Bowser’s Fury (Switch): COMPLETED!

Included with the Switch port of Super Mario 3D World, Bowser’s Fury reuses all the power-ups, enemies and gimmicks from that game but adds cat ears to literally everything and gives you a fully controllable camera. It’s also one complete open world, a bit like an extra large Super Mario Odyssey level.

Bowser has gone out of control, and you need to collect Cat Shines to keep him in check. Every so often he rises from the black goo that covers the world, tried to kill you, and you send him back with the shines. As you collect more shines, you reveal more areas by getting rid of the goo.

Working in two player mode, with my daughter as Bowser Jr (who is concerned his dad is a bit too evil now), we collected all 100 Cat Shines in a few hours. It’s not a massive game, but it is excellent and something new in the Mario world.

Super Mario 3D World (Switch): COMPLETED!

There was no way I was going to buy a copy of Super Mario 3D World for the Switch when I already owned it on the Wii U which is still connected to the TV the Switch is. So of course that’s what I did anyway. With my remaining Nintendo Online game voucher thing, so it only cost £21.50 and I’d bought the vouchers before HYRULE WARRIORS: Age of Calamity come out so that’s basically forgotten money now, right?

Anyway, it’s still really good. Because it’s the same game as before, and it was really good then. Touch controls (for prodding switches and baddies and things) are translated into gyro controls like they were in Super Mario Galaxy and don’t work as well as on the Wii U, but they’re barely used in the game so it doesn’t really matter.

Played through the story with my daughter as the whole game is co-op. That actually works both as a positive (when you die you don’t restart – you respawn providing the other player doesn’t die) and a negative (you get in each others’ way and push the camera on too fast). We’ve not got all the green stars yet (far from it), but have beaten the final boss. Before we go back and mop up, however, Bowser’s Fury awaits!

Super Mario Sunshine (Switch): COMPLETED!

I have always maintained that Super Mario Sunshine is an excellent game. I know many, many people complain about the camera – in particular on the ferris wheel – but to those people I’ve always said: Just control the camera yourself. I never had a problem with it.

So it was with some trepidation that I would turn out to be wrong that I went into Super Mario Sunshine on the Super Mario 3D All-Stars collection on the Switch. And you know what? I was right. The level in question was easy. The camera was not a problem. In fact, at no point in the game was the camera a problem at all. Other complaints people had about various things, such as the sand bird level being impossible or there being loads of fall-through-the-floor bugs or the hotel level having an unusable camera all turned out to be nonsense too. These issues simply don’t exist.

No, instead, Super Mario Sunshine is a complete joy from start to finish. Sure, it’s not quite as good as Super Mario 64 but then very little is, and they did remove Mario’s long jump, but it’s still one of the best games ever made.

I managed about 90 Shines before I decided to walk up to Bowser and beat him, and now I’m moving on to Super Mario Galaxy, but I’ll be back!

Super Mario Galaxy (Switch): COMPLETED!

I’ve said before that although Super Mario Galaxy is a fantastic game, it isn’t as good as Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine. I was never able to really put my finger on why, though, until this playthrough.

There’s three main things – it’s a bit disjointed, in that each world is very small and there are so many of them so it doesn’t feel like you get to spend much time learning them like you do in the other two games. There’s fewer “goals” in each too. The other thing is that there’s not much actual platforming and most of what there is, is jumping over voids and holes rather than the acrobatics of the previous games. There’s hardly any wall jumping, for instance. Finally, it’s very easy. Yes, I know the difficulty is in getting all the stars, but unlike 64 and Sunshine you can reach the end of the game and beat Bowser with no difficulty whatsoever.

But those don’t make it a bad game, just not quite as good as the other games. It’s still a torrent of ideas that Nintendo bombard you with, it’s still clever, it’s still amazing to look at. The point control replacement (when using a Pro Controller at least) is slightly off, but it doesn’t really matter.

I beat Bowser with around 80 stars. and yes, like the other games I intend in returning for the rest!

Super Mario 64 (Switch): COMPLETED!

Yes, I have played and completed this before. A fair few times too. But! This is the Switch version, on the Super Mario 3D All-Stars pack that recently came out, where the game is (slightly) upscaled, (slightly) less blurry, and with a nicer looking HUD and font.

I’ve said before that Super Mario 64 is one of the best games ever made. It sits comfortably in my Top 5, and was probably at Number Two (after Run Baby Run of course!) until HYRULE WARRIORS appeared. But it’s the Best Mario. And it’s still The Best Mario and it’s still perfect.

