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12:36 PM on 01.27.2012

Beta Impressions: Tribes Ascend

There are a few different kinds of shooters available today. There are tactical shooters which require a more strategic approach to combat and move at a slower pace. There are twitch shooters that are based more on reflexes than teamwork. Then there are games like Tribes which meld both styles so well it's a type all it's own.

Tribes Ascend took me by surprise. I was a fan of Tribes since it's creation in 1998. Tribes 2 in 2001 was when I really fell in love. It was a shooter unlike anything I've seen at the time. Then time went on and I stopped playing. There were a few more Tribes game throughout the years but nothing ever grabbed me like Tribes 2 did. Fast forward to a few days ago where I found out you could get into the Tribes Ascend beta through a couple simple clicks on their facebook page. It's been a week and I can't stop thinking or talking about it. Tribes Ascend really took me by surprise.

For those unfortunate enough to never play a Tribes game, it's a breakneck first person shooter that uses mobility as a focal point. Two forms of movement differentiate Tribes from other games. The ability to ski and the jetpack. Skiing works like it sounds, building momentum while falling or going downhill. The jetpack is also standard giving you a sustained burst into the air. A combination of these two makes traversing the landscape incredibly fun and effective. It's easy to learn and difficult to master.

So while this unique type of movement sets the pace of the game, the classes offer more precise variety. While only two classes are available to start, two more can be unlocked rather quickly. These four classes show the main differences between the rest of the classes. (12 in total) There are 3 armor types in the game, each type offering up difference in playstyle. The Light armor types such as Pathfinder and Ranger are all about speed and grabbing the flag. Medium armor types like the Soldier are mobile yet effective in combat, acting as perfect support characters. Then there are the heavy types. Their movement is stunted enough to make them less effective attacking but they are perfect for sticking close to base and defending against attackers. All roles are necessary to winning a game and each class can be effective in their own way.

The soldier and ranger are the starting classes, with the rest being unlockable by in game tokens or real world money.

The melding of class based warfare with the freedom of movement made possible by skiing allows for so many different play styles. The maps further compliment this by being basic yet interesting, offering up a lot of wide open space with rolling hills for exciting chases. Each team has a base that houses their flag and comes equipped with automated turrets, shields, vehicle stations, and ammo stations. These are powered by a generator somewhere around the base. For a team to run effectively you are going to need people running for the flag, people protecting the flag grabber, people protecting the home base flag, people patrolling the outside reparing and upgrading turrents, and people underneath the base making sure the generator is online at all times. There is always a role for you to play and this is really what makes Tribes so special. The ability to encourage teamwork while at the same time rewarding players who don't work well with others is something a lot of competitive shooters lack.

Another surprise I took away from Tribes is just how good the game looks. I'm not used to a free to play game having enough power behind it to make it seem like a full title, but it's impressive. Textures look good, I've rarely seen any lag, and maps are all unique from each other.

When it comes down to it, the best part about tribes is how satisfying it is. A game could be sound mechanically, gorgeous aesthetically, and competitively balanced, but that doesn't mean anything if the game isn't satisfying to play. There are so many moments that just make you instantly reflect on how awesome the game you are playing is. Moments like having a high speed chase around the level for 5 minutes, landing a direct hit on a passing enemy flying through the air, grabbing the flag fast enough that the other team barely has a chance to react, etc. Moments like these are a dime a dozen and the reason why Tribes will always hold a place in my gaming library. I'm eagerly awaiting a full release.

I apologize for not being able to get any video. It's a real shame since the true magic of Tribes can only really be appreciated in motion. There are a number of video previews around the web that should suffice however.

1:11 PM on 01.14.2012

What I Want in 2012: Twisted Metal

I started playing Twisted Metal during it's second game. Even looking back on it today it's one of the best games of it's time and one of the more interesting series to ever exist. The car combat genre is about as niche as it gets and aside from a few other noteworthy titles, Twisted Metal stands atop the wreckage as by and far the best.

The gameplay was as tight as it gets, the maps were interesting and packed with secrets, the characters were chock full of personality, and the endings were equal parts funny and disturbing. Calypso, the creator of the Twisted Metal tournament had a way with words.

