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8-Bit Madness

David North Posted:
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ArenaNet has been pumping out updates for Guild Wars 2 like crazy.  I have to say, they really have outdone themselves with this April update.  Guild Wars 2 has been really enjoyable, and past updates have really expanded on the whole experience.  But things are getting weird, in a good way.  Last week the fine people over at ArenaNet took me through the Super Adventure Box, the April Fool’s update that makes a game within a game!

If you started playing games on the original NES, or even in the arcades of ancient times (or maybe you just loved the movie Wreck-It Ralph), then you are going to love playing Super Adventure Box.  The experience throws you in a 3D world, but with a blocky 8 bit feel.  While your character remains in their great modern look, NPCs look like those you would find in a village of an old RPG.  You could really compare it to Minecraft, but with a different style.

I love the 8 bit look.

The visuals aren't the only thing making you feel like a kid again.  I remember playing Zelda, walking into people's houses just to go around smashing all their pots.  It brought me great joy to relive those moments.  I'd release the mayhem before even seeing what the merchant had for sale.  If the merchant wouldn't hide money in pottery, maybe I wouldn't have a reason to smash it!  I'm just saying, he had it coming.

The way the store is set up is just like those in the old zelda games.

Enemies in Super Adventure Box have follow attack patterns..  They act just like the enemies you would face in an old NES game.  While the patterns can be memorized, they still pack a punch!   The bosses are designed the same way. 

Spoiler alert everyone!

The final boss, a giant toad, follows a pattern and gives visual queues to let the player know what they should expect next.  He even says lame one liners, like “I'm the king toad, and I'll make you croak!”  It's just hilarious.  I'm so glad they designed the enemies just like they would if we were still in the 80s.

Remember all the secrets that you could find in those old games?  Prepare to go treasure hunting!  Players can dig up buried treasures, and blow up walls to reveal hidden chambers.  I miss these types of secrets in games.  Whatever happened to them?  Now developers are just lazy and say you need a key to enter this secret room. Make us find the room!  Make us blow crap up!  I really just want a reason to throw bombs everywhere.  I may have a problem.

These secrets really are a secret.  For those using a shovel, it really does feel like you’re just randomly using the shovel, hoping to find something.  There aren’t really any clues like you get from weak looking walls.  It would have been nice if there was some clue as to where you might want to dig.   I’m not saying give it away, maybe give us a metal detector or something to use. 

I really enjoy the way these levels are designed.  Jumping was a huge mechanic back in the old days, and Super Adventure Box continues that tradition (not surprising since project lead Josh Foreman designed the clock-tower from Halloween as well).  I love how you can jump nearly everywhere, even if it isn't part of the main level’s intent.  I love to just jump to see if I can reach a point.  Oh, and the jump sound effect just floods my memory with all the times I've played Mario.  Nostalgia-overload.

While I do love all the jumping, there are times when I feel like it’s a bit off.  I’m not sure if this dungeon makes jumping act differently, but I found myself able to make jumps that I normally wouldn’t be able to do.  There are also times when near poisonous water, I would start  to take damage.  Even standing a good three feet away on a crocodile I still wound up dieing.  Maybe I was having a connection problem, or maybe the areas for safe and not safe need to be adjusted on the level.  Nothing like a glitch, I guess, to make the 8-bit Super Adventure Box feel right on key.

The overall sound is just amazing.  The 8-bit noises and music really take you back.  Guild Wars 2 has a great soundtrack, but I want these new songs on a CD, and I want them now!  They are really cheerful, and catchy.  I can't get them out of my head, and I'm just fine with that.  There’s also this awesome evil laugh that plays when you die.  Reminds me a lot of Bowser.  Once again, just small touches thrown in everywhere to give you that old school feel.

Overall, I’d say that the Super Adventure Box is super fun!  I first started playing games on the original NES, and this update made me feel like I was sitting on the couch, wearing a Ninja Turtles t-shirt with a glass of kool-aid at my side, and a plate of chicken nuggets on the other.  Well, not much has changed really, but it was more acceptable when I was a kid.  If you're a child of the 80s and early 90s, you're really going to enjoy the Super Adventure Box update for Guild Wars 2.  You can really tell the developers loved playing those old games.  If you're too young to understand these references, I feel sorry for you. 

Oh to feel like a kid again!

What are your favorite NES games? Are you looking forward to reliving them in Guild Wars 2’s upcoming April Fool’s content?  Share your fond memories with us in the comments below. 

David North / David North is a freelance writer for MMORPG.com.  David loves to play and makes games, but now he writes about them!  If you want to creep on him and make fun of his ability to draw, follow him over on twitter @David_the_North.


David North