Monday, April 30, 2012

New Review Tomorrow!

I'm back from my sister's wedding! It was a hectic weekend, though, so I didn't get any time to work on reviews or articles. But never fear! I'm working on the next review as we speak (or type and read).

There will be a new review up tomorrow, so keep checking in.


Thursday, April 26, 2012

No New Reviews

Just a heads up for you guys. I'm going out of town this weekend for my sister's wedding, so I won't be able to put up any new reviews. Earliest I can update is Sunday, but don't expect anything new until Monday.

Just wanted to let you know that I'm not abandoning you again! Sorry about this. I'll return to a normal schedule after this weekend.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Super Mario Advance 2: Super Mario World Review

Sorry this review is late guys. It was a lot harder to write a review for Super Mario World than I thought it would be.

Another day, another Mario game. Back in 1991 (1990 for Japan and 1992 for Europe and Australia), gamers across North America were graced with the release of Super Mario World. It was an instant hit, capturing the minds and hearts of gamers of all ages with its challenging yet fun levels and vibrant, colorful graphics. People still to this day say that Super Mario World is among the best of the best, not just among Mario games, but among games in general. Because of the SNES game's popularity, Nintendo saw fit to port it to the Gameboy Advance in 2001.

Just like like in the original, Super Mario Advance 2: Super Mario World starts off with Princess Toadstool being kidnapped by Bowser and the Koopalings while Mario and Luigi are vacationing in Dinosaur Land. After beginning their search for their Princess, Mario and Luigi stumble upon a dinosaur named Yoshi, who tells the brothers that his friends have also been kidnapped by Bowser and the Koopalings. It's then up to the Mario brothers to save the princess and Yoshi's friends by traveling all around Dinosaur Land and defeating Bowser and the Koopalings.

There's not much to say about the plot other than that it's a simple story, but Mario's never been known for complex storylines that leave the player wanting more. It was good enough in 1991, and it's good enough now. The thing that makes Super Mario games so popular in the first place isn't the story, it's the gameplay, which in this case, is near perfect.

Super Mario Advance 2: Super Mario World is a 2D sidescrolling platformer, just like all the other 2D Super Mario games. The controls are nice and tight, and the physics are perfect. You'll never feel like you missed a jump or died because of shoddy controls of floaty physics. The levels are designed excellently, and provide a good challenge later in the game. You'll die over and over again until your platforming skills improve enough to satisfy the game.

Super Mario World is fully of tricky level designs.

As you play through the levels, you'll fall in love with the music of the game. Because Super Mario World introduced so many iconic Mario tunes, the port obviously excels in the music department. The only problem is, the GBA can't recreate the music so it's the same quality as the original SNES title. It is a little disappointing, especially if you've listened to or played Super Mario World's original release. You can't fault the game too much for the music though, as it is a technical issue the Gameboy Advance has, and not the game itself.

Along with the music being downgraded, the graphics are a bit of a let down too. The original Super Mario World had vibrant and colorful graphics, helping engross the players in the experience. The GBA port, however, has washed out colors that make the game end up looking bland compared to the SNES game. They're fine if you haven't seen the original in awhile, but when comparing the two, you can't help but to feel a little disappointed.

Even with those flaws, there are a few aspects of Super Mario Advance 2, and the original, that allow it to stand out from the other Mario games. The first is obviously Yoshi. The SNES classic was the first Mario game to ever feature the green dinosaur, and he was granted abilities that he's never seen since. In Mario's adventure around Dinosaur Land, Yoshi is able to spit fireballs and fly, opening up numerous possibilities from a gameplay perspective. It's extremely fun to grab Yoshi and experiment with what he can and can't do.

Super Mario World was Yoshi's debut appearance.

The other major part of the SNES classic that stands out is the fact that there are numerous secrets. Most of the levels in the game have more than one exit, encouraging the player to explore and experiment. Once you find the secret exit hidden in the level, you open up a new path on the overworld map. It's not a guessing game as to which levels have secrets and which levels don't either. On the overworld, levels are either yellow or red circles. Yellow circles represent levels with only one exit, while red circles represent levels with two exits.

Because of the countless secrets Super Mario World holds, it has great replayability. You'll find yourself re-entering levels after you've beaten them, trying to figure out where the second exit is. Even when you're finished finding all the secret exits, you unlock a special world with even more levels for you to play through. Casual gamers and perfectionists alike will find themselves playing Mario's outing on Dinosaur Island for hours on end trying to figure out if they've discovered everything in the game.

