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Nelson Schneider's Video Game Reviews (453)

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Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin 3.5/5
Mighty Switch Force! Co... 2.5/5
Aegis of Earth: Protono... 3/5
Torchlight III 2.5/5
Cyberpunk 2077 3.5/5
Mario + Rabbids: Sparks... 4.5/5
Eiyuden Chronicle: Risi... 3/5
Psychonauts 2 4.5/5
Castle in the Clouds DX 4/5
Ocean's Heart 4/5
Just Die Already 2/5
Sable 2.5/5
Midnight Castle Succubus 4.5/5
Tower and Sword of Succ... 4/5
Thronebreaker: The Witc... 3/5
Battletoads (2020) 1.5/5
Door Kickers: Action Sq... 4.5/5
Biomutant 4/5
Dragon Quest Builders 2 4.5/5
Journey to the Savage P... 4.5/5
Wasteland 3 4.5/5
Daemon X Machina 3.5/5
Earthlock 2.5/5
Override: Mech City Bra... 3/5
SolSeraph 3/5

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Super Mario Bros. X   PC 

Indie Teaches, Nintendo Fails to Learn    5/5 stars

“Super Mario Bros. X” (“SMBX”) was the first major project by Indie developer, Andrew ‘Redigit’ Spinks, who later went on to form the Indie game company, Re-Logic, and release his first commercial game, “Terraria.” Of course, thanks to the overbearing copyright, patent, and trademark laws we currently must live with worldwide, Nintendo flexed their might and kicked “SMBX” off the Internet, seized Redigits domain for the game, and otherwise acted in every way like a Big Evil Corporation. Redigit learned not to mess with anything that might bring down the wrath of such an undying entity upon his head and created an entirely original game. What did Nintendo learn? Nothing.

“SMBX” reuses 8-bit and 16-bit graphical assets from every classic ‘Mario’ game, as well as a few assets from “Metroid” and “Zelda 2: The Adventure of Link,” topped-off with a handful of custom sprites to represent things that Nintendo never imagined in their most fevered dreams (like Princess Peach wearing a Hammer Bro. Suit). These classic assets look just as good as when they were originally created and can produce really interesting results when they are all mashed together. In “SMBX,” it is not uncommon to find goombas and shyguys in the same stage, or a classic style goomba (that gets squashed when stomped) and a “Super Mario World” style goomba (that flips over onto its back when stomped) walking around within a few inches of each other. I also found it quite delightful to see one random 8-bit warp pipe standing out amidst a row of 16-bit pipes… just for the hell of it. By re-using ALL of the old graphical assets, “SMBX” answers the theoretical question of, “Why does the Mushroom Kingdom look different in each of the games?” by saying, “It doesn’t look different, each game just focuses on a different area.”

Soundwise, “SMBX” reuses everything old as well, with a soundtrack ranging all the way from “Super Mario Bros.” to “New Super Mario Bros.” There is a slight problem with the looping of most tracks, however, that allows them to fade out after a while before restarting. The sound effects are likewise reused, unfortunately allowing the ‘eat a mushroom to get Super’ sound to suffer from the odd garbling that it does on any SNES emulator, and omitting the iconic ‘tail-wagging’ sound that should accompany the Raccoon Leaf and Tanuki Suit.

Minor sound issues aside, “SMBX’s” main presentational flaw is that it is a very resource-intensive game for something make mostly of SNES sprites. When I tried to run it on my laptop, it was too jerky to really want to put much time into it. On my dedicated Steambox gaming PC (with a Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM, and nVidia 560GTX-Ti 2GB video card), the game still suffers from screen tearing (of course, so do console games, like “LittleBigPlanet”). It makes me wonder what kind of supercomputer is required to play the game with the buttery smoothness one would expect from a 16-bit ‘Mario’ game.

Official ‘Mario’ games always have throw-away excuse plots instead of actual stories. This is neither good nor bad, it’s just a fact of the matter with the series. “SMBX” doesn’t shake things up by adding a horrid fanfiction storyline, but instead presents a novel premise not covered by any official ‘Mario’ games yet: The barriers between the Nintendo dimensions are wearing thin, allowing villains from various other game worlds to join forces with Bowser in a big to conquer the Mushroom Kingdom.

