Archive for December, 2010

Game 14: Dune II

Posted: December 31, 2010 by Jeroen in Games
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Game 231/1001 according to the list

Genre: Strategy
Platform: PC
Year of Release: 1992
Developer: Westwood Studios
Publisher: Virgin Interactive

Three houses fight for control of Arrakis, or Dune, the only planet in the galaxy where the elusive Spice can be found. In the mean time, they also have to avoid sandworms and deal with the emperor.  Take over the planet, and you may as well rule the universe, with the power the spice, which is necessary for space travel, possesses.

Our Playthrough

We each played part of a campaign – the sinister Ordos for Peter (very unsurprising) and the noble Artreides for me (as if you didn’t know).

Our Thoughts

He who controls the spice controls the universe.

Artreides, Harkonnen and Ordos are the three houses fighting for control of the only planet where it exists naturally: Dune. It’s sort of the way it stayed with all subsequent games from Westwood – gather one significant resource (spice here, Tiberium in Command & Conquer, and I think gold found in, say, New York in Red Alert). Strange to think that if taken out of this space age setting Dune II is essentially about wars being fought over drug trafficking. Sort of like GTA without the option to have sex with random prostitutes. It’s just some fantastic in joke for those who know about the Dune mythology that what you are essentially mining is the equivalent of LSD. Which explains the scary eyes of everyone you encounter in the game. Except that the hallucinations are actually true visions of the future. That’s what all addicts say. Yeah, well, read the books before you judge them. I saw the film… and have since judged it heavily, even Sian Phillips couldn’t save it.

For those who don’t know, Dune is a science fiction series by Frank Herbert that’s about the planet named Dune and the politics and adventures to keep it in noble hands, as well as the ways to save humanity afterwards. It’s a bit complicated, but the book is a good read. It makes the film more bearable and interesting, which can be difficult to understand when you don’t know anything else from the story. To continue the history lesson and move on to our game, a video game was released in the early 90s, based in part on the movie and book, which has you travelling around Dune as Paul Artreides, the main character of the book, and drive the Harkonnen away while keeping the emperor happy and keeping up spice production. It’s an interesting game that gradually turns from adventure to a strategy game. For the sequel, Westwood ripped out the adventure elements and refined the strategy elements to what we have today.  And Dune 2, which is on the list and which we’ve played, became the RTS that was one of the major blueprints for the genre, for example being the direct predecessor to the Command & Conquer series mentioned above.

(Well done to those who stuck with the history lesson, it was touch and go on my part)

The main problem with this game is that old father time and his grandson master technology have taken a jackhammer to it. It is incredibly fiddly to control and at many times is just plain annoying.  However, you can see how it formed part of the blueprint for almost every strategy game that followed it. Basically, the game was one of the first, and certainly the first major game to be playable using the mouse (and in fact requiring it) and things like selecting multiple units at once wasn’t thought of yet. This makes the game extremely tedious to play to us.
(Side note: A semi-remake was released by Westwood in 1998 called Dune 2000. While the storyline differs somewhat, a lot of the unique features and the setting stays the same, just using a more modern engine similar to what we saw in the likes of Command & Conquer. While not loved by the critics and not being a great success, it might be just enough of a step up to make a similar game be more playable. I know I liked it) … I concur?

Seriously though (as much as I love pissing off the boyfriend) nowadays it is a game mainly for historians or Dune fans.  For those of us under the age of 25 this is not a game we could really get that excited about. Especially in a world populated with the likes of Total War and Age of Empires/Mythology. Because we’re too used to what are simple interface improvements now (such as multi-select and an interactive cursor, instead of clicking orders), this is hard to play. The graphics and sound being lackluster can be overlooked, but the gameplay makes it too frustrating to play too long and makes me wonder how we managed back in the day when this game was special and exciting.
I think what we are trying to say is that when viewed in relation to its contemporaries it was a revelation, but it’s like comparing the graphics of Jason and the Argonauts with those of Avatar. You can appreciate how groundbreaking the work put into Jason and the Argonauts works but due to us being spoilt with better technology we are less willing to suspend disbelief.  This is doubly so with the original King Kong. (For the record, he means the movie ‘Jason and the Argonauts‘, not the original Greek myth. And Avatar is the recent hit movie going by that name featuring odd blue creatures) (Way to underestimate our readers Jeroen) (I’d say that knowing a Greek myth is more highbrow than some semi-cartoon based on it) (It was live action you little… you know nothing about film. Shove off and let’s conclude this!)

