Friday's Ultimate Vanity Project: 100 Games, 100 Reviews

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Re: Friday's Ultimate Vanity Project: 100 Games, 100 Reviews

Postby Thad » Fri Jun 19, 2020 6:57 pm

Niku wrote:fuk u its a tanooki

That's a different powerup.

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Re: Friday's Ultimate Vanity Project: 100 Games, 100 Reviews

Postby Friday » Fri Jun 19, 2020 7:05 pm

37. Super Mario Bros 3 (NES)

Mario 3 is a miracle of a videogame brought to life through what I can only assume were satanic pacts, rituals, and sacrifices that we are now seeing the inevitable effects of as our society backslides into economic oblivion and gaian collapse. Seriously, how the fuck did they make this work on a fucking Famicom/NES?

Leaving aside the technological marvel aspect, Mario 3 is a flawless videogame of its type. The difficulty is absolutely pitch perfect, with the challenge ramping up as you progress, but items (including the infamous P-Wing) allowing even kids to beat the tougher world 8 levels and complete the game. The controls are tight and responsive as always in Mario games. The graphics, while simplistic, are punchy and colorful. The sound and music is legendary. The level design is varied and well constructed. Some are mazes, some are straightforward gauntlets, some are autoscrollers that force you to think strategically, some are fun gimmick stages.

The game is full to bursting with secrets and goodies to find. Exploration is the name of the game and the addition of the overworld map really adds to that. The game knows how to keep rare things rare to make finding them super awesome. The Hammer Brother suit, the Tanuki suit, and the shoe all still standout in my mind as shiny and cool.

Compared to Mario 1, which is like a nice chicken sandwich, this game is a triple decker with extra pickles and your favorite kind of cheese on your favorite kind of bread with a toothpick through it to hold it all together. It's a great game to play with your kids, or just alone for the thirteenth time in your life. A truly timeless classic.

Do I recommend this game:
Mario doesn't get any better than this. Though there are a few games I think of as equal.
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Re: Friday's Ultimate Vanity Project: 100 Games, 100 Reviews

Postby Friday » Fri Jun 19, 2020 7:18 pm

36. Super Mario World (SNES)

Speaking of which...

Super Mario World came out only two years after Mario 3, but they used that time to innovate quite a lot. It's not nearly as big a leap forward as Mario 3 was to Mario 1 (and I don't count 2, which I enjoy a lot but was a reskin of a different game) but there's still a ton of innovation and good solid game design.

World was clearly the devs iterating on 3, in that the structure is pretty much the same (overworld map, forts, koopa kid bosses, tons of secrets everywhere) but on the Super Famicom/SNES they had a lot more room to cram shit in there. Mario 3 was released at the end of the NES lifespan, and Super Mario World was a launch title, but even so you can really TELL the difference in what the hardware was capable of.

Everything I said about Mario 3 rings true here too, just moreso. Overall, I think World is a better game compared to 3 except the difficulty curve isn't as carefully tuned. World 8 in Mario 3 is legit tough, with the tank and airship autoscrollers and the super hard regular (Mario 1 style, even) levels. Mario World is pretty easy throughout.

Well, except for the secret Star World levels, which I regard as the true real endgame, considering how fucking hard they to unlock.

Speaking of which, holy shit there is a ton to unlock in this game. Secrets keys keyholes pipes aaaaaaaaaaa!! There's even a world that will just lead you in a big circle if you don't find alternate exits, so you can tell the design philosophy was the encourage the player to explore the levels. The Haunted Houses are another proof of that, as they are anything but straightforward.

Oh and Yoshi shows up! Who knew riding a dinosaur around was so fun! And then throwing him into the lava to save yourself

Another great family friendly game to play with your youngsters. Classic Mario at its best, again.

Do I recommend this game:
Again, it doesn't get any better than this as far as Mario games go. Except for maybe one other game that is an equal...
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Re: Friday's Ultimate Vanity Project: 100 Games, 100 Reviews

Postby Friday » Fri Jun 19, 2020 7:34 pm

35. Super Mario 64 (N64)

Hoo boy, Nintendo is a fucking legend. Reviewing all three of these games in a row really hammers in how fucking good the devs were/are.

Mario 1 was a obstacle course with some secrets hid here and there. But the main thing was getting to the end of the level. Mario 3 was an obstacle course with tons of secrets, with the focus being both on beating the level but finding all the fun stuff in it. World was mostly about exploration and secrets, with the focus firmly on that and much less about just "beating the game."

Mario 64 is the end result of this path. It's pretty much entirely a game about exploration. "I wanted to feel like you were exploring a magical garden" said Miyamoto, and man did he succeed on an unprecedented level. You're given missions to find stars with a hint, and that's it. Go wander around and have fun!

