The Year of Luigi ends anon, extended mercifully by another fiscal month. Thus concludes the 13-month celebration of the greenest plumber, the tallest brother and the Zooey Deschenel of the Nintendo family.
But in the midst of all the festivities, the Dark Moons, the New Super Luigi Us and what have you, a shard of Luigi’s celebrated legacy failed to garner a mention. Most fans falsely believe that Luigi’s Mansion was the first game to star the taller of the brothers Mario. And this is a shame, because buried deep within the annals of Nintendo, beneath the Virtual Boy, the Power Glove and the Famicom Disk Drive is…Mario is Missing!
It is, to put it quite simply, a gem of the 90s.
In all seriousness, Mario is Missing! (the exclamation is highly necessary) is actually a pathethic piece of edutainment piggybacking off the Mario franchise, but it does hold the dubious honor of being the first game where Luigi flies solo. Mario is Missing! was released on the NES, SNES, PC and Macintosh (remember those?) in 1993 and was actually the first of several games developed by The Software Toolworks. Mario’s Time Machine riffs on a similar concept but swaps out geography for history lessons.
The plot actually foretells Luigi’s Mansion. Mario is kidnapped by Bowser, who has set up his new evil fortress in Antarctica (we’re in the real world now apparently). Luigi goes off to save him, but in doing so he must recover an international set of stolen artifacts that Bowser’s kids have pilfered.
The best part of this nonsensical plotline is that, according to the instruction manual, the reason for Bowser stealing artifacts is so that he can purchase a bulk of hairdryers in order to melt the ice caps, thereby flooding earth. This evil agenda, which feels like the lovechild of Carmen Sandiego and a Bond Villain, is so 90s in its conception that it almost hurts.
The gameplay is very basic. From the hub world, Luigi travels to other countries and must hunt down the thieving Koopa Kids, and return these artifacts to their respective landmarks. This is where the game’s quizzes come into play.
And the thing is, the game is hardly educational. It’s just a series of fairly useless bits of trivia about the countries you visit, nothing that really holds any weight. You’re not adventuring into international politics. Luigi is not jumping on the heads of the Syrian military. You’re just looking for souvenirs. And the quizzes in question are rather simple. For example, when asked about the Trevi Fountain in Rome:
Q: The Trevi is the biggest and oldest___in Rome
Could the answer be anything other than “fountain,” the thing Luigi is standing in front of right now?
Despite its infamy, Mario is Missing! does contain some rather neat culturally-inspired remixes of Super Mario Bros. series tracks. But all the same, this is some edutainment best left lost in the 90s.
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze has been out for nearly a week. Although I’ve spent more time than that playing it for review, I still can’t seem to get enough punishment.
So join us as I, Patrick Kulikowski, hop onto the Pixelitis Twitch stream at 8PM EST to play some Donkey Kong (or Kankey Dang, either one works) on the Wii U. I’ll be sure to show you some of my favorite levels from the game and maybe even unlock a few here and there.
And if you haven’t yet, check out my review of the game here.
Many games involve bum-rushing a horde of enemies head-on and cutting them down as quickly as possible, but that’s not always exciting.
By contrast, the stealth sub-genre is a strange reversal because oftentimes, you don’t want to encounter your enemy at all, lest you risk untimely death. Games like Metal Gear Solid and the new Thief are all about sticking to the shadows, timing your movements and observing enemy patterns as you sneak your way past their line of sight.
With the new Thief now out of the shadows, Pixelitis gets all incognito and explores the best stealth gaming moments of all time.
Lurk in the shadows, my friends. And be sure to post your own favorite moments in the comments section below.
Most satisfying moment of stealth: Sneaking up on The End in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater
When I first started playing Metal Gear Solid 3 following its launch in late 2004, I heard a lot of talk online about a gruelingly long boss battle with an old man named “The End.” Because fans were so divisive about this battle, I really didn’t know what I was about to get into.
The End was unlike any boss fight I had ever experienced before. There was no climactic boss music, only the sounds coming from the flora and fauna of the Russian wilderness. Naked Snake was essentially pitted against an old, wrinkly codger that happened to be a fast runner, an expert in camouflage and an incredibly deadly sniper.
