Review Information
Game Reviewed Mario's Mansion 2, by FanGuy
Review Author Vitiman
Created Jun 25 2020, 10:14 PM

General Commentary and Game Overview
When I first revisited the original Mario's Mansion, I was surprised by how thoughtful such a short game could be. The story and silliness were top-notch, and the gameplay was surprisingly enjoyable and not nearly as frustrating as I was worried it would be! Quite a feat for something made in The Games Factory almost 20 years ago, no?

By the time I started going on MFGG in 2002, both of the Mario's Mansion games had already been released, with the third one yet to be teased in any real capacity. I don't necessarily know why, but I recall the vibe of downloading Mario's Mansion to be pretty different from other fangames of the time; apart from a fairly tame alcoholic joke in the second game, the Mario's Mansion duology steered pretty close to what I'd consider "family friendly", and so it seemed very close tonally to the actual Mario games - something that a younger me appreciated a lot.

I'll spare you all of the details, but I just thought it was really nice that there existed a group of fangames you could like... actually show a little kid and it wouldn't be "Mario Says The F Word". It's interesting I say this, because Mario Quest 2 is rife with swearing and adult themes (and ALSO features a more egocentric Mario character, coincidentally), and I love the hell out of that game - but the thing is, it's for a thousand and one different reasons compared to why I love Mario's Mansion and its sequel.

Tangent aside, now that I've finally beaten said sequel again after so many years, how well does it hold up? Especially when compared to the original game that managed to impress me when I was convinced it was the weaker of the two? Continue onward to find out!
Pros + The same exact charm that oozed out of the first game is present here; in spades
+ Absolutely cute, vivid graphics - both custom and edited - make up the visual presentation
+ Excellent music choices
+ Gameplay is generally very solid still
+ Polish is a decent step up from the first game
Cons - The difficulty has been ramped up quite a bit in this installment
- Moving platforms are difficult to time and can generally behave in a buggy fashion if you're not careful
- The writing tends to veer closer to prose and angst towards the climax of the game
- Somewhere between "too long" and "too short", if that's believable
7 / 10
Mario's Mansion 2 controls exactly like the first game does: you're Mario, and your mission is to use your almighty hammer to bring down some justice onto the denizens of the Mushroom Kingdom and stop the (SPOILERS FOR THE FIRST GAME) evil Luigi from taking over.

Before I dive into the specifics of the gameplay and the engine, I'd like to take a moment and elaborate on the story and writings of this; especially since there isn't a dedicated "Story" section of an MFGG review. So, as was revealed in the ending of the first Mario's Mansion, Luigi has had powerful, psychic powers for a very long time, and has finally gone insane and had enough of Mario's dominance in their wonderful Mushroomy home. I think this is a goofy enough idea to work, but I think the game isn't sure how to exactly handle this development come sequel time: Luigi is characterized as having recently gone insane but also having had these powers for a long time, which is something that doesn't really make a ton of sense to me when you factor in the dialogue spoken about . Now now, I know criticizing the writing quality of a dumb old fangame is a fruitless effort - let it be clear, I'm very well aware pretty much everyone is looking at me like I'm wasting my time here. But hear me out...

A big part of this game's appeal is the story and writing, especially with how similar at times it feels to the actual Mario games of the era and their tonality. Given that FanGuy upgraded the polish by a fair margin, it was only natural to expect to see the story take a more interesting turn than it did. Of course, I can't say I should have expected too much in that department in the first place - I knew what I was getting into, but I guess I let nostalgia cloud me at the time.

Unfortunately on that note, I do have some legitimate gripes with the gameplay; specifically, the snow level and the boss of that world, "Penguido". I want to say it was a cute idea having a boss on a rolling snowball, but the execution leaved all too much to be desired. Furthermore, the level itself featured a lot of moving platforming and... well, here's a pro-tip if you find yourself snapping off of the platforms later in the level: just keep jumping. It seems to work well enough, but you have to have a solid feel for the TGF platform engine as well and some intuition, but you can get past it with enough determination. The boss on the other hand... I'm convinced that's largely down to luck. Sometimes the "?" clouds will give you the cannon balls (?) needed to sling at the boss, but sometimes they bug out and make a SFX and nothing comes out of them, all while you're having to dodge snowballs and the occasional flame guy flinging forward at you. It's such a tedious and lengthy boss, but what can you expect really?

Apart from that, the game is generally a breeze. A notable exception is the final boss fight against Luigi, which is only really another tedious romp and it mainly concerns the absurd amount of health he's given. Apart from that, he has a predictable fight pattern and he's equally prone to missing you entirely if you know what you're doing. Hell, I'd even say it's a pretty fair challenge!

Overall, I had a great time with this game - but I'm still not sure if it was as fun as revisiting the first one. There were certainly moments where it felt like a much better game, and I had far more investment in the world and the characters, but there were also a couple of moments where the game kind of stagnated and fell short of my expectations. You win some, you lose some!
10 / 10
Absolutely top-notch. I honestly would go as far as to say this fangame has a graphical charm and cuteness that rivals a lot of modern fangames - quite an outlandish bit of praise, I'm well aware. The same custom/edited graphics from the first game are back, as well as equally matching/well-made counterparts for each stage. It has this warm, Yoshi's Island + Paper Mario N64 vibe to it that it's impossible not to have a stupid grin on your face looking at this game. I love it, and I love how well it's all presented.

What else can you say? It's just all so wonderful, easiest '10' I've ever given something. Sorry, I'm aware of how biased I am here, but c'mon... let me have my treasured childhood things.
8 / 10
Arguably stronger than the first game, purely going off of the amount of variety present here. Have to give credit where credit is due, the music choices here feel very fitting and have never at any point weighed the game down. The sound effects are pretty much the exact same as the first game, so there's not much to talk about there other than... that it works. It all works well enough.

Overall, great sound for a pretty great game!
Final Words
8 / 10
Though it's noticeably more difficult than the first game (and once or twice it was difficult for all the wrong reasons), Mario's Mansion 2 managed to live up to my expectations and almost (almost!) concludes the story that began in the original. Sometimes the writing feels a bit too serious to match the tone, and maybe the ending is a bit too contrived... but how could I dock points off for silly things like that? It's one of the most consistent and well-put-together fangames of its era, and the only real shame about these two classics is that FanGuy left the community before finishing the story he began.

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