A week of Mario. And not even the classic, traditional platforming Mario games, but the Mario spin-off games, chronicling all the different roles and jobs Mario has been placed in over the years. So much Mario in such a short amount of time, and not one single mention of his dearest brother, who has been by his side since the beginning.
Well, Luigi finally had enough of the neglect and mistreatment, and decided to take over this blog, at least for one day. This shouldn't be a surprise, either, as Nintendo dubbed 2013 the year of Luigi, a bold move for a company so reliant on Mario being their face and mascot, the one to carry the companies flag into battle. Nintendo realized how important yet forgotten about by creating the year of Luigi, which was just a glorified way of announcing a bunch of Luigi-stared titles. There was Luigi's mansion, Mario and Luigi: Dream Team, and of course, New Super Luigi U, the huge DLC/expansion/game that Nintendo released to accompany the New Super Mario Bros. U game.
Since the original Super Mario Bros., Luigi has always been Player 2. Whenever two people would play this game together, a fight would ensure to be the first player so that they could be Mario and didn't have to be stuck being Luigi. Usually it was decided by age, or who actually owned the console. This was true for myself as well, as I remember very distinctly no one ever wanting to be Player 2. Even though both characters shared the exact same qualities, except for the color pallet of their clothes, people resisted the notion of being Luigi.
Since then, Luigi has pretty much been regulated to "the other guy." Sure, he's had a few staring roles, like in his original Luigi's Mansion game for the GameCube, or his appearances in the Smash Bros. games, or even as an unlockable character in Mario Galaxy, but never has he ever been celebrated or been given the chance to make fans love him. Instead, gamers always feel stuck playing as him. Well, the guy in green has taken this opportunity and ran with it.
New Super Luigi U, which cleverly depicts spray paint over the "Bros.," is downloadable content that cost $20, which seems extreme. At first glance, it's easy to wonder if Nintendo knows what they are doing when it comes to DLC, as they don't exactly have a long and storied track record of offering it. But once you dig in to what is actually included with the $20 price point, it all makes sense. Instead of just a few levels or something to that nature, Nintendo actually remade the entire game to feature Luigi instead. No, you don't get to just play as Luigi in all the levels you already played through, but they actually created entirely different levels for the entire map. Every single level is different, all Luigi themed, too. There are random pieces of Luigi artwork splattered all over the levels, constantly reminding you this is Luigi's world now. Not that he is humble about it or anything.
In fact, in this game, you can't even play as Mario. Even as second player, Mario is no where to be found. Luigi isn't playing second fiddle in this adventure, that's for sure. He comes equipped with his own move set as well, as he is able to jump exponentially higher than his shorter brother, but also has a heck of a time stopping when he gets going. Instead of breaking and turning on a time, he slides for quite a distance after running, and the faster he is going before hand, the farther he will slide when he does try to stop. This of course make Luigi quite difficult to control, but because of his increased jumping ability and his "flutter" he does when holding the jump button makes reaching higher points in the game to collect those three precious star coins in each level easier.
When I say easier, I mean, easier than if you were Mario. You see, this game isn't easy at all. It is designed to be played for the real gamers, who aren't afraid of a challenge. The original game was fairly challenging as it was, especially when trying to collect all the star coins, and then especially on Star Road, but the Luigi game bumps up the difficulty several notches for sure. Each level starts with the classic sound of running out of time, as you only have 100 ticks of the clock to reach the end of the level, all while trying to collect those pesky star coins. Sure, you don't have to collect those things, but if you're not, why even bother? Essentially you would just be sprinting to the end of each level just to advance to the next one. What fun would that be?
Overall, it's been well worth the money, I think. I can't even remember dying this much in a Mario game, and it only took having Luigi take over a Mario game to introduce that level of difficulty. While it originally came as DLC and you needed the original New Mario Bros. U game to play it, it has since been released on a physical disc, completely bypassing the need to ever touch that Mario game, which is catering to the true, hardcore Luigi fans.
