Tag Archives: boomerang

FGC #389 Super Mario 3D World

Mario!There are some videogame franchises I can “rank” without question. Want to know my order for favorite Mega Man games? I made that sequence my pin number. How about a comprehensive explanation of why Final Fantasy 10 is better than Final Fantasy 12? I’ve got you covered. Heck, if you’re feeling really saucy, I could probably compare and contrast nearly every JRPG that was released in the last decade. Well… not every JRPG, despite recent posts, there are some Omega Quintet titles out there that even I can’t stomach. But I’m pretty sure I could accurately compare the finer points of Radiant Historia to some of the nonsense in Persona 5.

And there’s a reason I feel I could perform such a feat. It’s simple: so many videogames are exactly the same. Okay, that’s a touch of an exaggeration, but the concept seems rather pat. After all, this is why we like videogames. I enjoy some variety once in a while, but I don’t want to have to spend the next three weeks figuring out a control scheme just so I can play a fifteen hour game. To again use Persona as an example, while there are many fascinating ideas and concepts in that franchise (even going back to the pre-Persona 3 titles), that entre quinology (not the word I’m thinking of) still boils down to “is a JRPG”. Run through dungeons, fight monsters, use the spells and attacks that make the battles end quickly, and earn new skills and powers as you move along. And that’s what I want! Sitting down to play a new game shouldn’t be a chore, and immediately knowing what to do gets the dopamine a-pumpin’. Haha! An ice dragon? I’ve got my fire sword, and I’m going to be feasting on frozen dragon gizzards by nightfall!

Here he comes!And, while that may make some games predictable, it certainly makes them a lot easier to compare. When every game has an obvious A, B, and C, then you can effortlessly compare those ABCs to each other. Is this Robot Master better than that Robot Master? (Note: every Robot Master is better than Toad Man.) Does this title have the better soundtrack? How about controls? If the interface is vastly improved from original to sequel, that’s going to make a huge impact. And the levels! The dungeons! Surely there must be a difference between lava caves. These items are the lifeblood of any given franchise, and it’s fun to objectively compare these matters until you have a vigorous understanding of your “favorite”.

And then there’s the Mario franchise. Trying to compare Mario games is… tricky.

While Mario has always appeared to be the All-Father of gaming’s most familiar faces, it’s a lot more accurate to identify Mario as the trickster god of the medium. Donkey Kong featured a Jump Man that could barely vault a barrel, but then Mario Bros starred brothers that could leap a third of the screen in a single bound. Super Mario Bros. was all about turtles and flinging fireballs, and then Super Mario Bros. 2 brought us a bounty of vegetables and shy guys. Ever seen a raccoon fly? Maybe a dude riding a dinosaur? Now save some stars in a painting! Or clean up an island resort with your water gun! Travel to the furthest reaches of the Galaxy! Or just hang out in some random city! Mario is, and has always been, all over the map. And that’s even before you get to the time his fat, elven twin tried to steal his private theme park. Those overalls might be consistent, but Mario’s gameplay is as mercurial as the T-1000.

Go!Given we had to wait for the Switch to see Mario scoot along on his own little odyssey, it would be fair to call Super Mario 3D World the significant Mario game for the WiiU. In an attempt to define this Mario, it is a sequel to a portable Mario title that had been released a few years earlier. Or, it’s a sequel to another Mario lineage that brought four player couch co-op to the Mushroom Kingdom. Or it’s the sequel to Mario Galaxy? I saw a Charging Chuck in there, let’s just claim it’s a Super Mario World sequel, and move on. What’s important is that Super Mario 3D World is a platforming style Mario game (not to be confused with tennis or racing or… qix?), and we all know what to expect from that. Jumping, running, goomba squishing, and maybe Princess Peach can float in this one. She can? Awesome. Super Mario 3D World is another Mario game on another Mario system.

But the level to level creativity of this title is insane. There are grasslands, icy mountains, and lava castles just like any other platformer, but there are also stages that are built around speed boosters. Or overhead “dungeons” that would be more comfortable hiding around Hyrule. Or serene beaches crowded with vacationing goombas. And the powerups! Items like the Double Cherry or Boomerang Flower may initially seem like simple, “here’s the featured item du jour” type forgettable powerups, but once you burn through a level with an unstoppable army of four Luigis hurling boomerangs at boos, you’ll be singing a different tune. And, while the stages may all seem like complete chaos, they’re all carefully designed, and work equally marvelously with one player as well as four. It’s bedlam, and correctly guessing whether the next stage will be a “jumping puzzle” or a hammer bros. gauntlet is impossible. But it’s all the kind of organized anarchy that can only come from a deft directorial hand.