At some point after Twisted Metal Black I had given up hope of ever seeing a new Twisted Metal title, TM Head-On notwithstanding. Then came E3 2010. The teaser video started towards the end of Sony's press conference with no hint as to what was being shown. As two cab drivers talked casually about car combat, I got a little sparkle in my eye. Than a leather glove bent down to pick up a thrown cigar and I lost it. Sweet Tooth and his promise of car carnage was back and I was not prepared.

While the whole package has me foaming at the mouth, I'm most excited about the inclusion of multiplayer. For the first time multiplayer was thought of day one and it's looking to be one of the most hectic things gamers will ever experience. I can tell the care that went into the multiplayer just by looking at one of the game modes, Nuke. Nuke is the necessary inclusion of capture the flag. The difference here is that instead of just throwing a flag down, Eat Sleep Play has morphed it into something all it's own. You don't just grab a flag and bring it to you're base, you grab the other team's leader, drag him behind you're car, toss him into a fiery meat grinder, and then fire a missile into a giant statue.

This has to happen three times. Awesome

The multiplayer looks phenomenal, but it wouldn't be Twisted Metal without a single player campaign. I was a bit put off initially by the decision to use real people as the actors in the single player cutscenes. My fears vanished after a few trailers show the highly stylized vision they have, which really does bring back memories of Twisted Metal 2. Keeping the past behind them, the guys at Eat Sleep Play also made the decision to refine the storytelling by reducing the amount of characters we will see. There's more of a story this time around rather than a series of levels and a cutscene for the ending. I'm very excited and a little bit scared to see the origins of Sweet Tooth and the other unbalanced contestants.

It's a visual style all it's own

The cherry on top of the motor oil drenched cake is the fact that Jaffe is back in the driver's seat. I have to be honest and say that no other person has the right vision for Twisted Metal but Jaffe. He's very vocal about what he wants to do and how he's going to do it, while at the same time keeping the fans at priority number 1. There aren't many developers I respect quite like I do Jaffe. He's also a little unhinged which is perfect for Twisted Metal.

My excitement for Twisted Metal would be hard to describe with any amount of words. Instead you should know that this blog took an incredibly long time to write simply because while researching things and looking up pictures and videos I was sucked into watching endless trailers and clips from new and old games. I'm actually a little shocked how short this blog is compared to how long I spent "writing" it, but I've also watched every ending for Twisted Metal(again) and enjoyed every second of it.

There is no doubt in my mind that 2012 is going to be riddled with amazing games. But for me Twisted Metals cars pack more firepower than any other shooter. Its sense of speed leaves racing games in the dust. Its story mode has a more interesting cast than all the girly men and grizzled spare marines in RPG history. Valentines Day can't come soon enough and for once me lighting my hair on fire in the middle of the mall won't seem all that strange.   read

5:15 PM on 01.07.2012

The Quick Time Event: Past, Present, Future.

For a few years now the quick time event has been looked on with disdain from the community. It's seen as a crutch used by developers. A sad attempt to keep players invested during moments of a game that can't be achieved with normal gameplay. Why is such an uninspired mechanic being used? Where did it start and where will it go?

While it wasn't the first, Dragon's Lair was the game to really bring the quick time event into the spotlight. In Dragon's Lair you play a knight trying to save a princess. Your character goes on his journey automatically and the player needed to hit a direction or a button depending on the prompt. Success let you get further while failures were treated with a game over. This style of game had people dumping quarters into the machine trying to get a little bit further with the grand payoff being the lovely Princess Daphne.

I think Mario picked the wrong princess to save

After a few other games following this same style, the quick time event died off. Home consoles were becoming more popular and the technological limitations that came with them didn't lend themselves very well to quick time events.

Then 1999 came along and a little game called Shenmue came out for the soon to be doomed Sega Dreamcast. This is the first time these reflex exercises were actually called quick time events. QTE's were no longer the focus of the entire game, instead they were used to keep players involved during some of the more exciting scenes with more dramatic camera angles and faster action. It was originally praised for the way it seamlessly went from gameplay to cutscene without making the player feel like he stopped playing.

As time went on pre-rendered cutscenes were catching more and more flak while quick time events were popping up in all different kinds of games. Games like God of War used the QTE wonderfully while games like Spiderman failed horribly. Less and less games seemed to use the QTE effectively and critics and gamers alike were growing weary of giant button prompts.

