This week, Zero Punctuation reviews Super Mario 3D World.
I've given Nintendo shit like it's a coprophiliac strawberry patch getting all its Christmases at once, but honestly, in the console generation equivalent of a set of hairy genitals, the Wii U is the cock as opposed to the balls. Because it is the games console that seems content to largely remain a games console, as opposed to a subpar gaming PC, multimedia platform and livestreaming device Human-Centipeded together in a hollowed-out VCR. I just wish they'd stop phoning it in!
I feel sorry for the history students of the future, who'll need to learn the difference between Super Mario Land, Super Mario World, Super Mario 3D Land and Super Mario 3D World. "Well, the easiest way to remember that is that 3D Land was called that because it was on the 3DS." "Oh, so 3D World was too, then?" "No, that was on the Wii U." "Oh, I thought that was New Super Mario Bros. U." "No, there were two on the Wii U! One was a four-player co-op platformer and the other-...hold on I need to look this up."
And the box art is particularly lazy, because they forgot to put the sodding background in and just left the transparency layer. That was one for my Photoshop-using homies. Peace.
Once again, a new Mario game is just randomly-selected features from previous Mario games Human-Centipeded together - yes I am trying to turn Human Centipede into a verb! We have the four playable characters with slightly different movement styles from Mario 2: Mario, Luigi, Peach and the one you play if you showed up late and nobody likes you. Peach getting off her loathsome, sweaty arse for once screws up Bowser's entire kidnapping schedule, so instead he swiftly ad-libs the kidnap of eight magical fairies and puts them in bottles. Oh, I see, it's OK when Link does it!
This is all established in a cutscene with no dialogue, 'cause I guess everyone was just sick of the translators' shit, and if you ask me, Mario is triple-jumping to conclusions. He's known Bowser a hell of a lot longer than these fairies he's decided he's gonna rescue; we have no reason to believe Bowser hasn't done his civic duty, and arrested the notorious Mushroom Kingdom Eight, wanted on multiple counts of robbery, wand assault and being maliciously twee. Well, it's not like it matters; it's not like Mario needs much of an excuse to jump through eight worlds and curb-check his go-karting buddy.
So the new feature is cat suits, meaning suits made to look like cats, not Luigi running around in a skin-tight - sorry, lost my train of thought. There is something a little bit sus about it, though. Maybe it's the way characters in Cat Mode stick their bums in the air as they walk, in a way for which only the word "presenting" seems adequate. Or the "meow" at the end of the level that makes me uncomfortable, but maybe it's just 'cause I'm old and jaded enough to realise someone somewhere must be getting off to this, and I have a horrible feeling it may be Mario himself. I've been burned before by allowing hairy, middle-aged men to indulge in what they called "harmless fun!"
Mechanically, the cat suit lets you climb up walls, so the level designers can just stick the secrets and collectibles high up on a wall somewhere for about 70% of the fucking time, and it also has a glide attack, which I'm an expert at using accidentally and gliding straight off the fucking map with. Hey! Mario! You like it retro, I respect that. But maybe it's time you come to terms with the fact that controllers have more than two buttons now? So you don't have to have one button for run, attack, pick up, glide, jazzercise and lick your own asshole?
So a Nintendo game is being deliberately retro, and in other news bears still shit in the woods, but there seems to be a clear cutting-off period for retro, somewhere around the N64. Mario 64 and Sunshine and Galaxy all made constant use of the 3D space, while a lot of the levels in 3D World and 3D Land have a distinctly 2D sensibility, even while you can still move in three dimensions. So a significant amount of maps consist of linear obstacle courses against flat backdrops, except it's infuriatingly easy to come a bit too far forward and and drop off the front of the level, which must be a fucking existential nightmare for an ex-2D character.
I played a bit of it co-op, but co-operative it is not; it's more competitive than fucking Bushido Blade. All possible enjoyment was replaced by stress and bitterness, because at the end of the level whoever got the most points is given a fucking crown, and with that largesse on the table camarederie was only the first thing to drop off the map, as we both tried to sprint ahead snatching up coins. And once one person reaches the flag at the end, the others have a deadline about the length of your average pull-out procedure before the level ends and the players who made it are showered with confetti and accolades, while everyone else harbours a level of seething resentment usually reserved for Palestinians and bridesmaids.
Of course, it's not so retro that it can't embrace all that social media shit that must now run through all entertainment like corn syrup through an expensive piece of electronics, so after every level you're treated to a quick rundown of posts from twats, offering such searing insights as "that level was hard!" Or, "I did it on my first try!" Because they mistook me for the Guiness Book of "Shit No-One Cares About." Or alternatively, they'll just post an image of an unlockable Mario sticker arranged in such a way that it looks like Mario is breaking wind on Princess Peach's face. Thank you so much; now I have a couple of brain cells eternally devoted to that image, and I am going to come round to your house and take them back with a fucking spoon. Still, if that image got past the Nintendo Family Fun Censors, then it gives me hope for all the ones I sent, in which I airbrushed out the faces of characters and replaced them all with gaping anuses.
Find me one case in which random user comments enrich an online experience. Scroll down now and read the first five comments under this video! You should start feeling a cold, metallic sensation because you're now holding a gun to your head! But what really makes me swill spite round and around my mouth like a bogey I'm on the fence about swallowing is how sycophantic most of the comments are. There's your generic "BEST GAME EVAAAR"s, and then your more specific "Nintendo should make a whole game out of the Captain Toad levels!" What, those interludes wherein a slow character who can't jump navigates a piss-easy labyrinth? Yeah, man, they'd fucking corner the market on sleeping aids!
Am I dwelling too much on the comments thing? Alright, well what do you want? It's another new Mario game; eight worlds; a competently-arranged difficulty curve; too many repeated boss fights; and a few new power-ups based on the first thing someone saw as they glanced around the room. Maybe it evokes the retro charm of games like Mario 3 and Super Mario World more competently than most, but it hardly elevates the concept like Mario Galaxy did. And adding user comments was like hiding stuffed olives in the fruit salad. My favourite one I think was one that came after a desert level which simply read, in block capitals, "I LOVE SAND." Word of advice, user; it's not attractive to come across as too desperate! You'll be lucky if Nintendo lets you finish jerking it off!
- Still 3D and thought it classier not to brag about it - Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw
- Remember it's my Christmas break next week; I'll be spending it trying to think of five games this year I didn't totally despise
- FURRY! Yes, thank you, that was the word I was looking for