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Aug 302013

Earlier this month I got a Nintendo 3DS, which is an updated version of the Nintendo DS. I’m also glad that it works with DS games as well as the newer 3DS ones. The main 3DS game I looked forward to playing was Super Mario 3D Land, mainly because of how interesting it looked on YouTube.

The game play is fun and simple as any Super Mario Bros. game should be. It also comes with some nostalgic value. The most common is the super leaf that turns you into Tanooki Mario. Remember the Tanooki suit from Super Mario Bros. 3? The major difference is that you can’t fly with it, you can only descend slowly, but it’s still very helpful. Sometimes it is even more so than the fire flowers.

The control is a bit awkward because the joystick to move Mario is much like the one for the Nintendo 64. It takes a little getting used to as well as the 3D perspective. The most common time I struggled with the 3D is when there are platforms that rotate, disappear, or switch around whenever you jump. It’s tough to see where you’re going to land.

Another major comparison this game has is with New Super Mario Bros. Wii. Each world either has a castle or an airship. The castles are often inhabited by a fake Bowser that is defeated by the “bridge out” method. Unfortunately, fireballs won’t work on him this time.

Then we have the airships. Apparently, the only bosses featured are Boom-Boom (another classic Super Mario Bros. 3 character) and Pom-Pom. She is a female version of Boom-Boom that throws boomerangs. Maybe she’s Boom-Boom’s sister. I don’t know.

As much as I like these two, it was disappointing because I was expecting the koopalings, especially after making such a triumphant comeback on New Super Mario Bros. Wii. Why were they not featured?

Another item this game has is star coins. There are three in every stage and can sometimes be hard to get to. The only crucial reason to get them is that some levels do not unlock until you certain amount of star coins. One thing’s for sure, once the star coins are found it becomes more fun to go through the levels again and again. Thank goodness for the auto save function.

After you defeat the real Bowser at the end of the game, it’s not over yet. This unlocks the special worlds, which are more difficult and provides the opportunity to play as Luigi once you rescue him from the first castle.

Sometimes the difficulty can be frustrating, particularly the levels that you have you rush through and that takes the fun out of it. The speed makes it hard to see in order to jump the different platforms because your timing has to be exact. I’m not just talking about the stages with fast side scrolling. There are actually levels with a very short time limit. In order to keep going you have to collect clocks. The blue ones add 10 seconds and the green ones add 100 seconds. The clocks are common items throughout the game, but they’re not as crucial in the earlier stages.

Another difficulty some levels have is the Cosmic Clone. He will follow you everywhere you go and match your every move. Only an invincible star can stop him, but not for long. If he touches you, you’re dead, so you have to constantly keep moving. I have used over 20 lives trying to get past these frustrating obstacles. It’s ridiculous.

The only Super Mario Bros. villain I ever disliked as much as the Cosmic Clone is Boss Bass from Super Mario Bros. 3. He was the giant fish that could swallow you whole, even when you’re fully powered up. How would you compare the two?

Despite the difficulties, Super Mario 3D Land is an excellent game with cool graphics and music. It’s also nice that it’s generous with extra lives. Instead of leftover time going into a high score, it goes into your coin total. It’s definitely more beneficial that way.

Nov 302012

I remember these Koopa wizards as a one of the creatively new brands of enemies from Super Mario World for the Super NES. Their magic wands can turn blocks into random items or enemies and can also disappear and reappear anywhere, but are easily defeated with one stomp to the head. Unfortunately, in the game the Magikoopas only appearances were in two Koopaling castles, #3 and #7, and weren’t even mentioned among the other enemies after the end credits. Isn’t that strange?

It wasn’t until the much later Super Mario Bros. games like Super Princess Peach and the Mario Party games when the Magikoopas were confined to one stronger character, Bowser’s right hand man Kamek.

When Kamek returns in New Super Mario Bros. Wii, he provides a useful edge for the Koopalings in their castles by magically adding a new obstacle to challenge Mario.

In World 8, Kamek resides in his own tower. The way to beat him is still three stomps to the head. However, Kamek is tough because you have to fight him on continuously moving platform blocks. He can change them into anything and he’s also hard to catch because of his disappearing skill.

After defeating Kamek in the tower, he magically makes Bowser bigger, but meets his own demise in the process. Or does he?

Believe it or not, Kamek wasn’t the first independent Magikoopa. In the Super Mario World cartoon series, there was another named Wizenheimer (pronounced Wizz-enheimer) who lives  in Dinosaur Land’s Enchanted Forest in a ghost house. He captures anyone who enters his domain and it’s his nature to be evil. Surprisingly, it was Yoshi who defeated Wizenheimer by eating his wand in order for Mario to stomp him out. In other episodes, it’s also revealed that the Magikoopas are one of the few types of enemies Yoshi can’t eat. You can’t really tell in the Super Mario World game because Yoshi never enters castles, fortresses, or ghost houses.

I’ll tell ya, those Magikoopas can be real tricksters. You can only imagine if Harry Potter were to go up against them.

Jul 182012

Anime on the Nintendo Wii never looked better than on Wario Land: Shake It!. In a world called the Shake Dimension, a wicked pirate called the Shake King has captured Queen Merelda and her subjects. Only one creature named Merfle manages to escape into the real world.

