Mario Maker Review (UK)

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“I stole this outfit from Ronald McDonald’s corpse!”

You probably already know what Mario Maker is about. If you don’t, the name says it all. But maybe you’re wondering if it’s as intuitive and user friendly as we’ve come to expect from Nintendo. Good news for you: it is. We were creating a brand new Super Mario level within seconds of firing the console up. That’s not a figure of speech either. Seconds!

After the title screen the game dumps you in a NES-style Mario level and sets you loose to play. Run with the D-pad, dash with B – so far so familiar. The graphics have a smooth, HD look and Mario has a kind of drop-shadow effect we don’t remember seeing before but other than that it’s pretty much exactly what you’d expect.

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All the world’s a stage, Mario…

So anyway, your gaming instincts kick in and you hop the gaps, punch the blocks and make a final leap for the flagpole. Except you realise mid-air that you’re probably not going to make it. Some idiot designer made the gap too big and you’re about to plummet to an early death in the mysterious abyss at the bottom of the screen.

The game pauses and switches to editor mode. By way of tutorial, you’re tasked with filling that death-gap, then switching back to gameplay mode and clearing the level. And that’s about all the guidance you get, a complete godsend after Wario Ware DIY and its seemingly endless tutorial mode. Adam, with his hummingbird-like attention span, still breaks out in a nervous sweat just thinking about that one.

Game creation is a stylus-only affair. You’re free to doss about, drawing blocks, adding coins and enemies, and stretching or rotating level furniture like pipes and the like. If you make a mistake you can use the eraser tool to rub it out. We cracked up when we went to “erase” Mario and he started shitting himself.

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“Don’t-a kill me, wahoo!”

The Ninty magic is back in full force. Everything is done in that tongue-in-cheek silly way that Wario Ware players will find familiar. Old NES sound effects and remixed Mario music accompany every tweak and edit, proving that Nintendo are masters of audio design as well as visuals.

You can create levels in the style of the original SMB, Mario 3, Mario World and New SMB, and switch between them at any time. Gimmicks or items that were previously game-specific will cross over (with one or two exceptions), sometimes taking on new forms in order to fit in visually. It’s amazing how switching between styles can breathe new life into your levels.

The game will occasionally throw some curve balls, and enemies or items will behave in unexpected, hitherto unseen ways. For instance, you can put Goombas underwater or suspend Chain Chomps from moving platforms. If you so choose, you can add decidedly odd HD effects that clash with the pixel artwork.

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You pressed paws! Arf!

The game, outside of the editor, is pretty barebones. Features like uploading and playing pre-loaded levels are accessed from a small drop-down menu in the corner. What this means for you is that there’s no loading and jumping from screen to screen. It’s all business, all the time. Even the title screen is completely interactive and lets you immediately start making new levels.

Our one complaint is that the game gradually drip-feeds new items and level styles depending on how much you’re using it – and no, you can’t leave it running overnight to unlock everything (we tried). You might be absolutely sick of the sight of it before you unlock the clown car or the Princess Peach costume. The popular consensus is that it takes 9 days to unlock everything, and as far as we know that’s the official word from Ninty.

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Adam had to be restrained by seven men once he learned that ‘the pony bums’ weren’t an available item

But…! Stay your hands, baying hoards, before you storm the Kyoto headquarters and demand Miyamoto’s head on a pike: There’s apparently been a patch released in time for the UK launch. No one is quite sure what exactly the criteria are now, but one thing’s certain, the game breaks its own ‘one update a day’ rule. Fantastic!

To sum up, the game is presented with all the finesse you’d expect from a first-party Nintendo title. It makes any game you’ve ever played on your PS4 look like a Sega Saturn tech demo, and it’s so polished it’ll make Mr. Sheen mess his pants with envy.

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You can remake Alex Kidd in Miracle World!

The interface is so intuitive that you can do anything your heart desires without so much as thinking about what button to press or where to click, and the game will constantly charm you with its creative flair and neat little touches. You can effortlessly switch between the different game styles depending on what kind of nostalgia hit you’re looking for, and you’ll probably surprise yourself when you unleash the game designer hidden inside.

TMW Rating: – 4/5

The game loses one point for not having a “Mario 2” mode. Nintendo’s staff evidently don’t consider it a ‘true’ Mario title, along with the rest of Japan, and its unique mechanics (such as not jumping on enemies) wouldn’t fit with the rest of the game. But to the western world, that game was the real deal and we loved it more than the first. Still, there’s a lifetime’s worth of play in here.

“Gradually drip”

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Psycho Kid Cool Turbo Fox Attack

Have you ever played a video game and thought to yourself, this seems familiar? You probably know the feeling if you’ve played any of the big modern franchises like Pokémon or Call of Duty, but that’s not what I mean. I’m talking about any two distinct, separate games that play exactly the same.

It happened to me with Psycho Fox, on the Sega Master System. Bloody great game, unless you live in a PAL territory, which… uh… I do. So it was a bloody great game, if you didn’t mind playing in slow motion. I actually took a solder iron to the console in the end and gave it an emergency PAL-ectomy. The games now play at their correct speed. Proper job.

