Explore a world of wonder with Mario and friends, explore the Quebec wilderness in Kona II: Brume, explore all sorts of puzzles with Puzzmo.
Super Mario Bros. Wonder a world of delights
The latest Mario game is astounding. So much of what’s here is the same. It’s a two-dimensional, side-scrolling platformer in which you run, jump, and avoid enemies in an attempt to get to the finish line.
But, as with so many Mario games that came before, Super Mario Bros. Wonder manages to transform something the same into something, well, wonderful.
The developers at Nintendo assembled Mario Wonder did two things that contribute to this transformation.
The first is in deciding to make the game so that younger and beginner players can have as much fun as everyone else.
So the cooperative play is completely cooperative. You can’t push other players off edges or into enemies in Mario Wonder. The only time that characters even contact each other is when one of them is Yoshi, and they are giving a ride to another character.
Yoshi is invincible, too, as is Nabbit, and while this benefit means that they can’t use power-ups, but beginners won’t mind if it means they can keep up.
The second difference in Mario Wonder is in how the idea of wonder is executed. While the individual levels are side scrolling, the main world is semi-open. You collect Wonder Seeds to open up different parts of the map, and in each level, one of those seeds is hidden in an area that only reveals itself when you’ve found the Wonder Flower.
Pick up that flower and the level transforms into a psychedelic romp that would not be out of place in Sgt Pepper or the Magical Mystery Tour: Piranha Plants launch into a song-and-dance number, a herd of Bulrushes chase you in rolling waves. Collect the Wonder Seed at the end and the level returns to normal.
Power-ups include some of the usuals like the Super Mushroom and Fire Flower and some new ones including an Elephant Fruit (use your trunk to swat enemies, break blocks, or spray water) and a Drill Mushroom (great for underground levels).
And along the way you’ll collect badges that grant bonus skills and abilities like special moves (Fast Dash, Parachute Cap, Dolphin Kick) and passive effects (Coin Reward, Coin Magnet). Some badges provide powerful boosts – Jet Run, Invisibility – but must be earned by completing challenges.
You and up to three friends can play on the same Switch, choosing from characters that include Mario and Luigi, Peach and Daisy, Toad and Toadette. And the game supports online play, too.
With bright colours and a crazy weirdness, Super Mario Bros. Wonder is a game the entire family will enjoy.
Super Mario Bros. Wonder is available now for the Nintendo Switch. Rated everyone.
Kona II: Brume casts Quebec for supernatural thriller
Brume is a synonym for mist or fog. It’s derived from French, where it also refers to the winter solstice and to a being in a confused state. It’s a perfect subtitle for this asmospheric adventure game.
Developed by Parabole, an indie studio in Quebec, and published by Plaion, Kona II: Brume is set in the 1970s. In the first game, detective Carl Faubert was hired to find out who was vandalizing the mansion of an industrialist in Northern Quebec. The sequel begins with Carl on the run, still unclear about what’s going on in the village and surrounding wilderness.
You need to manage a number of things to survive in Brume, including your body temperature, batteries for your flashlight, and ammunition for your weapons. The threats are varied and some aren’t quite what they seem at first. Because there’s something going on in this part of the world. And Faubert is falling right into it.
You can opt to have a narrator describe what’s going on, if you want, and that comes with a glimpse into the thoughts of the detective you have inhabited. For me, having that narration provide context to the various storylines that you uncover, and the characters at the heart of them, reminded me of classic television detective shows like Rockford Files and Magnum, PI.
Faubert documents his investigation in a notebook, and you’ll occasionally want to pull out your instant camera to take photos of the things you’re observing. It’s what a good detective would do.
Kona II: Brume is available now for PS4, PS5, Windows, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S. Rated teen.
Puzzmo is a new daily puzzle challenge
Zach Gage is the guy behind puzzle games like Knotwords and SpellTower, and his new thing is Puzzmo, a daily collection of puzzle games that has an interesting way of getting players.
Each day, keys to the site are awarded to the first 500 people to solve a puzzle. At that site is the rest of the day’s puzzle bonanza that includes things like Really Bad Chess, SpellTower, Typeshift, Wordbind, and Flipart.
Once you’ve gotten through the door you can sign up for a free account which will give you access to the site from then on.
And you can subscribe to get access to the archive and leaderboards. $40 USD gets you two logins for a year, for you and a friend, say. Or that same price gives one person a lifetime membership.