Welcome to the world of yesterday

Today, I conquered the front page of 1UP with new old stuff: namely, Wario Land: Shake It! and Gradius ReBirth. And that one Mega-something game that people keep talking about, the Krion Conquest rip-off.

Anyway, I figure all the gushing I’ve done about Mega Man 9 is karmically balanced by these two pieces, both of which are fairly positive but mitigated with a noticeable tinge of disappointment. I’ve already seen some angry responses to the Wario Land review, but I am a mere messenger here. I can definitely respect anyone who is willing to embrace the game, because it is wrapped up and presented in an opulent, gorgeous visual style that truly deserves to be seen in motion. But, on the other hand, I just can’t give it an unqualified endorsement, because it’s a console title whose level designs and mechanics represent a step down from a seven-year-old portable game. That’s seriously backward.

I think there’s also a temptation among people like us (that is, myself, and anyone who is prone to read this site) to give Wario Land a better score just because it’s so pretty. But that is fatal in its irony: we are the same people who snarl in irritation when people write off games like this because they’re not in 3D. Graphics whores, we call ’em. But graphic whoredom works in both directions, and I kind of feel that giving Wario a free pass just because it’s so lovely would be terribly irresponsible for those of us who have ever fumed to see good old-fashioned games dismissed for their lack of polygons.

Wario Land’s failings are a real letdown, because I was absolutely in love with the game after finishing the first world. I compared it to Yoshi’s Island DS in my review for a reason, though: about halfway through, you realize it imitates a great game from a few years back a little too closely and doesn’t add anything worthwhile to the mix. So, if you’ve just reached the second world and are thinking, “Man, Parish, you idiot, you blew it again!” do me a favor and finish the game. There’s a reason reviewers are supposed to complete their assignments before writing anything, and this game is a fine example. My feelings after an hour were very different from my feelings a few hours later. An hour into the game, I had the better part of a sweeping editorial chastising those who shriek with shrill complaints that Nintendo has abandoned its loyal fans planned out in my head; a few hours later, I was the one shrieking. Alas!

There’s a certain poetry in Wario Land being released in such close proximity to Mega Man 9. The former has a vivid, modern look yet suffers a stultifying lack of creativity; the latter looks dated and primitive but is bursting with clever design and fresh new takes on an old standard. They are like yin and yang, except less likely to be co-opted as a logo by a surf company. Anyway, that’s where my score is coming from. But hey, if you still like it once you’ve finished, congratulations: you’re not yet a cynical husk of a human, and I envy you.

17 thoughts on “Welcome to the world of yesterday

  1. Read that review. Made me kind of sad because it really does look gorgeous. I hope that it sells well regardless. It has a chance…

  2. I commend you on your brutal honesty. I was going to buy this game no matter what just to support 2D, but I know I couldn’t recommend such an ideological action to others unqualified.

  3. You know, I might give WarioLand a chance. Sure, it may not deviate too much from Wario Land 4, but I’m one of those jerks who didn’t give that game a fair shake. Maybe I can eke some enjoyment out of it while enjoying its glossy sheen.

    Or I suppose I could just find my copy of Wario Land 4 and give it a go… but the sheen!

  4. I dust off Warioland 4 at least once a year. The sound design alone makes it worth it. I was sorry to read that review but at least it made the choice between this and Kirby Ultra Star that much easier.

  5. It shoulda been WiiWare! Seriously, they’re still hurting for A or B or C-list first party material pretty on that service last time I checked, and as nifty as the Mega Man 9 8-bit purism is, more purdy sidescrollers a la Lostwinds would be nice. Are they waiting to deliver the Kid Icarus goods in this manner? Probably not.

  6. I would imagine the expense involved in having Production I.G. animate the game precluded it from being DLC (and from fitting on the Wii’s pitiful internal memory). I’m glad you guys are going to give the game a try — it’s fun, but I just want everyone to realize it’s overshadowed by a GBA game.

  7. I get the feeling that Nintendo is doing the same thing it did with Mario Kart. Dress it up, dumb it down a little bit, and try to make something that’s the most enjoyable to the most people. With a lot of Nintendo’s new takes on gaming, I think a more appropriate metric for review would be to ask, “Do these changes make the game for accessible for my mom?” In many cases, I think the answer might be yes.

    But notwithstanding Fox News, objectivity is overrated. You’re hired to give *your* take on games, and if the fact that the game is overshadowed by it’s GBA predecessor is a reason for you to not like/buy/enjoy the game, then that’s what you’re paid to present.

    The success of games like Cars!, Madden, and even to some extent The Force Unleashed! show the power of the mass market in gaming. It’s like when Ebert rates down Kung Fu Panda; kids don’t care. But the role of the critic is important in all it’s subjective biases. I say good job for giving the game a C+, even if I disagree w/it.

  8. Woot woot! My first WiiWare purchase… Mega Man 9! Oh man how I am getting my butt handed to me! I have yet to reach a robot master! What has become of my great Mega Man 1 & 2 skills? I can surely beat Ninja Gaiden blindfolded… but ala Mega Man 9 is destroying me!

  9. I never played Wario Land 4, so maybe I will enjoy this? And then when I’m done I’ll pick up the GBA version and be blown away. That sounds like a plan.

  10. So … if one somehow managed to not play the Wario Land games on the GBA, is this game worth it? I frankly don’t see myself paying $50 for it, but if/when it goes in the bargain bin, I think I’m going to give it a spin. Assuming of course I’ve managed to ever finish Mega Man 9.

  11. A massive letdown indeed. Just imagine how killer it would be if Wario Land: Shake It turned out great in terms of gameplay as well as it has visually. It would stand as proof that, hey, maybe there’s life in them 2d games on consoles.

    Oh, and I think the Gradius equivalent to Mega Man 5 would be Gradius IV. Dude, what a colossal downgrade from the glorious Gaiden.

  12. Oh, and if they wanted to go retro with Gradius, they should have done an update to the NES/Famicom version of Life Force/Salamander instead. Quite possibly the best of the franchise.

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