Mobile Monday: Super Mario Run (with Mod Syrup!)

Hey guys! Mod Syrup back with yet another Mobile Monday! Today I’m talking about Nintendo’s app, Super Mario Run that is for iOS and Android devices. Now when I first saw advertisements for this game, I had my App Store alert me for when the game came out. You guys should know by now I ADORE Nintendo, and to have Super Mario on my phone felt like a dream.
So Super Mario Run comes out, it’s free, I download it ASAP! It loads, I see the beautiful graphics, and the standard Bowser kidnapping Princess Peach (for some cake? whatever) and I’m totally into it and ready to save her.


I start the tutorial level where it shows you how to play the game. You have 3 major functions: Running, which is automatic, Vaulting, which is automatic when you come to an enemy or small obstacle, and Jumping, which you can do by tapping on the screen.

Later on, you learn how to Double Jump, by holding the screen after tapping, that you have lives by the Bubble Method, similar to Yoshi’s Island with Baby Mario and when you play Co-Opt on Super Mario 3D World (may be more but those are what came to me off the bat), and to Wall Jump, which is the same for any game where you just Jump as you hit the wall. You also have a chance to earn 5 Pink Coins in each level which seems to be the aspect of the 3 Star System in previous games.

After the first World, you return to the Mushroom Kingdom for Toad to tell you that Princess Peach has been kidnapped and the castle has been destroyed. Because the castle was destroyed, the other Toads fled and you have to gather them up. How do you gather them up you ask?

Next, the game takes you to the function called Toad Rally. It’s ‘judged’ by Toadette. The first tutorial run, you go against Nintendo’s account.

You play it like the regular game, but the more cool jumps, vaults, etcetera you do, get you more points and more Toads cheering for you. If you win, those number of Toads go back with you to the castle. You continue using tickets to compete against other players.

Naturally, you go on and continue playing the Worlds. You downloaded this game to save Princess Peach, not race other players! You knock out World 1-2 and 1-3 only to get to the castle at World 1-4 and then you’re told you have to pay to continue. Furious, I deleted the game.

To write this article, I redownloaded it to get screenshots for you guys. I don’t remember this part previously, but now it seemed that you had 2 other ways to continue: Gather 100 Toads from the Toad Rally or Gather 15 Pink Coins from the previous levels (or you can also get them in Toad Rally). I thought sweet, they came up with another mechanic to get people to play!

So, being pretty good at Toad Rally, I collected my 100 Toads. I unlocked World 1-4, defeated the super easy castle, only for Bowser to take Princess Peach elsewhere (of course, it’s a Mario game).

Expecting I’d just have to do similarly with collecting Toads, I was ready to get my next number to unlock the other worlds. Unfortunately, the rest of the game was still blocked behind a paywall.

Given now, on the iOS version, there is a preview image that tells you that you have to pay to unlock the other worlds, I REALLY wish Nintendo wouldn’t have advertised this as a free game. They should’ve just had you pay for it or at least say it was a demo.

Super Mario Run is a really good game, but I’m not going to give Nintendo money for being sneaky like that. I’ll stick to my console games myself. That being said, I haven’t unlocked the other worlds so I can’t tell you if it’s worth it. But due to how short it is, I’d say save your money for a console Super Mario.


– Mod Syrup

Feminism in Gaming: Blizzard Games (with Mod Loser!)

Hey Nasties! This is Mod Loser, Jackie, whatever you want to call me. And in this FIG, I’m going to discuss Blizzard’s history with feminism in their video games. It has been a bit of a wild ride, so without any more waiting, let’s get started.

Obviously, the farther back you go, the more problematic you find the situation.  The original Diablo games locked certain classes to a gender (which made no sense), and the various other games released with more boring, white, male protagonists. And let’s not forget WoW, hmm? These games exist, and while they were good at the time, it is important to recognize why they were problematic.

However, Blizzard’s more recent games have shown a drastic shift towards a more inclusive goal, which is significant for representation. The primary contender would be Overwatch. As much as I absolutely despise the loot system in Overwatch, it is incredibly positive towards POC’s and members of the LGBTQA+ community.

