Tag Archives: platformer

Mirror’s Edge Catalyst And Quality VS Quantity In AAA Games

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I finally finished Mirror’s Edge Catalyst — I figured I needed to go ahead and clear the space from my SSD. It’s been out for like half a year but I think the game’s strengths and weaknesses are still pretty relevant in discussions about more recent and soon-to-come games. Specifically, it’s another example of what can help or hurt the design of an open-world game, or really any game positioned to be a blockbuster. Continue reading

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Why An Open-World Ultimately Helped Mirror’s Edge

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I’ll be honest: I bought Deus Ex: Mankind Divided but haven’t started it yet because this past weekend Mirror’s Edge Catalyst was on sale and I grabbed that too. Starting the latter before Deus Ex unlocked, it’s got my attention for right now.

I loved the original Mirror’s Edge and was always prepared to pick up Catalyst, even at full price, but was busy with other games at the time. I’d read a bit of the general critical consensus on the new game — that it retained the heart that made the original what it was, but it was buried underneath a bit too much formulaic blockbuster game bloat. I’m not sure I entirely agree with that, particularly in regards to the open-world setting in Catalyst. Continue reading

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Third Party N64 Games That Didn’t Suck Vol. 4: Bomberman Hero

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Vol. 1: Beetle Adventure Racing
Vol. 2: Winback Covert Operations
Vol. 3: Star Wars Rogue Squadron

Originally written in October 2009.

I always felt like Bomberman Hero never quite got a fair shake. Maybe part of it was me scraping the barrel for good Nintendo 64 games to play back in the day. I understand it went counter to why a lot of people played Bomberman, but I still saw it as an enjoyable game on its own merits. Continue reading

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Super Mario 64 After 20 Years

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The original Quake turns 20 today and everybody’s celebrating that. I do want to write something about that but I’m still trying to figure out those plans. However, tomorrow is the 20th anniversary of the original Japanese release of Super Mario 64 — another of the originators of modern 3D video games that emerged in the mid 90’s. Of course that would also mean it’s the 20th anniversary of the Nintendo 64 itself, but I think I’m just gonna wait until the US release anniversary which I believe is in September. Continue reading

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Grow Home: The Most Old-Style 3D Platformer

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I haven’t been playing a lot of Super Mario 3D World recently, but thinking about it and why I was excited enough to make it my first Wii U game purchase brought to my mind the rarity of 3D platformers in this era. That also kind of gives me an opportunity to write a bit about Ubisoft’s Grow Home if you still haven’t played it. Continue reading

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The Value Proposition Of 2D Platformers

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After finishing New Super Mario Bros. U I started to question where the 2D Mario games were headed. Now after finishing Kirby And The Rainbow Curse I’m starting to think about the future of 2D platformers in general and where they stand in today’s retail console market. Continue reading

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Late To The Party: New Super Mario Bros. U

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After just completing the main portion of New Super Mario Bros. U, I think I can finally say I’m caught up on all the mainline Mario platformers. If you haven’t been following my posts, it’s not like I’d never played Mario before, I always had as a kid, but I never made serious attempts at completing any of the 2D games until the last few years or so. I’ve been anticipating the point where I can finally sit back and tally them all up.

I think I like Super Mario Bros. 3 the most. Continue reading

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Late To The Party: New Super Mario Bros. 2

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As I’ve continued catching up with the New Super Mario Bros. series and made inquiries about them, I sense the general opinion is the console iterations are better-received than the handheld ones. I can see why, but after finishing New Super Mario Bros. 2 I could argue that I enjoyed it as much as New Super Maro Bros. Wii, if for different reasons. Continue reading

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The Completion of Taxman And Stealth’s Sonic [Updated]

Correction: I’ve only just now become aware of the involvement of the entire other half of the team behind the classic Sonic remasters — Simon “Stealth” Thornley. This blog post has been updated to include Stealth’s role in the projects. My sincerest apologies.

I’ve been aware of Christian “Taxman” Whitehead’s efforts to remaster Sonic The Hedgehog 3 for a while, but never really paid them a whole lot of attention. It’s only now after someone asked me to bring some attention to the petition for its release that I’ve investigated the project and become a lot more interested in maybe one day playing it. My only reservations are regarding platforms and support. Continue reading

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Late To The Party: Super Mario World

Moving up in my “get good at Mario side-scrollers” quest, I just finished Super Mario World. I’d heard a lot of feuding over the years between people who prefer this game and people who prefer Super Mario Bros. 3. It’s almost all I could think about playing through World, and I’m still trying to figure out what exactly sets them apart.

Let me put it this way: to me, SMB3 feels more like a game — on the level of Monopoly or something, whereas World feels more like a typical modern “video game.” They both have very simlar structures but a few key differences.

In my LTTP post on SMB3 I displayed surprise at how much its world map felt like a tabletop game. The way the game gives you choices for how to move about the “board” and between levels while gaming the lives and items system makes exploration its own game where I make decisions. World on the other hand feels like a “world” Nintendo wants you to travel through. It has alternate routes and secrets to find, but there isn’t the sense that moving about the map is a game in itself. That’s fine, but World’s size in today’s terms just isn’t what it was 23 years ago.

Y’know how everything felt bigger when you were a kid? I guess video games can be the same way, because that’s how I feel about World now compared to when I dabbled in it as a child or watched my brother play it. The copy I just finished is a cartridge my family has had since 1991. We played the game on and off for years and my brother never beat it. It felt like a huge, labyrinthine thing. Playing through it now though, I was able to blast through the better half of World in a day, and complete the main game in a weekend. Not to mention overall it’s far easier than the NES entries in the series.

In today’s terms, World feels like a lot of indie games — fun, but very short. I think a big reason for this compared to SMB3 is because World has its own save system.

When I start a game in SMB3, I feel like I’m starting a one-time “session” of the game, and the next time I start it up I’ll just start over from the beginning. Even when I have save states I avoid reloading them. I really treat it it like starting a new game of Monopoly or something like that. I think this is the reason why I immediately started a new game upon finishing SMB3.

With its save system however, World instantly becomes a game that’s finished after multiple sessions. Once I’ve reached the end and even found all the secret content, it feels like it tries to be the end of a long journey and not a short game. I’m generalizing of course, but let’s compare both to recent indie games and other console action games of its era. What it’s really about I guess is replay value.

Older games couldn’t have a lot of content, so they were made difficult so it would take you 50 tries to get through certain parts. By the time you beat the game you’d probably played some parts dozens of times. You were also already trained by that repetition to possibly start the game again after beating it. That was the replay value. A lot of indie games from the last few years try to emulate 8 and 16-bit gaming, but when you bring a save system into an 8-bit platformer that’s the same length as most 8-bit platformers, people end up finishing it in five hours, often in a single session. Maybe most people don’t mind that, especially if they only paid $15 for these games, but it’s something that bothered me about some indie games — I felt like I was done with them too quickly with little incentive for replay.

This is why I really like some more recent indie games that are roguelikes or incorporate new game plus. The roguelike elements force you to constantly restart and slowly master these small games while introducing randomization. It’s kid of a way to bring back the pacing and replayability of old games in a modern way. A great way to maximize the value of a low-budget $15 game is to design it so the game never truly ends.

Of course there are short, linear games I like replaying all the time. Maybe I simply don’t have that urge for World the same way I do for SMB3. I think it’s because World attempts to be a grand, epic experience set to play out in relatively linear way, but in 2014 it ends up feeling tiny.

BULLETS:

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