As we look to the future, most would agree that games would be better off without them. I think with some tweaking they could become relevant and even fun. There are some major flaws we have to first look at. How many of us have been on the verge of snapping a controller when you miss a prompt only to be treated with a game over, or even more jarring, starting the entire event over again. As soon as the second time through the impact of whatever spectacular event is going on disappears. Then we have the giant prompts that seem to fill the screen. It's hard to get lost in a game's world when a giant button appears to block your view and remind you that you are in fact playing a game. And let us not forget the games that don't decide to bring in a quick time event until halfway through the game, taking you by surprise and guaranteeing you lose the first one. These games seem to only throw you QTE's when you are focusing on something other than your controller.

These giant pitfalls make QTE's pretty awful and only a few companies seem to be able to pull it off with any sort of tact and quality. (Examples I can think of being Quantic Dream and CyberConnect2) So how do we fix it? Here's what I have come up with.

Can you tell this is a racing game? Doesn't it look exciting? [Need For Speed: The Run]

The first thing that needs to be done is set a standard. We can take each of the face buttons and assign them to an action.

I'm going to be using a playstation controller as reference.
X = Evade
Square = Attack
O = Defend
Triangle = Parry

Setting up something like this at the beginning of the game is a great way to reduce the surprise of QTE's. Having it simple and constant like this also allows players to memorize the buttons eventually becoming second nature, keeping them invested in the game.

Unlike the usual quick time event that brings up a single button prompt, let's have it so that there is a universal prompt that let's the player know that one of these events is going to happen. It could be time slowing down, a subtle border around the edge of the screen, or a glowing weapon. This also helps reduce the shock of seeing a giant X button appear.

Let's look to an action game similar to God of War for an example. The hero fights off a small army of cannon fodder enemies and is then treated to a larger miniboss type enemy. Standard stuff. Let's say this miniboss has a giant hammer, and we'll call him Brute. Fighting continues with regular gameplay, when all of a sudden the Brutes weapon starts to glow and time slows a bit as he winds up for a power attack. This signals to the player to an upcomming QTE, giving him or her a few seconds to decide which action to commit too.

So as this hammer glows and the Brute starts to swing, let's say the hero decides to hit X to evade. Provided it was hit on time the hero swiftly rolls out of the way of the slow but powerful attack. Maybe dodging isn't your thing and instead you want to go on the offensive. When you hit square, provided you are fast enough, you stab the Brute before he gets a change to attack. Not confident in your speed? Hit O to throw up your shield and defend against the hammer. If you are lucky and skilled enough your shield deflects the blow. More of a finesse kind of guy? Hit triangle in time and you can parry, knocking the hammer out of the way before any momentum builds up and keeping the brute off balance setting you up to counter. It keeps the action intense and involving while giving the game the ability to show those cool camera angles and more specific animations.

How this system implements failure is really based more in what kind of game we are talking about. Some rules like never including an instant death feature and never having the player "re-do" what he just did would keep most of the frustration out of it.

This set up can be used in different genre's. Action games can focus on the pure timing of your button presses. More RPG heavy games can relate each button to a stat which will determine your success rate. Strategy games can formulate a rock-paper-scissor like system where you have to read enemies movements. It's an interesting system that I haven't seen anywhere else that could be very viable in the future of gaming.

And that's all I have for my very short history lesson and rambling about an idea I had. Let me know what you think.   read

2:18 PM on 09.16.2011

Review: Warhammer 40k Space Marine

With a title like Space Marine it was hard for this game to pop up on my radar. How many more marines in space do we really need? Fortunately this feeling fades quickly, as Space Marine is a well polished and enjoyable experience whose missteps are easily overlooked. From a developer who has primarily stuck to real time strategy games, this is an excellent debut into the action genre.

Game: Warhammer 40k: Space Marine
Developer: Relic Entertainment
Genre: Third Person Action
Platforms: PC(Reviewed), 360, PS3

You play as Captain Titus, a veritable badass leading a small group of Ultramarines to quell the Ork invasion of the Imperial Forge World Graia. Space Marine assumes you know your Dawn of War lore, and it doesn't care if you don't. It spends very little time explaining the world and characters around you. There's an assumption that you know at least a little about the Dawn of War universe. In fact after beating the game, I'm still not entirely sure what an Ultramarine is, who the inquisition are, and what exactly a "Xenos" is. The story on a very basic level will still offer up enjoyment, with a few twists and set piece moments that anyone could enjoy.

