on the Wii, but with the release of Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, I decided to give the series one, final chance, and I take it all back. Retro Studios has done a wonderful job bringing Donkey Kong back, and the music is just one of the many areas they have succeeded. So below, I have listed my top five songs from the newest Donkey Kong Country on the Wii U. Continue reading Top Songs from DKC: Tropical Freeze
As you may very well be aware of, I have complained a good deal about the fairly recent Donkey Kong Country Returns on the Wii. It’s way too hard, I feel silly shaking the controller around (though, I do with all Wii games, so that’s nothing new), and it lacks the feel and the charm of the original Super Nintendo games. Due to all this unhappiness I felt towards the game, I had my doubts about getting the sequel on the Wii U, Tropical Freeze, but I had some money to spare and decided to give it a chance. And I am now forced to eat my words.
Now, I don’t really need to get into tons of detail about this game. It’s a simple concept, as it’s a platformer. We know what those are. And many of us have played Donkey Kong. It’s a platformer involving lots of apes and a monkey (Diddy is the only monkey I know of). And so I’d just like to focus this post on what this game does so right and why I finally believe Retro Studios has done a commendable job bringing back a series from 20 years ago that I used to adore. I will always have a special place in my heart for the original games on the SNES and will always feel they are far better, but any gamer that has been playing for more than a few years knows how strong nostalgia can be. And I accept that I can’t always compare games to those I loved many years ago. Continue reading The Duck Apologizes to Retro Studios
I get stressed very easily. You have no idea how much a tough battle freaks me out or the mere thought that I might be unable to progress through a game, causing me to ponder with unease all the fun I might be missing out on if I’m never able to overcome the challenges set before me. I know these are just games. They are for fun, and thus, there is no pressure to complete them. There are no global consequences as a result of our inability to traverse a series of tricky obstacles or pummel a monster into submission, but that knowledge doesn’t seem to help. And yet, what would seem like quite a contradiction is the fact that I seem to like stressful games.
Or something like that. Continue reading Fruit Has Never Before Been This Exciting
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
Quit a while back, I heard rumors from various Youtube videos about the next “Super Smash Bros.”. There was apparently a “leaked” title for the game and new playable characters. While some of this, if not all, is false, it is indeed true that Nintendo is working on another “SSB” for the Wii U, so I thought I’d write about what I think should be in the next game. (Some of my suggestions are more serious than others.)
First of all, the most important part. The list of characters that should be in the next game. Plus characters I’m suggesting just because. The top character I want in the game would be Ghirahim, one of the main villains from “The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword”. Because he’s awesome. He’s a master swordsman. He’s skilled in magic. And even when he’s unarmed, he kicks my butt (not literally, that would’ve been strange). And he’s a fun character (not to mention, I just know he would have great taunts). He’s crazy and flamboyant and just plain weird, and I think he would make a really fun playable character for the next game. (And he would add that his “stunning features” are another reason he should be in the next game. Not sure if that’s what Nintendo’s looking for, though.)
I also want King K. Rool from “Donkey Kong”, a fat, banana-loving crocodile that can apparently throw his crown like a boomerang and make ridiculously huge cannonballs fall from the sky (which should’ve destroyed his ship, but anyway). And in “DKC2”, he had a blunderbuss. Woo. I’ve wanted this guy in “SSB” forever. He almost made it into “Brawl”, I heard, but they chose King Dedede instead. Okay, so now that Dedede’s already in “SSB”, let K. Rool in now. Then, I’ll use him to beat the snot out of Dedede. Not that I dislike Dedede, but I like K. Rool better. And we have “Mario” and “Zelda” villains, why not a “Donkey Kong” villain? Why not, Nintendo? And the reptile population is grossly underrepresented in this game. Seriously. (And Solid Snake doesn’t count. He’s a human.)
And now for some less serious suggestions. Also from “Donkey Kong”, I would like to see Dixie Kong. She was always my favorite good character in the series. She’s adorable, can use her long ponytail to fly like a helicopter, and chews bubble gum. All great qualities. Plus, she hasn’t been awesome since 1995 or 1996. Make Dixie awesome again! She deserves it.
I also kind of want Shadow from the “Sonic the Hedgehog” series. I don’t think they ever should’ve included non-Nintendo characters, but since they did, and they included Sonic, they should include Shadow. (And seriously, give Sonic some actual attacks. Ooh, look at me, I’m fast and can jump with that spring thing. Yeah, we’re all impressed.) Shadow is awesome (I really need to stop using that word), and I think he’s much cooler than Sonic, even though the two are pretty similar. Heck, just replace Sonic with Shadow.
And maybe Knuckles, also from “Sonic the Hedgehog”, would be good, too. Because Knuckles is cool. He can punch and stuff. And glide. I don’t know why an echidna (not to be confused with an enchilada; have I used that joke before?) can glide, but it makes him nifty. Sonic can’t glide. He can just run fast and jump with that spring thing.
And when it comes to characters I don’t want, please. Please. Please make Jigglypuff go away. Please. I’m happy Dr. Mario is gone, but make Jigglypuff go away forever. She is the worst character in the world and no one likes her and she’s weak and pointless and I just don’t want to have to look at her anymore. What have I ever done to you, Nintendo! I’m sorry! I’m sorry!
And I also hate Mr. Game. He’s just a simple, 2D, cartoony person silhouette. I know I like to use him to attack people with a pan of hot sausages (don’t we all?), but that’s not enough to make me like him. I never will. I refuse to like him. I cross my arms and just plain refuse.
And now for some random suggestions. They need to do something to make Fox, Falco, and Wolf not identical. Or just get rid of two. They’re the same darn thing! And stop making it possible to see Captain Falcon’s nipples through his clothes! The trauma! Also, make Midna (from “The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess”) an assist trophy. Don’t know what she’d do. But, she’s cute. Isn’t that reason enough? And since I see lots of people on Youtube seem to like Groose (from “The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword”), they should make him an assist trophy, as well. He has the Groosenator, after all. And most of all, they must have something that was like Subspace Emissary from “Brawl”. That made me a very happy piece of poultry.
Well, those are all my suggestions. Hopefully no one is cross at me, especially any Sonic fans out there. (But, all he can do is run fast and jump with that spring thing!) I’m sure Nintendo will ignore most, if not all, of my pretty wonderful suggestions, but whatever. As long as Ghirahim is a playable character, I will be satisfied. If not, Nintendo better watch out. I’ll mail my gassy cat to them, and she’ll stink up everything (she is truly vile sometimes). You’ve been warned. Nintendo.
On a side note, Carl was kind enough to have me do a guest post on his blog. Thanks very much! How exciting. If you want to see it, it is here, and while you’re at it, check out the rest of his fine blog.
Super Duck Brothers…and Sisters