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This week, Zero Punctuation reviews Super Mario 3D Land and Rayman Origins.

Transcript Edit

This may sound odd to those of you who were born in one of the shittier decades, brought up on games in which heavily armored main characters trundle along like the fat kid running the obstacle course on school sports day, but there was a time when a game would be ran out of town on a moving train level if the hero couldn't jump at least seven times their own height. Yes, the platformer was the go-to genre in 2D times; it was what the third-person shooter is today: the default option whenever someone wants to hash out a quick movie tie-in.

But when the big, rowdy child that was 3D gameplay muscled onto the playground, platforming was one of many children he just couldn't get along with. An awkward transitionary phase in the PlayStation era illustrated that bouncing around on three-dimensional space was like using a space hopper to dismount from a trampoline, and everyone got really down on jumping puzzles in FPSes after the last level of Half-Life had you swinging between suspiciously proportioned alien phalli. So in today's mainstream market, pure platforming games are a wee bit marginalized.

Unless, of course, your name is Mario. Mario, as ever, gets a free ride on this one because there are more products carrying his likeness than statutory safety labels, and the latest chicken bone he's thrown to his followers from atop his mainstream platforming monopoly is Super Mario 3D Land, or Super Mario Land 3D or Land Mario 3D Super or however you're supposed to say it.

Since you're all no doubt very busy procrastinating on the Internet, I won't waste your valuable time recounting the plot of the game. Suffice to say that Bowser has started issuing his ransom demands in the form of unlockable 3D pictures, sadly missing the glaringly obvious opportunity for Princess Peach cheesecake shots. I mean, might as well, Nintendo, while you're still trying to convince us the 3DS wasn't a bad idea. But no, I guess they're following the usual Nintendo post-cockup policy, which is to keep desperately hammering away at it until either reality somehow spontaneously alters to fit with their deluded vision of it or they come up with another stupid new idea they can beat into the ground with a Mario-branded shillelagh.

You know what? I'm already bored of talking about Mario. Let's talk about something else. Like Rayman Origins, a Ubisoft platformer released for other, less dumb consoles.

The plot of this one isn't that much more considered than "Bowser have princess, collect stars for inadequately explained reason." From what I can gather from the intro sequence, a bunch of evil subterranean beings are being annoyed by Rayman and his mates snoring too loudly. And rather than sewing tennis balls into the backs of their pajamas or maybe just putting more insulation in the dividing wall, the evil monsters conquer the world.

What with platformers falling out of favor in recent years, Rayman is a character Ubisoft have never really known what to do with. Never quite breaking out popularity-wise - because honestly, who could like a character whose hands and feet have no visible connection to their torso? - they had him emceeing that Raving Rabbids business for a bit, but he just ended up getting more overshadowed than Keanu Reeves in a high school amateur dramatics society and eventually was quietly dropped from the billing. Perhaps it can be said that the Karmic wheel has finally come around again for Mr. Man, because Rayman Origins is actually pretty good!

All right, I think I've calmed down enough to talk about Mario again. 3D Mario Land Super is a Mario game in which you jump on things in covetous pursuit of stars and coins, like you didn't already know that. How does it differentiate itself? Well, the standard policy with a new Mario game seems to be to write down every feature from every previous Mario game on Post-it notes, stick them all to a wall, and throw a fucking dart. And in the case of Super Mario 3D Mario Super, it landed on the raccoon tails from Mario 3, a dart that everyone was so fucking pleased with that they felt they had to base the whole game around it, handing up raccoon tails to half the enemies and statutory objects, too. Although considering the original Japanese Mario 3 was more faithful in its depiction of the folkloric tanuki, I'm hoping there's a version of this game knocking around somewhere where every enemy has a big, hairy scrotum dangling underneath, in which case it's the Thwomps I feel sorry for.

Oh yes, and they try to make something resembling a game mechanic out of the 3D gimmick by having these fixed-perspective puzzle rooms where you need the 3D on to see the platforms, but there's maybe three of them in the entire fucking game, so that's one for every eighty-odd bucks you paid for your special 3D handheld. Hope it was worth it!

Okay, gonna have to go back to Rayman Origins for a bit. It plays most similarly to New Super Mario Bros. Wii, right down to the four players, two of which are named characters and two of which are passing woodland creatures that walked in the wrong door by mistake. Crucially, though, players do not bounce off each other like they did in Nesumbwii, so you can actually get through a level without disowning three friends or family members. Another difference is that Rayman ditches the lives system, a very stupid and outdated concept that Nintendo have to stick to because of an ancient voodoo curse that will make their bellends explode if they try to think for five minutes.