Queen Merelda

Merfle finds Wario and asks for his help. That may not have been a smart move because Wario fans know very well that he doesn’t care about rescuing damsels in distress like Mario and Luigi do. Wario is only interested in treasure. When Merfle also mentions that the Shake King has the legendary bottomless coin sack, Wario agrees to the task.

In order to fight the Shake King, Wario must collect five boss emblems, which is simple. Each continent has a boss Wario has to fight, as well as several levels along the way with three hidden treasures scattered throughout each level. At least the paths are easy to follow, as a true platform game should.

At the end of each level, you rescue a Merfle and must get back to the beginning to exit or lose all of the treasure you found in that level. I’m very glad that Merfle shows the way in order to know where to go, especially when there’s a time limit.

Also helping Wario on his quest is Captain Syrup the pirate, who runs a pirate shop to provide maps and other various items.

I can remember Captain Syrup’s very first appearance on Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3 for Game Boy. She accompanies the main boss of the game, the Genie, but there was no mention of who she was. Heck, I never knew that Captain Syrup was even a woman until seeing her in Wario Land Shake it. It all makes perfect sense now.

Many of Wario’s moves are pretty basic. However, there are quite a few different contraptions Wario must learn to use in order to get through a level. Ones like directional cannons, unibuckets, dashorater pipes that keep you running until you hit a wall, and gymnast bars. (I didn’t know Wario could do gymnastics.) It didn’t take me long to understand them, along with the other surprises I keep finding. Thank goodness I had experience from similar titles like New Super Mario Bros. Wii and Super Princess Peach for Nintendo DS.

Sometimes you’ll find tight spots, but when in doubt, use the earth shake punch.

Some levels are underwater levels that scroll. That’s when Wario uses a submarine with unlimited missiles. It seems like ages since a Mario game had that option.

Boss battles can be tricky, but once you figure out their weak spots, it shouldn’t be too hard. I don’t know if I can say the same about the later bosses or the Shake King himself.

I enjoyed this game. Although some of the hidden treasures can be very hard to find or get to, you can always visit the level again.

Mar 042011

One of the cleverest foes in the Super Mario Bros. franchise is Lakitu. He hides up in the clouds with his unlimited supply of spiny eggs, which he throws down at Mario and Luigi. Once the eggs hit the ground, they become spinys, one of the first enemies that can’t be stomped on. There’s quite an evolution with Lakitu as well.

1985: Lakitu makes his debut on the original Super Mario Bros. game in level 4-1. Originally I thought he was just a cloud that follows you everywhere you go while throwing the spiny eggs and is happy about it. Then I later realized that Lakitu is a turtle riding the happy faced cloud. He can be killed in one stomp, but it’s difficult to reach him at the top of the screen. And if that weren’t bad enough, no matter how many times you take out Lakitu, he always comes back as if there was more than one.

1989: On The Super Mario Bros. Super Show, Lakitu is boss of the clouds. Not only does he have spiny eggs, but his cloud also makes rain and lightning. However, Lakitu was only in one episode, where he was helping King Red Baron Koopa take over Pasta Land.

1990: Lakitu returns in the Super Mario Bros. 3 game, not only with red spiny eggs, but also green ones that don’t hatch, but are just as deadly. I never figured out where Lakitu gets his spiny eggs from, unless he lays them himself.

1990: Lakitu makes an appearance on the Super Mario Bros. 3 cartoon series also, but only in one episode for a couple of seconds during a chase scene. I think he deserved a little more recognition than that.

1991: Next in the Super Mario World game, a new feature after defeating Lakitu is that you can snatch his cloud and ride in it. Unfortunately, it only lasts for a short time. Another new feature is that Lakitu fishes for Mario with a 1up mushroom as bait. I wonder if that was the inspiration behind Fishin’ Boo.

1992: When the Super Mario Kart franchise came along, Lakitu held the starter light and flags for the races. That’s been his job on every Mario Kart game, including Mario Kart Wii. He has a birds eye view of every race up on that cloud.

1993: On The Lost Levels game in Super Mario All-Stars, Lakitu’s skills are the same as the original Super Mario Bros. game. All that’s new is that he comes and goes throughout the levels as if he only wanted to attack in certain areas. Could it be a new strategy, or is he just getting soft.

1996: I guess the Mario Kart experiences might have led to a possible change of heart, because on Super Mario 64 Lakitu shadows Mario with a camera throughout the adventure without any interference. That would explain the camera angle options.

2006: Lakitu is only labeled as an annoying enemy that attacks from a cloud on Super Princess Peach, but that’s putting it lightly. This time his spiny eggs blow up like bob-bombs, when they hit. On occasion he sleeps calmly until he’s woken up by Princess Peach’s presence. At least Lakitu is reachable more often.

2006: As the Mario Bros. go back to their roots on New Super Mario Bros. DS, so does Lakitu with his even spikier spiny eggs. At the castle in World 7, Lakitu becomes a boss called Lakithunder. He rides a dark cloud that shoots lightning, which gives him more of an edge.

2009: Of course, like other common enemies, Lakitu returns again in New Super Mario Bros. Wii. This time there can be more than one of him attacking at once. The spinys are different also. Yoshi used to eat them easily, but now they’re as hard to swallow as turtle shells. What did Lakitu do to those spinys to make them so tasteless?

As long as King Bowser Koopa continues to try to take over the Mushroom Kingdom with his various minions, Lakitu will always be there to back him up with air support, no matter how many of him there is.