This week has been full of Mario in all his various forms and jobs, but it took removing him from a game completely to realize just how important he is to Nintendo. Microsoft and Sony would literally kill to have a go-to mascot like Mario, and while they constantly try to create someone that iconic, there is no touching the Italian plumber. Mario is the ultimate gaming icon, and he deserves all the love he gets. Just be sure not to forget about his brother, who's been right there from the get-go.
Oh, Mario. The man of many hats, literally and figuratively. In relation to his platforming games, when he gains a new power, his hat changes along with it. Or does his newly discovered powers happen because of his new hats that he collects, like in Mario 64? Either way, his hats have a direct correlation to his enhanced abilities, thus making his "man of many hats" a necessity more than just a fashion statement.
He's also donned many different hats in the figurative sense, as this blog has shown over the course of this week, by taking on many different roles in multiple different games over the years. His given profession is a plumber, but he has accepted many different jobs and roles throughout his career. I feel like a broken record at this point to be honest, but this was the best set-up I could think of. I mean really, Mario is addicted to sports, and he's actually quite the jock. I already wrote about him using golf as his hobby, but over the years, apparently golf wasn't enough to fulfill his competitive edge.
He has stared in several different sports games since NES Golf, all of which I could have easily wrote about. Well, with the exception of Mario's Tennis on the Virtual Boy, because I've never had the pleasure to own that fantastic piece of Nintendo's history. Regardless, Mario is a stud in all sorts of athletic competition, from soccer, to baseball, to the Olympic sports, both of the summer and winter variety. With that being said, what better way to experience the athlete that is Mario than with a game called Mario Sports Mix?
There isn't a better way. Trust me, I looked.
So when this game came out, I almost fell victim to the "reviews are bad, I shouldn't buy this game despite how excited I am for it" trap that so many gamers out there fall victim to. I had been waiting for Mario Sports Mix to come out for months, along with my buddy, but on the day of it's release, the reviews came out and they were less than stellar. I seriously contemplated passing up on this game, completely ignoring my desires to play it and my gut instincts that I would like it in favor of opinions of other people. While I read and respect reviews all the time, I try not to let scores skew my own opinions, unless of course there are game-breaking things that damper my overall enjoyment of the game With this game, I almost didn't get it. But I had it pre-ordered, I had waited forever for it, and it had Mario's name attached to it.
I just couldn't pass it up. And thankfully, I didn't. And even now, I'm still proud to have it in my collection.
Playing this game with my seven year old today made me realize something crucial. We played Wii Sports and Wii Sports Resort as well, for no other reason than he wanted to play them, but while those games were special for the innovative game play, Mario Sports Mix is far different from those games. Those games will forever be fun to play, and while I see where Sports Mix falls short, it's the characters that keep this game relevant and worth playing again.
The Mario franchise can breathe life into any average game, and right away, I noticed how much more my son was engaged in the characters and the universe from which they came, where as the Wii Sports games were purely about the few games he liked from them. He had no attachment to the Mii characters, other than he still thinks its cool to play as himself. But being able to play as Mario or any of his friends? Oh yeah, sign him up for that.
We had fun playing the games, and I enjoyed it more as a father when he said he missed playing the Wii games since he doesn't get to much anymore, but that he was glad he came over to spend time with me since he could play all his favorite games again. For a kid that has been raised to be a FPS kind of gamer, he is still hanging on to his youth and enjoying the simpler, fun games every now and then. He doesn't care about review scores, just like 99.9% of kids out there, as he finds enjoyment in the games he plays, without cynicism or negativity like most reviewers seem to have. Children are pure when it comes to gaming experiences, which is yet another reason to hang on to your childhood innocence as long as possible.
Unless you want to just grow up and be a world-renowned athlete like Mario. In that case, you better get training now.
