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You play as an ordinary Koopa Troopa who does odd jobs for Bowser and other factions in an 3D open world much in the same vein as Grand Theft Auto. As you complete missions and collect coins and stars and what not you rise through the ranks of the Koopa Army, gaining special, varied shells which give you different abilities as well a different look. The overall goal is to challenge Bowser for control of his kingdom, to rule as you see fit.
Although it is an open world, with many subplots and side quests, there is an over arcing story involving Bowser's plan to capture the princess. You venture all over the Mushroom kingdom, gaining rank and respect, until you are the chosen Koopa for the Peach kidnapping.
You start the game in the Koopa Troopa training ground surrounding Bowser's Palace. It is a full fledged town with shops and places to start missions. As you become more experienced you travel outside of your sheltered home. There are five major areas:
Donkey Kong's Jungle
Shy Guy Desert
Boo's Haunted Forest
Peach's Mushroom Kingdom
Each area has missions for you to complete, as well as plenty of room exploration. There are many side quest, exotic shells, special items to be found in each contrasting environment. Pipes, once opened, are a great way to travel quickly to another area.
Your self-named Troopa is personalized as you choose from a variety of face and body molds. You don't take damage well however. If you are hit unprotected you die and have to start from a saved spot. However if you are hit wearing a shell, it flies off much like Super Mario World. If the shell is retrieveble you can simply put it back on. If you shell is lost or destroyed, you just find another Koopa, beetle or whatever wondering around, knock him out of his shell, and take his shell for yourself. However if you over- do this the Koopa Kops will come and get you.
Different shells have different abilities. And the abilities gained will help with certain missions or with opening more areas on the map. To gain a desired shell, just knock an enemy (or ally) with that shell out and take it for yourself. The difficulty is figuring out how to get him out. Simple Troopas only require you to jump on them. Better, cooler shells are much more difficult to crack. You may only wear one shell at a time, however you may store shells in your locker for future use. Some super special shells are gained from specific missions you may buy (you collect coins from fallen foes). In fact most of the basic shells become available for purchase after you have obtained them another way. Here is a small list of the basic shells available:
Note: All shells may be taken off and hurled at an enemy
Green shell- This is the basic starting shell and the easiest to find and obtain. It only serves to protect you getting killed if you are hit. One hit will knock you out.
Red shell- Much the same as the green only when it is hurled at an enemy it locks on and rarely misses. However the red shell is destroyed on impact.
Blue shell- Again similar red and green only it can take more of a beating before it is knocked off.
(Wings can be added to any of the above turtle shells buy earning respect from the Para Troopa division)
Beetle shell- Taken from the classic beetle character by slamming the ground around him, this shell is impervious to ranged attacks like fire balls.
Spinies shell- The spines of this shell protect from getting pounced on or punched but not from ranged attack. To get this shell you must knock it out of Lakitu cloud. You might need wings to get this one.
Scuba shell- Umm... you swim with this shell. You use a fishing pole to hook one of the Scuba Troopas.
As you progress through the game you are eventually given the option to join one of many Koopa Brotherhoods. The most notorious being the dreaded Hammer Brothers. Not only do each of these guilds have its own tougher, cooler looking shell, but you also gain special ranged abilities. However each Brotherhood is competing harshly for Bowser's affection so joining one will make enemies out of every other Brotherhood. Basically choosing your Brotherhood will drastically change how the game plays out. Some Brotherhoods are as follows:
Hammer Bros- Bowser's Alma Mater, the barrage of small hammers that fly out can take out many small enemies but are less effective against a single stronger foe.
Fireball Bros- Fueled by Mario's own flower power, they can rapidly shoot bouncing balls of flame at a single target.
Sledge Bros- These simple warriors are tough as nails and slow and snails. They hurl a giant hammer that greatly damages everything around where it lands
Boomerang Bros- The boomerang not only is capable of hitting a few enemies every throw, it is also very useful in retrieving far away objects.
Sumo Bros-This stoic group's strength is in hand to hand combat. They are difficult to master but very powerful if used correctly.
Throughout the world there are many different creatures and characters that can aid in your journey. However allies can quickly turn against you if attack them.
Other Troopas- These kindred can be found wandering around everywhere. They are your main source for shells and will come to your aid if you are are being attacked. However be wary of those without shells of their own; they may try to steal yours if your rank isn't high enough.
Goombas- If called, these simple minded creatures will follow you around. They are great for attacking and distracting enemies. One hit and they're smoosh though.
Bullet Bill and Blasters- These smiling shots can be set up and fired at enemies and the environment.
Bob-omb- Very useful for blowing passageways to new areas
The enemies are as numerous as there are characters in the Mario games. From Piranha Plants to Shy Guys you'll find all these creature roaming the large and diverse map. Here are some notable antagonists:
Toads- These lovable mushroom men are your sworn enemies. One of these fluffy guys is easy to dispose of, but a squad of them will diligently work together to eradicate you and your kind.
Yoshies- Beware! One quick lick and they will swallow your shell and spit it back at you, or worse yet, after they take your armor, they may just devour you whole.
Donkey Kong and family- When traveling to their tropical jungle. You may run into these dangerous foes. Those barrels may flatten you, shell or no.
Wario and Waluigi- Rival evildoers who love to screw up your missions. Jerks!
Mario and Luigi- These NPC randomly run around the the world, stomping on anything in their path. If you start to hear the Mario theme music it means they are near, by themselves, together, or riding Yoshi. They are incredibly tough to ward off and almost impossible to kill. Your best bet usually is to run away and wait until they leave. If you happen to hear the star invincibility music, barring a miracle, you are dead where you stand.
Control: (Game Cube controller)
Control stick- move
C stick- move camera (+L- look around and aim)
A- jump (flap wings)
B- punch (throw shell)
Y- pick up, use, talk
X- fire ranged weapon
Z-get out of shell, get in shell
R- hide in shell, slide in shell (when moving)
L- target enemy, object
Start- pause and go to map, mission menu, and inventory
Overall it think this would be a fun way to experience the World of Mario from a different yet very familiar perspective. It would be great for replay value, because there are multiple ways of beating each mission depending on which shell you bring or find. The game also has multiple endings depending on which Brotherhood you join. It would flesh out the Classic Mario World we all know and love. And most importantly, starting as one of the weakest characters in the series, you work your way up to killing Mario, capturing the princess, and possibly taking control of the whole world. I would take a lot of satisfaction in that!
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