Tag Archives: platformer

Super Mario Bros 2 (3DS Virtual Console) Review

200px-Super_Mario_Bros_2Super Mario Bros. 2 (Available exclusively on Wii, and Wii U Virtual Console)
ESRB Rating: E
Number of Players: 1
Genre: Platformer
Publisher: NIntendo
Developer: NIntendo
Original Release Date: October 20th, 1988
Wii VC Release Date: July 2nd, 1988
Wii U VC Release Date: May 16th, 2013
3DS VC Release Date: August 7th, 2013

You all know the story by now. The original Super Mario Bros. 2 was deemed either too difficult of unoriginal by Nintendo of America back in the day. Therefore, they took a game called Doki Doki Panic and tweeked it here and there by adding Mario influences. Super Mario Bros. 2 (or Super Mario Bros. USA as it’s called in Japan) was the result. Over the years, it’s been quite controversial. Many gamers loved the game, while others simply found it to be way too weird. What’s my take? Read on for the full review.

The Great:

The wackiness! This game makes absolutely no sense and I love it! You can summon a rocket-ship by plucking out a vegetable! How awesome is that? There are mushrooms that grant you additional health hidden in some kind of dark sub-space world. How do you find those mushrooms you ask? By plucking out a potion and throwing it a precise spot of course. How else? Every Mario game out there usually makes you jump on a flag, or hit a moving panel. In this one, you need to grab a crystal ball, usually found in the belly of a transsexual creature, which then lets you enter the mouth of a giant bird’s face. Everything about Super Mario Bros. 2 is bat-sh** crazy, and that’s why it will always remain a classic in my book.

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The Good:

+ Lets you play as four different characters. Each with obvious strengths and weaknesses. I always thought Luigi was the best character to use. Never played with anyone else besides the occasional level with Peach. I just loved jumping high and bypassing areas doing so. Turns out Luigi is possibly the worst character in the whole game. He’s just too clumsy for the later levels, he slides all over the place and gives you no agility. Yet, take a character like Mario for example. While his jumps make you wonder how he ever could call himself “Jump-man”, he can stop on a dime. Makes the later levels a joke with this guy. Peach can float around like a ninja making her very useful practically at any time. She’s the good all around character. Then you have Toad, another neglected character over the years. He’s crazy fast, giving you the chance to rack up extra lives which are a must if you want to complete the game.

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+ A really diverse amount of bosses. All of them require you to pick up objects and throw at them, but the way the fights are setup are truly unique. If there’s one weakness with the Mario titles of today, it has to be the bosses. Super Mario Bros. 2 is a breath of fresh air in that department.

+ The hardest Mario title ever. Sure you could make a good case about The Lost Levels, but for Super Mario Bros. 2 remains incredibly hard to complete without using restore points. You only need a few hits and you’re dead, and those come easily and quite fast starting with World 4.

+ Fun from beginning to end. Still highly playable today. There’s just something special about jumping on one of Birdo’s eggs only to send it right back at its face.

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The Lowdown:

I know not everyone share’s the same opinion as I do on this one. For me, I always loved the title back then and even today find it one of the greatest NES classics of all time. Add the ability to play it while on the go and you simply cannot pass this title up if you like platformers in any way. Buy it!

Final Score: 9.0/10

New Super Luigi U Review

New Super Luigi UNew Super Luigi U (Available exclusively on Wii U)
ESRB Rating: E
Number of Players: 1 to 4
Genre: Platformer
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo
Release Date: June 20th, 2013 (Download), August 25th, 2013 (Disc-version)

New Super Luigi U is a first for the Big N. A brand new adventure offered as DLC to a previous release, with a physical version coming out in August. How does Luigi U compare to New Super Mario Bros. U? Is it worth revisiting the game? Absolutely.

