Community Post: Mario, You Lead and I Shall Follow

Image by ManuelSagra

Image by ManuelSagra

As mentioned, until Saturday I’ll be putting up a community post every day, each one written by an awesome UWG contributor on the topic of Mario levels. You can also check out these posts (and others) UWG and the blogs of the other participants: Niall’s Ramblings, Games I Made My Girlfriend PlayGamer Crash, and The Duck of IndeedSo check them all out! Today’s post is by Cary, one of the UWG admins and blogger over at Recollections of PlayEnjoy!

No matter how many times Mario’s adventures are hashed and rehashed, games that prominently feature that famous plumber, his princess, and that evil dinosaur we call Bowser, remain fresh, fun, and playable dozens of times over. Mario games are level-driven games — you’ve got to make your way through stages or levels in a series of worlds in order to reach the final battle with Bowser. And only a few games, like Paper Mario and Super Mario RPG, have deviated from the platformer tradition started by Super Mario Bros. Despite that fact the games usually contain worlds of similar themes, each is unique in presentation and design. Even so, I will never cheer upon traversing a snowy/icy world because Mario is already slippery enough, no matter how many penguin suits he owns. I will never get excited for those pre-Bowser, fire worlds, as I will never have enough patience with lava and fireballs. So when it comes to my favorite Mario levels, there will be nary an ice storm or fire waterfall in site. But there will be something “big.” Curious? Read on!

Big Island (Level 4): Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES)

You’re going to find a recurring theme in my list — I like oversized Mario things. I really can’t explain why, but I’m almost certain that the seed for this quirk was planted upon first playing around in Big Island in Super Mario Bros. 3.  So like the moniker says, everything on Big Island, is …well big. The koopas, the goombas, the piranha plants, heck, even the clouds and backdrops are larger than life. I simply find it highly enjoyable to be a little Mario running around a land of giants, and being able to squash those giants as easily as anything!

Video by YouTube user MegamanNG

Yoshi’s Island (Level 1): Super Mario World (SNES) 

Last week I wrote a post for UWG on the importance of any given game’s first mission or level or quest (embed link:, and in it I mentioned how most Mario games have great lead-in levels. Yoshi’s Island in Super Mario World is a perfect example of this. Not only does this level contain a plethora of Yoshies (my favorite Mario character), but it’s a fun place to be generally. The individual worlds aren’t extremely difficult to traverse and there’s plenty to stomp on and collect. Plus, it introduces some of the best Mario musical theme renditions available.

Video by YouTube user bpblu

Tiny-Huge Island (Level 13): Super Mario 64 (N64) 

Following in my preference for all-large-things-Mario is Tiny-Huge Island from Super Mario 64. But as much fun as it is to take on gargantuan enemies, this level is especially wonderful because it can be played in two different ways, with or without the giants. And it’s not just a matter of choosing to play one way or the other, you must play the level both ways, often switching between the tiny and huge, in order to get all the stars. Tiny-Huge Island occurs somewhat late in the game, and after repeatedly going through static level after static level, the notion of working through a level that changes, if only through the size of the enemies, is refreshing and welcome.

Video by YouTube user Nintendo64Movies

The “Invincible” Tubba Blubba (Level 3): Paper Mario (Gamecube)

I hold the two Paper Mario games I’ve played in pretty high regard as I enjoy not only the turn-based style of combat and the games’ stories, but I simply adore the graphics. It looks like the characters were all colored in and cut out of a coloring book — so cute! The “Invincible” Tubba Blubba level sticks out in my mind because it contains friendly boos. Little, ghostly boos have been haunting and taunting Mario for years, but in Paper Mario, Mario has to help save their town from the clutches of the ghost-eating Tubba Blubba. One ghost even helps you along the way! I love the role reversal, as it was something so in contrast to the traditional enemies in Mario games.

Video by YouTube user luigifan64d

Soda Jungle (Level 5): New Super Mario Bros. U (Wii U) 

Did you think I wasn’t going to end with yet another ode to the oversized?? I recently completed New Super Mario Bros. U and I think it’s the best interpretation going of Mario’s original Princess-saving story.  The Soda Jungle is a perilous place with acidic seas and other things to avoid, but it’s also got one level with  huge enemies and one level with an enormous wiggler that made me want to laugh and cry at the same time. It’s also a level with lots of variety, spanning from above ground to underground challenges. But by and large, that introduction to Giant Brick Blocks, Grand Goombas, and Gargantuan Koopa Troopas really made my day; and I love going back to that level simply because it brings me joy to do so.

Video by YouTube user At the Buzzer

Let’s Play Amnesia: The Dark Descent Part 3 is up!

Hi guys, here’s the 3rd part of my new Amnesia series. I think it’s much improved from last time (let me know if you agree) and things start to get interesting in this one! If you like it please show your support by liking/subscribing/commenting, it means a lot to me!

I’ve decided to put out a video every Wednesday and Saturday, so keep checking back. Enjoy!

