It’s April! We are over 1/4 of the way into the year and the weather is picking up, while the weather may be similar.. The gaming climate most certainly was not. Come with me on a journey through time and space where we will check out a few of the titles released a whole 10 years ago. This is games turning 10: April.
Super Paper Mario (Wii): April 9th
Admittedly, I am not a big ol’ Mario fan (as anyone who listens to our fortnightly podcast will know) but this is one game that tempts me even today. I am very much a lover of a cartoon-style aesthetic (it rivals my adoration of cel-shading) and think it can really contribute to a game feeling utterly timeless.
So while I haven’t actually personally played Super Paper Mario I’ve watched more than enough footage of it to know it’s a pretty adorable and excellently executed piece of the Mario universe. This was the third in the Paper Mario collection and played in a different way to the previous games in that it moved away from 2.5D and became a more of a pure 2D experience.
Super Paper Mario is praised for a solid and amusing plot, however some critics described the plot as a con and said it was too cutesie – You can’t please everyone!
Metacritic list this at an 85%; hats off to you, Mario.
Super Rub ‘a’ Dub (PSN): April 9th
One of the most criminally underrated download-only games of the PS3 era is this lesser-known title: Super Rub ‘a’ Dub.
This sixaxis game requires that you control various tubs of water to steer a big rubber duck through bubbles containing what one can only assume are baby rubber ducks, and then lead them to freedom down the plug hole. Sounds pretty simple in theory, but anyone who’s experienced the joys of early PS3 Sixaxis will know that often the sloppy controls were somewhat... Well let’s not sugar coat this.. fucking frustrating as shit. I mean, seriously. Don’t tilt it too far one way or it gets confused and goes the other way instead. Panic and jolt the controller to save a sudden sideways slant and suddenly your big ol’ mummy duck and all her babies had decided this would make a better game if it were a part of the Lemmings franchise.
Just as you think you’re getting the hang of the game it throws in another obstacle: wind-up snappy bois. That is to say: sharks. A shark will spot you and pursue you with this terrifying Jaws-esque orchestral music which has you shitting your little feathery pants from the moment it begins.
Super Rub-a-dub may not be a feature on a PS3 classics list, but it is a fun game and if the reaction of my other half is anything to go by: still worth playing today.
Metacritic results contradict me horribly, 49%… Damnit.
Made Man (PS2): April 23rd
Now, I could be writing about Pokémon Diamond & Pearl which were released in North America on the 22nd April, but there is nothing new to say about Pokémon games that everybody doesn’t already know.
Instead, I’ll tell you about the blockbuster, the legend, the myth that is Made Man.
Honestly, reading the plot of this makes me wonder if Mafia III drew inspiration from it. Effectively this PS2 game is a third person shooter set in New York City and follows the story of Joey Verola (try not to read that in an Italian-American accent) as he rises though the ranks of the organised crime world to become a “made man”. The story is told through flashbacks.
I’m taking the piss: generally, this is considered an appalling game. Mass Effect: Andromeda criticisms are almost reminiscent of this: Poor graphics, poor gameplay, it never gets fun etc. etc. It’s this month’s The Shield but the tragedy is that this is potentially worse. Scores range from as low as 20 to as high as 80. Overall it sits at a 45% on Metacritic.
Eets: Chowdown (XBLA): April 25th
Eets: Chowdown is the last game I am featuring this month because of the slim and generally awful choice of games that saw the light of day back in April 2007.
BUT: Good news. This one isn’t utterly abhorrent <insert applause>.
Eets was released on Xbox Live Arcade, it is a 2D puzzle platformer with a cartoon art style. The game received mixed-to-positive reviews with some critics condemning it for its difficulty and others praising it for the challenge. Once again: Critics are divided.
This game is good fun if you’re trying to while away an afternoon and you fancy a challenge and the best news is that it’s still avaliable on the Xbox Live Arcade Store for a modest £6.75.
81% for Eets: Chowdown on Metacritic, nice one.
Last month I said that March was slow for games… Apparently not as slow as April.
As ever keep an eye out for next month and trust me: from here on out it gets better and better.