The Great:

The difficulty! I died several times in the very first level. There’s an unwritten rule with Mario games, you don’t die in the first level unless you ask for it. Luigi U is hard as nails from the very beginning. It starts every area with the familiar tune you hear when running out of time, and that’s because every stage starts with a hundred second time limit. That automatically makes you hurry, even though often time isn’t a factor. The difficulty also greatly ranks up if you’re aiming for all three star coins. They are near-impossible to find, ensuring tons of replay value. These are not just for show either, they unlock the secret levels which are always a blast to play. I was taken by surprise by how hard this game is. I never expected this. It’s the hardest Mario game ever and I’ve been wanting something like this since the good old days.

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The Good:

+ Tons of little Luigi’s hidden everywhere is a nice little throwback to gamers who grew up in the 80s.

+ Over 80 completely original levels.

+ Perfect price. Finally an incentive to go digital. Those that prefer physical copies get their wish, but will have to spend an extra $10, and wait a while. This is how it should always be.

+ The introduction of Nabbit makes this game playable to everyone. If you want to play with young ones, just have them select that character and watch them smile. Good little addition to make this accessible to all.

+ Luigi controls like crap, just like he did in Super Mario Bros. 2. That’s a good thing because it allows you to play in a different way. It’s another reason why New Luigi U is so bloody hard.

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The Bad:

– While I don’t mind the fact that the story is identical, I would have wished that they at least gave it a separate Miiverse community. Also, why do I need the New Super Mario Bros. U disk to play? This should have been release as a stand alone game, that way more people could have enjoyed it. Right now, you need to own Mario U to buy this. The retail version is oblivious to this of course.

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The Lowdown:

New Super Luigi U is a must buy for anyone who loves platformers and owns a Wii U. Do not pass it up.

Final Score: 9.0/10

Disney Epic Mickey: The Power of Illusion Review

EMPoIDisney Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion (Available exclusively on Nintendo 3DS)
ESRB Rating: ENumber of Players: 1
Genre: Platformer
Publisher: Disney Interactive Studios
Developer: DreamRift
Release Date: November 18th, 2012

Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse is one of the best platformers ever released on the Master System/Genesis. It’s an absolute classic and known as one of the best videogames of its era. When Power of Illusion was announced in early 2012, I got really excited. I never got around to picking it up until just recently, and I have to say it turned out to be a huge disappointment.  Here’s why.

The Great:

The hand drawn visuals are what drew me to the game in the first place and are by far its best feature. They gave me a thing to draw while I was bored. 2D games are extremely rare these days, and Power of Illusion looks outstanding.

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The Good:

  • I honestly don’t have many positives I can associate with Power of Illusion. The platforming can be fun at times and the Disney characters are well represented. Thankfully, the game is super short as well.

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The Bad:

  • The drawing mechanics kill the game from the very beginning. You have to either draw the outline of an object, or color it in full to erase it. This can be entertaining for a two-year old, but gets tedious very quickly. It wouldn’t be so bad if the game didn’t require you to do this every 30 seconds. What they should have done is made you draw actual images of classic Disney characters, but at most once or twice per level. The current system is too repetitive and unoriginal.
  • Uninspired level design. The platforming is extremely basic, and leaves a lot to be desired.
  • Unbalanced gameplay. The earlier levels are cakes, and then all of a sudden the game becomes frustrating. Some basic enemies take way too many hits to kill, and the game relies heavily on the drawing mechanic to advance.
  • Rescued Disney characters will send you on meaningless quests which consists of you pressing A to advance text.

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The Lowdown:

Only if you’re a hardcore Disney fan would I ever recommend this game to you. The drawing mechanic is flawed, the levels are forgettable, there’s just nothing here that can compete with better platformers already released on the 3DS. Sadly doesn’t even come close of living up to its spiritual prequel.

Final Score: 5.0/10

Sonic Generations Review

Sonic Generations (Available on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC, and Nintendo 3DS)
ESRB Rating: E
Players: 1
Genre: Platformer
Publisher: SEGA
Developer: Sonic Team
Release Date: November 1, 2011

Parent Talk: Sonic the Hedgehog is a classic game mascot. He’s a perfect, family-friendly character, like Nintendo’s own Mario.

Plays Like: Other Sonic the Hedgehog games, specifically a combination of the original series and the more recent Sonic Colors.

