REVIEW: Super Mario 3D World

Apologies for last week; school has just started and so I was a little preoccupied with transitioning into school mode. But, enough of that, it’s time to review Super Mario 3D World!

I won’t bore you with the plot or characters. It’s standard Mario fare, except Peach is a character you play and the victims are a group of fairies. What’s really important is the gameplay.

Gameplay:

If I were to sum up the gameplay of Super Mario 3D World, it’d be “wow”. With this addition each character (Mario, Luigi, Peach, Toad) has different properties – Mario is the most balanced, Luigi jumps the highest (but is a little slippery), Peach can float (but is the slowest), and Toad is the fastest (but jumps the lowest). This allows for some pretty interesting gameplay choices within each level, as some characters have a vastly easier time with certain platforming elements depending on the level.

Speaking of levels, the level design is fantastic, and you can see the thought put into the 4-player co-op with each level. While the worlds are pretty standard (Grassy, water, desert, lava, etc…), I loved most of the designs, some of them proving to be quite challenging.

Because each level doesn’t brutally murder you for having 4 players (like New Super Mario. Bros), playing with friends is very fun. The twist to playing with multiple players is that, instead of everyone having their own lives, the players are share them. That means that playing with friends, while more fun, is also much more dangerous. Expect game overs, even if you’re experienced with Mario games. My brother and I probably accumulated 3 or 4 game overs throughout the main portion of the game due to us sharing lives.

Thankfully, unlike in New Super Mario Bros., you cannot bubble in the air. This is great because it means you can’t just haphazardly attempt to make a jump and just bubble to safety. I always hated that feature because it decreased the game’s difficulty while playing multiplayer. I like how punishing it is now, because it forces cooperation. The ONLY problem with bubbling is that you can get out yourself, and sometimes, the bubble will hover above an abyss and you’ll pop out yourself and die again (I can’t tell you how many times this happened to me). Even near land, the bubble would literally hover just off the ledge and so you had to wait until you popped out. I would rather get back to the action as fast as possible, not wait 10 seconds for the bubble to be over land so I don’t die again.

Oh, and let’s not forget the new power up, the Cat Bell, which transforms Mario and co. into a cat that can dive and climb walls. This is, without a doubt, the best power up Mario has ever used. Platforming is a breeze once you master how to use the cat suit. It’s an awesome power up, and the little “meow!” that Mario and co. say after beating a level is absolutely priceless.

Atmosphere:

There’s not a lot to say, unfortunately. Pretty standard Mario fare, although I liked a lot of the level designs and the art. Nothing really captured me, but I can’t say I didn’t enjoy it.

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All in all, Super Mario 3D World is a fantastic game, especially for co-op. If you’re a Mario fan that still loves the series or even someone who’s been a little bored with the series, I recommend it. It’s a breath of fresh air to the Mario franchise co-op wise, and that’s something, I think, a lot of Mario fans have been yearning for since New Super Mario Bros. Wii.

Gameplay: 10/10
Atmosphere: 7/10
Final Score: 9/10

Just Sayin’

REVIEW: Mario Party Island Tour

I apologize for this being late, I was busy Friday and Saturday. Onto the review!

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I haven’t really played any of the recent Mario Party games. Mario Party DS I played a bit, but not too much. The newest installment into the series, Mario Party Island Tour, however, is shaping up to be a Mario Party I will play quite often.

Mario Party Island Tour, like Mario Party 9, completely offs the classic gather stars and circle a game board. Instead, they’re replaced with “race” boards, as I call them, where the first player to reach the finish line wins. However, unlike Mario party 9, where everyone rides that dumb vehicle together, it hearkens back to the classic style of moving, where everyone takes their own turn and uses dice…or cards on certain boards. Because of this style, there are no blue and red spaces that give out coins, instead having item spaces, move back spaces, and other various spaces that switch places with opponents, summon Bowser, etc… It’s actually pretty refreshing, and I find myself not missing the old style because, really, I can play the old ones on the virtual console.

So that’s all great, but what really makes this game awesome are the mini games, which are surprisingly great. I didn’t think the mini-games would be spectacular, but they’ve all been really fun and I haven’t been disappointed by one yet, and I’ve played through almost every board.

That’s really it. The music has some cool throwbacks to old games, and the graphics are pretty good (the Mario Galaxy board is awesome!), but there’s really nothing else to write about.

If you’re looking for a Mario Party experience not quite the classics, but refreshing and new with some awesome mini games, consider picking up Mario Party Island Tour. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Final Score: 7/10

Just Sayin’.