And that's what makes Mario 64 so great. It's just a big ol' playground full of fun stuff to see and do. One of the best things about 64 is that you're not even required to get all the stars, so if there's some you just aren't having fun doing, you can just leave and go somewhere else. Everything is up to you. My first time through, I never even realized Tall Tall Mountain was a fucking level you could go to.

The music is absolutely amazing. Even the underwater levels are less bad because the music is so great. I also really like the Boswer level theme and how they're just classic obstacle courses that try to murder you.

Let's talk about the controls. They spent the first chunk of development just getting the controls (both for Mario and the Camera) perfect, because they knew how important that was going to be for the first fully realized mainstream 3D Mario game. And it shows. Mario controls like an absolute dream, with tons of useful moves, both simple and advanced. The triple jump, the longjump, the breakdance kick, the ground pound, the jump backwards into other universes. (Okay, that last one is speedrunner jank.)

The camera is less good. It can screw you over sometimes and that's the only reason I'm putting this game on the same tier as the previous two, because otherwise it's just a better game. If Mario 3 is a flawless game, then Mario 64 is a flawed game with a greater scope. And also it has a monkey who will steal your hat.

In the end, Mario 64 is just a fucking blast to play. The bright colors, the fun missions, the secrets, the flying cap, the metal cap. Shooting yourself out of cannons, surfing on turtle shells. Dropping baby penguins INTO THEIR MOTHERS LAPS WHAT DID YOU THINK I WAS GOING TO SAY YOU MONSTER

Do I recommend this game:
Best of the Holy Trinity, but held back a bit by sometimes frustrating camera angles and controls. Yeah, absolutely. If you've somehow managed to never play these three absolute banger videogames, please do yourself a favor and do so as soon as possible because seriously, the Demon Miyamoto made a pact with to create Mario 3 on the NES is going to finish destroying the world any day now.
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Re: Friday's Ultimate Vanity Project: 100 Games, 100 Reviews

Postby Friday » Fri Jun 19, 2020 7:43 pm

For the record, I have never played Sunshine, Galaxy, Galaxy 2, or Odyssey. From all accounts, they are iterations on 64 and in a good way, so I'm sure if I played them now they'd probably crowd out a bunch of other shit on this list.

We're done with Mario games on this list now. Well, sort of. You'll see.
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Re: Friday's Ultimate Vanity Project: 100 Games, 100 Reviews

Postby Thad » Fri Jun 19, 2020 7:47 pm

I remember playing Mario 64 for the first time with a huge grin on my face and I kept just whispering "This is amazing" aloud.

It still holds up, graphics and camera notwithstanding; it's no longer revolutionary, but it's still a fucking blast.

World is my favorite and the one I keep going back to more than any other game in the series. 3 is phenomenal; I haven't gone back to it as often as World, but I've gone back to it many times (played through it with my nephew a few years back; no warp whistles, straight shot all the way through, and we may even have played every level). I don't suppose I have quite the lasting connection to 64 that I do to the others, but it's a fantastic goddamn game.

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Re: Friday's Ultimate Vanity Project: 100 Games, 100 Reviews

Postby fanboymaster » Fri Jun 19, 2020 7:51 pm

It's probably worth noting that Nintendo would consider Galaxy 1 and 2 to be more in the lineage of 2D Mario, obstacle courses. In pre-release material they implied that only 64, Sunshine and Odyssey are in the garden design paradigm.
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Re: Friday's Ultimate Vanity Project: 100 Games, 100 Reviews

Postby nosimpleway » Fri Jun 19, 2020 9:29 pm

"Abigail... the one who eats rocks, right?"

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Re: Friday's Ultimate Vanity Project: 100 Games, 100 Reviews

Postby Friday » Fri Jun 19, 2020 9:42 pm

amethysts are gamer fuel
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Re: Friday's Ultimate Vanity Project: 100 Games, 100 Reviews

Postby Niku » Sat Jun 20, 2020 7:15 am

It’s notable that you can apparently play Mario 64 DS via the Wii U and finally have a real stick to enjoy the additional content with. They added a lot of neat if nonessential stuff to that port.

For my money, Galaxy/2 are mayyyybe my favorite Mario games, but Odyssey is absolutely the evolution of 64’s controls in just how incredibly goddamn fun the movement is.
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Re: Friday's Ultimate Vanity Project: 100 Games, 100 Reviews

Postby Esperath » Sat Jun 20, 2020 7:54 am

Friday wrote:35. Super Mario 64 (N64)
Mario 64 is the end result of this path. It's pretty much entirely a game about exploration. "I wanted to feel like you were exploring a magical garden" said Miyamoto, and man did he succeed on an unprecedented level. You're given missions to find stars with a hint, and that's it. Go wander around and have fun!


