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Gendo – Back to Basics; or a short conversation on two Neo-Old School Games

December 20, 2009

Well, I’d like to start off this post with apologizing for not posting in such a long while. For what ever reason I seemed to have forgotten this blog existed (not true), and haven’t written anything in 3 months. Truth is, I think I was just lazy and didn’t really have anything to talk about, but now I do and I promise to write more often for the benefit of the blog. 🙂

So what am I talking about today? Recently over the years of 2008 and 2009 we’ve seen a little bit (read: little) of a resurgance in old school type gaming. That is, games that are either unabashadly old school in style, such as Mega Man 9. Or games that are rooted in old school stylings, but bring something new to the table or have the look and feel of a new game, such as New Super Mario Bros. Wii. Incidentally these are the two games I’ll be talking about today.

Mega Man 9. Honestly a game that I myself and I’m sure almost anyone who follows gaming did not think possible, especially the news of it going back to its 8-bit roots. After Mega Man 8, which I still think is quite awful, I never really expected there to be another core Mega Man game. Maybe that was a little silly and shortsighted of me, but can you blame me really?

One of the best things about Mega Man 9 is that is revels in its old school style of play and presentation. I knew as soon as I saw the first previews of it that this game wasn’t going to try and conform to the way games are today… mainly full of hand holding and reduced difficulty to make sure to please everyone. Well Mega Man 9 was gonna have none of that. This game was tough and it punished you for your mistakes. But once you got down the lay of the level and the way things operated within its space, you could rush through the game within 45 minutes or less (which I’ve done).

I think the main reason Mega Man 9 succeeded was because the guys at Capcom actually went back to the basics (!) of what made Mega Man so great. A slightly cheesy storyline, Dr. Wily, unqiue bosses, amazing music and fun platforming. They looked back at Mega Man 2 and Mega Man 3, the most beloved in the franchise and saw what worked. And looked at the rest of the series and figured out what didn’t work so well (the slide? the charging mega buster?). The creators knew deep down what they had to do and did they ever do it. In this bloggers humble opinion, Mega Man 9 could be the best Mega Man game ever made, even better than 2 and 3… and all this 20 some odd years after the fact!

Now, another case, New Super Mario Bros. Wii. This game, unlike Mega Man 9, is very much a “new” game. It doesn’t sport the 8 or 16 bit look, it has a really polished visual style and looks absolutely gorgeous on an HDTV, even if it sadly isn’t in 720p. But it still maintains the old school gameplay of Mario that almost everyone has grown up with and loved. If I could really equate this game to anything it would be as if Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World and New Super Mario Bros. (DS), somehow had a 3 way triangle love child/monstrosity. Trust me.

Super Mario Galaxy was a fantastic game, but with NSMBWii it’s again a case of back to basics and that’s what makes this game so amazing. Some people might say it’s a de-evolution of the series, bringing absolutely nothing new to the table and therefore isn’t worth playing, because you may as well just play something “better” like Super Mario World or Super Mario Bros. 3. Well these people are just cranky blockheads who don’t know how to have a good time, because that’s exactly what this game brings in spades. So many great references to some of the best Mario games, although I’m still a little sad we couldn’t see Peach and Toad as player’s 3 and 4 for that true Super Mario Bros. 2 reunion.

There isn’t much to really say about the game that hasn’t already been said by most people, but the return of a fantastic Mario 2D platformer was music to my ears. Playing through with myself or my friends is a very different experience as well, especially since platform space is a premium when you’re playing with 4 people, quite often you’ll find yourselves jumping off each others heads and pushing each other down pits. Careful, you may lose friendships over this game!

Anywho, I think I’ve raved on a little too long about these two fantastic games for one blog post. I really could go on for hours, but I’d rather people actually read my posts (please do!). I think Mega Man 9 and New Super Mario Bros. Wii are two perfect examples of how going back to what works, back to that basic style of play we’re all fond of, can still generate new and exciting gaming opportunities. If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it, works quite well in this case. Here’s to Mega Man 10, and even more old school gaming in 2010.

NOTE: I haven’t played Retro Game Challenge yet, but it’s on my wishlist and I will play it eventually. It seems right up my alley.

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2 comments

  1. I do appreciate the bit of a 2D resurgence that we’ve had and I hope it continues.

    Wouldn’t it be great if Sega made a Sonic game that went “back to basics”?


  2. Thanks Chris.

    Yeah I’m totally on board for more 2D stuff, I just wish it was more prevalent… but I guess I can’t be too greedy. I just really want my 2D Metroid. 😦

    And yeah, it would be nice if SEGA made a Sonic game that looked back at what made Sonic good, and see all the mistakes they made with the new generation…and then fix it!



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