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    Mar 6th, 2008 at 01:06:00     -    Super Mario Galaxy (Wii)

    Super Mario Galaxy has very fun and fresh gameplay. As stated previously, the flow of the game
    adds to the gameplay a lot. Of course, there are many other reasons that SMG is arguably the
    best platformer on the Nintendo Wii. The controls are extremely tight; I thought this in
    particular was one of the reasons that I loved SMG so much. SMG is very much like Mario64, which
    I also enjoyed, but I never thought the controls for it were tight enough. In SMG, the controls
    are far beyond par for platformer controls, making the experience of playing it all the more
    enjoyeable.

    The platformer elements of most games as well as other Mario games are literally
    turned on their head in SMG; in SMG, the new ability to take advantage of the gravity mechanics
    and physics in a space environment make for a great addition to the usual platformer fair.


    DESIGN

    One of the most innovative elements of SMG is the gravity mechanics. This allows for an incredible
    change in how the levels are designed compared to previous Mario titles and other platformers
    in general. The player still technically has a "path" they will follow in any given level, but
    it feels much more open than other platformers. Mario can literally circumnavigate entire spheres
    in space, given the designers much more freedom with placement of enemies, rewards, and
    checkpoints. It also allows for more special hidden rewards such as Red or Green mushrooms to
    be hidden very easily.

    SMG makes very good use of the special power-up suits that are common in Mario games. Instead
    of having power-ups that make it easier to defeat enemies as in earlier Mario titles, the suits
    in SMG allow the player to navigate the world in different ways. For example, the Bee suit
    allows Mario to hover for periods of time, and the Ice suit allows Mario to skate on water,
    turning it into ice under his feet as he goes. This also allows for very interesting level design
    in SMG, as it allows the designers even more freedom in how they place the player's path.

    The game's reward structure is also very well tuned. As you play, you collect very common star
    bits, less common gold coins, and rare 1-ups and red mushrooms which give the player extra health.
    Collecting star bits in itself is fun because it makes good use of the wii-remote (point at a star
    bit and you collect it). Star bits are also used as currency sometimes in certain levels if you
    talk to the right Luma. Coins and star bits both give the player an extra life if enough are
    collected, and star bits can even be used as ammunition if you decide to shoot them as projectiles
    by pressing the B-trigger on the wii-remote.

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    Mar 6th, 2008 at 00:38:13     -    Super Mario Galaxy (Wii)

    Summary

    Super Mario Galaxy is a platformer on the Nintendo Wii that takes the loveable Mario
    through various galaxies. As you play, you collect stars to unlock more galaxies and eventually
    save, you guessed it, Princess Peach.

    Gameplay

    Super Mario Galaxy's characters are all very cute, though shallow. All of the characters
    are very brightly colored, unique, and many of them are recognizeable from other Mario
    games, but like the story of Mario games, the characters in SMG don't actually have much
    "character". The "lumas" that help Mario in his journey usually repeat one line to you
    over and over if you talk to them, so there isn't much information you can get out of them.
    Also present is Rosalina, the woman that Mario meets on the mysterious world he wakes up on
    after Bowser catapults him into space at the game's start. Mario is as likeable as ever,
    but like always he's not much of a talker. The same goes for Bowser, Luigi, and Peach, who
    all make appearances but are really only more likeable than the Lumas because we as an audience
    have known them for so many years.

    The story of Super Mario Galaxy is just as flat as any other Mario game. Princess Peach is
    kidnapped by Bowser, you play as Mario and have to save her. As stated previously, at the
    game's start, Mario is flung into outer space by Bowser and wakes up on a planet. The player
    is then introduced to the Lumas and Rosalina, who watches over the stars in the galaxy. You
    spend time in between each level on her observatory which eventually becomes mobile once you
    have collected enough stars, allowing you to travel to the center of the universe and save
    Princes Peach, though probably not once and for all.

    SMG's gameplay has excellent flow and pace. The levels aren't ever too long or too short, and
    new elements are introduced (such as surfing, skating, or new power-ups specific to certain
    levels) often so that you don't ever get too tired of playing the game. The landscapes and music
    also change just as often as the pace of the game does, making for a much better gameplay
    experience.

