Project Review Week 5

This past week I started to run out of newer games that I wanted to write about so I decided to go a bit retro. I picked a few of my favorite games from my childhood that were simple enough to explain to someone who has possibly never played them.  After choosing what games to review, I had no problem publishing 3 good posts. I also managed to hit a milestone of 50 followers since the beginning of our project.

Because we skipped the week 4 review to complete our studio tours of 3 classmates, I’ll post last weeks posts here as well in case anybody missed them. Overall, the week has gone well but I’m getting a little burnt out on writing and I can’t wait for the semester to finally be over with.

Week 5 Posts:

Week 4 Posts:

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Mortal Kombat 3





Developer: Midway Games

Platforms: Arcade, Genesis, Super Nintendo, PlayStation, Game Boy, Game Gear, PC

Mortal Kombat 3 was the first fighting game I ever got my hands on. I remember sitting in daycare playing with Legos in the sunroom when the daycare lady brought in two new consoles that she had purchased for the kids to play with — a Super Nintendo and a Sega Genesis which we quickly hooked up the T.V. on a little coffee table by the door. She had a bunch of games to go with each console and among the Genesis games were Bubsy, Aladdin, Lion King, General Chaos, Sonic (1, 2 and 3D Blast) and Mortal Kombat 3. Immediately captivated by the characters on the box we decided that we needed to play Mortal Kombat right away. With 2 controllers and a whole group of kids waiting for a turn to play, we decided to play tournament style games where the winner goes on to the next match and the loser hands the controller to the next in line.

What I remember most about Mortal Kombat 3 is the variety of characters and the seemingly limitless moves. We were horrible at first but through much trial and error we were able to figure out how to shoot fireballs, freeze people, teleport and even transform into other characters. Every time we found a new move we would write it down so everyone knew how to do it, before long we had discovered entire move sets and even a few fatalities. Mortal Kombat 3 featured 7 new characters that weren’t in the previous games and brought back 8 familiar characters for a total of 15 playable characters. There were also a few non-playable characters and bosses to add to the mix.


The character selection screen before unlocking smoke as a playable character.

For those who have never played the game, Mortal Kombat follows the typical layout for a fighting game. Players either face off against a computer opponent or a second controller and fight each other in a best of 3 match, the round point is given to the player who is able to knock the entire health bar off of their opponent by landing successful attacks. There are 2 modes in Mortal Kombat 3, the single player mode and the ability to play against the AI or another controller one round at a time. The single player mode featured a “Choose your destiny” screen which allowed the player to select which difficulty they wanted to play. The whole single player was just beating one opponent after another and climbing the ladder towards the boss waiting at the top. The higher difficulties featured more fights and multiple boss fights for the player to conquer. I wasn’t the best player but somehow managed to fight my way to Shao Kahn a couple times only to be destroyed by his incredible moves.


Lui Kang using a bicycle kick to attack Kano.

The heart of Mortal Kombat was in the multiplayer — challenging a friend to a grudge match to prove who is the better Lui Kang or Sub Zero. Mortal Kombat 3 was also the  first game in the series to add interactive levels where certain moves like the uppercut would send the character flying through the ceiling and then resume fighting on a whole new stage. With a lot of new features such as the run meter and chain combos, Mortal Kombat 3 was filled with challenging and entertaining game play. Mortal Kombat 3 was the perfect game to introduce me to the series and lead to me playing the sequels across the N64 and PS2. It’s a truly classic fighting games and it’s available as an HD remake with the entire arcade collection so you should have no problem giving it a playthrough if it peaks your interest.

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Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater









Developers: Neversoft, Edge of Reality, Natsume, Treyarch

Platforms: PlayStation, Nintendo 64, Game Boy Color, Dreamcast, N-Gage

Christmas morning 2000, it doesn’t seem that long ago but I was only 8 at the time. Just a typical kid running out to the living room to stare at the pile of gifts under the tree. This was the year that I got a console of my very own, no having to share with siblings or leaving it in the living room for everyone to play. It was all mine. That year I unwrapped a Jungle Green Nintendo 64 with Donkey Kong 64 and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. I’m pretty sure my parents didn’t see me for a week after that. Playing Tony Hawk on a 13 inch color T.V. in the corner of my room was the greatest thing ever and it kick-started my love for the series.

The graphics on the N64 alone were mind blowing. The ability to turn in all directions with 3D characters looking almost real. Tony Hawk was a simple game with simple goals. You take on the role of a professional skateboarder, (Rune Glifberg was my go to guy) and you set out to complete a list of objectives. There are a total of 9 levels in the game and 6 of them require you to find 5 tapes. Each run through a level allows the player 2 minutes to complete as much as possible and tapes that have already been earned do not reset with new runs which allows you to keep trying until you get them all.