The obvious example would be Tracer being in a lesbian relationship (which was confirmed), but let’s dig deeper. For example, Symmetra is a successful person of color who also has been confirmed to have autism. Further yet, she is a support character. This means that in any given match, she is beneficial. They specifically empowered Symmetra while making her an icon to gamers of color as well as gamers who have autism to encourage them to play. But who else?

Sombra is Hispanic and incredibly proud of her heritage. At first, I thought Sombra was a stereotype, but the more I thought about it, the more I wondered why it was so bad for a Hispanic woman to be proud of her culture? If anything, I’m glad Sombra was added in for that reason. Further, still, we have Mei who was the star of the Chinese New Year event. There’s Hanzo, Genji, Lucio, Pharah, Ana, Reaper,  and this list goes on. Almost half of the entire roster includes people of color, which is so very important.

You may have watched Mod Knight’s video regarding representation in gaming and why it is important (if not you can watch it here), but I’d like to reiterate. The point of seeing someone you can identify with, someone who clearly shares the same culture or background or struggles that you share, makes the player feel so much more invested. It validates us as players, it makes us feel more comfortable and we deserve these feelings.

Thanks for reading my little rant, Nasties! I hope you enjoyed it, and I hope you have a stellar day! Mod Loser, signing off.

Character Spotlight: Sazh (with Mod Syrup!)

Hey guys! Mod Syrup here back with another Character Spotlight! Today I’m talking about Sazh Katzroy from Final Fantasy XIII!

Now if you’ve read my Problematic Fave article on Final Fantasy XIII you would see Sazh was a BIG pro for me on that game. (If you haven’t read it, please do read it here!) So let’s start with first

So let’s start with first impressions, shall we? When we first see Sazh, you see a baby Chocobo pop out of his afro and for me that was adorable. I instantly fell for the character just because of that scene.

Now, aside from that, I love Sazh because he breaks from the stereotype of black fathers not being a good father figure or to even be in the child’s life. How so?

Well, before we even learn about his backstory, we see how Sazh interacts with the other protagonists. But, more specifically, how he acts with Vanille. Vanille acts like a child despite appearing to be a young adult (and actually being a lot older). Sazh, being the eldest, quickly takes to trying to lead the party and keep them safe. This is especially shown with Vanille since those two get separated from the other members of the party.

As you gather more flashbacks that show you Sazh’s story, you learn that he is a single father to Dajh. When Dajh gets turned into a l’Cie and taken by the government, Sazh is heartbroken. Sazh’s whole purpose of this game is to find his son again and make him safe.

Despite showing his fear and concerns with going against Cacoon. He struggles with what his initial instincts are and what he knows he needs to do to not only survive but have a chance to be reunited with his son.

Aside from the father aspect on Sazh, that clearly isn’t his only amazing quality. I could easily argue that Sazh has the most depth out of all the other characters in this game. Literally, the only one I think could rival him would be Vanille, and that is because she is on the other side of this scene I’m about to explain. (Spoiler alert).

As you continue through the story, you find out that Vanille and her partner Fang were the reason the Fal’Cie at Cacoon turned Dajh into a l’Cie. Vanille and Fang were coming to attack the Fal’Cie, so to protect itself it turned the closest person into a l’Cie; who happened to be Dajh.

After Vanille revealing this to Sazh, he initially wanted to kill her. I find that because he had been such a father figure to her, he couldn’t do it. Instead, he turned the gun on himself because he couldn’t handle that his comrade was the one that took away his son.

Image result for sazh and vanille cutscene

Luckily, Sazh does survive and by the end of the game he is reunited with his son. Sazh from the beginning had to deal with so much turmoil. Beside having his son ripped from him, he also had to deal with his wife’s death and having to be a single father.

Sazh is a great edition to the POC of the gaming community and I love that he has depth and isn’t just a blank Greg who is just strong because he’s the main character.

This has been Mod Syrup and I’ll see you in my next article!


  • Mod Syrup

Game Review: Tales from the Boarderlands (with Mod Zan!)

Hi readers, watchers, and listeners! It’s Mod Zan with a game review for your reading pleasure. I already talked about how my game of the month was Tales from the Borderlands, but since I’ve finally finished it up I felt that it was time to sit down and give it a thorough review so that you can decide whether or not it’s something that you want to pick up for yourselves!

In my review, I’ll cover Visual and Audio, Gameplay, Story, and then give you my final thoughts. All of these will be coming from a feminist perspective to give you the most accurate overview of the game.


