Five minutes of Super Mario Galaxy

Eh? What’s that? There was a massive trade event last week called E3? Never heard of it. However, I just came across an excellent looking video of the upcoming flagship Mario title for the Wii, Mario Galaxy.

Although I saw a number of videos of Mario Galaxy during the aforementioned event, they all had really bad sound quality, and most only showed short parts of the demo. This doesn’t show it all, such as the massive Shadow of the Colossus-esque boss with the epic music, but it does demonstrate for a full five minutes.

So, check it out if you want five minutes of Mario Galaxy with pretty distinguishable sound, with the exception of the odd bit of banter in the background — not sure how they managed to get E3 so quiet! It really does look very nice, and the theme (planetoids in space) does have potential to be fantastic if done right, especially if some larger ones are featured. Some in the demo have blue atmospheres, you’ll notice.

It’s actually really refreshing to see how traditional this game looks. Although the Wiimote will no doubt open up some weird and wonderful tricks, if you pay attention you’ll notice that the level design is classic Mario 64 in parts, that a lot of the enemies are from the oldies, and even the stars have made a return instead of the shine sprites from Mario Sunshine. The moves also seem to be fairly traditional, instead of being based around a gizmo as in Mario Sunshine.

All in all, I’m very excited about this game.

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Five minutes of New Super Mario Bros

What do you get when you stitch together IGN’s five New Super Mario Bros videos and then upload them to YouTube? Five minutes of New Super Mario Bros footage, of course! Although you might want to give it a miss if you wish to experience the game’s various scenery for the first time when you play it, it’s certainly a must-see for Mario enthusiasts.

This game refuses to ever stop looking awesome. It’s already gotten 9.5/10 from IGN, with a sub-score of 10/10 for gameplay; this could very well be the finest 2D Mario experience to date. If you want your face to be immediately dazzled off onto the ground, watch the video.

What surprises me is how smooth it all looks. Although in screenshot form the 2D/3D graphical mix looks a bit odd, in motion is looks truly smooth and the animation is beautiful. I can’t even begin to imagine how sweet it’ll look on my bright DS Lite screen once it hits the stores.

But seriously, this video is almost orgasmic to watch. The references to the past games are constant, ranging from subtleties such as the inclusion of the underground theme’s variation that was heard in Super Mario 64 but never again (as far as I’m aware) to the odd Yoshi’s Island sound effect. Hell, even the end of the course has those castles and flags from the original Super Mario Bros. They may as well just rename this Nostalgia Trip.

Not to say that it will all be mish-mashing of past Mario games, though. The general flow of the gameplay seems to be very unique, albeit clearly based upon the best of the oldies, and there is plenty of new material; if you were worried about having seen it all before, this video will probably change your mind — just wait until you see shell Mario!

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New Super Mario Bros content overload

Since my last blogging about New Super Mario Bros, quite a lot of new information has appeared. Edge Magazine seems to be doing monthly articles on the game at the moment, and so are many others. The most predominant addition as of late, however, is the new video on the official website.

Check it out — it’s on the left. Inside you will see that New Super Mario Bros will in fact include a lot of moves introduced in Mario 64, including wall rebounds, that flippy jump thing, and even arse stomps. They all seem to work surprisingly well in 2D; it’s surprisingly how well they translate over, as if Nintendo intended for them to eventually become so back when designing the N64’s 3D pioneer.

Also of note is this page full of scans, heartily stolen from Nintendo Power. There’s a whopping five pages of New Super Mario Bros coverage, it’s nicely presented, and it also contains quite a lot of hard information — definitely something to check out if you’re as enthused as I am about the upcoming potential classic.

I only have one thing to say: bring it on.

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GobLog Review of Bone: The Great Cow Race

If you were born before 1995, the chances are that you experienced at least a few adventure games while growing up; you’ll also probably recall how enjoyable a number of them were, with their memorable characters, worlds and storylines. Monkey Island, Grim Fandango, Broken Sword — you know what I mean.

