Archive for Mario

Bloodborne: The Halfway-Done Review

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Bloodborne, Games with tags on February 4, 2018 by slateman


I’m somewhere in the middle of Bloodborne. Some gamers could beat it much more quickly, but a) I’m an old, filthy casual and b) this game is difficult! So, while I’m in the midst of the madness, I thought I’d share some thoughts on one of the best games of 2015. In fact, while it won’t likely usurp that year’s GotY, it will assuredly take over the New IP GotY from Rocket League.

First off, as I mentioned earlier, this game is gorgeous. The eerie gloominess plagues every facet of this game. It instills a genuine sense of fear and dread about what is lurking in that corner. When you approach that hazy fog and…OMFG GET AWAY! I don’t particularly like jump scares, but this simply has me spinning the camera around constantly, worried at every turn about whatever hideous, nightmare-inducing creation could be waiting for my approach.

However, when I’m spinnning that camera incessantly, I’ve noticed issues with the game’s frame rate. As a non-videophile, it’s something I’ve never noticed in any other game before. That stuttering can be jarring though, especially when there are several enemies on-screen. In addition, the lock-on system falters: in some cases, rolling away from an enemy or group, a click of the lock-on button merely refocuses your camera. Then, peering into nothingness, they feast on your flesh. Frustrating indeed.

But for those few gripes, I’m greeted with a half-dozen awe-inspiring moments. The changing-world demands exploration. The lack of true direction is a fresh take on the hand-holding games of the past decade plus. I don’t really know what that new item does but I can’t inspect it now; grotesque baddies are surrounding me. And there are secrets virtually everywhere. It’s similar to Mario’s adventures which reward you with exploration all while being virtually nothing like Mario whatsoever.

The combat has taken me quite some time to really grasp. The beginning was just so brutally difficult, partly as learning the systems and layout was so unique. Well, unique to a non-Souls player at least. That difficulty is sometimes compounded on a cheap feel. When an enemy or three surround you, your character can get trapped or hit consistently with no reprieve or manner of escape. It’s frustrating when your 80% health is depleted without the ability to counter or retreat. Boss battles can do this, particularly with the small environments they can be in.

But victory against those odds is wonderfully-rewarding. With my heart utterly racing, those last strikes give much-needed relief to the high-anxiety stressfests that some battles are. But you never feel safe (refer to the 80% health comment above) and it’s only when PREY SLAUGHTERED appears that you can exhale.

With its non-linear paths, it goes against so many video-game tropes which leave an “anything can happen” feeling. It’s fresh, curious and beautiful, in a dreadful way. I’m hoping no future boss battle turns me off as much as Rom did (and, earlier on, the Blood-Starved Beast). I don’t know if a platinum trophy is possible, but my eyes are on the prize. Loving this game right now.

[Compare this last screenshot from the one in my previous post. It’s amazing how the world changes.]

How Nintendo Fucked Up

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Games, Hardware, Resident Evil with tags , on March 5, 2017 by slateman

Just four years after launching the Wii U, the system is effectively dead and Nintendo has shipped its last title for the platform. My Wii U collection now includes the free game I got with the system, a pair of Mario games and its swansong, the new Zelda game. The system was a gift given to me several years ago and beside the plumber’s usual excellent games, (already catalogued here) the only game I wanted was Zelda. It was scheduled for 2015.

Its delay was due to new hardware, there is simply no doubt. And that hardware has arrived. But I’m not spending $300 for a system to play Zelda when the last system was supposed to do so. But that’s OK. I have the option to play on my Wii U. So let’s.

But oh! my Wii U has decided to stop outputting audio. Now that’s not Nintendo’s direct fault. I mean, I didn’t really use the system that much, but hardware fails. I get it. But hey, I have this second screen. I could turn the volume up on the controller and maybe use it for a map or inventory screen. But oh no. Despite the second screen being about the only selling point on the console in its four miserable years, Nintendo opted not to utilize it at all for Zelda. Why? The Switch, surely. Can’t have the old system doing something the new system can’t, right? Screw you, fans! Buy the new hardware! And to answer the inevitable question, yes, I can play the game on the Wii U controller because that’s precisely why I bought a 55″ TV.

