Review of Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 — Oh no, there goes Tokyo

Everyone’s favorite plumber and hedgehog are once again going for the gold, as the Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games series has come to the Nintendo Switch for its sixth installment.  Sure, it may seem like nothing more than a simple cash-grab, but there are some enjoyable new features to be delved into.  So without further ado, let’s light the torch and get into the review itself.

Time-travel turmoil

We haven’t seen a story mode in this series since the 3DS version of the London 2012 installment, but it returns in this edition.  After an opening confrontation, the competitors are inadvertently sent back in time to the Tokyo 1964 games (The setting of which is presented in 2D), and getting back to the present is going to be way easier said than done.  In the meantime, our heroes and villains must venture around the retro venues and compete in old-school 2D events, and there are also 10 special minigames that you must unlock in this mode before you can play them elsewhere.

It shines like gold

Tokyo 2020 has a big list of events to play, and there are some new ones like skateboarding, surfing, sport climbing, and karate.  Whether you’re playing the 2020, 1964, or Dream Events, each minigame comes equipped with tight control schemes, and you can choose between motion controls and standard gamepad controls.  While the controls are fluid and responsive, you still might want to read the instructions for each event in case they seem a little complex at first.

For the first time in the series, online multiplayer is included.  However, I feel that it is, at the very least, half-baked.  The tournament format in events like table tennis and badminton is ditched (Thus making them feel way too short in length), and you are unable to play the 1964 events.  These aren’t dealbreakers, but they make me believe that the online in Tokyo 2020 just isn’t for me.  If inviting three friends over (And possibly ordering a bunch of Pepsi and Domino’s Pizza) is what I need to do in order to get the multiplayer experience I truly want from this game, so be it. But hey, maybe the developers will improve the online multiplayer in a future patch.

It’s the final countdown

It may knock a few hurdles to the ground, but this is a decent comeback for the Mario & Sonic series and a fine debut for it on the Switch.  If you can stomach the fact that this isn’t supposed to be in the same league as minigame compilations like the Mario Party series, this Tokyo 2020 installment is a great place for you to go on the hunt for gold medals.

Review of Luigi’s Mansion 3 — Welcome to the Hotel Luigi

After a six-year hiatus, Mario’s younger bro Luigi has once again busted out his trusty vacuum and flashlight in his first titular adventure for the Nintendo Switch.  Even though I missed out on Dark Moon, I got pretty psyched when I heard that Luigi’s Mansion 3 was going to be a thing.  And now that I’ve gotten my hands on it, I can say that Nintendo and Next Level Games have done an admirable job with the third chapter of this spin-off series.  With that preamble out of the way, let’s chat about all the cool stuff that Luigi’s latest Ghostbusters-like adventure brings to the table.

Hotel hijinks

The Mario Bros., Princess Peach, and a group of Toads have received invitations to a luxurious hotel called the Last Resort, so they hop in their bus and hit the road without thinking of what could possibly go wrong.  After everyone gets checked in and hits the sack, Luigi and his Polterpup sidekick wake up in the middle of the night to find that his friends and bother are nowhere to be found and the hotel seems a little haunted.  After an encounter with the hotel’s corrupt staff, as well as King Boo, it turns out that Luigi’s allies (Prof. E. Gadd included) have been imprisoned in paintings.  With the help of his ghost-sucking prowess, it’s up to the green-clad plumber to restore order to the hotel and rescue his pals.

It sucks and blows…Literally

Luigi’s Mansion 3 runs on the same engine as its 3DS predecessor, with some obligatory refinements.  The mission-based structure of Dark Moon has been given the boot, and has been replaced by checkpoints that autosave your progress.  Luigi’s Poltergust has been given some new moves like shooting plungers, knocking enemies back with a jet of air, and throwing ghosts onto the floor or into each other.  You can even play as Gooigi from the 3DS port of the original Luigi’s Mansion, and he’ll be a big help if you need to navigate tight spaces or walk across spiked floors (Just don’t fall into water).

If you want the option to have friends explore the haunted hotel with you, your wish is granted.  The campaign supports two-player co-op, and you also get a plate of eight-player modes that task you and your friends with capturing ghosts, firing cannonballs at targets, or catching as many coins as you can.  It’s evident that replay value was high on Nintendo’s priority list when this game was in development.