As a parent, there are tons of life lessons to teach your kids over the many years you have them under your wing. Well, try to teach your kids at least. Sometimes, that's the only thing you can do is try. As they say - whoever they are - you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make them drink. I'm pretty sure "they" came up with that saying specifically with being a parent in mind.
One of the life lessons I have always tried to instill in my kids is to not grow up too fast. I always have told them to just enjoy being a kid, and not worry about the grown-up things in life that we as adults have to stress over. Sure, it is important to ready them as they get closer to adulthood to be prepared and equipped to go out into the real world, but they should always try to hold and cherish their childhood for as long as possible. Before you know it, you're paying bills, being responsible and wishing you were a kid again.
I always wish someone had stressed that to me as a kid, as sometimes I feel like I grew up too fast, whether it be to life circumstances beyond my control or simply my personality. If someone had sat me down and warned me of the dangers of growing up too quick, I would like to think I would have listened and maybe slowed down a bit. But most likely, I would have shrugged them off just as my kids seem to do with me.
Why am I bringing all this up, you ask? Well, this is my week where I explore the alternate lifestyles and careers of Mario over the years, which is the perfect time to go back and reflect on when Mario had little to no responsibilities as a character at all. Back when Mario was Baby Mario, and while he had some grown-up things to take care of, like a rescue mission, he was still a chubby little Mario wearing nothing but his trademark hat, and of course, a diaper. We first were introduced to him in Yoshi's Island, but for the sake of thinking a little outside of the box, I decided to play Yoshi's Island DS.
Talk about role reversal. Where people were familiar with Yoshi in Super Mario World as a partner-like character, but more of a vehicle/weapon if anything, in this series we see Yoshi as the protagonist of the game. Yoshi, while being the main character, is regarded as the bodyguard and rescuer of Mario. Mario isn't using him in the sense that we are familiar with. This becomes Yoshi's quest, and Baby Mario is simply going along for the ride.
In fact, there are other babies in the game as well, like Baby Peach, Baby Donkey Kong, Baby Wario and of course Baby Bowser, and each one gives Yoshi a unique ability when he is carrying them that the other babies don't provide. Essentially, Yoshi uses Mario, which has to be the easiest gig Mario has ever had.
This game is ridiculously fun, plain and simple. I had to bust out my old DSi just for this game, as my 3DS is now in the hands in my girlfriend, who is "borrowing" it in order to feed her newly discovered addiction to Animal Crossing: New Leaf, which I may or may not be responsible for starting in the first place. At the very least, I am an enabler, and I admit that. Regardless, my DSi worked just fine. Maybe I need to look into getting a second 3DS, for emergency situations, just in case? Better yet, a 2DS!
Anyway, this is spiraling out of control. Baby Mario is the easiest gig he has ever been given by Nintendo, and I hope he appreciated his time in the couple of Yoshi games where he really didn't have to do anything other than be a kid, and just go with it. Unfortunately, he probably took it for granted, not knowing what the universe had in store for him later on in life.
Just like every other kid in the history of childhoods.
Well, first thing's first. This game isn't exactly depicting Mario in one of his many other careers, but I still feel that it was such a drastic turn in the Mario universe that it was worth finding a spot here in this Curious Week Of Mario. For the most part, standard Mario games all followed the same formula. Sure, as I have already documented this week, Mario has been involved with other genres of games, but as far as "Mario games," this one was unique in almost every aspect.
Before the big, dramatic rise to the top for RPGs, Square Enix took a stab at creating an original RPG for Nintendo, using Mario and his friends from the Mushroom Kingdom in a way that no one had ever played, or thought about playing as Mario before. Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars truly showed off how universal Mario, the character, really was.
While there was never any direct sequels to this game, many regard it as being directly responsible for the the Paper Mario and Mario & Luigi franchises, which is flat out awesome. It's not that this game wasn't good or wasn't a success, but with Square Enix (just Square back then) choosing to go elsewhere, Nintendo was handcuffed and not able to move this game into a franchise. Oh well, at least we got one awesome game out of it, right?