REVIEW: Sonic Lost World

After seeing the trailers and getting incredibly hyped for Sonic Lost World, I have finally beaten it. That means it’s time for a review! Before we begin, note that I’m reviewing the Nintendo 3DS version.

Plot:

I can’t say too much about the plot. It’s a standard Sonic vs Eggman with some extraneous other enemy thrown in. The Deadly Six are just, well…there.

Characters:

This part surprised me. The relationship between Sonic and Tails is actually very well done – at one point, Sonic recklessly kicks the device Eggman was using to control the Deadly Six without heeding Tails warning, and after running from the ensuing fight due to the Deadly Six controlling all of Eggman’s robots, he laments that he should’ve listened to Tails, and Tails almost replays with a sarcastic, “You think?” It’s cool to see that Tails has some backbone as opposed to other games where he just plays the sidekick. I was impressed. Even Eggman has some real personality when interacting with Sonic and Tails. It’s almost comedic.

On the flip side, the Deadly Six are awful. They’re one-dimensional and boring.

Gameplay:

Sonic Lost World really steps up the “Sonic Formula”. Instead of gradually reaching max speed, Sonic has two speeds – walking, and running. You simply hold the R button and you will always be traveling at max speed. It’s an incredible mechanic, allowing Sonic to blaze through the parts of the level where he should without gradually reaching max speed, and when he needs to platform he has the option not to go full speed and go for some precision. Switching between the two is seamless and – I must stress – quick. Accelerating to max speed takes less than a second, and it’s very satisfying to go from precision platforming to max speed so quickly.

Sonic still has his old tricks – spin dashing, homing attack, etc… but with some new twists. Sonic can now very quickly homing attack a series of enemies with the homing attack, making for a very satisfying string of enemies defeated. It’s very flashy looking.

Sonic has also acquired some new abilities, most noticeable his newfound love of parkour. Running up and on the side of walls looks very cool, and gives a more realistic way for Sonic to traverse the levels. A lot of animation videos of Sonic show him flashily moving around his environment with jumps, spins, wall kicks, and vaults, and while it’s not exactly parkour, the vaults and jumps that those who parkour utilize is definitely something Sonic should be using. I think this style is a step in the right direction, and I’d love to see Sonic start to free run.

He can also send a slice of air out by doing an aerial backflip. It’s mainly for combating certain enemies. He also has new “Color” powers, meaning new wisps powers to use. There are some classics like Lightning and Drill, with some cools one like one that lets you latch onto magnetically charged bars and enemies, one that’s literally a moving black hole, and one that turns you into a giant iron ball. They’re all really cool.

Atmosphere:

The levels are very well designed. I didn’t get bored once with them. As with many of these kinds of platforming games, you have your grass world, laval world, water world, desert world, etc…but what’s working for the levels are the Super Mario Galaxy-esque level designs. Although not as sharp as the aforementioned platformer, Sonic Lost World does a pretty decent job incorporating gravity into their levels. It’s an interesting experience after having played both games in the Mario Galaxy series, and I have to say that I wasn’t disappointed. It didn’t feel like some cheap rip-off design. There was definitely thought put into how Sonic world interact with gravity.

The music is surprisingly unmemorable for most of the game. I can recall only the first world’s music clearly. I’m a little disappointed; as a Sonic fan, I’ve played through some of the not-so-great games in the series, but there was always some really solid and memorable music.

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If you like Sonic games, you’re sure to love this. As with Sonic Colors and Sonic Generations, this is a big step in the right direction for Sonic games, and I hope this uphill trend continues.

Score:

Plot: 5/10
Characters: 7/10
Gameplay: 10/10
Atmosphere: 7/10
Final Score: 7/10

Just sayin’

REVIEW: Mario & Luigi Dream Team

Finally, after weeks of not being able to, I have been able to play through a significant chunk of Mario & Luigi: Dream Team, possibly one of the best Mario RPG‘s I’ve played so far. Let’s not waste any time and jump on in!

Plot:

Mario and company travel to Pi’llo Island to vacation and, of course, something goes wrong. Antasma, a villain hellbent on taking over the world, kidnaps Peach and forces Mario to venture into the Dream World via Luigi once Luigi opens the Dream World accidentally and frees Antasma from his dreamy prison. Dreambert, the prince of an ancient race called the Pi’llos, asks of the help of the Mario Bros. to save his people and stop Antasma, to which they agree. I won’t spoil anything (because, well, I haven’t finished the game yet. I’m close!), but Bowser does get involved, and some of the stuff gets crazy!

