Category Archives: Free Time

All kind of things I do in my free time

Game of the Month: Super Mario Galaxy 2

Last month Nintendo released Super Mario Galaxy 2, the highly anticipated sequel of Super Mario Galaxy. As I greatly enjoyed playing the first game I had high expectations.

So the pivotal question is whether Super Mario Galaxy 2 is as good or even better than the first part:

  1. If you have played Super Mario Galaxy in the past the intro and the first two levels will look very familiar.
  2. The space ship which serves as the base of operations is a bit dull compared to Rosalina‘s observatory in the first game. And the Luma in charge of this space ship is somewhat annoying.
  3. Fortunately things get better from here. In the second Galaxy your character Mario encounter’s Yoshi, a tame dinosaur, which he can ride on. Riding on Yoshi provides the player with a lot of new abilities. Yoshi can jump higher, eat enemies or swallow projectiles and fire them back at your opponents. By eating different kind of berries or hot chillies Yoshi gets even more astonishing powers like floating or super speed.
  4. Mario himself can also acquire new powers e.g. by eating magic mushrooms. Among Mario’s extra powers are creating and walking on clouds, drilling holes or squashing his enemies by transforming into a rolling rock.
  5. The design of the levels is as brilliant as in the first part. Checkpoints are now clearly marked by Bowser flags which Mario needs to touch. Some of the levels are however frustratingly difficult. You frequently wish for more checkpoints or more time.

All in all Super Mario Galaxy 2 is fun to play just like Super Mario Galaxy. But it somehow doesn’t have the special touch to it that made the first part a real masterpiece. It is nevertheless one of the best Wii games I have ever played.

Game of the Month: BioShock 2

At first glance BioShock 2 is just another first person shooter game. The player’s mission is to guide the main character through the remains of the underwater city Rapture, fight mutated humans and security robots and free the main character’s protégé.

What makes BioShock 2 a really good game is the excellent design and the elements of roll-playing and strategy games incorporated into the story:

  • The underwater city Rapture is a fascinating scenario. Its inhabitants managed to build this monument of  human ingeniousness but failed to establish an utopian society. As a result the would-be paradise turned into hell on earth. This is very well reflected in the grandeur of the architecture which is now mostly in ruins.
  • At the beginning the main character’s abilities (and armament) are very limited. Over time he can however pick up two types of genetic enhancements, Plasmids and Tonics. Plasmids provide active powers like telekinesis or the ability to throw fireballs. Tonics provide passive abilities like camouflage or faster movements. These enhancements are however not easy to procure. A few of them can be found in secret locations but most of them need to be bought with a substance called ADAM. And collecting ADAM proves to be challenging as well. The player frequently needs to decide how to make best use of the limited supply of ADAM.
  • Over the course of the game the player encounters a number of minor characters. Some of them are friendly, others are hostile and a few can even switch sides depending on your behaviour. All in all they are very well written and voiced which contributes  to the atmosphere of the game.
  • The player frequently has to defend a Little Sister against fiercely attacking Splicers. But thanks to an arsenal of special weapons like trap rivets, mini turrets and proximity mines it is possible to prepare for such a confrontation in advance to get the upper hand in the fight.
  • The behaviour of the main character during the game decided the ending of the story.

BioShock 2 doesn’t feature an original game concept but it is really well made. Overall it is definitely worth playing and even tops the first game, BioShock.

Movie of the Week: Iron Man 2

Silke and I really enjoyed the first Iron Man movie. It is also one of our favourite Blu-ray Discs not only for its entertainment value but also because of the superb image quality. Unsurprisingly we were both looking forward to the sequel ever since we saw the first trailer.

Last Tuesday we could finally watch Iron Man 2 in a local cinema. Just like the first part it is full of humour, action and amazing special effects. Robert Downey Jr. delivers another brilliant performance as Tony Stark, AKA Iron Man. Tony Stark’s attitude towards his status as a super hero is still refreshingly relaxed and his worst enemy is once again his ego. Even after a healthy dose of self-discovery and the unavoidable fight against a supervillain he remains a big kid which really enjoys flying around in his armoured suit and doesn’t take life very serious. This refreshing attitude is what makes this film really enjoyable.

While Iron Man 2 is not quite as good as the first part it is still very entertaining and definitely worth seeing. According to The Internet Movie Database there will be a third movie as well which I’m looking forward to.