"Another tedious 'educational' game for the little tykes"

I feel bad about giving both of the Mario clan's attempts to enrich children's minds so little credit, but both Mario Is Missing and its sequel are so truly awful that the number 2 would be insulted to be associated with them. This one may be even more of a ripoff for the naive NES gamer tricked into turning the machine on while the cartridge is in it, too. Once again there is no challenge, and it's actually even shorter and less ambitious and entertaining than the first.

This time, Luigi gets pushed back to the sidelines and egomaniac Mario goes out again, to do his dirty work to save Yoshi from Bowser Koopa's new museum. But before he can kill Koopa and free the little dino, he has to gut Koopa's museum, taking all of the little objects back before the space-time continuum gets butchered, filleted or otherwise mutilated. This is actually a better explanation for the body of the game than Luigi's 'round the world trip in Mario Is Missing (even as he was right where he needed to be to save Mario, he still decided that those San Franciscans really needed him to bring back one nondescript foghorn from the Golden Gate Bridge...but that's another game.)

Back to Mario's Time Machine: Bringing the objects back to the space-time they need to be involves Mario going inside various doors to find three turtle Koopas (I'm told they're actually called Koopa Troopas) with which he must do battle old-school Mario Brothers style (standing under a block and banging it with his head when the enemy is up on top, later running into them to send the poor helpless souls to their rest.) The last Troopa you kill has a precious object, and when you get it you go down a pipe which takes you to, you guessed it, Mario's Time Machine. You take a guess as to when the object you have belongs, and then you end up in some new landscape. There you will find various clues telling you whether or not you're in the right ''Time Zone'' and exactly where in the area you need to put your object. If you get anything wrong, you go through the whole 'spiel' again, the next time hopefully getting it right.

The whole game is exactly the same. It may not sound too bad, but there is absolutely no challenge. You see, it's basically a big guessing game as to 'when' the object belongs, and when you guess wrong a few times it just turns into a watered-down memory game. Furthermore, it is absolutely, one-hundred-percent impossible to die. You can be slightly irritated by enemies and have some of your time wasted (though the game does not keep track of time) but that's all. The enemies as well as everything else in the game seem designed to just keep you staring in disbelief at your glowing TV screen for a little while: if you miss a Troopa in Mario Brothers mode, you just wait until it walks back down; if you get a time wrong, there is no penalty, you just have to do it, over, again and again; the enemies flatten you, inflicting no damage but leaving you unable to control Mario for a few seconds; and a few of the platforms are a bit 'puzzling', causing a bit more time wastage. I firmly believe that all the time wasting is to make people feel less 'cheated' when they realize how little there really is to the game (not only in substance, either, the sequel is actually even shorter than the original, with fewer levels and less involving 'levels'. At least you could walk around a bunch of different streets in Mario Is Missing.)

In closing, I feel it is my duty to point out that this game is in no way educational, as is evidenced by the little quotation marks in my synopsis up there. Even con-jobs such as Mario Is Missing taught a little bit more than this attempted to teach. At least with Luigi you were exposed to geography, history, and just a little bit of foreign culture. This game is just a collection of obvious history: it's all the kind of stuff you should know just by being able to breathe. Only small, illiterate children will like it, and they won't be able to remember where everything needs to go, anyway, requiring the assistance of someone who will be in no way interested in the game. Basically, it's a game only for fools, masochists, and people who need to have every piece of junk game onto which Mario put his plumbing image. It is by no means challenging, enjoyable, or otherwise playable.


Reviewer's Score: 1/10 | Originally Posted: 01/02/01, Updated 01/02/01


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