Does Thirty Flights of Loving live up to the hype?

Most of you have probably heard of Thirty Flights of Loving. Everyone seems to have been going on about this game since it came out, raving about how it’s one of the must-play games of 2012. I was extremely excited to play this short first-person… game? Interactive story? Experience? Whatever it was it sounded amazing, intriguing, life-changing even. Maybe that was the problem, that I had such high hopes for it. When I got around to finally playing it this week, I was left with a sense of… well, disappointment seems a bit of a strong word, but my mind was certainly not blown like I expected it to be. It’s like when you go to a fast food joint and  order a burger, which looks lip-smackingly delcious in the picture, but when it actually comes you realise that it’s tiny, the cheese looks like plastic, the sauce looks like it’s about to give you radiation poisoning and…. well you get the point. It wasn’t quite the masterpiece that I had expected. It also seems that I might be in the minority about this.

tfol 2013-01-27 17-38-07-02

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that TFOL was a terrible game. On the contrary, I actually though it was quite good. I have to give Brendon Chung some major kudos for creating such a well-thought out, tightly narrated and original game (at least in terms of design). The story of a heist gone wrong is told through a series of short scenes that move you backwards and forwards through time. In the process you catch glimpses of the road that has led your character to this point in time, poignant little snapshots that leave you wondering, but always dancing around that moment where everything fell apart. It undeniably packs an emotional punch. The pacing is incredible, always tightly wound with brief respites before you’re thrown back into it with a frenetic new energy, with not even one second wasted. It’s cinematic, it’s beautiful, it’s charming in its simple and blocky graphics. It’s atmospheric. It’s whimsical. It’s poignant. The soundtrack perfectly complements the mood in each scene. In fact I think it’s the soundtrack composed by Chris Remo that truly made this for me.

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Let’s Play Amnesia: The Dark Descent Part 1 and 2 are now up on Youtube!

Ignore this, it should be gone soon – 8V8RKH4MDAXQ

I’ve finally got Part 1 and 2 of my Amnesia series up! You can check them out below.  It took a little longer than expected to finish as they were my first Youtube videos ever, so I had to learn the ropes a bit. Also, as usual I got too excited by all the new software and was a bit overzealous in my research. Ah well, hopefully it should be simpler next time!

Just a point to note, it does start off a little slow in Part 1 and gains momentum by the end, so please stick with it! It should begin picking up even more next week as well.

I apologise about the poor lighting at the beginning, hopefully I fixed the issue later on. Let me know if you think it’s still a problem. In fact, I’d appreciate any feedback you’ve got!

If you like the videos, please show your support by commenting on or sharing them  or subscribing to my channel! It would be good to know whether this is a series you’d like me to continue or not.

I know there’s a lot to improve, but hopefully you guys enjoy them.

Poll: What should I play for my first Youtube video?

Hello fellow gamers and new inductees! As the title suggests, I’m planning to start a Youtube channel (woot!) and so I’d like a little input from the people who will most likely be viewing it what they’d like to see for my first video so check out the poll above and let me know what you think. I’m not sure if it’ll be in the style of a review or a Let’s Play video (walkthrough) yet, so if you have opinions on that as well, please leave a comment! I’ll be updating this blog and (once I set it up) my Youtube channel every week as far as possible, so you can look forward to a lot of action and most likely excessive swearing in the future (I do turn into a bit of a different person when I play games…)

What’s so special about video games?

Hello, welcome to my blog! If you don’t know me, I’m Sam or you can call me CheeeseToastie if you’d prefer. Since it’s my first post, I thought I’d introduce myself a little and explain what I’m going to do with this blog.

Once upon a time about 3 or 4 months ago, I was law postgrad on track to attempting to become a high-flying solicitor. True, the chances of that happening were probably very, very low, considering the state of the current job market in the UK and the fact that I did a Master’s degree in human rights law, which probably meant I was more on track to making very little money for the rest of my life. Still though, I was a stressed out fresh-faced law postgrad who had just started the professional legal course, which would take me one step closer to gaining the coveted title of ‘lawyer’! I had already forced myself through years of education at top universities, internships, extra-curricular activities and all the things you were supposed to do to make your CV look pretty. I learned a lot of things in the process, for instance that studying law doesn’t require you to be some kind of linguisitic genius who can destroy the souls of their audience merely with their words like the lawyers you see on Boston Legal. You just need to be somewhat intelligent, a speed reading demon, masochistic and be able to talk out of your ass.

Yet the closer I came to attaining that goal, the more I realised I just couldn’t do it anymore. Obviously though, knowing what you don’t want to do for a living doesn’t feed or clothe you, so what could I do? I realised I had to do something I was truly passionate about, otherwise what was the point? What would the point be in ditching a stable career path you weren’t interested in for another one you weren’t interested in? I thought long and hard about, played a lot of video games, thought about it some more and then it hit me.

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