maanantai 16. elokuuta 2010

REVIEW - Mario Is Missing! (1992)

Genre(s): Edutainment
Released: 1992
Available on: MAC, NES, PC, SNES
Developer(s): The Software Toolworks, Radical Entertainment
Publisher(s): Mindscape, Nintendo
Players: 1

In the 90’s, a few educational titles were released under Mario’s name – none of which were developed by Nintendo. The most known game in this infamous bunch of sad excuses is Mario Is Missing!, a geographical lesson in the guise of a video game, and it’s famous for being the first game ever to cast Luigi as the main character.

Missing a lot more than the title implies

Bowser has established a new base in Antarctica. He has a cunning plan to use millions of hairdryers to melt the ice in Antarctica and flood the Earth. He sends his Koopa Troopas to different cities in the world to steal precious, famous artifacts to fund this operation of his. Mario, Luigi and Yoshi storm Bowser’s castle to put an end to his evil plans. Mario gets kidnapped in the process, and Luigi sets out to find his brother together with Yoshi, carrying out their original mission at the same time.

Well... the designers did their best in porting audiovisual elements from Super Mario World to an NES environment. The graphical performance is OK, except for the layout of the cities, which looks downright ugly. The ported music sounds surprisingly all right, but the original score is awfully irritating. Believe me, it doesn’t stop here...

New York City. Now ain't that obvious?!
The incredibly retarded “plot” and the fact that we must play as Luigi aside, this could’ve been a good game as the educational curiosity it is. For kids that are 7-8 years old, Mario Is Missing! might prove challenging, especially if they’re not good at English, and they might even be patient and die-hard enough to actually enjoy the game. But... if you’re any older and plan to play the game just because Mario’s name’s on it, do not bother. You start off on foot, as Luigi. The main idea of the game, is of course, to find Mario. Assuming you know the ridiculous plot, you know where Mario is, so the title of the game is a bit incorrect. There are many doors in Bowser’s castle, and upon entering one, you’re teleported to a city somewhere in the world. First, you have to talk to pedestrians, who give you clues regarding your current location. When you figure out where you are, you need to summon Yoshi to be able to make progress. You’ll then need to control Yoshi on the world map and swim all the way from the Antarctica to wherever Luigi is. So, back to the title of the game. Since you know where Mario is, and the most important part of the game is knowing where you’re at and guiding Yoshi to Luigi, I think the most appropriate title for the game would be “Yoshi: Where the Fuck Are Those Plumbers?!”.

OK, so when Yoshi finds Luigi, you’ll be able to ride him. Don’t worry, nobody gives a fuck about you riding a dinosaur in New York City in 1992 – it’s everyday stuff. It seems that the dinosaur knows his way around the city better than you anyway, since you can’t make progress without him. The next thing(s) you need to do is dispose of Koopa Troopas all around the city – by jumping on them, you can’t eat them – recover the stolen artifacts and take them to information desks in front of different, famous landmarks. For example, New York City has the Rockefeller Center, the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building. You then have to answer a ridiculously easy pop quiz question about the landmark – clues are given by pedestrians, as well – before you’re able to return the artifact to its rightful owner. Uh... what the hell?! They’ve lost something precious and their landmark is defiled, and they still want to play some stupid game over it? How about we keep the freakin’ thing then, if it’s so irrelevant to them? The game makes no sense at all! There’s a map which shows just about every location you need to check to beat the “stage”, and that’s a relief ‘cause just roaming around these boring cities would be completely tedious and pointless. Then again, all of the stages are based on one single structure, and the game doesn’t get any harder at any point, so it pretty much IS completely tedious and pointless.

Every stage is followed by an extremely anti-climactic boss fight against a Koopaling, and in the end, Bowser himself. These boss fights make Mario is Missing! an even more embarrassing attempt at a Mario game than it already is. I would be able to bear the game if it wasn’t for the completely retarded control scheme. The Start button actually does most of the work here, what’s up with that? The absolutely dumb menu hanging on top of the screen all of the time drives me nuts, as well. Instead of a neat, well organized series of small icons, they used one single big icon that you have to toggle all the time to keep progressing. How about at least adding in some text to explain the meanings of the different functions?

The game is easy, really easy, but extremely boring as well. The password system is a good thing to have along, just because I really don’t believe that anyone can bear to attempt to beat the game during one single sitdown. If you want to teach your kids some geography and trivia concerning famous landmarks all over the world... buy them a book. If that’s not enough and they want some familiar characters to do the author’s job, go ahead and get ‘em this game, but for fuck’s sake, don’t try it yourself, even if the characters remind you of your youth. Trust me, everyone in the game is a shadow of his own self.

Graphics : 7.0
Sound : 6.0
Playability : 4.9
Challenge : 4.8
Overall : 4.8


GameRankings: 43.50% (SNES)

The first Mario game to star Luigi as the main character, and the only one up until Luigi’s Mansion, which was released in 2001 on the Nintendo GameCube.

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