The tapes are rewarded for completing these objectives:

  • Reaching a set high score, points are rewarded for linking tricks and doing special moves
  • Reaching the top high score which is usually 2-3 times higher than the first one
  • Collecting the 5 floating letters to spell “SKATE”, they are scattered throughout the level
  • The level specific tape for tricking on 5 of something (e.g grind 5 picnic tables)
  • Finding the hidden tape, usually in a high place or somewhere you wouldn’t think to look

The other 3 levels in the game are competitions. The only objective is to get the highest score in the best of 3 rounds. Computer players are competing against you which affects what place you get. These levels appear as level 4, 7 and 9, so they are more towards then end of the game. That about sums up the single player campaign but there are 2 more modes for single player. Single session which allows you to play on any level that you have unlocked through the main game with the only objective of setting a high score withing the 2 minutes. As well as free skate which allows you to play any level with no timer and no objectives, just skate around, have fun and practice tricks.


Skating the half-pipe in the first level.

The single player in Tony Hawk is great but there are some noticeable multiplayer game types as well. With 2 player split-screen the game allows you to challenge a friend to a match of HORSE, Trick Attack, or Graffiti. Graffiti was my favorite mode, two players skate around the map and do tricks on everything they can find, when you trick on something it turns your color, if your opponent tricks over it they can paint it their color and steal the point, the person with the most painted ramps at the end of the round wins. Trick attack is a short competition for the highest score, whoever has more points when the timer runs out wins. Then there’s HORSE, it’s not trick based but score based, each player has 10 seconds to set a score and then the opponent tries to beat it. Just like normal HORSE the loser of the round gets a letter and the game is played until someone ends up with all the letters to the word.

This game can only be referred to as a classic and it remains one of my favorite games from my childhood. I encourage everyone to give this game a shot, either the classic game, by emulator or the HD version which was recently released. Tony Hawk games are fun and sure to entertain.

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General Chaos


Developer: Game Refuge Inc.

Platform: Sega Genesis

General Chaos is a real-time tactics game that came out for the Sega Genesis in 1993.

The game features real time battle between two squads on a battlefield. Choosing either General Chaos (blue team) or General Havoc (red team), the player must pick a squad of up to five soldiers before entering the fight. There are four preassembled squads to choose from: the Assault Team, the Commandos, the Demolition Squad and the Brute Force Troop.


Each squad is a different arrangement of the five character classes.

  • Gunner: Medium range attack with a high rate of fire. Only downside is the possibility of his gun jamming in battle.
  • Launcher: Long range attack with a slow firing weapon. The launcher’s attack can be blocked by cover but he possesses the ability to instantly kill and destroy bonus objectives like safes and take the contents.
  • Chucker: Medium to long range. Throws grenades at the enemy which can go over cover, damage multiple enemies and destroy bonus objectives.
  • Scorcher: Short range flame thrower attack with a high rate of fire. Can hit multiple enemies at once and possibly instantly kill them so the medics can’t revive them. If a scorcher goes under water the gun will temporarily shoot bubbles instead of flames.
  • Blaster: Short range attack with the highest damage and a slow rate of fire. Blasters throw and detonate dynamite which can destroy bonus objectives and instantly kill enemies. They usually need to be protected as they have no means of defense.

Taking into consideration each squad’s pros and cons, the player must choose wisely to defeat the enemy in each battle. The main game modes allow for single battle play between multiple players or against the computer as well as a longer campaign version. The campaign is a series of battles between the two generals and each victory brings you one step closer to capturing the opposing team’s capital city.


Teams taking cover on the battlefield.

Being on an older console, the games controls are a little hard to get used to. Thankfully there is a boot camp mode which teaches new players the basics attacks of each character and how to control the squad as a whole. Besides just moving characters and shooting/blowing things up, the game features fast pace hand to hand combat when two enemy players get too close. Having to mash buttons to punch, kick and block calls for two players to fight until one soldier is victorious. The game also contains over 50 different battlefields each adding different hazards, obstacles and possible tactics for the player to use.

This is just a fun game that I have fond memories of playing when I was a child. Being released 21 years ago, I don’t feel the need to rank the game based on content, I would rather just leave this as a review for anyone who might be interested in checking it out. General Chaos is a great game for its time period and was a revolutionary concept at the time of its development. Hands down one of my favorite games for the Genesis.