Of course, this excuse plot is just the story for the default scenario included with the game, called “The Invasion 2” (which should really be called “The Invasion v.2.0” as it is not a sequel, but a remake of the game’s oldest default scenario). In addition to “The Invasion 2,” Redigit and his crew released four other scenarios (which I have not played yet) as add-ons.

Of course, thanks to an included level editor, it’s possible for gamers and Mario fans to create an infinite number of custom scenarios and stages. It doesn’t matter that Nintendo wants this game to go away: It’s on the Internet… it will NEVER go away.

“SMBX” incorporates all of the classic ‘Mario’ sidescroller mechanics from “Super Mario Bros.” through “Super Mario World.” Jumping on enemies, grabbing shells, pulling up vegetables, tossing things straight up (a feature that STILL has not been added back to the ‘New Super Mario’ series), riding shyguys: It’s all there. There are also a handful of new carry-able objects that appear in certain stages to add entirely new (and kind of SHMUP-like) gameplay, such as a plant that turns into a Hammer Bro. when pulled and can be carried through the stage, throwing a hail of hammers the entire time.

And the player isn’t just limited to Mario and Luigi as playable characters, but Princess Peach, Toad (the original Toad), and – oddly enough – Link, each with their own special abilities. Mario is the gold standard, Luigi jumps higher but has slipperier shoes, Peach can hover for a few seconds after a jump, Toad can perform a snazzy double-jump if his hearts are full, and Link wields his traditional sword and receives different sword beams from power-ups instead of the normal effects. While Mario and Luigi can both carry one additional power-up with them in a box at the top of the screen (like in “Super Mario World”), the other characters instead have “Super Mario Bros. 2” style hearts and can only carry the power-up they are currently wearing.

The power-ups included in “SMBX” are some of the most beloved in the history of the official ‘Mario’ series, including Fire and Ice Flowers, the Hammer Bro. Suit, Tanuki Suit, Raccoon Leaf, Kuriboh’s Shoe, and Yoshi. And, unlike the official ‘Mario’ games, all of these awesome abilities are reasonably easy to acquire thanks to a plethora of infinitely-reusable Toad Houses that dot the world map.

The world map itself is identical in style (but not layout, as that is fully customizable) to the map in “Super Mario World” with a hint of “Super Mario Bros. 3.” There are warp pipes, Star Roads, Toad Houses, castles, airships, fortresses, ghost houses… the whole shebang. Stages with multiple exits are (except in the cases of fortresses and the like) also conveniently marked with a red dot instead of a yellow dot to make hunting for the total of 100 stage exits in the default scenario a much smoother process. “SMBX” also does away with the tired mechanic of the stage timer, allowing the player infinite time to explore each stage in search of secrets.

Finally, “SMBX” features a couple of interesting multi-player modes. The main game can be played as a simultaneous splitscreen affair with two players. What’s revolutionary is that the splitscreen is dynamic, allowing the players to share the whole screen when they are near each other or to explore different portions of a stage in splitscreen, automatically splitting and recombining as needed. “SMBX” also features a Battle Mode that I didn’t get a chance to play with much, but closely resembles another unauthorized ‘Mario’ Indie game, “Super Mario War,” in which the characters attempt to kill each other a certain number of times with power-ups or stage obstacles (essentially, what “Super Smash Bros.” would have been if it had premiered on the SNES instead of the N64).

“Super Mario Bros. X” is THE definitive ‘Mario’ game and the best game in that franchise that I have ever played (and I have played almost all of them). The combination of classic graphics and sound with all-inclusive ‘Mario’ gameplay and infinitely expandable stages makes this game ‘Mario’ nirvana. It’s too bad Nintendo didn’t hire Redigit to replace Miyamoto or to at least work on stage and gameplay mechanic design, but instead chose to strong-arm him and attempt to wipe his amazing game from existence. As long as this game exists (which will be forever), Nintendo will have to start putting more effort into their new ‘Mario’ games, as the gameplay corners cut in the ‘New Super Mario’ series can’t easily be smoothed over with shinier, polygonal graphics. Anyone who thinks they love Mario NEEDS to download this completely FREE game and its completely FREE add-ons. Aside from the high system requirements, this is as good as it gets.

Presentation: 4.5/5
Story: N/A
Gameplay: 5/5
Overall (not an average): 5/5



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