Review Basis: Achieved S rank on all Acts, completed most of the side missions.

Note: The Nintendo 3DS version bears significant changes compared to the console and PC versions of the game.

The media hasn’t been kind to Sonic the Hedgehog. Most Sonic game reviews begin with a clichéd statement about the series’ fall from grace. Well, my opinion is that Sonic has been “back” for quite some time. After a successful line of great platformers on the GBA and NDS, Sonic has returned successfully to consoles with the pleasant surprises like Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1 and Sonic Colors. Generations arrived in time for the blue blur’s 20th anniversary and Sonic Team did its best to celebrate all that is Sonic. If you’re a fan, Generations is a must.has done its very best to celebrate everything that is Sonic. If you’re a classic Sonic fan, this a must-have.

The Great:

A perfect mix of old and new. SG caters to the older, grizzled retro-game enthusiasts who grew up with Sonic the Hedgehog on the Genesis in the early 90s and to the younger crowd who were introduced to SEGA’s mascot with Sonic Rush, Sonic Unleashed, or Sonic Colors. The game is divided into two halves, represented by the two playable versions of Sonic. Classic Sonic looks as you remember, complete with cute, chubby little pot belly. Modern Sonic has more advanced skills, an edgier style, and attitude to match.

Both play styles are perfected here. Classic Sonic plays similarly to the original Sega Genesis classics, right down to the physics. Modern Sonic finally comes into his own too, fully developing after years of experimentation. The result is a satisfying and fresh platforming game that longtime fans will love.

The Good:

+ Colorful, expressive graphics. Sonic’s world has never looked prettier. Classic levels enjoy a dramatic makeover, now presented in brilliant current-gen graphics. The retro and modern stages come with unique nuances, but both were given proper effort and dedication. They’re filled to the brim with detail.

+ Great level design. Sonic the Hedgehog’s mission is always to balance the thrill of speed with solid platforming. A quality platformer challenges the player to find the best route to the end. Sonic takes that to the extreme; you must react fast enough to reach convenient pathways. Doing so nets you hidden goodies and handy shortcuts. Every level is layered well, with many alternate paths.

+ Excellent boss fights. Several of Sonic’s old enemies return. Metal Sonic, Shadow the Hedgehog, Silver the Hedgehog, Dr. Robotnik, and more appear as potential foes. Battles are unique and interesting because they each come with unique rules and gimmicks. Classic Sonic fights Metal Sonic, so the rules and play style for that mimic the original games. The battles against Shadow and Modern Sonic could have been ripped right from Sonic Adventure 2.

+ A celebration. So much of Sonic’s repertoire is found here. Levels are faithfully recreated (including my personal favorite, Sonic 2’s Chemical Plant), and tons of songs throughout the franchise play out.

+ Classic Sonic perfectly represents old-school StH, which should satisfy purists. Sonic is still fast, but the focus is more conservative. He can run, jump, and spin dash his way through intricately-layered 2D levels. The character model and physics are on par to emulate the right feel.

+ Modern Sonic is satisfying and fun, finally solidifying his play style. Compared to Classic, he has a wider variety of maneuvers. His levels are a combination of 3D and 2D elements that come together beautifully. Sonic can use his homing attack and boost abilities to soar to areas that Classic Sonic can’t touch, speeding through areas with amazing speed. Classic Sonic’s levels evoke nostalgia, while Modern Sonic succeeds due to thrill ride levels.

+ Unique level gimmicks. For example, Planet Wisp from Sonic Colors introduces some of Sonic’s abilities from that game.

+ RPG elements. This is the most unexpected aspect. Sonic unlocks abilities by completing missions. These can be equipped after they’re purchased from the store, and bring a wealth of different effects. They dramatically affect the game’s balance, making revisiting previous levels more fun.

+ Sonic’s friends are back, but in the appropriate context—Sonic is the star, while they’re helpers in side missions.

+ English and Japanese voices. The voice work is much better than in previous games.

+ Fantastic remixes of classic songs.

