Wednesday 30 December 2015

Mario Clash (Virtual Boy review)

Developer: Nintendo R&D1
Publisher: Nintendo
Released: 1995

Mario Clash is an action-platformer and a 3D reimagining of Mario Bros. (1983, Arcades).

As Mario, your job is to clear out all the bad guys invading the Clash House Tower over 99 levels. To do this you must stomp on a Koopa Troopa, pick up its shell and launch it at enemies which include Para-Goombas (jumps to disrupt your timing), Lobb (throws iron balls) and Thorny (requires multiple hits). The play area is constructed of a series of narrow ledges connected by pipes (meaning Mario and the Koopa shells will travel up or down them) and some ledges are located in the background; this is important as certain enemies can only be defeated by facing Mario away from the screen and tossing shells from the foreground to the background (or vice versa). The controls are great although they do take some getting used to as the jump button is reversed from typical Mario games. Despite being action oriented each level has a puzzle element too as deciding on the best method of attack based on enemy types and their location is key. The gameplay is fun and it can get incredibly hectic as you work out the best strategy while dodging bad guys. There's tons of different locations / layouts, as well as a slow introduction of enemies and everything is so well refined that every death feels like it was your fault. Occasionally you'll access a Bonus Round where you need to catch coins as they move towards the front of the screen; collect every coin and you gain an extra life. It's an enjoyable distraction and I love that the floor is textured, something not often seen in Virtual Boy games! There's no passwords and the game doesn't save your progress but you can select any of the first 40 levels from the main menu. The 3D is some of the best I've seen on the system and again that's partly due to the heavily textured ledges and backgrounds that really make each level pop.
Mario Clash is a entertaining game that packs in tons of action and strategy making it a great reimagining of the original Arcade title. It's a lengthy experience too and the brilliant 3D effects are vital to the core gameplay rather than feeling tacked-on.
Random trivia: The game started off development as a straight-up remake of the Arcade version and was originally titled Mario Bros. VB.

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