I've had my eye on Super Mario 3D World since it came out for the Wii U. I didn't even own a Wii U. I considered buying that system solely for the title. An apparent modern-day sequel to Super Mario Bros. 2 was just up my alley, I thought.

I never got around to buying that Wii U, but I went Day 1 for the game's rerelease on the Switch. And...while I enjoyed it, I wanted to LOVE it, and I didn't LOVE it. Part of it was adjusting to stomping stuff in a 3D environment with a pulled-out camera: I'm a lot less accurate in that department than I'd like, and it's a lot less satisfying compared to the 2D equivalent. Part of it was learning through experience that it's more a sequel to the 3DS 3D Land than Mario 2. (This complicates my comments below somewhat, as I haven't played 3D Land, and I'm experiencing and approaching as "new" stuff that's actually pulled from that game and interated upon in ways that I'm not equipped to judge.)

Part of it, though, is...a lot of other stuff. This makes the laziest form of content generation, the listicle, very convenient for relaying my overall positive but still mixed emotions for this game:

LOVED: Just playing the SMB2 quartet again. (Well, I played Peach straight through, but you know.) I know that Miyamoto insists on simple princess rescues for the mainline Marios so that the plot doesn't distract from the action, but it's so much more satisfying to have Real Toad and Princess Peach out in the action, part of one big party with Mario & Luigi. Adventures are more fun with friends.

I was walking in a cemetery recently, as you do (it had some impressive statues I wanted to check out), and I ran a pair of epitaphs that gave me pause:

I realize upon research that this is a reference to Ecclesiastes, but I was still wondering for a moment if I should go retrieve the gold & silver crests to access the basement lab.

(Respect and wishes for a peaceful rest free of further interruptions by doofuses to Lewis and Sarah.)

First, from The Art Librarian, which solicits prompts of paintings and returns books the maintainer believes reminiscent of them, a selection that reminded me, for obvious reasons, of Snake from 999:

Second, a short bit from a simple photo book entitled Angels: Messengers from Heaven. One quote accompanying a Melozzo da Forlì fresco struck me as reminiscent of Angelique's Guardian of Light:

It's the bit about "almost harsh in its perfection" that reminded me strongly of Julious. I don't recall the man himself having any aptitude with instruments. In fact, there's this one novel about the Guardians at a music festival that has Julious encountering considerable difficulty in learning to play the flute (with Clavis smirking over him attempting "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star"). But, you know. Embouchure instruments.

I'm starting Live A Live, and I'd like to report back on my findings regarding the first scenario I played.

You're playing Clint Eastwood's Man with No Name, and you're tasked with saving a town from a gang of bandits. Problem is, there are 13 of the gang and only 2 of you - Clint and his uneasy ally, the bounty hunter who's after the price on his head but has put aside their rivalry to help the townfolk - so you're tasked with scrounging up materials for traps from the town to thin out the bandits' numbers in the 8 hours you have until the gang strikes at dawn.

I love that light shining from the windows on the street, by the way.

When I heard of this gameplay premise, I thought it was going to be a tower defense-ish challenge relying on the strategy of how and where to lay down your traps. That's not the case, though; you're just finding materials under a time limit, leaving trap placement to the townsfolk. The challenge, then, turns out to be How Fast Can You Ransack an RPG Town. Like much apparently in Live A Live, it's a play on RPG conventions: can you identify where hidden items are likely stashed in RPG village furniture? (Incidentally, make sure you drop stuff off at the saloon intermittently; don't be like me and collect all the stuff and then give the townsfolk their assignments, or most of your slowpoke cowpokes will run out of time to set their traps, rendering their contributions useless.)

The reason why I'm writing, though, is what happens after the showcase boss fight, where the number of enemies you'll face will differ depending on how successful your trap-setting was. You'll always face the gang's leader, though, and upon his defeat, he'll...transform into a horse.

This should have been a full screenshot, but I was too shocked to get one. You understand.

The horse will then run away. The townsfolk will then recall how the gang was rumored to be the remnant of the 7th Cavalry - Custer's regiment - said to have been wiped out in a battle with the Sioux & Cheyenne (Little Bighorn). One of the townspeople will then draw the only logical conclusion:

"I wonder if that horse absorbed all the hatred of the cavalrymen who died?"

The story offers nothing to gainsay this and leaves her word as definitive, so, yes: we are meant to conclude the leader of the gang, the final boss of the Western scenario, was an evil horse who survived Little Bighorn and sustained itself on the hatred of those killed there. It is the Zeromus of horses.

In the post-credits scene, Clint's bounty-hunter rival will catch up with him on the prairie. He hitched a ride...on the Doom Horse, Destroyer of Worlds.

Unfortunately for him, Doom Horse shows no loyalty to one of the men who engineered his defeat, turning tail and leaving him in the lurch while Clint rides off into the sunrise.

I've played only a little over an hour of this game, but I'm fairly confident it's going to be great.