super mario party review
November 25th, 2018 by Kurt "Chet" Christel

Party on, party off.

Nintendo has made an absolutely fascinating game series where you play a board game, some mini-games, and become mortal enemies with all of your friends. It’s called Mario Party and the level with which you can fuck over players is akin to that of Munchkin or Monopoly. Unlike the latter, Super Mario Party doesn’t take 6 hours to finish. This series has had 10 entries in its main console series, and several spinoffs on other devices. But where do you go from there? Call it Mario Party 11? No. You call it SUPER. Why? Because the Switch is the greatest console ever made and it deserves the upgraded name. I’m like 70% serious here.

GRAPHICS: 2/2

This looks exactly like Mario Party is supposed to look like. The quality isn’t in the graphical fidelity, but how fun they can make it. And that includes animations. Seeing all of your favorite Mario characters getting, angry, sad, frustrated, and determined are a delight. It is amazing how it mocks real life. When a play gets a star, their avatar makes boasting gesture while the other three get frustrated. Each board on the main game has its very own individual look that stands out. Even the first board, which is mostly just a bunch of grey blocks. But once you get to the board that has four islands, the graphic variety really shines.

STORY: 2/2

And now, here’s the verbatim from the game’s intro cinematic:

TEXT: One day, trouble was brewing between Mario and his good friends. Each claimed to be the Super Star, the worthiest hero in all the land. Mario suggested having a party to decide, a time-honored tradition. Everyone agreed – a proper party would surely reveal the true Super Stardom.
TOAD: What do you say, Toadette?
TOADETTE: I say this time we’re going to find out what being a Super Star REALLY means!
TOAD: You can trust us to be fair and impartial judges! Give us time to set up and we can get st-
???: Aren’t you forgetting something?
BOWSER: Maybe NONE of you are the Super Star! Maybe it’s one of us instead. I brought an extra judge, too! I want you keeping an eye on things too! You know, so it’s all fair and impartial.
KAMEK: If you say so! But be careful what you wish for, Keeheehee!
TOAD: Well, at least Kamek will make setting up easy! This should only take a minute!
-starwipe-
TOADETTE: Is everybody else as excited as I am? I DOUBT IT!
KAMEK: Wait until you see what my genius has wrought!
-gates open, everyone claps-
TOAD: Let’s party!
-fin-

I laughed. I cried. I wet myself a bit. This is the most moving, emotional, satisfying plot I have ever experienced in my life. Nothing will ever top this. This is what peak performance looks li- PFFFT okay it’s dumb. But it’s Mario dumb. And it’s Mario Party. Do you even NEED an excuse to play? NO. It’s here for the aforementioned fighting among friends.

AUDIO: 1/2

It’s fine, whatever. It’s missing some of the essential noises that made other Mario Parties so jubilant. The win music just isn’t as engaging as it should be. Everything feels like it’s been toned down a bit. It’s just okay, it does what its sets out to do, but you can’t help but feel something is missing here. Just think about all the little jingles you’d hear from Mario Party 1-3. You remember them note for note, right? The same can’t be said here. The music is on cruise control. It’s there and it’s functional, but it could be better.

GAMEPLAY: 2/2

Mario party has had many iterations in varieties and how the the rules worked. At one point they thought it was a good idea to have all 4 players riding in a car together. But SMP fixes that by going back to basics. This is the version of the game you loved and admired as a kid and as a college freshman. That feel you got when you found an old N64 and controllers for everyone? You played it until the late hours of the morning with the people in your dorm? That feeling is back. You face off as your favorite character in 4 boards (which isn’t enough but is a good start). Every character has a new gimmick in the form of custom dice. Every turn, you can roll your standard D6 or you can roll a special die made for each individual character. For instance, Shy Guy’s custom dice options are 0, 4, 4, 4, 4, and 4. Fun! Bowser has a 10 space side on his dice but you could also move zero spaces and lose 3 coins. It’s a new and interesting twist to the game mechanics.

The game also adds the ally ability where you can call in other characters to assist you. Once you do that, you have the option to roll their custom dice as well as your own. Not only that but every ally you have will roll a D2 to add either 1 or 2 spaces to your roll. So if you have, say, three allies on the board with you, you could roll your dice. And your allies? All 3 of them roll their own D2 so you could get anywhere from 3-6 additional spaces. Either way, this is still the maddening, frustrating, fun game you know and love, with all new minigames and variations on your favorites to boot. If you miss the good ol’ days of Mario Party, this is absolutely the best time to jump back in.

FUN: 2/2

It’s hard not to have fun when it comes to this game. Maybe if you played by yourself, you would have a bad time. It’s understandable that most games should be able to stand on their own merits for some single player action. But, if you’re really playing a PARTY game by yourself, what are you doing? You don’t even need friends to play it, just find some acquaintances to play. Or random people on the street. Or with your family (even if you Mom has absolutely no idea how controllers work and needs to be constantly instructed on what buttons to press. Damn it mom, the okay button is on the right, and the L+R buttons are on top! Why is this so hard, Mom?). No matter what you do, you are bound to have a blast. Even if some of the minigames are blatantly unfair.

SCORE: 9/10




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May 25th, 2018 by Kurt "Chet" Christel

Funky business.