Although the genre is largely a stale pile of rubbish that attempts to be overly serious nowadays, Telltale Games (which is also developing the upcoming Sam & Max Episodes) is attempting to keep the genre alive in the form of its “Bone”? series, based upon the comics of the same name. This is the second episode in what is to be a long stream of them, and it a traditional point ‘n’ click adventure game in every sense of the term. It’s not particularly knee-slappingly funny, but it doesn’t take itself very seriously either — something that really kills a lot of more recent adventure games for me, especially when every other genre out there does the whole seriousness thing so well.

Now, when the first episode came out last year, I was fairly disappointed: the lack of a massive budget certainly showed, and a lot of it looked flakey at best; in addition, the actual gameplay seemed very uninspired during the demo, with an almost infamous hornet chase sequence being the most notable example of inadequacy. The second episode is now upon us, and Telltale have evidently kept true to their word in listening to community feedback and amending issues; although I’ve only played the demo (which comes with a very fair amount of gameplay), it is definitely an improvement. Not brilliant, but an improvement.

The visuals are generally a lot more realised: the world feels more vibrant, there seem to be more polygons lavished upon the environment, and there are no lame sprites being used which stand out like sore thumbs as there were in the first episode. The gameplay also has a bit more of that classic feel to it, and I enjoyed having a good look around the world — which has plenty of interactive elements now, by the way — and listening to the main character’s reactions. The puzzle aspect is alright too, although there wasn’t that much of it in the demo.

Moving onto the sound: very good! The soundtrack (download for free) has some nice melodies to it, and it is well produced; the voice acting is also very stellar for the most part, although the girl that the main character seems intent on boning sounds like a preteen — that just doesn’t sit right with me. Despite the quality music, however, it’s used a little strangely at times: when you change scenes, the loop begins all over again, even if it’s the same piece of music. There is also one part where you go into a quiet area, and the same music is used but with a dodgy filter thrown over it which just seems completely pointless; I think I’d have preferred it if it were just quietened down.

Although the interface is very well thought out, and the 3D is smoothly blended with the point ‘n’ click, getting around the world is a bit cumbersome at times. At one point, I found myself having to go back and forth from one end to the other during a certain honey puzzle; this might be fine if you already know what to do, but having to put up with the main character’s slow movement speed while experimenting and working the puzzle out for yourself is downright irritating.

Because the camera follows you around in a fixed way, it’s not possible to just throw your mouse over to the other side of the scene and double-click on the exit to get there instantly as you could in older point ‘n’ click titles, meaning that you have to manually trapse across each screen, clicking on the ground to continue as the camera gradually reveals more and more. The whole game also generally moves a little slowly at times: in one particular area, you have to climb up a tree; when you do so, you’re treated to a short climbing animation. Now, this is great at first, but when you’re climbing up for the sixth time it starts to once again venture into irritation territory. Conversation bubbles could also vanish a little more quickly when you decide to skip them, such as when dialogue is caused to repeat by clicking on an object multiple times and you don’t want to hear it again.

Criticism aside, it is a very charming game, and I’m fairly certain that I’ll purchase the full version at some point once I’ve finished with the other games on my plate; at £7.50 for the entire episode (which clocks in at between four and five hours of gameplay, allegedly), I’d be daft not to. I highly recommend getting the demo and just giving it a try, as it really is a big improvement on the original. You can also catch up with the storyline very quickly thanks to a bunch of notes on the main menu about all of the characters, so don’t worry about being too confused despite having not played the original episode. I picked it up very quickly, anyway.

If you want to try out the 101mb demo, which can be upgraded to the full version without any extra downloading, point your clicker here. If you want to watch the trailer first, although there’s only so much excitement that can be put into a trailer for a slow paced adventure game, go here instead. For a catch-up video of the first Bone episode, this is what you want. Remember to make your thoughts on it known so that Telltale can work on ironing out flaws for the inevitable successor, which should be beginning production before long — if not already! I personally am looking forward to it, considering the progress that’s been made between the first two episodes. It can only get better, right?