The Bad:

– Framerate hiccups. During some intense scenes, the action freezes briefly, but that is debilitating for a game intended to be fast. Across several stages, I experienced an occasional hiccup upon a key moment where I needed to jump or move, which often resulted in losing rings.

– Camera problems. Though infrequent, the camera can be problematic. During one mission, I had to bounce a music note back and forth by hitting it with Sonic’s homing attack. However, several times the camera shifted behind a piece of scenery, making it impossible to see. The camera also failed to keep up with me in another stage, which is never good.

– The abilities aren’t necessary. They’re fun to play with, but not essential to the game. I finished all the Acts before I bothered to equip them.

– Control issues. For several sequences, you need pinpoint accuracy to guide Sonic. Several times trying to make Sonic boost, he instead took off in the opposite direction and vaulted off a ledge. I also found it difficult to drift and turn properly at times.

– Too dependent on nostalgia. Generations relies on catering to fans. The gameplay and secrets are tailor-made for Sonic lovers, but if you’re new, the attachment won’t be there.

The Lowdown:

Sonic the Hedgehog may still fall short of Mario’s AAA standards, but claims of his demise are exaggerated. Sonic Generations is an excellent love letter to fans old and new, and another great notch in the belt for the franchise. After Sonic Colors, Sonic 4, and now Generations, the blue blur is on the right track. If you ever loved a Sonic game, please check out Generations.

Score: 8.5/10

Rayman Origins Review

Rayman Origins (Available on PlayStation 3, Wii, and Xbox 360)
ESRB Rating: E10+
Players: 1-4
Genre: Platformer
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft Montpellier
Release Date: November 15, 2011

Parent Talk: Rayman Origins is rated E10+ by the ESRB because of comic mischief, cartoon violence, and mild suggestive themes.  Rayman would be about as damaging to minors as Mario.  In other words, parents don’t have to worry about this game.

Plays Like: Any side-scrolling platformer.

Review Basis: Completed the PS3 version with a buddy.

Rayman returns in one of 2011’s best platformers, offering veterans a challenge. It also combines modern gameplay elements like infinite lives and checkpoints to help newbies get sucked in to this stellar experience. If there’s a platformer you need to play this year for consoles, it’s Rayman Origins.

The Great:

The most amazing game world I’ve experienced. Everything in Origins is creative and exciting.  From how the flora reacts to Rayman as he zips by, to pillars that crumble under his feet, everything connects beautifully. It’s all thanks to the superb art direction of Michel Ancel, who delivers a cohesive world. Just look at the screenshots provided. Have you seen a more magical and mystical showpiece?  I haven’t.  With incredible level design, beautiful art and a tight framerate, Rayman Origins turns what you think game worlds should be on its head. It’s absolutely breathtaking.

The Good:

+ Challenging, but fair. Checkpoints and infinite lives will prevent players from pulling out their hair. This is no cakewalk, however.

+ Achievements/Trophies will make speed run enthusiasts smile, among others.

+ Best local multiplayer of 2011.  I’ve played the year’s best releases, and Rayman Origins is the most fun I’ve had with friends under a single roof.  It’s amazing teaming with two players, and ultra-crazy with four.

+ Creative, innovative progression. The characters learn new abilities from one level to the next, and they stick with you. Meaning, backtracking yields different results.

+ Variety promotes replay. If there ever was a game to “just one more stage,” this is it.  From underwater caverns, to riding on the backs of giant mosquitos, Rayman Origins offers an overabundance of fun and originality.

+ Slapping a friend is priceless.

The So-So:

+/- Back and foreground blending. This happens occasionally, making progression a little confusing. These moments are far and few though; usually you’ll have no problem knowing where to go.

+/- Single player makes unlocking later levels a bit of a chore (you must collect things), but revisiting stages with new powers and friends is wonderful.

The Bad:

– No online co-op. That’s a shame, because how many of us live with three friends?

The Ugly:

Looking at other platformers once you’ve finished Rayman Origins.

