Sunday, November 24, 2013

Overworld perfection



Since I was rather late with my Wii U purchase, waiting for the release of Wind Waker HD to jump on the ship (no pun intended), I decided to skip over New Super Mario Bros. U in favor of its' DLC, New Super Luigi U. Honestly to call it DLC is a bit of a stretch, it seems that when the Developers over at Nintendo were asked to design to some DLC for New Super Mario Bros. U and having no real experience of DLC development, they simply went ahead and designed a whole new game. Given that it later got its' own retail release, I wouldn't say that it is any less of it's own game than the Japanese Super Mario Bros. 2 (aka the lost levels).

Well, I guess there is one thing that makes the game feel like less of its' own thing. That is that it shares the overworld with its' predecessor. In some ways this is a bit sad, since it is the one big thing that is holding the game back from being its' own unique experience. On the other hand for me, never having played Mario's first Wii U outing, it didn't bother me the least. And seeing what an absolutely wonderful overworld it is I can't complain. The overworld is probably one of my favorite things about the game. It reminds me a lot of the overworld used in Super Mario World, only it feels more alive. How almost everything on the map is bouncing around in a jolly fashion, also all the secret exits and how they often completely morphs the map once discovered contributes a lot to this feeling of the overworld being alive.

Having watched videos of the overworld in the upcoming Mario title Super Mario 3D World, I can't help but feel that it is a step back from this fantastic overworld design. Sure Nintendo has moved away from strict board game like design of the overworld from previous Mario platformers, now allowing some free movement but the overworld still doesn't feel nearly as alive. It looks more like a sterile golf course with some models spread out on it, not like in New Super Mario Bros. U (or New Super Luigi U) where the developers really captured the odd and absolutely wonderful feeling of the Mushroom Kingdom that we Mario fans love, or at least I do. Not only incorporating it is the levels themselves, which from what I have seen it really seems like Nintendo has succeed with in Super Mario 3D World, but also in the design of the overworld.

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