Monday, January 17, 2011

Nintendo Adventure Books 7: Dinosaur Dilemma

Between the last book and this one the Super Nintendo Entertainment System came out and with it Mario’s first 16-bit adventure, as the cover of every SMB book for the rest of the series will be happy to remind you. Maybe back in the day being based on the hot new game helped increase their appeal, but now, well, let’s have a look shall we?

For years of dedicated service to the defense of the Mushroom Kingdom, Princess Toadstool has rewarded Mario and Luigi with a vacation on Dinosaur Island. Recently the dinosaurs have started disappearing, and when Luigi disappears too while foraging for lunch, Mario and Yoshi set off to find out what’s happened to them all.

Most of the books worth your time in the series up to this point had an engaging or amusing idea driving them. If not from the get-go as with Doors to Doom, then at least after you’d managed to survive enough perils to make your way to the final showdown. Not so here. You spend the first half bopping around the landscape looking for items and dodging monsters as with multiple books before it, but if you make it to the final confrontation and find out what’s going on, it’s just sad.

So sad that I don't mind telling you what's really going on. You see, Bower’s trying to prove dinosaurs went extinct from not looking before they crossed the street so he can get a job as a curator at the museum across the street from Princess Toadstool’s castle and throw garbage at it whenever he wants. He’s kidnapping the dinosaurs because he can’t prove his theory if there are still dinosaurs around, can he?

The book is just Mario bopping around the island looking for any clue to where the dinosaurs might have gone. He investigates a haunted house (because Super Mario World had those, you know), runs into a bunch of new monsters, tries out a magic cape and through it all is accompanied by a hungry dinosaur pal. The only time the book manages to acquire any identity of its own is when Bowser’s idiotic plot is discovered.

This isn’t really surprising considering the book was probably mostly written to showcase things about the brand new game Nintendo was pushing with its brand new system, but it’s still a shame. Bosco had shown he could write some fun stuff when allowed to do so.

At least the player isn’t given a maximum score by default for finishing the book, but there are plenty of reasons not to read this again anyway.

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