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    Feb 6th, 2008 at 16:18:49     -    Super Monkey Ball 2 (GC)

    ENTRY #2

    GAMEPLAY:

    I spent too much of my last entry talking about the story of Super Monkey Ball which as I said, is pretty much just game filler. This type of game really isn't designed to have a coherent story. Also, because each level has the same basic design, in terms of what you must do anyways, it's hard to elaborate more on gameplay without discussing game design. So I decided to stop playing the main game for now and go on to the mini-games featured in SMB. Some of the mini-games are surprisingly innovative. The target practice mini-game is especially fun. In this mini-game you can open up the ball which the monkey is contained in and the two half spheres make a glider. But first you must direct the monkey down a ramp which propels the monkey in the air. Once the ball is airborne, you must choose when and where to open the ball (thus making the glider) and based on when you do this the monkey has a specific speed and gliding range. There are three targets per level and if you are able to perfect the ramp execution, you can make it to the final target for the maximum point score. However, if you loose to much speed the monkey will fall into water and you obtain no score. The target game also contains items which can help the player reach the desired target area such as magnets which allow the monkey not to roll on the target and thus it is easier to land on a bulls-eye. However obtain this item means sacrificing other points.

    All these details are described to give you a feel of the versatility of the mini-games. This is perhaps the main reason why SMB has a great replay value. It's fairly simple in its main game mode, but the obstacles and multiple features added to the game add depth to the playing value. Each mini-game contains the same type of formula: a simple game which various features which add depth and thus complexity to something otherwise fairly simple.

    GAME DESIGN:

    The main game mode of Super Monkey Ball starts out with simple and easy levels in order for the player to get a good feel and understanding of the game's design. This is like tutorial modes in games but instead of making the tutorial separate, it is incorporated into the beginning stages of the game which seems to be an increasingly popular idea. Each level's objective is to direct the ball (with a monkey inside) through the finish line by avoiding various obstacles. The only control in the main game mode is the joystick which doesn't actually move the ball itself but actually moves the level which then in turn, directs the ball.

    Some of the features included in the main game mode include switches which can pause, speed up, or slow down obstacles in the level. These switches are only featured in specific levels. Obstacles include simple things such as holes in the ground or narrow paths you must navigate through however as the game advances, the obstacles become more and more difficult. For example, in one of the harder levels you must place the ball on a platform which shoots the ball up into the air and you must then quickly direct the level (remember you do not actually control the ball, you control the level) so the ball falls onto the correct platform.

    Levels are separated into series with each series ranging in difficulty. Each series of levels has its own theme such as underwater, in the jungle, or in outer space. However, the theme of the level is somewhat unimportant because it does not influence the gameplay, but rather, the game look.

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    Feb 6th, 2008 at 15:52:12     -    Super Monkey Ball 2 (GC)

    SUMMARY:

    Super Monkey Ball 2 has no real connection to Super Monkey Ball 1 in terms of a progressed story, so you can start out playing #2 without any confusion. The game is basically one of those old marble-maze games in which you must direct a ball through obstacles and finally through the finish line. Each level is timed and becomes progressively more difficult as you advance in the game. The game is called super monkey ball because a monkey is inside the ball you direct and the game has many monkey-type themes such as collecting banana's for extra lives.

    The game also features multiple mini-games such as baseball, bowling, pool, and target practice.

    GAMEPLAY:

    I haven't played super monkey ball in a long time now but immediately I remembered the control style and main features of the game. What makes SMB so fun for people of all ages is the easily mastered controls. When playing the main game (not mini-games or challenge mode) the player doesn't even need to use buttons, the joystick is the only control needed. It may sound like such a simplistic game would lose its appeal in a short timeframe but the innovative level designs and obstacles make the game surprisingly addictive.

    The story of the game is pretty absurd and irrelevant. However, due to the game's level design, it's not hard to understand why the writers didn't focus much on the story. Each level is a different maze and the only aspect that connects one level to another is the look of level. (The design is different, but the colors and backgrounds are the same for each level until you progress to the next series of levels, then they change colors and backgrounds until the next series and so on) With such a game design, a story for the game is somewhat unneeded but SMB has one anyway.

    The story goes that the monkey you play as must fight the evil Dr. BadMonkey who has destroyed the main monkey village. With each series of levels the story progresses but the main story aspect is you are constantly going through mazes in order to get to Dr. BadMonkey. Like I said, it's not Shakespeare.

