I had every intention of not buying any more games this year, quaking with both anticipation and fear of the upcoming onslaught of Must-Buy titles in the New Year (Bayonetta and No More Heroes: Desperate Struggle in January, No More Heroes: Heroes Paradise in February, and a whole heap I’ve temporarily forgotten about in the same way that Brütal Legend and Halo 3: ODST slipped my mind a few months back).
So when previews of New Super Mario Brothers Wii showed a huge multiplayer focus, and with rumours of it being dumbed down with the stupefying “Super Guide” playthrough mechanism, I figured it’d be pretty easy to skip over. To just forget about it. Sure, I’d probably buy it for my nephew at Christmas, but I could get away with not owning it myself.
And then the reviews started popping into my RSS reader. “Like two completely different games in single and multi,” they said. “A return to the hardcore,” spouted others. “Don’t be deceived – behind the cute graphics is a fiendishly difficult game,” said the straw that broke the camel’s back.
So I bought it. And it’s… nice. Fun. But not brilliant.
Surprisingly, I love – really love – the purported “dumbing down” of the game. There’s a stack of hint movies that can be unlocked in exchange for your Big Coins, with each movie being a run-through performed by some gaming ninja. Seriously – some of the “Super Skills” movies are amazing, putting every other speed run you’ve ever seen to shame. Other hint movies include sample 1 Up leeching runs, and some mighty helpful Big Coin guides. And the Super Guide – the big green action item that appears onscreen when you die more than eight times in a level, allowing you to trigger a run-through of the level by Luigi – is magic; in stark contrast to the sharp skills of the hint movies, the Super Guide movies are much more sedate and cautious, almost timid.
I’m finding NSMBWii to be exactly the right level of frustrating – it all looks doable onscreen, I can grok what’s required of me, and then it just requires a bit of coordination to get the actions lined up for the win. For the Big Coin. And blimey, some of those big coins are tough. Still, I’m halfway through both Worlds 3 & 5, having cleansed out World 1 (and leaving only a few coins behind in World 2). But, as I said, it’s not brilliant… yet.
The only other gaming of this week was Luxor 2 – up to Level 13-4 of Easy, and it’s feeling nigh-on impossible. That’s not brilliant at all. It’s a chore, really. Penance.
…oh, Just Cause 2. That’s another one for the New Year.
The one downer of the whole week – besides succumbing to a frankly embarrassingly minor assault to my willpower – was that NSMBWii had the good grace to update my Wii firmware, nixing my USB Loader hack. Bugger – back to the optical disc thing, then. Hopefully I can still get my region-free hacks to work, lest Madworld may be going even further off the backburner.