the GB edition of dr. mario was so interchangeable with the NES version that i thought i would take a peek at another edition i had on hand, dr. mario online rx for wiiware (which, incidentally, is one of the few wiiware titles you can buy outside of nintendo’s eshop via amazon). in doing so i skipped over the SNES and N64 editions, but i was interested in checking out the new co-op and worldwide wi-fi vs. modes.
the review at nintendolife.com provides a run-down of the other modes, which are mostly what you’d expect so i won’t dwell on them too much here, although i appreciated the ability to do a “hard drop” (press up to make a pill drop to the bottom, as in the modern tetris games) and the game also allows you to see the next three pills instead of just the next one. another unique feature is that you can send a demo version to friends so you can battle over wi-fi. i haven’t tried it out yet, but will def. be making use of it. the game is bright and colorful and i appreciated that it doesn’t have the maddening cheapness at the highest levels of difficulty that i mentioned in my previous post and that the viruses are distributed in a reasonable fashion. i also enjoyed the two new-to-me tracks, called “cough” and “sneeze”, which apparently were introduced in the N64 game under different monikers.
the co-op mode is no doubt inspired by the version that appeared as a stylus-controlled bonus in brain age 2. like that version the game features two nice reworkings of the classic “fever” and “chill” tunes, but this game’s mode is designed to be much more fast-paced. the size of the playing field is significantly smaller than the normal modes, and each stage starts off with only one pill dropping down at a time. this quickly increases to two and then three pills at a time, and then things get really hectic. the levels are designed to be short, and i played with someone who actually knew what she was doing and so we ended up alternating turns until the inevitable mad scramble that resulted when three pieces start dropping down at once. this was a fun, if somewhat shallow, diversion and one that would be even more stupid fun with more people.
the wi-fi mode serves as yet another reminder that my video game skillz are sorely lacking when compared to the rest of the world. this shouldn’t be that surprising, since according to the nintendo channel data the average owner of the game has played it for more than 26 hours (now up to more than 27). as with the game boy game, this has motivated me to spend more time mastering the combo system, but i’m going to have to come back to that since for now i think i’ve had my fill of dr. mario madness.
prescriptions filled with these dr. mario online rx links:
– as with other games in the series there’s an ending after beating the highest difficulty at level 20. in this case the credits roll and you see viruses and mario floating around in what is presumably some sort of petri dish.
– the reviews at metacritic seem a bit low, since this is probably the best version of the game yet
– the game was developed by arika, who’s been responsible for many a nintendo remake, including the 3-D classics series
– entry at mariowiki.com
– entry at wikipedia
it had been a few years since i’d played dr. mario on NES. the next entry in the series was the version on GB which was released just a couple of months after its older brother. when i’d played the NES version i’d been somewhat bored by how limited the combo system was compared to classics like puzzle league, but this time around i spent more time trying to make more-involved combos, in part because you get a familiar little bonus riff if you clear a certain number of pieces at once.
the combo system has turned out to be much more interesting than i’d originally thought, and i was more struck by the considerations of matching both horizontally and vertically than the first time around, although this rendition of the game itself didn’t grab me enough for me to want to invest a whole lot of time mastering the ins and outs of it. the presentation is perfectly fine for a game boy game, in terms of the graphics and sound, but the number of options is quite minimal, pretty much just your basic solo and vs. modes. i beat level 20 on the medium difficulty, but the higher levels of the high difficulty setting were incredibly cheap. i didn’t mention this in my previous post on the NES version, but as with that game at these levels the viruses are stacked so high that it really feels like it’s just a matter of luck whether or not you’ll be able to get the stack down to a point where you can actually just play the game instead of scrambling blindly. i don’t doubt that there are some dr. mario masters out there who can pwn even this level of difficulty, but for the average player it just feels unfair.
not much more to add. the game is a good portable version of the original NES classic, but with a host of modern alternatives this is a game that can be skipped over except by the most OCD of nintendo fans (like me) or those who have the nostalgia factor to contend with.
