It would be lazy to describe Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story as the third instalment in a trilogy of Mario games that you’ve never played, but it wouldn’t be far from the truth. Developed by Alpha Dream and not the big N (with the reduced marketing budget that that entails) and featuring the plumber and his friends in an RPG-like mechanic, virtually guarantees that this series will never get the audience it deserves. Which is a shame, as it’s a beautifully polished gem that should be in every DS collection.

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I’ve been slack. Once a devoted Nintendo fanboy who would devour any new Mario games within days of release, I’ve recently allowed myself to become distracted by numerous other games on other consoles. Today, I was determined to make amends, to give New Super Mario Bros. Wii the dedicated attention it deserved, and sat down to my save at World 5 determined not to get up again until the final credits rolled.

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Mario’s evil namesake is now available to buy as a t-shirt from my MySoti store. Pop along and check him out. Don’t forget to vote on him while you are there!

As I’ve mentioned recently, since the turn of the decade I’ve been obsessed with the online multiplayer deathmatches and dominations of a certain Modern Warfare 2, to the point where I’ve been seeing snipers in my sleep and idly fantasizing about tossing semtex into a group of hooligans raising hell outside our flat. What better way, then, to soothe my frayed nerves and assuage my battered psyche, than by settling down to a type of game that, for me, started it all off all those years ago – a 2D platformer on a Nintendo console? Enter Wario Land: The Shake Dimension (aka Wario Land: Shake It! in the US).

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It was coming up to 15 years ago, on Christmas Day 1994, that a giddy 12-year-old me excitedly unwrapped Donkey Kong Country from underneath the Christmas tree. Not only did I play it all day, I also lugged my SNES, connection leads and the game round to my Nan’s for the evening, where my family traditionally gathers for Christmas Night. There, I set up on the tiny portable TV in my Nan’s bedroom and showed it to my incredulous younger cousin; particularly, as I remember, the first mine cart level ‘Mine Cart Carnage’. It was the start of a love affair with Donkey Kong that ensured I would snaffle up subsequent releases from Rare; the rest of this series, of which there were three in total, and Donkey Kong 64 on the N64.

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Critter Crunch // PSN

November 30, 2009

I’ve been playing a lot of ‘heavy’ videogames recently. I’ve been asked to eliminate terrorists in Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, shoot hundreds and hundreds of people in order to recover lost treasures in Uncharted 2, blow up planes in GTA: The Ballad Of Gay Tony and slip hidden blades into the ribs of Templars in Assassin’s Creed 2. That’s a whole lotta killing. Critter Crunch, then, is the perfect tonic for my frayed nerves and battered psyche.

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Balancing the expectations of a veteran enthusiast who grew up with Mario games, and a casual gamer only just getting to grips with the platforming exploits of the portly plumber was always going to be a tough task. Judging by the amount of laughs me and my girlfriend shared within our first few hours of the follow-up to the DS game, New Super Mario Bros. Wii makes a decent fist of it. And it does it in vibrant and colourful style, with a grin-inducing spoonful of nostalgia to boot.

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gunstar3

The beauty of the digital distribution services available on the current crop of games consoles is the ability to revisit some classic titles from yesteryear without scouring eBay for the original console and the game you wish to play. The Wii’s Virtual Console, the Xbox Live Arcade, and the PlayStation Network store all have many classic games to check out, and every Sunday I’ll be downloading one of them in order to bring you a retro review. To kick this section off, this week I downloaded the side scrolling shooter Gunstar Heroes, originally released for the Sega Megadrive back in 1993.

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Shadow Complex // XBLA

November 3, 2009

ShadowComplex_Screen04

It’s games like Shadow Complex that finally persuaded me to take the hit and buy Microsoft’s console again. Although I’m not a fan of huge Xbox exclusives such as Gears Of War and the Halo franchise, I recognise that the Xbox Live service is possibly the best download platform of any of the current crop of consoles. Having read about the likes of Shadow Complex, ‘Splosion Man, Lucidity and Axel & Pixel (review coming soon), I was eager to start filling up my hard drive with some snack-sized gaming.

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