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Counter-Strike: Global Offensive





Developers: Valve Corporation and Hidden Path Entertainment

Platforms: Windows, OS X, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (often called CS:GO) is the latest game in the Counter-Strike series. It’s one of the most played shooters on the PC and it has a very loyal fan base for a few simple reasons. The most noticeable aspect of this game is how far it strays from the typical first person shooter (FPS). With games like Call of Duty setting the standards for an FPS, CS:GO has decided to stick with its own formula for addicting and skill based game play.

Counter-Strike is considered to be a more hardcore FPS. Players do not possess the ability to sprint around the map or even the ability to use the iron sights on their weapon. Most game modes are highly centered around well coordinated team play and wise decisions. This is not the kind of game where someone can run solo and destroy the entire enemy team head on. CS:GO is a little hard to learn for most people and the only way to excel as a player is  to practice and learn from your mistakes. Every death in Counter-Strike is a learning opportunity, the more you play, the more you build a sense of what to do in certain situations and how to outplay the other team. Game types like Team Death Match, Arms Race and Demolition are a great way to practice gun skill and become comfortable with the wide variety of weapons. They are also the only game types that allow more than one life per round making dying a little less stressful.

A cinematic trailer showing an example of coordinated teamwork.

The most well known and loved game types in Counter-Strike are the round based competitive, hostage and defuse game modes. These game modes bring a whole new dynamic to the game. Players join either the Terrorist or Counter-Terrorist teams and compete against each other to complete the objective or eliminate the other team. This game mode rewards players with money for kills, assists, completing objectives and winning or losing the round. At the beginning of each round players have the option to buy new weapons, armor or equipment to use that round. The economy is a very important part of the game and the team that avoids losing their weapons by dying in previous rounds usually have the upper hand when the opposing team can only afford to buy pistols. These round based modes call for strategy and communication between teammates. The tactical side of Counter-Strike is one of the appealing aspects of the game as it forces players to play smart and consider the outcomes of their actions.

The game can be frustrating at times, especially for new comers to the series, but I assure you that with a little time and practice you will find yourself enjoying the unique game play that CS:GO has to offer. The only secret to being a good player is to practice and adapt to the Counter-Strike play style. The ranking system is a lifesaver for new players as you will be matched up with people of equal skill level and given a chance to warm up to the game before coming face to face with veteran players. Overall, I find Counter-Strike to be an enjoyable and challenging game. The game currently sells for $14.99 on Steam and receives constant updates to keep the game fresh. CS:GO is just one of those games that every PC gamer should have in their library of games.

Rating: 8/10


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Portal 2





Developer: Valve Corporation

Platforms: Windows, OS X, Linux, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360

Portal 2 is hands down one of the greatest sequels to a game ever made. It expands on everything from the first game while keeping the beloved mind bending game play and humorous protagonists. For those who are unaware, the Portal series is a first person puzzle platformer. Depending on whether you play single player or co-op, you will play the role of either Chell, ATLAS, or P-body in your mission to solve test chambers. Portal takes place within the Aperture Science Enrichment Center which has you playing through cleverly designed test chambers and using all the tools at your disposal to solve increasingly harder puzzles. The main tool is the portal gun which allows the player to shoot two different portals in any valid spot and simply walk through one and appear out side of the other. The portal gun is used for transporting yourself as well as redirecting lasers, excursion funnels, light bridges, turrets and more.


Besides simply shooting portals around to solve puzzles, you must make use of buttons, pressure switches, launch pads and momentum to solve many of the bigger test chambers. Then end of the game introduces a few unique features to change the way puzzles are played. Three different types of Gel are new to the game and allow players to create new paths to solve otherwise impossible puzzles. Repulsion Gel allows players to bounce off any surface that has been covered as well as bounce any objects that have come into contact with the gel. Propulsion Gel has the ability to reduce friction allowing players to slide across it and gain increased speed to clear a gap or enter a portal with great momentum. Conversion Gel is simply a substance that can be sprayed on any surface to allow the creation of portals in places that were previously invalid surfaces, and Cleansing Gel doesn’t really count as it is just water with the ability to clean a surface.

The single player is great but the Co-op forces you to solve puzzles as a team.

The dialogue is absolutely hilarious and keeps the game feeling entertaining and fresh. Believe it or not, there is a very compelling story line behind solving all these puzzles and the constant interaction between the main character(s) and GLaDOS (the machine in charge of the testing facility) give you a reason to keep playing the game to see what happens next. This game’s single player mode is one of the most immersive games I’ve played in a long time and the Co-op story line is an incredible amount of fun when played through with a good friend. It’s not the longest game in the world, personally finishing the single player in 8 hours and the entire co-op story line in 7, but Portal 2 remains one of my favorite PC games ever made and the $20 is more than worth it to experience the story for yourself. I also recommend playing through the much shorter Portal 1 to help understand the current relationships between characters in the second game.