Some will moan they haven’t made it widescreen. Some will complain there are camera issues. Some will suggest that a handful of star locations have far too cryptic clues. Some people are wrong. None of these things matter when you’re flinging Mario around some of the best designed 3D worlds in any video game, not just Mario games. It’s fun, it’s clever, it’s inventive and it’s going to be the best title on this collection even though I’ve not (re)played Sunshine or Galaxy yet.

I have about 80 stars, I’ve beaten Bowser, and I will return for the rest but for now, I’m moving on to Sunshine…

Super Mario Bros 3 (Switch): COMPLETED!

This too was the All-Stars version of the game, and like the All-Stars version of the original Super Mario Bros, it still looks fantastic today.

I used some warp pipes, but did play through more levels than just the bare minimum. I got lost a lot on World 8 and seemed to go round in circles on the map, so I obviously don’t remember it as well as I thought I did.

Bowser was a lot easier than I remember as well. I was sure there was more to him after you make him fall through the floor but apparently not. It makes him one of the easiest bosses in the game! Except Boom-Boom but then that’s because you have to fight him over a million times.

Super Mario Bros (Switch): COMPLETED!

Yes, I’ve completed Super Mario Bros yet again. But this time it was, at least, different in that I played the Super Mario All-Stars version rather than the original as it appeared on the Switch Online service this week. It’s still excellent, and the 25-year-old “new” graphics still look amazing even now.

And yes, I used warps. Because why would you not when they’re part of the game, eh?

Luigi’s Mansion 3 (Switch): COMPLETED!

Luigi’s Mansion 3 is very much a return to the first game, rather than the multiple small mansion structure of the 3DS second game in the series. Not that the second game was bad, but it works better as one big mansion. Or rather, one big hotel as it is here.

Each floor is themed, with a boss ghost that fits into that theme, and the aim is to beat the bosses to get the lift buttons to allow you to reach new floors. There are a few diversions along the way, Polterkitty being one and a main irritation as she steals a button and you have to chase her around the hotel for reasons of artificially lengthening the game. If you remember, the original Luigi’s Mansion was purposefully short, with Nintendo explaining that’s how people prefer their games, so it’s a little odd to do this.

One of the floors is a nightclub.

Another diversion is when you have to navigate the lower basement, complete with the worst control scheme and associated boss in the game. Moving your inflatable duck around in order to avoid spikes and mines is incredibly fiddly and frustrating, and is definitely the worst bit of the game.

But those two things are pretty much all I can say that’s negative. The rest is a joy from start to finish, with gorgeous visuals in that way only Nintendo can create, pleasing to solve puzzles, humorous events and characters, and the best selection of in-game toilets I’ve seen in a very long time. After I’d cleared about three floors I realised there was in-game co-op too – not just the same sort of multiplayer modes from the 3DS games. This meant I could play the whole of the rest of the game with my daughter, and it was great!

Best toilets ever. You can even hoover up the toilet roll.

Super Mario Maker 2 (Switch): COMPLETED!

“How do you complete a game where you make your own levels?”, you may ask. Well, because there’s a pretty sizeable single player mode where Nintendo show you loads of ways you might want to make levels, by giving you a hundred or so levels to work through.

I’m always astounded at the creativity Nintendo have with Mario games. You’d have thought that every possible idea in platforming has been done now, but nope – most of these levels have a new gimmick, or at the very least, a twist on a previous one. As you complete them you gain coins, and you use these coins to rebuild Peach’s castle (for unimportant story reasons).

New items for use in your home made courses are unlocked as you go along, so there’s another reason for playing Story Mode too.

As well as completing that, I’ve also played 30 or so user-made levels, which, like the first game, vary enormously. Some are huge and complicated with puzzles or skill sections, and some are little more than items placed at random on the screen. I’ve also made a terrible, short level of my own with a toilet in it, because of course I have. The ID, if you want to play it, is 3P7-5JL-CTG.

Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle (Switch): COMPLETED!

No, I didn’t think a crossover between the worlds of Mario and the Rabbids would work either, but somehow, it does. Perhaps it’s partly because the gameplay doesn’t borrow from either party, and Mario + Rabbids becomes its own thing. Instead of precision platforming or nonsensical minigames, this game provides a fun turn based strategy game interspersed with some puzzles (mainly of the switch pressing or block pushing variety).

It’s not quite Xcom or Ubisoft’s earlier Nintendo title Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars (which was excellent), as it takes that gameplay but twists it. As well as moving your units (a collection of Mushroom Kingdom regulars and Rabbid-ised versions of Mushroom Kingdom regulars), each move you can perform sliding tackles, jumps (which can let you move further, heal status effects, and allow stomp attacks). There’s also two special powers each character has that have cooldown timers and can be triggered in addition to moving and attacking. These vary from defensive shields to attack boosts, to “movement sensors”, where when an enemy moves either during their turn or as a side-effect of another attack, your character gets a free shot.

