Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Wii U Review: Dr. Luigi

Dr. Luigi is, for all intents and purposes, an HD update of the terrific WiiWare title Dr. Mario Online Rx.  Nearly all the same content that was in that game is still present here, and everything has been given an extra layer of polish and charm.  Graphics are more detailed, animations are more lively, and sound effects are clearer and crisper.  On top of that, everything has been given a Luigi-themed coat of paint and a few new features have been added to keep things interesting.

The headlining feature is "Operation L," a new mode that, while very similar to classic Dr. Mario, mixes things up by dishing out pills in L-shaped pairs instead of one at a time.  On one hand, this makes the gameplay easier, as having more pills in play makes it much simpler to clear viruses and rack up combos quickly.  On the other hand, it also makes the playing field much more cluttered, as garbage pieces tend to build up faster since the L-shaped nature of the pills nearly always leaves a few left-overs behind.  That said, "Operation L" definitely seems like a mode that would appeal to newcomers to the series, as its altered rules do offset the surprisingly steep learning curve that Dr. Mario normally has.  It is also fun for a series veteran like myself, as it requires longtime players to rewire their brains a bit and approach puzzles differently.

For purists, "Retro Remedy" mode offers up classic Dr. Mario gameplay identical to Online Rx.  Virus Buster also returns, with its slightly more laid back pace and strategy based gameplay.  Virus Buster is greatly enhanced by the Wii U Gamepad, as it is now played on the controller's touch screen instead of using the Wii Remote as a pointer.  You can even turn the controller vertical to have the field of play fill the entire screen, which makes it very easy to tap and drag pills right where you want them.  As Virus Buster originated in the Brain Age series on the DS, it was really designed for the touch screen, so having it playable on one again is a welcome change.

Multiplayer is also back, working more or less exactly the same as it did in Online RX.  Two players can go head to head, both locally and online, in either Retro Remedy mode or using the new Operation L rules.  Flash mode also returns, challenging players to clear specific flashing viruses amongst the regular ones.  A healthy amount of standard options are also included, such as the ability to toggle on and off certain features as well as the ability to switch between having the viruses use their new appearance or their classic appearance during gameplay.  Regrettably, Sneeze and Cough are once again absent for use as background music, having also been left out for Dr. Mario Express, but Operation L features two brand new tracks that fit the classic Dr. Mario aesthetic perfectly.

Ultimately, just like Online RX and Express before it, Dr. Luigi offers up another enjoyable helping of the classic gameplay that the series is known for, while also throwing in a handful of worthwhile new features.  It doesn't do too much that wasn't already done in Online RX, which might make the $15 price tag feel a little steep for those who already have the WiiWare title.  However, for those who never got to enjoy the infectious charm of Dr. Mario Online RX, or those who just want to enjoy it in glorious high definition, Dr. Luigi has the cure.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Frisch's Top 10 Christmas Specials

Ho ho ho!  Joy to the World!  Peace on earth and good will toward men!  It's Christmas!  The most wonderful time of the year!  And what's one of the most wonderful things about Christmas?  Christmas specials, of course!  Those wonderfully sentimental and schmaltzy shows that everyone looks forward to watching on TV every year.  Whether they're produced as a special episode on an ongoing series or as a one-off event, Christmas specials hold a special place in the hearts of many.

So today I'm counting down my Top 10 Favorite Christmas Specials!  But keep in mind, I'm only including specials on this list, not feature films.  (Though, spoiler alert, my favorite is totally The Muppet Christmas Carol.  For the record.)

Anyhoo...on with the list!  I've checked it twice, so here we go!

10.  A Miser Brothers Christmas

This one makes it onto the list solely as a guilty pleasure.  I only became familiar with it a couple of years ago.  To be honest, I don't have a lot of nostalgia for the classic Rankin-Bass Christmas specials.  For one thing, I haven't even seen most of them.  As a kid I only ever saw bits and pieces of Rudolph, since our tape was missing most of the middle act.  And, while I don't care much for The Year Without a Santa Claus, I do find the Miser Brothers quite amusing.

As the title implies, the Miser Brothers are the stars of the show in this special, but it also pays homage to many other Rankin-Bass specials, particularly Rudolph.  It's also terrible.  I mean really REALLY bad.  The story is ridiculous, the songs are garbage, and the voice acting is incredibly grating.  And I love it.  It's just so incredibly awful that you can't help but enjoy it.  And, shockingly, the stop-motion animation is incredibly well done.  The characters look fantastic and their movements are smooth and lively.  Not a holiday classic, but one I like to put on just for laughs.