Who ya gonna call?

The Luigi’s Mansion spin-off series is not intended to be in the same league as the heavyweight platformers the Mario franchise is heavily lauded for, but that doesn’t mean it can’t produce fun games.  With its high replay value and truckload of charm, Luigi’s Mansion 3 is, without a doubt, another must-have for Nintendo’s hybrid console.  We might not get a fourth installment anytime soon, but there’s plenty of  ghost-sucking fun to be had here.

Review of Super Mario Maker 2 — Can we make it? Yes we can!

I know we’ve been saying this to absolute exhaustion, but I’m gonna say it again because it’s a good enough article to do so — The Wii U came as close as possible to ending Nintendo’s time as a first-party game company. Due to things like bad business decisions from Nintendo and a small amount of third-party support, the 2012 console didn’t exactly stand a chance against the PlayStation and Xbox consoles that came before and after it. Even the hilarious level-building game in Super Mario Maker couldn’t keep the Wii U alive for that much longer. But thankfully, the Nintendo Switch is doing a fantastic job correcting the Wii U’s mistakes and bringing along lots of ports and sequels. And after nearly four years, Super Mario Maker 2 has finally arrived, bringing with it a laundry list of new modes and tools.

Hassle in the Castle

Let’s get into the meat and potatoes, starting with the new story mode. Mario and a group of Toads and Toadettes have finished rebuilding Peach’s castle, which looks like it’s made of bricks (Correct me if I’m wrong). However, it quickly falls to pieces thanks to a dog stepping on the rocket that resets levels being worked on. How Mario can be talented in so many things but can’t get control of a dog, I have no idea. With no other alternative, it’s up to you and Mario to complete level after level (Jobs, in this case), save up your coins, and put the castle’s pieces back together.

If you build it, the plumber will come

The first Super Mario Maker was single-player only, but this sequel has a great dose of multiplayer action to enjoy, both individually and cooperatively. Four-player platforming is supported on one console, a LAN, or online. The only drawback is that you can’t set up lobbies for you and your friends, but Nintendo will add that in a future update. Even the beefed-up Course Maker mode has multiplayer, albeit for only two players. Despite that limitation, it’s tons of fun to team up with a friend and create some hilarious levels in an attempt to trigger both laughs and curse words from those who attempt to complete said courses.

When I say the Course Maker is beefed up, I’m not kidding. There are many new enemies, items, and props added to the toolbox, along with a new level theme based on Super Mario 3D World. I’m very pleased with these goodies from Nintendo, and I hope they add even more tools and themes in the future.

*insert DashieGames song here*

If you haven’t figured it out already, this is yet another title that proves Nintendo’s ambition to correct the mistakes they made with the Wii U. It certainly won’t be as revered as Odyssey, but Super Mario Maker 2 easily succeeds in providing a second-helping of fun level-editing combined with the Mario franchise’s platforming prowess.

Let’s Discuss the Super Mario Maker 2 Direct

Recently, the folks at Nintendo streamed a Direct solely about Super Mario Maker 2, which is scheduled for a 6/28/19 release. Its predecessor was released about four years ago on the ill-fated Wii U, so avid course-makers are expecting this sequel to have an absolute truckload of new features. And based on what the footage has displayed, we’re getting just that.

Either myself or one of my fellow writers will write a review of this game later down the road, so I’ll briefly tell you that we’ve got a new Super Mario 3D World level theme, a story mode, two-player level-creating, and four-player multiplayer. There will also be a handful of new tools, power-ups, and obstacles added to the proverbial canvas. I personally am very thankful for the addition of four-player gameplay as I feel that the hilarity would really be kicked up a notch with multiple people playing at once rather than just passing the controller around.

After watching all 17 minutes of this Nintendo Direct, I have complete confidence that Super Mario Maker 2 will be one of the Switch’s most prominent games of 2019, maybe even the Switch’s library as a whole. Even if you’re not the greatest at generating your own content, you might want to give this Switch sequel your attention. C’mon June 28, get here quickly!

