Mario 3D All-Stars just released for Nintendo Switch, and it’s reacquainting gamers with just how amazing Mario’s past adventures have been. I know I personally have a deep history and many fond memories playing all of these games, but in particular, Super Mario Galaxy. I can’t say enough good things about this game. I think what Galaxy does better than any other 3D Mario game, with the exception of maybe Sunshine, is craft a certain vibe for the game. Everything from Galaxy’s art direction, to its orchestral music, to its innovative gravity-based level design, just screams grandiose adventure fit for the galaxy moniker. However, I’m not writing this post to sing my praises for Galaxy, at least not entirely. I’m writing this post to explore a comparison I feel between the 2 story campaigns of Mario Galaxy, and the 2 story campaigns of Shovel Knight (Specifically the Shovel of Hope, and Plague of Shadows).
Obviously Shovel Knight and Mario Galaxy are quite different games. One is a 2D platformer that tries to recapture and remix the old school platforming genre into something entirely unique. One is a 3D platformer that was trying to push the boundaries of what a 3D adventure could be. Of course, the differences don’t stop there. However, I want to change gears a little bit and talk about how each game handles their expanded campaign and how I think that adds to the enjoyment of each respective game overall.
Shovel Knight and Mario, the tried and true protagonists for both of our adventures. These characters are both nimble in terms of platforming, and capable in terms of combat. They may not have the flashiest moves, but they have more than enough tools to blast through those levels and save their “special ones.” However, this post isn’t about our beloved protagonists. No, this post is all about those sweet side characters: Luigi and Plague Knight.
I found myself getting a similar feeling as I played through Luigi’s Galaxy campaign as I did when I first booted up Plague Knight’s campaign. Even though Luigi did not get the fully fleshed out new campaign that Plague Knight did, having an entirely new story and some unique level design, it did capture the same sense of wonder and speedy gameplay. When you look at the difference between our main and side characters for each game respectively, you start to see where the similarities arise. Luigi runs faster than Mario and has a higher jump, but he has slippery controls and runs out of air more quickly underwater. Plague knight may not have as skilled combat options as Shovel Knight, but he’s come prepared with a double jump and the ability to do a blast jump that can make for some seriously fun platforming. When I think about these differences, one thing jumps out to me (no pun intended): Speed. Both Luigi and Plague Knight’s speed and jumping abilities allow them to take shortcuts and blaze through levels at paces Mario and Shovel Knight could only dream about. Additionally, their quirky physics and floaty nature make their campaigns feel like an entirely different beast, despite the reused level assets. It just goes to show you how a new character can breathe entirely new life into a game. Additionally, I found that both Luigi and Plague Knight’s stories had an added challenge to the original game. While this is subjective and may come from trying to adapt to new controls, I thought it was another comparison I’d bring up. Luigi and Plague Knight’s campaigns are a chance to show your mastery of the game and its mechanics. I think this point is further emphasized by how their gameplay lends itself to speed running. Being able to skip or by pass certain level obstacles is a thrilling feeling, and it can be achieved so easily as Luigi and Plague Knight. Using your new abilities in a unique way to accomplish an old task is a very rewarding feeling.
I wanted to focus on gameplay mostly for this post, because Luigi’s campaign lacks a fully fleshed out story like Plague of Shadows. However, Luigi’s playthrough does have some unique writing that plays to humor. While there is tons of humor in the main campaign of Shovel Knight, I think that Yacht Club games really wanted to take a more light-hearted and comedic approach to the narrative of Plague of Shadows. Luigi rescuing and arguing with himself leads to some truly hilarious dialogue, or the Mail Toad having to cheer Luigi up after Princess Peach’s letter was addressed to Mario, these moments brought a smile to my face and very genuine laughter. I remember getting that same smile when Plague Knight would make condescending remarks to his underlying Percy, or how you can get an achievement called “Creep” for allowing the cutscene where Mona dances play too long. Both of these campaigns are just bursting with fun, and I can’t stress that enough.
Overall, Mario Galaxy and Shovel Knight are both amazing games. I think these games both shine in terms of a main adventure, but also have tons of replay-ability due to having extra characters and campaigns. I hope that this post defended why I think Luigi’s playthrough of Galaxy, and Plague Knights’ Plague of Shadows campaign feel similar to me. Both are a speedrunner’s dream, and both are bursting with fun and speedy gameplay. If you have anything to add, please feel free to leave a comment. If you disagree with me, you can that me know that as well. I just had this thought the other day playing 3D All-Stars and I wanted to flesh it out more fully and share with you all. I hope you enjoyed and thanks for reading!
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