I personally can't stand Mario 64 because it's the harbinger of the 3D collect-a-thon platformer (repeat the same stage x times in different ways to get x random shits, then do this y times for y levels), which is far and away my least favorite video game genre. And the N64/PS1 era was drowning in these. At least M64 had a diversity of activities that varied pretty nicely across stages, which is more than can be said for most of the other early 3D platformers. But come on, what's the end result? Mario Odyssey with 900 goddamn moons?

(It's also worth noting that Mario was already trending in this direction with Yoshi's Island, which changed the stage focus from "finish the level" to explicitly giving you a scorecard at the end of each level. For a neurotic completionist gamer like myself, this effectively changes the goal to "Gather 30 stars 20 red coins 5 flowers for every single fucking stage even if it's not fun anymore". Spoiler: I didn't like Yoshi's Island, either.)
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Re: Friday's Ultimate Vanity Project: 100 Games, 100 Reviews

Postby Mongrel » Sat Jun 20, 2020 1:53 pm

World is something that I've played innumerable times, and I absolutely hate platformers normally. But like, how can you hate Mario?

Incidentally, I'm wondering if the remaining "not-Mario" game is Paper Mario, which I never did finish (not because it was a bad game! I was just too into other stuff at the time).
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Re: Friday's Ultimate Vanity Project: 100 Games, 100 Reviews

Postby zaratustra » Sat Jun 20, 2020 3:34 pm

Super Mario World is the epitome of "if you're bored just don't play the level" mario design

i don't think even mario 64 reaches such levels of not-giving-a-fuckness

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Re: Friday's Ultimate Vanity Project: 100 Games, 100 Reviews

Postby fanboymaster » Sat Jun 20, 2020 4:07 pm

Let's hit every major Mario debate while we're here.

I've always held that World's level design is much more interesting than 3. A Mario 3 level is typically so short that it barely has time to explore its gimmicks before the level is over. This helps lesser gimmicks as they can't outstay their welcome, but it means that a lot of levels can feel undercooked, right as an idea was getting interesting variations DA-DA-DA-DA DA-DA-DAA DUN. The design economy is on novelty over exploration and variation which leaves a lot of levels feeling like they could have had that little bit more to make them shine.
A given SMW level is often 3-5 times as long as a 3 level which can lead to some dull stretches, but less frustration of "oh it was just gettng really cool".

This core approach extends to everything about both games. World ditches a lot of things that add a little (power-up variety, map hazards etc) to focus on more focused ideas that add a lot through variation (the cape is an interesting enough power up to make up for it, the new map twists and interconnects enough to allow interesting approaches). SMB3 is a relentless volley of content but it never really explores its best ideas. Still great but I always feel like a more incredible game is peaking just past the edges.

That said 3's real problem is that Nintendo spent the entire WiiU and 3DS era trying desperately to ride its iconography, robbing it of the novelty it lives on for a desperate nostalgia hit to boost flagging sales.
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Re: Friday's Ultimate Vanity Project: 100 Games, 100 Reviews

Postby Brentai » Sat Jun 20, 2020 6:24 pm

I always liked World more than 3 but I mostly chalk that up to having owned World and only renting 3 a couple times. 3 is probably the better video game product, all told.
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Re: Friday's Ultimate Vanity Project: 100 Games, 100 Reviews

Postby Esperath » Sat Jun 20, 2020 7:40 pm

Mongrel wrote:But like, how can you hate Mario?


why do you hate america, bro

why


I remember immediately being turned off by the hub world gating. When looking at the spectrum of totally linear to entirely open world sandbox, Mario 64 hits that perfect awful spot of going "yeah here's another modicum of content, prominently displayed, now faff about in the other stages to reach an arbitrary threshold before I let you taste the sweet nectar".
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Re: Friday's Ultimate Vanity Project: 100 Games, 100 Reviews

Postby Mongrel » Sat Jun 20, 2020 7:42 pm

Esperath wrote:
Mongrel wrote:But like, how can you hate Mario?


why do you hate america, bro

why


I remember immediately being turned off by the hub world gating. When looking at the spectrum of totally linear to entirely open world sandbox, Mario 64 hits that perfect awful spot of going "yeah here's another modicum of content, prominently displayed, now faff about in the other stages to reach an arbitrary threshold before I let you taste the sweet nectar".

Well, when I say that, I mean the original 2D style.