Running around carelessly in this battle would ensure that The End would always find you first. This battle requires the player to not only don Snake’s best camo, but to take the time to remain hidden and weary of making any noise. Using tools like the thermal goggles and the directional mic were essential in picking up The End’s footprints and trying to hear for the sniper’s deep breathing.
While this battle could essentially take nearly an hour to finish, it was always a thrill to be the one to outsmart him by anticipating where he might be and circling around his sniper’s den to get the jump on him. Much like what a real sniper battle would be, the battle against The End requires the player’s utmost patience and cunning. What makes the whole ordeal even better is that the game rewards you for being stealthy in this fight by allowing you to acquire the game’s best camouflage by holding him up at gunpoint and shaking him down for the item.
And while I’m no trophy/achievement hunter, I have to say that getting a trophy for making The End shake his elderly hips was incredibly satisfying.
- Patrick Kulikowski
Most satisfying moment of stealth: Sight-jacking and evasion in Siren
I’ve discussed my love for this scary little J-horror game during our Pixel-Fright-Us, and it remains one of my favorite stealth games of all time.
Stealth games are already suspenseful enough as it is; tensions run high when you’re trying to evade enemy eyes. But Siren is unique in that enemy eyes are what you need to safely avoid detection. By sight-jacking, you temporarily put yourself in the first person viewpoint of one of the undead enemies trying to forcibly turn you into one of its own kind. This allows you to sneak around their line of sight. Unfortunately it also has the morbid effect of watching yourself die if and when they catch you. Bummer!
Siren is notorious for its steep difficulty, which is all the more rewarding when you manage to skirt around a few zombies and track down a weapon to dispatch them. By far the most intense moments come when you play as defenseless characters.
In one such case, you play as a little girl trying to escape from a middle school overrun by zombies and have to take to hiding in lockers and closets along the way. It’s very intense but oh-so rewarding when you do manage to complete the level. That sigh of relief is tremendous!
- Maxwell Coviello
Most satisfying moment of stealth: Every box you hid under in Metal Gear Solid
I might not be the biggest stealth game fan out there, but there comes a point where you just laugh at the sheer alacrity in which Solid Snake hides under boxes. Cardboard boxes have become synonymous with the MGS franchise and it’s hard not to find a fan that doesn’t know exactly what you’re talking about.
Sneaking around in the Shadow Moses compound on a box in a truck made for some epic stealthiness, if anything just because that’s the one time the boxes made sense because you’re in a box in a cargo truck.
Otherwise, it’s hide under a box in the middle of a hallway and hope that soldiers or others don’t see you. It’s the perfect mix of sense and lack of sensibility that just makes me laugh every time.
But hiding in a box unnoticed is infinitely better than being discovered and having that familiar exclamation point pop up over their heads.
- Karen Rivera
Irrational Games announced today that alongside the launch of the final episode in the Bioshock Infinite DLC Burial at Sea, players can now access something called 1998 Mode.
Similar to the idea behind 1999 Mode in Bioshock Infinite, where limits are placed on ammunition and respawns, players can now use non-lethal weapons and tactics to move through the DLC as Elizabeth.
In a post on the IG website, Ken Levine shared his reasoning behind the inclusion of 1998 Mode:
“In Burial at Sea – Episode Two we put a focus on balance and stealth mechanics. As we were developing this new style of gameplay, we started to see people self-impose non-lethal playthroughs. Given the fan reception of 1999 Mode, we thought it would be cool to give them another way to play Burial at Sea that challenged their mastery of stealth tools.”
Burial at Sea Episode Two is set to release March 25.
Source: Irrational Games
Square Enix’s choice of platform for the newly-announced Rise of Mana should honestly not come as any surprise to the series’ fans. Nevertheless, I can imagine Mana fans are ready to cast Level 8 Gem Missile on this game.
Reading through comments on Kotaku, I’ve already picked up on irritated responses to the new game, including “Square Enix just refuses to act right where this series is concerned…” and “Saw the title and knew with 100% certainty this would be the standard pay to win bullshit.”