Visual and Audio:  

This is a telltale game and a Borderlands game. Therefore, the graphics aren’t going to be mind-blowingly realistic and unrealistically beautiful. However, seeing the two games come together was incredible, particularly since their styles are so similar. The art style was a perfect combination and made me feel like the game I was playing really mattered in the scope of the Borderlands universe. The game also preserved the feeling of the Borderlands universe in its backgrounds and its character models, which worked well.

From a feminist perspective, the characters were all well-made and didn’t have a lot of the usual issues that often come with female characters. Borderlands is better than most about including well-made ladies but isn’t immune from the design flaws that often appear in their costumes.

In this game, the costumes all made sense and didn’t show a ton of skin just for the sake of it, though I might add that Moxxxi was absent from this game for the most part short of a brief voice-only cameo.

And speaking of audio, the soundtrack to this game was nothing short of excellent. I ended up downloading many of the songs that they played during the intro credits for me to listen to on my own time. Overall, they did really well with the design and graphics for this game and it all worked together really nicely with a few exceptions that I’ll mention later in the game.

Gameplay:

The gameplay is a classic for a telltale game. Choice based, occasional combat but mainly operates through quick time events and button mashing prompts. To go into some more technical aspects, I’d like to say right now that I started attempting to play this on my Xbox 360 with my roommate. The game glitched so intensely by episode 4 (and not to mention all of the glitches that skipped dialogue and exposition in earlier episodes) that it was completely unplayable. I was only able to play it on my PS4, where I didn’t have any issues. If you are going to buy this game, don’t get it for the last gen because you will be wasting your money.

Telltale historically has had problems with glitchy games before, and this one is not an exception if you’re purchasing for last gen. It’s pretty unacceptable, and I haven’t seen any attempt from their end to solve this problem, which is disconcerting at best. Regardless, the gameplay was well integrated with the story and made for an excellent experience when it worked.

Story:

And here we are, at the big player in this game. The story is integral to this game as it is with every telltale game. Borderlands and Borderlands 2, however, are usually not games that are renown for their epic storylines as standalones. When you put them together, along with the Pre-Sequel and all of the DLC you get an intense (but somewhat convoluted) epic story that spans multiple parties of people and even planets. Tales from the Borderlands is by far one of the best stories that I’ve seen so far out of all of the Borderlands games I’ve played. The characters are incredibly endearing and have distinct personalities that all work very well together.

Fiona and Rhys both being playable was a wonderful method to the game and gave you some variety in a story-based game that could be easy to stagnate. There was consistent action throughout each episode, and it was well-paced. I never wanted an episode to be over so that I could finally get to a new point in the story. I loved each character, and they never prioritized the male characters over the female characters. There is a canon gay relationship, and it’s two of the most dangerous/skilled women in the game. In intense emotional scenes, the relationship between two sisters is portrayed as the deepest.

It’s a perfect culmination of action, adventure, friendship, romance, and humor. That being said, the representation in this game from a feminist perspective has its good points and bad ones.

The main villains are (as always) Handsome Jack, a man with complete confidence in his moral and personal superiority regardless of how many horrific acts he commits, and Valerie, an older crime overlord who lugs around a giant rocket launcher and has no problem murdering whoever she needs to get what she wants. It’s nice to see an older woman represented in a game with her age, weight, and appearance never being mentioned in a negative light.

However, when it comes to racial representation the game is sorely lacking. One of the main characters who is white has dreads (and granted, she could be a black person with incredibly light skin, but I think that’s a bit of a long shot.) There are only two people of color that I can recall from the game, and one of them turns out to be a backstabber, and the other worked for an evil corporation and now lives in one of their derelict facilities in hiding.

Though the game has good gender representation and some representation in sexuality, its racial representation has a lot to be desired. Though I loved this game, I hope to see a lot more from Telltale in the future when it comes to representation as well as the mechanical functioning of their games.

TALES-FROM-THE-BORDERLANDS adventure action fighting shooter tales borderlands


Overall, Tales from the Borderlands gets a 7/10 overall: a 10/10 on Story, 9/10 on Visual and Audio, and a 3.5/10 for Representation. If you can pick it up, you should while it’s still free. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you next time!


– Mod Zan