Available on: NES, PC, SNES
Developer(s): Radical Entertainment, The Software Toolworks
Publisher(s): The Software Toolworks, Mindscape
I can't think but of one sentence to begin this review with: some people just can't enough of playing shitty games. Let's take me, for example. I already knew educational Mario games are all but a waste of time - I thought Mario Is Missing! would keep me from even trying another one of Mindscape's so called Mario games, but then I figured: hey, might as well complete the set on the behalf of this blog, and who knows, maybe it'll be kinda fun. Well, it's shit. No surprise there. But it's not completely unplayable shit. So, I guess it IS kinda fun. Kinda. Yet, not nearly as fun as it is for me to review it. Unleash the beast!
Did you know German reunification depended on just one sledgehammer? Well, now you do!
In 1993, Bowser builds a time machine he christens the Timulator. He uses the Timulator to steal precious artifacts across time, and build the greatest museum of all time. As Mario and Yoshi investigate the museum, Bowser takes the latter captive. Mario must return the artifacts before history is irreversibly changed, and rescue his partner from Bowser's clutches.
I have stated before (in my review of LucasArts' excellent adventure game Day of the Tentacle) that writing a story about time travel and applying it to a video game is pretty much failsafe. Well, I had forgotten all about Mario's Time Machine, and now that I think about it like the most dedicated wiseass, I can't think of any good game based on a movie about time travel, either. So I'll take back what I said, which I don't do often.
The graphics are the same as in Mario Is Missing! - Super Mario World's sprites in an NES game, except Bowser, whose sprite from Super Mario Bros. 3 is recycled instead. The weird thing is, when he retreats into his shell and starts rolling towards Mario, his sprite suddenly changes into a Koopaling's sprite from that same game, with Bowser's colours. The environments don't look quite as horrid as in the previous game, however the stages are very short and straightforward, which have might something to do with the slightly better graphical display. The music is terrible, which is not surprising at all. Just for the fun of it, I did a little portfolio check on John Korsrud, the guy who wrote the music. You'd never guess, there's only one game he ever wrote the music to in addition to this one. You don't have to be a genius to figure out which game.
The good news is that when it comes to gameplay, Mario's Time Machine isn't exactly Mario Is Missing!, part deux. The games do have a lot in common - they both suck, for instance, but that's not what I mean. Let's start with that retarded icon on the top of the screen. This time you won't have to use it a whole lot, only to use the artifacts which you collect. There's also a map which shows which stages you've already beaten, but it won't make a stinking difference to you, and I'll tell you why in a bit in my commentary. Also, this game ends in one of the most disgraceful battles against Bowser ever, preceded by a pop quiz on random things you've learned about history so far. That's about it, since Time Machine is even fun for a while, whereas Mario Is Missing! wasn't.
I think the best way to break this game down is to write a sort of a play-by-play commentary I did in the case of Home Alone, since the game was so short. I've handpicked three stages from the game to give you some examples of basic frustration in this game, and will go over the intermissions and so called "high points" of the game.
|Looks eerily familiar. Less fun, though.|
|Yeah, that one egg must've helped a plenty.|
Your new password is... "VAGINAL"?
Oh well, back to the time machine, through the lobby to the first door, and another dull Mario Bros. session later, I get something... but it's not the sledgehammer. It's a stovepipe hat. Only one important historical person I know used a hat like this, and that's Honest Abe Lincoln. I check Wikipedia for fast knowledge on when Abe did something important (I really can't bear running down the lobby and doing that Mario Bros. thing any more times than I really need to, if I jumble something up), and it states he held the Gettysburg Address in November, 1863. Well, 1863 is not found on the list, but 1862 is, as the only year on the list that President Lincoln was alive to see. Well, it's not related to the Gettysburg Address, but it is something... wait, it IS related to the Gettysburg Address! Imagine that. An educational game, and they fucked up. Ha. Well, it's not that bad of a fuck up, so let's just leave it at that. It seems that President Lincoln was so depressed over the loss of his beloved hat that he couldn't make the Address. Now that's plain ridiculous, but let's carry on anyway. Well, now that we spend a little more time actually playing the game instead of just using the item we're carrying right away, let's go over the basic gameplay.
|That's a lamp, and it needs a light bulb. Or so|
you logical bastard would like to think.
We have no clue of where to use Abe's hat, so let's force ourselves to a clue block placed among a horde of annoying enemies, tons of hourglasses and a few indestructible clocks. It's hard, but finally one random, here-goes-nothing jump accidentally lands us right underneath the block. It says something about the U.S. Civil War. Yeah yeah, we know about that, give us another clue. "Abraham Lincoln was known as Honest Abe". And that's all. GOD DAMN IT! Oh well, to the next clue block, which is in plain sight and easy to reach. It says something like "The ADDRESS isn't on the GATE". Oh, so it's that gate then, with the big Gettysburg sign on it. Let's use the hat. BINGO! Abe is now Happy Abe and can finally make the speech. It's a bit odd that the crappiest "clues" were seemingly worth the most trouble in the developers' minds. Well, that's OK since in some stages, neither the clues OR the solutions make any sense at all. Stay tuned.
I'm in the year 1879, with the light bulb. I take some time to check out the map, to see what I've got left, 'cause its obvious the light bulb belongs here - I'm in a dark living room with oil lamps all over the place. As I whip out the map, I realize something. You can't use the map in the only places it does you some good, which is the lobby or the Mario Bros. room. Only in stages. So, if I accidentally went back to 1862 when I actually wanted to go to 1879, I'd have to enter the time machine again, back to the lobby, and back to the Assrapin' Troopas minigame to get another random item to use in some other time. "Damn, I have to use this steering wheel in 1520. Well, I'll remember that other one later." You take the steering wheel to its place, then rape those Troopas until you get the light bulb, and then: "Uh, which year was it again? Damn, can't check the map while I'm in here. Eeny-meeny-miny-1862. D'OH!" And so the circle continues. This didn't happen to me - anymore at this point, anyways - but it's possible.
Well, as I was saying, I'm in 1879 with that damn bulb. I read the clues and there's NOTHING useful. One of them says "You can just feel the electricity in the air". Well, the first thing I try is jumping into the air and using the light bulb. Well, it doesn't work, items can't be used while Mario is in the air. Well, there's an electrical testing device on the table. Nope, it's not that either. God damn it, how could I miss that empty electric lamp on the table? I'll just snap this in and... here the bird comes again. Bye bye, light bulb. It's kind of symbolic, since I'm all out of ideas after that empty lamp. That does it, now I'm using the Save State option on my emulator. I've refrained from it this far, but enough is enough. Well, the correct place to use the light bulb in is in front of the gramophone. Get it? Music in the air? Electricity in the air? FUCK YOU, SOFTWARE TOOLWORKS! FUCK YOU AND YOUR MOTHER!
|Hats off to ANYONE who can figure out what's|
going on this game.
Nay. As a Bowser fan, I find myself double revolted. The Mario vs. Bowser setting has provided us avid players with some epic battles back in the day, this is something just indescribably retarded. It's like a battle against any Koopaling in either Super Mario Bros. 3 or Super Mario World, only a lot more generic, slow, easy and simple. Bowser explodes after the third and final jump on his head, then miraculously appears again in the credits, CRYING. This fuckin' does it... so, where's the next game? This was fun.
Graphics : 7.2
Sound : 4.5
Playability : 5.0
Challenge : 3.7
Overall : 4.9
GameRankings: 60.42% (SNES)