Saturday, June 26, 2010

A Look to the Past: Games of the Years 1991: Super Mario World


Super Mario World (SNES)

To say that Super Mario World was the best game of 1991 is no light statement. Sega was right behind with the release of Sonic the Hedgehog, Mario's only true rival, and the epic Final Fantasy IV was right in there too.  However, if ever a perfect platformer were to exist, Super Mario World would be it. A big, colorful world comprised of locations named after various foodstuffs awaits the player, throwing wonderfully-designed level after level at him every step of the way. Vanilla Dome hid within its caverns more giant, angry moles than you could ever hope for, as if taunting Mario to venture their twisting pathways. Butter Bridge boldly tested the player's wits, but a magic cape will drastically reduce the probability of plummeting plumbers. The Forest of Illusion is confusing and mystifying, but its hidden secrets keep even the most hopeless adventurers coming back for more. Needless to say, Super Mario World is a huge game.  Hours and hours can be poured into this game, and if you can finally unlock all the devious secrets, you can do it all over again to find it as fun as ever.

The music playing here is so groovy it's almost painful.

The fact that you can do all this on a dinosaur named Yoshi makes it even better. Yoshi, of course, debuted in Super Mario World, adding lovable drum beats to all the already amazing songs! I'm not sure if it's possible to get tired of this game's music. It's as classic as the game! But the true crowning achievement, and why Super Mario World snagged this award in the first place, is the gameplay. Of course almost every game, in the end, depends on its gameplay; but Super Mario World thrives upon it. The gameplay is without a doubt what every 2D platformer aspires to reach even today. In fact, I'm pretty sure that even some of the 3D ones do too. Forget 1991; Super Mario World is up there for Game of the Ever!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

A Look to the Past: Games of the Years 1990: Super Mario Bros. 3

To me, 2010 sounds like the future itself; and with games as advanced as Heavy Rain and Mass Effect 2 coming out these days, that just might be true. I found myself wondering what would be 2010's Game of the Year (for me and the collective opinions of millions of gamers) and if it would be as revolutionary as it rightfully should be. It's also fascinating to realize that taking away twenty years brings us back to the year 1990 and directly in between the release of the Genesis and the SNES, which in turn highlights the incredible progress games have made; not only in terms of tech specs, but in every area imaginable. With all that in mind, I thought it would be interesting to take a look back at the past twenty years and award each of them with a Game of the Year winner-- a kind of hall of fame if you will. I'll be adding on one game every week until we reach the end, so keep checking back for new entries. Naturally I can't have played every game that came out in the last twenty years, but I've played enough to make a rather informed opinion. Therefore, that is what I shall do. (Make an informed opinion, not play every game that came out in the last twenty years.)


Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES)

A fitting start for this monumental list, Super Mario Bros. 3 was one heck of an entry to the Mario series. A lot of fellow players would no doubt agree with me, as it's one of the best-selling games of all time, and is no stranger to praise. Back in the simple days of gaming, Super Mario Bros. 3 brought together everything good about the previous Mario games and made those things even better. It was the first Mario game to use an overworld for choosing levels, which is used even now by games like New Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario Galaxy. The signature Mario oddness was present as well, allowing Mario to hop around in a giant boot known as Kuribo's Shoe. That's weird.

When surrounded by turtles suspended by floating clouds and blocks, one should always wear a raccoon suit. Everybody knows that.

In my mind, Super Mario Bros. 3 was the first game in the series to really nail the perfect control that all platformers strive for, and that alone is strong reason for Game of the Year status. Even the ground-breaking Final Fantasy was bested by this excellent title, for Super Mario Bros. 3 had very few flaws and was jam-packed with fun. Let's hope that the video game community continues to use this game as inspiration, hearkening back to a time when flying plumbers were more popular than bald anti-heroes with guns.