Rating: 9.5/10

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Developer: Chucklefish Games

Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux

Starbound is currently in early access which means that they have released the beta version of the game for people to play. The visual style of the game is very similar to Terraria due to the same artist working on both projects. While Starbound appears similar in style to Terraria it contains many different features to distinguish the two games.

The first noticeable difference is the addition of races. Upon starting the game you must choose a race before reaching the character creation screen. There are currently 6 playable races with at least one more in planning. Each race has a unique style of ship and they receive different stat bonuses when wearing full sets of armor. The ship itself is a new addition and it plays a massive role in exploration. In Starbound you basically live on your ship. Adding storage helps you keep all your items in one spot without having to settle down on a home planet and limit yourself to one place.


Traveling between planets.

The ship is the only means of travel between planets, which are also a new addition to the game. Starbound has a huge focus on creating procedurally generated planets. They have a wide variety of biomes and each planet contains randomly chosen enemies, dungeons, gravity, weather, plants and blocks. Throughout the game the player will be traveling from planet to planet collecting resources to build weapons and armor and use them to fight bosses and unlock new technology. Eventually the basic planets will become too easy for the player and they are allowed to travel to new sectors of the map. Each sector increases the difficulty of enemies and introduces new ores and stronger loot. The worlds in Starbound are completely round, instead of reaching a dead end when walking to one side of the world, you eventually loop around back to the beginning.

The one downside to Starbound so far is how difficult it is to play online. Having to host a server and connect with friends through programs like Hamachi or Evolved is quite a hassle. Being in early access I can only hope that they provide us with a better method of joining our friends worlds and playing together.


A randomly created village.

Design/Art Style: Starbound has amazing pixel based graphics. The player models, enemies and scenery are very well done and provide a nice retro vibe. They have added a lot of vanity items to the game that can be destroyed and used to decorate your own creations and the fact that each race has a different set of items and buildings associated with them allows for a wide variety of dungeons and villages.

Gameplay: The current game play is fairly entertaining but it still lacks a lot of features. They have yet to include button mapping making it hard to configure the controls to your liking and the single player tends to get quite stale making playing with friends a must. Other than those few complaints the game offers enough new features to players who enjoyed similar games like Terraria and it will continue to update with newer features until the full release of the game.

Replay Value: I bought the game very early and experienced a character wipe causing me to start all over and I still enjoyed putting another 20 or so hours into the game. It has a great replay value as you can’t really beat it, you just keep progressing and strive to create better equipment to fight stronger monsters. Multiple character slots allow you to try out the different races or just start a fresh game if you have become bored with the current playthrough.

Rating: 7/10 in the current state. I’m acknowledging that the game is in early stages and I have high hopes that it will only get better with with future updates. It is currently priced at $14.99 on Steam and I recommend giving it a try if it looks like something you would enjoy.

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Project Review Week 3

This week went pretty well. I tried out a different style of posting by doing a sort of commentary/recap of what happened as I played through a game. I only managed to post 3 times this week but the total word count was over 4600. My first post was a 2 part post and I decided to just add onto the first one instead of having a continuation post that would’ve had to be linked to the end of part 1.On Tuesday I wrote 1700 words in the first half of my Super Mario Bros. 3 post, and on Thursday I finished the second half with another 2000 words. My other post this week was a review on Garry’s Mod and was just over 900 words long.

There’s not much to talk about this week, I’m just trying to keep up with assignments and make it through the last couple of weeks before finals.

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Garry’s Mod


Developer: Facepunch Studios

Platforms: Windows, Mac OS X, Linux

Garry’s Mod (GMod) is a sandbox game that has no predetermined set of rules and no clear objective. The point of Garry’s Mod is to create. Basic tinkering can be done in the single player mode using the physics gun and the tool gun. The physics gun allows players to pick up and move any objects as well as rotate them and lock them in place. The tool gun can be used for much more such as welding pieces together, changing attributes, and creating working wheels on a car. Garry’s Mod uses old Source games and imports props, character models, maps, weapons and more. The more Source games that a player owns, the more content they have at their disposal to build and play with. There is also the option of downloading content packs from online sources and just moving the textures over to the GMod folder to avoid buying every source game yet still be able to use all the content.


Example of the prop spawning menu.