And yes, this game is awesome. Look, I'm not an RPG kind of guy. I don't hate them, I just never found much time to get really deep and committed to them. But, if you couldn't tell, I am a sucker for all things Mario, and as a kid, this game used that angle to welcome me to the realm of RPGs. Having a team of characters that you were already familiar with was awesome, and finally having a different enemy for Mario and company to battle was a refreshing twist to the franchise.
Playing this again, I really enjoyed the story telling the most. Sure, the game play is good and works just like it should, and having the cross-over between RPG and platforming worked well. But having a legit storyline in a Mario game was fascinating, as it seemed to open up the mysterious world of the Mushroom Kingdom a lot more than ever before. And that's what a real RPG is all about - telling a great story. ALl too often this seems to be forgotten, but thankfully, this game did it well.
I wish I still had this on Super Nintendo, but playing it on the Wii Virtual Console worked well enough. Actually, if you want a fun fact that might come up in a trivia question one day,
If you're an Italian plumber named Mario, who tends to work more jobs and have more careers than you could realistically handle at once, you're probably a pretty tired guy. Nothing but work, more work, and saving the princess ... over and over again. That's your life, seemingly whether you like it or not.
So if you had any free time, which I'm sure is few and far between, what would you do to occupy yourself and just relax? Sit on your front porch and sip lemonade? Take Yoshi out for a leisurely stroll? Organize your coin collection or tend to your piranha plant garden? How about none of the above.
No, if you are Mario and are looking for a hobby, the only logical thing to do is take up the game of golf. Yes, golf. Mario's secret love, which oddly enough, he seems to be really good at. I guess if you think about it, golf is one of the few sports where being athletic isn't exactly a necessity, and since Mario isn't in the best shape of his life (or was he?), this is a match made in heaven.
Yes, I played the classic NES Open Tournament Golf game, which was originally released for the NES (obviously), but I played on the 3DS thanks to that awesome Ambassador Program that I wrote about a few days ago. Honestly, I had never played this game until I got it for my 3DS, but if I had, I completely forgot about it. Regardless, I'm glad I went back and played eventually.
It's actually made me realize how golf games have have taken so much from the early beginnings of golf video games and ran with them. Sure, they are bigger, better and overall just far more amazing then the older games, but that is to be expected. But the ideas implemented in the first golf games are still being utilized, which is awesome to see. Also, you get to golf with Mario and Luigi, and what's better than that?
Speaking of characters taking on different jobs, they have Princess Peach and Toad as caddies, but they also depict one of Mario's arch-nemesis, Donkey Kong, as an accountant, responsible for handing out prize money. Seriously. I wish I could make this stuff up, but this all comes from the crazy mind of Nintendo, which is more unpredictable than you could ever imagine.
Overall, I like golf games. I love the Tiger Woods series, and Wii Sports Golf was more fun than it should have been, so it was fun to see where golf games all started from, for the most part. It's a fun golf game, and it's Mario, which is a win-win situation. Plus, it's a lot better than watching Mario drink lemonade on his porch.
"I'm about to lose my mind
You've been gone for so long
I'm running out of time
I need a doctor
Call me a doctor
I need a doctor, doctor
To bring me back to life..."
For starters, if you know where these lyrics came from, then props to you. Secondly, I have no idea where the idea came from to place Mario in the position of being a doctor - especially because the leap from plumber to doctor is far greater than plumber to demolition crew - but it must have made sense at the time. In reality, Nintendo knew way back then that Mario was going to be the face for the company for as long as they were in business, and they were very proactive about making sure the consumer knew that this portly little Italian plumber was going to be around for the long haul.