Review of New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe — The Wii U clogs ’em, the Switch clears ’em

As we gamers know, Nintendo said they would do anything in their power to make up their losses caused by their Wii U console. Considering they only sold 13 million units and aimed to sell 100 million, you can’t really blame them to take on this kind of task with their latest console in the Switch. The hybrid-console has been getting ports of notable games from the Wii U, and one of them is this re-release of the New Super Mario Bros. game that served as a launch title to the Wii’s successor. New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe might be deemed to be a somewhat lazy port, but that kind of opinion doesn’t mean this game isn’t more of the same wonderful platforming that Nintendo’s flagship franchise is iconic for.

Pasta power

The basic synopsis is business as usual for the Mario series. Mario and company are enjoying a wonderful meal prepared by Princess Peach, and along comes Bowser the b-hole to crash the good time. Peach gets abducted and imprisoned, while our heroes get flung to World 1 by the Koopa King’s typical machinery. Using their well-known acrobatics and puzzle-solving abilities, our heroes must venture through a variety of worlds, give Bowser and company the business, and restore order to the Mushroom Kingdom. It’s another usage of the usual Mario storyline, but if it ain’t broke…Well, you know the rest.

To avoid making this article too long, I’ll go over the new gameplay additions and special inclusions in this deluxe edition rather than explain all the nuts and bolts of it. All the original items and worlds from this Wii U launch title are here and remain untouched, and there are plenty of articles about what the original version brings to the table. As a game reviewer, redundancy would be a sin on my behalf. Anyway, with that appetizer finished, we can now get to the main course. You and up to three friends can play as Mario, Luigi, Toad, and Nabbit just like in the game’s original 2012 version, but you can also now play as Toadette. The pig-tailed bipedal mushroom is a bit harder to play as than Nabbit, but she can obtain an item that nobody else can. The item in question is called the Super Crown, which can transform Toadette into a hybrid of herself and Peach. The appropriately-named Peachette form allows Toadette to perform a double-jump and even hover in the air just like the famous princess. Even without the powerful crown, Toadette herself can obtain 3-Up Moons if she manages to locate the correct item boxes. It should also be noted that the Toad Houses from the Wii U version have been given subtle tweaks too lengthy to explain here.

Along with the challenge mode, head-to-head hilarity, and Mii support, the New Super Luigi U expansion is playable right out of the gate. This adventure was originally DLC on the original Wii U version, and is basically an even harder version of the story mode. If you manage to complete this bonus mode without tearing your hair out, a winner is you.

Hooked on the brothers

On paper, New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe doesn’t change a truckload of things about the Wii U game it originates from. But if that doesn’t bother you (It certainly didn’t bother me), it’s another dosage of Mario platforming that gamers of all ages and skill levels can enjoy both at home and on the go. Thank you for reading this review, and until next time…Do the Mario!

Review of Super Mario Party — A shot in the arm for Nintendo’s groundbreaking party series

We’ve pretty much lost count of how many game series made mistakes that resulted in numerous fans asking for a return to the roots, and one of those series is Mario Party. As groundbreaking as it was when it got the party started in 1999 on the Nintendo 64, the series has had a number of design choices (Particularly the everybody-in-one-car structure of Mario Party 9 and 10) that left sour tastes in Nintendo fans’ mouths. But although the series’ future once seemed full of Poison Mushrooms (Especially after the Wii U’s low sales), Nintendo has now managed to find the Star in the Hidden Block with this Nintendo Switch reboot in Super Mario Party, another delightful party game with more minigames and multiplayer modes than you can shake a Dice Block at.

Party rock is on the Switch tonight

The main attraction in this series is the multi-turn Party Mode; So for those late to the party (Pun completely intended), the influential and groundbreaking formula works like this — You select characters from the usual crew, select the number of turns, pick a board to travel around, and compete in a number of minigames to earn as many stars and coins as possible. When it’s your turn, you hit a Dice Block that determines how many spaces you will move. As you move around, you can buy items, find hidden item blocks, and make some important choices; But your main task after rolling a Dice Block is to have enough coins to get a star, because the one with the most at the end of the party is the champion (Or Superstar, in this case) When you stop moving, the space you land on will give you coins, take some coins, start up a special minigame, or trigger some kind of event that will be either helpful or harmful to you. New this time around are character-specific Dice Blocks, and you can gain more than one of these by earning Allies that follow behind you and add spaces to your rolls.

