The humble sidescroller was birthed into this world when Super Mario Bros. invaded living rooms more than twenty-five years ago. In recent years the ancient genre has experienced somewhat of a rebirth. Gamers like it because it lets them grab a quick nostalgia boost. Developers like it because it enables them to use the form as a canvas for experimentation. Here are reviews of two new titles that do both.
'New Super Mario Bros. 2'
Console: Nintendo 3DS
It's a-him, Mario. Everybody's favorite mustached "plumber" is back for another retro-heavy platform adventure. "New Super Mario Bros. 2" adds two-player coop into the mix and places a large emphasis on coin collection. How much? One of the main goals of the game is to collect a million of those golden doodads. Looks like Mario recently got into Ayn Rand.
What's new? Not a lot. The level design and gameplay will be familiar to anyone who has ever even glanced at a video game. Sure, if you are cradled by cynicism this could be looked upon as lazy or, yikes, a cash in. That'd be missing the point. It's fun as all get out. It's Mario! You know the drill. A rehash Mario game is still better than ninety-five percent of other games out there.
Console: Xbox 360 XBLA
There aren't too many zombie sidescrollers so "Deadlight" comes as a welcome, and slowly lurching, surprise. First of all, this game is beautiful. The muted color palette and realistic rendering of a ruined city will have you from the first frame.
The gameplay is a mix of sidescrolling action and puzzle solving. Think "Limbo" or "Shadow Complex" and you have the right idea. You wander around post apocalyptic Seattle, avoiding the undead and trying to find your family. The game is tense and rewards creative thinking. It's pretty short though.