@Zero Disagree. Do you know how many times the less experienced gamers fall off the platforms into the chasm below in the sessions I've watched? A lot. But they are penalized by losing gems and floating back up to the platform to try again, so there is no real frustration for them.
For someone going for a gold medal, getting hit is a big deal. And you have to decide whether to keep going in the hopes of getting enough gems or restarting the level, knowing that you've failed. Moreover, there are many gems that require a bit of extra work and skill to get. The casual gamer can simply cruise past them, but the skilled gamer going for the gold medal will have to risk losing gems in order to get gems. If you set yourself the goal of not just playing through the game, but playing through the game well, it's like it becomes a whole new game. As Jim says - you have to WANT that challenge, but I don't know why anyone here would play the game without wanting it. It's just not nearly as fun a game without going for the gold medals.
Another game that gets criticized for being too "easy" is Prince of Persia (2008) because you can't "die" in the traditional sense there either. Well, Bub, every time Elika "saves" you... you died. You failed. You just didn't have to sit through a game-over screen and a loading screen to get back to the game and try again, or redo steps you already did successfully. How many people actually finished the game with the achievement for being saved less than 100 times? On their first try? I bet you not many. Again, it's a system that challenges you in different ways, many of them optional. Enough light seeds can be gathered to complete the story without much skill. However, getting all of them is far more challenging and interesting. Getting all of them while being saved less than 100 times is even more challenging.
Super Mario Galaxy 1 & 2 are really easy to see the end of the story. Even easier with a second player helping you out. But then you're missing out on some of the most fun parts of the game.
Personally, I love this new way of thinking about game design. One game for all skill levels. Play at the level you want to and/or are capable of all within the same game. Even better - when the less skilled gamer starts to get better through the course of playing, they can alter their way of playing/objective themselves without having to restart a new game at a higher difficulty setting.
I've played through the first world so far and have gotten all the Energy Spheres in the world as well (think of them like NSMB's Star Coins). So far, the game is a lot of fun and very charming. The stage design is similar to Kirby's Adventure and Super Star, in the style of being focused on lots of action and fightin' in a linear platformer setting. And like with those games, the most appealing part is the variety in moves and different ways to approach the game at all times. It's done a great job of introducing new movesets in each level so that there's plenty to play with, and the Super Abilities (which I initially worried would slow down the game) are used sparingly and interestingly enough so that it's fun when you get one (the long cutscene is only in the first attack you do, too--each additional one is much quicker).
Also nifty are the side-games, such as challenge rooms for several abilities that you can unlock by collecting enough Energy Spheres. I've only been able to do one so far, but it was a pretty beefy obstacle course that really tests your reflexes to get Gold. Naturally, I got Gold on my second try but I've always considered myself a bit of a Sword fancier in KSS, so I felt at home in the stage.
My main concern is that the game is gonna be quite short, but we'll see when all is said and done since I've heard there're some late-game surprises.
But if you're like me, the real meat and potatoes of the game is in the ability selection! These are like SSB character rosters--each has their own simplistic fighter-style moveset, and it makes combat a real joy to play. Here are the ones I've been introduced to in world 1, with my opinion on each--
SWORD - Sword's been creeping its way past Beam as the quintessential Kirby copy ability since around Super Star, and it's better than ever here. Every one of its old moves has returned for extra butt-kickery, and it's even got a few new techniques as well. Kirby can now do a sweet uppercut with up+1, and even follow it up with a dropping slam with down+1 immediately afterwards. He's aped a couple more of Link's moves--the Zelda 2 downward stab (down+1 in the air) and the famous sword spin (hold 1, release)! It's a great ability and sure to be a fan favorite.
FIRE - Like before, the old "Fire" and "Fireball" moves from Kirby's Adventure have been combined into a single moveset, and one with a surprising array of attacks. Breathing fire and using the fireball are back of course, and you can even set yourself ablaze again by aiming the fire breath towards Kirby. The air roll and ground roll have returned too, now complemented by a slight wall scaling. Kirby's air game with Fire has gotten a little better with neutral+1 while jumping, which makes him sling a whip of flame around him. Definitely good stuff.