9.  The Bath Item Gift Hypothesis

Christmas isn't especially prominent in this episode of The Big Bang Theory, but it's still in there!  The main story actually has virtually nothing to do with the holiday.  It's a pretty standard Leonard/Penny plot line that could be a part of any episode.  That said, it's sufficiently entertaining with some clever jokes here and there.

The secondary plot is where the Christmas theme comes into play.  It chronicles Sheldon's journey to find and appropriate Christmas gift for Penny and the finale that results is easily one of the most memorable moments The Big Bang Theory has ever seen. Airing as part of the show's second season, The Bath Item Gift Hypothesis is a fine example of why I still consider season 2 to be the highpoint of series.

8.  Gift of the Night Fury

I didn't expect much from Gift of the Night Fury.  Now, don't get me wrong, I absolutely love How to Train Your Dragon.  It's one of my all-time favorite films.  But I just had trouble seeing how a How To Train Your Dragon Christmas special would turn out to be any good.  I figured it would just be a quick cash-in with a cheesy lesson and sub-par animation quality.  Or, perhaps more likely, just an early Christmas episode of the then-upcoming TV show.

Boy, was I wrong!  The special, which in reality is only very loosely holiday themed, plays out like a little mini-sequel to the movie.  The animation is just as good as what was seen in the film and the story is actually quite solid with some good character development and world building.  The scenes that play out between Hiccup and Toothless are just as heartfelt as the feature film and it makes for a pleasant and memorable half hour of animation.  Astrid being reassigned to comic relief duty feels a little out-of-character but, as a whole, Gift of the Night Fury is well worth watching any time of the year.

7.  Merry Christmas, Mr. Bean

Mr. Bean's signature brand of silent British comedy is fairly easy to enjoy all the time, but he's definitely at his best at Christmas time.  Merry Christmas, Mr. Bean is a throroughly entertaining episode that delivers up great gags at every turn and also manages to hit all the warm and fuzzy moments you'd want from a Christmas special.  It's kind of staggering just how many great little moments this episode manages to pack in over the course of a half hour. 

Bean playing with a nativity set and famously getting a turkey stuck on his head are probably the two standout moments, but there's a ton of other great gags included as well.  Like many Mr. Bean episodes, Merry Christmas, Mr. Bean is also slightly tinged with melancholy, calling attention to just how pathetic a life Bean leads, even on Christmas.  For the most part, though, the episode is content to serve up a rapid-fire succession of hilarious antics.  Merry Christmas, Mr. Bean is not only a great Christmas episode, but one of the best episodes of the series as a whole.

6.  A Very Possible Christmas

I have long considered Kim Possible to be one of the finest animated television shows ever created.  Sure, it kind of wore out its welcome after the first couple of seasons, but when the show was at its best it was extremely well-written, witty, and had a phenomenal cast of characters.  Dr. Drakken, the main villain of the show, remains one of my favorite cartoon villains.  So how could I not include A Very Possible Christmas on this list?

A love letter to classic Christmas specials as a whole, A Very Possible Christmas exhibits all the clever writing and great humor that was standard for the series.  Numerous allusions to famous lines from other classic Christmas specials are sprinkled throughout, with Charlie Brown and Rudolph, among others, all getting nods.  The bickering duo of Ron and Dr. Drakken provides comedy gold and the conclusion of the episode is hilariously corny.  Though a little obscure these days, A Very Possible Christmas easily earns its spot on this list.

5.  A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa

Oh, goodness.  How on earth do you pick just one Muppet Christmas special to put on a list?  The Muppets go with Christmas like peanut butter goes with jelly.  As such, they've starred in their fair share of Christmas specials and movies over the years, many of which are hailed as classics these days.  As I mentioned earlier, The Muppet Christmas Carol is my favorite Christmas movie.  So how about the realm of television specials?  While many would cite A Muppet Family Christmas as the Muppets' best special (for good reasons, I might add) I personally opted to go with the far more recent and lesser known A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa.