When the challenge ramps up - and by golly trousers does it ramp up! - then each failed attempt easily flows into the next, never wasting thirty seconds of your time watching your character contemplate taking up self-harm while being beaten around the head with aggressively cheerful music or kicking you back an arbitrary amount of gameplay time to fleece quarters that don't exist, allowing Origins to find that elusive sweet spot of being challenging without being frustrating. Awwwwwwwwwwwww. . .

Right, back to Mario. The other way 3D Land differs from other Marios is that there's substantially less of it. Virtually every level is a random collection of floating blocks, like someone called a timeout halfway through an explosion of the Duplo warehouse, but not in the Mario Galaxy way that actually has consistency and epicness. (Christ, I hate that word!) There's something like ninety-odd stages with enough unique material to fill maybe ten. Large sections and even entire levels get choppied and copied like Dr. Frankenstein's ill-fated speed dating business. The game reeks of halfheartedness, like Nintendo developed the whole thing by lying on a couch idly smashing a computer keyboard with one hand and dropping grapes into their mouth with the other. Grrrrrrrrrrrr. . .

Back to Rayman. What I find most encouraging is that an entirely 2D game has somehow swung a full-on boxed console release. It shows that the industry has woken up to the fact that demanding full-on, cutting edge polygon parades cripples developers with a nailgun to the shins, and a game that just looks great and sounds great and brims with personable charm is ultimately the sounder proposition. Awwwwwwwwwwww. . .

Back to Mario. Grrrrrrrrrrr. . .

Back to Rayman. Awwwwwwwwwwwwww. . .

Grrrrrrrrrrr. . .

Awwwwwwwwwwww. . .

Grrrrrrrrrrr. . .

Awwwwwwwwwwww. . .

. . .

See you next week.

AddendaEdit

No relation to Ray Charles: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw

Is it called Rayman Origins because it's a prequel or because they really wanted to sell it over EA's digital distribution network

More Mario games should let you bounce off massive scrotums


ScreenshotsEdit

Mario 3D 1

The plot of the game

Mario 3D 3

You can actually get through a level without disowning three friends or family members

Mario 3D 4

Taking up self-harm while being beaten around the head with aggressively cheerful music

