platformer

Super Mario Galaxy

First Hour Review

Super Mario Galaxy CoverI'll be the first to admit this review is rather ill-timed, heck, I've already published my full review of Super Mario Galaxy 1, and Nate's first hour of Super Mario Galaxy 2 is already up!  But I had this stored up for the right moment, and unfortunately that right moment came and went a few weeks ago, so the new right moment is now.  Better late than never.

I loved Super Mario Galaxy, what an awesome game.  I didn't even have a chance to really play it until this year, but it still astounded me, the only game on the Wii that has.  I already talked about why I love the game, but here's how I started loving the game.  My impressions of the game's first hour, at the time it had a lot of work to do on me.  I worshiped Super Mario 64 in my early teens but could never get into Super Mario Sunshine.  The game sat on my shelf for months until I finally returned it to my friend.  So here was another 3D Mario game that I didn't really care about playing, but of course I was going to give it a shot when the opportunity arose.

So sorry this is late, but there is always someone out there who hasn't been exposed to Super Mario Galaxy, and here is it's first hour review, just for you.

Super Mario Galaxy 2

First Hour Review

Super Mario Galaxy 2 CoverFor all its talk of innovation this generation, Nintendo seems to be falling back on its old tricks like never before. Alongside its Wii Sports Resort and Wii Fit Plus, Nintendo announced two games at E3 2009 that surprised the videogame community: New Super Mario Bros Wii and Super Mario Galaxy 2.

What's that I hear you say? "Big deal! How are new Mario games a surprise?" Well, New Super Mario Bros. Wii is the first 2D Mario game to hit a console since Super Mario World, just under nineteen years ago. And Super Mario Galaxy 2 is the first direct sequel to a Mario game since Super Mario Bros. 3, just over twenty years ago. Nintendo may be feeding casual gamers with one hand, but it's got plenty of snacks for Mario lovers in the other.

New Super Mario Bros. Wii was set loose upon the world last November, and continues to sell like Wii-branded hotcakes well into this year. But Nintendo held Super Mario Galaxy 2 off until this summer, ensuring that they have a full three years to create bold new worlds for Mario to explore. Is the Galaxy worth revisiting, or was one trip to the cosmos enough?

Trine

First Hour Review

Trine CoverToday's first hour review is for Trine, a unique sidescroller brought to us by Frozenbyte. Having known nothing about the company before now, Wikipedia tells us that they are a Finnish developer, founded in 2001 and consisting of around 20. They previously made two games for PC, Shadowgrounds and Shadowgrounds Survivor (apparently FPS with RPG hybrid elements).

Their latest game, Trine, was released in 2009 for PC and later PS3 (with 360 version seemingly cancelled). I became drawn to the game by a cheap price on Steam along with pretty screenshots and a bit of positive word-of-mouth.

Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts

First Hour Review

Super Ghouls n Ghosts CoverSuper Ghouls 'n Ghosts is a game I knew very little about. When I was about eight years old, a few of my friends said it was "the destroyer of worlds." Not just difficult, but impossible. None of my friends could progress very far, and as an eight year old, I wanted to prove to them that I was superior. Unfortunately, none of them would lend it to me, and I never really had the money to buy it and every time I went to the video store to rent it, it was always out. I don't know if it was just that popular, or if they lost it. I'm guessing the latter.

Now, I understand that it was made in 1991 by Capcom. It’s been ported to a bunch of different gaming platforms including the PlayStation, Sega Saturn, Game Boy Advance, PlayStation 2, Xbox, PlayStation Portable and Virtual Console on the Wii. 

It is the sequel to Ghosts 'n Goblins and Ghouls 'n Ghosts, and also loosely related to Demon's Crest. I've played games like Contra and got pretty far before hitting a mark that was impassable for me, even at the wee ages of nine. So I figured… how hard can this game be?  Here's the first hour of Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts.

Super Mario Galaxy

Full Review

Super Mario Galaxy CoverI loved Super Mario 64. It was the first game I ever played on what is one of my favorite consoles, and my memories of the game have stuck with me to this day.  The running, the jumping, the exploration of huge levels, it was incredible.  Mario made the best transition to 3D ever, well, until Ocarina of Time came around.  The next 3D Mario iteration was Super Mario Sunshine, which I was less then enthused about.  I'm not sure if it was the water pack gimmick or what, but I was never convinced that it would be worth playing.  Nintendo has finally delivered its third true 3D Mario game (well, two and a half years ago) with Super Mario Galaxy.  While it is almost unrecognizable in terms of what a Mario game should be like, it plays just like Mario 64 did 14 years ago: awesomely.

Galaxy's gimmick is that instead of featuring one giant, flat plane, each world is made up of small, Little Prince-like planets and objects.  Gravity and physics are now Mario's biggest friend and foe, as you're constantly being challenged in new ways to jump and explore.  I love games like Braid and Portal that challenge me to think and play different, Super Mario Galaxy joins that elite group, in my opinion.

