Super Mario World (Super Nintendo)

July 2, 2012 by · 4 Comments 

*96 Autumn on Yoshi's Island

Despite the fact that this site has lain dormant for a good year and a half, I feel compelled to share my thoughts today.  Just a few nights ago, I was reading about someone’s experience with replacing batteries in old game cartridges.  That made me feel a little bit paranoid about my own games, so I decided to take out a couple and check to make sure they were still holding my saves.  One of the games I decided to check was Super Mario World, since it’s one of my older battery-backed games.  Thankfully, I found that it was in perfect working order and still had my saves from when I beat the game back in the early nineties.

But this post isn’t about rediscovering old saved games.  As fun as that can be, the topic has been covered.  Instead, this post is about how absolutely wonderful of a game Super Mario World is.

When I went to test the cartridge and discovered it was still holding my saves, I thought to myself… “You know, it’s been a really long time.  I think I’ll play a few levels.”  Then “a few levels” turned into “a few more levels.”  Before I knew it, I was on a mission.  I was going to complete the whole game.  As a kid, I beat it, but I used the Star Road to almost entirely skip the last couple of worlds.  In fact, my winning save shows only 53 of 96 goals completed.  There was so much more to see!

As I made my way through the first world, and then the second, and then the third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh, all along I kept thinking to myself how amazing the whole experience was.  The game is charming, it’s challenging, it’s beautiful, it’s bold, it’s expansive, it’s enigmatic, it’s satisfying, it’s… well… special.

I enjoyed this game when I was younger.  I have fond memories of friends coming over after school to play it.  I remember the final Bowser fight and how excited we were to beat him.  I remember the sense of discovery every time we found a secret exit.  I remember finding the brutally difficult Special levels and gleefully taking turns, playing them over and over and over to see who could finish them.  But for some reason, on this playthrough (some 18 years later), something clicked.

It’s like I was playing the game again for the first time.  I was noticing details that I never noticed before.  I was finding secrets that I never found before.  I was playing levels that I never played before.  I was noticing the beautiful use of color, the clever level design, and a sense of depth and attention to detail that I never noticed before.  At the risk of sounding cliche, I think I was discovering the true artistry of the game for the first time.

And that is why I still play old games.

Final Thoughts: Super Mario World is now one of my favorite games of all time.  It deserves not just a Retro Star Award, but an extra big one…

Retro Star Award

YouTube Pick (via SNESguide.com):

YouTube Preview Image Read more

Metroid (NES)

February 2, 2009 by · 2 Comments 

Metroid - Title ScreenMetroid - The BeginningMetroid - Exploring Zebes

In the hardcore gaming world, there are several series that have been elevated to almost sainthood status.  Series like Zelda, Metroid, and Final Fantasy have fervent fan bases and traditions dating back to the NES.  More recently, Resident Evil, Metal Gear Solid, and (maybe) Halo have started to build the same kinds of traditions.  For me, all of these series have one thing in common.  I’ve never beaten a single game in any of them.

Well, until today, that is… For I have finally done the unthinkable and played through a Metroid game from start to finish!  Back in 2007, I assigned myself a mini-mission of playing through Super Metroid because it’s supposedly one of the greatest games ever, and I hadn’t even played it before.  Well, that didn’t really go very well.  Quite frankly, I found the game extremely frustrating.

So what on Earth compelled me to play the original NES Metroid after not enjoying the SNES version?  After all, even many people that love Super Metroid find the original obscure and tedious.  Well, I didn’t really set out to play it.  I’ve been on an NES collecting kick lately, and Metroid came in a bundle that I got off of Craigslist.  I decided to pop it in and give it a shot, and I was hooked right from the start.

Read more

Space Squash (Virtual Boy)

March 16, 2008 by · 2 Comments 

Space Squash - Title ScreenSpace Squash - GameplaySpace Squash - Map Screen

It’s a lot of fun when this happens.  I’ve wanted Space Squash for the Virtual Boy for something like 10 years now — since a little after I got the VB.  I never really bit the bullet because it’s an import-only game and was always kind of expensive.  Then I packed up the system for several years and never really touched it.  Well, I got it out a couple weekends ago, dusted it off, and started playing again.  Naturally, that made me want to buy more games for the system (such is the plight of the classic game collector).  Then, when some fairly reasonably priced new copies of Space Squash showed up on eBay (as they seem to be doing regularly now), I decided it was time.  But would it live up to 10 years worth of anticipation?  Surprisingly, yes!  And maybe more!

Read more

Ninja Spirit (TurboGrafx-16)

July 25, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

Ninja Spirit - Title ScreenNinja Spirit - First SpiritNinja Spirit - First Boss

As your footsteps fall silently upon the floorboards of the ruined temple at which you were born and raised, you barely have time to contemplate the untimely and unjust death of your father and the vengeance which you have sworn to obtain.  With swiftness and deftness that can only come with a lifetime of training, you dispatch foe after foe with ease.  But they are relentless.  Bombs, knives, and swords fly at you as your enemies swarm about, seemingly appearing from thin air.  Where are they coming from?  Why do they want you dead?  Why did they kill your father?  There’s no time to ask questions.  There’s no time to think, only to react.

Your sword slices through your attackers and shields you from their bombs and knives, but it is becoming more and more difficult to handle each wave of aggression on your own.  You defeat an unusual ninja in bright orange, and as if on cue, an apparition appears.  But this apparition does not attack.  Instead, you discover that it mimics your every move.  You gracefully jump hundreds of feet into the air and drift softly to the ground.  It follows you every inch of the way, without a hint of effort.  You look closer, and on the face of this apparition, you see yourself.  You see your anger, your hatred, your determination.  This apparition is your spirit.  It is invulnerable and has every drop of strength and skill that you have.  It will protect you.

Read more

Marble Madness (NES)

June 16, 2007 by · 2 Comments 

Marble Madness - Title ScreenMarble Madness - PracticeMarble Madness - Beginner

It seems there have been a plethora of marble-based maze games in the last several years.  I think the recent trend started with Super Monkey Ball and was soon followed by Mercury, Marble Blast, Kororinpa: Marble Mania, and others.  Well, they’re all rip-offs.  Every last one of ’em!  Marble Madness is The One True Thing and will always be the game that the others are compared to.  And for good reason, really:  it rocks.

Read more