Whether or not you understand the lore or not, your objective is clear. Clearing out the Orks and securing the weapons and technology from the forge world. Titus leads a squad of two other Ultramarines, Leandros and Sidonus. These AI partners can kill a couple Orks, but the brunt of the killing will be done by you, while your partners soak up as much damage as they can.

You and your squad will make your way through a series of mostly linear levels with a few offshoots for secret's in the form of the tried and true audio recordings. Recordings offer a small glimpse at what was going on before you and your ultramarines arrived, but are overall forgettable.

You'll be slaying a lot of Orks and you'll need the right tools for the job. You have your standard Bolter which acts like an assault rifle, a pistol, and a chainsaw sword. At certain points they will introduce new weapons such as sniper rifles, new melee toys, and a very awesome plasma shotgun that burns away anything in front of you. You'll be able to carry four weapons in total not including your melee weapon. Two of those slots will be interchangeable with other weapons at small armory areas littered throughout levels. It's a bit of an annoyance that you can't choose which weapon to swap out though.

Battles feel great and can get very tense at points. You will want to soften up your enemies from a distance then clean up with your melee weapon once they swarm you. This is true for almost every fight, but the varied arsenal will allow you to choose how exactly you want to approach each battle. Fights can get frustrating for a few reasons though. Enemies later on have an almost unfair accuracy, which is a real challenge since the only way to regain health is to perform an execution. Once an enemy takes enough damage they will be stunned, which you can then run up to him and execute him. You can still be attacked and damaged by other enemies while executing, which makes it tough to get health when you really need it since the animation is about 5 seconds long. You can easily be taken from full health to death in certain situations. Towards the end of the game you'll also be facing a lot of long range enemies which makes it even harder to find an opportunity to regain health.

While not the most technically impressive out there, Space Marine will not disappoint in visuals or sound. The Ultramarines feel heavy and powerful when running around and slicing greenskins up. Guns sound and look great, which is good considering they are being wielded by 9 foot genetic super men. The great attention to the little details, such as smoke trailing from each bullet of your bolter, give real impact to each skirmish. Actual level design is interesting enough but is generally overshadowed by some gorgeous backdrops. I want to point out that this is a very "brown" game, which will definitely anger some. It does fit the setting well though, and I never reached a point where I was tired of my surroundings. Add in some really impressive voice acting across the board, and the presentation is pretty wonderful.

Probably the most disappointing thing about Space Marine at the moment is it's multiplayer component. Currently there are only two game modes, Team Deathmatch and Capture Point. While both work fine, there should definitely be more. There was a moment in the campaign where a bunch of Orks came down the side of a wall like water, which made me think some version of Horde mode would be awesome, yet that's also absent. Personally the lack of co-op for the campaign doesn't bother me too much, but I can see how others would find it's omission upsetting, considering most of the game you are accompanied by two squad mates. For those willing to deal with a somewhat bare multiplayer landscape, there is plenty of unlockables to gain, ranging from new weapons, to perks, and even new styles of armor. In fact, the robust customization of your multiplayer avatar is the highlight of the entire experience.

With about an 8 hour campaign, a story that will lose anyone who doesn't know their Xenos from their warp energies, and a multiplayer campaign that could use some work, it might seem like this game isn't worth your time. Fans of this genre would really be missing out though, and should at least give the game a chance. (There is a demo available, at least for PC) For those looking for a straight up action game with high production values, check out Space Marine. You might not understand exactly what's going on, but that doesn't mean snapping the jaw of a giant Ork is any less satisfying.

BONUS LINK!: This blog makes an excellent point about one of the minor characters, Lieutenant Mira. It's a great read and a real eye opener for those who may have written her off.   read

10:04 PM on 01.19.2010

The Female Gamer: A Male's Point of View

Ah yes, the female, or "girl", gamer. It's a well known fact that girls have it harder in this male dominated hobby. We see a lot of people talking about girl gamers, fighting for their rights and burning bra's or whatever they are doing now a days, but more often than not, the people holding the rifle's are the women themselves. I feel like this is a losing battle. Often times in situations like these, outside help is needed. So, that's what I'm here for. I don't claim to know everything (or anything) about the opposite sex, but I can give you the perspective from your level-headed, considerate, and thoughtful gamer.

