Review by Kaiden

Reviewed: 05/31/05

Oh my... Am I really reviewing a Mario game?

Ok, let's start by pointing out one thing: this game is fun, whether you are or you aren't a Mario fan: the unique feeling this platform has will surely amuse you, and much, trust me. Not many platform have been able to entertain me like this one, and I'm definitely not a Mario fan. The fact is that the characters are dumb, but the game itself is absolutely great, and hey, it's not just for children. Having been remade from the basics of Super Mario 64 (which, I'll be honest, I haven't played), this game dug a place in players' hearts straightaway. Everything from the previous game is back: stars, levels, bosses, everything. This, I've figured it out just by reading other reviews. Ok, now let's get to my personal review. You may note I've changed a bit my way of reviewing, that's due to the fact that I've grown up.

I would like to start with the main concept of the game: you take control of no less than 4 characters (and no more, also) who obviously are: Yoshi, Mario, Luigi and Wario, on a struggle to get back princess Toadstool (or Peach, whoever). This could sound a bit repetitive, but hey, it's Mario. And of course, you've to beat down the evil Bowser to incinerated pieces. All of this while blissfully running in 3D levels, with wonderful and huge monsters trying to grip our tiny little character. Levels are colourful, a lot. As if this could not be enough, you're also supposed to gather an awful multitude of the most miscellaneous things, like coins, power flowers, more coins, nourishing mushrooms which can be either red or green, plumes... oh, you have to push buttons too, if you want to advance in the levels. That's it: your goal is to cross a lot of levels, gather stars in order to unlock bosses and superior stages, and finally set princess Toadstool free. If you're a keen fan of Mario, you'll smile by meeting again all your favourite characters and monsters too. There is also that bad guy on the little cloud that'll send you those red, thorny turtles...

Now, speaking of graphics: this is one of the earliest games for the DS, so don't expect an astonishing graphic impact. Sure, there's 3D, and the detail level is surely higher than Super Mario 64 (of course), and pixellations aren't
frequent either, and yes, the colours are numerous and bright... overall, the graphic level is high, but not so high by today's standards, also counting the graphics that the DS should have. Characters are very smooth, though, and monsters and bosses are too. There's some kind of special 3D-2D game: for example, the first boss of the game (that depends, however, on the order you choose) has a 2D black ball but 3D eyes and moustaches. Most objects and items are 3D, though. Using euphemisms, we could say that the programmers did a good job by mixing up 3D elements and 2D elements but to be earnest... I'd have liked a whole 3D world rather than 2D elements, but that's it.

Musics & Sounds... well, musics are childish, sounds effects are, too, but hey, they're incredibly funny! After all, I suppose you already know what kind of game Mario is... don't you? However, musics suit the environment very well even if sometimes they're repetitive. Let's point out that you're going to hear the classic effects you hear in a colourful platform game: booms, boings, bumps, et cetera.

Now, the part I wanted to discuss the most: how is the game itself: you control a determinate character (either Yoshi, Mario, Luigi or Wario): you're in Toadstool Castle and you've to free her from Bowser and his lackeys. Sounds easy? Well, actually... you know, you've to cross many levels and find as many stars as you can in order to advance in the game. How can you find stars? Simple. Complete the various missions you're given in the levels (8 missions per level). When you finish a mission, you'll get a star (well, actually it's the opposite), plus you've tons of secret stars located in the main Toadstool Castle, for an amount higher than 120 stars. Nice, isn't it? Missions are variegated, sometimes you just have to go through a path, others, you've to retrieve an item... there are many time attacks, too. You'll start the game with Yoshi alone (old fans will feel a bit out of their element, as Super Mario 64 was different: you were supposed tu use Mario from the beginning) and you've to retrieve all the other characters with him: each character has special and unique moves you'll need to use in order to finish all the special & unique missions; however, scattered in the levels, there are caps which will morph you in either Mario, Luigi or Wario, so you can finish a mission even without actually having the right character. Just be warned, as if a monster hits you, you'll lose the cap and return to your original form.

Energy is kinda weird... you've a counter, divided in segments, and it'll decrease every time the enemy hits you... but you can restore it with coins! Yes, each coin acts as a segment... not to mention that you can obviously collect coins (some of them are worth 2 or even 5 digits, and they'll even recover 2 or 5 segments) in order to get 1ups. Oh, just to mention, you will never risk to use up all your lives, as they're really numerous. Uhm, sometimes you'll deplete more than 1 segment, for example when you fall from high distances.

And sometimes you'll need to collect stars in order to open doors (usually behind those doors there are bosses or new areas): levels (stages) are sometimes very well hidden and I personally spent hours before being able to find the sand stage... but most of the time you'll be able to glide gently through the whole game. The game, in fact, is very easy. Bosses require you to perform some easy attacks but once you learn how to do that, they'll be defeated in no time. Levels are usually linear and easy to complete, but you may run into tortuous patterns and trust me, you'll spend much time trying to find the path.

I think this covers the main aspects of the game. This is clearly not meant to be THE platform game with the great storyline, the great characters, the great soundtrack (rely on Devil May Cry or Jak & Daxter for that), but it might just present you with hours of funny gameplay and lots of guffaws, as there's also a small semblance of humour. As for myself, I can say that the Italian translation is very well made... and that's odd, for a Nintendo game. So, in order to sum everything up, if you're a Mario fan, just buy this game as it's well worth for the DS (until now, at least)... if you like deep platforms... I think you should give it a try nonetheless. And if you like a little & amusing pastime, buy it at once, since it's been able to amuse also a non-Mario fan like me! If you don't like colourful platform games and prefer dark games... I'd say... try it, I think you may be able to like it!

Rating:   4.0 - Great

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