CUTTER - The bladed boomerang returns with some nifty improvements as well. You can throw 'em straight, or in an upward/downward arc now. Another new addition is the ability to charge the cutter, which makes a rather massive boomerang slice through the air (upward/downward if you prefer). If it's between two walls, it'll bounce like a raging buzzsaw back and forth. Naturally, the Final Cutter is here, as well as the downward slice.
BEAM - I've always loved Beam since KSS, and it's back to brighten our day once again. In addition to the standard beam, you have the dash beam, the storm of shots while running/dashing, and the ability to charge it up into a super shot. Grabbing and throwing enemies is once again an option. The new ability is quite cool--mash 1 in midair and Kirby will hover, rotating the beam around and around his body, over and over...
SPARK - Spark is an amalgamation of KA's Spark and KSS's Plasma. And it might be my pick for "most improved" so far. You get the normal spark shield move, plus all the static fun of Plasma (now activated by rotating the D-pad and/or shaking the Wiimote, complete with a new forcefield), but Kirby also has a couple of ferocious new moves at his disposal. Up+1 will make him raise his fist to the heavens, summoning down a lightning strike like so many SSB Pikachus before him, while down+1 in mid-air has the puffball throw lightning down to the earth below. It's crazy fun and rounds out the moveset really well.
NEEDLE - Needle doesn't have a ton of moves, but it still got some slick new ones to make it beefier than its sole move in KA. Pressing 1 after dashing will cause Kirby to roll forward like a spiky wheel, making swiss cheese of whatever's ahead. Holding the button will bring out the spikes, of course, but in a clever twist, shaking the Wiimote will make Kirby repeatedly shoot them from his back. And finally, up+1 launches a huge needle upward from Kirby's head. LEAF - Leaf! I was surprised to see this new ability show up at the end of world 1, but eager to try it out. And I love it! Kirby's got quite a set of moves here, including releasing leaves diagonally upward (standard attack), making a spiral of leaves swirl around him (hold 1), uppercutting with a super-quick vine (up+1), tossing three leaves downward, Kunai-style (down+1 in air), and even a unique camouflage guard move (A). I'm sure there're some that I'm forgetting, but it's definitely a fun new power and it looks great.
I should also mention that I'm enjoying the music and sound effects more than expected. The music is quite varied and pretty catchy, while the sound effects are enjoyably beefy. You can really feel the power behind some of these attacks!
@nacthenud Nice analysis, couldn't agree more. I'm still trying to get all the gold medals and complete the bonus challenges in KEY with my girlfriend, and we're still having a blast because it's pretty challenging.
I agree with a lot of what you're saying here. It's nice to see accessibility injected into modern games without leaving "hardcore difficulty" behind.
Iím currently playing Forza 4 and being reminded of this concept over and over. It started when toggling off the assists (ABS, stability control, traction control, simulation damage, manual shifting, etc.). Over the course of 5-10 hours of gameplay I went from having virtually all of them on to switching them all off. Man did it feel great to take off the training wheels.
What I discovered was that the game was designed to be enjoyed by players of all skill levels. You could switch assists on and off to the point where the game practically plays itself or swing completely in the other direction where youíre playing at a professional-driver level. The beauty is that nothing changes in the game. Youíre still driving the same cars down the same tracks. Everyone gets to enjoy the same experience, regardless of what skill level you bring to the table.
Thereís this new mode in Forza 4 called Rivals. Itís asynchronous multiplayer where you pick or are assigned a rival from your Friends List or random public and take on a variety of challenges, trying for the best time. When you pick a category to race, the game instantly downloads your rivalís ghost and youíre put on the track with them, trying to cross the finish line first. If you win, you go up on the leaderboard and your rival gets notified that you beat their time. They then usually go back after your best time. (Iím currently in a tit for tat grudge match with the founder of Gamers With Jobs).