The Lowdown:

Ubisoft took a huge risk developing Rayman Origins. It bucks the trend, allowing you to experience a side-scrolling adventure unlike any.  It’s a great example of what happens when you let a creative mind go wild, but keep the gameplay as focused as the art. This is one of the best platformers available. Don’t miss it.

Average Score Scale: 9.0 (+/- 0.5) out of 10

Personal Final Score: 9/10 (Neutral)

Reason for +0.5 Inflation: You crave platformers, and enough friends to enjoy 4-player whenever you like.

Reason for -0.5 Deflation: Lack of online co-op forces you to go solo instead of living it up with friends.

The Sly Collection Review

The Sly Collection (Available exclusively only on PS3)
ESRB Rating: E-E10+
Players: 1-4
Genre: Platformer/Compilation
Publisher: SCEA
Developer: Sucker Punch/Sanzaru Games
Release Date: Nov 9, 2010

The Great:

Three of the PS2’s greatest platformers on one disc. If you missed the Sly series, why are you still reading this? Go by this now! Usually lumped in with fellow franchises Jak & Daxter and Ratchet & Clank, the Sly games offered platforming at its purest on the system. Not only are all three fun to play, the stories and characters are among the most likable of the games I’ve played.  The series is charming and can win over anyone.  Not to mention enjoying these three games on one disc, in HD, is a fantastic deal.

The Good:

+ Gracefully aged. Obviously Sly-Sly 3 aren’t as technically advanced as games being pumped out today, but so much in them just feels right.  The past excellent polish has so far stood the test of time.  The HD upgrade provides a new coat of paint for the vibrant and colorful cel-shaded worlds. The overall style helps give the games a pass on the low poly-count, but it’s so cartoony and fun you won’t care.  The formula is still addictive, and it’s neat to witness how the series improved playing each game successively.   It started simple and was added upon, but favorably, not unnecessarily.

+ A fantastic deal.  You’ll get your money’s worth with Sly Collection.  You don’t need a PS2, and the HD visuals are superbly shiny!  And of course, trophy support and new Move-supported mini-games sweeten the experiences.  There’s not much to dislike.

+ A great introduction to Sly.  If you haven’t played these platformers for any reason, this set is worthwhile.  Sucker Punch teased us with Easter eggs in inFamous (some in this disc), and hopefully more Sly is coming.  Hence, there’s no better way to greet Mr. Sly.

The So-So:

± Shallow Move games. They support four people simultaneously, but have nothing to do with Sly.  They basically boil down to target-shooting, or piloting a vehicle through rings.  A DualShock 3 can be used, a Move isn’t needed.  Either way, the minis won’t hold your attention, but they’re good for trophies.

± Past glitches are still around. Aside from the visuals, these are straight ports.  The Sly titles are polished, but control/camera issues from before have been carried over.  Instances are few and far between, but some clean-up effort would have been nice.

The Lowdown

There isn’t much negative to point out about this compilation.  If you care for additional detail, take a gander at the reviews for the original games on our site archives.  I can’t stress enough how much of a bargain this three-games-on-one-disc is.  Sly is one of my most beloved PS2 franchises, and I’m confident that there are many of you who feel the same.  Buy this.  I can’t recommend it enough!

Super Meat Boy Review

Super Meat Boy [Available on XBLA and PC]
ESRB Rating: T
Genre: Platformer
Publisher: Team Meat
Developer: Team Meat
Release Date:  October 20th (XBLA), November 30th, 2010 (PC)

Parent TalkSuper Meat Boy is filled with crude humor and silly jokes, and the profanity will definitely be as a red flag to parents.  The dialogue is intended for teenage ears.  The premise is similar to classic games like Super Mario Bros., but the fact that the main character is a boy made out of meat that can be sprayed over the screen like confetti makes for a cartoonish and odd experience.

SMB pays homage to platformers from the NES days and to classic gaming in general, all wrapped in a package of [oddball] comedy.  The focus is to guide Meat Boy through dozens of small, deadly stages and rescue his girlfriend, Bandage Girl.  The mechanics are simple, but the game is everything but easy.  You’re eased in at first, but the stages quickly ramp up the difficulty.

