Earth’s Mightiest (and Miniest) Heroes!

(Editor’s Note: A�We actually made it through this article without infringing on Stan Lee’s Excelsior copyright. A�It hasn’t yet had the intended effect of getting sued by the Generalissimo, so maybe we’ll just drop that and try to get famous the old fashioned way. A�Then again, the well behaved rarely make history, so… A�Excelsior, fellow Marvelites, and tally ho into the world of Herocilx!)

Imagine, if you will, a future in which the entire Marvel Universe was put into Ant Man’s shrinkerator, or injected with shrinking serum, or however it is that he is making himself so tiny in this iteration of the character. A�Then, suppose that you could freeze those tiny heroes in a pose that best captures their character. A�Finally, what if you could then make those mini super powered beings team up, fight, or do whatever you wanted them to do. A�How cool would that be? A�Maybe not cool at all for them, but really cool for us. A�Well, wonder no longer, because we live in that future!

You can almost hear him screaming, "This monster has trapped me in this (admittedly cool) plastic model. Please, release me. Vengeance must be served!
You can almost hear him screaming, “This monster has trapped me in this (admittedly cool) plastic model. Please, release me. Vengeance must be served!

The Gamer Bros and I talked about Heroclix in the latest episode of Noob and Sons. A�Chris and I talked about it on the main show, too. A�We’ve both written articles about our experiences in the game. A�When introduced to it, I never thought that this game would become one of my most played and discussed. A�But, the gaming gods work in mysterious ways.

When Chris and I played, we were both overwhelmed by the sheer number of rules and interactions. A�Now that I’ve researched other miniature games, I understand that rules and interactions are par for the course in the genre. A�Moreover, those who are interested in such games actually prefer having all of those rule. A�I don’t mind having all the rules. A�It is a trade off for having such a dynamic game environment.

However, one of the times that Chris and I tried to play was later at night and I just could not focus well enough to finish the game. A�Also, that rule set can be intimidating and scare off new players. A�That is the reason that I’m focusing so heavily on the rules in this article. A�I tried playing the game with Aiden when he was younger because he was the first to buy the figures. A�He had to play with a greatly reduced rules set just so that he could enjoy himself. A�Lesson learned, I suppose. A�these games are not for the weak.

You hear that, you *bleep* *bleep*.  This game isn't for *bleep* *bleep* *bleep*.  You better get your *bleep* *bleep* *bleep* in *bleep* shape or you will get *bleep* in your *bleep* *bleep*.
You hear that, you *bleep* *bleep*. This game isn’t for *bleep* *bleep* *bleep*. You better get your *bleep* *bleep* *bleep* in *bleep* shape or you will get *bleep* in your *bleep* *bleep*.

Still, the games with Chris inspired me to play more. A�It was during Christmas break, so I only had the boys as partners. A�Even though they are both older, I don’t think that they have the patience for the actual rules. A�Heck, as we’ve seen, I barely have the patience sometimes.

I looked up ways to play more than two players. A�The version I found most intriguing was called “King of the Hill”. A�You mark off a 3 by 3 (or maybe 4 by 4) area in the middle of the map, designate 4 potential starting zones and the teas battle to be king of the hill. A�We awarded points based on the number of characters on the “hill” during our first game. A�That turned out to be neither fair nor representative because larger teams with more characters received a potential disproportionate number of points. A�In an attempt to fix that, we recorded the point values of the characters in the “hill”. A�The effect of this was actually two fold. A�First, it gave all teams access to the maximum number of points. A�Second, it added strategy to the games in that you wanted to target the higher value opponents and keep them off the “hill”.

The other consideration when playing with the boys is the actual rules of the game. A�I already discussed this aspect a little bit. A�From movement to special powers, line of sight to push damage, the rules set of any miniature game is overwhelming. A�Heroclix, because it is geared to a younger audience is less so. A�Still, there is a ton of information to process each turn. A�We eliminated all special powers in the first game. A�Chris and I spent most of our time looking up the powers on our phones and computers, so that one step eliminated most of the idle time and made the game faster.

[in an unexplained British accent]:  But, without my powers, I am just a pretty blonde muscular guy with a big hammer.  Then again, I suppose that isn't all bad.
[in an inexplicable British accent]: But, without my powers, I am just a pretty blonde muscular guy with a big hammer. Then again, I suppose that isn’t all bad.
We played with powers in the second and third games. A�By then, though, I had played enough that I knew most of the powers and the rest only required a quick reference check to remind myself. A�The only thing left was to tackle the somewhat convoluted movement rules of the game. A�I’m a bit ashamed to admit that I don’t fully understand how actual movement is supposed to work each turn, so we simplified that, too.

Each character got one move or attack per turn. A�You could take “push” damage to give the option of a second action on any character. A�This method improved the flow of the game and kept the action at appropriate comic book levels. A�As I said, I don’t fully know the actual rules, so I’m not sure how different our version is from the official. A�I do know that it worked for me and the boys and Chris is open to trying them, too, the next time we play.

Now that we’ve worked out the things about the game that we didn’t like, it is a fun game. A�We have been busy and not able to play at all since the games at Christmas, but summer is coming and we will have more time. A�Who knows, as we play more, maybe we’ll go back to the actual rules of the game. A�Probably not, though, because I like our version.

Also, I'm not usually one to respect the rules.
Also, I’m not usually one to respect the rules.

Still Plumbing After All These Years

(Editor’s Note: A�In anticipation of–finally and yes, really!–the triumphant return of the Noob and Sons podcast, we celebrate our final Mario Monday, in true 2 Guys Gaming fashion, on a Tuesday. A�Hey, we finally talk about Luigi in this article, so we call it a Two for Tuesday.)