GB dr. mario makes its case for these links:
– as with the NES version there are little cut-scenes after levels 5, 10, 15, and 20 on high mode. instead of the viruses sitting in a tree and watching objects fly by, in this case they’re underwater and watching objects swim by. if you’re curious, here’s a video of the first three cut-scenes (the objects are a fish, crab, and flying fish) and a video of the final ending, which has an entertaining surprise twist
– review of 3DS VC release at nintendolife.com
– really trippy commercial from the 80’s
– entry at wikipedia
– apparently there was an operation-like board game
although i’m still not a big fan of it (yet?), i’ve been trying to work my way through the castlevania series. next up for me was castlevania: harmony of dissonance on GBA. it seems that the game is the least liked of the three castlevania games on GBA, and i agree with the general consensus that the game, although it looks more polished (albeit a bit garish) than circle of the moon, is too easy and that the dual-castle mechanic isn’t that interesting. the game was fairly mindless and rote for me and ended up requiring a ton of backtracking, although i got to like it more by the end. there are some nice details in the enemy design that i don’t recall seeing in the other titles (like the skeletons that jump out of mirrors and the special events you trigger by destroying guardian armors in often amusingly gruesome ways), and the weapon combination system helps make things more interesting (although i mostly stuck to the holy book shield variations). the bosses tended to feel very same-y, though, partly due to all appearing in similarly shaped rooms, long with a low ceiling and two ledges. overall, i would rank this below circle of the moon, which although much more frustrating was also more difficult and thus less mindless. neither of them ended up being particular favorites of mine, although it looks like the next entry, aria of sorrow, features a more-memorable central game mechanic.
muted harmony of dissonance links:
– comprehensive info at castlevaniacrypt.com
– entry at wikipedia
– entry at castlevania.wikia.com
i finally broke out of my up-to-now handheld-only gaming year by continuing my exploration of run ‘n gun games outside of the contra series with the first game in the metal slug series, via metal slug anthology on wii. the game was enjoyable (and it was nice not to have to worry about running out of quarters/continues), and doesn’t take itself too seriously (the POWs you rescue hide the bonuses they reward you with behind a pair of striped boxers before revealing them with a flourish). the game places more of an emphasis on bombs and vehicles (not to mention violence) than other games in the genre that i’ve played, which helps give it a different feel, but otherwise there wasn’t a lot that felt unique, especially compared to the most recent game in the genre i’ve finished, gunstar heroes. the weapons feel pretty standard, as do the locales and boss fights. i went ahead and played a bit of the sequel and already it looks like it’ll be more unique, but for now i’m going to set the disc aside.
metal slug links slugged:
– review at nintendolife.com
– entry at wikipedia
– random: One-Life Clear Metal Slug Without Pressing Up Or Down
with the exception of the brilliant first title, so far i’ve found the yoshi series to be fairly lackluster. on the surface the next entry on the list to tackle, yoshi touch & go for DS, looked like it was going to be an even shallower experience. unlike the previous three games which are all essentially platformers, this one’s an arcade-style game that features the typical variations, including score attack, time attack, marathon, and vs. modes.
the game was released just a few months after the DS’s debut, and it was clearly designed to show off the new hardware’s dual-screen, touchscreen, as well as microphone capabilities. each mode has two sections: one in which baby mario slowly drops from the sky to the ground and you trace clouds to guide him to safety, and the other in which yoshi, in a more typical platformer fashion, carries baby mario horizontally, swallowing enemies and fruit and chucking eggs to clear a safe path and rack up points. both sections, especially the second, prove to be surprisingly robust, and once you get into the groove you can last for quite a long time in the endless marathon modes, although it doesn’t seem like the difficulty increases noticeably as you proceed within a playthrough. the game does provide a nice balance between the benefits of conserving eggs vs. using them up in order to reach a higher score, and unlike warioware: touched! it’s enjoyable even now, years after the novelty of touchscreen mechanics has worn off.
it’s surprising how enjoyable the game is. although it has only a few modes it will take you some time to beat all the default high scores, and by that time you may have become addicted to the simple but tactile gameplay. it’s unusual to see such a straightforward arcade-style game as this, which makes it a somewhat refreshing experience. it would’ve been interesting to see the mechanics applied to an entire platformer game, but i suppose that niche was more ably filled by the excellent kirby: canvas curse. despite its modest offerings the game was fairly well-received by critics when it was released, and although i wouldn’t say it’s one of my favorite games ever, it’s definitely one of the more compelling entires in the yoshi series that i’ve played so far.
yoshi’s rescued these yoshi touch & go links:
– positive review at videogamecritic.com
– craig harris’s glowing review at IGN
– entry at mariowiki.com
– entry at wikipedia