At the time, the popularity of Tetris was at an all time high. Everyone and their mother was playing Tetris at the time, and Nintendo obviously wanted to move in on that market share, despite already profiting on Tetris' success. They thought it would be a great idea to make a game like Dr. Mario, but not quite the same, as they didn't exactly want to completely rip off the game completely. Instead, they created a puzzle game where the pieces come falling down from the ceiling, in the shape of colored pills, with the sole intention to rid the board of the viruses infesting the pill-bottle. As Mario, you are just an innocent bystander, watching it all unfold, but you are dressed up in awesomely fashionable doctors coat while doing so.
But look, if you don't know what Dr. Mario is by this point in your life, you need to just stop reading immediately and go find a way to play this game. It's just not a game that you should go on much longer without playing. Seriously. Go play it now. I can describe the game until I am blue in the face, but without playing it, it won't have any context at all. GO PLAY DR. MARIO!
Speaking of Dr. Mario, I remember when the online eShop for the Nintendo Wii came out, one of the first games was Dr. Mario, which wasn't just a virtual console version of the game, but a completely new game designed specifically for the eShop. Sure, it was the same old Dr. Mario game that you (SHOULD) know and love, but it added online capability, where you could play matches against others all over the world. I would jump in to matches and play against random people (which may come as a shock to most of you), which was a lot of fun. I would do really good for a while and rank up, and then promptly get destroyed as I started getting matched up against really good players. Regardless of winning or loosing, it was a lot of fun to play this game competitively.
So going back and playing the original version of this game, it has made me realize that while the original was fantastic, the updated version completely blow the old game out of the water. Nintendo is notorious for going back and revamping old franchises, and Dr. Mario makes me excited to think about the possibilities for some of their other dormant franchises.
I don't know what else to say about this title, really. It's Dr. freaking Mario, for crying out loud. It made me remember how much I will always love drop-from-the-top puzzlers, and how weird and creative Nintendo usually is. A doctor. Really? Mario as a doctor?
I'm about to lose my mind...
Before I get into the game I played, I have to do a little bit of explanation first. Several months ago, I had an email conversation with one of my most loyal readers, followers and supporters of this crazy, year-long blog project - my favorite pizza delivery guy, who you may know as Slaterific, but I know as Bill. We were going back and forth about the future of the blog, more specifically the upcoming "Month Of..." series for the rest of the year. I think the "Week Of..." postings are his favorite, as I first hooked him in to this blog with my epic week-long write up of the Halo series, and ever since, he has been right by my side with every week long series.
I was asking him his thoughts on how I should approach my all-time favorite character and series when it came to doing something for this blog. Of course I'm talking about Mario, and honestly, you all should thank him for talking me out of doing something completely insane that was a sure-fire way to scare off all my readers. I was trying to convince him that my idea of doing a "Month Of..." series for Mario would be a fantastic way to pay homage to the humble little plumber that made me fall in love with video games in the first place. Thankfully, he set me straight and made me realize how ridiculous that was, and while there would be plenty of games to fill that month, no one in their right mind would want to read about that much Mario. It was just simply too much.
So with that, a week of Mario spin-offs was born. Sure, I could write about all the awesome Mario platforming games, but that's almost too obvious and expected. I have to keep you all, my dear readers, guessing and never to the point where you know which direction my next blog post will come from. What better way than to throw a curve ball at you with "The Curious Week Of... Mario."
I called it that because in all of Mario's spin-off games, he isn't the same Mario you know and love. He isn't performing his normal day job of being a plumber, nor is he in constant quest of finding and rescuing the princess. No, sometimes Mario just likes to be different, shake it up a bit and buck the norm. He's kind of a restless soul, when you think about it.
The first game in this week is Wrecking Crew, which was a launch day game for the original Nintendo Entertainment Center along side 17 other games, including Super Mario Bros. Yes, even back then, day-one launch titles were a big deal. Maybe not as big as they are now, but it was clear that without games to push, it would hard to sell a console. Sometimes I wonder how Nintendo forgot about this way of thinking, but I digress.