This show holds a special place in my heart, having aired on the day I arrived home for Christmas break my freshman year of college.  Since I wasn't exactly a huge fan of college at that point (or at any point really) I was pretty excited to head home with the promise of new Muppets that evening.  And it didn't disappoint!  Though not the most impressive spectacle that Muppets have ever created, Letters to Santa manages to tell a sweet little story with some fun songs and good jokes.  Nathan Lane and Bobo the Bear absolutely steal the show as a pair of bumbling airport security guards and Richard Griffiths proved to be an excellent Santa Claus.  Though smaller and more subdued than some Muppet adventures, Letters to Santa is still a great example of why the Muppets and Christmas go so well together.

4.  A Charlie Brown Christmas

Though I kind of slighted the Rankin-Bass specials earlier in the list, never let it be said that I don't know how to enjoy a classic Christmas cartoon from time to time.  The next two cartoons on the list are about as iconic as it gets outside of the realm of Rankin-Bass' stop motion epics.  In fact, they may even be the most iconic specials of all.  First up is A Charlie Brown Christmas.

You'd have to have a heart of stone not to enjoy this 1965 special, which was also the first animated Peanuts cartoon ever produced.  It's crude animation is still charming.  It's stilted dialogue is as endearing as ever.  It's jokes are just as clever and witty as the comic strip.  It's jazz soundtrack is still as much a classic as the show itself.  And, of course, Linus famously rattling off Luke 2:8-14 to explain the true meaning of Christmas is one of the most memorable Peanuts moments of all time.  A pointed criticism of the commercialization of Christmas, A Charlie Brown Christmas feels more important with every passing year.  It's no wonder it remains a seasonal fixture nearly fifty years later.

3.  Dr. Suess' How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Much like Charlie Brown, the 1966 Chuck Jones classic How the Grinch Stole Christmas, based on the Dr. Seuss book by the same name, has proven to be such a holiday staple that not including it on this list would be as much a crime as stealing Christmas itself.  If you ask anyone to name a Christmas cartoon, Grinch is probably going to be one of the ones to get mentioned first.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas is largely a faithful adaption of the original story, with most of the text of the book being recited verbatim courtesy of narrator Boris Karloff, who also voices the Grinch.  That alone would be enough to make this special memorable, but the addition of some slapstick sledding sequences, a more climactic finale, and some of the most iconic songs in Christmas cartoon history further strengthen the cartoon without spoiling the poignancy of the story.  It's not hard to see why The Grinch is one of the most well-known Christmas specials around.

2.  The VeggieTales Christmas Spectacular

Origianlly airing on PAX in 1998, The VeggieTales Christmas Spectacular was a pretty big deal at the time (or at least felt like a big deal to nine year old me) because it was the first time VeggieTales ever aired on television.  The centerpiece of the show was an airing of the Christmas themed VeggieTales episode The Toy That Saved Christmas.  If you recall my Top 10 VeggieTales Episodes list from a while back, you'll know that The Toy That Saved Christmas is one of my favorites.  It's an example of Big Idea at their creative best and manages to deliver a message about the meaning of the season very much like that of A Charlie Brown Christmas.  It's funny, exciting, and well worth a spot on this list on its own.

For the TV version, Big Idea took everything up a notch.  A new framing device is introduced, featuring the VeggieTales gang putting on a stage show and stalling for time when the film for The Toy That Saved Christmas goes missing early in the show.  It allows for some of the more memorable songs from the concurrently released A Very Veggie Christmas album to be animated and it features one of the best Bob melt-downs in VeggieTales history.  The VeggieTales Christmas Spectacular is pretty unknown these days, but thankfully it is preserved on The Toy That Saved Christmas DVD as a bonus feature.  It makes a great Christmas special even better!

1.  A Flintstones Christmas

One of my favorite childhood memories about Christmas is how Cartoon Network would show old Christmas cartoons all day long on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  The majority of these cartoons came from Hanna-Babara.  They were all pretty much the same, just swapping in different characters.  Christmas was always in danger for some reason, usually because Santa is ill or hurt, but our heroes step in to save the day.  A few corny songs were usually sung and they all finish off with a horribly sentimental ending.  Yogi Bear, Huckleberry Hound, The Smurfs, you name it.  Heck, even Pac-Man had one.  But, in my opinion, the best has always been A Flintstones Christmas.

