On one of the recent "Games of the Year" Bombcasts, Jeff Gerstmann said that Mark of the Ninja feels like a game that in an alternate universe came out in 1993 on a SNES cart. Having not played Mark of the Ninja at that time, it got me more interested in that game than I had previously. Thankfully it was on steam sale, which I quickly snagged. Having just started Waking Mars, I decided to put Mark of the Ninja on hold. But what Jeff said continued to resonate with me while playing Waking Mars, in many ways for a completely opposite reason that Mark of the Ninja did for Brad Shoemaker.
To start off saying something positive before saying something negative, Waking Mars is a non-linear open world adventure game with a farming mechanic set in a mars cave that was for me evocative of a Stanisław Lem novel. Lem being the polish author of the highly coveted Solaris but I'm specifically referring to Eden. On top of creating a really weird world, they clash it with really fun sound track, that fits the player movement in each segment and funnier voice acting that was bad in the right ways. Specifically your A.I. buddy having the same voice of claptrap, and it's bad, but the game knows it's bad and jokes about it which was genuinely funny. I'm giving this small game a lot of praise, so let me turn the corner. It controls bad, on controller it's fine but on PC with mouse and keyboard it's bad and iPad it's abysmal so if you're going to play it I would say get the PC version and plug in a controller. On top of it not controlling quite the way you would like it, the animations just looks rough.
After I completed Waking Mars I put in Mark of the Ninja and it's the complete opposite. The animations and controls are incredibly tight. That said a lot of the other parts of the game aren't as memorable. Whether it's the music, the world you're doing your dirt in but that doesn't matter because it controls so well and the animation is impeccable. Shank looked great while it was animating, but this is the best looking Klei game I've played to date. Games from the 'SNES era' that were good for the most part had a very solitary focus due to their scope. Both Waking Mars and Mark of the Ninja feel to me like games from that era in that they set out to do one or two things well, and they do those things great. Going forward as the line between retail and downloadable games fade, and we embrace this pantsless games via download future it's funny how much the future looks like the past.