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    Jan 24th, 2008 at 17:09:02     -    mario 64 (N64)

    ENTRY # 2

    GAMEPLAY:

    After playing this game a bit further I began to remember why I originally liked it so much, (for reasons other then just "it's really fun") In older Mario games, the system platforms limited the gameplay and less player interaction could be achieved. I don't mean to insult these games in anyway, I love them just like everyone else who's played them. But Mario 64 was the first game in which you had a 3-D platform to play in, and those masters over at Nintendo took full advantage of what was possible to do.

    It's true that Mario 64 wasn't the first game to have this type of 3-D platform, but it definitely was the most innovative in using it for its time. (The game was released twelve years ago in 1996) I remember first playing it and being amazed at how versatile the gameplay was. Instead of a 2-D platform game in which you can only go left-right, up-down, you could go anywhere (well, seemingly anywhere). And what's more is that Mario's challenges enabled him to do various different tasks such as sliding down a mountain, being shot out of a cannon, and flying. All these features were executed in such a new way and people weren't used to playing Mario in this way. That's where I think the real success of the game took off. A new take on a classic character.

    GAME DESIGN:

    I have been referring to Mario 64 as a 3-D platform game but in reality it is more of a combination of both 2-D and 3-D elements. The game is twelve years old mind you so obviously there are some graphic-wise limitations. The levels are 3-D and Mario is free to run/jump where he pleases. But many objects in the game are two dimensional. For example, the trees always face you because they are two dimensional. The same applies for certain enemies and other objects. Still, for its time and even in ours, it's a revolutionary game.

    What I like most about this game is the level design. You start out in the main area which is Princess Peach's castle. But within that castle there are paintings you must jump into which "portal" you into a level. On top of that, each level has separate challenges. This makes the levels much more fun to play in comparison to the levels of older Mario games because instead of completing one level and moving on to the next, you get to re-visit the level and find new ways to play it. It's a great design idea which gives the game a better replay value.

    This design has was so successful that all other pure Mario games have followed it. (Super Mario Sunshine of the Gamecube has a very similar level design as does Mario Galaxy. The latter being more innovative but still holds onto the basic level design idea) What else makes the level design great are the different features you can bring into the level. For example, in some levels there are goals which seem to be impossible to accomplish. However, as you progress in the game, you unlock different Mario hats which enable you with certain powers such as turning into metal, flying, and turning invisible. All of these hats can be used in certain levels which allow for even more innovative game play and fun.

    I suppose the reason Mario 64 is so highly acclaimed, commonly being ranked as the #1 game of all time, is for a combinations of factors that fortunately all fell into this game. Such as the new 3-D platform which many players weren't used to, the innovative level design which gives the game a great replay value, and the wide-raging yet simple control styles. Yeah, I'd say all these features are what made Super Mario 64...super.

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    Jan 24th, 2008 at 16:27:37     -    mario 64 (N64)

    SUMMARY:

    Super Mario 64 is an innovative 3-D game in which the famous character Mario must collect stars to save Princess Peach. The game is set in Peach's castle but Mario collects stars in different worlds/levels that are entered by jumping into paintings located throughout the castle. The levels and challenges become progressively harder as the game advances.

    GAMEPLAY:

    I don't play much video games now, but I most assuredly did back when the N64 was king (the prime moment of video game living in my opinion). So it was interesting to play Mario 64 again for the first time in god knows how long. I still remember all the controls and challenges so the game wasn't confusing for me.

    What still amazes me, even in our current era of video games, is the innovative control style. Nintendo always seems ahead of the curve when it comes to control design and controller usage. In Mario 64, Mario is capable of various actions which are acquired by different combinations of buttons and joystick movements. All the controls, if written down on paper, would seem to difficult to memorize, but Nintendo has a great ability to make even the most complex controls simple to execute.

    A factor that makes Super Mario 64 stand out as much as it does (the game has been highly acclaimed and considered by many to be the best game of all time) is the story line. Like past Mario games, the objective is to save Princess Peach and Mario must fight his way through the usual bunch of enemies (Goomba's, Turtles, Bombs, Flowers that bite you, etc...) before fighting Bowser. But what makes Mario 64 so fun to play for me is the time it came out in. Currently, the latest Mario game is Mario Galaxy for the Wii, and by all means its a great game, but it feels like too much time has elapsed and Mario games aren't really Mario games anymore but rather, really great games with Mario in them. (I didn't explain that last sentence too well but I'm not trying to elaborate on Mario Galaxy, the main point here is that due to its current release and platform, Mario Galaxy seems too modern, at this point, to be a classic) And that's why Mario 64 appeals to me so much. Enough time has gone by to give the game a nostalgic feel and for whatever reason, that increases my enjoyment level.

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