A Flintstones Christmas hits all the cliches.  Santa can't do his job because he's sprained his ankle and he has a cold.  So, of course, Fred and Barney fill in for him.  Cheesy songs are sung.  Christmas is saved.  And so on.  It's the ultimate example of a archetypal Christmas Special.  It's horribly corny but you can't help but feel all warm and fuzzy inside when you watch it.  A Flintstones Christmas isn't nearly as well known as most classic Christmas cartoons, but it's has long been my all time favorite, both as a little kid and now.  And thanks to the magic of DVD, I can still experience it every year!

Well, folks, that's my list!  I hope you all get a chance to enjoy your favorite Christmas specials this year, and I wish you all a very Merry Christmas!!!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Film Review: "Frozen" & "Get A Horse!"

It seems to be a new rule for Disney that princess movies have to have their names changed to generic adjectives.  When The Princess and the Frog failed to bring in the big audiences Disney was hoping for, they concluded that, apparently, having the word "princess" in the title was to blame.  As a result, the then-upcoming feature film Rapunzel received a name change to the much more gender-neutral Tangled.  And the further upcoming, long in development film The Snow Queen became Frozen, the subject of today's review.

The similarities to Tangled don't just stop with the name change, either.  In the same way that The Little Mermaid felt like the model for which later Disney films Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin were based on, Tangled appears to have served as the model on which Frozen was based.  Neither film feels like it belongs to the Disney Renaissance period, but there is a similar sense of continuity between the films.  I suppose Wreck-It Ralph is The Rescuers Down Under in this metaphor.  (But what would that make Winnie The Pooh?)

Very loosely based on a Hans Christian Anderson tale, Frozen primarily follows the story of two royal sisters.  The elder sister Elsa, voiced by Idina Menzel, possesses mysterious powers that allow her to create and control snow and ice.  Her struggle to accept her visually impressive but potentially threatening powers proves to be the primary driving force for the film's plot, but Elsa is not the main protagonist of the film.  That role falls to her younger sister Anna, voiced by Kristin Bell.  Anna is confident and energetic, if not a little ditzy and naive at times.  Basically, she's Rapunzel.  But it's hard to fault Disney for returning to such a likable character archetype and the story that Anna inhabits is quite different from Tangled, so the film never feels like a rehash.

Anna's main companions throughout the film are Kristoff, a traveling ice salesman, and his vaguely canine reindeer Sven.  A great deal of comedy is derived from the fact that, while Sven does not talk himself, Kristoff, voiced by Jonathan Groff, often "speaks" for him.  It's not as annoying as it sounds.  Speaking of annoying, there's also the character that everyone expected to hate, Olaf the talking snowman, voiced by Josh Gad.  Olaf is wisely relegated to the role of humorous punctuation, usually providing a goofy joke or line at the end of a larger scene.  The result is a character who is much more lovable and endearing than I'm sure anyone expected.  Sven is really the character who provides most of the comic relief.  Also along for the ride is Prince Hans, a character who, for most of the film, mostly exists to poke fun at the Disney formula of love-at-first-sight.  Alan Tudyk returns after his brilliant performance as King Candy in Wreck-It Ralph with the equally hammy Duke of Weselton.

It's a very strong cast overall.  You'll really come to care about the heroes (yes, even Olaf) by the end of the film.  The plot is a bit predictable and delves into cliched territory a few times, but it's in a comfortable fairy tale kind of way that's difficult to criticize.  The pacing is well balanced and it's fun that a few plot points deliberately take jabs at the expected formula of a Disney princess movie.  The film is a bit strange in that it does not feature a true villain, but I'm actually glad that it doesn't.  The stakes are still high enough without one for the audience to get invested in the plot and a traditional mustache-twirling bad guy would have felt unnecessary.

The visuals in Frozen are stunning.  A number of specific sequences were positively awe-inspiring.  More than most CGI films, there were several scenes in Frozen that made me simply sit back and say "wow."  Some of the imagery conjured up by Elsa and her icy powers is extremely beautiful.  It doesn't appear that the technology limited the artistry in any way for this film.  The color palette is wisely kept extremely vibrant and varied to offset the monochromatic nature of the snow that dominates so many scenes.  Ultimately, Frozen is one of the best looking CGI films I have ever watched.

