2012 – New Super Mario Bros. U

New Super Mario Bros. U

nsmbu

Developer(s) Nintendo EAD Group No. 4
Publisher(s) Nintendo
Director(s) Masataka Takemoto
Producer(s) Takashi Tezuka, Hiroyuki Kimura
Designer(s) Shigeyuki Asuke, Daiki Iwamoto, Ryutaro Kanno
Artist(s) Masanobu Sato
Composer(s) Shiho Fujii, Mahito Yokota
Series Super Mario
Platform(s) Wii U
Release date(s) November 30, 2012
Genre(s) Platform
Mode(s) Single-player, multiplayer
Distribution Wii U Optical Disc, Nintendo eShop

Liam:   So here we have it. 29 hours down and we can get stuck into the last game on the list. By this point I imagine our bodies (especially our thumbs) will be tired and weary and we will be craving natural sunlight and non-sugarcoated foods. Fittingly we end with a game that is not only part of the biggest video game franchise of all time, but also has played a massive part in our lives as gamers.

The thirty years we have covered, encompass the whole span of the Mario lifecycle so far with Mario Bros. the arcade game being released in 1983. Mario did appear in Nintendo’s ‘Donkey Kong’ a few years before as a character nicknamed ‘Jump Man’ but he did not receive his own name until 83. Since then the Mario franchise has spawned over 200 games, several TV shows, a raft of merchandise and a terrible terrible film. (Seriously the film is awful, if you want to watch a video game film go watch Street Fighter with Jean Claude Van Damme, Kylie Minogue and Raul Julia – that’s how it should be done)

NSMBU is a 2d side scrolling platformer. Similar in vein to the Mario Bros. games of old that we both grew up with. The series has received a lick of paint and a HD upgrade for the Wii U – Nintendo’s newest console. In the story, Bowser and the Koopa Troop invade the mushroom kingdom (again) and take Princess Peach hostage (again). It is then up Mario and Luigi, with the help of yellow and blue toadstools, to rescue Princess Peach and bring tranquillity back to the world by eating super powered mushrooms, smashing bricks with their faces and jumping on turtles. I imagine most people are familiar with the concept of a Mario game and this one does not disappoint. Despite the Wii U being less powerful than the next generation consoles due to be released this year it manages fine with the colourful Mario bros game. In fact Mario has never looked so good.

The Wii U allows up to 5 players to play simultaneously. Four players control characters using wiimotes, with 1 player using the Wii U gamepad to block off enemies and lay blocks for the players to jump against. It’s a nice mechanic that allows the whole family to enjoy the game together – a core part of Nintendo’s recent approach to gaming.

In fact it’s worth mentioning that we are borrowing the Wii U from my daughter Paige who has kindly allowed us to use it for the event. By this point in the challenge she will be there along with her brother and sister and my partner to cheer us over the finishing line, and possibly to administer fruit and vegetables.

Joel:  This is it… The final writeup. If I could get Europe’s smash hit out of my head I might be able to write something insightful, but right now, all that’s bouncing round inside my melon is “do-do-do-doooooooooo, do-do-do-do-doooooo, the final write-up!” So anyway, here it is. New Super Mario Bros. U is a great example of the Mario franchise, as well as demonstrating how difficult it is becoming to name new Mario games, presumably because of the number of previous releases in the franchise. This is about the 20th (platform) game in the series, 19th according to Wikipedia, but I can think of at least one release they have not included in their timeline and that doesn’t include non-platformers, such as Mario Kart and the various puzzle games. I have to admit, I’m a huge fan of Mario and consider myself a bit of a buff on the subject. There’s even a vicious rumour that I may have a Mario tattoo somewhere, but that’s a story for another day.

I reckon if you went outside and grabbed the next 50 people who passed and showed them a picture of the red-capped plumber, 48 of them would know who it was. Maybe even 49. He has become a legend in his own (virtual) lifetime and Nintendo’s major cash cow, having a release of some kind on every major platform Nintendo have pushed out in the last 30 years. My first Mario game was Super Mario Land on the (Fat, original) Game Boy, though I had played all the other major previous releases (Mario 1, 2, 3) at friends’ houses. I tell you, I played and played and played that damn game until I completed it – no mean feat for an 8 year-old! I do still have a Game Boy, sadly it’s not an original, but a bright yellow “Game Boy Pocket” and I do still have that Mario game. I was actually playing it a couple of nights ago.

This is one of the games I’m most looking forward to playing as I am yet to use a Wii U and I’m dead keen to see what this latest iteration has in store for our old friend Mario and his slightly under-appreciated chums. You can apparently have up to five players on this, with four on standard controllers and the fifth on the whizzo tablet-controller-thing that comes with the Wii U. That guy apparently is able to place blocks in the playfield and interact with enemies, but not have control of his own character. Some kind of ben/mal-evolent God type role from the sounds of it. I can see me dropping blocks over pits whilst my “friends” try to jump over them, making them fall to their doom. Yes, this is going to be fun for sure.