External LinksEdit

Super Mario 3D Land

Rayman Origins

Episodes
2007 - 2010
2007
Q3 The Darkness Demo · Fable: The Lost Chapters · Zero Punctuation (Episode) · Heavenly Sword and Other Stuff · Psychonauts · Console Rundown · BioShock · Tomb Raider: Anniversary · Manhunt · Peggle
Q4 Halo 3 · Tabula Rasa · The Orange Box · Super Paper Mario · Medal of Honor: Airborne · The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass · Clive Barker's Jericho · F.E.A.R. Perseus Mandate · Assassin's Creed · Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock · Mass Effect
2008
Q1 Super Mario Galaxy · Silent Hill: Origins · Crysis · The Witcher · Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles · Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare · SimCity Societies · Yahtzee Goes to GDC · Uncharted: Drake's Fortune · Devil May Cry 4 · Burnout: Paradise · Turok · Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure
Q2 Army of Two · No More Heroes · Condemned 2: Bloodshot · Super Smash Bros. Brawl · God of War: Chains of Olympus · Mailbag Showdown · Grand Theft Auto IV · Painkiller · The World Ends With You · The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion · Haze · Metal Gear Solid 4
Q3 Webcomics · Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures · Alone in the Dark · Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures · The E3 Trailer Park · Ninja Gaiden II · Prince of Persia Retrospective · Soulcalibur IV · Braid · EVE Online · Too Human · Spore · XBLA Double Bill
Q4 Mercenaries 2: World in Flames · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed · S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky · Silent Hill: Homecoming · Saints Row 2 · Dead Space · Fable II · Fallout 3 · Guitar Hero: World Tour · Mirror's Edge · Left 4 Dead · Sonic Unleashed · The Year in Review - 2008 · Prince of Persia
2009
Q1 Awards for 2008 · Tomb Raider: Underworld · Far Cry 2 · Gears of War 2 · LittleBigPlanet · Thief: The Dark Project · Skate 2 · F.E.A.R. 2 · Spider-Man: Web of Shadows · The House of the Dead: Overkill · 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand · Resident Evil 5
Q2 X-Blades/Halo Wars · Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars · MadWorld · Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X · Siren: Blood Curse · The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena · Valkyria Chronicles · Velvet Assassin · Duke Nukem Forever · Bionic Commando · InFamous · The Second Annual E3 Hype Massacre · Prototype
Q3 The Sims 3 · Ghostbusters: The Video Game · Overlord 2 · Red Faction Guerrilla · Wii Sports Resort · Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood · The Conduit · Silent Hill 2 · 2.5-D Hoedown · Tales of Monkey Island · Wolfenstein · Batman: Arkham Asylum · Beatles Rock Band & Guitar Hero 5 · Darkest of Days
Q4 Scribblenauts · Wet · Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story · Brutal Legend · Washington D.C. · Uncharted 2: Among Thieves · Dragon Age: Origins · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 · Assassin's Creed 2 · Left 4 Dead 2 & New Super Mario Bros. Wii · Demon's Souls · Holiday 2009 · The Saboteur
2010
Q1 Awards for 2009 · Torchlight · Darksiders · Bayonetta · Dark Void · Borderlands · Mass Effect 2 · Dante's Inferno · BioShock 2 · Aliens vs Predator · Heavy Rain · Battlefield: Bad Company 2 · Final Fantasy XIII
Q2 April Fools 2010 · God of War III · Red Steel 2 · Just Cause 2 · Silent Hill: Shattered Memories · Splinter Cell: Conviction · Nier · Dead to Rights: Retribution · Monster Hunter Tri · Alan Wake · Red Dead Redemption · Alpha Protocol · Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands · E3 2010
Q3 No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle · Super Mario Galaxy 2 · Singularity · Crackdown 2 · DeathSpank & Limbo · Shadow of the Colossus · Split Second: Velocity · Transformers: War for Cybertron · Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days · Mafia II · Metroid: Other M · Video Game Voters Network · Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Q4 Halo: Reach · Dead Rising 2 · Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow · Enslaved: Odyssey to the West · Fallout: New Vegas · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II · Call of Duty: Black Ops · IPhone Games · Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood · Splatterhouse · Epic Mickey · Holiday 2010
2011 - 2014
2011
Q1 Top 5 of 2010 · World of Warcraft: Cataclysm · Fable III · Minecraft · A Shadow's Tale · Dead Space 2 · DC Universe Online · MindJack · Two Worlds II · Bulletstorm · Killzone 3 · Kirby's Epic Yarn · Dragon Age II
Q2 Pokémon White · Yakuza 4 · Crysis 2 · Nintendo 3DS · Portal 2 · Castlevania: Symphony of the Night · Mortal Kombat · Brink · L.A. Noire · The Witcher 2 · Hunted: The Demon's Forge · Duke Nukem Forever (for real this time) · InFamous 2
Q3 Alice: Madness Returns · Shadows of the Damned · F.E.A.R. 3 · The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D · Call of Juarez: The Cartel · Bastion and From Dust · Catherine · Red Faction: Armageddon · Deus Ex · Deus Ex: Human Revolution · Driver: San Francisco · Dead Island · Resistance 3
Q4 Gears of War 3 · Hard Reset · Rage · Kinect · Batman: Arkham City · Battlefield 3 · Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 · The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim · Saints Row: The Third · Assassin's Creed: Revelations · The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
2012
Q1 Serious Sam 3: BFE · Top 5 of 2011 · Super Mario 3D Land & Rayman Origins · Sonic Generations · Star Wars: The Old Republic · Amy · Resident Evil: Revelations · Darkness 2 · Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning · NeverDead · Syndicate · Mass Effect 3 · Twisted Metal
Q2 Yakuza: Dead Souls · Ninja Gaiden 3 · Silent Hill: Downpour · Kid Icarus: Uprising · Fez and I Am Alive · Prototype 2 · Risen 2: Dark Waters · Sniper Elite V2 · Diablo 3 · Max Payne 3 · Dragon's Dogma · E3 2012 · Lollipop Chainsaw
Q3 Quantum Conundrum · Spec Ops: The Line · Walking Dead · Inversion · The Amazing Spider-Man · Half-Life · Wreckateer and Deadlight · Steam Roundup · Sleeping Dogs · Darksiders 2 · DayZ · Guild Wars 2
