Thursday, January 6, 2011

Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story (DS) - Session 2

Total Play Time 1:15

What Happened:
Continued onwards inside of Bowser. Did a lot of tutorials - learned about special attacks, and how to switch between the Bros. and Bowser. Also found some Toads.

What I Liked:

Switching between inside & outside. This is sort of the main gimmick of the game, and although I haven't experienced it too much, I really love the idea. The gameplay opens up so that I can make the switch at any point in gameplay - where before I had assumed it would be highly controlled. I'm curious to see how open it actually is, or if the story will end up dictating who I should be playing as even though I can technically switch whenever I want. I also like the simple decision to put Bowser on the stop screen and the bros. on the bottom - as well as having X & Y control Bowser and A & B control the bros.

Special attacks. I've only unlocked one so far, but I found the idea really fun and surprising. Basically, special attacks are limited attacks which require the brothers to work together to deal damage. Mario kicks a shell into the enemy, it rebounds off of the enemy to Luigi who keeps it going. It's just a simple timing mini-game, as alternate between A & B to keep the damage going as long as possible. I'm excited to see more.

Combat speed. For the most part, I dislike games where combat is in a separate mode (i.e., turn-based combat) because I always feel like it takes too long - you get an animation when you enter, you choose your attacks, there's a lot of waiting, you get an animation and stats when you finish (Pokemon..) but I think they do a fairly good job in this game of keeping you entertained. A lot of this is because you're actually doing something during combat, whether you're attacking or defending (all timing games, etc), but also they keep the pacing fast. There's not really any time lost at the start or end of a battle.

In game items. Not the mushrooms you use to control HP, but the actual in-game props you use to problem solve. I've only gained one so far, which is the hammer, but I love how you use it both in wandering around and in combat. It's a little thing, but I wish if Mario was holding the hammer when you went into combat, he would also have it ready by default (you have to switch your attack from jump to hammer currently).

Extra hit. If you engage a baddie in battle by jumping on it, as opposed to simply walking into it, you deal damage as soon as you get into combat mode. It's a simple, but really awesome addition to keep the 2 gameplay modes feeling just a little more connected (since this style of combat is always a little disconnected).

Globins. Globins are blocks which live in Bowser's body and give you information, or serve as save points when you hit them. The writing is just really good all around in this game - but these characters in particular always crack me up (replacing random nouns with "globin" in a sentence. Simple.. but it makes me laugh.)

What I Didn't Like:

Long tutorials. The perfect pace from the first 30min changed a little bit when I first started playing again, as you get hit by sort of a large number of tutorials right when you get into Bowser's body. I wish they had found a way to break these up a little more. For the most part they were kept pretty concise, and interesting, but I think there were probably ways to trim them down a little more.

Overly repetitive battles. I met a couple of blocks of a few too many enemies in a row - maybe 3-4 bad guys, nothing in between them, no way to pass them but fight. This sort of made me groan. The combat system is fun, but it definitely feels repetitive to do the same thing so many times in a row and feel like you're not progressing.

Couldn't figure out how to save. For the most part, saves points have been really plentiful, at about 10min intervals (which I think is perfect) - but last night when I'd played as far as I could as was on the verge of falling asleep, I couldn't find a save point! Really what had happened was that I was stuck in the story - one of the Toads went missing, and someone told me to find him in Bowser's body, so I spent like 25min searching for him. Finally, after searching everywhere, I figured I should switch up to playing Bowser - and then I immediately found a save point. This was annoying! I felt that I had clearly been instructed to find the missing Toad, which would require me to stay inside Bowser.

Clothing. Ok, ok, it's no fair for me to be bringing this up yet since I haven't had any experience with it, but this game has a sort of 'armor' setup built in which makes me groan. I can't imagine how it would actually help this game in any way. I guess I'll wait and see.

How Do I Feel About Continuing:

I'm still really enjoying this game a lot, and want to continue - but also I don't feel any urgency about continuing. It just sounds like a fun thing to do, but it's not like I 'can't wait to see what happens next' - I'm also not really feeling a sense of overall progression. Have I moved towards a goal? How much of this game is left? Would I still be playing it if I wasn't writing this blog?

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