So, not a good game to play because you’re bored, but a very interesting game in terms of history and to see how strategy games have developed. The granddaddy of them all.

Final Thoughts

As you can tell I was not that impressed with the game. The thing about this list that we all need to remember that this list it not about the 1001 best games but it  is meant to consist of a wide variety of games that are both fantastic and have helped shaped the industry into what it is today… to be fair Dune II was one of those games. It may not be great to look at now but you can not deny how influential it was.


Game 13: The Last Express

Posted: December 28, 2010 by Jeroen in Games
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Game 356/1001 according to the list

Genre: Adventure
Platform: PC
Year of Release: 1997
Developer: Smoking Car Productions
Publisher: Brøderbund

“The best game nobody ever played”, a commercial failure, and yet it’s found in the book. What’s up with that? Well, The Last Express is an adventure game that takes place in real-time. You’re Doctor Cath, who’s been asked to help out with a secret sort of mission on the Orient Express.

The characters all have their own schedules and interaction and life goes on regardless of what you do – although your actions do influence this. The graphics are based on live recordings, edited to create animation that suit the game’s atmosphere.

In other words, a special game.

Our Playthrough

We’ve done our best to play through the game. We’ll see how we do with the game, but with some luck we’ll make it quite far through the puzzles, enjoying the environment at the same time.

Our Thoughts

Here’s to the first game on the list (other than Peggle) that we actually completed *raises glass*. Cheers! Cheers! Yeah, and an interesting one too, very immersive. (forgot about Bayonetta… but I only completed it after posting it.) Yeah, the second completed while actually playing it for the blog, rather than afterwards.  Not that it’s a simple game. Quite the opposite really.

The time-dependent events, people living their lives on the train around you while you try to solve the mystery and the sometimes quite devious solutions make it interesting and quite complex at times. And makes you wonder what does and does not happen. Exactly, the great thing about it IS that you could be extremely lazy and sit in your cabin and do nothing whilst murders, bombings and concerts go on around you. You really have to get stuck in. Not entirely true, as the police event shows, you need to get out. Granted… the only time in geek history where hiding in the toilet is not to escape the local bullies… That depends on your definition of bullies and your overall experience. Yeah (Never have)

I love the complex storyline involved, it shows a true love of history. And that alone makes it replayable, as a second playthrough might be welcome to help you understand more of what’s going on. That’s one of the issues with everything being so time sensitive. You feel that you need to speed through things in order to get everything done that you need to do. Yeah, even though the pacing allows you to take your time anyway. Further helped by the ability to rewind the clock whenever you want incase you missed something. Yeah, up to a point. It’s easy to catch up if you have to.

Something else is the art and animation. The procedure is interesting and worth reading up on in other places, such as Wikipedia. It’s when you get to certain cut scenes (or when people pass you in the corridors) that it looks really impressive, especially when you consider it was all rotoscoped. Yeah, It looks nice and works really well for the game and it has been a lot of work.

The budget for this game was huge, in part because of the art, for the time… and for the number of games sold. So much so that is basically bankrupted the studio. Yeah, apparently only 100 000 games were sold, on a development cost of a few million (6 million, it’s rumoured). Kinda sad really. There is one thing bankrupting yourself with shit… but not with a really impressive title. Yeah, it should’ve done better with the game’s quality.

I’d love to be able to play more games like this. Since we have a lot of adventure games to cover I am sure that your adventure itch will be scratched… unlike my beat ’em up itch… which is yet to be tackled. I’m sure we’ll get to many more of those. While there will be more adventure games, one as complex like this, with the amount of work and AI that has gone into this, including all the possible interactions that take place and can take place, will not be as common. I think the closest we’ll get is that fantastic Gregory Horror Show… which is like this if it was set in a haunted hotel with strange anime animals. That sounds like it will be a great deal of fun! 🙂 Just remember it’s a Survival Horror Adventure 😉

Final Thoughts

The game itself plays like a thriller made in the 1940s (unsurprisingly there are rumours of a film adaptation) and does make you feel like one of those old fashioned heroes in the Alfred Hitchcock style. Although point and click adventures are not usually my cup of tea this somehow ticked all the right boxes. It is just such a pity this was not a big success at the time… it could have been the beginning of a rather promising series.

