Tuesday, November 03, 2009

A Look to the Past: Mario

Here we have a new feature for Blue Mage Reviews: A Look to the Past! Video games have a rich and highly entertaining history, so every once in a while it's nice to think back on the beginnings and times of yore to enjoy some nice reminiscing. To start out we have arguably (and probably) the most classic of the classic, Super Mario himself! Woo-hoo! Yee-hee! Wha-ha! As you can see, I easily slip into the Mario mindset. Speaking of Mario, are you excited for New Super Mario Bros. Wii? You are, right? Because I am! It comes out this month in fact, so this seems like an excellent topic to start with. There are a lot of Mario games out there you know, and many of them are super awesome. We'll be taking a look back to the greatest Mario game of each major Nintendo console, excluding the Game Boy as I've never played the Mario Land games. I really should get around to that. But hey, let's get a move on! Console #1 up ahead!

NES - Super Mario Bros. 3

Super Mario Bros. 3 is one of the most critically acclaimed and best-selling video games of all time. That ought to count for something! It's also insanely fun and, in my opinion, the greatest NES game of all time EVER! It even bests the original Super Mario Bros. in every way, which is no mean feat. It introduced the overworld to the Mario series, which remains a staple in the 2D games to this day. And let's not forget about the music! Some of the best tunes from the entire franchise were created here. It also had amazing level design and variety. You could even find a raccoon suit and therefore gain the power of flight! The coolness of that equals and nearly surpasses its nonsensicalness.

Enjoy your Bioshock and your Modern Warfare and your Killzone and your Assassin's Creed, but at the end of the day, we all know that this is a real video game.

SNES - Super Mario World

Super Mario World is better than Super Mario Bros. 3. In fact, it's also the best SNES game, and the best 2D Mario game, and quite possibly the best sidescroller in the world! Not bad, huh? If you want some more trivia, then KABLAM, here you go! This is Nintendo's first SNES game and the first game to include Yoshi! That's a lot of eye-popping facts for just one game, but this is an eye-popping game, so who's really surprised here? Super Mario World took everything from Super Mario Bros. 3 and expanded it, refined it, and made it way more fantastic. Ah, the hours spent running around and jumping on Koopa Troopas while dodging Bullet Bills and grabbing coins, or getting lost in those spooky ghost houses, or trying to find all the secret warps... yeah, a lot of people have great memories of this classic, obviously myself included. And don't even get me started with the music; you can't get much more nostalgic than those catchy and lovable songs! But let me make it clear before we move on: This game isn't so good just because of the good memories. Its gameplay and overall design is largely unrivaled even to this very day!

Koopa combo!

Nintendo 64 - Super Mario 64


It's-a me! Mario!


And from that point on you could stretch Mario's face (attached to his floating head) in any manner you choose until you press start and begin the adventure. Anyone who owns or, in the past, has owned an N64 surely knows of what I speak, for my words refer to a great classic of our time. This is the game that brought the perky plumber into the third dimension, full of polygonal wonderment! Now you could explore the colorful world of Mushroom Kingdom in glorious 3D, and what a sight it was. A favorite moment for many was donning the winged cap and soaring into the sky, and even the rather messed up Nintendo 64 controller couldn't stop the fun. The trend of memorable music and excellent level design doesn't stop here, regardless of whether you're exploring Princess Peach's Castle, climbing Cool Cool Mountain, or hopping around the explosive Bob-omb Battlefield. However, unlike the previous games, I can't quite award Mario 64 the achievement of "Best Game on its Respective Console." No, that had to be reserved for Ocarina of Time. I'm so predictable. But anyway, incredibly enough, this installment sparked a whole new kind of Mario game that would continue on to rival the epicness of its 2D counterpart.

Don't just stand there! Go collect some Power Stars! Or save a princess! Or eat some ravioli! At least go fire Toad, he's really annoying!

GameCube - Super Mario Sunshine

Unsurprisingly, another one of Mario's rad platformers gets the splotlight, although this one isn't quite as popular with my fellow gamers. Sunshine is certainly a well-liked game, but some people didn't quite take to its quirks. First of all, Mario has this water nozzle called F.L.U.D.D. strapped to his back, which is helpful in all kinds of crazy ways. Second of all (can I say that? Second of all?), the game has a definite tropical paradise theme to it. The music and the strangely realistic locales highlight this stylistic choice, and while it's certainly unique and pretty-looking, it's unarguably less Mario-ish than other titles. That being said, it's still an amazing game, with water that still looks beautiful in today's world of HD madness. There's a ton to collect and a ton to do, and while it doesn't quite stack up to the legendary Super Mario 64, the relaxing vibe and smooth controls will soon win you over. Oh, and triple-jumping? It's SO FUN in this game!