While the single player is fun to toy with, the online community is where Garry’s Mod really shines. People have taken it upon themselves to go beyond simply creating makeshift vehicles and have created entirely new game modes within Garry’s Mod. Since the majority of the average player’s time is spent in online game modes, I’ve decided to highlight a few of the most popular ones and give a quick description of each.

Trouble in Terrorist Town (TTT): This game type requires players to be aware of the actions of everyone around them. In TTT players are spawned into a map at the beginning of the round and split into teams. Each person is assigned the role of an Innocent, a Detective or a Traitor. You are informed what role you have by a box in the corner and you are the only one who can see it. Each person only knows their role and therefor has to be careful around other people who may be potential traitors. If you are a traitor you get the benefit of knowing who all the traitors are and you must work as a team to blend in and take out as many innocents as possible. The detectives are there to examine the bodies and try to determine who is a traitor and call for them to be Killed on Sight (KOS). The innocents have the option to fight back but they get punished for killing other innocents. This game type becomes a mind game and you’re never sure if a traitor is claiming to be an innocent or if they truly are a friendly player. This is one of the most populated game types on GMod and most players use a mic to communicate with the rest of the server during game play.

Prop Hunt: A version of hide and seek with a twist. In Prop Hunt players are split into 2 teams at the beginning of the round, either hiders or seekers. The seekers are frozen at spawn for about 30 seconds while the hiders run around the map looking for objects to posses. This game is usually played on maps with a lot of random things laying around such as fruit, pop cans or furniture. During the hiding period, each player who is hiding must click on an object to become it and then try to blend in with the surroundings. The seekers are then released and must hunt down all the players posing as props, hence the name Prop Hunt. This game type rewards players who use clever tactics to appear as if they are nothing out of the ordinary and thus succeed in hiding for the full round.

Deathrun: All players in the server besides one person spawn at the beginning of the map. The goal is to run to the end of the level while avoiding traps that try to kill you. The person who was singled out spawns in a room with glass walls and can see all the players going through the level and must press buttons at the right time to set off the traps and try to eliminate all the players before they can reach him. If all the runners die, the person who was pressing the buttons wins the round but if any players make it to the end they have a chance to fight the guy in the middle and take the points. Each map goes a certain number of rounds before allowing players to vote for the next map to be played.



Top game modes being played as I wrote this.

Other notable game types include Zombie Survival, Jailbreak, Murder, Role Play servers, Hide and Seek, Bunny Hop, Surf and countless other mini games. Garry’s Mod is the kind of game that never stops changing and each person will eventually find a favorite set of game types and begin to frequent a certain server or community. Everyone plays GMod for the same reason, to have fun, and the community is very welcoming to new players and are often willing to show you the ropes and help you get settled in. I’ve owned this game for years now and it continues to be updated regularly and the online community is still going strong. GMod is sold through the Steam store as well as through their website for $9.99 and is often available at a discounted price whenever steam has a sale going on.

Rating: 8/10

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Super Mario Bros. 3


Having fond memories of playing this game as a kid I decided to dust of the Nintendo and pop in Super Mario Bros. 3 and spend and afternoon beating the game with a friend. Before we started we agreed that neither of us would use the warp whistles and we would beat every single level in the game on our way to Bowser’s castle. I’m going to cover this game less as a review and more as commentary of our experience playing through it. I’m sure everyone is familiar with the original Mario games anyway.

First I would like to note that the introduction of world maps is one of my favorite features of SMB3 that was lacking in the first two. Instead of beating a level and going straight to the next you can choose to take multiple routes, play card games and visit mushroom houses to grab some extra items. The map allows a nice little break between levels as well as the option to use previously found items such as mushrooms, flowers or leafs to gain a little advantage in the next level.

World 1: Grass Land


Grass Land Map

This world was a breeze, having every level memorized from my childhood. We switched off each level beating the first 4 levels and picking up a power-up at the mushroom house and failing the slot machine mini game like 90% of our attempts at winning some extra lives. My friend (who was playing as Mario) ended up beating the first fortress (mini castles) with very little difficulty as you can fly up above the map near the end to avoid the mini boss. We quickly got the last 2 levels out of the way and it my my turn to play the first castle. I should note that castles aren’t really castles at all, you merely step inside to listen to toad cry about the king who has been turned into some crazy animal who needs you to beat the boss to get a wand and change him back. The actual level takes place on board a floating ship cluttered with cannon balls coming from every direction and the screen begins to move on its own forcing you to keep up or lose a life. At the end of the ships is a pipe to fight the world boss, 3 hits to the head is all you need and the first boss is pretty easy dodge and jump on. Upon recovering the wand you fall through the clouds back to the castle where you are greeted by the king with a big smile on his face. The only reward is a letter from the Princess saying thanks.. blah blah blah.. here’s a reward. Anything but a P Wing is a disappointment as the P Wing grants the ability to fly through an entire level which was our backup plan for most of world 8.