In Wrecking Crew, you play as Mario of course, but instead of his normal plumber occupation, he plays the role of a one-man wrecking crew. Literally. His job is to demolish the structures set before him, as quickly and efficiently as possible. All he has is a hammer, which he wields like the mighty Thor, destroying blocks, bricks, ladders and bombs while trying to evade the weird creatures sent to make his life miserable. It is a strategy based game, where you need to plan your next move before you make it, because if you destroy a ladder prematurely, you could essentially make completing the level impossible.
The game just continues as well, going from level to level, with bonus levels sprinkled in, asking you to find a coin in a block before the mysterious foreman finds it first. There is speculation that this was the original idea behind Wario, although nothing is confirmed, of course. It if a fun game, that while not very deep or rich in story, makes up for in tense action. OK, that might be a bit of an over exaggeration, but regardless, it's fun for what it is, and I'm sure it was fun back in the day. Unfortunately it probably got lost in the mix among the line-up consisting of Super Mario Bros., Duck Hunt, Ice Climbers and Excitebike, to name a few.
Speaking of console launches, when Nintendo launched the 3DS, it had zero games that people actually wanted to play. There were a few that were serviceable, but most people bought the games because they felt like they needed to play something on it in order to justify getting one, day one. Eventually, people became very vocal about feeling ripped off by the 3DS, and Nintendo heard loud and clear. Of course, the system wasn't selling, so the talking people did was with their wallets, which is apparently the best way to be heard by big business. Anyway, Nintendo got the message and did all that they could to ease the pain of a price drop of the system less than a year later, as telling people who spent the original full price that the price drop was happening was not an easy thing to do. To smooth things over, they created the Ambassador Club, where all the early adopters of the handheld console were rewarded with 20 free games from the eShop Virtual Console; 10 NES games and 10 Game Boy Advance games.
One of these games was Wrecking Crew, which is how I was able to play it, just in case you were wondering. Apparently Nintendo does learn from its mistakes after all, sometimes.
I love going to fairs. I can't pinpoint one specific thing, but rather the entire experience. Everything from the horribly unhealthy food, the amazing exhibits, the animals and especially the people watching make going to the fair - state fairs, specifically - a surprisingly fun experience. If I could just eliminate carnies and the super-aggressive salesmen in IRL infomercial centers, then the fair would be practically amazing.
Of course, when I traveled down to the Oregon State Fair, I didn't anticipate finding the game I was going to play for the day down there at all. I mean, it's the fair, after all, and since stupid, rigged carnival games don't exactly count for this blog project's purposes, the thought of playing a video game at the fair hadn't even crossed my mind. I had a few handheld and iOS games with me for the trip down there and back that I would use for the blog, but sometimes, the universe has other plans.
We stumbled across an exhibit hall late into the day that we really had no idea about until we found it. Inside, it was like stepping into a blast from the past, as the entire show floor was filled with random things that defined childhood. There was a giant etch-a-sketch to play with, a huge connect-the-dots in a white board type of surface that was intended to be completed by multiple people. There was a toy train display, a dollhouse display, a giant wall of legos, brain-teaser games, board games, action figure displays; if you can think of it, they probably had it in some form or fashion.
Tucked away in the back corner of the show floor, however, was a little 80's arcade, complete with about eight vintage arcade cabinets and a quarter machine, of course. There was also this really cool interactive game-show style trivia game, with the names of 10 old-school video games on little cabinet doors that opened, with numbers 1-10 underneath each one. Below that was a sound board, with numbered buttons on it. Every button you pressed would play some distinctive 8-bit style music, which you had to guess the name of the game that it went to. The games ranged from the classic Super Mario Bros, to Contra, The Legend of Zelda, and even the moon level from DuckTales. I can proudly say I nailed 10 out of 10. Not to brag or anything, but you know.
Anyway, of course I had to actually play some of the games there as well. I've never been known to pass up the opportunity to play some retro arcade cabinet video games. The first game I picked, which is usually one of the first games I always gravitate to when in an arcade, if it's available to play, of course.