Yes, Luigi, you finally get your day in the sun. I couldn't, with good conscience, continue to ignore you in favor of your brother. People were starting to get worried that you might hurt yourself.
Yes, Luigi, you finally get your day in the sun. I couldn’t, with good conscience, continue to ignore you in favor of your brother. People were starting to get worried that you might hurt yourself.

Well, we’ve gone from the beginning, through the spinoffs, and landed safely in a new dimension. A�Our travels take us finally into the current–though with us that always means not so current–generation of Mario and Luigi games. A�We will focus most on Wii U, but I do want to touch on (pun intended) a DS game with Luigi’s Mansion Dark Moon and continue to analyze the DS versions when discussing the other titles.

I think that we can forgo the facade that we are doing this for any reason other than to play games. A�There will still be analysis of each game, but the page is called 2 Guys Gaming. A�We need to be true to the name and spirit of the page.

Luigi's_Mansion_Dark_Moon_(Boxart)

We start with a Luigi game finally. A�Sure, he’s been in some of the other games we’ve covered, but this one is all him. A�We already talked about this one in the first (and only released so far) episode of the Noob and Sons podcast. A�I think I also wrote a companion article back then, too.

I stopped playing the game when I got stuck on the clock part where you have to defeat 12 (or maybe more) consecutive waves of ghosts. A�I really need to go back to finish the game. A�Life is just too short to deal with frustrating games. A�I uninstalled Hearthstone from my phone for that same reason. A�Even so, LMDM is a fun game, so I need to endure the frustration for the time that it takes to beat that part. A�Liam assures me that it is the hardest part of the game and the rest of the game should go without a problem.

I certainly hope so. A�In addition to al of the bargain bin games that I have sitting in the closet and my Steam library unplayed, I also have an ever increasing number of unfinished games. A�I need to start checking those games off so that I can attempt to get value out of the games that I haven’t even opened yet.

Super_Smash_Bros_for_Wii_U_Box_Art

To continue with the theme of spinoff games before getting to the discussion of how Nintendo has kept the gameplay of run and jump fresh for decades, we will talk about the Super Smash Bros series next. A�I knew of the games, but I’d never played them before last year. A�Then, Santa brought a Wii U with the game included and I really had no choice. A�I suppose that it could have gone in the “never been played” pile. A�Heck, so many other games are there and it grows by the day.

The boys made sure that wouldn’t happen by asking me to play the game with them. A�It is impossible to say no to your children when they ask to share something that you are passionate about. A�So, we played a couple of games, but it isn’t a game that excites me. A�That’s a little strange, because I like all of the characters in the game and I enjoy fighting games, but it’s not two great tastes that taste great together for me.

There’s obviously something to the game. A�They wouldn’t keep making them and people wouldn’t keep playing them if there wasn’t. A�Having seen streams of the game, I suspect that it is a competitive scene similar to Hearthstone. A�People watch players who are very good at the game and play it only to discover that they aren’t as good at the game.

Super_Mario_Maker_Artwork

I’ve also written about this game at least once previously, maybe twice. A�What makes this game unique among the games on this list is that I’ve never played it. A�Unlike other games that I haven’t played, it isn’t time nor a lack of interest that has kept me off of this one. A�In fact, of all of the new Mario games that have been released over the last 10 to 15 years, this is the one that has me most excited.

Some of my favorite games have utilized some form of creative content. A�One of the first games that really hooked me to an extent that I wanted to play it to the “end”, DOOM, allowed players to mod the game and even build new levels. A�Heck, at least one of those mods became a new game series in HEXEN and its sequel. A�More recently, I purchased the PC version of Minecraft because the boys told me that there are mods available for the game. A�Some of them do the same thing that they did for DOOM and change the game in fundamental ways. A�More on that in a few months when we talk about Minecraft on the podcast.

I don’t think that Mario Maker allows you to fundamentally change the game. A�Nevertheless, giving players that power over the history of the Mario franchise opens up so many possibilities. A�Granted, this assessment is made from total ignorance because I haven’t even watched videos of the game in action, so when I finally do get to play it, I will be completely spoiler free. A�Hopefully that happens soon as I ordered the game from Gamefly but then the game I sent back seems to have gotten lost in transit.

nsmbu

I often make the statement that all Nintendo has to do is release a new Mario, a new Zelda, and a new Metroid and I will buy the system. A�Really, though, all they have to do is release a new Mario game and I will get the system. A�The other two games are just icing on the cake. A�Mmm, cake. A�I’ll be right back.

Well, there’s no cake in the house and I’m too lazy to go to the store to buy some. A�So, back to the discussion of the game. A�After showing everyone how A�to make a proper 3D game with Mario 64, Sunshine, and Galaxy, Nintendo has gone back to what made Mario popular in the first place. A�2D sidescroller games with the option to play 4 players. A�The boys and I have played through the first few levels in the game and I can say, without question, that it is as much fun as it was all those years ago. A�Heck, it might be even more fun because I get to share it with my kids now.

The Mario character is 35 years old this summer. A�He has outlived Atari, Sega as a console maker and his primary nemesis Sonic the Hedgehog, and shows no signs of slowing down. A�Just when you think that Nintendo can’t possibly get more from such a simple idea, they surprise you. A�Other than the 3D games, the franchise has never undergone a major redesign and, still, it remains fresher and more fun than A�at least half of the franchises out there today. A�Can’t wait to see what they have in store for us in the years to come.