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    Feb 21st, 2008 at 16:21:50     -    Super Smash Brothers (N64)

    Gameplay 2:

    For my second entry I was playing solo so I concentrated on the single player mode and the training levels, rather than just playing multiplayer versus computer controlled characters or something else as equally dull. The single player is pretty basic, you just choose a difficulty level and progress through a series of fights, ranging from 1v1s to 2v2s or your character vs. eight Kirbys etc. The single player can actually be pretty challenging if its set on the highest difficulty, as its hard to make it through all the stages without losing a life (the challenge I set myself). The levels do progress in difficulty, although its not really noticeable until the last couple stages. Two somewhat harder levels are at the end where one fight is you vs. a metal mario who is very heavy and difficult to knock off the level, and another fight where its you vs. 30 porygons who are rather weak, but build up damage on you pretty fast. After beating the game once or so on the hardest difficulty, the novelty wears off and I found myself bored of this game mode already.

    The training modes can be pretty entertaining for someone like me who likes to set and break new records, but aside from that challenge they get old quick. There is a 'break the targets' challenge where every character has their own stage with an array of targets they have to break, and a 'race to the finish' mode where each character has a different level to make it to the goal as quickly as possible. I'm a perfectionist in some games when it comes to setting time records for things like this, so I kept myself pretty amused trying to break all the targets in as short a time as possible. All in all, the single player aspects of Smash Bros. isn't too enticing, but it can stave off boredom or a homework assignment successfully for a little while.

    Design:

    A lot of people say they prefer many design elements in the Gamecube version of Smash Bros. over the N64 one. I may be one of the few that will take the 64 version over the Gamecube one anyday. I'm a huge fan of the Gamecube Smash Bros. as well, but I prefer the simplicity of the level design and the smoothness in character movement and control in the 64 version over its more advanced Gamecube sibling. The level design in this one is pretty simple, but it makes players focus more on the fights at hand than the seizure-inducing level designs of the Gamecube version.

    The sound design is great for the game, as it incorporates all the distinct sound styles of the games that Smash Bros. takes its fighters. Distinct Nintendo sound affects and music is also incorporated upon using items like Pokeballs or an invicible star from the Mario series. All in all the sound design of this game may be its most error-free quality, as most of the same concepts were adopted for the Gamecube version.

    The brilliance of the design is shown in the 4 player Versus battles, where the level, sound, and control schemes all interact in such a way as to create hectic, yet smooth looking battle sequences that allow the players to get socially involved in playing the game. Except for a few annoyances on some of the levels, the player is focusing most of his or her attention on the other players at hand and not on distracting design elements like sound or jarring controls.

    This entry has been edited 1 time. It was last edited on Feb 21st, 2008 at 16:22:35.

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    Feb 21st, 2008 at 02:25:36     -    Super Smash Brothers (N64)

    Summary:
    Super Smash Bros. is a fighting game for the N64 using cherished characters from other well known Nintendo games. Players can either compete head to head in team battles and free for alls, or play solo games in 1P mode and in special training modes.

    Gameplay:

    Smash Bros. is most well known for its amazingly fun and addictive multiplayer mode. The game took characters and settings familiar to Ninentdo fans and combined them with the smooth new 3-D graphics of the N64 and a great control scheme to create an all-time classic fighting game. Despite having played hardly any Smash Bros. in the last few years, in picking up the game again and playing it, it felt completely natural. So many countless hours were spent fighting my friends in this game, it was finally time for me to try and analyze on paper what it is about the gameplay that makes it so fun and easy to play over and over again.

    The simple truth to this game is that it is best enjoyed with friends, and the more the merrier (4 player per game maximum, although many a dorm room has been completely filled with people playing this game). Its control scheme means the game is fairly easy to learn, and difficult to master. Many other fighting games rely on complex button combos and a steep learning curve to master fighting techniques, but Smash Bros. relies on a few simple moves that combine joystick movement and presses from a couple buttons. I played the game again with a few old friends from high school who I used to play the game with back then, and the same rivalries came quickly back to the surface. Many of the same rivalries were reborn, as I quickly remembered the joy of targeting one of my friend's characters with a character I recall him despising greatly.

    Despite us all having aged and moved on to more complex things in life, including more complex games, Smash Bros. still brought immense laughter and fun the same way it used to when we were younger. Despite my being completely familiar with the rather limited character and stage selection, every game brings unique experiences and outcomes of battles that leave the players involved raw with some emotion, whether happiness or anger from being beaten so badly. While only having played for about an hour and a half, it is quite clear that the social element the game creates and draws off of with the players involved is the aspect of the game that makes it so enjoyable. Playing more and analyzing again will reveal what design aspects lead to the creation of such a social gameplay atmosphere.







    This entry has been edited 1 time. It was last edited on Feb 21st, 2008 at 02:26:48.