The Great:
Solid platforming.  Super Meat Boy is a cool and clever platforming game.  There is a variety of levels, spanning multiple areas.  Each area has a “Light” and “Dark” World section, with the DW being the more sinister interpretation.  There are also hidden warp zones to find, bandages to collect, and extra characters to unlock.  But the core of the game is a fun and simple platformer.  Levels are incredibly brief, but also require precision and skill to complete.  Some may requires dozens and dozens of attempts before completing, especially later on.

The Good:

+ Awesome soundtrack.  Super Meat Boy is a serious contender for best music for 2010.  It goes beyond competing with just other download games; SMB easily outdoes most retail games.   The selection is an assortment of rocking chiptune themes and excellent guitar playing.  It’s on the same level as Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game in terms of awesome-ness.

+ Challenging.   SMB is extremely difficult, bordering on throw-your-controller-against-a-wall frustration.  Finishing levels, especially after achieving an A+ and collecting the item, is incredibly satisfying.  The stages are also creative, so rather than tire the player out, they usually propel the challenge forward.

+ Creative levels.  The stage designs are really interesting.  There are standard traps like fire and buzz saws, but the arrangement of platforms and implementation of hazards is unique.  The levels always appear impossible, but merely require a specific pathway to navigate or a particular strategy to employ.  It’s difficult either way, but each stage highlights a clearly identified path.  There are collectible items (bandages) and warp zones as well, the latter of which contain their own unique levels.

+ Game references.  Super Meat Boy is a love letter to 8 and 16-bit gaming.  There are dozens of references to classic games, either in the title screens or levels.  For example, some of the title screens reflect Street Fighter II and Mega Man II.  The warp zones, on the other hand, are a callback to old-school gaming platforms.  Some even appear in the same green and block color palette like an original Game Boy game, or look ripped from the Atari era.  It’s a cool touch that makes the game especially appealing to retro game enthusiasts.

+ Humor.  The over-the-top violence and Meat Boy’s expressions are hilarious.  Poor ol’ Meat Boy is working so hard to rescue Bandage Girl, but he knows everyone loves him.  People who appreciate this kind of humor will love the game.

The Bad:

– Sometimes TOO challenging.  SMB is tough, so much that it’s occasionally more frustrating than fun.  Your patience level will determine how you like the game.  Some just won’t be able to handle the demands.  The beginning levels are a snap for most seasoned players, and even those in the middle are tolerable, but the Dark World stages are the epitome of gaming frustration.

– Tough control.  The controls are tight and responsive, but helping Meat Boy win can be a chore.  Not only is he really fast, but also tiny and slippery.  It takes some practice to manipulate him.  The other characters handle slightly different according to their abilities, The Kid from I Wanna Be the Guy can double jump, while Gish clings to walls.  The sprites are so small and the action so fast that it can become painful to keep track of it all.  It would be much nicer if the 360 controller was equipped with a better D-pad, but the analog stick also works fine.

The Lowdown:

SMB is really, really hard, but fun and full of replay value.  This is a must-download for fans of platforming and retro games.

Kirby’s Epic Yarn Review

Kirby’s Epic Yarn [Available only on Wii]
ESRB Rating: E
Players: 1-2
Genre: Platformer
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Good Feel
Release Date: October 17th, 2010

Parent Talk: This is an ideal kids game.   Not only is it incredibly vibrant and adorable, it plays like a storybook.  Kirby’s Epic Yarn is colorful and cute, while also simple and fun to play.  The co-op option means parents can jump in as well.  Best of all; the adventure is worthwhile for gamers of all ages.

Kirby’s Epic Yarn is bright and colorful (to an almost ridiculous degree) and is arguably one of the most visually creative games for Wii.  Not only is the game visually unique, but it also runs beautifully in motion and even gives some of the games from the HD consoles a run for their money.  Of course, this is Nintendo we’re talking about, so whenever graphics are concerned, there is much more of a focus on color and uniqueness as opposed to hyper-realism.  Even better, Epic Yarn is a solid platformer that is truly fun and offers a great co-operative experience.