Q4 Borderlands 2 · FIFA 13 · Resident Evil 6 · Dishonored · XCOM: Enemy Unknown · Medal of Honor: Warfighter & Doom 3: BFG Edition · Assassin's Creed 3 · Halo 4 · Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 · Hitman: Absolution · Far Cry 3 · ZombiU
2013
Q1 Top 5 of 2012 · Paper Mario: Sticker Star · Black Knight Sword & Hotline Miami · Anarchy Reigns · DMC: Devil May Cry · The Cave · Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch · Dead Space 3 · Aliens: Colonial Marines · Crysis 3 · Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance · Tomb Raider · SimCity
Q2 The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct · BioShock Infinite · Lego City Undercover · Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon · Injustice: Gods Among Us · Star Trek · Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon · System Shock 2 · Metro: Last Light · Next Gen Buyer's Guide · Fuse · Remember Me · E3 2013
Q3 The Last of Us · Deadpool · Animal Crossing: New Leaf · Ride to Hell: Retribution · Dark · Mario & Luigi: Dream Team · Rise of the Triad · Papers, Please & Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons · Pikmin 3 · The Bureau: XCOM Declassified · Saints Row 4 · Killer is Dead · Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs
Q4 Grand Theft Auto V · Lost Planet 3 · Beyond: Two Souls · The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD · Batman: Arkham Origins · Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag · Call of Duty: Ghosts · Exclusives Showdown · Ryse: Son of Rome · Dead Rising 3 · Super Mario 3D World
2014
Q1 Top 5 of 2013 · Knack · Killzone: Shadow Fall · Survival Special · Broken Age · Might & Magic X: Legacy · The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds · Dark Souls · Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII · Strider · Thief · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 · Dark Souls II
Q2 Titanfall · InFamous: Second Son · Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes · The Elder Scrolls Online · South Park: The Stick of Truth · FTL: Faster Than Light · Child of Day-Light · The Amazing Spider-Man 2 · Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure · Wolfenstein: The New Order · WATCH DOGS · E3 2014 · Murdered: Soul Suspect
Q3 Tomodachi Life · Enemy Front & Valiant Hearts: The Great War · Shovel Knight · EarthBound · Transistor · E.T. · Firefall · Sacred 3 · Risen 3: Titan Lords · Daikatana · Lichdom: Battlemage · The Sims 4 · Destiny
Q4 D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die · Hyrule Warriors · Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor · Alien Isolation · The Evil Within · Bayonetta 2 · Sunset Overdrive · Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare · Assassin's Creed: Unity · Far Cry 4 · Dragon Age: Inquisition · Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric · Top 5 Games of 2014
2015 - 2017
2015
Q1 The Talos Principle · Elite: Dangerous · Five Nights at Freddy's and This War of Mine · Lords of the Fallen · Saints Row: Gat out of Hell · Dying Light · Grim Fandango · Evolve · The Order: 1886 · The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D · Resident Evil Revelations 2 · Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number & Ori and the Blind Forest
Q2 Battlefield: Hardline · Bloodborne · Half-Life 2 Update · Axiom Verge & Stealth Inc 2 · Mortal Kombat X · Grand Theft Auto Online · Broken Age: Act 2 · Wolfenstein: The Old Blood · Cyberpunk Double · The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt · Splatoon · Hatred · E3 2015
Q3 Alone in the Dark: Illumination · Batman: Arkham Knight · Yoshi's Woolly World · Cave Story · Godzilla · Rocket League & Tembo the Badass Elephant · King's Quest: A Knight to Remember · Nom Nom Galaxy & Freedom Planet · Everybody's Gone To The Rapture · Volume · Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain · Mad Max · Gears of War Ultimate Edition · Until Dawn
Q4 Super Mario Maker · SOMA · Rock Band 4 · Assassin's Creed Syndicate · Halo 5: Guardians · Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 · Rise of the Tomb Raider · Fallout 4 · Star Wars: Battlefront · Just Cause 3 · Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water
2016
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2015 · Devil's Third · Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam · Assassin's Creed Chronicles · Xenoblade Chronicles X · The Witness & Bombshell · Gravity Rush · XCOM 2 · Firewatch & Layers of Fear · Far Cry Primal · Stardew Valley & SUPERHOT · The Division · Salt and Sanctuary
Q2 Republique · Shadow Warrior · Quantum Break · Dark Souls III · Ratchet & Clank · Star Fox Zero · Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door · Uncharted 4: A Thief's End · Doom · Homefront: The Revolution · Overwatch & Battleborn · Mirror's Edge: Catalyst · E3 2016
Q3 Mighty No. 9 · Inside & Shadow of the Beast · The Technomancer · Furi & Song of the Deep · I Am Setsuna · Headlander & Quadrilateral Cowboy · Quake · No Man's Sky · Grow Up · Deus Ex: Mankind Divided · Metroid Prime: Federation Force · The Curious Expedition & Mother Russia Bleeds · ReCore
Q4 Capcom Five · Clustertruck & Lichtspeer · Paper Mario: Color Splash · Mafia III · Gears of War 4 · PlayStation VR · Battlefield 1 · Titanfall 2 vs Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare · Dishonored 2 · WATCH DOGS 2 · Final Fantasy XV · The Last Guardian
2017
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2016 · Let It Die · Dead Rising 4 · Hitman · Gravity Rush 2 · Resident Evil 7 · Yakuza 0 · Nioh · For Honor · Nintendo Switch & Breath of the Wild · Horizon Zero Dawn · Nier Automata · Ghost Recon Wildlands
Q2 Mass Effect Andromeda · Yooka-Laylee · Persona 5 · Remastered Editions · Outlast 2 · Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 · Prey · Wilson's Heart · The Surge · Injustice 2 · Vanquish · E3 2017 · Strafe
Q3 Get Even · Hollow Knight / Dead Cells · Fifth Console Generation · The End is Nigh, and Yonder: Cloud Catcher Chronicles · Pyre · Splatoon 2

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