Game 12: Line Rider

Posted: December 25, 2010 by mulholland in Games
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Game 683/1001 according to the list

Genre: Action
Platform: Online
Year of Release: 2006
Developer: Boštjan Čadež
Publisher: N/A

So far we have had serious games, casual games and those where it is questionable whether they can be considered games at all. Line Rider falls easily into the last category.

Although it was designed by a university student (from Slovenia) this game took the internet by storm a few years ago. In fact I greatly doubt that there is anyone who was computer literate in 2006 that did NOT play this game.

This also stands as the perfect game for Christmas seeing how it’s central (doomed) character is on a sledge whilst wearing a scarf… I originally thought him to be a penguin but that’s by-the-by.

Our Playthrough

There  really is not much to do with this game except fart around with different courses and enjoying making our little scarfed boy suffer as he falls headlong into empty space.

Our Thoughts

You are a cruel man. “Yeah, I want to make people slide down lines and be thrown off and beaten in brutal inhumane ways… and then go again!” Wait until we hit GTA… then you’ll see my cruel streak. Don’t worry, I’ve seen quite enough of that already.

Here is the $64,000 question… is Line Rider a game? In the sense that it’s an environment limited by rules (gravity and so on) that you use to enjoy yourself …in a strict sense so is a yo-yo. Not as much an environment as an item, and not so much limited by its own rules as it is with outside ones. But still they are both opportunities to inflict pain… when used correctly.

Seriously though… I actually question Line Rider being a game instead of a physics simulation or toy. It’s certainly more the former and it does remind me a little bit of the simulations we used to use during physics lessons. Back when Java applets were modern. The fact this is done for fun rather than to learn is the only thing pushing it closer to being a game.

I guess, but it reminds me of a K-Nex rollercoaster I got as a kid. Lucky you; something from before my time to be fair, and Lego wasn’t that complicated.

But does it earn its place on the list? I’m not entertained that much by it. Yeah, nice for five minutes, but then you ask yourself what the point is. It’s not my kind of game

Once you’ve made a successful loop-the-loop with a trap door so he can shoot out the other side… you’ve pretty much done it. Yeah.

Final Thoughts

Line Rider is available online for free, so that shouldn’t stop you from trying it out. And it can be fun to try out, especially with a major cruel streak. Don’t expect it to keep you obsessed for hours and days.

Game 11: Bookworm

Posted: December 22, 2010 by mulholland in Games
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Game 540/1001 according to the list

Genre: Puzzle
Platform: PC
Year of Release: 2003
Developer: Popcap
Publisher: Popcap

This was not a game we actively scheduled this early on (since we rely on a mixture of a random number generator and personal choice) but it came out of a rather slow evening when I had a fancying for playing Scrabble. I never know why I go through these Scrabble phases… I start playing it and then get bored within 10 minutes.

Bookworm is very similar to Scrabble in many ways, you try to make as long a word as possible out of the tiles provided…. however there are flaming tiles involved which change the game somewhat.

Our Playthrough

This is the victim of some late-night playing resulting in both of us feeling rather tired and disorientated the next day… totally worth it.

Our Thoughts

Bookworm. So you have a worm, a grid of letters, and you have to make words using the letters and impress the worm. And if you do not impress the worm then he tries to set the library on fire with the flaming letters… Apparently, then, it’s an evil worm that hates words, and you stop him by making words. Then again he does give the opportunity to play with golden and diamond letters… so he’s an evil worm with a love of bling.
In other words, there’s no story and what happens doesn’t make much sense, but the game is good fun, even though it did not seem to be our kind of game. Well, like I mentioned before, Scrabble is as dull as dishwater. And English isn’t my first language. Yet you can swear like a pro, even if you can not use swearwords in the game. I’ve learned the important words. And yeah, that’s the one vocabulary part that surprised us. But I guess it makes sense, if it included all members of the swearing rainbow then you would have to have an age restriction present. ‘Crap’, though? To some people ‘hell’ is incredibly offensive.
Anyway, it looks pretty, the gameplay is good, but it’s a puzzlegame – while we can explain the gameplay, and say it gets addictive – the last game took over an hour and that was ended simply because we had to write this bit. You can easily play this for hours on end… as long as your eyes don’t go square first. And you can stand all the Y’s and J’s that start filling up the bottom of the board

Final Thoughts

This is a nice word-based puzzle game, simple, yet challenging, it looks good and is a lot of fun to play – like a lot of the Popcap games. And the trial is available for free, so no reason not to try it.

