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This is a true story from when I was a kid: After months of playing the game, my best friend's brother came to town and showed us how to get the Magic Flute in the first fortress in 'Super Mario Bros. 3.' Then he showed us how to get the P-Wing in 1-4, and then how to drop through the white blocks. That last one, in particular, clung like putty, adding to the surface area of my brain.

I was smart enough to know that 'Super Mario World's' ghost houses were designed by jerks pretty much from day one, but they still fascinated me - almost as much as those parts of the Star Road that I could see but couldn't reach. As a child-adult I can comprehend, mathematically, that 'Super Mario Bros. 3' is a better video game, and that its mystique lies in the opportunities for virtuosity in every one of its stages instead of in its 'secrets;' as an adult-child, though, I mostly preferred to try and jump up to the secret exit of Donut Plains 1 without hitting the Green Switch Palace first.

'Fez' is the videogame that the world's biggest 'Super Mario World' fan would make with two million dollars and three years. It's littered with weird little secrets, with opportunities to unlock new rooms by pressing the right buttons in the right order or to collect gold stars for looking underneath the right platforms from the right angles. Many of these secrets - like those Star Road levels - even seem to be hiding more enormous secrets behind them. 'Fez' even takes the next step once in awhile, hiding strange images in its soundtrack and hiding in-game items that the collective internet seems to be unable to uncover.

Published in Tekk
Wednesday, 04 April 2012 15:51

Sine Mora: Latin for something

Sine Mora is Latin for... something! Something about furries and shmups, I bet. I'm just kidding: I'm pretty sure it has something to do with time, which ostensibly is at the core of the 'Sine Mora' experience. It's a fly-from-left-to-right 2D bullet-hell shooter, with the prerequisite floating gun upgrades and shield power-ups, but the mechanic hook is that in place of a health bar is a constantly-ticking timer. When it hits zero your ship explodes; if you get hit, you lose a couple seconds on the spot.

It sounds nice on paper, but when you're playing 'Sine Mora's' more challenging modes you simply can't get hit much, which would be just as true even without the fatal countdown. Time is also a major factor of the game's hilariously convoluted plot, which sees a group of rebels located throughout time fighting against... well, I don't know, to be honest. It's hard to follow, outside of a few hot little details: A father is trying to avenge his son's death while also going back in time to save his life; some kind of robot dude is being maybe-manipulated to go on a probably-suicide mission; some half-fox half-human rape victim is now being blackmailed into... uh, flying around and blowing up Megazords, I guess.

On the half-fox part: All the characters are half-animal, except maybe the robot guy. There's a handicapped buffalo guy, a lizard guy, a maybe-bear guy, and a couple kind of ambiguous fox-cat chicks. The game never specifically mentions the fact that the characters are all anthropomorphic, which is weird; it does specifically mention that one of them was raped, which is weird. I don't know. At least it doesn't dwell on it too long.

Published in Tekk

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