mario

Mario Strikers Charged

Full Review

Mario Strikers Charged CoverProfessional athletes who excel at multiple sports are understandably rare. The ideal body proportions of an offensive lineman and a power forward are basically inverse. The abilities and skills required by a closing pitcher and a starting goaltender are worlds apart. And who could possibly have enough time to devote their training and competitive passion to two separate sports seasons that last six months or more each year? Ask a sports buff if any athletes have made an impact on two different sports, and they'll probably answer with Bo Jackson, Deion Sanders, and possibly Michael Jordan with a sneer.

Ask a gamer, however, and the only answer will be Mario. Ever since the platforming plumber took up golf in 1991's NES Open Tournament Golf, Mario's been blazing a trail across athletic endeavors that none could possibly match, serving up scorchers with his tennis racket in one hand and palming a basketball in the other. The Italian even competes under his own personal flag in both the Summer and the Winter Olympic Games. And next year, Mario will be adding Dodgeball to his list with the launch of Mario Sports Mix, which will also feature the gaming icon's return to Volleyball, Hockey, and Basketball. Even with his talents spread so thin, critics have mostly praised Mario's spinoff sports titles for their sufficient gameplay and charming Mushroom Kingdom aesthetic.

Somebody forgot to tell Next Level Games about that Mushroom Kingdom charm, however, as the Canadian developer decided to go a drastically different route for their take on Mario playing Soccer, Mario Strikers Charged. Sure, Mario and his assortment of friends with mustaches and crowns all show up, as do the requisite mushrooms, shells, and stars, but something seems to have deeply upset the usually benevolent bunch: smiles turn to scowls, frilly dresses are traded for form-fitting battle armor, and the good-natured teasing is replaced with some outright lewd gestures. The tone may have taken a turn for the drab, but there is still plenty of fun to be had with this bizarre Mario Sports title.

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.

Nintendo Power #37 - My First Video Game Magazine

Magazine Nostalgia

Nintendo Power 37 CoverWay back in May of 1992 for my eighth birthday, my cousins presented me with a subscription Nintendo Power.  I had never received anything as cool as my own magazine in the mail before, so when the June '92 issue arrived a few days later I was in heaven.  It would be another two years until I bought my own Super Nintendo, but my NES and new Nintendo Power subscription were enough for me.

I kicked off my new Magazine Nostalgia section a few weeks back with my own appearance in Nintendo Power #85, but I have a ton more to discuss.  I recently semi-organized all my video game magazines of which I have hundreds, spanning from Nintendo Power, EGM, Game Players, and more.  I know I won't ever be able to discuss them all, but I'd like to pretend to try, so why not cover the first one I ever owned?

Do you have any interesting magazine stories? Let us know in the comments section!

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?

My Gaming History

Gaming Nostalgia

Super Metroid CoverI'd like to apologize for being so wordy this week at the First Hour, but the writers here love to write!  I recently asked Ian to tell me about his gaming history, thinking I'd get a couple line reponse about how his parents bought him a Game Boy or something, but along comes a serious epic that will probably seem very familiar to many of us reading along.

If you've got your own story you'd like to tell, reply in the comments or send me an email, I'd love to host it here!

The Famitsu 40/40 List: A Review

Editorial

Metal Gear Solid Peace Walker CoverOver the last 24 years, popular Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu has awarded 14 perfect scores.  For Famitsu magazine, a game review's final score is actually two to four total scores assigned by a collection of reviewers.  Technically, there's no such thing as a 40/40 score, but four 10/10's.  But gamers love numbers, and we love comparing one game's numbers to another game's numbers, so the 40/40 perfect score list is a great way for fanboys to scoff or gyrate in anticipation.

Outside of the country, Famitsu is the ultimate barometer of what Japan thinks of a particular game.  Famitsu scores are thrown about in headlines and rattled around in forum discussions, but you almost never hear why a score was awarded one number instead of the next.  This is undoubtedly because of the language barrier between Japan and the rest of the world, but also because numbers are easy for everyone to understand and the fact that Famitsu editors give their reviewers about 100 characters to explain what they thought about a game.

While I'm not personally a big fan of a game review's score (I'd much rather read the why and how), the Famitsu perfect score list is an intriguing specimen.  The eighth game in two years just garnered the spotlight: Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, but let's start at the beginning.

Video Games Live

Blog Post

Video Games Live LogoThose of us who play a lot of video games know the power that music brings to them.  We all have our favorite classic tunes, and we know the feeling of hearing a great piece of music while playing a game.  Personally I am a huge fan of game music, listening to soundtracks and remixes of soundtracks in my everyday life.

Video Games Live is a show designed to bring the joys of video game music to the greater public.  The show consists of an orchestra playing music from games while footage from the game plays on big screens, accompanied by a light show and sometimes stage antics.

Last week I had the privilege of attending this show.  For those of you who are stalking me online, let's just get this out of the way.  I live in New Orleans, Louisiana, and the show was just outside the city April 1st.

Now for those of you who listen to the podcast, you will know that myself and one of our other writers, Michael T, were planning on attending the show in February but it was canceled.  Although we're still not completely sure why, they rescheduled it at a different venue about six weeks later.

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.

Yoshi's Island DS

Full Review

Yoshi's Island ds CoverYoshi's Island DS is the sequel to the greatest 2D platformer of all time, Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island. In my mind, this is a super tall order for the game to live up to, and unfortunately it doesn't, but the DS sequel is still a great game on its own and is definitely one of the best platformers on the system. If you've played the original you will be right at home with Yoshi's Island DS, as the basic gameplay is exactly the same as it was 13 years ago. This is a good thing but they also spent some time adding a few things here and there.

And maybe it's just me, but this game is hard, harder than the original. Especially if you plan to collect all the points in each level, which I did a few years back for the SNES game, and am currently attempting now for Yoshi's Island DS. Let's just say I need to wear a wrist strap so I don't chuck my DS across the room. Let's get to the review.

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