And that’s Mario.

WeeeeYou never know what you’re going to get with a Mario game. 3D? 2D? Some… kinda of… time traveling… adventure… maybe? Doesn’t matter! What’s important is that Mario has the best, most consistent perfection average in the business. Want to know why I’ll buy every Mario game from now until the end of time? It’s because there is no “Mario Cycle”, no “nobody likes this franchise until the next title comes out” corollary to its reviews. Mario games are just good, and, even when they get experimental, they still define the industry. Mario isn’t consistent in anything but being amazing, and that’s why his adventures are so unique.

Though, obviously, Super Mario 3D World is one of the best. Probably… Number 4? No, maybe 3…

FGC #389 Super Mario 3D World

  • System: Nintendo WiiU. Complete with some fairly vestigial “gamepad features”, I feel like this one could easily be ported to the fabulous success that is the WiiU’s successor.
  • Number of players: Four! I’ve never actually tried out a complete four players in this game, but three is pretty tops all by itself. Well, I mean, tops for watching all of your uncoordinated friends die.
  • So, did you beat it? Yep, every last stage, including the impossible final gauntlets. Mind you, I haven’t beaten it all with every last character… but maybe one day. Gotta use those stamps in Miiverse, right? Wait… what’s that about Miiverse?
  • WeeeeGrand Finale: Of the many recent battles with Bowser, having the big guy go hog wild with the featured powerups of the title made for one of the most memorable encounters. It’s conceptually no different from any other “Bowser chase” final area, but the lunacy of Panther Bowser popping through a wall while Panther Bowser scales a building… Amazing.
  • Toad Origins: Also, it’s telling about the significance of the Mario franchise that a “once a world minigame” grew into an entire, remarkable title all on its own. I realize that fungus have a tendency to develop wildly when they start to take over, but if that kind of growth leads to Toad hunting down treasure, I’m down.
  • Favorite Stage: Take me to the beach any day.
  • Did you know? Chargin’ Chuck first appeared in Super Mario World, then Yoshi’s Safari, and then… nothing. Chuck didn’t reappear until this title, a full 20 years later. But those football hooligans are back for Odyssey, so maybe they’ll stick around this time.
  • Would I play again: Oh my yes. Totally yes. Need an excuse to get a full complement of players in my basement yes. Just hope the WiiU holds out…

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Darkstalkers 3 for the Playstation 1! Vampires and mummies and yeti, oh my! Please look forward to it!

Noooo
Why does this always happen to Weegi?

FGC #320 Low G Man: The Low Gravity Man

Low Grav, yo!Not all ideas are created equal.

Our good friend ROB has chosen Low G Man: The Low Gravity Man for today’s entry, and I have to compliment the random robot for this choice. I can tell you that, with absolute certainty, I purchased this title as a cheap, used cartridge, and the only reason I picked it up was because I confused it with (Nintendo Power’s coverage of) Metal Storm. “This is that cool NES game where you could switch gravity, right?” I asked myself as I wandered over to the cash register. I was wrong. I was very wrong, and I’m pretty sure I played this game for all of six seconds before dropping it back into the collection and then proceeding to play… let me guess the timeframe here… probably Final Fantasy X-2. No need to play another weirdo NES game where I can’t even successfully beat the first level, time to get back to being a pop-star/world savior.

And there Low G Man sat for quite a while before ROB pulled it off the shelf for this article. This led to the very unusual situation of playing a 27 year old game that created zero feelings of nostalgia, and, more importantly, I had no idea how to play. I initially figured that this was no more than a NES game, so it can’t be that complicated, and I’d bang out a few levels before the hour is up. But an hour quickly escalated to two, and, before I knew it, I had beaten the game, hopefully having uncovered all the secrets and tricks to this low gravity man’s adventure.

… Or at least figured out how the damn combat system works.

Low G Man has an amazing jump. LGM can jump to the height of the screen (and even powerup further from there), and I guess he earned his title through these miraculous ups. However, his jump is kind of… useless. Don’t get me wrong, you wouldn’t get very far in the LGM world without the ability to scale giant robots or be a human elevator, but this is not a Mario situation wherein our hero bops his way to a better future. Jumping is strictly there for traversal and dodging, which… makes sense? I mean, if he’s got the jump powers because he’s using some manner of self-anti-grav unit, then I guess the impact of boots to a head wouldn’t involve much force. Way to think it through, Low G Man producers!