World 2: Desert Hill

Desert Hill map

Desert Hill Map

Being the only world in the game to not be titled ____ Land means this world has to be special right? The first two levels in this world aren’t too bad. We get introduced to quicksand, Venus Fire Traps that live in quicksand and Pile Driver Micro-Goombas (blocks that appear to be normal but jump around when you get near them). Only 3 levels in and we are faced with the first fortress, nothing too challenging here, just watch out for falling Thwomps and pay attention to those sneaky Boos. Level 3 was quickly beaten as the only obstacle was a few bouncing fire snakes that we ran right by which brought us to a special level called the desert. The desert is a calm level until about halfway through when you are hit by Tweesters (tornadoes) which catch you and throw you around the map. As soon as you pass the tornadoes the sun which has been sitting in the corner of the screen decides that he wants to kill you and swoops down back and forth chasing you for the rest of the level. The Angry Sun is an annoying enemy as he cuts you off and forces you to focus more on avoiding him than playing the rest of the level. Fortunately after beating that level we wont be seeing him again for a long time. Levels 4 and 5 pass pretty quickly as the biggest challenge is getting past some Boomarang Bros. and jumping over a few Chain Chomps. The last level before the castle is another special one, the pyramid level is the first maze level that we were faced with. It wasn’t too tough but we did hit a few dead ends and have to turn around before we found the correct route to the end of the level. The final level of world 2 was the castle in which we boarded another air ship and had to dodge cannonballs, Bullet Bills, and wrenches from the very annoying Rocky Wrench who comes back seconds later even if you kill him. The boss wasn’t much harder than the first one but he does jump all over the place like a maniac making it a little harder to jump on his head.

World 3: Water Land


Water Land Map

One of the longer worlds in the game and home to my least favorite enemy in the game, Boss Basses. The first two levels are a piece of cake, just swim along the levels avoiding the Bloopers and make it to the end easily. Level 3 was the first level with the Boss Bass who loved to jump out of the water and swallow us whole. We learned a pretty good routine of avoiding his attempts to eat us and finished of the level fairly fast. Up next was the first fortress which was kind enough to be a maze with a ton of doors that all went to different places. The only way to avoid looping around to the beginning to the level was to find the correct door to the boss battle (Hint: it was door 6). Levels 4-7 were all different style levels, we had to swim under water, jump across floating platforms in the sky and complete a few normal levels. Rolling up on fortress number two, we were given a horrible combination of a water level and a fortress which was quite a pain to slowly swim through to get to the mini boss. If the fortress wasn’t bad enough, my good friend Boss Bass was back on the next level which would periodically completely submerge in the water leaving us swimming right out in the open for him to come and eat us. Lives were lost. We managed to time out the periods when the map was under water and try to find the highest possible ground to stay away from that stupid overweight fish. Level 9 was easy, as was the air ship on the castle which had more fire than cannonballs this time making us stop and go to avoid getting burned from the short bursts of flames. The boss on on the air ship caused a bit of trouble with her projectiles that never disappeared. We had to kill her fast or be stuck in a tiny room with a dozen deadly rings bouncing around trying to kill us. Never the less we managed to tackle world 3 and pick up a precious P Wing to help us later in the game.

World 4: Giant Land


Giant Land Map

Easily my favorite world in the game, almost everything has been super sized except poor Mario and Luigi who stay the same size. The first level was easy, basically a friendly welcome to big world (that’s what I call it because Giant Land sounds dumb). Level 2 was similar to the one in Water Land where the ground sunk allowing the Boss Bass to eat us except everything was big besides the fish which was now an innocent little Cheep-Cheep. The first fortress was easy enough as the biggest threat was a few sideways moving Thwomps and a new little enemy which was a walking flame that behaved similar to a Boo (chase you when you look away and stop when you face them). Level 4 was all underwater with giant blocks that looked like cinnamon toast crunch and we were followed by Lakitu who floats in a cloud throwing spike balls from the sky to brighten our day. Levels 4 and 5 were rather normal besides everything being enlarged, we simply ran through these on our way to the second fortress. Fortress 2 was full of lava and the blocks that were floating in the air fell out from underneath us if we stood in place too long. We simply jumped a lot to reset the fall timer and made our way to the mini boss and bopped him 3 times with our new strategy of jumping before he reveals his head so we can instantly kill him and move on. The fortress opened a bridge to the castle/air ship of world 4. Another ship heavily centered around fire made it easy to get to the fourth boss with full power-ups which were desperately needed as he decided to bounce around the room like he was made of rubber making it a pain to squeeze in 3 hits. Big world was short and sweet as we moved on to world 5 where things started to become a little harder.