The problem starts before it even begins. It may seem small, but we labeled them before they even got a chance. The label being "girl" or "female" gamer. Now, I've never been one for the whole political correctness of society, but I think if we never started this labeling, female gamers all over would be in a much better place. It's a shame however that this can't happen now. Even in these two paragraphs I've used Female or Girl gamer a billion or so times. It's just natural now. Think about it though, when someone say's "girl" gamer, where does your mind wonder? Do you picture an incredibly hot girl with controllers covering her naughty bits? Do you picture an extremely homely girl sitting at home playing WoW for 37 hours straight? Or maybe you picture a soccer mom fiddling away at a DS or playing some wii yoga. We all have these images popping up in our head. Not just about girl gamers either, about anything. It's just a shame that some people can't get past the stigma we have inadvertently put upon them.

Who can blame them though? The industry started out as all male programmers appealing to all male consumers. No one at the time thought things would get this big. So when the first girl showed herself to the nerdy sweating masses, they panicked. Confused, shocked, and horny we started placing them in groups, making assumptions, and even discrediting their opinions. It was a terrible shame.

This isn't to say we haven't made any headway. Girls are slowly becoming a lot more prominent in the gaming community. They are making themselves heard and are starting to garner respect, which is great. It's a shame that all this good still comes with all this bad, because things are still not perfect. I'm still shocked and appalled when I join an online game where there happens to be a girl or two around. It's like taking a step into 4th grade all over again. Instead of doing the right thing and going up to her while she's next to the jungle gym and saying hi, you grab her pony tail and pull it like your the god damn hunchback of Notre Dame.

I feel bad, because I know if every time I joined a game only to be greeted with request for nude pics, or to cyber, or any of the other malicious things 14 year old boys think of these days, it would start to make me bitter and maybe even hate gaming all together. Luckily it seems girls are a lot more resilient than me.

And not to sound selfish, but this doesn't just affect the ladies. It's a philosophy of mine to talk to girls, not just for the slim chance of fornication, but a much better reason. You see guys, women are different. I'm not sure if you knew that. Talk to a woman for once while trying your hardest not to stare at her breasts (although a quick glance here and there may be forgiven) and you'll see they are more than just a man who had a naked knife juggling accident. They have a completely different outlook on life, because they grew up completely different. There's a whole pool of knowledge, insight, and opinions that we can't even comprehend. But this brings me to the selfish part, a lot of girls seem to shrug off just about everyone else when partaking in an online game. Even if a guy is just saying hi, most women seem to think (even if it's just that little voice) that he's like all the rest, just being a pestering little jerk. So, I tend to ignore them.

Now, ladies, don't think you are all free of sin in this little debacle. That's right, don't think I don't know the things I know. You see, it seems some "females" are "attention whores." While the male attention whore basically just throws a temper tantrum until people say something, women are a lot more subtle. Some girls LOVE to have other gamers know they are in the presence of a girl. And like I've stated previously, once guy gamers know of a girl gamer, they became a pack of hyena's, laughing and hooting until all the sane people in the area go into violent seizures. Some women seem to get off on having people talk to or about them, regardless of how degrading and disrespectful it may be. Compare your friends list with that of a girl gamers, see how it stacks up.

The industry itself is another problem. While some companies should be praised for their portrayal of strong women in games (Mirror's Edge, Uncharted, Half-Life 2, Heavenly Sword, and more) there are even more companies going the opposite way. Whether it's sixaxis boob control in Ninja Gaiden or the constant onslaught of Party Babyz games. I'll tell you this right now, giving the player to control which way the boobs sway during gameplay is not the way to get girls to buy your games. In fact, that idea is so dumb, I'd be surprised if that got guys to buy it. It's actually reasons like this that I generally write off off Team Ninja games all together, that and my unrelenting hatred for Itagaki, but I'm getting off track. And as for Party Babyz and Horse Farm Deluxez, girls don't go weak at the knees at the prospect of washing yet another horse in yet another shoddy horse owning simulation. Girls actually CAN have babies, so why would they want to pretend to have one. If you think about it, all these baby sims should really appeal to guys.

At the end of the day, all I'm really trying to say is to be respectful. Think before you speak, and try your hardest not to judge someone. And if you do, make sure you leave your mind open and learn about someone before you act on those judgments. Gamers comes in all shapes, sizes, races, religions, and genders,(mostly just the two) so realize that next time you make an assumption. Just trying to do my part to make gaming a more welcoming experience.

