To start things off, here are my first four reviews up over at iFanzine.com:
Little Labyrinths: http://ifanzine.com/little-labyrinths-review/
Towers N' Trolls HD: http://ifanzine.com/towers-n-trolls-hd-review/
BattleLand: Warrior and Monster: http://ifanzine.com/battleland-warrior-vs-monste r-review/
Brandnew Boy: http://ifanzine.com/brandnew-boy-review/
Anyways, on to Super Mario 3D Land. I want to say that I really like this game, but more importantly I want to clarify why I really like this game. I am not going to disparage games like Super Mario 64 or Super Mario Galaxy, although I would disparage Super Mario Sunshine, but they ultimately feel more like a cousin to the main Mario series before them rather than a continuation of them. From a gameplay perspective, almost nothing in these games resembles anything from the games that came before them outside of the fact you have Mario and jumping. It was nice that Nintendo recently started making the New Super Mario Bros for the delight of people who wanted a neo-retro experience, giving them a new old style 2D platformer, but it wasn't until I played this game that I realized I had been craving an actual evolution of the original Mario gameplay.
Back in the day, and in some cases even still today, people talk about the difficulties of reinventing a series in 3-D. Maybe half the problem was the very fact they were trying to reinvent them at all, rather than making the 3D games an extension of what the series already was. While having fully 3D movement, Super Mario 3D Land features all the tenants of gameplay that is more associated with the original games than the 3D ones that came afterwards: directed linear leve lpaths rather than giant multi goal playgrounds, flag poles at the end of levels, racing against the clock to finish a level under a time budget, destroying the bridge bowser is standing on by stomping a button, classic power up and power down system instead of a life guage, Bowser's airships, etc. There is a lot more to this game then just the fact that it has Tanooki leaves, and the results of it all coming together make it feel like an actual evolution into 3D of the original series.
Now, to be fair, I know that something like this wouldn't have been possible on the N64 when Super Mario 64 was made. Part of the entire initial inspiration for the playground style multi goal levels was to find a way to make the game long enough to justify the purchase cost while staying within the constraints of the cartridge size that was being used to make it. Cartridge size space was always a production cost premium issue for developers to deal with back then, and as the absolute first N64 game the title had a cartridge that was abysmally tiny by the standards of what would end up being considered normal for the system. The decision was similar to how many NES games had to be made brutally hard in order to keep the player from finishing it too fast when there was in most of them only about 5 to 10 minutes of actual walking distance in the game due to the cartridge constraints.
Anyways, if you found yourself wanting something in the vein of the original games - but more 3D than New Super Mario Bros - this is in fact the game for you.
In other news, our Let's Play group recently produced more videos:
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (NES): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GrBm-CeIfVs
Tink!Tonk! Land: Tuk Goes to Town (Atari 800 XL): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GrBm-CeIfVs
Tink!Tonk! Land: Tinka's Mazes (Atari 800 XL): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G1sa5qe3HFI
Haunted House (Atari 2600): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=syGqRi8Q9SE
E.T. (Atari 2600): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z_bmaQxITjE
And now for a moment of some random rambling upon something that irks me. A while back I pre-ordered something from Amazon that got delayed many times over before it was eventually released, but that's not the part of it all that is irritating. The annoying part is that once to twice a week, pretty much every week since the initial order, they have sent me an e-mail first most and foremost reccomending to me that I might want to buy it. Such great deductive logic there deciding that I might want to order something that I have on pre-order from you guys, I'm sure your dedicated staff of algorithm making programmers must be terribly proud of the fact they don't cross reference things that I already ordered before generating a list of reccomendations. Anyways, I eventually did get the item and they're still sending me these e-mails reccomending that I buy something that I already bought from them. Sigh.
By the way, do you guys like Pencil and Paper Roleplaying Games? The creator of Modest Medusa - a webcomic series famous on Deviantart - is currently hard at work finish up an RPG system set in the universe that he's been working on for the last few years, The Magical Realm of Yeld. He currently has a preview module out that introduces the rules of the system called, Mermaid Hunters ($5.00). The system is designed on creating an end experience that feels more like playing an SNES era jRPG than something like Pathfinder or Dungeons and Dragons, with the end goal of being to keep everyone moving rather than having everyone argue over what the wording of a rule means. My group ran the module recently and had an absolute blast with it and they're currently eagerly anticipating the release of the full book. If you like the comic, or perhaps you just want something different, I heavily suggest you take a look into it.
Finally, here's a reminder that my book - The Vagrant's Tale - is now available in 3 ways:
Amazon, Physical Book ($13.45): http://www.amazon.com/The-Vagrants-Tale-Clovis-D ye/dp/1463735359/
Amazon, eBook ($2.99): http://www.amazon.com/The-Vagrants-Tale-ebook/dp /B007TGGRFU/
CreateSpace, Physical Book ($14.95): https://www.createspace.com/3627225
As always, all published editions are heavily revised for continuity corrections and massive readability improvements. Furthermore, they all contain the two extra epilogue chapters never before seen online, as well as the pronounciation guide for all the names and terms in the book.