Now that you’re up to speed on the blueprint, let’s go over the rest of the icing on this delicious Mario Party cake. The Partner Party is a modified 2-on-2 party, but it removes blue and red spaces and gives players more freedom of movement; Teams can even get 2-4 stars in one star space if they roll the right numbers. In River Survival, a team of four players must paddle their way to the finish line before the timer expires, with unique minigames along the way. Sound Stage is basically Mario Party meets your typical rhythm game; The minigames are mostly based on the timing of your motions. Toad’s Rec Room has several minigames that encourage you to play them with two screens by wirelessly connect two Switches. If you can unlock every minigame, you’ll gain access to the Challenge Road, which is a series of tasks within said minigames. And of course, you have the usual minigame battles and tournaments that allow you to play minigames one after another without the need to wander around the boards.

Party foul

This is the first Mario Party game to have online multiplayer, but it feels pretty barren; All you and three other players can do is choose which of ten minigames you would like to play, and that’s about it. What’s even more strange is that when you need AI players to fill the missing slots, you can’t even choose the characters to play against nor can you adjust their difficulty level. It’s definitely not what online Mario Party is fully capable of, but at least it does something.

Far from a pity party

Despite its shortcomings, all is not lost for the Mario Party series; Nintendo fans of all ages will have hours of fun exploring the boards, playing the numerous minigames, and delivering colorful language. And although it won’t completely erase the memories of its past mistakes, Super Mario Party is a long overdue return to roots that keeps the series as fun today as it’s been since its beginning in 1999.

Review of Super Mario Sunshine – Water you waiting for?

If you were to spend half of your time fixing leaky pipes and the other half stomping on giant spiked turtles, you would most likely develop a serious craving for a vacation.  Thankfully, you wouldn’t have a chance of living like that unless you’re from the Mushroom Kingdom.  If anybody in the gaming universe has earned a long-overdue R&R, it’s everyone’s favorite red-clad plumber — the one and only Mario.  Although this 2002 GameCube platformer has had a very polarizing place in Nintendo’s flagship franchise, Super Mario Sunshine is a spectacular game that sharpens every element of the Mario adventures before it.

Trouble in paradise

In this seventh release in the Super Mario series, Mario, Peach and the Toads head to a tropical island paradise known as Isle Delfino for a sun-drenched vacation, but they arrive to find out that a mysterious figure pretending to be the famous plumber has covered the island in graffiti-like goop.  So instead of catching rays and eating scrumptious seafood like he and his gang originally planned to do, Mario is given the task of cleaning up the entire island by any means necessary.  Luckily, he stumbles upon a special creation to help him clear his name — A backpack-like water-shooter named FLUDD.

So with that brief summary of the plot out of the way, let’s get into the gameplay itself.  Running, climbing, swimming, and crazy acrobatics return from Super Mario 64; However, Mario also has new moves up his sleeve, like jumping from one wall to another, diving and sliding across the floor, and leaping into the air while spinning at dizzying speeds.  FLUDD grants you the abilities to spray water at enemies, hover in the air, take off like a rocket ship, and run at super speeds.  The objectives in the game’s many missions are similar to those in the famous 1996 N64 classic, except instead of collecting Power Stars, every mission you complete grants you a Shine Sprite, which gives Isle Delfino their beloved sunshine. Whether you’re searching for red coins, rescuing villagers, or dealing with troublemakers, each mission not only tests your platforming ability, but also requires you to figure out how to use FLUDD correctly.  Those who need help with their jumps will be pleased to know that Yoshi also makes a return, and he now has the ability to shoot juice from his mouth provided you feed him fruit.

With pasta or pizza

Considering this is a Mario game, I honestly can’t find anything wrong with it, although certain missions and the overall length of the adventure may alienate casual players.  Whether you’re a longtime fan of the Mario franchise or you just love tropical locations, Super Mario Sunshine is a must-have for those who collect GameCube games.  Just try not to get all the back pain Mario has gotten; Wearing a device like FLUDD has to take a toll on your ribcage for sure.