The Great:  Awesome [co-op] gameplay.  Kirby’s Epic Yarn prioritizes fun.  While the game is straightforward, and downright easy frankly, it’s always a blast to play as each level pushes you to explore and find all the treasures.  Core fans may complain about the lack of difficulty, but a hard game doesn’t automatically mean a good game.  With single player, it’s great; but with two, it’s even better.  Co-op makes exploring the levels more satisfying and reminds you of Kirby Super Star.  The stage design perfectly complements co-op, and even the vehicle portions are more involved with two players in the mix.  For example, one of the early stages pits players in some kind of hybrid tank, with each controlling certain functions.  Your partner can even be used as an offensive projectile.

The Good:

+ Stunning.  This is one of Wii’s best visually.  Better yet, the style integration affects not only the eye candy, but how levels are actually played.  Kirby can pull zippers to make pieces of the stage fall down, or literally scrunch the “fabric” of a level together by pulling a string.

+ Extras.  Completing every main level and acquiring each items may take most around six or so hours to complete.  But there are additional levels to conquer afterward, like the hide-and-seek, bead-collecting, and carry challenges.  Additional “patches” can be earned by defeating bosses [and gathering enough beads doing so] which unlock additional levels.   Players can also customize their “room” with collected items.  Littered across stages are different pieces of furniture and other items, which can decorate Kirby’s room.  Wallpapers and items can be obtained by playing levels or buying them from the shop.

+ Clever design.  You undoubtedly associate Kirby games with inhaling enemies and borrowing powers—the franchise’s gimmick.  It was a gutsy for Nintendo to drastically change the series’ formula.  The premise is explained well enough and the new ideas are clever enough so the change doesn’t disappoint.  Yes, the “yarn” appeal may be novel, but it works well and is a sign that Nintendo can change the primary hook of a tried-and-true system yet still make it worthwhile.  Some may be alienated by the abrupt new direction, but it deserves a chance.  Kirby and his pal Prince Fluff can also transform into tons of things, like robots, UFOs, dolphins, fire trucks, rocket cars, or trains.

The Bad:

– Short.  Epic Yarn can be finished in six hours.  For a platformer that’s not surprising, but Nintendo could do better.  Super Mario Galaxy and SMG2 both have extraordinary value.  Kirby’s Epic Yarn emphasizes being a simple game that appeals to the casual market as well as the Kirby fan, but it shouldn’t be an excuse to be short.

– Forgettable music.  The soundtrack isn’t as memorable as other games in the series.  It’s cutesy and fitting for the theme, but nothing stands out at all.  The music isn’t bad per se, it’s just disappointing that the tunes aren’t as catchy.

The Lowdown:

Kirby’s Epic Yarn is easy, cutesy, and definitely aimed at a younger crowd—but it can be fun for anyone.  Core gamers may feel ‘too mature’ to enjoy this, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they slipped in for some co-op action.  It’s an addictive and fun co-op platformer that’s a must for Nintendo fans.

Super Mario Galaxy 2 Review

Super Mario Galaxy 2 [Only available on Wii]
ESRB Rating: E
Players: 1-2
Genre: Platformer
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo EAD Tokyo
Release Date: May 23rd, 2010

Parent Talk: Mario is the perfect gaming mascot for families.  Nintendo’s mustachioed plumber is the recognized face of the industry, so most parents should already be familiar with him.  Mario’s latest adventure is rated E, acceptable for players of all ages.  No profanity, no violence; just plain fun.  Unlike most watered down “kid friendly” games however, Super Mario Galaxy 2 provides a healthy challenge for all.  Teens and adults may just as easily be swayed by its charms.

Super Mario Galaxy 2 has received glowing reviews from everyone.  After playing seeing it to the end, painstakingly gathering every star I could manage, I agree.  SMG2’s charm is infectious.  This is easily the best Wii game to date.  The visual appeal, level design, orchestrated music, and fun gameplay mechanics make it an instant classic.  2007’s Super Mario Galaxy was and still is an amazing game, but SMG2 perfectly builds on it and integrates so many new ideas into an already great template.