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    Feb 9th, 2008 at 17:01:17     -    Super Monkey Ball 2 (GC)

    Gameplay 2:

    The second time playing my friend and I concentrated on the party game mode and explored the features of the game outside of the single play/challenge mode. The party games are akin to ones found in the Mario Party games, and the more points you get in the main game mode the more party games you can unlock. While some of the games are entertaining and can be amusing while playing with a group of friends, they do not bring the same excitement or challenge for me that the main game mode brings. We tried Monkey Baseball, Monkey Golf, Monkey Target, Monkey Boat and Monkey fight, and only a couple of them offered any sort of challenge or unique gameplay that kept us interested and competitive. Monkey Golf was the funnest, as its almost like billiards in that you hit your monkey through mini-golf like courses, reading angles and fine-tuning your timing for hitting the ball along the way. I thought the party games in the first Monkey Ball, although there were a lot less of them, to be more genuinely entertaining.
    I tried out story mode for a little bit to get a feel for it, and would still not recommend it as being central in any way to the game. The muddled storyline serves to propel the characters between different worlds/settings. I didn't really follow the story, but the different settings are what distinguishes the groups of 9 levels from each other (10th levels are bonus stages). In Monkey Ball 1 the levels are almost completely random in terms f difficulty once you get by say stage 5, but in MB2 I'd say the groups of levels (distinguished by setting) do get increasingly harder as you progress. My friend and I lost our remaining lives in the volcano stages, yet we had accumulated enough points in years past to increase the number of lives to 35. If we were stuck with the 5 lives originally granted we would have used all our lives and continues rather early.


    Design:

    MB2 is a simple game with simple controls that combines with good graphic design and sound design to make a surprisingly fun game. Although easy to learn, the game is definitely hard to master. The level design is the true brilliance of the game, as some of the levels make you wonder what else they can come up with for you to do as a monkey in a ball. MB2 utilizes a 3-D world in its levels a lot more than the first one did, and many levels involve you bouncing super high up into the air and using your controls to navigate through free-fall or getting launched super-fast towards the goal. Examples of unique level designs include a level called "Free Throw" in which you start in front of a long long court with three different baskets with goals in them that are spaced down the court. A huge stretch of the ground continuously launches upwards and then resets, and by placing yourself on the ground and timing it with its movement you can launch yourself towards the baskets in a bunch of different ways. Other levels give you the option to roll over switches that change the movement pattern of various paths/obstacles, or warp gates that transport you to different areas of the level. Once Expert Mode is beaten without losing all your continues, you unlock Master Mode, and after that the Master Extra levels, so the sheer amount of levels that are all quite innovative means there is a lot of room for the player to explore his capabilities and fun ways to beat the levels.
    The graphic design is very well done in my opinion, as most levels give you an immediate feeling of vertigo as they are suspended at ridiculously high altitudes in the different settings. The settings are also very graphically appealing and have enough moving parts and weird quirks to go along with the strange vibe of the game. The sound also follows suit, being very funky and strange. The aspect that keeps a player playing I'd say is the strive for mastery of the different levels and the game in general. Score is not as important for me as being able to beat the harder levels in very innovative ways. Look up MB2 on YouTube to see just how ridiculously innovative players can get just utilizing the simple controls of the game with the physics of the game and the different level settings. MB2 is a good example of a game that takes a very simple game concept and executes it with good design to make an enjoyable play experience solo or with friends.

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    Feb 8th, 2008 at 16:17:50     -    Super Monkey Ball 2 (GC)

    Super Monkey Ball 2:

    Summary:

    The player controls a monkey in a clear plastic ball that has to maneuver the ball through various obstacles and challenges to reach the goal line. Different gameplay modes exist, including challenge mode and party mode, that enable different games (Monkey Baseball, Monkey Golf, Monkey Fight etc.) to be played between players that still utilize the core concept of controlling a monkey in a ball.

    Gameplay 1:

    In a weird way, the Monkey Ball games are included in my all-time favorite games. I'll always remember my first impression of the first Monkey Ball: I thought my friend was crazy for buying it because it sounded ridiculous. Yet the seeming simplicity of the gameplay is complicated by the novelty of the levels and of their increasing difficulty. I have not played much of the storyline mode in MB2 because the weird and cracked out storyline, oh which I don't even pay attention, just wastes the time I could be spending playing the fun parts of the game.

    The mode I grew addicted to was the Expert single player mode or challenge mode with friends. In the single player mode, you just work through the levels and every time you fall off the level to your doom you lose a monkey (life). In challenge mode you just progress through the same levels, the difference being you 'compete' with a friend as whenever you move on to a new level or lose a life it switches to the other player. The real amazing aspect of the game is that despite its simple controls and learning curve (moving the joystick is the only controls available in single/challenge mode) the difficulty of the levels actually requires an amazing mastery of the game to be able to beat all the levels.

    Seeing as how I haven't played either of the MB games in years, I was pleasantly surprised to find picking up the controls with a friend and playing an hour of MB2 in challenge mode brought the same challenges, thrills, and laughter that it did years ago. The first part of this hour was spent watching saved replays of levels friends and I had beaten in ridiculously innovative ways years ago, and the old addiction that came with striving for complete mastery of the game crept back into my soul. As I go back to dive further into expert mode and the party games, I'll give detailed descriptions of the types of levels, challenges, and games in which the simple monkey in a ball concept emerges into a rich play experience.










    This entry has been edited 1 time. It was last edited on Feb 8th, 2008 at 16:48:38.

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