Dankey Kang Trapical Fraze is a platfarmer game daveloped Ratro Stadios & Manster Games and pablished by Nantendo. Whew, that was fun. Anyway, the original version of this game came out on the WiiU back in… 2014? REALLY? Four years ago? I played a four-year-old game? I’m… not angry, I’m just… whatever, the WiiU was a failure, the Switch is a smash hit. Any WiiU game that gets re-released on the Switch deserves the attention it gets since by default it might as well be the first time the game was actually played by anyone. The last time I played a Donkey Kong game was on my GameBoy and it frustrated me tremendously so I vowed never to play another one again. And by vow, I mean I just kind of ignored the series forever. UNTIL NOW. But, can I handle it?

GRAPHICS: 2/2

Right out of the gate, Donkey Kong shows off its Nintendo pedigree in a grand assortment of colors and charm that surpass the technical capabilities of the hardware. But that’s not interesting so…

STORY: 0/2

Now let’s get to it, here’s one problem I’m starting to have with a lot of Nintendo games. Back in the golden days of GameBoy and Super Nintendo, when you bought the game, you didn’t have to install it at all and could play it right away, but there was still one thing that may have held you back: the instruction booklet. A lot of time and effort went into the instruction booklets that told you all about the story of the game. That way, the game didn’t really have to give you any context or story at all! But in modern times, the instruction manual is dead and gone, delegated to being a glorified extra to a handful of Ubisoft games at best. Tropical Freeze starts off with DK and his family having a birthday party, then their island gets attacked by some ice pirates, and then somehow despite freezing over their entire island, they emerge from an airplane on another island, unharmed. It’s never even shown how they got on a plane to begin with, I was scratching my head as it unfolded. And that’s it. No context, no goals, here’s the bad guys, get at it. That works in games like Mario where they use an established trope to drive the game forward. But DK doesn’t have that. It has nothing. I didn’t even know the names of that antagonists until I was on World 4 (Snowmads, BTW). That might be fun and good, but even if you ignore the lack of plot and try to hold the game up on its incentives it… doesn’t have any. You can collect the KONG letters and some puzzle pieces in every level, but it doesn’t feel like it’s ever actually worth your time to do either of those things.

AUDIO: 2/2

Hold on, this rollercoaster is going back up. Let me say this, I don’t actually like the DK soundtrack. But I recognize good content when I hear it and as far as matching the mood of the game, the OST does this in spades. One major moment that truly shined was in the third world where you were in the African savannah and rope swinging your way through what was basically a safari parade full of dancing tikis, artful shrines, and animal-shaped poles featuring zebras and lions. Never before have I seen a single platformer make a background song that matches up with its themes so well that it elevates the affair from fun to extraordinary design. As for the sounds, they are all fine, distinct, and dandy. That said, I feel like I might be the only one who thinks that the “bop” noise you get from jumping on the heads of enemies is the exact same soundbite as the selection noise on the map screen for Assassins Creed IV: Black Flag. I could try to prove it but… that’s not really necessary, is it?

GAMEPLAY: 2/2

Tropical Freeze comes in two exciting modes on the Switch. You can play the game in its original form and cry as you die over and over because your 2 hitpoints don’t quite carry you that well. Seriously, TWO hitpoints? Not one, not three, you went with 2. TWO! TWO HITPOINTS. (3 if you get buy an item but that doesn’t count). I hated this mode and I hated the game. But once again, my hate doesn’t really translate to the gameplay being objectively bad. It’s not. In truth, the games are spectacularly designed in a way that really just makes you do one thing, and one thing only. Git gud. That’s right, Donkey Kong is never so unfair that it feels prohibitively difficult. It’s just a game that starts hard and stays hard (phrasing!), but it does. Anyway, once you’re done torturing yourself trying to beat a level, you can just start the game over and play the all-new funky mode as Funky Kong. He’s a character who has FIVE hit points, doesn’t get hurt by spikes, can double jump, and has a floating ability with his surfboard. Basically, he’s got the skills you’ve come to expect from a platformer, as DK can’t double jump, and a platformer without a double jump is a tough game indeed. Having so many more abilities may make the game sound easier, but often times it makes you so careless you end up getting yourself killed from not paying enough attention. There’s no middle ground. You have it the hard way or the easy way, no “normal” for you.

FUN: 1/2

Once again, this game is objectively fun once you get the ropes. The game could be even more fun if I decided to dedicate my life to getting skilled enough at this game to actually be that. But with the lack of incentives to keep pushing you forward and some overly long and obnoxious boss fights that stop your progress dead in its tracks, it’s hard to find fun unless you make it fun. I basically played the half of this game twice, all the way to the end of World 4 as DK, then again as Funky Kong. Two halves make a whole, so technically I beat the game. If a challenging old-school platformer is all you want, here it is. If not, you might want to look elsewhere.

I hated Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze. I really did. But this review is a testament to our assertion that our reviews are far more objective than most other sites. We don’t have a random number we make up in our heads to attribute to the game. We are forced to examine all angles of the game’s design and come to a conclusion that despite our own tastes an interest, we can recognize where a game works and where it doesn’t.

SCORE: 7/10




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May 10th, 2018 by Kurt "Chet" Christel

Donkey Kong is the Dark Souls of Blippity Bloopity Boop.

Just because a game is hard doesn’t make it Dark Souls. Also, top 5 advice on how to “GIT GUD” at Donkey Koing will feature in a sequel video! Go ahead, leave a comment!




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