But should we be so quick to cast judgement on a game that was just announced? Despite my own misgivings about JRPG series going the way of mobile platforms and the whole free-to-play, micro-transaction-laden model that Japanese game publishers are wiggling their way into, there are some details from Rise of Mana’s debut trailer that left me feeling – dare I say it – cautiously optimistic.
For one, the game still looks like a Mana title. The combat’s a little flashier but you’re still whacking Rabites, shaking up green treasure chests and squaring off against enormous bosses (one of which is the returning crustacean Full Metal Hagger from Seiken Densetsu 3). The familiar staples of the Mana games are still there, including merchant Niccolo, the seed-chomping Trent and that adorable Li’l Cactus.
And thankfully, the soundtrack’s being handled by the likes of Mana soundtrack luminaries like Kenji Ito, Hiroki Kikuta, Tsuyoshi Sekito and Yoko Shimomura.
The game will even feature eight-player co-op, which could make for a chaotically amusing time during boss battles. Co-op multiplayer was always one of the prime components that I loved most about playing Mana games.
On the other opposite of the spectrum, I also think about how mediocre the Mana series has developed in the past decade. Aside from the Sword of Mana GBA remake, I don’t think we’ve had a decent original entry in the series since 1999′s Legend of Mana on PS1. Children of Mana felt monotonous and uninspired. Heroes of Mana showed us what not to do with AI in an RTS game. Dawn of Mana on PS2 was a beautiful game sullied by shoddy gameplay quirks. It’s as if the only constant of the series is its penchant for incredibly good music.
Unfortunately, the F2P and micro-transactions of Rise of Mana undoubtedly concern most fans, myself included. It’s a worrying trend coming from Japanese publishers, with Square Enix right at the forefront. Given the company’s infamous abuse of this system (see: overpriced iOS/Android ports and Final Fantasy: All the Bravest), I feel like pop-ups that goad you into spending more money will only destroy the experience. If they can be implemented in a way that makes them purely optional and easy to brush off, such as Bravely Default’s “Sleep Point” system, then I’d cast these worries aside.
Nevertheless, this will be the first time the Mana series can try to prove itself on mobile platforms.
Last year’s Circle of Mana was a card-based RPG; hardly a good way to surmise Mana’s potential on the platform. And Secret of Mana on iOS was merely a port with touch controls tacked on. Rise of Mana on the other hand was built from the ground-up with mobile in mind and intended to play like an action RPG, so the game ought to feel right with touch controls.
The game comes out on iOS in Japan later this week, so we’ll find out fairly soon if the jump to mobile was a bad move. Even so, there’s always that burning desire to see a series like this on a dedicated gaming platform like the 3DS or PlayStation Vita.
Square Enix has certainly seen a fair share of success on the 3DS with games like Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy and Bravely Default, so why should they eschew Mana from that equation?
The new Mana game that Square Enix has been teasing for months has finally been revealed as Rise of Mana, and the company’s platform of choice shouldn’t surprise you.
Going along with what other Japanese game publishers have been doing with their classic JRPG series, Rise of Mana will makes its debut on iOS and Android devices in Japan this year. The game will be free-to-play and will feature micro-transactions for items (Square Enix fans love those). The game’s protagonist is an angel/devil hybrid that fell from the heavens. Players can switch between the two forms during gameplay.
Rise of Mana will also sport a centralized hub town called “Miste” where players can purchase items and weapons, gain support and train their own personalized demon pet.
Mana titles are no stranger to co-op multiplayer, and RoM will feature that mode of play for up to eight players. That’s a lot.
There’s no set release date for the game just yet, but for now you can have a look at Square Enix’s newly-launched website for the game as well as a YouTube trailer after the break. See if you can spot some of the returning characters and staples from titles like Seiken Densetsu 3 and Legend of Mana.
Humble Indie Bundle has now added to its ranks, with only six days left to snap up some of the industry’s favorite indie games.