I have quite literally never played a 3D Mario (not that I don't think of them as "real", but when I think of Mario the imagery of 1/2/3/World is what comes most immediately to mind).
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Re: Friday's Ultimate Vanity Project: 100 Games, 100 Reviews

Postby Thad » Sun Jun 21, 2020 1:15 am

fanboymaster wrote:It's probably worth noting that Nintendo would consider Galaxy 1 and 2 to be more in the lineage of 2D Mario, obstacle courses. In pre-release material they implied that only 64, Sunshine and Odyssey are in the garden design paradigm.

The Galaxy games have much shorter and more focused levels than SM64, but they do follow the pattern where there are multiple stars to get per level. Course, usually instead of SM64's typical style of dropping you in the level and most of the stars are available from the get-go in whatever order you choose, there are a lot of instances where your path through a level is significantly different depending on what star you choose at the beginning.

Galaxy 1 totally cribs the hub-castle design from SM64, though. (Galaxy 2 uses more of a straightforward Mario 3 level-select map.)

Niku wrote:It’s notable that you can apparently play Mario 64 DS via the Wii U and finally have a real stick to enjoy the additional content with.

Does the stick actually have 360-degree movement (emulating the touchpad control maybe), or is it just a stick-shaped D-pad? I tried SM64DS on an emulator once and gave up on the second level; trying to move through the space with only eight directions and two speeds is a fucking drag, even if you're using a stick to do it. It works okay in games like 3D World where the stages are designed with the assumption that some people are going to be playing with D-pads, but SM64 was most definitely not designed to be navigated that way and that's very apparent if you try.

Esperath wrote:(It's also worth noting that Mario was already trending in this direction with Yoshi's Island, which changed the stage focus from "finish the level" to explicitly giving you a scorecard at the end of each level. For a neurotic completionist gamer like myself, this effectively changes the goal to "Gather 30 stars 20 red coins 5 flowers for every single fucking stage even if it's not fun anymore". Spoiler: I didn't like Yoshi's Island, either.)

There's a lot to like about Yoshi's Island -- the graphic design is unique, incredible, and still holds up, and it's got a lot of really neat ideas. I wouldn't say I dislike it, but I don't like it as much as some people do, either.

Your criticism of the collect-a-thon requirements is on-point. I skip that shit, but that means there are a handful of levels I don't get access to without cheating/emulating/whatever.

And I think it's got the opposite problem of what Fanboy described in SMB3: where SMB3's levels are sometimes so short that they don't give their one-off gimmick time to shine, Yoshi's Island takes its time with the gimmicks and gives each stage a unique hook with time to breathe -- but the levels are too long for my tastes. I think SMW's stage size is Just Right; I find that Yoshi's Island levels drag and overstay their welcome.

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Re: Friday's Ultimate Vanity Project: 100 Games, 100 Reviews

Postby Niku » Sun Jun 21, 2020 7:31 am

From an LP I checked out to refresh myself on some of the changes a few weeks ago, it /seemed/ as though the Wii U version did have 360 movement at least. I haven’t actually dusted off the game pad to try it myself. I had a similar experience to your emulator one trying it on the 3DS with the circle pad — it was much better than launch SM64DS, but still nowhere near ideal.

I got all 150 stars in SM64DS using the dpad on my DS phat, because that’s how terrible the goddamn touch screen controls felt to me. That fucking strap nub.
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Re: Friday's Ultimate Vanity Project: 100 Games, 100 Reviews

Postby Thad » Sun Jun 21, 2020 1:23 pm

Niku wrote:From an LP I checked out to refresh myself on some of the changes a few weeks ago, it /seemed/ as though the Wii U version did have 360 movement at least. I haven’t actually dusted off the game pad to try it myself. I had a similar experience to your emulator one trying it on the 3DS with the circle pad — it was much better than launch SM64DS, but still nowhere near ideal.

Now you mention it, I'm almost certain that's what I'm thinking of, playing on a 3DS. I don't think I've ever actually taken the time to fuck around with a DS emulator long enough to get it into working condition.

Doubling back to SMW: I'd really like to see a hack that incorporates the GBA version's feature where, once you get a colored Yoshi, Yoshi eggs in stages will randomly produce that Yoshi instead of standard green. I think that's a fantastic tweak; you don't have to hoof it back to the Star World every time you want to get a colored Yoshi, and it incentivizes you to use yellow and red (because if you're walking all the way back to the Star World to get a colored Yoshi instead of a green one anyway, obviously it's going to be the blue one).

The Luigi tweaks were kinda fun too (giving him his SMB2 floaty jump and changing Yoshi's behavior when he eats Goombas etc. from "instantaneously swallow" to "very briefly keep in mouth"); not as useful as the Yoshi color randomization, but neat.

The tweak where getting hit when you have fireballs or a cape changes you into big Mario instead of little Mario is a mistake, though; it completely throws off the balance of the game and the utility of the item box.

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