Anyway, leaderboard scoring in Rivals mode is not just based on time. Itís also based on what assists you have turned on and how clean you drive a lap. You could actually beat a rival even if you finish a race a couple-few seconds after them IF you have assists turned off that they have turned on (ABS, etc.). More important is driving a clean lap. The only way to do this is to stay on the track (not even a single tire on the track shoulder), donít take or incur any damage, and donít draft or be drafted (many rival challenges have A.I. cars on the track). Itís not as easy as it sounds and it demands controlled, skilled racing. Thing is, if you want to be competitive on any of the Leaderboards in Forza 4, you have to race clean laps. Thereís no other way to rise in the ranks.
So it dawned on me that you get out of Forza 4 what you put into it. Want to casually whip around the tracks with little effort like youíre playing Burnout? You can do that. Conversely, you can flip switches and turn the game into one of the best driving simulators on the market. I love the sense of choice this gives. Itís great to see a game offer so much to such a wide audience. It makes me hope to see more game design like this in the future across all genres and platforms.
@nacthenud I'm just telling you my experience with the game, the platforming is incredibly easy. Sure total n00bz will have trouble with it, but for people like us pretty much every other Nintendo platformer has more difficult platforming. And in a certain sense, that is the norm for Kirby games, where the floating Kirby kills the platforming challenge a bit. But this game had no floating Kirby! The platforming should have been tougher!
To answer your question, I can tell you why I didn't want to play the game collecting everything. For one, I was playing with my girlfriend who certainly didn't want to collect everything and didn't want to stand around waiting for me to do it either. For two, I don't like collectathons involved in my core platforming experience. They're nice for replays, but first time through I want the game to challenge me simply by being challenging, and I don't want to have to worry about whether I missed this or that secret stash of whatever thing-gums the game is throwing at me.
It's weird that you bring up Super Mario Galaxy 1/2, because going past "the end of the story" in those games doesn't mean collecting a bunch of knick-knacks. There are brand new platforming challenges that await, and some of them are tough.
Anyway, if you like this type of design, that's cool. I don't. I'd rather have my challenge in my core gameplay mechanics, not in collecting things.
I have never been a huge fan of Kirby's traditional adventures (aside from the amazing Super Star), but this one is just lots of fun in co-op mode. We just beat the first world and we're having a blast.
So, we're onto the third world. Having a lot of fun collecting all the spheres but there hasn't been much of a challeneg yet. Oh, Water Kirby is the best thing ever. Either that or Whip Kirby. Good times indeed!
Trish has taken a liking to Meta Knight.
So, umm, has anyone else encountered crashes while playing the game? Mine crashed when I first started it up initially, and once when I first entered the Dojo bonus level. Weird.
@ploot For some reason that makes me feel better, I don't want another Epic Yarn situation where we both feel like dying has no consequences. Hmm, but how many lives do you get? Can you end up with a ridiculous amount?
I just picked up the game today and have put in about an hour's worth of solid game time. I'm at 14% complete. And so far, so very, very good. This game has already made up for Epic Yarn's epic failure at fun. The only negative is that ever since the N64 game, I keep expecting to be able to combine abilities. Maybe you can and I just haven't figured it out yet, but that feature was so amazingly fun in Crystal Shards. Back to Return to Dreamland, the graphics (while not as nice as they perhaps should be) are very lovely, and the music, even lovelier. The new abilities are great fun, and I think my favorite of those I have come across thus far has been the leaf ability. It's just so nifty to use. Though, I wish more abilities provided Kirby a more unique look. I grow tried of seeing his head adorned with the ability in all its generic form. I like the whip's hat, the sword's cap, the hammer's bandanna, etc. Minor quibbles, though. And just as expected, none of these new abilities have yet to topple my favorite... parasol Kirby! Anyway, I'm looking forward to playing much more of Kirby's Return to Dreamland this weekend and hope to get in some multiplayer action soon. It is just so wonderful to have a classic Kirby platformer on the big screen once again. It has been far too long. Nothing, nothing I say, can turn a frown upside down quite like my favorite pink powderpuff.