Super Mario Galaxy 2 is due in less than two months, and it'll probably be the first Wii game I buy at launch in over three years.  I'd love to have a first hour review of that game at launch (hint, hint, Nintendo), but I've got a first hour review of this game also on the back burner.  Here's my full review of Super Mario Galaxy.  I collected all 120 stars in the game which took me about 25-30 hours.

Mirror's Edge

Full Review

Mirror's Edge coverHere we have Mirror's Edge, a first-person platformer of sorts, released in late 2008/early 2009 by DICE/EA. I've been interested in the game for a while, starting from its strong marketing campaign, so I jumped on the chance to play it recently.

It can be briefly summarized that in Mirror's Edge, you are a runner, tasked to transfer information between groups looking to avoid the surveillance of an overbearing government and its allies. As escaping capture is of utmost importance, runners do most of their travel on free outdoor environments, especially rooftops. Thus the gameplay is largely parkour-based, emphasizing proper use of momentum, speed and techniques to accomplish goals. At its best, this leads to a smooth, sublime experience, reminiscent of games like Jet Set Radio, Shadow of the Colossus, NiGHTS, and the original Prince of Persia. Mirror's Edge takes the player further into that experience, locking you to a first-person view with constant reminders of your physical struggles with and against the forces of gravity and objects in your world.

Chip and Dale Rescue Rangers

Gaming Nostalgia
Chip And Dale Rescue Rangers Cover

My favorite licensed game as a kid was Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers. Heck, this was one of my favorite games period. Rescue Rangers was a platformer released on the NES in 1990. It had the whole cast of characters from the cartoon, captured the soundtrack personally in 8-bits, and was just challenging enough to get me coming back over and over again. Probably the best part of it though was its two player simultaneous gameplay. This game single-handedly revealed the sadist tendencies that had lied dormant inside of me for so long (only to come out again many years later while playing The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures at college - I'll save that story for another day).

In this piece of nostalgia, I'll talk about the game's license (it is licensed games month at the First Hour), reminisce about the classic multiplayer, and revel in my speed run attempts during college. If you've ever played Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers, I hope you enjoy this; if you haven't, well, you're in for a treat too.

Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee

First Hour Review
Oddworld Abes Oddysee Cover

Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee, a puzzle-platformer developed by Oddworld Inhabitants, was released in 1997 for the PlayStation and PC. It uses pre-rendered graphics for its backgrounds and sprites, and has a large list of actions that can be taken by the player, including making the player character speak.

I remember playing the demo of this game at Toys'R'Us, and being impressed by its graphics and gameplay features, as well as the odd feeling of it all.

Oddworld is now available through Steam for play on the PC, and that's where I got the copy I'll be playing. Although it can be played with the keyboard, I will be using a gamepad because I find it very cumbersome to use a keyboard to play a game designed for a controller.

Chibi-Robo!

First Hour Review
Chibi Robo Cover

Ever get tired of fighting? Can't someone make a game about something besides combat? Those were questions I was asking myself when I discovered Chibi-Robo. I remembered this Nintendo-published game vaguely from when it first came out, but looked into it with more interest as I tried to find a game about something other than violence.

Granted, games like The Sims are about something other than fighting, but what I was looking for was a game that used familiar game elements in a non-combat setting. For example, could you earn experience points by talking to people? Explore and find something other than more enemies to fight? Surely it can be done, but it didn't seem to exist in the wild.

That's when I found Chibi-Robo. Developed by Skip Ltd. and published by Nintendo, it seems to be an adventure game in which you play as a tiny robot and explore a house. Your mission is to make the host family happy, which you do by cleaning up trash and spills, finding lost objects, and sundry other tasks.

But will a non-violent game be able to offer an exciting first hour experience?

I Wanna Be The Guy

Guest First Hour Review
I Wanna Be The Guy Cover

Remember the old days when video game were hard? Back in the NES days of Mega-Man, Contra, Ninja Gaiden, and the like? These games were all about skill, requiring split-second timing, precision button presses, acute pattern memorization, and that was just to get past the first level!

More recently, game developers cater to a broader audience and make games that are so easy we could beat them in our sleep. There's no challenge, no thrill of achievement, no bragging rights... hey ya dern kids, get off my lawn!

Michael "Kayin" O'Reilly set out to change that with I Wanna Be The Guy, which is available for free download to play on Windows. It's a throwback to the days when video games were difficult. It's in the style of an 8-bit action platformer, and it's hard. How hard? Let's find out.

Note: It will be of use to inform you of my process of writing this review. I made an audio recording of myself narrating as I played the game, then listened to it and wrote the review based on that recording. I noticed some strange things towards the end of the hour because of this. Read on:

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