Posts Tagged ‘mario’

Will Super Mario Odyssey be hella boring?

October 18, 2017

MarioOdysseytitleCrop.png

I’m pretty excited for Super Mario Odyssey. I’ve watched Nintendo’s trailers, put down my $5 on a pre-order, listened to podcasts, and ruthlessly avoided reading the 10/10 Edge review. I don’t want it to be thoroughly spoiled, though I’m fairly certain I’ll break down and read *every single review* before it comes out.

But I can’t help feeling that it will let me down in a massive way.

For me, the feel of each 3D Mario game improved on the last. I consider Mario 64 to be something of an abomination–having played the NES and SNES Super Mario games, it just didn’t feel Mario to me. The pie-slice health bar, temporary powerups, and open, platformless levels were a massive concession to limited hardware. With each 3D Mario, they seemed to shed some of that concessionary baggage. 3D Land and 3D World were finally in glorious alignment with the classic 2D games–and I loved them to death.

MarioOdysseyFireballCrop

Now we’re back to Mario 64 design. I should say, straight away, that I was totally ready for an open world Mario. I’m completely on board with that. It’s just that, when I look at Odyssey’s levels, they look… flat. You run and jump, but there doesn’t seem to be a lot of actual platforming. Mario 3D World was packed with things to do. Every second you were stomping goombas, jumping into secret warps, turning gigantic, chucking snowballs, and riding wooden rafts down purple poison rivers. The design was really meant to spoil the player, and each level felt like a little bite-sized playground. Odyssey looks like a different sort of playground. One that’s huge, but without attractions. You’re given some sticks and told to make your own fun.

MarioOdysseyGoombaCrop

I do look forward to possessing enemies. Shooting above the world as a bullet bill looks breathtaking in a way only Nintendo can manage. And even more than the giant T-Rex, I look forward to playing as the flappy-winged gliding lizards. They look so bouncy, goofy, and adorable. There’s a sort of richness there, the feeling that Nintendo wanted to stuff as much as they could into the game. That’s what Nintendo does. That’s why they’re the best.

But then I hear how much there is “to do” in the game, and it feels like previewers are playing a checklist. “Even though the first area is really small with not a whole lot going on,” says Kinda Funny Gamescast, “there’s seven moons to find!” Well, I’d be more thrilled if it seemed like the area had a lot going on. This is a huge problem I have with Breath of the Wild and open world games in general. There is a massive amount of “things to do,” but in actuality you’re mostly just walking and climbing and picking plants. Which is boring! It’s boring. I’m sorry, but it’s boring.

MarioOdysseyDesertCrop

I’m really wanting to be wrong. Really, really. I see all the different costumes, the bright and beautiful worlds, that dumb Championship Sprint minigame, New Donk friggin’ City, and I want this game to be totally awesome. I want to cherish it, to explore it, to delightedly uncover all of those stupid green moons. And then I remember Super Mario Galaxy, a game with a ton of awesome ideas that I never completed because it was just so damned boring.

Instead of excitedly unwrapping Mario Odyssey, I think I’m going to take a more measured approach. I’m gonna state at it for a minute, breath a sign of resignation, and slot it into the Switch. I don’t want to be breathlessly excited because I don’t want to be endlessly disappointed. I want to play Super Mario Odyssey on its own terms.

Hopefully I’ll find what I missed in Princess Peach’s Castle, all those years ago.

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West-washing the world’s games

October 21, 2016

mariousa

“I can’t remember the last time I played a Japanese game,” my friend Mike said to me.

Our tastes are largely different. He plays primarily open-world games, racers, and first person shooters, pillar genres of “western” game design. It’s true that I tend more toward Japanese games, and occasionally games that are garishly and loudly Japanese. So his statement should have been unsurprising. We just have different tastes. But it was when he said it that surprised me.

I asked him what game we’d been playing.

“Mario Kart. Ah, yeah. Yeah. I didn’t really think about it, huh? I meant really Japanese games, you know?”

In Mike’s defense, Mario is difficult to pin down as Japanese. He’s an Italian plumber, after all, and basically the Mickey Mouse of videogames. He’s so famous that he can’t be said to belong to one culture at all–he’s globally recognized, and every tuned-in culture likely has “their” version of Mario, the same as they have “their” Mickey Mouse or McDonalds.

But it’s been weird, seeing this trend from Japan’s complete dominance of console gaming to a sort of coup by western game developers. In large part I suppose that’s due to the Xbox brand: gamers can play a largely western catalogue of games on an American-made console. It’s also due to the lopsided categorization: Assassin’s Creed, Battlefield, Forza; these are all considered “our” games, despite being from three different countries. Meanwhile, Japan is just Japan.

Many gamers seem content to let Japan just be dead. After all, where are all the Japanese role-playing games? We have The Witcher (Poland), Elder Scrolls (US), and Dragon Age (Canada). This despite the massive number of Japanese role-playing games that get released on 3DS and Vita to critical acclaim. Well, those are handhelds, they don’t really count. Small in size, they’re assumed to be small in scope.

I suspect that much of the American gaming public is holding their breath for Final Fantasy 15. SquareEnix have been in and out of gamers’ graces for a while. Can the Japanese prove they’ve still got it? The massive success of Dark Souls and Bloodborne should prove that they have, in fact, got it. Nevermind that both series are wrapped in the bleak cloak of western fantasy; us westerners wouldn’t accept anything less.

If Final Fantasy 15 flops, will American gamers write off Japanese role-playing games entirely? That’d be a very sad thing, with Persona 5 just over the horizon.

How to draw Mario’s shyest enemy: A bashful Boo!

October 31, 2014

First, draw a circle. It doesn’t have to be perfect!

kingboo1Then, add some nubbinses for the arms and tail, like so (the tail can be tough!)

kingboo2Now erase the part of the circle connected to the tail.

kingboo3Then just add a happy face!

kingboo4

And BAM! You drew a boo! Happy Halloween everybody!

– Catstronaut Loves Games

 

 

Famicons

August 24, 2014

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Diorama design based on the original Super Mario Bros., featuring recolored Japanese Famicom controllers. Conceptualized, painted, and arranged by myself, with help from this sprite sheet courtesy of Zeon and Beam Luinsir Yosho.