But, a typical Mario plot. Nothing to be laugh at, though, as the Pi’llo history is actually quite complex, and the plot is pulled off in dreamlike (ha!) style.

Characters:

So, let me get this out of the way: I never played Bowser’s Inside Story. I will, I swear, but I haven’t yet. So I didn’t know who Starlow was when she was introduced here. However, she’s a little nagging. She’s not an awful character, but I’m definitely not a big fan. The new characters are great, especially since Dreambert is very serious and has to interact with the goofy world of the Mario & Luigi series. It’s very funny.

Mario and Luigi themselves are great, as usual, and the random characters the bros. encounter are fantastic. The dialogue in Mario RPG’s have always been fantastic, and this game is no exception. The dialogue is crisp and witty, and I found myself laughing on more than one occasion!

Also oh MY GOD POPPLE IS IN THIS GAME IT IS INCREDIBLY HYPE!

Gameplay:

The gameplay is the BIG seller, here. In the over world, you are either in the real world as the Mario Bros., or in the dream world with Mario and Dreamy Luigi, a version of Luigi conjured up by Luigi as he sleeps. This Luigi is more Mario-like thanks to the dream embodying Luigi as Luigi wants himself to be. In the dream world, Luigi can also manipulate his dreams through Dreamy Luigi, able to conjure up hundreds of himself to perform certain actions and movements (such as stacking to make a tower of Luigis or like a top to spin into the air). But that’s not even close to the best part.

The combat is where it’s at for this game. In the over world, you battle with Mario and Luigi in classic Mario & Luigi style. Again, the battle animations and timing for the hammer are from Bowser’s Inside Story, and so they looked really cool to me. The badge system is also from there, and while it’s cool, I wish it was more like the original. A small complaint, however, completely negligible once you get to dream world combat.

In the dream world, Mario fights by himself against a small army of enemies with Dreamy Luigi powering him up. That means when Mario jumps, he has the power of at least 20 Luigis added on. Those same Luigis rain down on your enemies after you jump, or the Luigis create a giant shockwave with their hammers after you hammer the ground. It’s a really cool way to show that Luigi is still part of the battle.

And, just as there are Bros. Attacks in the real world with Mario and Luigi (which are awesome), there’s what’s called Luiginary Attacks, which are literally Luigi being a god. He stacks, he creates a giant hammer, he becomes a living Katamari Damacy and then has Mario kick him. The possibilities are endless, and fitting for a game that represents the Year of Luigi. His attacks are ridiculously cool.

AND, to add onto that, it’s harder in the dream world because if Mario dies, it’s game over. Goodbye builds of Mario being the powerhouse and Luigi being the tank; in the dream world, Mario gets bopped because of his low defenses, so you’re punished extra hard for being hit. On the flip side, Dreamy Luigi gives him more HP and BP, but it’s usually not enough.

To put it in perspective, I’m running Super Crit Bros. (where I only upgrade Stache), and my Mario takes roughly 35-50 damage from the small army enemies, and that small army attacks multiple times in one turn. I’ve gotten multiple game overs from regular dream world fights.

I’m not knocking that difficulty, though. I love it.

Oh, OH, and before I forget, Luigi bodies giant enemies by turning into a giant Luigi. They feel epic. I felt epic bodying them. Everything about giant Luigi is epic.

Atmosphere:

In classic Mario & Luigi style, the atmosphere is RPG-like, yet super-goofy. The dialogue, as I said before, is on point and very funny. There are a lot of reference Easter Eggs. The areas are nicely designed, the 3D is cool (especially during some Bros. Attacks), and the art style is cool. I really like the Dream World designs, especially the longer ones. Most of them are just short mini-levels, though even those are well-designed and not cumbersome.

What I really liked here was the music. Most of the music is great, especially the battle music, and ESPECIALLY boss music. I first heard the music when facing Bowser and Antasma in the beginning of the game, and it felt way more epic than it should’ve because of the music that was playing. Seriously, go to YouTube and give it a listen – it’s great.

Other than that, this is good, but nothing spectacular.

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If you love Mario RPGs, get this game. If you love the Mario & Luigi series, get this game. If you have a 3DS get this game.

In short: GET THIS GAME.

Score:

Plot: 7/10
Characters: 10/10
Gameplay: 10/10
Atmosphere: 8/10
Final Score: 9/10

Just sayin’

REVIEW: Turbo

Another two week session of no blog entries! I was working another camp session in Princeton, and thus had no time to write. However, now that I’m done working this summer, entries should resume their weekly updates! Let’s kick this off with a movie I saw a couple days ago: DreamworksTurbo!