FEZ, BeatBuddy and Starseed Pilgrim can be unlocked after donating above the average, currently set at $4.59. The current iteration of Humble Indie Bundle includes the likes of Monaco: What’s Yours Is Mine, Guacamelee: Gold Edition and Dust: An Elysian Tale among others. Soundtracks are also thrown in, making this bundle a steal at its current price.
Humble Indie Bundle 11 features nine games that are playable on PC/Mac/Linux, with the exception of Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams, which is available only on the Windows platform. They are planning to add both Mac and Linux versions of the game shortly. As of this writing, over 377,139 bundles have been picked up, totaling $1,730,782.50. And the numbers just keep on rising.
So what are you waiting for?
Source: Humble Bundle
Weeks after GameInformer broke the news that the campaign in Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes could be completed in two hours, the powers that be at Konami announced earlier today that they will be reducing the price of retail copies by $10 on Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
As previously reported, the game had always been slated to sell digitally for $29.99, but the retail boxed versions were set at $39.99. Today’s price drop announcement brings the retail version in line with digital copies but has no effect on Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 copies.
According to a press release from Konami, the decision to drop the price was made in an effort to “provide as many people as possible an opportunity to experience Kojima Productions’ FOX Engine and the first installment in the two-part Metal Gear Solid V experience.”
In addition to the price drop, those that pick the first printing of the game will get access to special in-game content for the future release of Metal Gear Solid V: Phantom Pain. Those that have pre-ordered Ground Zeroes will still gain access to special missions for the game, depending on their preferred platform of choice.
Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes is slated for release on March 18 for the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.
So what do you think? Has this price drop made your decision to purchase the game easier? Let us know in the comments.
Attention all prospective demon hunters. If you’re looking to get Diablo III: Reaper of Souls when it releases on March 20 and the practice of pre-ordering a game doesn’t sound like a sojourn in the sixth level of Hell, you may want to take a look at the two new bonuses Blizzard announced earlier today.
Those that put some money down on the Diablo III expansion will receive the purely aesthetic Wings of Valor item for their in-game character, along with the ability to unlock Valla the Demon Hunter in Blizzard’s own version of DOTA 2, Heroes of the Swarm.
Digital pre-orders of either the standard or Digital Deluxe Edition will have the Wings of Valor ready and waiting for them when they sign in to the game on March 20. Access to Valla, however, won’t be made available until Heroes of the Swarm officially releases.
Blizzard stressed, however, that anyone with a pre-order from a retail outlet will have to redeem their Reaper of Souls key on their Battle.net account before 11:59 p.m. PST on March 31. Failing to do so will leave their items to be “consumed by the fires of the Burning Hells and lost forever.”
This latest batch of information comes just under a week after Blizzard officially shut the Diablo III auction house down as part of Loot 2.0.
Hiroki Kikuta’s Secret of Mana soundtrack remains one of the most lauded soundtracks on the Super Nintendo. To satiate fans’ burning questions about his work, the game composer took to Reddit to answer questions in an “Ask Me Anything” post.
One eye-catching revelation involved one fan’s inquiry about his work on a fan favorite, “Prophecy,” which he apparently wrote in 15 minutes.
The composer also gave a neat explanation for the game’s aggressive boss tune, “Danger,” saying that a key factor in crafting battle music lies in focusing on “the positive factors clashing with negative ones.”
“When making something like battle music, thinking about the clashing of these different forces is very important,” Kikuta explained. “Once these clashing factors come together, they become one and you end up with a perfect sound that symbolizes that harmony. Much like in American football when you have the chaotic lead up of plays and the celebration when a touchdown is scored, battle music is very similar in how the colliding forces come together to create something amazing.”
Another interesting tidbit in the AMA includes an explanation for the whale noise that plays when one starts the game, which represents “a crying voice for the undying mana tree.”
In addition to questions about his compositions in the Mana series, Kikuta also talked to fans about his work on PS1 RPG Soukaigi and Koudelka and his recently-released original album entitled “Pulse Pico Pulse.”
If you have any appreciation for SNES soundtracks, or you just simply think Secret of Mana is one of the best videogame soundtracks of all time, then I highly suggest you give the AMA a read.