Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Platform Game Review: All Night Nippon Super Mario Bros.


All-Night Nippon Super Mario Bros is an interesting little curioIn 1986, Nintendo partnered with the Nippon Broadcasting System, a subsidiary of Fuji TV, to create a version of Super Mario Bros. filled with personalities from the "All Night Nippon" radio show. Interestingly, the game isn't just a straight edit of Super Mario Bros. It is a mix-and-match of levels and features from Super Mario Bros., VS. Super Mario Bros., and Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels.

Like The Lost Levels, All Night Nippon Super Mario Bros. is a one-player game that can be played either as Mario or Luigi. Luigi has a higher jumping ability with less foot grip from that game as well. Eighteen levels are from Super Mario Bros., three are from The Lost Levels, and three are from VS. Super Mario Bros. In addition, one level has more enemies while another has a different puzzle solution.

The story is virtually the same as Super Mario Bros., with the exception of the stated location. In this game, Peach is the princess of the Viva Kingdom. She is still kidnapped by King Koopa, and Mario, or optionally his brother Luigi, has to travel through eight different worlds within the kingdom on the quest to rescue the princess.

As the game stems from The Lost Levels, the side-scrolling platforming gameplay is as responsive as always. Mario's jumping is the same as the original, so it is neither floaty nor abrupt. Luigi's controls take a little getting used to, as he slides on the ground a bit, but his higher jumps come in handy. Although it is built upon the physics of The Lost Levels, it is not as punishing as that game. There are no poison mushrooms or wind levels. 

It is great that the game begins with the first level of Super Mario Bros., as that level is a master class on creating a tutorial level to ease the player into the game. This level begins with the easiest baddie to stomp. It contains each of the power-ups available in the game, a height-increasing mushroom, a flower that bestows the power of fireballs, a star that grants invincibility, and a 1-UP mushroom that gives an extra life. Like all games in the Super Mario series, collecting one hundred coins also earns an extra life.

All Night Nippon Super Mario Bros. also keeps the incremental levels that teach the player what to expect as the game gets harder. The aforementioned tutorial level is followed by an underground level, an above-ground level, and a castle level. The castle levels are puzzle levels where the correct path gives a chime while the incorrect path sounds out a buzzer. Like all of the games based on Super Mario Bros., the first seven levels feature a false King Koopa, and the eighth features the real thing. Instead of Mushroom Retainers, seven personalities from the mid-1980s era of All Night Nippon. One of these celebrities also replaces the easiest enemies, the goombas. Another replaces the piranha plants that sometimes come out of the pipes. After defeating the real Bowser in the fourth level of the eighth world, the Princess is saved.

All-Night Nippon Super Mario Bros. is a fun remix of the various games based on the original Super Mario Bros. The replacement of enemies with Japanese personalities is a little jarring, but the replacement of the Mushroom Retainers is actually pretty cute. Due to licensing issues, it's not likely that Nintendo will re-release this game digitally, but it's not really a game worth tracking down unless you actually own a Family Computer Disk System.

Final verdict:
4 out of 5

Sunday, December 11, 2022

I have COVID-19

I have COVID-19, as do my mom and her boyfriend, as I live with them both. I feel worn down. 

I'm sweating with chills. I have chronic pain from fibromyalgia and spinal stenosis, so it's a triple attack. 

I woke up yesterday with stabbing pains that turned into shooting pains that went down my left leg and made it impossible to walk. Then I woke up today and I had stabbing pains again. 

Luckily I didn't have shooting pains since I was able to sit down before I got them. 

 Plus, I have collagenous colitis, which is an auto-immune condition, so it's hitting me hard.

Friday, December 9, 2022

Platform Game Mega Review: Super Mario Bros.

Super Mario Bros. is a hugely influential game as well as the game that made the Nintendo Entertainment System a worldwide sensation. The graphics are no longer a technological marvel, but the gameplay remains as easy to pick up and enjoy as ever.

