VC Weekly 281
Posted 05 Mar 2014 at 13:00 by Sam C Gittins
Welcome to VC Weekly, N-Europe’s guide to the wonderful world of Nintendo’s download service. Written by Sam C Gittins
Two terrific titles fall like leaves from the Deku tree branches of Nintendo's release schedule which seems to be well pruned these days but at least we have a couple of titles to enjoy. Anyway enough from me and on with the games!
Available for download this week we have...
Super Mario Bros DX
Price: GB £3.49, EU €4.99
Developer: Nintendo R&D1
The very last officially released title for the NES, this is the title that Wario's Woods holds in addition to being a somewhat curious game as well, it falls within the puzzle genre, features Wario and is generally regarded as being rather good for what it is. While it's true that the laster released SNES version is superior in just about every way, the gameplay has still translated across rather well falling into that category of games that are great to play at a
moments notice for that immortal 'one more go' which inevitably ends up being a lot longer than that providing you have the time.
Indeed the only other times most players will have com across the game - assuming they didn't play it on the NES - would either be as a downloadable title via the GC version of Animal Crossing or on the Wii Virtual Console - from a time before VC Weekly even existed! - so it has at least been a few years between re-release. Perfect for portable play you take on the role of Toad who has to defeat Wario by matching up various blocks, monsters plus bombs in order to clear the screen, the best part is though you actually control Toad who has to physically move the pieces which is almost unheard of in a Puzzle game but it certainly adds originality into the mix; watch out though because all the while the roof of the 'tree' which the puzzle plane takes place on gradually lowers and we wouldn't want to see our little mushroom hero get squished now would we?
Keeping things interesting as you play there are two altered states which are 'Bomb Time' where Birdo will drop extra bombs onto the area making things easier but then there is 'Enemy Time' where Wario will chuck some extra enemies your way in addition to lowering the ceiling a notch, what a sod! So you really have to be at the very top of your game as thing can change very quickly, once you get into a rhythm though it's not too much of a task to rack up a new high-score each time but there's always a decent amount of challenge the further that you progress; for begginers there is even a lesson mode while Game B throws boss battles into the mix whereby you need to keep blocks/bombs in direct contact with the enemy in order to deal damage, so there is something for everyone here.
Visually this is a title which pulls every graphical trick in the 8-Bit book meaning that you end up with something that looks rather spectacular and so it should too being that it was produced towards the end of the life-cycle of the NES, even if it's nowhere near the SNES standard. Audibly things are a bit mixed though as clearly that same amount of attention wasn't put into the music tracks but the looped themes are still nice enough as are the sound effects but just don't go expecting anything on the same level as other Wario themed games or even Nintendo puzzle games in general.
A fine example of a puzzle game which players may not be quite so familiar with, is it worth investing in? Most certainly as it still offers value for money today even if it's not quite up to the same standards as other immortal titles within the genre. There is more than enough charm coupled with intruiging gameplay which makes Wario's Woods a stand-out choice for fans of the genre or just of Wario himself, portability is also an important factor here being that you can use save states to exit at the drop of a erm.. block, but if you're listening Nintendo we would love to see the SNES version get released on the Wii U Virtual Console at some point in the future.
Verdict : A puzzle game that Wario would be proud of.
Price: GB £4.49, EU €4.99
System: GameBoy Color
While it's true that Mario didn't do too badly on the original GameBoy being that he starred in two Super Mario Land games, it wasn't actually until the release of the GameBoy Color that we would see both Mario & Luigi in a classic platformer; indeed as the title suggests Super Mario Bros DX is very much an enhanced version of the original NES classic released almost three decades ago. Indeed the main game is largely unchanged save for a new map screen which makes the whole adventure seem more managable somehow, a zoomed-in perspective due to the hardware limitations at the time - you can change the camera at the touch of a button but veterans won't need to - and there seems to be an improved level of animation afforded by this remake which only further adds to the charm which was already there.
Controls might take a slight bit of adjustment as they do seem to differ ever so slightly from the original probably because it seems like more 'effort' is involved to bend the 3DS controls to your will, everything is there though aside from the removal of certain glitches plus you can even use the level skip warps if you wish but owing to the new structure that the map offers I personally found myself playing through every stage the proper way which is something I haven't done in years. Every single Goomba, Starman power-up, pitfall... even every coin is still there, you have the option of using the in-game save which allows you to restart from the level that you'd progressed up to but if you're finding a stage to be a little too difficult then you can always use save states as well so that you don't need to keep needlessly replaying redundant sections.
Upon beating a stage in the standard game it then becomes available to play in challenge mode where the fun continues as you're given five red coins to find in each stage - sound familiar? - plus if you find them all in addition to meeting a set score, only then is it considered that you have really 'beaten' that stage so there are plenty of reasons to replay stages here. There are some nice extras some of which are sadly not of too much use owing to the original software relying on you having access to a GameBoy Printer but you can still unlock pieces of artwork; perhaps the biggest unlockable though is when you actually beat the main adventure you then get to play 'Super Mario Bros for Super Players' which is essentially the original Super Mario Bros 2 that Japan got, you can choose between Mario or Luigi on the map screen but everything else seems to be just as it was... not bad for just a mere extra; oh and regarding the lack of two-player mode you can unlock a cpu character to play against so it's not a complete loss.
The visuals have been nicely updated using the GBC colour palette rather effectively making for a version of the NES classic which has a unique charm all of its own, even though it is still the same game on a mechanical level, it could just be of course that because the action is 'zoomed in' that more subtle details get noticed frequently but whatever it is this is a remake which certainly looks the part. Naturally the score is as spectacular as ever thanks to legendary composer Koji Kondo, so you will find that the mucic is just as you remember it with v ery little compromise at all, what has been changed however are a handful of sound effects and while this certainly isn't a deal-breaker it is noticable.
Even though you can play the NES original on 3DS there is still a lot to be said for this remake, personally I would even go as far to say that I genuinely enjoy it more than playing the original unaltered games but this could be owing to the fact that Super Mario Bros DX is in fact new to me because it was one of those 'expensive' GBC games back in the day when I was younger and couldn't afford that many games. Being that this was first a free title for those that took part in the NNID promotion it's a good that Nintendo has now released the game to all as once again it means that a gap in the VC release schedule at least has been filled properly, it also helps that this is a fine title in it's own right that deserves to be played and enjoyed.
Verdict : Super Mario Bros in brilliant 'but not as you know it' portable form.
That's it for another installment of VC Weekly which will return again soon. So until then, enjoy the rest of the week and Game On!