Thursday, May 18, 2006


New Super Mario Brothers Official Strategy Guide Official Review

I got the guide to go with New Super Mario Brothers not so much because I thought I'd need (or even want) the guidance that its 128 pages could bring. I see strategy guides the same way I see Director's Commentary tracks on my movies -- they point out things you may have missed and give you a different perspective on your favorite piece of entertainment. I hardly ever buy them at all -- just for the games that I figure are "big" -- Super Mario 64, Pokemon Red/Blue, The Legend of Zelda: Collector's Edition, Super Mario RPG, and of course, way back in the day, Super Mario Brothers 3.

I'm dismayed at how far downhill Nintendo Power's gone with their official strategy guides. I remember how much I loved the Super Mario 3 book -- in fact, I probably loved it more than the game itself. It was my reading material of choice for well over a year of my juvenile life, the next best thing to actually playing the game itself. The thing read like a comic book, with tons of screenshots, colorful commentary, original artwork, and sidebars filled with tips that didn't necessarily have anything to do with the levels they were included with. I wore that thing down until the cover came off and finally, alas, I lost it to the ravages of time.

The New Super Mario Brothers book, by comparison, feels flat and lifeless. Sure, the maps are there, and they point out where all of the goodies are, and even go so far as to suggest strategies for crossing the game's obstacles, but it's dull. No one had any fun writing this thing. For crying out loud, this is a video game guide, not operating instructions for a vacuum cleaner. The writing doesn't have to sound so... sterile all the time. And where's all the fun in-between stuff?

The game itself is all right. I'll do up a proper review if I feel like it, but my general impression right now -- they took all of the best parts from SMB, SMB3, SMW, SMW2, and SM64, and put them all together without really adding much that was original. And I'm not sure how to feel about that.


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