The story is very simple. The one presented in the game is simply that Mario travels through various worlds to save the princess from the Koopa King. The manual provides more context. Bowser, King of the Koopa, invades the Mushroom Kingdom and kidnaps Peach, Princess Toadstool of the Mushroom Kingdom. King Koopa unleashes his minions upon the kingdom and magically turns its inhabitants into objects such as blocks.

An Italian plumber named Mario, and optionally, his brother Luigi, travel from Brooklyn to the Mushroom Kingdom. There, they travel across eight different worlds within the kingdom and collect power-ups to defeat enemies standing in their way, on their quest to rescue the princess. 

The side-scrolling platforming gameplay feels very responsive and the jumping is neither floaty nor abrupt. The layout of the game's eight worlds and twenty-four levels are excellent. The game starts with an easy-to-complete ground level, which gives Mario each of the power-ups available in the game, a mushroom that will make Mario grow in height, a fire flower that allows Mario to shoot fireballs, a Starman which makes Mario temporarily invisible, and a 1-UP mushroom that gives Mario an extra life. Extra lives can also be earned by collecting one hundred coins which can be found on the ground, in the air, or inside blocks.

The tutorial level is followed by levels incrementally increasing in difficulty, including an underground level, a level set on platforms high above the ground, and a castle level with a boss to defeat, followed by an underwater level to start the second world. It's a very excellent set of levels to start with, as it gives the player an overview of all the types of worlds in the game before the difficulty level raises too much.

The worlds have a varying amount of the level types above, but the fourth, and last, level of each world contains a castle with a lava and fire motif. In order to get to the final boss, the player must travel on the correct path. Which path is traveled is indicated with a sound effect. The correct path earns a chime while the incorrect path is indicated with a buzzer. In the first seven castle levels, various minions disguised themselves as their boss, Bowser, King of the Koopa. The false Bowsers can be defeated either by using fireballs with the fire flower powerup or by hitting a switch behind the false Bowser. The latter will take the bridge out under the false Bowser's feet, causing him to fall into the lava below. 

There are also warp pipes hidden in the game, which can be accessed to skip levels and warp right to a level at a further point in the game.

At the end of each of the seven castles is a dungeon, where Mario discovers one of the many Mushroom Retainers that inhabit the Mushroom Kingdom. Each tells Mario the words that have since become a meme - "Thank you Mario. But our Princess is in another castle".

The fourth level of the eighth world, which is the last level in the game, has Mario fighting against the real Bowser, who is defeated in the same way as the false Bowsers. After this, Mario rescues Princess Toadstool. She then gives Mario the option to try a new quest, wherein she is kidnapped again, but Mario must defeat tougher enemies to rescue her.

The game received enhanced remakes by Nintendo several times. These remakes are faithful to the original game but have been adjusted with the capabilities and limitations of the system on which it was ported. The first remake was in Super Mario All-Stars for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, which enhanced the graphics and music to be consistent with the other Super Mario games available on that system. The second was Super Mario Bros. Deluxe. This was a faithful port of the original NES game, complete with the same graphics and sound. The difference was that the Game Boy Color screen was a smaller resolution than that of the NES. Thus, the screen follows Mario. The fact that the top and bottom of the screen may not be visible at any given time makes this version slightly more difficult than the original. It also had a partial remake for the Japan-only Sattelaview online gaming platform for the Super Famicom (the Japanese version of the SNES) that was released weekly and included the level map from Super Mario Bros. 3 onward. Since it was only available for a limited time in Japan, and, as of this writing, not all of the weeks have been found and restored, this version of the game is not a viable option.

Super Mario Bros. is a seminal video game that was hugely influential to the entire video game industry. It deserves every accolade it gets. The gameplay is timeless, as anyone can pick it up and play, even today. For those who prefer SNES-style graphics, which are still popular with indie game developers to this day, the Super Mario All-Stars version might be worth playing instead. The level design is fantastic, and the jumping controls are tight, but not too much so. I highly recommend this game to anyone, as it's a fantastic game and is a great game to play for both beginners at platform games as well as experts.

