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Mario is Missing! (NES) artwork

Mario is Missing! (NES) review

"Mario is Missing is a fairly laborious game that plays much in the same vein as the enjoyable Carmen Sandiego series. Despite having Mario's name in the title, you do not get to control the roly-poly plumber at any stage of the game, this time you take control of Luigi (and Yoshi at times as well). Mario has been kidnapped (!) and it's up to Luigi to retrieve Mario, in addition to some landmarks from the capital cities from the world (but WHY?). What is to follow are many different kinds of shen..."

Mario is Missing is a fairly laborious game that plays much in the same vein as the enjoyable Carmen Sandiego series. Despite having Mario's name in the title, you do not get to control the roly-poly plumber at any stage of the game, this time you take control of Luigi (and Yoshi at times as well). Mario has been kidnapped (!) and it's up to Luigi to retrieve Mario, in addition to some landmarks from the capital cities from the world (but WHY?). What is to follow are many different kinds of shenanigans from all sides and a lot of useless facts that will be unnecessarily crammed into your head. Do you have the intestinal fortitude to stomach this game and it's whole concept? Of course you don't, it will make you retch multiple times!

The graphics are very sharp and very vibrant and are very close in their general outlook to all of those other NES Mario games out there. From the title screen where you see the big ''MARIO'' plastered up there in many colours you pretty much know what you're in for. The majority of the characters have a very strange design, Luigi and Yoshi having the only designs that a gamer could consider ''normal''. If you've played any other earlier game with a Luigi or a Yoshi in it then you'll know what they look like, dumpy little characters with big grinning faces and reasonable amounts of detail. It's the inhabitants of all of the cities that you visit that will make you shriek out of fright! They have two eyes jutting out from their badly shaped heads, much like a fish does, and this head is connected to the body but a rather long and thin neck! They wander around with nasty posture and arms dangling by their side, these people generally look as if they're stoned and aren't too pretty at all!

The backgrounds capture the urban look they should have been striving for very badly, rather than a large amount of tall buildings adorning the roadsides, there's just a lot of weak little structures that only vary slightly in height. Each different level generally looks the same except for a change in colours, each one has two different colours and the buildings will usually just switch between the two of them. This all makes up a very dull visual outlook, and one that isn't very pretty at all. The sky is always just a light blue colour that clashes badly with the other objects; the screen can actually be painful to look at during different times. The only thing the backgrounds do fairly well is complement the characters, otherwise they're just a big disappointment.

Overall, the graphics are decidedly average. There are very few features here that will make you enjoy this graphical package, it's all very weird and very poorly done. Out of all the Mario games out there this one would have the lowest graphical standards, it's a big letdown really.

The sound doesn't improve too much over the standards that the graphics tried to set, you'll find the audio for the most part to be just as aggravating! There are quite a few different background tunes that will greet your ears, but they all share the same general bounciness and happiness that a Mario game always tries to cram down your throat. There are a lot of major cities out there, and the game has provided a different tune for each of them, I believe they're meant to be themes that one can readily associate with the country of choice, but it's hard to tell. This music has the innate ability to get annoying in a short period of time, they're all on a fairly short loop so it won't be long until this music is driving you crazy. The background music as a whole is rather irritating and you won't have a little cricket harping on about your conscience should you decide to turn it down.

Sound effects are a less than common occurrence in Mario is Missing. You will only get the chance to hear one should you have to jump (a very rare event) or do some other tiny little action. The sound effects themselves are fairly lacklustre but luckily they fit their action well, listen to one too many times in a short period of time however, and they can become just as annoying as the background themes! Not an excellent offering here, but there's not enough shortcomings to really aggravate a person beyond belief.

Overall, the sound is of a fairly low standard which of course means that it suits the graphics fairly well. There's not enough originality here and too many bad points that really drag it down to the screeching cat standards. It's tough to picture somebody leaving the sound turned up for more than the bare minimum of time, a very poor effort indeed!