New Game Approaches: The First Flush

Posted: December 21, 2010 by mulholland in Acquisition

It was always destined to happen wasn’t it? Even though we were already in possession of more than enough games to keep us blogging well into 2011 (as you saw in our introduction) the sheer amount of excitement at seeing the amount of games yet to try would lead us to making a few purchases.

The majority of these (meaning Dead Space, Spider-man 2, Sins of a Solar Empire, Little King’s Story and Rockstar Games Presents: Table Tennis) all came from an impulse buy that the two of us made on a trip to York over the weekend (which lead to severe train-based delays and my contracting stomach flu; at least it was good to see my friends again). 3 of these were found after my spending ages flicking through the preowned section of GAME in order to find some bargains. The other two were in a special offer alongside other non-list games such as Legoland (which I am really looking forward to trying soon).

Freak Out was a purchase of mine over eBay since the description sounded so weird… a game involving demons and scarves; whatever next?

Game 10: Columns

Posted: December 19, 2010 by mulholland in Games
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Game 189/1001 according to the list

Genre: Puzzle
Platform: Arcade and Sega Mega Drive/Genesis
Year of Release: 1990
Developer: Sega
Publisher: Sega

This is a game from my youth here. My first console was a Sega Mega Drive and Columns was one of the first games that I had on it (alongside Cool Spot and Sonic The Hedgehog) so there are a lot of memories involved here.

As games go this bares all the hallmarks of a Tetris clone, but there is some more to this game than just that. It was one of the (if not the) first falling block puzzle to include gravity. By this I mean that when you got your three-in-a-row there were consequences as pieces would fill in the holes rather than the floating pieces that we had come to know and love. Also matches were done by matching three of the same colours in a row (be it horizontal, vertical or diagonal) which introduced an extra element of colour matching alongside the usual spatial reasoning.

I may be waxing lyrical about Columns but there is a reason this on the list. It isn’t just a clone where the pieces look like boiled sweets, there is quite a bit more to it.

Our Playthrough

This is a puzzle game so there is only way to properly play it… in competition with each other. This also has a 2-player mode which is always good to peruse.

Our Thoughts

I think that we may have found the game that prompted manufacturers to advise gamers to take rests during gaming. Unlike what we did on the last game played.

First things, what did you think on your first exposure to Columns?

Well, first, this is a game that’s been imitated and modified often, so the basics are familiar. But this being one of the basics, it was interesting. It needs quite some getting used to as it can be rather tough. But once you get into it, it’s very addictive.

I think one thing that really extended its longevity was the introduction of ‘gravity’. It was such a game changer, literally. It was, and allowed for far more combinations to take place which made it easier in some ways and more challenging in others since you really had to think multiple moves in advance. Yes. All in all, there was more to the gameplay, and while the simplicity of Tetris can also be fun, this makes it more fun.

The 2-player co-op mode was a nice addition too. That was so much better than the general head-to-head match. And it’s what lost us over an hour today. We kept going and had to force ourselves to wind down which really did not work, as you can see, since we both got to over a million points. Yeah, unfortunately, but we managed it by forcing each other to lose. Which I think may have been the point…

Either way it really made me fancy some Cherry Drops… I suppose they look similar.

Still, it’s probably not the best of all puzzle games, but it’s a lot of fun, and the multiplayer adds a lot to gameplay. Considering when it was made, I can see why it was ported to every console going.

Final Thoughts

Like I said, Columns has a lot of good memories tied up in it. It would make for a good addition to a retro games night… but I am sure there are many more recent puzzle games on the list that will run rings around it. It’s still great fun though.

Game 9: Little Computer People

Posted: December 16, 2010 by Jeroen in Games
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Game 95/1001 according to the list

Genre: Life Simulation
Platform: Various ones
Year of Release: 1985
Developer: Activision
Publisher: Activision

Did you know there are little people living in your computer? Well, there are, and in this Tamagotchi-like fishbowl game, you can see one of them going through his daily routine.

Yes, a guy and his dog in a house. They walk around and do the usual it’s a quiet day and I’ll relax stuff, while we just get to watch. Oh, you can bring food and water occasionally, and ask them to do things, but most of them, you just watch.

Our Playthrough

Turn on, sit back, do other things while occasionally glancing over to the screen. It’s all you can do, really.

Our Thoughts

Please dance *shrug* boring.