World 5: Sky Land


Sky Land Map

Despite being Sky Land, the first few levels are on the ground and must be completed before we could reach the clouds. The first level was full of Chain Chomps who were easy to avoid but we ran into a new enemy, Buster Beetle, who can pick up blocks and throw them towards us. Level 2 had multiple routes, one went up high where we had to bounce on note blocks but we fell off about halfway and got stuck taking the ground route and searching for the correct pipe to the finish. Level 3 was full of Munchers and the only level in the game to contain the Goomba’s Shoe, a power up that allows Mario or Luigi to run over all sorts of enemies without taking damage. The first fortress was easy, we just progress slowly avoiding the Thwomps and Roto-Discs. Up next was a special level called the tower (I’m guessing that’s how we got to the clouds) and we kept taking pipes up to the next level and it was like 5 mini levels in one. There was no finish to the tower, we just entered a pipe and appeared near level 4. Levels 4-7 were all sky levels, meaning that we had to jump from across platforms all the way to the end and avoid falling as it was an instant death. The second fortress was all lava with small areas to land on and jump across, the only thing that caught us off guard were the fireballs that fell from the ceiling instead of shooting out of the lava. Level 8 was easy despite Lakitu appearing to throw more spike balls as we tried to avoid falling off the small cloud platforms. Level 9, the last level before the castle almost made us give up on the game. The screen was moving pretty fast on its own and the platforms were all moving up and down giving us exactly one chance to make each jump as fast as we could and then Fire Chomps started showing up and almost always blocked the way with fireballs causing us to fail the level. The Sky Land castle/air ship wasn’t too bad but the boss was a real pain, every time he jumped he shook the whole level leaving us stunned and unable to move around and he usually took that time to kill us. After a few tries we got lucky and he missed his shot allowing us to get the last 2 hits and move on.

World 6: Ice Land


Ice Land Map

Ice Land is the biggest world in the game with 3 fortresses and 10 levels. The first level consisted of getting used to sliding around on ice blocks and learning how to avoid Ptooies which run around and shoot spike balls straight up and catch them. Level 2 was another sky level with moving clouds that kept going higher and higher making us climb to the finish. Level 3 was also in the sky but big ice blocks made it easy to run straight to the finish and move on to the first fortress which took place mostly on a moving platform surrounded by projectiles that we had to dodge. Level 4 was also in the sky with giant spinning platforms that are supposed to knock us off but instead sent us flying upwards which lead to skipping most of the map and beating it rather fast. Level 5 was a horrible maze where every pipe brought us back to the beginning and the only way to win was to fly up into the correct passage near the end but in order to do that we had to keep full power-ups through the map filled with Buster Beetles throwing blocks at us. Level 6 was an easy water level thanks to having a fire flower power-up ready and level 7 was a sky level full of falling blocks and ice blocks that was beaten first try. Fortress 2 was cluttered with Twhomps, Roto-Discs and Boos and was completely made out of ice blocks making us have to slide and crouch through little holes to progress. Level 8 was all grass instead of ice and was fairly easy, the only enemies were Buster Beetles and a few Nipper Plants which are very easy to jump right over. Level 9 was a water level full of enemies, the only noticeable threats were the Blooper Nanny and Big Bertha which is like a less deadly Boss Bass. Level 10 was a short level leading way to the third fortress which was full of Boos, Roto-Discs and conveyor belts trying to push us into the spike pits below. Finally we reached the castle/air ship. The airship was disappointing having only fire and a few gaps to jump over but the boss caught me off guard with his little circus act. He was standing on top of a ball and rolling around making it hard to jump way up there and he also threw circus balls all over the place that never went away so we had to kill him fast before there was too much going on.

