Saturday, June 26, 2010

A Comprehensive Look Back at the Super Mario Bros. Series

In light of the recent release of Super Mario Galaxy 2, the latest game featuring everyone's favorite Italian plumber, I will be going back and playing/re-playing every single game in the Super Mario Bros. franchise in reverse chronological order. Upon completion of this relatively daunting task, I will be writing a comprehensive article in which I will be ranking Mario's adventures from best to worst. The games that are going to be included are:

- Super Mario Galaxy 2 [Wii]
- New Super Mario Bros. Wii [Wii]
- Super Mario Galaxy [Wii]
- New Super Mario Bros. [NDS]
- Super Mario Sunshine [GCN]
- Super Mario 64 [N64]
- Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins [GB]
- Super Mario World [SNES]
- Super Mario Land [GB]
- Super Mario Bros. 3 [NES]
- Super Mario Bros. 2 (USA) [NES]
- Super Mario Bros. 2 (JPN) a.k.a. "The Lost Levels" [NES]
- Super Mario Bros. [NES]

The reviews for each game will consist of only a short paragraph or two, seeing as anyone who reads the article will, presumably, have their fair share of experience with the overall-clad plumber. I will due my best to cast any feelings of nostalgia to the side throughout this entire process in order to stay true to the TTG philosophy, which is to look at all of these games by today's standards, no matter how long ago they were released. Stay tuned for some early impressions of each of these games as I complete them (the games will be crossed off as I go along), as well as a Cave Story (WiiWare) review from me and a Goof Troop (SNES) review from Randy.

- Kevin

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Final Fight 2 (SNES) Review

Back in August of 1993, Capcom—possibly the most consistent developer/publisher of the 8 and 16-bit generations—released Final Fight 2. If you've ever played the original, or any other beat 'em up from this era for that matter, you'll have a great idea of what to expect here. While it does manage to make a few minor improvements (most notably the addition of co-operative play) over its predecessor, the second installment in this series still leaves a lot to be desired.

This is your standard beat 'em up affair, minus any extra bells and whistles that you'll find in some of the genres heaviest hitters (Streets of Rage 2, Turtles in Time, Double Dragon, etc.). As per usual, you are presented with a selection of three different characters (Haggar, Maki, and Carlos) with varying levels of speed and strength. The control scheme could have been executed on the NES, utilizing only two of the controller's face buttons (one for jumping and one for attacking). When the two are pushed simultaneously, you will unleash a special attack that can clear out a number of enemies in one fell swoop. However, whenever damage is inflicted with this maneuver, your character will endure a minor health deduction as well, so you won't be able to use it too often. While there isn't necessarily anything wrong with this basic formula, the absence of any real innovation brings the game's cookie-cutter qualities to the forefront.

The action moves along relatively slowly for the entirety of the game, giving you plenty of time to soak up the game's lackluster soundtrack. While the visuals are certainly on par with other beat 'em ups of the period, the soundtrack fails to draw even minor comparisons to the brilliant compositions in Streets of Rage 2—a game that was released not only before Final Fight 2, but also on an inferior console, as far as audio is concerned. The sound effects are exactly what you would expect, consisting primarily of your typical smashes, thuds, and grunts. Neither the graphics or the soundtrack are intolerable, but knowing what the SNES is/was capable of, it's hard to be truly satisfied with what this game has to offer.

There are certainly games out there that are far worse than Final Fight 2, and if you consider yourself to be a beat 'em enthusiast, it's fairly safe to say that this would be a nice addition to your collection. However, if you are merely a casual fan of the genre, I would suggest that you look elsewhere. The games only real saving grace is the fact that there are only six levels, deviating from the standard eight that most beat 'em ups consist of. Because of its slightly shorter length, the game is over before you begin to wish you would've picked out something else to play through—something that, in my humble opinion, plagues a majority of games in the genre. All things considered, if you're able to track down a copy of this game for a reasonable price ($10 or less) and are a fan of the genre, there's no real reason not to own it.

Overall Score: 5.3/10 (If you're a fan of beat 'em ups, this game is certainly worth a play through. However, if you're looking for a game that defines the genre, it would be advised that you let this one pass you by.)

- Kevin