In addition to the secret exits, each level includes some Dragon Coins. While they start out easy to find and collect, they're devilishly hidden and rather difficult to collect once you get toward the end of the game. It's just one more aspect of Super Mario World that will keep gamers playing.

To add to the replayability, the Gameboy Advance port also includes a remake of the original arcade game Mario Bros. It's a fun game on the side to play with a friend, but you won't find yourself playing it over the main game. However, it is the only multiplayer in the game, so if you want to play with a friend, Mario Bros. is your only option.

A remake of the original Mario Bros. is included.

Concluding Thoughts
In the end, Super Mario Advance 2: Super Mario World is an extraordinary game. The original Super Mario World was near perfect, and the GBA port is almost identical. There are a few issues holding it back from being as amazing as the original though, like the downgraded sound and music, washed out graphics, and lack of multiplayer. Despite those flaws, Super Mario Advance 2: Super Mario World should be in everyone's GBA collection, even if you aren't a fan of platformers. It would be a shame for anyone to miss out on such a fantastic game.

Final Score

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Mainly Reviews

From now on, Nintenviews will mainly be doing reviews of games on Nintendo systems. Every now and then, I will post an article discussing the latest Nintendo news, mainly when there's big news to discuss. There will probably be a lot around E3, for example. But don't count on seeing those types of articles. Most of the updates from now on will be various reviews.


Monday, April 23, 2012

Super Paper Mario Review

When the original Paper Mario was released on the Nintendo 64, gamers instantly fell in love with the unique aesthetic and quirky humor. Once fans delved into the game, they were greeted by a turn based RPG with all the charm of a Mario game. Paper Mario's sequel, Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, expanded upon everything the original game did, making it an instant favorite among fans of the series. When the third game in the series, Super Paper Mario, was released in 2007 for the Nintendo Wii, it was a dramatic change in direction for the series. The paper thin Mario and his friends were no longer gallivanting around 3D worlds and fighting in turn based battles. Instead, they were now in a mainly 2D sidescrolling platformer with RPG elements. Was this a change for the better, or did it dampen the experience?

In this third Paper Mario, the story starts off like any other Mario game. You guessed it, Princess Peach is kidnapped. But this time, there's a twist. Bowser and Luigi are also kidnapped along with the princess by a man named Count Bleck. He forces Peach and Bowser to wed, causing the birth of the Chaos Heart, which Count Bleck then uses to open a void which would destroy all worlds if given enough time. Instead of being kidnapped by the count, Mario is taken to a town called Flipside by a Pixl, fairy like creatures who act as sidekicks throughout the game, named Tippi. There, we're introduced to a character named Merlon. Merlon explains explains the current situation to Mario, and he tells him that to stop the count, Mario must travel to multiple dimensions and collect the eight Pure Hearts. Thus begins Mario's journey again.

The story is surprisingly complex for a Mario game, full of twists and turns that you'll discover throughout the game. It's nothing ground breaking in the RPG genre, but it is exceptional for Mario standards. The game is littered with memorable characters you won't soon forget, and the writing is just as humorous and quirky as you would expect from a Paper Mario game. The only issue is that there is a lot of text to read, and it does get a little tiring reading text box after text box everytime there's a cutscene, but it is made enjoyable by the good writing.

Visually, Super Paper Mario is gorgeous to look at. Every character in the game is a flat paper cut out, similar to the previous Paper Mario games. The colors are nice and vibrant, and each world you go to has a unique look. While it's nothing the Gamecube couldn't have done, it is a timeless style that looked good then, looks good now, and will look good five years from now.

Super Paper Mario's art style is the same one we've all
come to love.

Much like the other games in the series, Super Paper Mario is divided up into chapters and has a hub world that you return to after each chapter. This time, the hub world Flipside. It is a rather large hub world with tons of nooks and crannies to explore, but it does get a little tedious later on in the game. You'll find yourself backtracking over and over again each time you return to Flipside, and it starts to wear on you after the fourth or fifth time. However, it is a nice large area for you to explore and kill time with between chapters.

