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The Ten: Updated Wednesdays-Fridays-Sundays

Thursday, September 6, 2012

"Not So Fresh" Dual Reviews: Shantae- Risky's Revenge and New Super Mario Bros. 2

Okay, I have to review both of these at the same time, because dammit... New Super Mario Bros. 2 cannot be reviewed on its own. There's just not enough to that game to WARRANT its own review and I feel like reviewing it next to a DSiWare game is pretty apt, considering it felt like JUST THAT.

Looks familiar.
I was going to try to give this a positive review and be different from other people- and the thing is, this game isn't BAD. There's just no reason this game couldn't have been an eShop exclusive with a reduced price. It's short. It's uninspired, even at its best points. Graphically, it doesn't do anything new, but it is pretty and does a lot at a very stable frame rate. The music is what you'd expect from a NSMB game but with MORE bops. There's several levels with genuinely good design and interesting concepts, and there's a minimal amount of concept repetition (the bane of my existence with Super Mario 3D Land), but some other levels are based off of ridiculous concepts like Koopa shell throws. I mean, REALLY? One of the most basic Mario ideas deserves a whole level?

The difficulty of the game can be decent at times, but it's beaten to death by the insane amount of lives you collect without even trying- because despite coin rush actually being a mildly interesting competitive aspect to the franchise, within the confines of the game it serves no purpose. There are so few levels that utilize the coin collecting mechanics and powerups that they seem tacked on for the sake of the coin rush mechanic... oh, wait.

At least the first and second New Super Mario Bros. games seemed like they had a through-line plot, which I could kind of appreciate, but this game just starts off with the Koopalings stealing Peach, and that's kinda it. You only face five of them in your first playthrough, and then Bowser's jut kinda there at the end. Where's Bowser Junior? Probably having fun in Paper Mario: Sticker Star.

Overall, this game just feels like it could have been an extremely high quality eShop title, even with its streetpassing capabilities. I mean, isn't that what the eShop should be about? Games that have these 3DS features (NOT JUST 3D) built into them that aren't full titles? Because honestly, New Super Mario Bros. 2 does not feel like a full title. It feels like a level pack- a well-done level pack with an interesting streetpass-based multiplayer portion, but a level-pack even so. And it's sort of insulting that Nintendo has this full-priced, but hey, I still bought it.

The only positive this game has is that it is a digital-download game, and can be accessed even if you have another 3DS or DS game in the system. Which is cool, I guess. It's nice to always have that available, but if physical copies are your thing and you would want to refund this game (which I kind of do), it's not the best option. I'm going to be much choosier with my digital downloads in the future and read reviews, because this one was not worth it. If you like Mario and you want to see some cool level designs, I'd only recommend renting this one. Anything else is kinda a waste of time. Oh, you might want to get it when its heavily discounted, but you know how Mario is.

Smallest title picture ever.
Now, onto something less fresh, but arguably better. Shantae- Risky's Revenge is the sequel to the Gameboy Color title Shantae, which was made by Wayforward, one of my personal favorite developers. Now, I've been on a Wayforward kick as of late, what with Mighty Switch Force and A Boy and His Blob. I'm thinking of picking up Aliens Infestation very soon, but that's beside the point. Shantae- Risky's Revenge is a absolutely wonderful game that has a number of interesting lite-adventure elements, a quirky sense of humor, atmospheric and fun music, and lovely graphics. The story may feel a bit unfamiliar, but the characters interact well with one another and keep the story moving in a brisk manner. The goals are often a little nonsensical and require some exploration to grasp fully, but that's not a bad thing- the game encourages that sort of fooling around, figuring out secrets on your own- and while it may seem a little short, it buffs its playtime with maps that are large and intricate level design. The locales feature lovely music that fits with the semi-arabian theme, and the heavy populous of enemies keeps you on your toes, especially with the limited save areas. There's a cash system for buying health and magic potions, as well as rare items, which can make the game much easier. If you're looking to blow through the game very easily, get the spike ball- it does wonders. However, challenging yourself to use the other abilities and relying more on pure skill will make the game the most rewarding- but it can be pretty tough at times.

Shantae- Risky's Revenge uses this "jumping" mechanic to make its world map multi-tiered, and it works very well. I almost wish it had a 3DS revision to add an effect to the game because I think it could benefit from it. But aside from that, it's just a wonderfully put together title that has a lot of content and a hearty story with some twists and turns. The gameplay is never monotonous, even if it's very much based on traditional platforming and adventuring design. The transformation mechanic injects some varied travel into the world and dungeon design, though the late-game addition of the last transformation is kind of a downer because it could have been utilized more- but the rail shooting portion is pretty awesome.

See, isn't it awesome when you're hearing someone talk about a game and they go, "yeah, you can transform and there's a rail shooter and it's got these awesome adventure elements and story and music"? That's what a game should be like. You should get games because they have unique elements and do new things and have compelling character designs and stories, not because they're a blatant rehash of a game that came out a while ago. And that... is all I have to say about that.

Final Verdict: New Super Mario Bros. 2 may feature some neat level designs and a surprisingly polished Streetpass Competition, it is not strong enough in concept or execution to justify its retail price. There's plenty of originality here, but not enough to make the game stand out as anything more than... well, NSMB2. Shantae: Risky's Revenge may not live up to the lofty expectations set forth by the original title, but it makes up for it with a unique, multi-tiered environment, solid gameplay, and wonderful visuals and story. It is well-worth it's price, especially if you're hungering for some adventure platforming.

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