Sorry I didn't have time to spice this post up with funny pictures and the like, but well, it didn't seem to fit all that well, so instead you get a wall of text.

POSTSCRIPT: I'm going to use this as a bit of a disclaimer. I'm not speaking for everyone, this is just how I see things and how I feel. I know not everyone acts the way as I described up there, and there's an exception to every rule, but like I said, these are my experiences. I'm also not trying to take the fun out of games. I know this is a pretty frills free blog, but this doesn't mean everyone should be so uptight, because that might even be worse. See ya next time.   read

6:01 PM on 12.28.2009

Hello World, Don't steal my mushroom.

Hello Dtoid community, my name is Dan. This is my first blog so I'll tell you a little about myself. After that, I'll get the train rolling with my review of New Super Mario Bros. Wii.

About me!

I started gaming as soon as I gained the motor skills that allowed me to do so. I was born in 1988, so right around the time I got into games was right around the time the industry was really starting to grow. Unfortunately my memory blurs that time and It's hard to remember what my first game was and things of that nature. The longest I can remember back brings up some interesting memories, like me playing Super Mario Bros with my father, or going to my friends (He had genesis and lived two houses down) to play games like Dick Tracy. I would also go to my cousins, he had Spy Hunter and Top Gun. Thinking back, the reason I liked games at this age had to be purely sensational. The bright colors and the interesting sounds, all at the command of my uncoordinated fingers. I never realized that Super Mario Bros was a better game than Top Gun, they were fun because of different reasons.

Then the SNES came out. I forgot who bought it for me or what occasion I recieved it on, all I knew is I had the newest game console, and I was ready to go. By now I was in school and talks of video games filled the classroom. Friends would come over to play, and I would do the same. I still didn't really grasp the full meaning and greatness of games, but I liked them none the less. Super Mario World, Final Fantasy, and many others filled my life with Joy. Once again, I can't vividly recall much of this time, but one story that sticks out to me involves The Lion King. The Lion King was the first game I ever hated. Was it because of the unrelenting difficulty? Of course not, it was because every time my parents brought me and my sister to rent a game, she picked out The Lion King...every single time. Being the slightly older and smarted person that I was, I would always try and make her pick games that I like, so I basically got 2 rentals instead of 1, she had none of that though.

Some more years pass, I grow older and much more sophisticated with my gaming habits. Up until now, there was no "side" to choose. Until that is, the ps1 and n64 loomed their ugly heads. Just about every one of the kids I knew got a Nintendo 64. I'm sure parents were more assured with Nintendo, since it was familiar. Me on the other hand, got a Sony Playstation. The first two games I got were Ridge Racer and Viewpoint(Both came in the most hideous boxes I've ever seen, early adopters of the playstation should know what I'm talking about)

I doubt anyone even remembers Viewpoint, but what I liked about it is on the back of the box it said "This game is Impossible to beat without cheatcodes"

It was glorious. All this 3d, these games blew my mind. This is when my passion for games hit full boar. During the ps1 era was also the first time I beat an RPG. Previously my attention span barely lasted long enough for a game of mario let along a 50+ hour RPG. That game was Legend of Legaia, a game I still consider one of my favorites.

Time rolled on, games got better, and then came the next wave of consoles. My dad brought home a game he rented for me(what a swell guy right?), I checked it out and realized it was a ps2 game(Oni). I looked at him with my gullible youthful eyes with a bit of disappointment. He apologized and took the game from me to bring it back to the store. Strangely though, he came back in the house 5 minutes later with a large box. He fooled me, and the ps2 was mine. Everything after that is your basic gamer's tale, I'm now a proud owner of the ps3 and a wii system and this "childish" hobby of mine is more time consuming than ever.

And that, my friends, is the very barebones story of my gaming career thus far. I hope we are a little closer now.

Now, I'll be reviewing NSMBW, but I'm gunna talk about how I want to review games first. I don't know if I'll do this all the time, but i'm gunna give it a try. I hate review scores, so those are out the window. I am going to have 2 parts of a review though, the first part is the short part. Here i'll have a summary paragraph where you will get the overall way I feel about said game. The second will be the long part. The long part will be a mix of what i like and don't like, but more importantly, my experience with it. So, shall we?