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    Feb 21st, 2008 at 01:54:31     -    Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES)

    GAMEPLAY

    I found that the pace of Super Mario Brothers 3 is very easy to fall into, and for most of the game manages to keep a strong balance between challenge and reward. Mario rewards players in many ways which are scattered around the game. Power-ups are very common to find in levels themselves, as are coins. In addition, power-ups can be given to a player by visiting one of Toad’s Huts on the game world. Super Mario Brothers 3 also has an overwhelming amount of secrets hidden in its walls; the player is bound to find at least a few of them in every world just by chance.
    The game also manages to keep the extra lives coming pretty often. When you do inevitably die in a level, death is not met with too harsh of a penalty. You lose a single life and whatever special suit you had at the time of death, and must start your level over. In many cases, the frustration caused by dying itself over and over again in the harder parts of the game is punishment enough to the player in its own way.
    As far as multiplayer gameplay goes, the game is fairly limited. From the main menu you have access to single player game, a two player version of the game, and a mini-game built for either one or two players as well. In the two player version of the main game, players switch off after every death or level completion, one player playing as Mario and the other as Luigi. In the Mario Bros. mini-game, players run through a level of floors split up by green tubes, turning monsters over and then jumping on them.
    DESIGN

    Overall, Mario is a game that is obviously meant to keep people happy. The game is accessible to people of all ages, it isn’t too difficult, and it has a very accessible aesthetic style. Its bright color palette is put to good use in all eight of the different worlds to play through. Though it isn’t particularly innovative in and of itself, I enjoy the themes provided in each unique world (Desert, Ice, Grassy, etc).
    One of the very innovative elements of Super Mario Brothers 3 was the use of a game world map. In the first two Mario games, players would simply move to the next level in a shabby cut-scene, whereas in Super Mario Brothers 3 you actually move your avatar there. This allows for better gameplay because the player has a say now in how he or she accesses the game. Many of the levels in the game are mandatory to play, but there are many levels which are played solely to receive a Toad House afterwards, or perhaps there are two separate paths through the world entirely. This new use of choice in a platformer like Mario was quite innovative in its time.
    Super Mario Brothers 3 keeps the player interested by providing a good pace to gameplay and a good rewards system. Individual levels in the game do not ever take too long to beat, so you don’t really get tired of playing the same level over and over very often (though I do admit that some of the end-game is quite difficult). The game also manages to add content at a good pace. As you play, you very often will be faced with something new. Often it is a block type or a new level design gimmick. New enemies and power-ups/suit types are also added very often, keeping the game interesting.
    One other aspect of Super Mario Brothers 3’s design I very much enjoyed was its use of sound and music. The Mario soundtrack has always been very recognizable and fitting to the game. Its use of sound in the game is not very complex, and usually aids in alerting the player to what exactly is happening in the game world. If the player throws a fireball, a certain sound will be made. This happens also when Mario jumps or swims, when the player kills and enemy, when an enemy hits the player, when the player collects a coin or power-up and many other cases. Though it isn’t examined by the player very often, the game’s use of sound is very key in alerting the player to the events happening on screen.

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    Feb 21st, 2008 at 01:30:18     -    Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES)

    SUMMARY
    In Super Mario Brothers 3 the player controls Mario, an Italian plumber with a penchant for princess saving. The player takes Mario through eight different worlds in his quest to save Princess Peach from Bowser and his goombas.

    GAMEPLAY
    Like most of the other games in the Mario series, the story isn’t particularly
    overwhelming, but the platforming elements keep the game fun the whole time through. The player controls Mario across a number of levels in eight separate worlds. At the end of each world, Mario takes an airship to the next world and follows the letters left by Princess Peach. In short, the story isn’t good at all, but that’s excusable.
    All of the different characters in the game are given very unique and identifiable personality, regardless of the limitations of the hardware the game was made for, or the lack of individual narratives.
    I applaud Super Mario Brothers 3 for not having to be overly complex to keep the audience interested. The game is just difficult enough that every platform you face on your way to the princess is usually very fun. Though when you break it down there isn’t much to the Mario formula, the game is still very fun and interesting to play.
    One of my favorite aspects of the Mario series is the use of power-ups to aid in playing the game. Mario 3 was the first in the series to allow the player to save the power-ups he had collected through playing the game. This made for some very fun strategies in certain levels.

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