So, whatever, the Wii U is dead. Let’s look at the Switch. The future of gaming, certainly! Wait…did I hear that version of Zelda runs more smoothly when in handheld mode? You buy a new piece of hardware that only outputs the latest-and-greatest in 900P and it can’t do so smoothly? In the year 2017? Yup…so the best experience of Zelda is to play it on a handheld, 6.2″ screen running in 720P? What the fuck?

Now, the console itself is reasonably-priced. For a system that only outputs in 1080P and as a portable only has maybe 3-4 hours of battery life, $300 is the max price, really But the pricing on everything else is ludicrous. $70 for a pro controller? It was difficult to swallow when the 360 and PS3 introduced wireless controllers and they cost as much as a game…but $70? And what about another set of Joycon controllers? $80??? And what is this news of the controllers losing sync? So, if I want another set of controllers, my bill just went up nearly 1/3 of the price. And if I don’t want to hold them like miniature chopsticks, it’s another $30 for the grip? $110? Prices will come down, certainly, right?

Oh and as of this writing, save games are tied to the system, so you can’t back them up or transfer them? WAT? Only 32Gb of internal memory? Voice chat has to be done via an app on your phone? The list of WTF just grows inexplicably. No virtual store yet either. Wait, you can’t get new games or old games up and running properly for your launch? I love new HW, but I am not enthusiastic about this at all. It just feels like an awful lot of money for another system that’ll just have 5 games on the shelf. Barring some wonderful third-party exclusive, a thing Nintendo hasn’t hooked me on since Resident Evil 4 over a decade ago, give me one reason (whose name isn’t Mario) to get this system. Metroid? I’ll believe it when I see it.

Just a little disgusted on how they’ve handled the demise of the Wii U, the entirety of Zelda and the hardware of the Switch. I don’t doubt it’s some sexy-ass tech. But they screwed over Wii U owners and Zelda fans alike. Guess I’ll go play Breath Of The Wild on my 854 x 480 controller. Whatever.

Super Mario Completion

Posted in Blog, Games, High Scores/Accomplishments with tags on July 6, 2015 by slateman

Having just purchased a Nintendo 3DS, I’ve opted to catch up on the missing Mario games (After playing Zelda!) Since my history with the Italian plumber truly began way back with the original Mario Bros. (Not Super!) it’s only fitting I dedicate myself to these titles.

However, my expertise really lies in those older titles. Once Super Mario Sunshine came out, my interest waned but in the last 6 or 7 years, there have been some stellar Mario titles. I do dedicate myself to a new Mario whenever possible and today I “finished” Super Mario 3D Land. Four Stars means I got almost everything. Re-doing EVERY level with Luigi and getting gold flags on each…no thanks. Four stars is enough. In light of this, I wanted to see how far I really got in those titles from the last half a decade plus. Turns out there are a number of games and I’ve “completed” all of them to some extent. Let’s see! First – The titles! Three for the Wii, Two for both the Wii U and the 3DS.

2007 – Super Mario Galaxy (9.7)
2009 – New Super Mario Bros. Wii (8.9)
2010 – Super Mario Galaxy 2 (10)
2011 – Super Mario 3D Land (9.5)
2012 – New Super Mario Bros. 2 (8.5)
2012 – New Super Mario Bros. U (9.1)
2013 – Super Mario 3D World (9.6)

The numbers that follow are IGN’s scores for each game. It’s evident Mario has not lost his touch. Anyway, let’s go title by title to see how much I’ve truly completed. Of course, it goes without saying I beat every game. Beyond that, however, varies by title.

logo-smg

mario-completion-smg

Gold Crowns on all levels – 120 stars (out of 121)

After New Super Mario Bros. on the NDS, a game which I’m fairly certain I 100%ed but have since lost my save, Galaxy was part of the new phase of Mario. It was new, different and not entirely reliant on stupid motion controls. The game was brilliant, with some unique and curious spins on both the Mario world and physics. I loved it and my goal of getting everything was set. Seeing as how it was 8 years ago, I don’t remember specifics, but I do know that one of those final stages was a pain in the ass and getting that last star was a glorious achievement.

