Hey! Back again! I said I would be getting back to blogging much faster than before, AND THIS TIME I MEANT IT!
So, earlier this year Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars was free on Club Nintendo. Well, free if you had the points to redeem for Super Mario RPG, which I did. I had wanted to play it for years, and it had been the only Mario RPG game that I had not played (not counting the soon to be released Mario & Luigi: Dream Team, which I will not play because I don't own a 3DS). And surprise surprise, I enjoyed it quite a bit.
But of the Mario RPG games that I have played, I would probably rank it somewhere between Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time (which is not particularly good) and Paper Mario (which is pretty good). Of course, my perspective on the game is entirely different from most of the people who played the game, as I played it AFTER all the other Mario RPGs, as opposed to the people who played it when it was newly released on the SNES all those years ago.
Don't get me wrong, it's still a great game that I think is worth playing, it's just that the other Mario RPGs since then are better games. But that doesn't change the fact that Super Mario RPG was trying to do some new and interesting things with the RPG genre back in the day (so far as I know, at least, I don't have an all encompassing knowledge of SNES era RPGs).
The biggest differentiator, and the aspect that I think the newer games have improved upon the most, is the combat. If you've ever played a Mario RPG, then you know that button presses mid combat (which is turn based) to boost attack on enemies or lessen damage to your characters is common place. And, as you might expect from the way I've structured this blog and this paragraph, Super Mario RPG did it first. But it's also nowhere near to the extent of something like the Mario & Luigi games, where some special attacks require multiple presses of different buttons, and every enemy attack can either be countered or dodged, making it possible to play without ever taking any damage (though you would have to play PERFECTLY).
Even though that aspect of the combat is simpler than the newer releases, it still made the combat fun and enjoyable, though overall I thought it was a little on the easy side. Except for the final boss, which took me a couple tries to beat. I do vaguely remember reading something once about a super secret boss fight in the game that is optional and really hard, but I never found that, and I am clearly too lazy to go look that up myself.
Being a Mario RPG, the story is mostly light-hearted and goofy, which is good. It's definitely not as funny as something like Bowser's Inside Story or The Thousand Year Door, but there are definitely plenty of laughs to be had in the game. The ones I found funniest were surrounding the character Booster (and his rad music) and a joke where party member Mallow references Bruce Lee, which almost drove me insane trying to figure out how characters in the Mario universe can know about Bruce Lee. I'll just consider that one an instance of great 90s JRPG translations. There were also some good gags involving fake Power Rangers as well.
As you can tell by that aforementioned rad music (if you're listening to it), the music in the game is pretty good. But the weird thing, and bear with me here, is that, well, this is another thing that really only applies to me, and maybe a few other people. I played this game after watching quite a bit of the Video Game Championship Wrestling, or VGCW for short. And I knew the character Geno was from Super Mario RPG, but I didn't know that so much of the VGCW's music was from this game. This resulted in a lot of instances of me hearing music in the game, recognizing it from VGCW, and then feeling weird about how the music was making me think of VGCW, instead of watching VGCW and having the music make me think of Super Mario RPG, which was probably the intended effect. Oh well!
Overall I really liked Super Mario RPG, and if you want a not super difficult SNES era JRPG to play that isn't super long (like 15-20 hours if you take your time), this one is highly recommended. Maybe play the Virtual Console version like I did, so you don't have to try to find an old cart, and then have the save battery die halfway into the game.
So far as I know, this is the only time that Luigi appears in the game, which was my biggest disappointment. This is during the credits, I should say. Spoilers.
I should say at this point that I do not have a clear recollection of the order in which I played games this summer, so do not take what I blog about in this, or any future blogs, as a representation of the order in which I played games this summer. Because clearly having that distinction is important, and what you, dear readers, were thinking about. I also don't have THAT MUCH stuff to talk about for all the games I've played thus far, so I might try to rapid fire my way through a few of them here.
Call of Juarez: Gunslinger
This game is really cool. Ever since the first Call of Juarez, I had been interested in the Call of Juarez games because of my love of westerns. Well, not really westerns so much as spaghetti westerns, by which I really mean the Man with No Name Trilogy, but I like other westerns as well. But I had never actually gone so far as to play any of the Juarez games because they didn't seem like they were good enough (based on reviews) to pay the full $60 for. Thus, they ended up being categorized under, "I might buy this if I see it cheap enough in store," which almost always results in my never playing the game in question.
And then Call of Juarez: The Cartel came out, which was so bad (again, based on what I heard/read/saw in the Quick Look) that it practically killed any interest I had in the Juarez games. Also, it wasn't a western.
But then Gunslinger came out, and was rad, so I bought it and played it. Then I New Game Plus'd it, and that game was still rad through a second playthrough. There's not really much else to say though. Nice style, great voice acting, and fun gun play. But nothing really outstanding or worth noting here. Definitely recommended if an action packed and low priced first person shooter is what you are looking for.
I've felt bad about not playing Bulletstorm since it was released back in...2011? Yup, 2011. I had played the demo, really liked it, I had seen GB's coverage of it, including that ridiculous mailbag video they did where Jeff rooted around through a package of meat for a USB drive and spent bullet casings, and I was really excited to play that game. But then I decided to wait for it to go on sale, and... I didn't play it until it was on sale for $5 on Xbox Live earlier this summer.
And given the fact that I beat the game in about the span of one morning, I'd say $5 was a good price. I mean, it was tons of fun, and clearly a lot of craft and care went into making this insane game, but it was pretty short. Either that or my memory is wrong and I'm forgetting a large chunk of my playing it.
Regardless, I had a lot of fun playing the game, and now I feel bad for People Can Fly, because they were forced to make that Gears of War game after Bulletstorm didn't sell well enough. Well, I didn't play Gears of War: Judgment, so I shouldn't really pass, er, opinions on it, but I wish People Can Fly had done something else instead. But that's what I get for trying to save money instead of supporting nonsense in video games.
And that's why I will be buying Divekick on Day One, and will attempt to buy Saints Row IV (assuming it isn't completely broken on PS3 or something) as soon as I can. But I'll have to go to a store to get that one (or order off Amazon), so I can't guarantee that I can do that Day One.
Speaking of Amazon dot com, and things that are dumb, why don't you check out my electronic and self published book on Amazon? It's only a dollar! I would say the name here, but in retrospect, it's a really bad title that I wish I had not gone with, so you can click the link to find out. If you've already bought it, then thanks, and sorry that you read through this paragraph for no reason!
Nothing to report on my second novel. I probably shouldn't say this, but I think October-ish is a good guess for when it might be ready for releasing. I really need to get back to harassing my friends into reading it through and checking for plot holes. Though, I guess if they haven't, then that might not be the best sign about the book's quality, but forget you ever read this sentence! It'll be great!
I think that's a long enough blog for now. I'll try to write something up about other games that I've been playing (maybe with more thematic consistency) in the near future (like next week-ish).
But before I go, here's a more Luigi-fied image from Super Mario RPG.
Eh, I had made this as a GIF with transparency, not with ugly white borders around it, so here's a bonus Luigi picture that I didn't just make haphazardly at the last possible second:
Year of Luigi!