dark_alley

Tom: Hmm, Shadow Play Alley is certainly stylish. And, hey, look, it’s the Mystery House Melee, a sort of quick n’ dirty combat chamber with increasingly difficult enemies. Basically a 30-second horde mode, with a star for each wave you pass. This is more like it. In fact, it occurs to me that short levels always make for a better game. If I don’t like a level, it’s over quickly. If I do like a level, it’s convenient to replay!

But what really won me over was Double Cherry Pass. Who can resist a small army of Princess Peach clones raising holy hell with fireballs? And I even got the sticker to show for it. It’s a picture of Princess Peach with a fireball in her hand. It’s like they knew I was going to take Princess Peach in this level! Here I am, caring about a sticker.

After the jump, Nintendo’s idea of multiplayer

three_peaches

Scott: It sounds like someone’s inner six-year old is enjoying himself. Your Peach clones are faring better than my Mario clones. My clones fall off cliffs, miss jumps, run into enemies. I can’t manage to keep all four alive for very long. There are these platforms with a big “4″ on them and I have no idea what they do

Tom: One near the end gives you a sticker! Too bad you don’t have that sticker. I shall now apply it to the base of my favorite character. Oh, hold on, I’m thinking of Super Smash Bros. Brawl, the other game with stickers. That actually did something.

Scott: Au contraire, Mr. Chick, the stickers in Super Mario 3D World do something all right. At the start of World 2 a notification pops on screen informing me I’ve unlocked ghost Miis and the Miiverse. Would I like to activate these features? Uh, sure? By activating the Miiverse I’m inviting little Mii avatars to populate my overworld map. Why would I want to do this? Because these little Miis carry posts left by other players. Like in Dark Souls. And here’s where the stickers come in. When you leave a post you can add text, handwritten messages, drawings, or create little scenes using the stickers you’ve unlocked. The stickers are basically clipart used to create graffiti.

Tom: You and I have very different idea of “doing something”! But fair point. The stickers are as functional as the dogtags in Battlefield and the pot leaf emblems in Call of Duty.

Scott: The graffiti concept is a great idea and it’s also potentially functional. Mario games love their secrets. If you aren’t interested in rooting around a level multiple times trying to find all the stars, or locate a sticker, or find a secret room or passage or encounter, then you aren’t playing Mario. Nintendo Power used to pay the rent by trafficking in secrets. Now in the age of social networking the Mii posts offer the same function.

So what golden nuggets have these Miis left behind? How to find that elusive third star in Conkdor Canyon? How best to navigate Bowser’s Bullet Bill Brigade? Well, no. Here’s a sampling of the most recent crop: “this game is fun!,” “this level is hard!,” or my favorite “itsa me Mario!” Checking out my Miiverse feed it looks like Tom has been pretty busy. Here’s Tom’s contribution: “Peach Rules Mario Drools.” He even put a spoiler tag on it.

Tom: I put of lot of work into that one. Usually I just smudge out the word “PEACH” with my big fat finger and leave it at that. Take that, Nintendo players!

Scott: To get in the spirit I made a little post just for Tom. I scrawled Tom <3's followed by a sticker of Mario in a cat suit. So far only one person has given this post a "yeah."

Tom: That might have been me. Although I’m dismayed at the Facebookization of everything, I can’t resist taking part. So, Scott, explain the ghosts of random people joining me when I replay a level. Is that supposed to be helpful in some way? Does it just make the levels look more interesting by adding random chaos around me? Who are these people? Are they actual people? How do I know? Maybe Nintendo is just making fake Miis with barely believable antiseptic names to tag along and create the illusion of online play? And if I’m going to race against these ghosts, why can’t we compare high scores after the level? In fact, where are my high scores? Shouldn’t I see that stuff during or after a level rather than having to duck into some far removed list I’ll never see? Why can’t Super Mario 3D World embrace the score chase?

Scott: As far as I can tell those ghost Miis are there for you to follow in the event they know something about the level you don’t. For example, going back to Super Bell HIll in World 1 I followed a ghost Mii behind a bridge to a secret part of the level I’d never seen before.

Tom: Oh, so they’re spoilers. For those of us too dumb to find our own secrets. Here I am, being tutored through a Mario game by people I don’t even know.

Scott: My question is why do they all seem to have angel wings? I’m a bit creeped out by this one dude who keeps running through my levels. His Mii has a huge mustache, bald head, and a pair of angel wings. His name is Rhett. Ghost Miis can also leave you presents: little gift boxes with coins, powerups, extra lives. Who doesn’t like getting presents from anonymous strangers? Anonymous strangers like Rhett.

Tom: PEACH!!!1!

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