Super Mario Run Review

Super Mario Run Review

Mar 27, 2017

We’ve been waiting for it, and it is now here: Nintendo’s Super Mario Run is now on Google Play.

If you have seen any part of the iOS port, the game should feel quite familiar. It is a brightly colored affair, with an overall look that is very Mario in nature. The main gameplay manifests in 2D and is presented in portrait.

When it’s all said and done, this is a damsel in distress story. Familiar Nintendo characters hold sway here… Bowser, the King of the Koopa is up to his usual nefarious ways. This time — as in time past — Peaches is his target. Mario takes on the role of enthusiastic, running hero.smr3

And run he does. The game opens with a hands on tutorial that explains the basic playing mechanism: our hero runs forward perpetually without any input from the player, and also jumps over small obstacles all by himself.

Soon, a bit more user interaction is required though, and this is where tapping the screen comes in. This invokes a jump, which is great for jumping over gaps or reaching things suspended in the air. Holding the tap makes a higher jump.

It’s leveled, and the partial goal is to make it from the beginning to the end in the allotted time. That means to avoid the obstacles and enemies successfully; secondarily to that, there are plenty of coins to pick up (including specially colored ones).

The game also has alternative play options; Toad Rally is a great way to mimic PvP action.

Alas, as you probably heard, the game is limited. It has a few levels available, after which you’ll need to drop $9.99 to unlock the full game. Not back-breaking, but in the mobile space, some folks might balk.

There is a good deal of activity available though, and the source material definitely gives this one a bit of mindshare.

Super Heavy Sword Review

Super Heavy Sword Review

Aug 8, 2014

Super Heavy Sword is a classically styled platformer, which aren’t all that common on the Playstore. Monster Robot Studios have freely admitted that the game is a homage to the astonishingly successful Mario games. Indeed the game feels like a mix of Mario 64 and the original Super Mario Bros. With the big N’s reluctance to bring the overalled plumber to Android, can Super Heavy Sword full the gap?

Screenshot_2014-08-04-09-30-46Super Heavy Sword opens with a scene of Pike, the Hero and Lucinda the princess. A bunch of enemies roll in and amazingly don’t kidnap Lucinda but rather begin destroying to land,. Now it’s down to a lone warrior and his girlfriend to stab them all and restore peace.

Super Heavy Sword is a pretty traditional platformer, literally Mario with a sword. Rather than jumping on turtle backs and throwing fireballs the player uses a sword to chop up goblins and monsters. collecting powerups can make this sword longer and yes, heavier for better enemy slicing. There are gaps to leap over, coins to collect and enemies to kill or avoid. Some direction is added by the medallion system. To proceed to later levels and ultimately finish the game, a series of medallions must be collected.

Screenshot_2014-08-06-09-03-00Just like Mario 64’s Stars, medallions are gained from completing various tasks. Selecting different medallions from the pre-level screen changes the actual level layout however, something that never happened in Mario 64. For example, the medallion for grabbing 7 blue coins adds coins and blocks that were not in the level for earlier medallions. This is a good feature and gives levels plenty of replay value. It makes the game more engaging that basic running and jumping. Between levels there also mini levels, like boss fights (based on the Hammer Brothers) and coin collecting competitions.

Super Heavy Sword is a little rough around the edges however. The game has a rather low framerate and the animation is very basic, particularly for enemies. A major annoyance is that the game restarts whenever it is minimized or the device enters sleep mode which is aggravating since levels are at least a few minutes long and often longer and having to restart if the device times out or a call is received can be frustrating.

The game looks nice though with warm looking pixel graphics with plenty of personalty. It certainly emulates Mario closely, right down to the pre-level screen showing the medallions to be collected and. The sound is also very similar to Mario. Pike even yahoos when he is selected and much of the music and fanfares are very familiar to gamers.

Super Heavy Sword gets challenging fast and it is always an enjoyable game so platformer fans are likely to stick with it for a long time.