Looking back now, i see it was the first game that asked you to beat the entire game again using Luigi in order to unlock one final galaxy for one final star. While you don’t need to get everyone on those levels (to my knowledge), it doesn’t matter. That’s a lot of work for one final stage. Maybe when I was 13 I would’ve done that. Not now.

logo-nsmbw
mario-completion-nsmbw

1 star out of 5

Missing:
Two star coins on Worlds 2 & 3
Four star coins on World 5
11 on World 8 (didn’t even play 8-7)
18 on World 9 (only beat (+ 3 coins) two levels)

I don’t recall when I stopped playing this. I know that World 9 got pretty damn hard! One star is pretty lame but I don’t see myself going back to this one any time soon.

Save-file requirements & my progress

  • Beat the game
  • Beat every normal level
  • Collect all 207 star coins in the first 8 worlds.
  • Collect all 24 star coins in world 9.
  • Beat every level, find every secret goal and use all of the warp cannons.

logo-smg2

mario-completion-smg2

One Silver Crown (All 120 Normal Stars)(144/242 Stars)

Silver crowns on all levels (Worlds 1-6 plus World S)(120 Stars)
All Comet Medals
Gold crowns on some levels (= stars + green stars)
No Grandmaster Galaxy in World S

I felt SMG2 was superior to SMG. In fact, at the time, I claimed it was the 3rd-best Mario game ever! It was just that good, and IGN’s perfect 10 is something I fully agree with. After busting my ass to collect all 120 stars (AGAIN!), it was a shock to find out there were 120 more! I collected a few dozen of those but then stopped. Just looking at this stirs my completionist OCD. Did I stop because those green stars were too hard? Or did I just get burnout? I think it’s the latter. I suppose I could go back and try to get some. :)

logo-sm3dl

mario-completion-sm3dl

4 Stars out of 5

I just finished this and felt pretty good about it. The game, while heralded as spectacular, was good. The first half was just a joke though. It was so easy, and as you can see from these stats, I’m a good player, but NOT a great player! Of those 392 lives lost, I easily lost 100 on three levels at the end of my journey. Yup. 100 lives. Three levels.

The second half of the game was great though, with some rigorously-challenging goals and the like. My four stars means I got all 293 star coins (plus some extras) by getting every star coin on every level in worlds 1-8 and Special worlds 1-8, then defeated Bowser again. Why not a fifth star? Yup, gotta beat every stage again as Luigi and get all golden flags. I don’t know which stages I got gold flags on (not without playing each stage and getting to the end). Redo the entire game again? Nope. I’m good. Four stars is solid!

Save-file requirements & my progress

  • Defeat Bowser in World 8’s second Castle
  • Clear all stages in the first 8 Worlds
  • Defeat Bowser again after Special World 8
  • Obtain all 285 Star Medals
  • Clear all stages with Mario and Luigi + Golden Flagpole on all

logo-nsmb2
mario-completion-nsmb2

After getting and beating SM3DL, I didn’t wait long to pick up New Super Mario Bros. 2. The reviews claimed it wasn’t as good as 3D Land but I much prefer the side-scrolling Mario games to the 3D ones. This title may have been a bit gimmicky and the Star World was a breeze compared to older titles, but I loved it all. It took me just over a week to burn through the entire lot, collecting all star coins, moon coins and getting max lives. It was fun but not overly challenging and it’s only my second true 100% in a recent Mario title.

Save-file requirements & my progress (won’t cross these out as I got them all!)