Addendum January 28, 2023: There is also an arcade version for the PlayChoice-10. This version is identical to the NES version, except there is a time limit in place where the game will quit when time runs out.

Final verdict:
5 out of 5

Friday, December 2, 2022

Free-to-Play Fighting Game Review: MultiVersus: Season One


It is still early into season two of MultiVersus, as of this writing, so I'll take a look back at the first season of this Super Smash Bros.-style smash-up of characters from the various properties owned by Warner Bros. Discovery.

The gameplay is pretty fun, as it works well as a no-frills Super Smash Bros. clone. I received too many sexist direct messages and voice messages over the years which have put me off of online multiplayer, but I decided to give it a chance again with this game. I'm glad I did. It's a lot of fun in the four-player melee mode. The 1 vs. 1 battle wasn't as fun in my opinion, but it does play just fine for those who enjoy that kind of play. An experimental arcade mode was added to the game at the tail end of season one that allowed coins and experience to be gained offline. It has easy, medium, and hard gameplay. The easy mode has three stages with unlimited retries, the medium mode has five stages with three retries, and the hard mode has eight stages with no retries. It's nice to have an offline mode, but it is really just as simple as that. Fighting games rarely have robust stories, but it would be great if they added even a simple story to this mode. Since the coins and experience earned here are lacking in comparison to the online modes, there is little incentive to play this mode as it stands.

The character roster is pretty robust, featuring characters from all the major studios in Warner Bros. Discovery's arsenal.  By the end of season one, there were two characters from Looney Tunes, the Tazmanian Devil and Bugs Bunny. LeBron James, in his cartoon form from Space Jam: A New Legacy is also playable. It's weird that they'd have a character that would have to rely on likeness rights from a real-life basketball star, but it does make sense in a way because the new Space Jam film is quite likely the inspiration for this game. It also contains four Cartoon Network characters. It has Finn and Jake from Adventure Time and Steven and Garnet from Steven Universe. Its two Adult Swim characters are from the Cartoon Network adult programming block's most popular property, Rick and Morty. Hanna Barbera is represented by Shaggy and Velma from Scooby-Doo. Willam Hanna and Joseph Barbera also have representation from the MGM property, Tom and Jerry. The cat and mouse work together for a change, as the duo is counted as a single character. DC Comics also has ample representation with Wonder Woman, Superman, Harley Quinn, and Black Adam. Warner Bros. films also are shown some love with two Mogwai from Gremlins, Gizmo and Stripe, and the titular character from The Iron Giant. HBO even gets represented by Arya Stark from Game of Thrones.

Most characters get familiar voice actors, although some of them, such as Rick and Morty and Superman, only use voice clips rather than new recordings. One exception is Steven Universe, now voiced by Daniel Divenere rather than Zach Callison. It's a weird decision since they could have very well used Zach Callison voice clips. It's possible that there is a licensing issue at play here. It also contains the last voice acting work of the late, great, Kevin Conroy as Batman before his untimely death from cancer on the 10th of November.

The freemium aspect is overdone in my opinion, as all of the announcer packs, costumes, and most of the cosmetic items are locked behind a paywall. Even alternate costumes and cosmetics for the sole original character, Reindog, have to be purchased with real-world money. It makes no sense to me to pay real-life money to expand a character with no legacy behind it.

Thankfully, every character can be unlocked with coins that can be earned through gameplay. Hopefully, as the game adds more new characters, the freemium temptation won't set in and they will remain unlockable through gameplay.

The first season of MultiVersus is pretty fun. The characters that are available represent all of the main studios owned by Warner Bros. Discovery, the game is a solid clone of Super Smash Bros., and the multiplayer is fun even for people who normally don't play multiplayer games. However, the arcade mode is a barebones affair that really needs to be fleshed out, and the game dips into the freemium well too much with most cosmetic features unlocked behind a paywall. The game is still marked as an open beta, so hopefully, these issues can be ironed out.

Final Verdict:
4 out of 5