Mario's entrance onto the GameCube made a splash! Eesh, that was bad, but absolutely something I would say.

Game Boy Advance - Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga

Now this is a change of pace! Not only is it the first game on the list that lacks the word "Super" in the title-- wait, I take that back. It's hiding, but it's there. But back to the topic at hand. And look, it's not even a platformer! Why, it's an RPG! And it stars Luigi too! Who would've thought? So yes, Superstar Saga is an engaging, action-packed, well-crafted RPG filled to the brim with utter hilarity. I'm serious, this is the funniest game this side of Monkey Island. While neither the heroic Mario nor his cowardly brother Luigi can form sentences beyond a single word or incoherent mumblings, they couldn't be funnier as they interact with each other and the accompanying talkative (and generally pretty weird) cast. Of course, I just wouldn't be a true Mario & Luigi fan if I didn't mention Fawful, the delightfully bizarre and evil jerk who speaks in a profoundly odd manner. Example quote:

"Finally! Now is the time where my true might shines, like many angry sunbeams of rage!"

And there's a lot more where that came from! As for the gameplay, the turn-based combat required you to input button commands at the right time to execute both offensive and defensive maneuvers, which really keeps you on your toes. Also, lots of collectables and other assorted good stuff will keep you busy for hours on end. It might even be the greatest Game Boy Advance game of all time! Mario is awesome!

Honestly, it's just not worth trying to explain what's going on here. Just play the game yourself!

Wii - Super Mario Galaxy

Now we're back to normal! We have here another excellent Mario platformer, and it's super duper magically AWESOME! To understand the full extent of its awesomeness, you'll have to play it yourself, but if you'd like an explanation of the awesomeness, then perhaps you should check out my review for it here. Or, if you'd simply prefer a small taste of the awesomeness, you can just keep reading. Mario Galaxy takes good old Jumpman into the far reaches of outer space, and everything goes crazy. Gravity is altered in a very cool way, which drastically changes things up, and the epic music sets this installment apart from the rest. But I know what you're thinking. How can Mario breathe in space? Well, I've thought long and hard about this very fact, and I've come to the conclusion that, well... let's face it. This is a Mario game. Do you honestly think that the gameplay-focused minds of Nintendo will actually include a detailed answer in the game explaining the "mystery" as to why Mario can survive in the turmoil of the nothingness that is space? Of course not. Like everybody else, I've come to accept the fact that we'll have to wait until Super Mario Galaxy 2 to find out.

...how? How does he do it??

DS - Mario & Luigi 3: Bowser's Inside Story

Mario Kart DS and New Super Mario Bros. are both high-quality Mario experiences on the DS, but there's a game out there that topples them both. After the lackluster Mario & Luigi 2, the third installment in the fantastically funny franchise (nice alliteration, eh?) is easily better than its direct predecessor, and possibly even defeats the original. I can be a little squeamish around kidneys and blood cells, and I'm sure I'm not the only one who wasn't exactly dying to explore the bowels of Bowser's body (another clever alliteration!). However, Mario & Luigi 3 makes it completely fun and almost not disgusting at all! Playing in and as Bowser gives the game an exceptionally varied flow, all with a coat of triple-A Nintendo sheen. Laugh out loud moments and an engaging combat system mix with platforming, item collecting and a bunch of cool mini-games. Mario Kart is a little on the shallow side and New Super Mario Bros. is a little on the short (and easy) side, but Bowser's Inside Story suffers no such imperfections and deftly swoops in to take the prize for Best Mario DS Game in the World of All Time as of This Writing.

Mario & Luigi 3: The Bowels of Bowser was the original title, although it was later deemed too accurate to sell well.

I'd say that was a successful first installment of A Look to the Past. Mario sure has impacted the gaming world, eh? Oohh, do you want to know what my #1 favorite Mario game out of all of those is? It's a really tough choice, but I'll have to go with Super Mario... something. Gah, you can't expect me actually pick one? Okay, fine, I'll pick one 2D game and one 3D game. Will that do? Okay then. My two favorites are Super Mario 64 and Super Mario World! Super Mario 64 is just a pure joy to explore while Super Mario World was the first Mario game I ever played and its gameplay is essentially perfect. I'm sure many people agree with my picks, but I'm equally sure that there are others who would vehemently disagree and shout at me about it. If you're one of the former, congratulations. If you're one of the latter, feel free to post your opinions with the knowledge that I will fairly and impartially delete your messages.

Ha ha! Just kidding.

Bye for now!

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