sunnuntai 6. helmikuuta 2011

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

Two years ago, I wrote a review of an NES game by the name of Mario Is Missing!, which I published last August. Up until I played that game, I just couldn't imagine what an educational Mario game would be like, and it came as quite a shock that it truly was a purely educational game, for the most uneducated people. It was boring, not even a real game, but some time later, I came to think that perhaps I was too harsh on it. I'm glad the SNES version came along to prove my second thought wrong.

Mario Is Pissing!

Bowser is planning to use a million hair dryers to melt Antarctica and flood Earth. He sends Koopa Troopas all around the world to steal artifacts from several major cities to fund this little pet project of his, and just to ensure his success, he kidnaps Mario. Luigi sets out on a long journey around the world to save the planet, and his brother in the process.

So, here we go again. The plot is a little different, the cities are different, but by all means, the SNES version is exactly the same as the NES version. It's the same education for dummies - even a complete retard would be able to beat the game, no problem at all. This "game" insults the intelligence and patience of any average human being. It's also funny that there are typos and actual mistakes in it, and it's supposed to be an educational game. Whenever you answer a question wrong at those info booths, Princess Toadstool - yeah, she's the info lady - tells you to "get your facts straight". Like the pot to a kettle, I'd say. The game is all about reading, quickly memorizing all you've read, awkward control and utter stupidity. That's all there is to it.

Howdy, officer. Wrong train?
The graphics are very, very bland. The differences between the cities are minimal. Most Mario sprites are ripped straight off Super Mario World. The NPC sprites are the same everywhere. It's kind of funny to see albino cops in Beijing. The cities are of different sizes, but the only notable graphical difference between them is that the buildings are of different architecture. The music... well, it's Super Mario World's main overworld theme, over and over again, remixed differently in each city to somehow reflect on the local musical culture - "somehow" is pretty much right, since I don't quite get all the connections. After just a few cities, you may want to mute your monitor.

To those of you who do not know what Mario Is Missing! is all about and haven't bothered to read the review of the NES version, let me do a rather quick recap. You start off from Bowser's castle, and you have six doors you can enter in the beginning. Each door takes you to a different city. Upon your arrival, you need to chase down NPC's - quite literally, I don't have the will or the energy to explain - and talk to them to find out where you are, if you haven't figured that out already just by looking around. You then need to summon Yoshi and direct him from the Antarctica to wherever you are. This is the main difference between the NES and the SNES games: in the 8-bit version, you needed Yoshi to simply make progress. In this version, you don't even need him! His only purpose is to scare off the Pokey from guarding the pipe leading to Bowser's castle, whenever you beat the stage and need to return.

And you, uh... just happened to miss the whole
The "clues" given by NPC's, as to where you are, are usually supposed to be some sort of good jokes, but I think only Software Toolworks perceived them as such. They are either extremely cryptic or out of context, or on the contrary, Captain Obvious-type of retarded flap. Usually, you don't luckily even have to speak to them to find out where you are, if you aren't some sort of freak who's hell bent on filling up the notebook in the menu. They also give clues about the artifacts you carry, and they're just as pointless. The artifacts are carried around by three Koopa Troopas around the cities, and you need to seek out these three from among the horde and defeat them to grab hold of the items. What's funny is that they can't do shit to you. You cannot take damage in this game. You can run straight to even the pathetic bosses, and nothing happens. In some way, this is the perfect game to play when you're drunk and extremely bored. That's EXTREMELY bored.

OK, so, these ridiculous artifacts which range all the way from ballet shoes to the minute hand of the Big Ben to a lone brick of the Great Wall of China, need to be returned to information centers around the city. Princess Toadstool, or a very rude caricature of her, gives you a pamphlet to read about what she's missing, or the larger ensemble it's part of. It's a boring educational crash course, with a lot of numbers and names. Usually these numbers and names are what you have to memorize before talking to her again and offering her the missing item. She wants to ask you two random questions relating to the pamphlet to make sure you're holding the genuine article. Pause! So let me get this straight: I could bring in any bad counterfeit toy, if I knew the colour of the biggest bridge in San Francisco, or where the Sistine Chapel was located? Or, my favourite: if I knew the wielder of the Gladiator's Spear? The answer is "Gladiator". Honestly. Sure, OK. They're offering me thousands of dollars for returning the item and answering the questions correctly. What to do with that money? Beats me. But, I think I would come up with some use for it in real life. I've got to try this some time. Maybe when the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel is stolen the next time around, I'll be there to cash in. Oh, and before I forget, if you answer any of the questions wrong, Toadstool won't speak to you... until you leave the screen for a couple of times and persistently try her again. Exciting.

Please, dude, could you just open the door? I
can't take this shit no more!
So, when you've returned all three artifacts, you're free to leave the city and close the door leading from Bowser's castle to it forever. Everything I have mentioned thus far has to be repeated, city after city after city. Don't worry, you don't have to visit every city on the world map, most of them are on it just for show... but that doesn't make the game any less boring. Four more cities later, you will face the first boss who is a total laughing stock of his kind, and what's even worse, the boss fights are all the same. No, even the boss can't hurt you. He can't deal any damage to you. He just runs away from you, and you somehow need to be able to jump on his head a set number of times. When you're done, you can enter through the gate he previously hid behind, to a hallway with another series of doors. This is all there is to Mario Is Missing!. It is NOT a game.

I was hoping for something a little bit different, since I know the next game I'll be taking on differs from its NES counterpart by quite a bit (I'm sure it's bad, though). Mario Is Missing! isn't exactly bad - it's just one of the most pointless, boring "games" ever made. I almost understand something like this being released for home computers, since computer games' production was so much more cost-efficient than that of console games, and their retail prices were much lower, but I sincerely can't comprehend why valuable cartridge space was sacrificed to make a Nintendo game out of this utterly useless dud.

Graphics : 5.5
Sound : 4.5
Playability : 4.3
Challenge : 1.5
Overall : 4.1


GameRankings: 43.50%

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