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Nov 112015
 

I’ll admit that the Super Mario Bros. franchise can be difficult to keep track of because it often breaks continuity. So to help make this clear, New Super Mario Bros. U for Nintendo Wii U is the direct sequel to New Super Mario Bros. Wii.

This time Bowser tries something new. Instead of taking Princess Peach to his castle, Bowser takes over Peach’s castle and sends Mario, Luigi, and the two Toads far away. Now they have to work their way back home, which gives the adventure a different approach while still following the same formula as most of the other previous Super Mario Bros. titles.

The Koopalings also return. This time each of them has a separate airship with their faces out in front. There are still castles, but the Koopalings aren’t actually in them even though you still have to go through them.

Another big difference is that the guardian of each tower is Boom-Boom, and Kamek makes them more advanced with his magic. This sure reminds me of classic Boom-Boom from Super Mario Bros. 3, only more graphical.

I should also point out the change in power ups. In place of the copter hat and penguin suit is a flying squirrel suit. It allows you to fly but it’s very awkward. Unlike the copter hat that let’s you fly straight up, the flying squirrel suit always goes at an angle making it hard to control while in midair. On the bright side, there are P-Acorn power ups that let you fly through the whole level. It still took a while for me to figure out how that worked.

Normally navigation isn’t a problem in a Super Mario Bros. game, but there are areas that are very difficult to find your way around. Some of the ghost houses don’t have any clear paths and with a time limit that makes it worse. There’s also an area in the Soda Forest where you have to find the secret exit to continue forward on the map. That was so difficult to figure out, I had to look it up on YouTube. It never should have been that complicated. This is why I prefer the boss battles over the rest of the levels.

 

On occasion there’s a character called Nabbit that hides in a random level which has already been cleared. The object is to catch up to him as you go through the level and you get an item that he stole from Toad. It’s tough to do but at least the level ends once you catch Nabbit and not have to carry him to the end like the captured Mushroom people in the previous game.

As you get closer to Peach’s castle, Bowser shows how much more powerful he is by replacing the flags with Bowser banners and eventually surrounding the castle with an eerie tornado. It’s so cool when you hear the windy effect it makes.

Then it all comes down to fighting Bowser at Peach’s castle, which has lava everywhere. Once again you use the “bridge out” method at first, then Bowser becomes giant sized. I’ll tell you, this is definitely one of the most exciting Bowser battles I have seen yet. That’s especially because you actually get to fight him instead of running for your life and dodging lava that kills you in one hit.

This was certainly a good follow-up to New Super Mario Bros. Wii. Despite the challenge being tougher than usual, there were plenty of redeeming factors. Mostly it’s for nostalgia coinciding with the new items like the return of such enemies as Torpedo Ted and the Sumo Brother that have not been featured since Super Mario World.

Feb 042015
 

One of my most favorite games on the Nintendo Wii U is DuckTales Remastered. If you remember the original NES Ducktales game as well as the animated series from the 80s, this is definitely a game to look forward to.

The object of the NES version was for Scrooge McDuck to travel to five different locations, which are the Amazon, Transylvania, African Mines, the Himalayas, and the Moon. Then he collects a treasure after defeating a boss. Afterwards, the treasures get stolen and he must defeat Dracula Duck and race Flintheart Glomgold to the top of a pillar. Then that’s it. The game is beaten.

Ducktales Remastered is basically the same game, but with new additions like two extra levels and an actual plot. A really awesome addition is the voice acting. All of the surviving voice actors from the original Ducktales series reprise their roles. The characters even speak during the game play, which makes it more interesting.

Wendee Lee, who I met at Anime Festival Orlando 2011, voices the role of Mrs. Beakley in place of the late Joan Gerber.

The story starts with the Beagle Boys taking over Scrooge’s money bin. You go through the place, rescue Huey, Dewey, and Louie, and fight Big Time Beagle by clobbering him with a safe on the ceiling before being given the option to select a level. That is an intro that helps the story line make sense.

