Oldies but Goodies – Super Mario Brothers 2

Genre:  Platformer
Platform:  NES

Have you ever been playing a game in a series and it just didn’t feel right?  Like maybe it just doesn’t belong in the series?  If you felt that while playing Super Mario Brothers 2, you were right.  Nintendo of Japan had developed a Super Mario Brothers 2, but audiences in Japan found it too difficult.  These levels were later released as the “Lost Levels” and can be found in several places, such as Super Mario All-Stars on the SNES.

Instead of starting from scratch, Nintendo re-purposed a game called Doki Doki Panic and released it as Super Mario Brothers 2.  This is a really odd game and as a result, doesn’t really feel much like a Mario game.  But we all still love it.  Some of the odder parts are the fact that you can pull items out of the ground and throw it at mobs, secret potions that sometimes create doors, weird monsters, Birdo and the slots between levels.

Birdo was especially weird.  That is the name of the monster in the picture above.  Even though it wears a bow on its head, it is a male.  He throws eggs at you from his mouth and you need to land on them mid-air, pull them over your head and throw them back at him.  After you do this a few times, you can enter the big eagle’s mouth on the side of the wall.  Yeah, I told you this got weird.  Here is a picture of the slots between levels, which was also strange:


However, you could play as more than just Mario or Luigi.  You could also play as Toad or Princess Peach.  They all had their strengths – Peach could hover for a while, Toad was really strong, Mario was good all-around and Luigi…well, Luigi was funny to play?  He always seems to get the shaft in these games.

I still like this game to this day.  I don’t think I ever played it all the way through, though.  I’ll have to do that soon.  This game is available in Nintendo’s Virtual Console store, so it’s easy to go play!

Death Jr for the PSP

Genre:  Platformer
Platform:  PSP

Death Jr. is a quirky game on the PSP.  It was an early release on the handheld and reminded me a bit of Psychonauts.  It’s got the same macabre feel and the graphics are unique.  The story is fun as well.

You play as DJ (Death Jr), a kid just trying to make it through school.  One day, something goes very wrong at school and it’s up to you to save your friends.  Each friend has a level that you need to clear in order to save them.  The story was solid enough to keep me wanting more.  It’s also fairly humorous, which I always appreciate.

The game play is fun.  You can either slash with your scythe, which also lets you grab items mid-air and glide to safety.  You can also equip a gun, but ammo is an issue.  You get better guns as you go and upgrades to your scythe.  There are collectible items, although not many.  The monsters are numerous and unique as well.  Much of the environment is destructible.

So why am I not gushing over this game yet?  It has a terrible flaw.  You can’t control the camera.  You can center the camera behind you, but you can’t freely move it.  This really kills the game for me and will likely prevent me from finishing it.  It also makes heavy use of the PSP’s analog nub, which can lead to hand cramps.  I have a comfort grip, which lessens this somewhat, but it’s still not the best design.

You can find this game fairly cheap (~$5) and I would recommend picking it up.  It’s different enough to be fun and the story is solid.  It’s best played in short bursts, however.

Stinkers – Deal or No Deal, Nintendo DS

Genre:  Game Show
Platform:  Nintendo DS

I love game shows.  I am a sucker for the Game Show Network and BUZZR.  It really doesn’t matter the age or content of the show, I will sit and watch it.  I also really like Deal or No Deal.  The premise is fairly simple.  You pick a case and hope that it has $1,000,000 in it.  Throughout the game, you pick other cases that have other values in them.  Between rounds, the host talks to the banker, who makes you an offer for your case.  If you want to risk it and keep going, you can.  If you like his offer and just want to run away with that money, you do.  Nearly every time, people get too greedy and end up busted.

So naturally, I picked up this game.  I had a lot of fun with it, at least the first few games.  It was just like the TV show, Howie Mandel and all.  But then I noticed something.  It was a pattern.  And it destroyed the (video) game for me forever.  You see, this game has a big flaw and I can’t believe that the developers didn’t see it.  If you’ve not played this game and intend to, hit your back button now.

The critical error is that the $1,000,000 is always in the same case.  Every single time.  This takes away all of the fun.  The company that made this came out with a second “special version” of the game, but the damage was already done for me and I didn’t want to buy it.  It’s too bad because I really had fun before I noticed it.

Oldies but Goodies – Sim Tower

Genre:  Simulation
Platform:  PC

The Sim games have been getting some love (and hate) on my site lately.  It’s usually love.  And Sim Tower is no exception.  I think I found this game by accident in Walmart one day and bought it.  I loved SimCity, so how could I go wrong with another Sim game, this time about a tower?  I couldn’t!

This game was a lot of fun and gave you a lot of different options to customize your tower.  You can still find this game online, by the way, so if you haven’t played it, try it out!  You started with an empty plot of land and you started by building your lobby.  Easy enough.  Next, you built your second floor.  And some stairs so people could get up to that floor.  Now you pick what kind of dwelling you want on your new floor.  Hotel rooms?  Office space?  Condos?  It’s up to you, but keep an eye on your cash flow!  (Hint, offices in the beginning).