This game played just like every other Ms. Pac-Man game ever, so no real surprise there. The only thing I can report about is how loose the joystick was, which essentially handicapped my playing ability, as I couldn't make any quick turns down necessary paths, and kept getting stuck in larger square paths. This of course led to my death over and over again, which was disappointing, but not heartbreaking. It's not like I went to the fair to play games anyway, and that was just one of many things we stopped at throughout the day. It would have been nice to show off my skills properly, but with anything retro, you always run the risk of the equipment not performing to its best. Think of it as the unsuspecting surprise waiting to be discovered each time you sink a quarter into a machine.
Overall, it was a blast. Playing retro arcade cabinets is always fun, and if you can add Ms. Pac-Man to the playlist for your visit, it's always a quarter or two well spent.
I had a great day at the Oregon State Fair. I had amazing company, an overall wonderful experience, and I got to satisfy my game of the day while there. Now, if we can just work on getting rid of those carnies.
Hello, Disney Infinity. Goodbye, money, shelf space and kid's boredom.
Look, I've talked about how much I adore the Skylanders franchise and everything about it, from the games themselves to the collecting of the figures, and everything in between. How much money I invested into that franchise for youngest boy, and also myself, is ridiculous when you put it into context, but that's not to say it wasn't worth every penny. The amount of joy and fun we both got out of it, from playing the games, to talking about the universe and hunting down the newest figures is something you couldn't put a price tag on. All that, from a franchise with no history or backstory to support any sort true love for the characters. No nostalgia, no memories, nothing.
That's where Disney stepped in and said, "Hey, there is a market for video games with NFC (Near Field Connection) collectible figurines, and if people are willing to go this crazy over characters they have never heard of, imagine what we could do with our Disney characters!"
And thus, Disney Infinity was created. When it was announced, people automatically jumped to the assertion that they were just trying to capitalize on the Skylanders success. Well, duh! Of course they were. That's called business. They saw a growing market and wanted to join in on it, knowing that they could not only add something different to it, but maybe something even better. Can you really blame them for liking money?
When assessing my love for Skylanders with the addition for my deep-seeded affinity for everything Disney, deciding to jump into this game wasn't much of a question at all. Only question was how I was going to jump into the pool. Was I going to slowly ease myself in from the shallow in, allowing my body to adjust to the change in temperature, or would I jump into the deep end, all at once? Well, after 235 days here at TheNoyse.com, you should know me pretty well by now.
I executed a perfect cannonball.
I got the starter pack, first of all. I had a tough decision on whether to get it for my Wii U or the PS3, but ultimately I think I made the right choice. At first I thought about the easy trophies I could compile on the PS3 version, but because I hope to keep my Wii U around and plugged in longer than my PS3, I went with the future in mind for which platform to get the game for. Plus, the GamePad is used as a second screen for inventory and menus and such, so I'm fairly happy with which direction I went.
On top of that, I also got the Sidekicks and Villains packs, which have three figures each in them, along with the Cars play pack and the Lone Ranger play pack. Also, I got the remaining singles characters that I was missing from my collection, meaning I got every single character available at launch. Remembering how hard it was sometimes to get Skylanders after they were released, I didn't want to take the chance of this happening with Infinity. As much as like the thrill of going out and hunting down the figures at various stores, almost daily, I decided to go the easier route. Plus, with the launch-week sales of the figures, it was too hard to pass up.
Also, one thing Infinity is doing that Skylanders hasn't attempted, is the concept of blind booster packs. While you know every character you are buying (thankfully, considering how expensive they are), they have power discs for the game that add special abilities or power-ups to characters, or even toys, gadget, vehicles and creation objects for the sandbox part of the game. These discs come two-to-a-pack, in what looks like trading card packaging. You can't see which discs you are getting, which is a bummer, because after a few packs you start to compile a collection of duplicate discs that really serve no purpose. I can't wait for a solution to this problem to come about, hopefully in the way of a trading site or even a trade-in programs at stores. That would be awesome, but also maybe just a pipe-dream.
