Playing the first Super Mario Maker made me realize that I took Nintendo’s approach to 2D Super Mario level design for granted. Contrasted against most of the user-generated levels I played, Nintendo’s approach across multiple Super Mario games showcases a high level of creativity, polish, accessibility, and restraint. It’s great that players are given the tools to create whatever they want, but it turns out that I mainly want more of Nintendo’s secret sauce.
Unfortunately, the Nintendo-made levels were poorly packaged as part of the 10 Mario Challenge. In it, you’re tasked with beating as many levels as you can with only 10 lives. However, unless you beat the entire challenge in one sitting, you’re likely to have to repeat levels before experiencing all of Nintendo’s content. Furthermore, the lack of connective tissue between levels made it difficult to get invested in Mario’s travels. At the very least, prior games sort of gave you the sense of working towards saving Princess Peach. With Super Mario Maker, you were just served levels at random that you’re running through for the sake of it.
Seemingly aware of the first game’s issues with regards to the presentation of Nintendo-made content, Super Mario Maker 2 takes a very different approach. Thus far, it’s made a huge difference in the way I consume and enjoy the game.
At launch, Street Fighter V was roasted by critics and players for a lack of single player content. The Character Story mode included was a slap-dash mess of corny voice acting set to bad art and one-round fights against brain dead AI that only lasted two hours. Beyond that, you were left with an infuriating Survival mode that was awful to play, yet pivotal for unlocking colours.
Capcom hopes to address this deficiency with A Shadow Falls. This free DLC add-on adds a four-hour story filled with fully-rendered cutscenes along the lines of what Mortal Kombat has been doing lately. Is this a worthwhile addition to a game sorely lacking in content?
The last few months have been rather sad for Street Fighter V fans thanks to Capcom missing their deadlines for content updates, but they repay it in kind today with the biggest update yet! We’re finally getting a Story mode that the game is sorely lacking, daily challenges, two new characters, two new stages, the store and more!
Historically, fighting games have done a poor job of providing a good single-player experience and a horrible job at telling a story. Even 20 years after the release of Street Fighter II, the majority of fighting games simply boil down to fighting opponent after opponent, until you’ve beaten everyone in your path and receive your character’s ending. This does not make for an interesting one-player experience, or add any context to why you’re fighting opponent after opponent. To be fair, the BlazBlue series has tried to expand its single-player experience with a story mode, but that game’s story is so poorly written and presented that only the hardest of hardcore anime fans would find any redeeming value in it.
With that said, Mortal Kombat’s story mode is a breath of fresh air. It’s presented in a way that makes perfect sense to the mythology of the series and to the player in control. What makes it so great? And what could have been done better?