quick pitch: super mario bros.

I know Nintendo acts like they don’t want me to write the perfect Super Mario Bros. game, but I have, and they’ll no doubt swoop on this post soon and Shigeru Miyamoto himself will call me on the telephone to congratulate me and give me money.

Here’s a quick breakdown. It’s a 3D platformer just like most of the recent flagship, non-New Super Mario Bros. games, only more in line with Super Mario Galaxy than Super Mario 3D World. In this one Mario and Luigi arrive in the Mushroom Kingdom just in time to find the entire WORLD being abducted. Peach, Toad, and the rest of the citizens are doing all they can to stave off the attack, but they just can’t seem to best TATANGA, the alien antagonist from Super Mario Land.

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Without hesitation, Mario and the rest rush to their trusty one-man planes (like the one from Super Mario Land), kicking off an introductory dogfight stage straight out of Star Fox. It’s a purely for-fun level that the player has no hope of winning, and every plane involved in the fight ends up in a scrap heap below.

After a display of bravado, Tatanga prepares to suck the entire Kingdom away, taking it to another universe Mario and his pals have no way of reaching. And just like that, he and his legion of spaceships and aliens disappear, pulling the Mushroom Kingdom into a vortex and leaving our heroes adrift in a black void atop a pile of smoking plane wreckage.

With nowhere to go, all hope seems lost, until the unlikely, squat dork Toad suggests they all just go to sleep. TOAD ARE YOU INSANE? No, Toad is a genius, because if they go to sleep they can enter SUB-CON from Super Mario Bros. 2, the land of dreams where anything is possible.

The only problem: So many years have passed that Wart is firmly back in power. Thus we have the first half of the game, which takes place entirely in Sub-Con and has players fighting familiar foes like Mouser, Tryclyde, and Birdo throughout an anything-goes dreamscape that takes the scenery of SMB2 and goes nuts with it. It all builds up to an intense showdown with Wart… who is eventually spared. Wart’s ace: Only he knows the way out of his dreamworld that leads to Tatanga’s realm.

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With that, your party of 4 becomes 5*, and you can now choose to play as Wart for the second half of the game: TATANGA’S UNIVERSE. This world has all the bonkers design of the Super Mario Galaxy games with a mix of enslaved and enraged enemies from the Mushroom Kingdom and beyond. Tatanga has been using his time wisely, collecting worlds and harnessing the power of their unique wildlife to run rampant as ruler of his own. He’s taken in the best beasts from Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World, and even Yoshi’s Island. He outfitted the Super Mario World dinos with riders. He crossed Wigglers with Pokeys. You get the idea.

But there are some creatures he hasn’t figured out how to handle yet. Locked deep within the Towering Prison are the worst, most vile enemies, and Mario and company are going to help break them out, if they haven’t already lost their minds. It’s in the deepest, darkest corner of the prison that Mario eventually finds Bowser, driven mad and ready for a real fight.

Your showdown with Bowser leads into the game’s final act, and by this time there’s a full-on riot in the background of the stages. The enemies of the various Mario worlds you were able to rescue are colliding with Tatanga’s powerful minions, tipping the scales, and you now have a sixth player to choose from before each level: Bowser. He joins the rest of the crew in the final world, culminating in an appropriately explosive final battle with Tatanga that will decide the fate of every world in the Mario universe.

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When all is said and done each world is fully restored, and Tatanga is locked in a high-security space prison. This will, without a shadow of a doubt, be a perfect starter setting for the inevitable sequel.

Make that 6. I’ve gotten multiple reminders since posting that I forgot about Daisy of SML, and yes, she should definitely be playable, as well!

The Circle of TV Game Life

E3 is once again in full swing, and for some reason I feel compelled to write about it outside of my normal day job routine. I love making fun of everything that goes on throughout the week—so many blowhards making ridiculous promises or showing off half-cooked ideas—but it’s also one of my favorite weeks of the year. There’s something so routinely refreshing about all the hope that swells up just before a big slew of announcements, followed by the exhalation of disappointment and communal commiserating over whatever was or wasn’t expected from said showing.

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Last night’s Sony presser was wholly emblematic of this. Everyone waited with bated breath, expecting, maybe a little foolishly, for Team ICO to come out and show more of the long-gestating, probably dead The Last Guardian. Instead Sony showed off some familiar faces and new games like Suda51’s Let It Die, which might be their answer to the whole The Last Guardian thing were it not for their stubborn insistence that it’s still in the works.

Aside from that, I don’t think I’ve ever seen Twitter react so harshly to something than when Sony threw up a quick shot of PSOne rhythm game Vib Ribbon without following up on it. Just a naztee tease to annoy all the late-90s import nerds.

The thing about following this stuff so closely is I almost immediately forget what happened earlier in the day. Staying glued to the screen to watch the Sony conference at 9pm makes it easy to lose track of what happened when I was glued to the screen during Microsoft’s around noon. I remember Hideki Kamiya (Devil May Cry, Okami, Bayonetta) coming out and announcing a new game called—actually trying to think of it off the top of my head as I type, so I’ll just take a quick guess—Scaleskin. Now I’ll look it up… Scalebound. Close enough.

From Software delivered what I was really waiting for during Sony’s two hour block of madness. Bloodborne comes from Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls director Hidetaka Miyazaki, which isn’t even a name I knew off the top of my head until about a year and a half ago. Now he’s the president of his company and everyone wants to know what the hell he’s working on at any given moment. Like much of what we see over the course of the week, Bloodborne was just shown via cinematic footage, but From Software is one of those rare developers I fully trust to deliver on whatever they have cooking, so I’ll be getting a PlayStation 4 at some point.

Now I’m going to eat a banana and wait to watch Nintendo because this is what I do.