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Guild Wars 2 Diary #29: Super Adventure Box

13. April, 2013Tags: Guild Wars 2 Diary, MMO Blog

Guild Wars 2 Super Adventure BoxSo after the rather frustrating realizing that there are parts of Guild Wars 2 that I’ll never be able to explore without pairing up with unreliable strangers, I thought it was probably best to take a bit of a break this week. Thankfully, that break couldn’t have come at a better time, as it lines up perfectly with the rather clever Super Adventure Box. If you haven’t heard about the Super Adventure Box, I urge you to quickly go and watch the accompanying video. It’s about the oddest addition to an MMO I’ve come across, but that doesn’t at all mean it’s bad.

 

Super Adventure Box

The Super Adventure Box is an April Fools joke that doesn’t know it’s an April Fools joke. It was announced on April 1st and then actually launched on April fools as well. I’m not sure how many people were expecting Half-Life 4 when it appeared in the Steam registry as a joke, but Valve definitely didn’t deliver on that.

Super Adventure Box gameplay video

The Super Adventure Box is an Anet/Guild Wars 2 take on the old platformers of Super Nintendo era. From the music to the jump puzzles, everything feels very, very retro. They’ve done a great job recreating some of the most common themes (and restrictions) of that generation of gaming, and it’s a must play to anybody of a certain age. You can access the mini-game any time before the end of April by visiting Rata Sum, which you can reach by visiting Lion’s Arch and using the portals. The portal into the Super Adventure Box is right next the door, and although there’s no rules on entering, it’s recommended you have a total of five players if you want to get through the three levels.

Guild Wars 2 - Super Adventure Box Screenshot 1

First of all, five players? I’d specifically focussed on the Adventure Box so that I could enjoy something solo, like the platform games of the early 90s. This is the one area in which the developers have slipped up, partly because it’s stupid to expect five players to do something with so many jumping puzzles and so few enemies, but also because a single player seems to be able to do everything except for each level’s boss characters. Why not just have the boss characters slightly weaker and avoid shoehorning in a reliance on other players?!

Aside from that, the Super Adventure Box proved to be more than a little entertaining. The dialogue is funny, the music almost eerily accurate and the graphics utterly charming. The more realistic graphics of the main game are fine, but it’s not until you see the bright greens and sky blue of the Adventure Box that you realize how dark realistic graphics can be. The enemies you’ll come across will die in a couple of hits, although learning how to evade successfully will be key to getting through to the end of each level – just like the older games, where a single hit would deplete a life and send you back to the beginning of the level.

Guild Wars 2 - Super Adventure Box Screenshot 2

A couple of points of note: first, none of your items, skills, weapons or buffs will work within the Super Adventure Box. You’re going in naked, if you’ll pardon the expression, with only a pointy stick to defend yourself. That’s fine though, because many of the enemies you’ll come across will drop in one or two hits. You don’t need to worry about dying though. Although there is a limited number of lives, there are checkpoints throughout the level (which serve as meeting points for more players, so that nobody can progress unless everybody is ready).

The jumping puzzles are relatively easy, especially if you pay attention to the developer’s advice and take risks. There were times when I was certain I couldn’t make a leap, but managed it anyway. For those of you not confident with the jumping puzzles, there’s an easier mode which you can access by speaking with the cloud in the hub level. I didn’t try the easier mode, so I’m not sure how it changes things, but it’s nice to have the option.

Finally, the Super Adventure Mode has an extra collectable called Baubles. Baubles are dropped by enemies or can be found around the map. Collecting a lot of Baubles will mean you can trade them for special weapon skins, if that’s the sort of thing you like, although I get the feeling that collecting just for the sake of collecting could be very, very time consuming.

The Super Adventure Box is a hit, and I’m almost sad that they’re ditching it at the end of the month. I know I can’t be the only one that would like to be able to return whenever, as there’s nothing else like it in Tyria, or within any other MMO. Still, I imagine it’ll make its return at some point in the future, perhaps even improved by an extra few levels, and the ability to play alone.

Guild Wars 2 - Super Adventure Box Screenshot 3

Leaderboards

As I said in one of the earlier pieces on Razing, I’m not entirely sure who the leaderboards are for. If you just play PvE, you’re probably not all that interested in competing, and if you’re not one of the top players, what difference does it make? You know if you’re playing it all day every day, and that’s the only way you’ll make it to the top. Worse than that, the leaderboards in their current state don’t even let you see your own position. So as it stands, unless you’re a top 100 player (or top 10, if you want to find yourself easily) the addition of leaderboards is “neat” at best.

There are three different sets of leaderboards: PvP, WvW and achievements. Achievements aren’t a great metric by which to judge players unless they’ve absolutely top of the board. If they are, they’ve done everything, otherwise you might just have focussed on certain things that you find easy. I can’t think of a better way of comparing players that aren’t actually competing, but perhaps Anet’s promised improvements and additions will clear things up somewhat.

Super Adventure Box for retro fans of Guild Wars 2

Conclusion

April has so far been a fairly mixed bag for Guild Wars 2 players. First and foremost, the Super Adventure Box is absolutely fantastic, but might be frustrating for players on their own. It was so close to being a perfect addition to the game, but soon may disappear to the recesses of pages like this, in the memories of people who were there when Guild Wars 2 went retro.

On the other hand, Leaderboards, which the announcement post claims are often requested, seem so hastily put together that it doesn’t even matter that they’re there. It’s a poor implementation and feels less than half-finished. Here’s hoping they speed things up for the next update and improve on what might be a nice, but fairly unnecessary feature.

What do you think?
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