As your tower grows up, the challenges get greater.  By far, the most constant challenge is elevator strategy.  You are only allowed a certain number of elevator shafts per tower and if you reach over 50 stories, things really start to get interesting.  You’ll be dreaming about pink and red people and elevator capacities and which floors to set the cars to while idle and WAAAAH!  I actually still think about this game every time I am waiting for an elevator and imagine myself turning pink.  Before you know it, your simple tower looks like this:


This is a great game and I strongly recommend you try it out.  It’s got a bit of humor in it as well and the replay-ability is quite high.


Genre:  Hidden Object
Platform:  PC

I can be a sucker for casual object games.  They are a good thing to do when I’m trying to keep my mind occupied and often let me go into deep thought.  It’s a lot like mowing the yard or listening to music – it keeps the noisy part of my mind occupied so another part can work on some more complex things.

One of these such games is Clutter.  It’s a PC game and I found it on iwin.com.  They have tons of casual games on that site and this is one of my favorites.  It’s a hidden object game, but not in the strict sense.  It’s almost more of a matching game.  You have to find matches, sometimes two, sometimes three at a time.  The game gives you different goals or modes.  Sometimes the images are all in black and white or perhaps split in half.  They also have mini-games scattered throughout to break up the game a bit.

There are five different Clutter games and I’ve played them each through a few times, some more than others.  Clutter 1, 2 and 5 are my favorites.  I have spent many, many hours playing.  I was actually just playing Clutter 5 when I had the idea to write this post.

If you like hidden object or matching games, check this one out.  It can be challenging and fun!

Oldies but Goodies – Duck Hunt

Genre:  Arcade
Platform:  NES

I think most of us played Duck Hunt the day we got our new NES back in the day.  It was the “B” side of the dual-game cartridge that came with the system.  Super Mario Brothers was the star, but Duck Hunt was certainly a pleasant surprise.  The NES came with a gun attachment, so you could actually shoot at the screen and kill the ducks!  This amazed me as a sixth-grader.

When you start playing, your dog buddy rustles up the weeds and up fly some ducks.  It starts easy enough – you see one duck at a time and you only need one shot to take them down.  As the game goes on, you get more ducks at once and they get a bit tougher.  I’m not sure how many levels there were, but I really enjoyed this one.  If you’re like me, though, it didn’t take you too long to realize that you could cheat by taking the gun straight to the TV screen.  I didn’t do that often, though, as there was a lot more fun in the challenge of the game.

And admit it, you aimed and shot at the dog when the he laughed at you when you missed.


Genre:  RPG
Platform:  SNES

I had never heard of nor played Earthbound when it was out for the SNES.  It’s too bad I hadn’t, as this little gem goes for upwards of $200 for the cart only on Ebay now.  I decided to see what all the hype is about.

I found the ROM online some time ago and I’m playing it on my GCW Zero.  I’m not too far into the game, but it’s certainly not as I expected.  Based on the box art, I expected maybe a hardcore Japanese-inspired mech game.  This is almost the exact opposite.  You play as a kid who is trying to find out what a mysterious “meteorite” is that landed not too far from your house.  That’s about as far as I am into the story right now.

I will say that the kid’s parents in this game should get a nod for “worst parents of the world”.  At one point, I went to talk to the mother and she gave me some sarcastic response like “yeah, you’re cool, whatever…”.  What?  They also don’t seem to care that you are running around the town in the middle of the night and trying to interfere with police investigations.  Whatever.

I do look forward to seeing what else this game has in store for me.  Please, if you’ve played it, no spoilers!

Earthlock – Festival of Magic

Genre:  RPG
Platform:  XBone

One of last month’s Games with Gold (free) was Earthlock, Festival of Magic.  I had never heard of it before, but I figured I would give it a shot.  This is really a solid game.  I’m probably about 50% done and I hope to finish it.  This is a game which gives a nod to classic JRPGS (Japanese Role-Playing Games) in that the combat is turn-based and you travel the world on a highly zoomed-out map.  You can fast travel once you find the fast travel books.

The combat is a lot of fun.  As stated, it’s turned-based, which means that each of your party members takes a turn attacking, as do the enemies.  Before each of your players’ turns, you decide what they are going to do.  Each character has two stances, usually an offensive and supportive role for magic users and two different types of combat styles for your melee.  You have some choice in how many enemies you can take on at once based on the main map, but not always.  The more you take on at once, the higher xp you get, which is used to level up and get more abilities and strength.

There is also a small crafting system.  You rarely get seeds from boss mobs, which you can plant and cultivate.  Each one gives you something useful for ammo or different types of attacks.  You’ll do quite a bit of farming as it is a necessary part of the game, but I found it a nice break between long trips on the road.


There are boss mobs which can be really challenging.  Be prepared to grind a bit for xp in this game.  I enjoyed it and felt that it was a throw back to older games.  You have to work to progress in this game and it feels rewarding.  This game is getting some negative reviews as a result, but I wouldn’t listen to that.  You also have to be quite careful about your save points as it’s not very forgiving in that area.  Save, save, save.

Leveling up is fun.  You have a tech tree of sorts which lets you add new attributes that you either craft or find out of chests or bosses.  Customization is strong in this game.  There are also little parts of the game that I find fun such as bestiary tracking.  You’ll also play around with the pairing of your characters as well.  Each has their own strengths and weaknesses, but you also get bonuses for bonding two characters together.  Your party is four characters, but you pair two groups together for this bonding.

I would recommend playing this game.  It felt pretty retro, the story is compelling, the graphics are nice and there’s enough variety in the game play and dungeons to make each area feel fresh.