Available on: NES, PC, SNES
Developer(s): The Software Toolworks, Radical Entertainment
Publisher(s): The Software Toolworks, Mindscape
Playing Mario's Time Machine on the NES, not to mention seeing it to the end, was one of my less proud moments as a gamer over the times I've been one. Although I initially refused to do a review of the SNES version, I guess I already somehow knew I'd be forced to return to it at some point. So, here I am, laughing off another game's stupidity and forcing a virtual screwdriver into my head at the very same time - here's Mario's Time Machine in 16 bits.
A whole different approach to being ridiculous
|I know who you are, dude. I played Day of the |
(The odd thing once again is, that no one ever stops to think that if history was to be changed, the artifacts would lose all their true value in the future. Sure, history would change - but if Bowser's agenda is to build the greatest museum of all time, he's off to a bad start.)
It should not be much of a surprise anymore, but most of the elements that have the slightest to do with the Mario franchise are carried over from Super Mario World. The graphics are really not that bad. The cutscenes look almost decent, and the dialogue screens, although perfectly stationary, are well drawn. The soundtrack is once again a collection of remixed Super Mario World tunes - repetitive, and nothing out of the ordinary, but nothing out of the deepest end either. Could we finally have a decent educational Mario game here?
Here I am, thinking that perhaps it's best if I took a similar approach to this version as I did to the NES game. I'll go over the first 45 minutes of the game (or so), play-by-play, to help you cop a feel of what it's all about and share my feelings with all its situations. OK, so after I make the difficult decision of pressing Start, I'm taken straight into Bowser's castle. The very first thing I realize is that the game is very different from the NES version, and that is because all the artifacts - or the ones in the first floor - are laid straight in front of me on pedestals. I don't need to play that retarded poor man's Mario Bros. game, I guess I can just pick up an item and go. So first, there's an apple. Yep, it's Isaac Newton's, again. There were supposed to be different items in this game, and there are, I guess they just ran out of ideas at some point. The second thing is, that Bowser must have done a lot of field work and seemingly unnecessary calculations to pick the exact apple. Whatever, let's just take it. Nothing happens. The thing I notice at this point is that the button scheme is all messed up, so I take a little time to see what every button does.
|Blink and you'll miss that mushroom. And hit |
Still remember the book I told you about? Good. Keep that in mind, would ya? So, first I have no idea what to do here. It's just the university courtyard, with one path leading to a garden or something. A garden would probably have apples, so I go there. The screen cuts to a first-person view and I see a pixelated Isaac Newton standing in the middle of the garden. It's a beautiful day, the sun is shining and Isaac Newton tells me to fuck off. What's wrong with this picture? I try to offer him the apple again and again, and he just tells me to leave him the fuck alone with his ego. I don't know why, but I first think of the book. I read it again, but there's nothing out of the ordinary, all the stuff is still in place, and no clue would help me since the bastard won't even talk to me. I run around the courtyard like a maniac pressing all sorts of buttons until I realize that the X button is a dialogue button and I need to go to people's doors to talk to different NPC's. Talking to the NPC's, I realize that they are the ones that have the information for the book. A thought of going into the book a bit too early crosses my mind, but then I think to myself that hell, at least I won't have to do it later, or even listen to these assholes - dialogue is once again as boring as its always been in an educational game, even moreso. What's strange is that they speak of Isaac Newton as if he's already discovered the laws of gravity, even though we're here to make that possible in the first place. Hmm.
|Yeah, I bet you welcome a lot of strangers with |
questions... could this guy creep me out any less?
The problem was that the book's blank spaces need to be filled for you to be able to return the key item. I know what you're thinking: they WERE filled, right? Filling up the blank spaces in the book BEFORE going into the corresponding time and place to get the clues to do it, triggers a glitch that makes that stage impossible to beat for the time being. With "for the time being" I mean, that you need to leave that stage, put the item back, do some other stage and then try again. All the spaces are blank again! So, in other words, I filled up the blank spaces in the book in the beginning of the game for absolutely nothing. I didn't even have any clues, so shouldn't I deserve an award or something? Nah. Even doing those damn half-baked sidequests isn't necessary, you just need to fill in the gaps in the book at the correct time. Oh yeah, and now you do get punished for making those three mistakes. You guessed it: if you jumble up a single gap three times, you need to do the whole stage all over again, complete with the minigame. It wasn't until one of the final stages in the game that I accidentally entered the main NPC's room right after my arrival and a bubble saying "COMPLETE HISTORY BOOK" appeared. Yeah, well, thanks for the early notice.
|"...he learned this so called "Socratic" method |
of instruction from his own teacher, ???." HMM!!
So, I've finally made it to the end. I've passed the three floors and been getting ready to whoop Bowser's ass in another unremarkable boss fight for the unremarkable ages to do away with this game forever. I enter his hall and... he just leaves. Mario stands in front of Bowser's empty throne like a retard, and Bowser is shown enjoying the sun and sand on some faraway beach like some creep that has just pulled off the most outrageous embezzlement in history. After hours of twisting my ears just to stay awake, and putting up with all those dry jokes and trying to pick up even some bits of useful information in the between, the game tells me to try again and play quicker, to get a different ending - I'm guessing getting a score over 10,000 would trigger it, and I would probably get it if I'd beat that damn Newton stage faster, since otherwise, I played real quick; I didn't really bother to read the dialogue, I just picked up keywords that I couldn't figure out by the ways of logic while filling up the gaps in the history book. Will I go for the happy end? Take a wild guess. Besides, I think that as crappy as this conclusion was, after seeing the only ending of the NES version I'm not sure I want to see the good ending in this one.
|Shit, did I miss a great joke here?|
|How about a rain check?|
As far as being a real game is concerned, Mario's Time Machine is indeed boring, uninteresting and full of flaws. It could've worked as PC freeware starring some cheap, cute characters, but no, it had to be a "Mario game", and it just had to be released on Nintendo systems for the sake of brainless capitalism. It's useless to a player, and its educational value is nominal at best.
Graphics : 7.5
Sound : 6.8
Playability : 5.2
Challenge : 5.0
Overall : 5.4