Each character is different too, with different move limits, skills like being able to jump on two heads in succession, able to slide tackle up to three enemies per move, and weapons. Some weapons have a “damage cone” whereby the further away from the source you go, the wider the blast goes but the less damage it does. Some weapons can destroy cover blocks, and others fire over blocks, set fire to characters, or stop them from attacking, moving or using special skills.

Then there’s environmental stuff to take into account. Some levels have raised areas that give you an attack bonus if you’re shooting lower-down enemies. Pipes let you travel to other parts of the area and add a bonus set of movement spaces when you emerge – some levels you can zip around really quickly as a result. On other levels, lava rains down on certain spots every so often, and sometimes hidden in cover blocks are crates that, when hit, cause negative status effects on anyone stood next to them.

What they don’t realise is I’m about to kill them all in one hit.

There’s a lot to take in, and considering the blue skies and silliness that coats Mario + Rabbids, there’s a surprising amount of strategy. Having to take into account how some enemies react to attacks, or can only be damaged from behind, or will take advantage of your three team members being bunched up together, plus there’s needing to remember that your shots could damage your own team (particularly important when setting up for a “movement sensor” attack) and how some enemies can heal or teleport.

That said, it isn’t especially difficult. Apart from having to try again, you lose nothing for failing a mission. You’re given bonus awards if all three of your chosen team remain alive at the end (after which they’re revived anyway) and if you’ve won in under a certain number of moves, but again, there’s no major penalty for not managing this besides getting fewer coins with which to buy better weapons. Coins are everywhere, however, so you won’t go short.

It’s a block-pushing, switch hitting puzzle section!

Outside of the main levels, you explore each of the four worlds and solve little puzzles, look behind scenery, and so on in order to get more coins, unlockable art and music, and – most importantly – skill upgrade tokens. Yes, each character has a skill tree, and these skill tokens are spent adding movement distance, damage, HP and skill cooldown timer buffs.

Skill tree.

Mario + Rabbids is a great looking, ridiculous concept which is far more fun than it deserves to be. It’s addictive, and although it’s easy there are loads of challenges that open up as you play with additional harder ones once you’ve finished. And even the Rabbids somehow fit.

Super Mario Bros (Switch): COMPLETED!

Yesterday, Nintendo finally enabled their online service and with it came a big old pile of NES games for free 1, one of which was – of course – Super Mario Bros.

Like Sonic, it’s a game I have many copies of and of course have played and completed many times. Also like Sonic, I played it again today and completed it again today. Whilst on a bus. It was great.

Notes:

  1. Or at least “free while you have an active subscription”

Super Mario Odyssey (Switch)

That was hell.

I’ve never been so bored, so annoyed, so disappointed with a Mario game. The first 250 moons were great. The next 250, not so much. The NEXT 250? rubbish. The final 100 made Mario Odyssey one of the worst games ever made.

The skipping rope moon. It’s pure luck. There’s no way to time it because the rope moves too fast after around 50 jumps and you can’t jump fast enough to keep up.

The volleyball moon. It takes forever and is also down to luck. If the ball goes too far away from you and Cappy doesn’t aim properly, you lose.

But those are just difficult, frustrating, try and try again moons. No, the real killer is the hundred or so moons you have to buy in order to make the total up to 999. To do this you literally have to just collect coins. 10,000 coins. Which takes hours.

And for what? I’ll tell you what: a big hat and some rubbish fireworks.

Stupid game.

Things I’ve Been Playing Recently

I’m aware I’ve not posted in a while, so just a brief catchup.

Stardew Valley (Switch)

Just reaching the end of Winter, Year 3, and although I’m ready to wed the lovely but crazy Emily, there’s been no rain for the entire season so I can’t see the guy on the beach and buy the necessary amulet. I’ve been making friends with everyone while I wait instead. I’ve also managed to complete Qi’s increasingly more bizarre requests and now have access to the casino. I’ve not won much though.

I think I’m nearly done with the game. Once I’m married I’ll consider retiring, unless it opens up more gameplay stuff. I’m almost 110 hours in and there are other games that need playing.

Super Mario Odyssey (Switch)

800-odd moons now. I’ve completed The Darker Side (but not The Dark Side), and collecting the remaining moons is tedious beyond belief. It’s the least fun Mario game in ages now. But I feel I must get them all, so…

Million Onion Hotel (iOS)

I talked about this for a bit on the ugvm Podcast (which you really should listen to). It’s a 5×5 grid, screen tapping puzzle game that I paid real actual money for and it’s madness. And too hard. I reached the third boss but that’s as far as I’ve managed so far.