So, not only is this the last writeup, but, as such, this will be the last game in the marathon and the end of this rollercoaster few months preparing (not that we are ready yet – the game are about the only thing that are actually sorted!!) I don’t imagine that I’m going to be quite myself by the time we’ve finished this thing, but I do honestly think a part of me will be sad that it’s over. When I first signed up for this, I thought it was going to be an absolute nightmare and it times it has been, with the worst yet to come, but still, it’s been great. I don’t think I’ve put so much time, money and effort into anything (aside from child-rearing) for a very long time and I don’t regret a single bit of it.

 

Yet.

 

 

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1995 – Worms

Worms

 worms
Developer(s) Team17
Publisher(s) Ocean Software
Designer(s) Andy Davidson
Series Worms
Platform(s) Amiga, CD32, Game Boy, Mega Drive, Jaguar, Mac, PC(DOS), PlayStation, Saturn, SNES
Release date(s) Amiga, CD32, Game Boy & Mac EU 1995

Mega Drive EU June 1, 1995

PC (DOS) NA October 31, 1995 (Retail) EU 1995 NA October 19, 2011 (Steam)
PlayStation NA 1995 EU December 1995 JP February 28, 1997
SNES EU September 29, 1996

Saturn NA 1997 EU 1997 JP March 14, 1997
Jaguar NA 1998

Genre(s) Artillery, Strategy
Mode(s) Single player, Multiplayer

 

Joel:  There are few things more satisfying than sniping your opponent from the furthest reaches of the map using a shotgun of all things. Maybe an airstrike to a fully occupied bridge… Tough call.

I got my first “proper” PC in late ’96 thanks largely to my late Nan and one of the first games to go onto it was Worms (Liam’s copy, I might add.) I was already pretty decent at it, having whiled away many a hot summer’s day at Liam’s, ninja roping about the place and sending off exploding sheep left and right…

If you haven’t played Worms you would be quite justified in wondering what I’m on about, but then if you haven’t played Worms, in one form or another, I would be surprised to find you reading this. But just in case you haven’t and you are, let me briefly explain the concepts.

You start out with a team of four worms and a completely customisable arsenal of weapons ranging from grenades and shotguns to exploding sheep and banana bombs. Upto 4 teams of four worms will compete on a randomly generated environment which includes water hazards, bridges, edge boundaries and fully destructible terrain. Play commences and you basically blow the bejesus out of each other until there remains only one team. Usually only one worm in fact. You can take a variety of approaches – there are available a selection of tools which allow you to hole up in the terrain – jackhammers, blow torches, girders – or you can go for the far more fun all-out assault style, carpet-bombing the entire map with exploding bananas. An effectively infinite selection of environments are available, with differing physics and random placement of worms making this a game you can come back to time and time again.

This one could go either way. Really. If you tally up every game of worms we’ve ever played, I should think Liam would probably have the edge but not by a lot. I’m going to enjoy this game immensely. By the time this comes up, we are going to be getting into the 12th hour of the marathon, I can’t imagine this is going to be pretty – I suspect brute force and ignorance is going to be the most prevalent tactic, which leans this towards Liam. To quote a popular TV series of the era “Place Bets NOW!”

Liam: Like many of the games on this list – this game is better on the PC. No question. The premise of the game is you have a team of four invertebrates with chirpy voices who wage war against other 4 worm teams in a winner takes all deathmatch. The weapons on offer range from the (relatively) mundane like Uzis, Grenades and Bazookas to the ridiculously sublime like exploding sheep and banana bombs, and in later versions concrete donkeys, exploding grannies and the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch.

Many of the most effective weapons are explosive, with the best way to kill a worm being to either catapult them out of the bounds of the game or, by potentially destroying the landscape, knock them into the water at the bottom of every map. Strewn across the map are landmines which explode on proximity to a worm, which can lead to a generally incontrollable domino effect from your initial shot with the danger of destroying your own team. When throwing around inaccurate shots to try and luck yourself into a kill – friendly fire is a major concern.

A downside of the game is through the use of various defensive tools such as digging tunnels through the landscape or erecting steel girders to block incoming shots, you can barricade yourself away from harm. This defensive approach leaves you protected from enemy shots but can drag the game out into a dull stalemate where no worm is able to fire on another. In Joel’s defence he doesn’t tend to play like this – but I guarantee if either of us starts losing heavily and turtling becomes the best tactic we would both employ this approach without any second thought. I will go out on a limb and say I have the advantage here – not because I am a better player – but because I know that Joel will be spending all his time lining up the perfect shotgun kill while I rain havoc on his team.

We are going to offer the ability to ‘adopt a worm’. That means for a small donation you get to name one of the 8 worms we will be using, we will keep you updated on his welfare and statistics and you will receive an ‘I adopted a worm for the 30in30Marathon’poster you can proudly display to your friends and colleagues!