It’s like watching someone doing nothing for a few days. Watch some TV, read, talk on the phone, eat, drink, ignore the dog. Basically, it’s like Big Brother without the possibility of nudity or any real drama. And with no other people around. The game isn’t really one I’d recommend playing. It’s interesting as a piece of history – a predecessor of the Tamagotchi and other toys – but there’s nothing for you to do. Press “give food” and “Give water” and “Give dog food”, and that’s it.

I can see how it came to be an inspiritation for games like The Sims. To the right person this could be incredibly fascinating, even nowadays. Someone with as much of a life as the guy in the game? That’s not for me to judgeEven so, the first thing games like The Sims did was adding interactivity, and that’s the one thing missing from this game. Sure, you can type in requests for the man, but you have to be lucky enough to have him listen.

In some ways this game was reaching way beyond it’s grasp. Possibly. In any case, it was a first step that needed some more work to really become a game, rather than a slightly interactive screensaver. In some ways a real life aqauarium would have been more fun, at least there is some chance of the fish fighting each other.

Final Thoughts

This game is a relic, pure and simple. It is always interesting to see where successful franchises such as The Sims came from historically. This is not something you can really play… but it’s an interesting distraction for 5-10 minutes.

Game 8: Viva Piñata

Posted: December 13, 2010 by mulholland in Games
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Game 730/1001 according to the list

Genre: Life Simulation
Platform: X-Box 360
Year of Release: 2006
Developer: Rare
Publisher: Microsoft

Ah Viva Piñata. The simple sandbox life simulation where you look after a garden and hope to entice some colourful chocolate-filled pinata animals to live there. Of course there are complications from ‘sour’ pinatas and ruffians who come in to smash about the place… but it would be too easy otherwise.

As premises go it is exceedingly simple, which is probably what makes it so attractive.  It’s loveable cast of characters with their cute sweet-inspired names (such as Sparrowmint and Chewnicorn) actually made this the first game that I got for the 360.

This also marks the first of quite a few Rare games that appear on the list (others including Banjo Tooie and Goldeneye 007) so stay tuned for those.

Our Playthrough

I have wasted so much of my life on this in the past (whilst listening to Joanna Newsom no less) so this is a game where I am letting Jeroen take the lead. After all, it’s still a joy to watch all the little cut-scenes again for the first time… makes me remember how cute a newt can be when animated right.

Our Thoughts

SMASH THE PRETZTAIL!  Don’t you dare touch my bunnies! For those not in the know… a pretztail is a piñata for; one that loves to sneak in and eat your piñata bunnies and chickens (poor Cluckles).

Yeah. Anyway, I can safely say this is a good, fun game and incredibly addictive. I remember it from when I first played it years ago, watching you… reinforced that opinion. Yeah, unfortunately so. In a way I’m happy that we’ve finished our time, because now I have to move on, rather than feeling I could play another hour because ah well, I might as well.

I was really happy to see that this made the list, it’s such an unusual title because of the way it marries normal life simulation, cute creatures and things normally associated with games such as Harvest Moon and Animal Crossing. One disadvantage of only playing 5-6 hours is that you don’t get to see all the different piñatas. Some such as Galagoogoo and the elephant (who I gave some rather festive earrings) are some of the title’s true piñata stars.

Yeah, but this gave a good impression of what is possible, combined with looking at your old garden. Absolutely, at times this can be an incredibly relaxing and easy game… then suddenly you are whacked in the face as saboteurs enter your garden, your piñatas start to fight and you REALLY need to water a tree to stop it from wilting. And all of these can occur in quick succession.

Yeah, especially level-ups can cause this. You gain a rank every once in a while as you play, based on things you do. Because of this, they might occur while, for example, you’re in the middle of breeding your piñatas, and then may cause new nasties to show up, while you get a new shovel and a few other odds and ends, and you hear you need to deal with them all at once. And there were times when I was telling Peter “Yes, I’ll get to that, but I first need to do these three other things!”

And there were times when Jeroen was happily allowing his piñatas to be eaten and it upset me… I guess I’m a bit less sensitive than you with these things. If I can get a nicer or different piñata back for it, I don’t think it’s much of a problem. You can grow incredibly attached to certain piñatas though.

Yeah, the worms are cute. They’re the first piñatas you get, and I got plenty. So are the sparrows, especially when they do their happy dance.

