Saturday, January 1, 2011
Playing The Classics: The Lost Levels: Vol 5
This is it. Call Gob Bluth... this is the final countdown! World 8, Level 8-1. Here We Go.
The graphics look beautiful right now. Lush green environments, happy clouds in the background, and fantastical mountains in between. This is easily the best looking level in the whole game so far though I doubt it will be topped. 8-1 was tricky but I found myself running through it with flair. Maybe I was getting better at this game, or maybe it was just a superbly designed level. I don't think I'll ever know. 8-2 was full of hidden blocks. I found a bunch. Some had Super Mushrooms, others had Poison Mushrooms, and one even had a Star. Death after Death I realized what I needed to do to make it past the multiple Hammer Bros in my way. Then, as I tried, I found two more hidden blocks! This level his hidden block crazy! I made it to a forced pipe which led me to a nice little bonus area. Phew, I could breathe. Oh but wait... it takes me back to the middle of the level...? But I wasn't fooled. I knew the tricks by now. Right after that spot was a lonely Koopa Paratroopa floating underneath a block... a finesse-filled attack perhaps? Oh yes. I hit the block above the reptile and a vine released. Like Jack and his beanstalk, I climbed. A castle in the clouds? This is new... And a whole level in the clouds. I'm nearly done and the game is still chucking new ideas at me. I love it.
In 8-3, it's a pretty intense level because of the Hammer Bros strung throughout. However I learned something great here. After well over thirty-five tries I learned the secrets of the level as well as the secrets to the Hammer Bros. You have to run. If you run fast enough you can almost always avoid the first attack and they wont have time to get going. Eventually I was running through the level like a mad man. There was this one spot which took me a while to figure out because of more hidden blocks. I kept dying there too. Then I just went balls to the wall through it only to find out that the goal was literally a screen away the whole time. What a sigh of relief. With that sigh, I headed to the final level. Eight Dash Four.
Bowser's Castle is menacing. Just like in Super Mario World, the thunder crackles and the lighting fills the darkness. You start at a lava pit, requiring a bit of fancy movement to get across. Once over though you can't rest, you have to run and time it right to make it past the fire sticks. I ended up on a platform above a pipe. I accidentally slipped off it but saved myself on the pipe and in fact I was able to go down into it. This took me into a water portion of the castle. How bizarre. I hoped I wouldn't die solely because I doubt I could recreate that little bit of footwork again. But I would. I would have to over and over because this castle is the hardest castle I've ever stepped inside. It is grueling and frustrating and just when you think you're doing okay, there's a section requiring a proper "path" to be taken or it loops. Come on Shigeru... what are you smoking? Once I finally overcame that hurdle... things got intense. I only had to get past it once which was the funny part. I made my way forth and finally found Bowser. He began throwing his stupid hammers while nearby was a pipe with a piranha plant. I somehow managed to jump over him but there wasn't a traditional key to kill him. Instead it was a long hallway and I just kept running. I was truly tense and nervous but I kept running wondering what was next. There was a lava pit with two Paratroopas flying over it and I had no idea what that was about because I couldn't see. I just took a leap of faith on the red one's head and landed on solid ground. I ran into a pipe and got the hell out of there. Next was the a series of enemies I just whizzed by, almost like it was some cruel joke. Finally I came to the actual Bowser. King Koopa himself was in my way. With another well timed leap of faith I ran and jumped over him, managing to land on that key, sending his ass to the lava below. I had such a smile of glee on my face. You will not believe it. I had finally, after a billion deaths, defeated this game... or so I thought. I jumped into Peach's cage and rescued her. She gave me a smooch on the cheek and I'm sure she whispered something about better payment later that night. Her final words however were, "Thank You Mario! The kingdom is saved! Now try a more difficult quest..." WHAT? A more difficult quest? Like being blindfolded? Amputated? Using an Atari Joystick? What? So I chose to save and continue.
World A, Level A-1. This was no steak sauce. I was a Super Mario and I started the level. WTF... What the WTF!? The level was scattered with enemies left and right. It was insane. After a single set of five lives I said, No Thanks. I did my part. Peach can save the kingdom this time. Screw that. I'm gonna go have some spaghetti. [Really though I'm going to go buy a celebratory Slurpee, with Koopa Troopa Green Mountain Dew and Goomba Brown Pepsi. Yum. That's all for this installment of the Playing The Classics series. I hope you enjoyed reading and if you ever play... beware, be afraid, and be ballsy. Good luck!]
Sidenote, I couldn't resist trying A-1 again after posting this and I did end up beating it. Going through these levels I come to the conclusion that they are actually a little easier than the main game. It seems to be more like a "lets have some fun with this" kind of mentality for these bonus worlds. A few quick notes include that B-2 is a water level which seems to have randomly selected enemies (as I didn't encounter the same ones throughout my runs). C-2 was a level I only played twice. It was pretty much another flying Cheep Cheep level with more varied enemies and I just ran through the whole thing. It was tense, but I was just pulling things off correctly. The C World castle was a rehash of a castle from earlier in the game but with a couple subtle touches that made it more challenging. By the time I made it to the last castle, level D-4, I had been quick but careful. Again I pretty much ran through the level with finesse. When I got to King Koopa, I had a stand off instead of blindly running. I waited for an opportunity... until I made my move. I managed to get past him, sending him into the lava. These sixteen bonus levels were not nearly as bad as I expected them. They were definitely easier overall than the main game, but they were possibly more fun. This was one hell of a game that the world didn't get to see for some time. I highly recommend you all play it if you get the chance... just be sure to have the All-Stars version so you can save constantly.