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I loved Spider-Man and Spider-Man Miles Morales so I was stoked for Spider-Man 2 yet it still blew away all my expectations.
The gameplay was more of the same from the previous games but with slightly more moves and upgrades. Story wise I will say the first half of the game is nothing to write home about but from mid point on the story is nothing but exceptional. Insomniacs vision and twist on Venom, Kraven, and for spoiler reasons I’ll just say the fire cult leader were fantastic. I’m so excited to see where the story goes next from here between what happens in the ending and spoiler mentioned above. If the story wasn’t so average the first half this game would have been a bonafide masterpiece. The second half is just simply a masterclass of the medium. Maybe the biggest upgrade to the game is that you can now fast travel anywhere and the load times for it are almost non existent and are seamless transitions making traversing so much quicker.
If you enjoyed yourself playing the two Spider-Man games you owe it to your self to play this game ASAP.
Mario Wonder is a nice true return to form for 2d Mario. I feel there hasn’t been a 2D Mario game with charm and heart since Super Mario World in the SNES as the NEW series did absolutely nothing for me personally.
The worlds and levels are varied, with creativity burst in every level. Each level feels like it was based around a gimmick and the game does a good job of having the gimmick used in more complex ways the more levels you play. The art is spectacular bursting with vibrant colors and the characters all have by far the best facial features in the series. The music was top notch as it is in all good Mario games.
So why only a 4 star (which is still a fantastic rating)
The game is incredibly easy. Like beyond believable, Kirby-esque, easy. I finished the game with 98 lives after beating the final special world level and I would have had 99 but I died literally once on the final level because of a self inflicted silly mistake on the “hardest” level in the game. Also while unique especially amoungst the other Mario games I feel like they dug deep into the DKC series and flat out ripped many ideas straight out of it. Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing because the DKC series is great and legendary but still directly ripped it off many times imo.
Wonder is easily the best 2D game Nintendo has put out in this series since the SNES days and I’m excited to see where they go from here now that we hopefully have laid the NEW series to rest.
Here is where it falls in my rankings of how much I enjoyed each Mario game.
Sabotage only has two games to its name but that doesn’t stop this small developer to be one of my absolute favorite in the medium. Their first two games the Messenger and now Sea of Stars are love letters to games of the past that put a modern spin on the genre. Plus Sabotage seems to be custom making games for me as I love retro games with modern spins and my favorite two genres are RPGs and Metroidvania. They absolutely had a banger in The Messenger and I may enjoy Sea of Stars even more.
If I were to explain Sea of Stars gameplay it would be in battles Chrono Trigger and out of battles in dungeons Zelda A Link to the Past. I wish the puzzles were a little tougher to be honest but they were fun nonetheless. The battles are never really hard but they are engaging and strategic. I love that they use timed hits and timed blocks so that you are never hitting attack mindlessly to get through battles. You also can’t spam your best spells as you will need them to trigger weaknesses and your MP is very limited. To gain MP you have to use regular attacks to draw in a few MP per attack. It keeps the golden age of RPG spirit but modernizes it just enough to feel like a game that just came out.
The art style is beautiful and always fun to take in. The music also is beautiful. I especially loved the remixed The Messenger tracks. Just like The Messenger it has some amazing twist that had me saying “that’s awesome” a few times.
Sometimes the story wasn’t top notch, for an RPG anyways, but it suffices for sure. I do love all the ties and interweaving with the story from The Messenger and loved the characters in this game.
Sea of Stars is an exceptional game that most years would EASILY be up for my game of the year but 2023 has been an insane year. Sabotage in just its second outing has made me a fan for life. Now if you’ll excuse me I must replay Sabotage’s original master class of a game so I can see how many tie ins I can find. While I do that you should go play Sea of Stars.