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New New Super Mario Bros video released

Apparently there’s some “Game Developers Conference” nonsense going on right now. Probably just a bunch of indie developers in somebody’s basement talking about why they’re not receiving the love!

But, one thing that seems to have come out of this conference is a fantastic new video of New Super Mario Bros, which is quite clearly going to be the best game in history. Click your face here to download it from 1UP.

It’s shakycam, so the sound is a little drowned out by the audience, but the video quality is excellent — it lasts for a whole three minutes, too. Did I mention that it looks bloody gorgeous?

I haven’t even got a DS yet, but seeing the likes of this, Super Princess Peach (which looks a lot like Yoshi’s Island) and the upcoming Zelda is more than enough to convince me that I need to purchase the DS Lite once it hits these white shores.

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Beyond Good and Evil 2 in production?

According to Joystiq, which is in turn referencing Cubed3, a sequel to Beyond Good and Evil is in the works.

Due for release in 2007 on all next-generation consoles, it will undoubtly continue directly where the original left off if this turns out to be true. As those who played it know, Beyond Good and Evil falls into the “one of the best games in history” category, alongside the likes of Grim Fandango, Monkey Island and various other classics.

Sadly, like many excellent games in recent years (such as Psychonauts), it failed to sell particularly well, thus calling off all immediate plans for the planned trilogy to continue — kind of like Advent Rising, except that was supposed to be a bit poo. Still, the creator has always said he’d be interested in doing a sequel, so maybe his work in delivering King Kong to the masses earned him this chance.

If you haven’t played Beyond Good and Evil yet, I’m going to say one thing: go out and do so or you will be missing out to a degree that I simply cannot put into words — seriously. Drop all preconceptions, and just go play it. I cannot stress this enough. It even still looks pretty, especially on the more powerful pair of machines.

Anyway, considering that the Revolution will also be with us before long, it looks like 2007 is going to be a very pleasant year for gaming. I’m not sure what PC titles are on the distant horizon, although I’m sure we can expect S.T.A.L.K.E.R. to end up slipping into there.

Update: Now at the end of 2007, it’s become pretty clear that this was just a false rumour. Hopefully nobody got too excited, and I guess we’ll just have to continue hoping that the trilogy one day gets its chance. I’m not holding much hope though, admittedly.

Update #2: Or perhaps not! See my new May 2008 post regarding Beyond Good and Evil 2.

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New 2D Worms game coming to handhelds

Worms Warfare Okay, this isn’t exactly new news or anything: It’s common knowledge that a 2D Worms game is being developed for the Sony PSP and the Nintendo DS, and that it won’t be a straight port. But, Jesus; I’ve just watched three short gameplay videos, and my mouth is open.

Worms basically speaks for itself as the best multiplayer game in history, so I won’t bore you with details on that. Instead, just grab the videos and behold a 2006 spin on 2D Worms:

At first I was a little put off by the Worms 3D worms basically being turned 2D, but then I have been looking at the old cutesy ones since around 1999; it’s definitely time for a bit of a change, and they’re still pretty ace. What really stands out, however, are the weapons, explosions and maps — just look at them!

I don’t like the PSP so I’ll never be buying this, but it fills me with joy to see Team 17 returning to their roots and also seemingly doing it rather well. The gameplay basically looks the same as in Worms Armageddon, although the weapon selection did look a little small, and they evidently held back on using anything particularly fancy for this demonstration.

Unfortunately, the DS version looks kind of poo alongside the spectacular, smooth visuals of the PSP version, and it has no multiplayer — I really hope that a PC version ultimately makes it out despite a port of this particular game being officially denied. Let me know if the video links collapse and I’ll mirror them.

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