With so many figures and discs to collect, it's already troublesome trying to keep up with them all when trying to fulfill your collection. With that being said, a freelance game journalist that I know through Twitter took it upon himself to create a handy website to keep track of your collection. His name is Alex Rubens, and you can find his handy-dandy checklist website over at: DisneyInfinityChecklist.com.
Anyway, I haven't gotten super-deep into the game itself yet, but from what I have played so far, between the story/adventure part of the game and the toybox creation mode, I can say without hesitation that I am glad I invested into this game, and franchise, already. Now I can't wait to have my kids over so they can enjoy the game with me. It's easier to justify then.
Games being overlooked or under-appreciated is not an uncommon thing, especially in this day and age where so many games come out so frequently, it's almost impossible to keep up with all of them. Just look at this blog for example, as I am the gold standard right now of not giving the really good games the proper amount of love necessary to fully explain how much I appreciate the really good ones. I try hard not to undervalue a game here, but with the responsibility of playing a new game, a different game, every single day, it has become quite easy for me to overlook games. It's just the truth, unfortunately.
Sometimes, games get overlooked because of the console they are released on, especially when they aren't multi-platform games. The Nintendo Wii is notorious and now infamous for having a plethora of great games that completely went under the radar for the only fact that it was on the Wii. Somehow, despite the overwhelming commercial success of the console, the "hardcore" gaming audience never quite embraced the console or it's non-Nintendo published games, thus creating the stigma that the Wii was only good at playing Nintendo games. Excellent third party games got lost in the mix over the Wii's remarkable run in the industry, one of which I decided to go back and play again: No More Heroes.
I remember when this game came out, everyone was quite surprised that Suda 51 decided to develop it for the family-friendly Nintendo console. Gamers wanted this game for the bigger platforms, but since it wasn't on the PS3 or the Xbox 360, it didn't gain much traction. This of course is a travesty to the game itself, because for what it's worth, it is phenomenal. I almost forgot how much I enjoyed this game back then until I had the pleasure of going back and playing it again. I couldn't be happier that I did.
It is kind of an open-world exploration type of game, except it's not. It has a layout and feel like a Grand Theft Auto title, except it is actually quite linear, which ultimately, is a good thing. It's not a game that I wanted to be open-world, as the it revolves around essentially building up your character's stats and weaponry, if only to conquer the boss battles. That's where this game shines: the bosses, and on a greater scale, the characters within the world.
Travis Touchdown is the protagonist in the game, who is one of the coolest characters in a game in a long, long time. He is foul-mouthed, uncaring rebel of a guy, who loves wrestling, martial arts, video games and comics. He is a character that is essentially the encompassing embodiment of the "core gamer" personality time that this game is targeted for. He's not your typical hero, as he sort of falls into his hero role in the game, with of course ulterior motives behind it.
The dialogue and art style of the game is electrifying as well. It is clearly a Suda 51 game, and while it definitely lives up to its "M" rating, which the violence, language and sexual innuendos, none of it seems to take away from the game itself, but instead, adding to the universe and the characters that fill it. It's endearing, in a mature type of way.
I could go on and on about this game, but really, it's a game that should be played to fully experience it all. If I just told you all about the game, that would defeat my purpose for talking about how under-appreciated games sometimes can be. If you still have a Wii, and haven't played this game, go find it and give it a chance. You owe it to yourself to take a step back once in a while and really appreciate the games that deserve instead of always playing the games you think you're supposed to.
XBLA = The Noyse
PSN = the_noyse
NNID = The Noyse
3DS F.C. = 3007-8109-2329
STEAM = TheNoyse
FEEL FREE TO FRIEND ME!
Games played for project : 365