Super Heavy Sword is fun stuff and has really cute graphics. It is a nice change from cutesy non swordy platformers and anyone who misses having Mario on their mobile phone should pick it up.

KickStarter Spotlight: Another Castle

KickStarter Spotlight: Another Castle

Mar 6, 2013

Platformers may be one of the oldest and simplest forms of video games; so it makes sense that they are the most widely auditioned game type on KickStarter. Even more common are the pixel art varieties because of their ease of production and popular appearance. What we have here for today’s KickStarter Spotlight is something that does not deviate too far from the formula, and yet still manages to impress. The project’s name is Another Castle, and the Mario references and similarities do not end there. The overarching plot of the game involves an intrepid, accidental explorer in a quest for some randomly chosen artifact; be it his girlfriend or a flaming sword. The game is very self-aware and makes it part of the story that it blatantly sends the player from castle to castle because, of course, the item is always “in another castle”.

The most intereting part about this game is that the final product will feature levels that are generated entirely by random. This is very intriguing because it eliminates that tiring grind when starting a level over and over again as the terrain and length are constantly changing. The overworld, or overarching map, is also randomly-generated; ensuring that no two games play the same. Included in this game are a myriad of power-ups, defensive items, weapons, and special attacks. These sometimes approach absurd territory which is definitely a good thing because having the ability to launch a giant great white shark at an opponent is an idea that should never be turned down. Like everything else, these are randomly strewn about over the map in chests.

There is an playable demo on the game’s website and after a few play throughs I can definitely say that it is more different than I initially thought. Each weapon has a special touch to it and there are not too many games that could be mistaken for Another Castle. I enjoyed the pixel art and the subtle 3D effect was incredibly well done. As of right now the game is obviously in a very rough, initial stage but what I was able to play was very impressive. All that is left in the game are more level locations and a few player movement tweaks, but I was really impressed by the high level of quality this game possessed. My sole complaint is that I felt a far majority of the traps or obstacles in the game centered around a circular hazard and that did become repetitive after a while.

Putting all that aside, however, this game; still in its infancy, is terrific. I highly recommend giving it a play, and, of course, a generous donation. With plenty development coming in the future I see good things ahead for Another Castle.

KickStarter Spotlight: Super Retro Squad

KickStarter Spotlight: Super Retro Squad

Jun 27, 2012

KickStarter is a great avenue for developers to take their free small time online game into the next level and turn it into a fully fledged, premium product. Prime example of this is the developer studio Exploding Rabbit from Sacramento whose popular online game Super Mario Bros. Crossover was at a standstill and was essentially stuck as a side project because of the use of classic Nintendo characters. But with funding from the lovely interwebs this brilliant collection of programmers can take their idea to the next level and create a game like Super Retro Squad.

For those unfamiliar with Super Mario Bros. Crossover it takes the classic Super Mario Bros. levels that everyone is familiar with and introduces other classic Nintendo characters such as Link, Samus, Mega Man, Bill Rizer from Contra, and of course, Mario and Luigi. Each character comes complete with most of their abilities from their respective games and come in multiple “skins” spanning their long run in 2-D gaming. Super Retro Squad is a homage to the retro games of yore, and contains over 40 levels across 8 worlds. The gameplay is classic platforming and will be playable, like SMB Crossover, as 8 different characters, who each have their own world.

It isn’t as if Exploding Rabbit has completely forgotten about the Nintendo universe as the characters in the game all bear a suspicious similarity to those trademarked Nintendo stalwarts. Think of Super Retro Squad as more of a trip into a Nintendo Bizarro World that contains German mining brothers, Mecha Boy, a female Samurai, and a Samus and Tony Stark love child.

Response has been incredibly positive for this project and it is already fully funded with 23 days to go. This means all the extra funding goes toward ‘stretch goals’ that include Time Attack, Leader Boards, and Achievements for double funding, multiple languages for triple, and if the funding is quadrupled, which seems fully reasonable, a 9th character, EVE VII, will be added to the game, bringing with it extra levels in another world. So take the time to head over to KickStarter and help this game achieve its full potential.