And, of course, there's the music.  As musical a musical to come from Disney in years, Frozen delights in stacking up song after song for the first act of the film, developing pretty much the entire plot of the movie via singing.  It's kind of surprising at first, but not unwelcome given that the songs, written by Robert Lopez & Kristen Anderson-Lopez, are all incredibly memorable and do a great job of advancing the story at hand.  The transitions from dialogue to singing are also handled smoothly, with characters often talking their way into them instead of just spontaneously breaking out into song.  The film has a distinctly modern Broadway feel to it which works well.

The musical numbers conclude well before the third act of the movie, but that doesn't mean the quality of the soundtrack declines.  The score, provided by Christophe Beck, does an excellent job of backing up the musical numbers and is quite good in its own right.  This is one film were you'll be running out to buy the soundtrack album right after seeing the movie.

Frozen is one of the finest animated films to come out of Disney since the early nineties.  Many elements of the film recall Tangled, but not in a negative or distracting way.  If anything, the continuity strengthens the film's atmosphere.  The story is solid, the characters lovable, the music fantastic, and the visuals beautiful.  If you have even a passing interest in Disney films, you'll find lots to love about Frozen.  It has something for everyone.

Maybe there really is something to this adjective-based naming nonsense.  Perhaps The Princess and the Frog would have been more successful had they called it Croaked...

Playing before Frozen theatrically is a new Mickey Mouse short called Get a Horse.  It's incredibly funny and inventive and I can guarantee that it's probably not what you're expecting from a Mickey Mouse cartoon.  Serving as Mickey's first theatrical cartoon since 1995's divisive Runaway Brain and commemorating the mouse's 85th birthday, Get a Horse is just about worth the price of admission on its own.  Don't miss it!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Wii U Review: Super Mario 3D World

Gosh darn it, I really want to love Super Mario 3D World.  It gets so much right.  But I just don't like it.  I trudged through the whole game and it just never clicked for me.  The sequel to Super Mario 3D Land for the 3DS and the Wii U's first big flagship Mario title beyond the New Super series, 3D World has largely received glowing critical acclaim the internet over.  But there's always gotta be the outlier who differs from the popular opinion and, much to this Mario fan's dismay, it's me this time around.

Much like it's 3DS predecessor, Super Mario 3D World is a hybrid of 2D and 3D Mario series gameplay.  While movement is in full 3D and similar in nature to titles like Super Mario 64 or Super Mario Galaxy, the levels themselves are short and linear, usually providing a fairly straight-forward obstacle course to navigate on the way to the standard flagpole finish.  The requisite set of standard hidden collectables return in each level, with green stars and stamps now filling the roll of star coins or medals.  Fans of Super Mario Galaxy 2 and Super Mario 3D Land will recognize most of the gimmicks and ideas used in the levels here, though 3D World does do a good job of mixing them up from previous games.  A bucket full of new ideas are brought to table as well, though they tend to show up for only a level or two at most and don't noticeably shake things up too much.  The game is basically 3D Land on steroids.  It uses a lot of the same kinds of ideas but bigger and bolder and with much more variety.

The two main features of 3D World are multiplayer and cats.  The multiplayer is very much like that of the New Super games, allowing four players to chaotically fumble through the levels together.  As in the New Super games, you'll be working together to collect hidden goodies one second and tossing each other into pits the next.  Though it's arguably a cooperative mode by design, the game encourages a little bit of competition with your fellow players by ranking each player's performance based on their score and awarding a crown to the one who gets the highest score, which can then be stolen by other players during gameplay.

A fun new wrinkle to the formula is the return of the playable roster from Super Mario Bros. 2.  Mario remains the most balanced, controlling more or less the same way he did in 3D Land.  Luigi gets a higher jump but slippery handling, as always.  Princess Peach is a bit slower but can glide through the air for a while, and Blue Toad is really fast.  The characters all generally play similarly enough that you can switch between them without much difficulty, but they're still unique enough to feel distinct from one another.  It's a good way of making the multiplayer a little more interesting and it's also fun to have the option to play the single player mode as a character other than Mario if you choose.  Ultimately, multiplayer didn't do much to increase my enjoyment of the game, but just like the New Super games, 3D World could easily be riotous fun if you got the right group of players together to have at it.

Cats are the other main focus of the game.  The Cat Suit is a clever new power up in the same vein as the Tanooki Suit, but with some very unique properties.  First, it turns your character into a cat, complete with quadrupedal movement and cat noises.  Depending on your personal preferences, listening to Mario and company "meow" their way through levels will probably either come off as adorable or horribly obnoxious.