When you enter the first chapter, you'll soon discover that Super Paper Mario's gameplay has more in common with classic Mario platformers than the previous Paper Mario games. The game is mainly a 2D sidescroller, and your main form of attack is jumping on enemies. Because it's mainly a 2D platformer, you hold the Wii remote on its side like a classic NES controller. The game still retains classic RPG elements though, like level ups, stats, and items.

The biggest change in the game, though, is the ability to flip between 2D and 3D planes. There are tons of secrets and puzzles that use the new mechanic, and you'll find yourself flipping back and forth just to make sure you didn't miss any pipes or secret passages. However, you can't stay in the 3D realm forever. When you flip into 3D, a meter appears and starts counting down. If you don't flip back to 2D before the meter runs out, the game will take away a hit point before filling back up again. Flipping back to 2D causes the meter to slowly recharge, allowing you to have some more time exploring in 3D.

The mechanic is interesting and certainly unique, but it does have its flaws. When you're exploring a world in 2D, it seems full of life and style, but the instant you flip to 3D, you're greeted by mostly barren wastelands with only a few enemies running around to entertain you. Also, due to the fact that enemies are flat, 2D shapes, it's hard to accurately judge where they are in relation to you while in 3D. You'll find yourself taking some damage because you landed right next to an enemy instead of on top of them.

Mario can flip between 2D and 3D in this Wii RPG.

The ability to flip between 2D and 3D isn't the only ability you have in the game though. As you go through the game, you gain other abilities through the form of Pixls. Each Pixl offers one ability, and each is useful in their own way. For example, Tippi gives you ability to find hidden objects, while Thoreau allows you to pick up items and throw them.

Along with gaining pixls, you also find familiar characters who join your party, namely Princess Peach and Bowser. Each character has their own pros and cons, along with some ability that no one else can do. While Peach can use her umbrella to float over long distances and defend against some attacks, Bowser can use his fire breath to damage enemies Mario and Peach can't.

As you level up and gain abilities, the game gets progressively more difficult. You probably won't ever die though, as most enemies never really do that much damage to you. If you ever do get low on health, there are healing items scattered throughout each chapter, and when you level up, your HP is automatically refilled. You are limited to only holding ten items at a time, though, which at least prevents you from stocking up on countless healing items.

The soundtrack in Super Paper Mario is excellent, with a mixture of remixed classic tunes and catchy new songs. Each song seems to fit the moment perfectly while still retaining the classic Paper Mario style we've all grown to love. Only a few tracks are truly memorable though, with most of the other songs fading from memory as soon as you turn the Wii off. One can't fault them though, as they are excellent and truly fitting as you're playing through the game.

When you finish the main quest, which takes between fifteen and twenty hours, there are numerous side-quests to keep you playing. There are character cards scattered throughout each chapter, along with recipes for you to discover. There's also the Pit of 100 trials for you to test your skills with, along with a few other challenges waiting for you hidden throughout the game. If you want to complete everything, the game could easily last you around forty hours.

There are many things for you to do after you beat the game.

Concluding Thoughts
Overall, Super Paper Mario took a lot of risks by changing up the old formula we had all grown to love. While most of those risks paid off in the end, there were a few flaws mixed in. When looking back on the game though, you don't tend to remember those flaws as much as you remember the quirky writing and fun battles you experienced in various chapters. Although not perfect, Super Paper Mario is an excellent addition to any Wii owner's library.

Final Score

Monday, April 16, 2012

Zelda 3DS: 2D or 3D? That is the Question.

Just a little sidenote: When I say 3D, I'm talking about polygonal 3D, not stereoscopic 3D.

It may be a bit early to start thinking about the next Zelda game, but I can't stop myself from imagining what it will be like. I find myself envisioning what Zelda 3DS will be like, since Zelda Wii U is still probably a few years off. When I try to imagine what the next handheld Zelda will be like, I find my mind flipping back and forth between a 2D game and a 3D game. It got me thinking, what should Zelda 3DS be?

Should Zelda 3DS be 2D or 3D?

Handhelds have long been the final platform for traditional 2D gaming. While there has been a renaissance on consoles this generation, the vast majority of 2D games have been on the DS. However, for the first time in Nintendo's history, they've put out a handheld that's capable of high quality 3D games. For this reason alone, there is legitimate fear that if a 3D handheld Zelda does well, most of the handheld Zelda games after it would also be 3D. After all, there's only been one 2D Zelda game on a home console since Ocarina of Time was released in 1998, and that was a game that involved the Gameboy Advance.

