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LONG BLOG

New Super Mario Bros. killed Nintendo for me

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Right, before I start - yes, I know Mario games are for kids (apparently). But let's get real here. How many kids beat Super Mario Bros. 3? How many kids got all the stars on Super Mario 64? How many kids made it all the way to Bowser in Super Mario World? I'm guessing, not a lot. Sure, as a kid (I think I was 8/9 when I played Super Mario World) - I loved playing those games. But, as a young person - I wasn't the best at them. Old Mario games aren't easy. Mario has never been easy. Hell even the Mario Galaxy games throw up some challenge. 

Anyway, back to the point at hand. New Super Mario Bros. was going to be the first proper 2D Mario game in ages. In fact Mario hadn't been the star of his own 2D game since 1992! So when this thing rocked out into the world in 2006 you can bet I was excited. Hell, this was the game I brought a DS for. Sure 3D Mario was good and all that, but 2D was what made him - it was what I loved.

So, the day had came, my DS was charged - it was time to return to the glory days of 2D Mario! I played the whole thing in one sitting. In silence. I could feel my heart sinking. This game, sucked. And it hurt. Like, I felt betrayed - which I know is a ridiculous thing to feel. All the reviews were good, this was Nintendo - they just don't make bad games! But they had, and it was terrible. I can honestly say that on that day, me and Nintendo were done.

Let's start with a small thing first. It isn't a massive issue, but one (at the time) I expected better than from Nintendo. The game looked ugly. It's well known that 3D on 2D looks pretty awful. 2D on 3D (as in the characters are 2D but the levels are 3D) can look fine if done correctly. Why the game wasn't done this way, I don't know. But it looked a mess. To make matters worse it wasn't even 3D on 2D - the goombas for example were pre-rendered sprites (think Donkey Kong Country), Mario was polygons, but the question blocks were perfectly flat sprites. It looked like a Mario fangame where someone had slapped stuff from lots of different games, in lots of different styles, and blam - done. And don't tell me the DS wasn't capable of doing nice sprite work - Mario and Luigi Partners in Time looked great - and that came out the year before! The style of NSMB was simply awful, and sadly would continue to be used for many years, regardless of platform. With games like Rayman Origins and Wario Land: Shake It! all coming out during the lifespan of the NSMB series, it was just unbeleivable to see Nintendo not change the style for any of the games...

 

But the main problem was the difficulty. It's hard to judge level design, but you could breeze through the levels of NSMB without really paying too much attention to what you was doing. One of the main changes the Super Mario Advance games brought in was that, unlike in older games, getting hit while having a fire-flower or other power-up would change you back into Super Mario, instead of just Mario like in the past. Here, this change means it is nearly impossible to die. The only challenge the levels ever offer is if you need to get the Blue Shell power-up to a certain point - and that was only difficult because that power-up really sucked... 

Bosses, man those bosses, they were so easy. The problem was the ground-pound (or bottom-stomp as I've always called it) meant each boss would die in about 2 hits. They'd often be dead before you even knew what they did. Everything died in about a minute. But the difficulty wasn't the biggest issues. Sure, for me, it was what killed the game but, if we ignore that and say it's for 4 year olds only or something, there's an even bigger problem...

New Super Mario Bros. ignored every single game before it. And no, I don't mean the plot. I'm sure there is a Mario timeline out there somewhere, but I am 100% sure I do not care what it is. What I mean is, every improvement made through the series of 2D Mario games has pretty much been ignored. This game acts as a sequel to pretty much just the original SMB - and yet it's nowhere near as good as it's inspiration. SMB 3's excellent world map with branching paths, excellent level design and truly challenging Air Ship stages and later worlds are just gone. Everything new that game brought to the table, every refinment it did to make it one of the best platform games of the time - just ignored.

When I think of the best 2D platform game now, not only is not a Mario game, it's not even an older Nintendo title (Yoshi's Island) and it's not even something made by Nintnedo (congratulations Rayman Origins). Nintendo fumbled the 2D crown and have yet to get it back. And then just to prove how little Nintendo cared, Yoshi's Island DS came out a few months later... 

Again, it looked like vomit. Artoon (who Nintendo had allowed to make this, even after Yoshi's Universal Gravitation) decided to change the style of Yoshi, giving him legs which didn't work in the animation lifted from SMW 2, and add there own hideous creations like the 'kangaroo' seen above. Urgh. Nintendo - if you're next 2D Mario game looks like NSMB, I'm kicking you in the balls... Be unique! You know, the thing Nintendo is famous for!

- As N-finity would say, be well.


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About Goemarone of us since 12:05 AM on 06.27.2017

I started as a massive Nintendo fan. I had a SNES before, but it was really the N64 I got on my 10th birthday that really got me into gaming. I stuck with Nintendo pretty much exclusively until the DS rolled out and I played NSMB - man I hated that game. It looked awful, sounded awful and was so easy it was hardly worth paying attention to what you were doing.

The PSP and Monster Hunter stole away hundreds of hours of life and that's when I really started to look at Sony. I had missed great games like Okami, God of War (it was cool at the time), Gradius V and Metal Gear Solid

With the promise of Metal Gear Solid and Monster Hunter on the PS3 I snagged one as soon as I was able. In the long wait (and Monster Hunter jumping to Nintendo...) I picked up Uncharted. My god, what a game! And more followed - Uncharted 2 was excellent, Catherine, Rayman Origins, The Last of Us - man the PS3 was amazing. Yes I still played the 'essential' Nintendo titles (and spent hours on my 3DS when Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate landed - and 100s more on Generations) but the PlayStation had become my main shabang for modern gaming.

I'm also a huge retro fan. Having loved the games I played as a kid, and discovering the earlier titles in franchises I loved - but it was really when I got into sprite ripping and the world of emulation that I truly discovered all there was out there on offer.

Top 10 Games:

Metal Slug X
DoDonPachi
Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate
Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island
Frogs and Flies
Catherine
Doom (2016)
Okami
Valiant Hearts
Day of the Tentacle