Thursday, 13 March 2014

Super Mario Brothers 2

REDdy for the new characters? I wasn't.

Ok, let's get the geek wank out of the way by me saying that this Super Mario Brothers 2. I don't want to hear the usual crap of people blathering out that the game is actually "Doki Doki Panic" of which I don't care. Nor do I care that it's not "The true Super Mario Brothers" known as the Lost Levels. Even more do I not care that this game was sold back to Japan as Super Mario 2 USA and basically was Doki Doki Panic being re-painted and resold... as a game already released and sold in the first place.

Actually, all hats off to Nintendo for selling the same thing twice and broken teeth for everyone who didn't realise at the time that this would be an ongoing pattern of selling us the same game again. "Oh hello Zelda franchise, another Hook shot you say? Another fucking water temple too you say? Well come take another fifty notes out of my sky-rocket while I roll out the barrel, drop my trousers to my ankles and hand you the hot spice lube"

Rant over. (yeah, right...)

Get used to this enemy, you'll see him... her... it, a lot.

Let's take a look at what we have. It's a completely different engine of a game compared to Super Mario Brothers and if you're expecting more than go play the Lost Levels or perhaps a Kaizo Mario level... Please post up a video of you playing it on your first run through though. We'll happily laugh at your misery. For those still here, this is a game that takes a very different approach to the original game. Though do remember, it's a sprite swap of a game.

First a start, you can select one of four characters each with their own stats in jumping, running while holding something, and one can float. Your characters main methods of attack is to pick stuff up and throw it at something else. This includes most enemies in the game, jump on it (But... That kills things??? No, prick, it doesn't) and you can ride it around like you've hi-jacked an old aged pensioner until you decided to hoist it up over your head and turn it into a projectile of death, or it gets thrown to the ground, rights itself upright and resumes attempting to be a pain in your arse.

Taking a tip from the TARDIS, some pots and routes are deceptive large.

That is your Modus Operandi for this game, pick stuff up and lob it. Though don't throw the baby out with the bath water just yet. As a game it's very bright, very colourful and certainly a lot more visually appealing than the original was. The controls are more responsive than the original and movement can catch players off guard if they're used to the formers almost sluggish acceleration compared to this. Unless you're Luigi, in which case welcome to inertia and make friends with it. Mario is your average man, Luigi the high-jumper with slippy shoes on, Toad the plucky strongman and Princess being the weakest but can float over ravines.

The more interesting facet of this game is that there's usually more than one way in which to beat a level. Some ways are more obvious than others while whole sections can be by-passed by abusing high jumping with a leaping enemy you're riding on, or using the floater to navigate annoying ledges and back under them to warp pipes and such.

Yep... Whales. With spouts and blowholes. Having a whale of time here.

There's a lot more the weapons and inventory to play around with it this game. You start with 2 health points and can gather more IF you a) find a magic potion, b) drop it to make a magic door, c) hope the dark world that houses coins underground, has a magic mushroom you can pick up to boost your HP by a point FOR THAT LEVEL ALONE. On top of that, if you pick up 5 healthy veggies, you get a time stopper, grabbing 5 cherries grants you an invincibility star and there's other items from Shells that you can ride and kill enemies (watch for jumping ones though) keys to unlock door (and likely get chased the whole time) and items like rockets that take you ahead in the level.

From the first screen, you'll notice this game scrolls in the 4 main compass directions. Which then leads into the problem in some levels where you don't know where the bottom of the level is leading to the death-pits. Because the screen doesn't scroll unless you're near the bottom of where you can see, so by that point, it's usually too late to do anything about stopping your descent and you get a nice life to vanish.

Level over! So everyone sodded off for a while and a bird's head was rather surprised

If you're lucky during a level you might have collected a coin or 14 and get to spin a fruit machine to try and win more lives. Good luck with that, though there is a timing point where you can usually win one or two lives with cherries, and sometimes 5 lives from it. Aside from that, you've a fairly varied game with a steadily increasing challenge though it can feel a little under populated at times for enemies and challenges.

You've your grassy normal lands that tend to mess about in the clouds from time to time, desert levels, ice levels, some underground focus levels, levels with high climbs and long falls. There's less levels than in the original but there's a lot more variety and flavour in the selection rather than having just a large, plain, selection.

The only chance some people will get a life, is here.

Enemies come in many flavours (sick joke avoided there... perhaps) with the usual walkers and runners, leaping enemies, enemies that shoot at you, enemies that are taller and can't be picked up. The puzzles in the game range from getting bomb a to wall b at times while some make you use enemies as a safe-platform in which to navigate over spikes or gaping chasms which can be somewhat jarring if you're not quite used to the fact that landing on enemies here usually doesn't kill them.

Oh and there's Birdo. The odd looking... thing that spits out eggs (at first) and serves as a low-boss for most of the ends of the levels and at the end of each world is one of a few bosses. A rat with shades on that throws bombs, a crab that hurls rocks, a 3-headed snake that gobs fireballs, a large fireball and the final boss. (One surprise boss, but I'll not ruin that). Each boss takes the usual hits before dying and some of the bosses are repeated with slightly different level layouts to make up that thing called "Challenge".

Sometimes it all gets a bit much, or you just can't control the slippery little git.

The music is suitably chirpy enough with enough of catchy snatch of notes here and there that you might be listening to it for a while and be able to recall it quite clearly at times. Though the "danger" music does grate quickly as there's a definite lack of variation to stop the repetition from becoming beyond annoying.

But was there a point to all of this. Yes and no. As a game it stands upright on its hind legs and can walk and squeak with all the other games. As a Mario game it can't exactly be overly criticised as it's brought in a wealth of new characters, enemies and settings to the original that helps expanded the Mario-verse (You know, when he's not a Doctor, or Hotel manager, or Graffiti cleaner or EVER A PLUMBER! Let's see 'Mario puts his hand through shit in the U-Bend to fix a blocked toilet' as something indicative of his profession) and a case can be made in that the game itself has variation, there's a lot of ways to play it and beat it and the addition of multiple, different, characters does give that replayability factor a new breath of life.

She floats, it's handy at times, but usually you won't care enough to play her.

It's an odd one. I want to say I dislike it, but at the same time I also appreciate it. In truth, it's not bad, but it's not great and yet it still will feel at home amongst the games that it shoe-horned its way into with a bit of Miyamoto magic and a paint job on the sprites.