Plot:
 
Turbo‘s premise is cool. Theo, a garden snail that dreams of being a racer comes into contact with nitrous (the stuff you see in racing games and the Fast & Furious series that gives racing cars a temporary boost of insane speed) and is able to utilize it, much to his brother Chet’s dismay. After some unfortunate events, he and Chet are fired from the garden they work at and shortly after Chet is taken by crows. Using his speed, Theo (who I will now call Turbo because that’s what he calls himself) follows the crows and saves Chet, only to be captured by humans and entered into a snail racing competition. Turbo shows off his insane speed, and is entered into the Indianapolis 500, where he competes with the best of the best racing cars.

The plot itself flows quite nicely. I was pleasantly surprised to see some real character growth in a film that looked, to me, like one of those silly and fun kid’s films.

Acting:
 
Let me just get this out of the way: the actors for voicing were amazing. Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson, and Snoop Dog/Lion? Sign me up! The acting was great, the one-liners were funny. All the characters meshed together really well. I enjoyed it.

Atmosphere:
 
The atmosphere is, well, pretty much racing. The animation itself is nicely done, the effects are really cool, and watching a snail go over 200 mpg alongside formula 1 racing cars in an iconic race was really cool to watch. Also, the music choices and the definite reference to pop culture was very funny. It was nice to see an animated film that referenced remixes being made on the Internet (and the remix was actually pretty catchy!)

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If you’re looking for something fun and cool to watch, or you want to see a snail body formula 1 racing cars, check out Turbo! It’s a solid film.

Rating: 3 out of 5 (stars)
 
Just Sayin’.

REVIEW: Animal Crossing: New Leaf

There’s a lot I can write about Animal Crossing: New Leaf; so much, in fact, that I could write an essay about it. I won’t be writing an essay, but I would like to skim some of the things that make this game an improvement to the series.

The very first thing is its premise. Instead of simply being a villager, the first player is the mayor of the town. That means that instead of having a fully developed town, you actually have an underdeveloped town. The buildings are scarce, there’s no great tree, and the museum being empty actually makes sense. As the mayor, it’s your job to start projects and develop your town, including the new Main Street that houses all the shops in town.

Almost instantly you can see the improvements. You get to choose the map of your town (of 5 given to you) in the beginning, and from there, you get to select where projects are built. Want a bench by the beach? Go for it. A park? Sure! The amount of customization of your town is a really awesome feature. No one town will ever have the same town buildings and similar layout again. To add to the customization tab, you now have male and female specific clothing, accessories, and shoes. Yes, you can buy shoes. You can even buy socks! You don’t even need to wear socks and shoes if you don’t want to.

The art is very Animal Crossing, very cartoony and fun, but you can see a higher resolution and attention to detail, and the 3D looks fantastic (although I barely play in it). The music is good, but I’m still a fan of the original’s music more. However, 8AM’s music is pretty fantastic.

Everything else is pretty much standard Animal Crossing. So why is this game so great? All the little things that show a nice attention to detail:

Nook now owns his own real-estate agency instead of being a shop owner/real estate agent. He also has house customizations for your door, mail box, roof, etc… for sale. Lyle, the Happy Room Academy rep, also puts up shop there. The Nook kids now run the actual shop.

Labelle, working for Gracie in Animal Crossing: City Folk, is now part of the Able Sister’s shop, selling you accessories.

– YOU CAN SIT ON TREE STUMPS

– YOU CAN SWIM! And there’s over 30 new deep sea fish you can only obtain via diving. Unfortunately, to swim you have to have a diving suit on.

– The animals wave when you leave, and they very frequently ask to come over to your house or have you come over to theirs. It’s cool because they actually go to every room in your house.

– You can hang stuff on the wall. It may not seem like much, but it’s cool to finally put clocks on the wall.

– The island is back, and while you don’t have a cool island cabana anymore, you DO have the ability to play cool mini games with friends and make $$$$$$ thanks to the rare bugs that come out after 7PM.

– There are now 6 island-specific fruit instead of 1. It’s nice to see lemons and bananas.

– CLUB LOL!!! Yes, there’s now a night life in your town where you can actually dance to what DJ K.K. is dropping’ down. Unfortunately, it takes quite a while to get Club LOL, and until then you have no access to K.K. Slider. It’s my only real gripe with the game.

There’s so much more to it, but I haven’t unlocked everything, so I couldn’t tell you. So far, the game has been fantastic. If you’re a fan of the Animal Crossing series, do yourself a favor and go pick this up. You won’t regret it!

Gameplay: 10/10

Atmosphere: 8/10

Final Score: 9/10

Just Sayin’