The M stands for Mother, Apparently

This was originally published as part of a game roundup on 28 February 2011.

I was deeply conflicted about this Metroid: Other M. Fundamentally, the gameplay here was quite good and it played enough like the old 2D platform games to really keep me hooked. The real issue, though, was the new characterization of Samus. She went from the strong “silent protagonist” type to something else entirely. Others have written extensively about the themes of psychological abuse that can be read into the story (without trying very hard, either), so I won’t rehash them here. Unfortunately, it feels like this game really damaged the Metroid brand and that is something that can’t be forgiven.

Metroid: Other M: 0

What does “moe” mean?

Originally Posted 13 July 2010

Over the weekend, I played all the way through No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle. For a very long time, I considered the first No More Heroes game to be the best game available on the Wii console. It was and continues to be certainly the best Mature title for the device that I’d played.

No More Heroes was the story of Travis Touchdown–wrestling and anime otaku, probable NEET, and general loser–who won a lightsaber off of eBay and decided to become an assassin for the chicks. This set up alone was enough to sell the game to me. The first No More Heroes catalogs his ascension by murder to the top of the world-wide assassin’s organization–the United Assassins Association.

This game picks up three years after the first with Travis back to mostly being a poor, unemployed user. The difference now is that he is famous for his exploits of the first game and has been targetted by enemies that he made back during the first game. So, we end up climbing the ranks of the UAA again.

Gameplay wise, not much has changed. The game alternates between the assassination areas and the between mission upgrade/minigame section. In the assassination areas, Travis still wades through hordes of enemies with his beam saber before eventually arriving at his designated target. The assassination fights themselves are still the core of the gameplay and remain quite strong in this second iteration. The between mission areas have been altered somewhat in that Santa Destroy is no longer an open, explorable world.

The loss of the explorable world is not really that big of an issue. In the first game, the primary purpose of the explorable world was to obtain money with which to buy weapon upgrades. In this one, there are no weapon upgrades per se. Instead, each weapon offers a different style of combat. Additionally, only two weapons are available directly for sale and the time to get the money to buy both is rather small (assuming you get good at the minigames). Unfortunately, the game unlocks the second purchasable weapon–the Peony–very early in the game. This particular weapon makes the game far easier due to its huge damage and equally huge hit areas. In fact, it was so imbalancing, it gave me flashbacks of using Hymir’s Finger in Drakengard.

They have mixed things up a few things this time. A couple of the boss fights are different than the usual beam saber flair. Travis gets a motorcycle shoving match and a giant mecha fight, for instance. There are also a couple of levels in which you play as alternate characters with slightly different movesets.

Unfortunately, the things that I liked most about the first game were the interplay between characters, the bizarre and off the wall way the characters behave, and the plot which was full of random and mostly arbitrary plot twists complete with characters ignoring the fourth wall. Although there are still some good moments between the characters, there is still some craziness from the characters, and the characters still occasionally ignore the fourth wall, none of it seems as solid this time around.

Furthermore, it seems like the assassination targets themselves have less “life” than they had previously. Although a few of them are interesting and have colorful backstories, there just aren’t any that can live up to “Bad Girl” or “Holly Summers” from the first game.

So is the game worth it? Well, much like what I said in the Diabolic Box review, this is a game targeted at fans of the first. If you liked the first, you will at least enjoy this one, even if it isn’t quite as good as the previous. If you didn’t like the first one, there’s probably nothing here for you. In all honesty, I was disappointed with it given how amazing the first one was. My hope is that the inevitable No More Heroes 3 makes up for this one.

No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle: 0

I think “New” is a Misnomer

Originally Published 19 June 2010

Earlier this week, I beat the final boss of New Super Mario Bros. Wii. I didn’t actually end up beating all of the levels because I had skipped one world entirely due to finding the warp whistle equivalent.

Gameplay wise, NSBW is nearly identical to the NDS version of New Super Mario Bros. that came out a few years ago. The main new bits are a few new suits and the fact of it being on the Wii.

The platforming itself is relatively solid, though I think the wiimote makes a rather terrible controller for this sort of game. You really only have three actions available: jump, run/shoot, and spin. Unfortunately, they decided to bind spin to the “shake the controller” button. This means that precision spinning is mostly impossible.

The game gives a handful of new suits, but the main one of interest seems to be the “propeller helmet” suit. I say “main one of interest” because so many of the levels and challenges become trivial when using it. It seems like the “propeller helmet” is as important in this game as the “mini-mario” suit was in its predecessor given how often level designers chose to include things that are there specifically to appeal to it. Unfortunately, that means that some of the other new suits were heavily overshadowed. For instance, I never once got a penguin suit. I don’t even know what it does and I’ve finished the game.

From the perspective of someone who played it single player and who had actually played the NDS game to completion, I can’t say that there is much here. I would say that it might be worth it to the two or three people who haven’t yet played the NDS iteration. It might also be good for people who want to experience the multiplayer–something that I’ve not done. Mostly though, I just didn’t care at all. The game never engaged me to a level where I was either impressed with it or angered me to the point where I was beating it to beat it. Perhaps the best thing that I can say is that, when I stopped playing, it was because I reached a save point almost every time. I played it just long enough to get to the next checkpoint and then didn’t care enough to keep playing.

New Super Mario Bros. Wii: 0