The Cat Suit also provides some interesting new abilities, including the ability to claw swipe enemies, pounce through the air, and clamber up walls.  Much like 3D Land's obsession with Tanooki tails, cat tails are also bestowed on numerous enemies as well, given them new appearances and cat-like abilities.  The cat focus is much more successful in execution than 3D Land's Tanooki focus however, because it's a power-up so unlike any previous Mario power-up, and it doesn't just feel like Nintendo trying to force some heavy-handed Mario 3 nostalgia on the player.

From and audio and visual standpoint, 3D World is extremely solid.  Being the first 3D Mario game to feature HD visuals, 3D World does not disappoint.  The game doesn't ever really try to impress with it's graphics or show off any flashy HD effects, but all the standard Mario visuals have been polished to a level of perfection never before seen in the series.  It lacks the striking visual impact of the Galaxy games, but everything about this game just looks really really pretty and it's almost kind of refreshing that Nintendo chose not to flaunt the visual detail in the face of players as many HD games tend to do.  The soundtrack is among the best to come from the Mario series since the original Galaxy.  Loads of fantastically catchy new tracks are served up regularly throughout the game.  A lot of familiar music returns as well, but instead of straight up recycling music this time, most of the old tracks feature new fully orchestrated arrangements that make them sound better than ever.

Like I said at the beginning of this review, Super Mario 3D World gets a lot of things right.  It's got a level of creativity and polish that has been sorely lacking in most main series Mario games since the original Galaxy.  But I just didn't have that much fun playing it.  Occupying the middle ground between being a 2D sidescroller and a full 3D adventure means that 3D World doesn't really work that well as either.  The levels are extremely linear, usually with a fixed camera showing the level from an angled view, which tends to introduce a lot of depth-perception issues not found in other 3D Mario games, including 3D Land.  The act of jumping on a Goomba is surprisingly hard in this game, as it's often challenging to figure out exactly where the Goomba is in relation to the player.  Despite rarely having similar issues in previous 3D Mario games, I lost a lot of power-ups and died regularly thanks to misjudging distances, hitting the sides of enemies when trying to jump on them, or simply missing ledges entirely.  The game wants to be a 2D game so badly that the inclusion of 3D space usually just gets in the way.

This becomes especially apparent when the game does occasionally try to appease fans of the more open levels of past 3D Mario games.  Simply put, there's nothing to do in them.  A few levels, most notably World 5's Sprawling Savanna, do give you a little more breathing room to run around, but there's just no reason to do so.  There's still only the same few secrets to find in every level, so most of the open space is empty.  There's no need to explore.  And, frankly, that's a bummer.  Since the game doesn't ever justify having open spaces to explore, it usually doesn't.  Which really begs the question, why is this game 3D in the first place?  Despite being called 3D World, it never feels like you're exploring a coherent world in this game.  It's just a collection of abstract obstacle courses strung together.  I constantly found myself yearning for the more open environments of 64, Sunshine, and Galaxy that actually had things to find if you explored the nooks and crannies.  3D World is not one of those games.  It's a 2D game masquerading as a 3D game, and that result is a bit of a clumsy hodgepodge of both styles of gameplay.  3D Land had a similar identity crisis on the 3DS, but it's noticeably more apparent here.

For the most part, Super Mario 3D World is about as good and polished as the current Mario series formula has ever been, but it's nothing more than that.  Its scope is small and its ambitions are modest.  This is not a generation defining game as previous Mario games have been.  This is a sequel to 3D Land that mixes in more elements from the New Super series, especially multiplayer, to create a simple but silly romp.  If the somewhat awkward blend of 2D and 3D gameplay doesn't sound problematic to you, this very well could be one of your favorite Mario games of all time.  But that blend is problematic for me, and it prevented me from really enjoying myself the entire game, both alone and in multiplayer.  Even at its best moments, I couldn't shake the notion that 3D World could be so much bigger and better if it wasn't trying to be both a sidescroller and a 3D adventure at the same time.  3D World is by no means a bad game, but my criticism that Nintendo needs to keep the 2D and 3D Mario games more distinct from each other still stands.

Now, honestly, if I have to say the phrase "2D" or "3D" one more time today I'm gonna lose it...