One other thing to mention – while there are a lot of bad things you need to keep track of, the game gets quite flexible in this, and with a bit of work you can return to proper sandbox mode where you can do what you want soon enough. For example, while baddies show up, you can convert most of them, after which they won’t show up as baddies, or you can buy items or helpers that’ll chase them away. Or not, in which case you can deal with it. This way you can create your own difficulty level and deal only with the problems you want to deal with, something which added to the fun to me.

And that makes this game dangerously addictive.

Final Thoughts

And that’s what this is – a colourful, addictive, fun game, that looks cute, steals your heart, and while it can get tough and overwhelming, it’s always easy to recover and bounce back. Whether you want a challenge in keeping away the guardians and smashing every sour pinata that turns up, or just want to see your creatures walk around a nice garden that’s taken care of by all your helpers, this game will work for you.

Game 7: Bayonetta

Posted: December 10, 2010 by Jeroen in Games
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Game 901/1001 according to the list

Genre: Action Game
Platform: Playstation 3, XBOX 360
Year of Release: 2009
Developer: Platinum Games (XBOX 360), Nex Entertainment (PS3, port)
Publisher: Sega

Another callback to a previous game, with the developers of this game coming from Capcom, developers of Viewtiful Joe. It shows in style and game play, with this game being as cinematic as the former. It also includes more fan service than the former, and quite a different storyline.

Basically, you’re a witch, the last surviving one, more or less, and you have to find rather non-angelic angels to stop the heavens from becoming too powerful. Sorry mum. The controversy seems obvious, but we will not let that distract us from the game itself.

The witch – creatively called Bayonetta – fights her way through using swords, guns, and demons summoned from her own hair – hair that also forms her costume, so we can only assume the average player tries to summon these as often as possible. We will leave it as an exercise for the reader to understand why we’re not as affected.

Our playthrough

Five hours of fighting action goodness, with frequent repeats, although many of these work quite well compared to the average ‘redo the level from scratch’ continues. One of us got addicted, the other loves watching but also has time to actually write about the game.

Our Thoughts

Right, now that I’ve finally dragged you away from the 360… I guess you think the game isn’t too bad then? You dragged me away for this!? I was about to disembowel an angelic manta ray… thing! Well, we have about 994 more games to play and you’ve been playing for a while, for good reason.

I could tell earlier you’ve lost sleep because of it. Well I’ve sort of been having dreams about having some of Bayonetta’s powers… it’s just way too immersive in that respect. Yeah, it is, even when you’re waiting for the next level to load.

The loading screens are a little bit of a hindrance, but in them you are free to practice any combo and (if anything) it makes a nice change from being spoon fed like you get in games like Assassin’s Creed. The fact that the first thing you get to do in the game is test drive it on opponents without any chance of dying is a great introduction.

And the introduction sequence certainly makes you wonder what’s going on; one big battle. The same goes with a lot of the cinematics. I am in LOVE with the creatures they have created to fight they are angelic enough to fit and are the right mix of scary, creepy and holy. Yeah, angelic, but weird enough to be credible as enemies, with unsuitable names like Harmony and Grace.

One thing about this game (which is a link back to Viewtiful Joe) is that there is a lot of restarting. There are battles that are brutally relentless. They are, and some take some practice. Yet it bothered me less than it did in Viewtiful Joe, in part because you always jump back only to the start of the battle or halfway through in some boss fights. It’s a credit to the people who were involved in the overall fight design, there is enough variation that a second or even a sixth go can still be incredibly enjoyable. It took me 5 attempts to clear a boss and I was still having fun ripping its dragon heads off.

Yeah, and it is rarely tough enough that you get the feeling it’s impossible unlike Viewtiful Joe where I was ready to through the Gamecube remote into moving traffic. I agree with that sentiment.

Some of the bosses are about the size of Birmingham… it’s amazing she makes a dent in them at all let alone manipulating her hair into the shape of a crow which then devours them. Again this is greatly helped by the mid-boss battle save points a fantastic little addition that is missing from so many other games out there which doesn’t detract from the overall difficulty in any way.

It keeps the focus on the fun parts – getting past the next bit – instead of on the boring parts – defeating the same enemy twenty times over because of the boss fight afterwards (by fun bit’s we mean the torture attacks. Gloriously gory especially when you chainsaw something in half.) Which says a lot in this game, considering the massive amounts of gore, chainsaws, iron maidens, you see all sorts of things. Further enhanced by the ‘climax’ moves you use to finish off bosses.

Can I get back to playing now?