New Super Mario Brothers Wii

"I have never hated my friends more while playing a video game more in my life, and I wouldn't have it any other way" - me

The short
NSMBW brings back classic mario platforming with the twist of 4 player gameplay. You run through 8 themed worlds in an attempt to rescue Princess Peach, all while grabbing powerups, collecting coins, and stomping goomba's. It's not exactly groundbreaking but the addition of 3 extra players on the screen creates an incredibly interesting dynamic of fun, frustration, teamwork, and spite.

The Long
There really isn't much to say about NSMBW that isn't already general knowledge by now. You run to the right, collecting coins for extra lives, dodging and jumping on enemies, getting to the castle, and defeating the boss. The bosses in this case being the koopa kids and Bowser Jr every once and a while. This all leads up to the climactic end against Bowser. So yes, It's a typical Mario game.

What's different this time is the addition of 3 other players(played by Luigi, blue Toad, and yellow Toad) all trying to do the same exact thing you are at the exact same time. Here's what an eavesdropper would hear if they were listening to 4 people play a level in NSMBW.

1: "Ok guys, let's try and be civil this time."
2,3,4: "sounds good!"
2: "Oh sweet, powerup block"
4: "Seriously, you didn't need ALL the mushrooms"
1: "Way to go asshole, you jumped on my head and now I'm dead"
3: "Stop running man the levels gunna crush me!!!! great....."
1: "shit..."
2: "FUCK"
4: "I'm out of lives already."
3: "Get out of the way get out of the way get out of the way get out of the way"
2: "You killed me man!"
1: "Hey look guys I got to the top of the flag!"

This eavesdropper may think the 4 people in the next room all hate each other, but in reality they are experiencing a type of fun that is rare to find these days.

What makes NSMBW's multiplayer so great is the fact that there is no seperation between co-op and competitive. It's all rolled into one crazy package. Wanna get that star coin? Use another player's head to boost you up, whether he consents to it or not. Luigi in front of you but not making a jump in a moving level? Pick him up and give him a toss into the forever encroaching wall of death. It's moments like these that separate the gaming community from the rest. Mortal enemies one second and best friends the next.

Frustration of being killed multiple times by teamates is offset by what I'm officially dubbing as "The bubble mechanic." At any time you can hit the A button and your person will go into a bubble. This bubble can't be hurt by anything, and shaking the wiimote will bring your bubble closer to teamates so they can free you. It's a very handy feature. Don't think a friend can't kill you while your in a bubble though, since both fireballs and iceballs pop it, regardless if your over safe land or a pit of spikes straight out of mortal kombat. Speaking of spike pits...

This game knows that at any given moment another player can kill you in hundreds of different ways. The level design is a bit wackier than your traditional Mario sidescroller, but it works. There are moving platforms, lava rising, bullet bills shooting every which way, hammer bro's making your life hell, etc. It really feels like the best of everything Mario's had to offer in his whole career put into one game.

But what about the graphics? Well sirs and madams, it's about what you'd expect. The wii is no doubt limited, but the game is extremely colorful and vibrant. The music is a great mix of old and new. It's not perfect though. I don't understand why they needed to put blue and yellow toad in as the third and fourth players. With the vast cast of characters from the mario verse, it seems lazy. What would have been even better would have been a character select screen, with new characters being unlocked via the many collectibles and secrets throughout the game. And while the levels are laid out nicely, and all have that colorful Mario appeal, none of the worlds seemed to really stick with me. They all had their specific themes but it seems that there nothing more of a layer of paint put on top of a level than actually themed worlds of Mario old. More specifically, where the hell is big world?

I also think a special mention should be made to the boss fights. You don't often hear people talk about bosses in the mario sidescrollers, but they are top notch in this one. Much like mario 3, worlds consist of a small and large castle. The small castle is where you fight one of the koopa kids, with nothing that out of the ordinary going on. When you reach the bigger castle though, magikoopa works his...uhh.... magic, making the koopa kid more challenging and much more interesting. Not to mention, the final fight with Bowser is probably the best one yet.

NSMBW is exactly what you would expect and want from a new Mario sidescroller, with enough extra's in it to keep things fresh. Any self respecting fan of Mario would be ashamed not to own this title. It's not exactly a game of the year nominee material, and I'm sure in a few years it will be all but forgotten in the wave of future mario games that are sure to come, but it has lots of charm and is a great way for four friends to get together and test their willpower and question their thoughts on homicide.

-I hope you enjoyed my first blog, Hopefully I'll see you all again.   read

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