The same is true for other Nintendo franchises that made the transition from 2D to 3D. There's only been one sidescrolling Mario game on consoles ever since Super Mario 64, and there hasn't been a 2D Metroid game on consoles since Super Metroid on the SNES. Of course, the opposite is true for Donkey Kong, but it seemed like Nintendo didn't know what to do with the brown ape after Rareware left, resulting in a slew of gimmicky games that weren't all that popular. I think it's safe to say that Zelda isn't like Donkey Kong, and the developers at Nintendo know exactly what they want to do with their action adventure series.

Because of this, I'd prefer Zelda 3DS to be a top down 2D game, similar to previous handheld Zeldas. While I do love the 3D Zelda games, I also have a love for games like The Oracles and The Minish Cap. There are certain aspects about the classic 2D Zelda style that 3D Zeldas can't emulate and vice versa. For example, the 2D Zeldas have dense and content filled overworlds. The developers at Nintendo haven't exactly figured out how to create a 3D overworld that gives off the same sense of density as the 2D Zeldas. I fear that if we were to get a 3D handheld Zelda, we would only experience the special qualities of 2D Zeldas once every ten years or so.

I also feel like 2D lends itself to more creative items. I'm not saying that the 3D Zeldas don't have creative items. They do. The Spinner from Twilight Princess and the Beetle from Skyward Sword are probably two of most unique and interesting items in the series. However, I think it's much harder to create new and interesting items in 3D than it is in 2D. Items like the Cane of Somaria, Mole Mitts, and Magnet Gloves would be much harder to create in 3D than in 2D, just because of the way they're designed. You can even see this during Skyward Sword when using the Mogma Mitts. Digging underground results in a top down view, not a behind the back view like the rest of the game. On the other hand, the Beetle and the Spinner could be transferred to 2D games without much difficulty.

2D allows for more creativity in the items department.

There's also the size limitation issue.  I'm not saying that Nintendo would create some large, epic 2D Zelda game compared to what they would do with a 3D Zelda game, but the fact remains that 2D assets take up less space in memory than polygons do.  That would potentially allow more dungeons, more content, and a longer campaign than a 3D game.

I feel like we need options, and if the home console games are going to mainly be 3D games, then the handheld games should remain 2D. Moving the handheld Zeldas into polygonal territory would mean our only option for Zelda games would be 3D Zelda games. For people like me, that would be immensely disappointing. I love all kinds of games, and having one kind practically disappear off the face of the Earth wouldn't please me. The same thing happened with 3D platformers. Sure, there are still a few developers that make 3D platformers, but they're much rarer now than they were ten years ago, and it makes me a little sad to think about it.

I can see the appeal of a more console like Zelda game on a handheld though. Even though 2D and 3D Zeldas are part of the same series, they have a different feel to them, and some people may enjoy Zeldas like The Wind Waker and Twilight Princess more than Link's Awakening and A Link to the Past. To be honest, the thought of being able to experience something as large and epic as the console Zeldas on a handheld excites me too, but it really comes to down to one question for me: Do I want a console like experience a handheld, or more games like A Link to the Past? For me, the answer is the latter option.

What do you guys think, and why? Do you want the next handheld Zelda to be 2D and be more like Link's Awakening, or do you think it's time for the handheld Zelda games to enter the realm of 3D? Let me know in the comments!

Also, if you guys don't mind, would you click on the ads? I don't want to sound like I'm begging, but I feel like I am. Reason being, even though this blog is free to maintain, I'd eventually like to create my own domain and do this as my main source of income. Every click matters! Thanks if you guys do click!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Revival starts tomorrow.

Just a heads up that articles will start getting posted again starting tomorrow.  It will be up by 3:00 in the afternoon Eastern time.  If you guys read this, thanks for sticking with me!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

At least I didn't abandon you for over a year this time.

If anyone even reads this blog, long time no see!  I know it's been five months, but at least I didn't leave for over a year like I did last time.  I don't really have an excuse as to why I left for a long period of time, other than I just didn't feel like writing for awhile.  But I'm back, and I'm already working on new articles.  I'm going to try to contain my focus to Nintendo related items this time.  In October and November, I wrote about the industry in general really, with a slight focus on Nintendo.  I found that to be too free for me, and I really needed to focus on something specific.

Anyway, I hope you give me a second or third chance, depending when you started reading this.  I promise I'll be more diligent this time!