WeeeeeeSo, in order to properly defend himself, LGM is equipped with a stun gun. That’s good! We’ve got your basic NES freeze ray here, and it works on Samus Aran rules (not to be confused with Ice Slasher rules): an enemy robot (or alien) is frozen, turns blue, and may be used as a platform at will. Bonus: this also means the frozen opponent doesn’t deal contact damage while frozen. By the time of Level 1’s boss, you’ll also be tasked with the Metroidian goal of freezing a few lesser adversaries so you may successfully scale a vertical shaft. All pretty straightforward to start, though with one glaring flaw: the stun gun does absolutely zero damage. Nothing. Frozen or not, an opponent will never die from simple stun blasts. So what’s a Low Gravity Man to do? Whip out a kick ass spear, of course!

LGM has got a spear, and he knows how to use it. Wait, scratch that, he knows how to be a dragoon… and that’s about it. Likely due to the severely lacking number of buttons on the average NES controller, LGM can only utilize his spear in an upward or downward direction. Not coincidentally, LGM also cannot shoot his stun gun straight up or down, only side to side. In a way, this couples amazingly with his crazy jumping skills, as we wouldn’t see a real “moving” Kain Highwind until that one Dissidia game, and dropping spear-first into a foe is always going to be fun. On the other hand, the antagonists of this world almost always move (and attack) horizontally, and the best LGM can consistently do is plink away with his lame stun gun, wait for the freeze to take effect, and then pull off the leaping spear “finishing move”. Pointy end goes hereIt’s kind of fun when there’s one enemy on the screen, but it’s ambiguously suicidal when the place starts filling with murderous robots (and this already happens during the first stage). And, while it can be fun once or twice, stun-jump-spear is basically “normal action gameplay, but with extra steps” when you get right down to it. That can get old across fifteen separate stages crammed with bad bots.

But it’s not the worst idea, right? It’s easy to give a NES game a lot of flack, but the brave men and women of the 8-bit console generation were pioneers working with tools that would nary impress a caveman. Four buttons? Three if you don’t count the seemingly mandatory pause? That barely allows for a second offensive option, so it’s no wonder this feels clumsy. But like how Mega Man X revolutionized weapon switching with the L&R buttons, a “next gen” Low G Man could actually make this idea work. It’s not about freezing and spearing, it’s about utilizing long distance attacks to “soften up” an enemy, and then using a close range maneuver to finish the job. There’s some meat on those bones! That could be a really interesting way to switch up the typical run ‘n gun gameplay of most 2-D action games. Get a director who has been making videogames for a solid couple of years, introduce some modern technology, toss in some dashes that make the whole process faster, and maybe…

DASH DASH SLIDE

Nah, screw it. Not gonna work.

Low G Man, there’s a reason nobody revisits your gameplay. Sorry.

FGC #320 Low G Man: The Low Gravity Man

  • System: NES exclusive. There’s not a Master System or Commodore 64 or whatever version? No? Okay, just checking.
  • Number of players: This Low G Man is an island.
  • Other X Connections: Some enemies ride hovercars or tanks, and you can snag a vehicle for yourself. Not unlike in Metal Slug, all the vehicles have limited “fuel”, and they’ll self-destruct pretty quickly if you’re not paying attention, but it’s always fun to suddenly wield a gun that actually does damage.
  • Favorite Powerup: Low G Man also has a host of sub weapons available. They’re not so great, because you have to earn them from quickly lost enemy drops, and a loss of life will lead to a complete loss of all sub weapons, but… they’re there? Whatever. You get a boomerang, and that’s the quintessential NES weapon, so I’m happy.
  • An end: In a shocking twist, the Low G Man finale, which can only be viewed after beating the game three times, advertises the “upcoming” GI Joe game:

    Just wait!

    Well, I mean, I guess it was a pretty good game.

  • Did you know? Low G Man was developed by KID, a development company that primarily seems to be responsible for a buttload of visual novel games (which can only be measured in butt-based measurements). But they’re also the deranged minds behind the Playstation 1 Pepsi Man game, so they get a pass from me.
  • Would I play again: Naw. Throw this one in the pile of “interesting, but not really enough fun” castoffs.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… WarioWare: Touched for the Nintendo DS! It’s Wario touching time, everybody! Please look forward to it!

Get the point?