Just one more thing of note here, the music; completely inappropriate and yet fits in perfectly (even if one of them is a JPop remix of ‘Favourite Things’ from The Sound of Music) It works. It sounds strange, but it works.

All I can say is… glory be to Bayonetta. One great game, an example of how games have improved over the past decade.

Final Thoughts

I know this is only the 7th game in but… I can not see that a game is going to top this for a while, especially in the action genre. It’s completely immersive, has a great back story and mythology plus some of the best use of gore that I have ever seen. True the British accent is a tad… weird but it all adds to the atmosphere.

Game 6: Super Mario Bros.

Posted: December 7, 2010 by mulholland in Games
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Game 97/1001 according to the list

Genre: Platformer
Platform: NES
Year of Release: 1985
Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo

It may seem a little bit odd to cover another Mario already but there must be in excess of 20 different games (this could be an exaggeration) featuring this plumber so it’s a good idea to get a few out-of-the-way early.

I say get out-of-the-way but we are talking about the big daddy of them all, the title responsible for the renaissance of console gaming after the money pit that was the Atari E.T. game.

We all know the story about some fire-breathing turtle stealing a princess and then some Italian in a red hat goes off to save her, massacring the Goomba population of the Mushroom Kingdom as he goes along. Then again Super Mario Bros. sold over 40 million copies worldwide and is widely regarded as the most influential game in the history of the industry. However brief that history may be.

Our Playthrough

We decided that the most democratic way was for us to play through this was together using two player. I tried to go through it normally whilst Jeroen made heavy use of the warp pipe cheat. At least this way we get a good look at most of the worlds.

Our Thoughts

The first Mario platformer. Not first Mario game, thanks to the Donkey Kong series and Mario Bros. But the first proper platformer?

Well it definitely made side-scrolling platformers a household name. Not sure there were many before that attempted to do that. Yeah, none that I can think of right now to be sure, and it made Nintendo a household name.

Don’t forget that it saved home console gaming. It’s strange to think that we may not be sitting in a world of Wiis and PS3s if not for this game. I think there were many NES games responsible for it, not this one, but Super Mario Bros. is obviously most closely linked to the console, simply because you normally got the game when you got a NES.

True, and I think it was just able to take the world by storm because it flows naturally and just feels innovative. Unlike Duck HuntYou won’t understand Duck Hunt until you’ve used the light gun to try to shoot the dog laughing at you. I’ve played Point Blank and had similar experiences with various mini-games.

Of course let us not forget that this game originated all the Mario paraphernalia (minus Mario himself). Bowser, Peach, Toads, Goombas, Hammer Bros, Bullet Bills… I could go on. They are such parts of gaming culture that it’s like they’ve always been there. And even some that you keep remembering were in there already (for me at least), like the jellyfish.

As a game, it’s a good game. It’s hard to compare now, really, as the subsequent games improved on the formula, but the original is still fun to play. The graphics aren’t great, it might be lacking in variety, palette swaps may be everywhere. The challenge is there though. It’s unforgiving at times and extremely compelling, even if one level if just the photo-negative of another.

The challenge is there, and you can tell that’s what matters here. As well as the music; it may be crappy in quality, but they’re instantly recognisable. Well just 3-4 notes in and it feels homely. Like an old pair of slippers that you’ve perfectly broken in. Always a pleasure to slip in and out of. And I think that goes for the entire game.

Yeah, there are so many things other games have done better. But the game works, it’s solid, and it’s fun to just play, whether it’s the original NES version or one of the many remakes. And I suspect that, with the way it’s been everywhere, it’s the closest to a shared experience gamers around the world have.

That and Tetris. Yeah, but less face it – would you rather look at Russian buildings or eat a flower so you can start shooting fire (from your nose, if you look at the sprites used for it in this game). Both, then I’d be like Godzilla.

Anyway, I look forward to covering The Lost Levels in a month or so. And Lost Levels will be interesting. Possibly the best example of an early level pack. And a game not released outside Japan until the release of Super Mario All-Stars for the SNES. But more on that once we reach that game!

Final Thoughts

The word classic comes to mind, and I know it’s a word we’re going to use often, but it’s the best to describe why Super Mario Bros. deserves to be in here. Addictive, fun, instantly recognisable, and who hasn’t played it? Worth a look for everyone, not just for historical value, but to see how far you can get and how well you do. And to see why Goombas actually look like mushrooms.