Thursday, 20 January 2011

Super Mario RPG

Super Mario RPG, subtitled Legend of the Seven Stars in North America, is a JRPG designed in a collaboration between Square and Nintendo. And what a great match-up that takes the best of both companies and fuses then into a great cohesive concept. Basically you have the platforming, simplistic gameplay, and stylish graphics of Nintendo combined with the perfected JRPG mechanics and story telling of Square all set in the wonderful Mario universe. For these reasons, and many more, the game made the very top of my Top Ten RPG List.


The platforming aspects, while quite simplistic, are still a welcome distraction. For the most part the platforming is simply jumping up stairs and other easy fare, and at the most is only moderately challenging with infinite retries with no to little penalties except your time when you fail. The main way the platforming is used is to avoid enemies; Unlike many other JRPGs all enemies are visible in the level and the vast majority can be dodged or sought out. A boss, one of the main ones, is even shippable though some fancy jumping, though that is supposed to be a bug and not a secret I believe. This bug is used in combination with a bunch of other secrets, skill, and careful playing to beat the game at level three; which even assuming that you could beat the game at level three, it is amazing that you can get away with not getting that many experience points.


Their is quite a few other non-standard game elements: including many substantial mini-games, puzzles, and secrets. The mini-games are distributed all through the game but their are three main ones you can play to collect extra coins that can be played over and over again, but are initially part of the story, a somewhat secret Yoshi racing game, many other secrets with their own mini-games, and the puzzles I mentioned; These puzzles are all, or at least for the most part, in a single part of the game, the sunken pirate ship which contains many interesting and challenging single room puzzles that are used to unlock hints to a word game that is required to complete the level. This level ended up being the most memorable part of the entire game for me. Their is just one more thing I want to touch on in this paragraph, hidden objects and quests. Super Mario RPG is chalk full of secret objects, secret quests, secret bosses, and hidden Easter eggs. All of them fun and for the most part just hidden enough for an enjoyable hunt.


The RPG elements are also very well done and simple. The battle system is turned based and set up very much like any other JRPG. All playable characters have a choice of defending, attacking, using a special attack, or using an item. All characters have completely unique special attacks and every single action can be super charged by using timed key presses, including the use of items. When levelling up you get some predetermined increase to all of your stats and get to choose a bonus improvement to either your attack power, your health, or your special attack; With one of the choices always being slightly higher then normal, not that that is necessarily the best choice all the time.


The overall story of Super Mario RPG is not very unique; Basically you must find seven stars and finally confront the end boss Smithy. The genius is in the details; Every area and every quest in the game is filled with interesting characters and has an interesting story. Be it Rose Town where a star carrying baddy has petrified the entire town or tracking down a thief in Bandit's Way the entire game is an interesting adventure.


It is potentially my favourite game of all time, and easily my favourite SNES game. It simplifies the stats and gameplay of the JRPG to its benefits. It adds more depth and story to the Mario Universe while taking its funny and enjoyable atmosphere and platforming. It is simply a wonderful melding of two companies and two genres.




Associated Blogs:

CaptainD's PC Gaming Blog
Jonathon Wisnoski - Game Reviewer and Commentator

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Indie Adventure Games with a Retro Feel

Four indie adventure games for PC that I recently posted on Epinions - they are all somewhat retro in nature, bringing back to mind the Golden Age of adventure gaming!  (Though if I'm honest, I'm starting to really believe that we're currently at the beginning of a new golden age of adventure gaming! :-D):




Associated Blogs:

CaptainD's PC Gaming Blog
Jonathon Wisnoski - Game Reviewer and Commentator

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Sega Megadrive Classics Collection

Fans of the Sega Megadrive (called the Sega Genesis in the States and elsewhere) may be interested to know that for just £5.50, you can get the PC conversions of 9 Sega Megadrive games on Steam. (Click here for the product page.)

The 9 games are:

  • Altered Beast
  • Comix Zone
  • Crack Down
  • Ecco the Dolphin
  • Gain Ground
  • Golden Axe
  • Shadow Dancer
  • Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master
  • Space Harrier II
  • Vectorman

I'm assuming that these games are faithful reproductions of the Megadrive versions of the game. I'm quite tempted by this collection myself...



Associated Blogs:

CaptainD's PC Gaming Blog
Jonathon Wisnoski - Game Reviewer and Commentator

Monday, 3 January 2011

Star Fox - SNES


Star Fox was the most graphically advanced SNES game of its time, early 1993, and featured the first 3D graphics of the system; Which it accomplished by taking advantage of a special graphics chip, the Super FX, that no other game had used before. It is a space rail shooter that sees you take control of Fox, the leader of an elite mercenary unit in control of advanced prototype combat ships.


The game features a few unique and entertaining additions to the generic rail shooter. For one their is no instant death, the craft can sustain damage from both weapons fire and collisions with the level and will remain flying as long as the shields hold out (which takes many hits to deplete completely); And their is even some locational damage, with the wings being able to break off if you collide them into too many obstacles. Also instead of a simple difficulty setting, the player is allow to choose from three different paths to your end goal. These paths feature completely different levels which adds to the replay-value of the game quite a lot. Lastly, the player is accompanied by his squadron, which help out in killing enemies and from time to time require help in return.


It's a great game featuring a great mix of avoiding obstacles, collecting power ups, boss battles, and normal shoot-em-up segments. One of the best titles in the entire SNES lineup in my opinion, and definitely unique.




Associated Blogs:

CaptainD's PC Gaming Blog
Jonathon Wisnoski - Game Reviewer and Commentator

16-bit games cheated!

Ah, dear old Kick Off 2... I'd forgotten how blatantly it cheated. Remember how your players were mysteriously flattened when an opposing player got near them? Especially in the penalty area? And the referee even more mysteriously never saw any of these infringements...

It all adds to the fun I guess! I used to be so good at this game, but not anymore - especially having to use the keyboard in place of a good old-fashioned joystick!!




Associated Blogs:

CaptainD's PC Gaming Blog
Jonathon Wisnoski - Game Reviewer and Commentator