World 7: Pipe Land


Pipe Land Map

We were nearing the end at this point, eager to get to world 8 and tackle Bowser, but first we had to go through the most annoying world in the game. Level 1 introduced a new concept with wrap around levels, if we left the screen on one side we would enter on the other. We used that trick to climb through a vertical pipe maze to the finish at the top. Level 2 made us hit invisible blocks to create bridges and then tunnel back to the start and replay the level to reach the end. Level 3 was just a mostly straight level with a Lakitu chasing us but there were blocks every so often with invincibility stars so we could run right to the end and not worry about him. Level 4 was under water with a huge maze Jelectros, a few Big Berthas and the only level in the game with Spiny Cheep-Cheeps who were very fast. Level 5 was another maze that took us quite a while as we took pipe after pipe trying to make sense of where we were coming out but it was nothing compared to the first fortress. The first fortress ha no enemies, every pipe went back to the start and we ran out of time. Second try I decided to break every block in the whole room, eventually I found a P switch that turned all the blocks into coins and I fell through the floor. Still I dead end I decided to try again but stay at the top and we found a secret door up above, the door took us to a power-up to make us fly and then back to the start yet again. With time running out we decided to fly around the main room with no enemies and found a pipe on the ceiling that lead to the boss and we finally moved on. Level 6 was another wrap around stage full of pipes and Arrow Lifts which needed to be used a bunch to reach end. Level 7 was an entirely munchers, the only way to make it across was to find all the star blocks and time them perfectly so you had enough time to grab the next and remain invincible. Level 8 took about 4 tries simply due to the amount of enemies that shot fireballs at us while we tried to jump across tiny platforms. Level 9 was an above ground maze made of purple tubes, we didn’t have to guess which pipes to go in this time, we only had to find our way to the end through trial and error. Fortress 2 had a little of everything, fireballs, Piranha Plants and Roto-Discs were all around the main level yet it was still a rather simple layout. The final castle/air ship before world 8 wasn’t too bad. It had a lot of long jumps that I didn’t think were possible but a good running start is all we needed. The boss here shook the map and kept us from moving but our previous experience with a boss like this allowed us to kill him with only a couple of tries. Our reward this time was a little different though, no thank you from the princess but rather a not from Bowser himself informing us that he had taken Peach captive.

World 8: Dark Land


Dark Land Map

Finally we were at the final world, home of Bowser and ready to save Princess Peach. The levels on world 8 are much harder than the rest of the game and the first level just happened to be a tank level. The screen was locked on our position while a bunch of tanks rolled by shooting cannonballs, fire, and being ridden by Rocky Wrenches to add more projectiles to the equation. The second level to beat was the battleships but luckily they are in water and Mario can swim so we just swam under most of the commotion and resurfaced at the end to fight the mini boss. Next up were 5 levels that were unnumbered and fairly short. They were all different style levels with inspiration from previous worlds and at the end of each was a mushroom power-up to help us out on the next part. Next up was a neat level in the sky similar to an airship but a lot more difficult. It was full of planes that we had to jump between and most of them were driven by Rocky Wrenches throwing crap at us as we tried not to fall off. Finally reaching what is technically the first level, it seemed very out of place being similar to a world 1 level with the exception of a lot more enemies. Level 2 was none other than a black and white version of the desert level with our old friend the Angry Sun. This level had a lot of quicksand with Piranha Plants shooting fire everywhere and the end was pretty difficult with very spaced out single blocks and the Sun trying to kill us the whole time. This level cost us a few lives but I would rather play it 5 times over than have to deal with the fortress that immediately followed it. The only fortress on world 8 was a massive maze, it put other maze levels to shame with its irritating amount of doors that brought us to the wrong place. Also conveyor belts were all over the place pushing us the wrong way. The secret to solving it was finding the right room and hitting a P switch to turn some blocks into coins and running through a now visible door before it disappeared. Eventually we solved the mystery and went on to the last level before the castle. Another tank level with cannons everywhere. Avoiding the cannonballs, Bob-ombs, and Rocky Wrenches wasn’t too hard and then we got to fight the last mini boss of the game. I expected Bowser’s castle to be the hardest level in the game but ended up beating it my first try. Upon entering the first room giant statues shot lasers at me forcing me to back away and come back running at full  speed. After that I simply rode a platform up to the next level and standing on a falling platform and waiting until just before it went off screen to jump to the next part. After passing a bunch of Roto-Discs blocking the way I came upon a room full of falling platforms and fireballs. After climbing to the top and avoiding the lava pit I entered the next room, ran past a couple more statues, jumped across some platform to the last door and entered the final fight with Bowser. His fireballs were really easy to dodge and we had to lure him into smashing the floor in the center of the room until he had broken enough blocks to fall through and be defeated. The last door unlocked and Luigi went on to save the princess. Mario gets all the fame anyways, it’s time for Luigi to be the hero!

The game took about 4 and a half hours to fully complete every level with 2 players. I never expected such an old game to offer so much. Super Mario Bros. 3 has always been one of my favorite Mario games second to Super Mario World on the Super Nintendo. This game has been re-released on all sorts of Nintendo consoles making it easy to get ahold of if you would like to play through it yourself. It’s truly one of the best games for the original Nintendo and I’m glad I played through it again.

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