Picross S (Switch)

Not very much though. Just the odd puzzle every now and then. That’s not knocking it – it’s how I want to play it!

Super Mario Odyssey (Switch): COMPLETED!

This is a hard one. Well, not hard in that way (the game is easy – very easy), but hard in how I feel about it.

Unlike pretty much every Mario game ever, Super Mario Odyssey didn’t instantly grab me. Perhaps it was the terrible looking first “world”. Maybe it was the stark art style changes between worlds. I don’t know. Definitely, I started enjoying it in my first hour – but other games in the series I was hooked from the second the game started.

Now I’ve completed it, insofar as beaten Bowser and reached the credits, I can look back and see Odyssey is excellent. But not perfect. And certainly not the best Mario game. I’m feeling a lot like I did when I played Breath of the Wild, actually.

There’s just something missing. A spark of something. Something which Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine had which is missing here. Yes, I’m saying Super Mario Sunshine is better than Super Mario Odyssey. Super Mario 3D World is too. And so is New Super Mario Bros U, but 2D Mario games are a different beast.

On paper, it’s all there. Blue skies, great platforming, throwback references, varied levels, secrets, post-credits content, the very best controls – the lot. In my hands, it’s a bit flat, a bit off, a bit… wrong. But I can’t put my finger on it.

Remembering the few days I’ve been playing it, very few parts of the game stand out in the way I can fondly reminisce about the clock or the flying carpet or the Koopa race or the penguins or the wing hat or any one of a thousand other things from Mario 64. I know I’ve not played it as much as that game, but aside from the (spoiler) boss in the ruined castle, there hasn’t been anything that wowed me.

It’s probably me.

And it’s so easy. Really, really easy. Again, I’m aware the challenge of Mario games is mainly to get 100% and the straightforward route to the boss is not the hardest path, but I’ve picked up around half of the moons on each level so far and just one of them caused multiple deaths. It’s the easiest Mario game by a long way.

All that said, and I’m sure most people will disagree with my comments, but all that said, it’s a great game. One of the best. It really is. Nothing I can say can detract from that. I think I was just expecting Mario Odyssey to be a contender for the Best Game Ever Made, and in my eyes it isn’t even top 5 Best Mario Games (yet, at least). But that’s OK. It doesn’t have to be.

Things I’ve been playing recently

Well, where “recently” is “any time in the last couple of months” and “things” is “games I’ve not completed as I’ve already posted about those”. In no particular order:

Spec Ops: The Line (Mac)

This was free, but only if I played it enough to get £1 credit back from Green Man Gaming. At first, I really struggled as it misdetected my PS4 controller and everything literally spiralled out of control – see this video, in particular from the 7 minute point:

With that fixed (I used a mouse and keyboard instead), I then worked through the first level, or mission, or whatever. It’s OK, but nothing special. It’s also difficult to play with an Apple mouse, because you can’t click the left and right buttons at the same time. I don’t know if I’ll play it more.

Paper Mario Sticker Star (3DS)

A lot of people seemed to be quite negative about this, but I’m really enjoying it. It removes almost all of the RPG elements (perhaps this is why it has the reputation it does), but the story and the combat are great and it looks lovely. Also, that Wii U one is out now and I thought I’d do this while waiting for that to magically appear in my possession.

Letter Quest Remastered (PS4)

Incredible Boggle/RPG hybrid. You’re given a bank of 15 random letters, some worth more than others (sort of Scrabble-like) and you make words out of them. The more powerful your word, the harder your attack is on your foes. You can level up abilities, making 6 letter words worth more, or double letters more powerful, etc. and it’s very addictive.

Assault Android Cactus (PC)

I set my Steam Link up again and this is one of the titles I played, having heard good things and getting it for virtually free in a recent Humble Bundle. It’s not bad, but I don’t think – so far at least – it deserves all the praise. It’s just a quite bland twin stick shooter with average graphics but with some great characters. I’m enjoying it, but not as much as I expected to.

Lego Dimensions (PS4)

I actually bought this a while back, but still had Lego Marvel Avengers on the go. With that finished (although not 100%ed) my daughter and I broke it out and yes – it is excellent. Jumping from world to world (we’ve had The Simpsons, The Wizard of Oz, Ninjago and Doctor Who so far) is great, and the references to other Lego games (such as the Joker Titanbot rematch) are awesome too. Playing shuffle-the-characters on the portal is less fun, though, but we’ve negated that a little by moving the portal to the sofa between us.

Pokémon Y (3DS)

With over 70 hours on the clock now, and still about 30% of my Pokédex unfilled, there’s a lot of game here. Not least when you consider I “completed” it at around the 35 hour mark.