  • Beat World 6-Castle
  • Obtain every Star Coin
  • Obtain all of World Star’s Moon Coins
  • Complete every level
  • Get the highest possible number of lives

While not final chronologically, this is the last game I played through and now I must wait for another Mario to dedicate myself to.

logo-nsmbu
mario-u-5-stars

5 stars out of 5

This is the only true 100% game (now the second). All five stars means I beat every level with every star coin including all the Superstar Road stages (plus the final one) as well as catching Nabbit. I wrote about the final steps in this process (both here and here). There’s not much else to comment on. This was a fun, solid challenge that wasn’t bogged down in stupid requirements.

Save-file requirements & my progress

  • Beat Bowser in story mode
  • Unlock and beat every normal level
  • Get every star coin (normal levels)
  • All star coins on Superstar Road
  • Catch 7 Nabbits + all star coins on Superstar Road-9

logo-sm3dwmario-completion-sm3dw

2 stars out of 5
305 Stars out of 380
76 Stamps (out of 80)

I got every star, stamp and gold flag on worlds 1-6, Castle, Bowser and Star.

However, in World Mushroom, I’m missing two flags, five stars and a bunch in world Mushroom-Box (whatever).

World Flower is a mess, missing a bunch and never having beaten a few. World Flower-12 is the boss rush level and it’s not hard, I just haven’t ever managed to do it quickly enough. Timed stages are annoying. Due to this, I never saw World Crown. Oh well.

Stamps are a joke. I really have 76 out of 80. But then five more apparently come from beating every level with every character. Ahahaha. No.

Save-file star requirements & my progress…

  • Beat the final level in World 8
  • Collect all Green Stars in Worlds 1-8
  • Collect all Stamps in Worlds 1-9 (there are none in 10-11)
  • Get all Golden Flags in Worlds 1-11
  • Beat worlds 1-11 with all characters for the final Stamps

New Super Mario U: Done!!!

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Games, High Scores/Accomplishments with tags on April 21, 2013 by slateman

mario-u-4-stars

I went through the superstar road and got all the coins for a fourth star. That swimming level sucked. I used a P-Wing to get the last coin on the running stage for the last coin! This revealed the 9th superstar road stage. I was prepared for a nightmare.

Fortunately, it wasn’t difficult; it was just interesting…and cool. So, after beating that, I was pretty psyched but got nothing. This morning I went back and caught every Nabbit but still didn’t get the fifth star…Then I noticed I was missing one hidden exit (#94).

mario-u-completed

After zipping through and getting that, I was greeted with the above message – and have now completed the whole game!!! Sadly, I’ve had enough Super Mario Bros. U for a little while. That’s sad mostly because I have little reason to return to the Wii U. I’m looking forward to the new firmware upgrade coming shortly, however. Once again, I’m also excited for the DLC to return to Mario. 100%! Nice!!!

mario-u-5-stars

New Super Mario U: Almost Done!

Posted in Blog, Games, High Scores/Accomplishments with tags on April 20, 2013 by slateman

super-mario-u-two-stars

I’ve been going back to New Super Mario Bros. U here and there to collect the last remaining gold coins. I’ve always been a completionist when it comes to games like this and this one is good enough to warrant this dedication. I remember the first New Super Mario Bros. which may very well be the fourth-best Mario game ever. The Wii U version is good, hell, it’s great, but it’s not necessarily as legendary as the DS game. In any event, it’s great that I can play the game on my controller while the kids watch Shrek for the 199th time (this week). So, today I managed to get the last hidden stages and the last gold coins.

super-mario-u-three-stars

What does this leave? Well, I need to beat two more superstar road levels, collect the last one on the Run For Your Life level (which may require a P-Acorn) and then the ultimate, final superstar road level. These last stages will prove to be pretty difficult but I have faith I’ll beat them. Once again, I’ll have to admit, trophies/achievements would be awfully nice for this type of game. As lame as some people may think they are, they really motivate these types of endeavors. You know, the ones where you waste hours away trying to collect last coins by performing super-specific, rigid jumps and maneuvers. Yeah those. I look forward to getting these last 10 coins. Then, I think you beat the game and get something else…but by then, why will I care? Oh, maybe for the New Super Luigi U DLC this summer!!!