The gameplay of Mario is Missing is very stilted and requires a lot of patience from the person playing it should they want to finish the darn game. The controls are fairly simple but still tough to get used to, the A and B buttons will make Luigi jump and run faster than his normal pace, and the START and SELECT buttons select which action Luigi is to undertake and then perform it. The sequences of buttons that you'll have to push get very confusing and you'll find yourself pushing the wrong buttons by mistake, it's all so very frustrating!

Luigi starts off inside a castle and of course he must choose what level he is going to play, there's a whole lot of doors and inside them is two pipes. This makes for a large amount of levels but unfortunately their designs are less than imaginative. All of the levels are made up of a whole lot of roads, you can ran back and forward along them and should the need arise you can move up and down a row. The only difference that the later levels have from the earlier ones is the size of them, which just makes them more time consuming and less enjoyable to play! In each of the levels there are three Koopa's, you must track them down and you must stomp on them! Once you've wiped the floor with them they will drop a little sack, which naturally is a landmark. Once you've tracked down the landmarks you must then find one of the three information centres, and drop them off. They will ask you a question about the landmark or country you're in and if you get it right they'll give you a cash reward!

To extend the amount of stuff that you learn there's another unnecessary step for you to go through, you must get Yoshi over to where you are! To do this you must find out what country you're actually in, this can be done by asking people where on Earth you are. Apparently every single person that you run into is a nerd, because rather than just giving you the name of the country they'll give you some crappy cryptic clue about a mountain range or delicacy. The clues and questions you're given pale in comparison to those offered by Carmen Sandiego and it makes it a poorer choice of a game by far.

Reading above you might have noticed that actions that Luigi could undertake were mentioned, well HERE THEY ARE! Luigi can bring up a big question mark, so he can ask people things! Luigi can bring up a map of the world, to get Yoshi where he is! Luigi can bring up a picture of himself, so he can see a map of his current location! Luigi can pull up a computer to see all the clues given to him by residents! Luigi can pull up a treasure sack, to see all of the landmarks he's taken off Koopa's. And there we have it, the most badly set out paragraph in the history of reviewing!

Overall, the gameplay of Mario is Missing is stretched out for far longer than it should have been. Going through this whole mundane procedure is only bearable for only the first level or two but after that it will just infuriate you! The developers might have been trying to do something good by increasing the general knowledge of our youth, but they've done a bad thing by increasing the percentage of bad tempers in today's youth. Just either hit this gameplay with a big heavy stick or stay far away from it!

The lifespan of this game is remarkably short; it's just got nothing that will keep you playing for even a moderately large amount of time. Most people won't even finish this game once, it will disgust you so much that you'll just turn off your console, rip out the cartridge and feed it to your pet Tasmanian Devil. The entire lifespan of this game is probably only an hour or two at the most as you just won't enjoy this shocking gameplay enough to stand it any longer.

This fun factor of this game is obscenely low! Every other category gone over in this review have done their little bit to make the fun factor suffer. Absolutely no features here will make this game any more enjoyable than plucking your nose hairs, it's the type of game that will leave a nasty smell lingering in the air. Finishing the game will give a person no satisfaction, only a small feeling of relief that Mario is Missing can finally be put behind them and forgotten. One of the lowest fun factors you're ever likely to come across!

The challenge is somewhere between easy and easier, there's no way you can be hurt or lose a life. There's no way you can get a game over screen thrust at you, all it takes is the tiniest amount of trial and error and you'll find yourself moving through the game very very easily. The challenge of the game is basically as weak as the rest of the game is.

Mario is Missing is just a terrible game, it doesn't deserve to have the word Mario plastered into it's title. It's a very abstract concept, but it doesn't excuse the downright shoddiness that is abundant in this game. There are other NES games out there that are worse than Mario is Missing, but of course that says EXTREMELY little. You should just keep away from this game, nostalgic purposes should all be forgotten and if you already have this cartridge then dispose of it in one of the nastiest ways you can think of. It's perhaps the worst Mario game out there, so just forget it ever existed!
- Ummm, you get to learn things!
- Luigi gets a chance to star!

- See Good Point #1
- See Good Point #2
- Terrible lifespan, fun factor and challenge
- Terrible design elements and gameplay
SOUND - 3/10
OVERALL - 1/10

kingbroccoli's avatar
Community review by kingbroccoli (April 25, 2004)

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