Ignore the patronising flash in the top corner.

Good game. Better box.

Anyway, the story starts in Japan some time in 1988, with a game by Vic Tokai called Kakefu-kun no Jump Tengoku: Speed Jigoku. It was fairly decent, and soon repackaged for the west as Kid Kool to remove any association with the game’s main character Kakefu-kun, himself based on popular Japanese child actor Kenji Sagara. With the most minor of modifications the game would later receive, they simply took his hat away.

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A decent shade of blue on the NES!? Heresy!

So, a year later when the time came for Vic Tokai to release a game on Sega’s floundering-but-still-awesome Master System, they did what any of us would do in that situation and skinned Kid Kool alive.

Keeping the gameplay intact, they painted it over with cute animal characters and called it Psycho Fox. What’s ‘psycho’ about him, I don’t know, but it’s a catchy name. I don’t think the game was ever released in Japan, but if it was it almost certainly would’ve been renamed something like Jump Hit Troublesome Fox Bang Bang! Wonderland.

Looks cute in his little shirt, dun't 'ee?

Looks cute in his little shirt, dun’t ‘ee?

Over the pond in Brazil, they loved the Master System but hated foxes, so when distributor Tec Toy released the game over there, they hastily replaced the main characters and christened the game Sapo Xulé vs Os Invasores do Brejo, or Stink-Foot the Frog Vs the Swamp Invaders. I am not making this up.

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They also put him in Kung Fu Kid. No joke.

In 1991, Vic Tokai moved onto 16-bit hardware and left the Master System behind. They wanted to make a brand-new game for the cutting-edge Mega Drive, so they took the mutilated and defiled remnants of Kid Kool / Psycho Frog / Whatever and turned it into a virtually identical game called Magical Hat: Surprise Turbo! Great Adventure.

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The blue thing has seen some shit.

This wouldn’t fly in the west, so that game was reskinned as Decap Attack – a name that only makes marginally more sense. Deciding that our palettes were subtly different to our Japanese brethren, Vic Tokai set the game in Transylvania and replaced the cast with a green-moustached Dr. Frankenstein and Chuck – his lumpy orange mummy friend. Instead of punching things like a normal man/fox/frog, Chuck impossibly thrust his head out from the middle of his torso and attacked enemies or the landscape with his face.

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Eeww! Hearts! Bring back the fox!

Some of you Brits reading may fondly recall the Decap Attack comic strip in Fleetway’s Sonic the Comic. It was absolutely mental – a thing of comic genius penned by writer/illustrator Nigel Kitching. He turned it into a hilariously macabre sitcom, and pushed the envelope at every opportunity. The ol’ S.T.C deserves its own article, so look out for that in the future.

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Yes. Yes I do.

Anyway, thanks to Vic Tokai, it was possible to buy six games for three different systems and end up with the same thing. The funny thing is, it would have gone unnoticed if not for the fact that progenitor Kafeku-kun had such a distinct play style. The gameplay, power-ups, controls, even the way the enemies move is entirely unique and unmistakeable. Had the first game been more generic, no-one would have noticed.

“Fox bang”

TMW Meets Games: X Rated

The Toy Meets World crew, and Pete, sit down for a play of some old games. We were going to do a toy section – it was great; we had boxes and boxes of toys and a My Little Pony blindfold! That hadn’t been used for deviant sexual purposes! But it turns out that I was so good at the challenge, it just looked like I was cheating.

Even the guys had their doubts. So it got snipped. Maybe next time.

Chaos Control

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There’s a new Smash Bros out for Wii U. This is a pretty big deal, as developer Sora have proven to be masters at squeezing gaming goodness out of new Nintendo hardware. So naturally, when faced with the Wii U’s fancy touchscreen controller, both they and the fans decided it would be better to just use the old Gamecube controllers instead. Controllers which, may we remind you, debuted 14 years and two console generations ago. Only in the topsy-turvy world of Nintendo does this make sense.

That’s an awfully short cable. You’ll get eye strain sitting that close, m’lad.

Never one to miss a trick, Nintendo decided to do a cheeky re-issue of the ‘cube controller, this time tarted up with a little Smash logo on its pretty face. It can be yours – bundled with Official Nintendo Wii U Controller Adapter™ of course – for the modest sum of £54.00 and change. Incidentally, that’s more than half of what a brand new Gamecube (with game) would have set you back in 2003. How times change.

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Comp-U-Zone: Sexual Predators

I’ll come clean; I thought up the title of this article before writing it. I was thinking about how overtly sexy some video game characters are, and how they tend to be anthropomorphic animals. Once I had the title the words just sort of… materialised. A quick Google search revealed massive amounts of “fan art” (cough cough) dedicated to these furry females, so I’ve included some of that, too. Humorously censored with Adam’s Choice™ My Little Pony, you understand, because this isn’t that kind of blog.

There’s some useful information, some nostalgia, and some filler. Hold your breath… we’re going in!

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