The Great:

Oh boy…where to begin?  This is an adventure of cosmic proportions (bad pun, sorry).  Super Mario Galaxy 2 features a satisfying amount of levels, each offering a unique world to explore.  Yoshi especially makes many of the stages memorable with his own special abilities (like eating enemies, integrated perfectly with the IR pointer).  Levels are presented on a select screen reminiscent of the classics, like Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World.  Each stage contains several stars supported by fresh scenarios.  Then there are “Comet” levels accessible after nabbing the unsurprisingly named Comet Coins.  The platforming is amazing; the challenges are plentiful, and there’s always something cool to see and do.  Acquiring 120 stars is just the tip of the iceberg this time.  Even Luigi is playable!

The Good:

+ Beautiful music.  The orchestrated soundtrack is back in full swing, with an array of new and familiar tunes.  The music is exceptionally well-done no matter how you slice it.

+ Visuals. Super Mario Galaxy 2 runs on the same engine laid down by its predecessor, which shows how amazing that first game was.  SMG2 manages to improve on it with highly imaginative worlds to explore and loads of cool effects.  The overworld design from SMG (and to an extent, SM64 and Sunshine) has been simplified, but it’s still a visually striking level select system.  Mario can still enter a centralized hub via his Starship, but this way it is much easier to pick up the game and find new levels.

+ Yoshi! Mario’s famous steed has finally returned, and it’s wonderful how much he adds to the game.  Instead of riding him from level to level, Yoshi is contained for specific areas.  Certain levels must be completed with his abilities, like Blimp Yoshi.  There are other cool and creative power-ups as well, like Cloud Mario and Rock Mario, in addition to Bee Mario that we enjoyed two years ago.  Using each transformation wisely can make levels far more entertaining and open up the possibility to find new stars.

+ Improved co-op. SMG offered the option of letting a second player on to nab and shoot star bits.  SMG2 gives player two more freedom.  Grabbing items, stunning enemies and some hazards, and performing a spin attack.  Having a buddy grab a controller makes many levels surprisingly easy.

+ Perfect challengeSMG2 is legitimately difficult.  The latter levels are extremely tough.  Seasoned gamers should welcome this with open arms. Newer players, however, may struggle on their own or use the HinTV/Cosmic Guide to let the game play itself.  Nintendo balanced this however, by awarding a Bronze star to the more helpless, instead of a Gold.

The Bad:

The (lack of) voice work.  This isn’t 1996 anymore.  People expect spoken dialogue, not beeps and boops.  This is a minimal complaint considering it’s a Mario game; but still, Nintendo should act in our lifetimes.

Thin story.  Our plot is basically a repeat from 2007.  I know expectations are low for a Mario platformer, but it would be nice if Nintendo made an effort to write something other than the usual “save Princess Peach” routine.  The RPGs have entered those doors; why not the platformers?

No other playable characters. Not much to say, but it would be a pleasant surprise to play as Peach, for example.

The Lowdown:

You may think by The Bad that Super Mario Galaxy 2 surely couldn’t achieve top honors.  That, my friend, is what you call nitpicking.  Even considering those points, SMG2 is a thoroughly amazing adventure that must be played, Nintendo fan or not.

Insomniac Done With 60 FPS?

R&C

Insomniac developer Mike Acton had some very interesting words to say on Insomniac’s blog.  Mike said that Insomniac is quite proud of the fact that their games have such a high framerate.  It’s one of the main reasons why Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time was so smooth to play.  A high framerate allows games to move with extremely fluid animations.  There’s a tradeoff though, the graphics typically take a hit.  This is one of the reasons why some of the most stunning-looking games out there run at 30 frames per second instead of 60 fps.

Moving forward Insomniac is going to focus on higher quality graphics instead of 60 fps.  Before you get in an uproar though, understand what Mike is saying by reading the complete blog post.  He really does a great job of explaining why this move is being done, and how it will affect their games.  This isn’t a bad thing, and could be a very good move for a franchise like Resistance.