I’m so glad that each stage has a map screen because in order to proceed forward, you have to find items that are scattered throughout the area. I used to enjoy exploring the stages in the old game to locate hidden gems and it’s certainly paying off here.

After collecting all five treasures, Scrooge must go to the other new stage, which is Magica de Spell’s home on Mount Vesuvious to get back the treasures and his kidnapped nephews to face Dracula Duck. Before it was just the Transylvania level again.

I should point out that among the special unlockable features there’s a section of the music score from both versions of the game. It even includes 8-bit versions of the two additional levels. So maybe they did exist in the old game, but were later removed. Are there any theories on that?

The boss battles are the most exciting. Before it was simple with just five pogo jumps to beat them. Here, only some of the bosses take five hits and the others take more. It also includes random dialogue and more elaborate attacks.

Dracula Duck is the final boss of course, but Magica gives him more power every time he gets pogo jumped on. The effects are amazing. I love it.

Then we have the epic climax. Scrooge must race Glomgold to the top of the mountain, but it’s not just up one chain this time. It’s tricky with the breakable chains and fast rising lava.

This is truly a great Nintendo Wii U game and I’m not just saying that because it’s a 2D-platform game, which is surprisingly a rare type of video game nowadays. It’s so wonderful that a classic franchise was brought back and still stayed true to its precedent. Do you suppose any other classics like Chip ‘N Dale’s Rescue Rangers may do the same someday?

Dec 032014
 

The newest video game console I have played is the Nintendo Wii U, which is basically a perfected version of the Nintendo Wii, but this one is very different from most consoles. When I was growing up, video game systems were much simpler. You just hook it up, plug it in, and insert the game cartridge, then game on. After hooking up the Nintendo Wii U, you have to wait a long time for the console to download. That also includes every time you insert a new game. Despite that, the Nintendo Wii U is a nice game system.

The very first game I played on the Nintendo Wii U is Super Mario 3D World. Unlike most Super Mario Bros. titles, this one provides the option to play as Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, or Toad and each character has special abilities. I know this sounds like Super Mario Bros. 2 for the NES, but things are much different here.

I should also point out that Rosalina is also a playable character, but you have to unlock her first.

The objective is to rescue Sprixies and the Sprixie Kingdom from Bowser. I guess that after Bowser failed to conquer the Mushroom Kingdom so many times, he decides to go after another kingdom.

The game play is much like Super Mario 3D Land for Nintendo 3DS and provides the same powerups like Fire flowers, Tanooki leaves, and Boomerang flowers. It’s so interesting to see Toad and Princess Peach with these powerups since we don’t get to see that very often.

There’s also a new powerup called the super bell. That gives the heroes cat suits, allowing them to run faster, climb walls, and pounce on enemies as well as scratch them up. If you love cats, I’m sure you’ll find this adorable.

One item I struggle to understand is the double cherries. They just clone your character, which makes it more difficult to maneuver because they can easily be trapped in tight corners.

Remember the star coins? This time there are three green stars hidden within each level. It’s nice to explore, but sometimes you need a certain amount of stars to unlock later levels.

However, there’s other ways to collect green stars. For instance, there are areas where you complete a series of challenges to collect ten stars.

Then there are the Captain Toad levels, where you have to navigate Toad through puzzle-like areas to collect five stars. Those levels are hard because Toad doesn’t jump, the control and navigation are very awkward, and there’s a time limit. I’m actually surprised that Captain Toad is going to have his own separate video game for that.

The bosses are cool. Boom-Boom and Pom-Pom return, Bowser throws stuff from a fancy car, and there are new bosses that I can hardly describe but are still fun to battle. Once again, the Koopalings don’t return. It makes you wonder what they’re doing during this adventure.

This is a good game that I find enjoyable. However, I tend to struggle with the control when it comes to the 3D aspect, especially during the side scrolling stages. It certainly makes me appreciate the classic 2D platform games more.