I think the biggest compliment that I can give the Super Adventure Box is that I’m late in blogging about it.
Every available hour of mine was spent IN the box, playing like a madman, rather than have any leisure time to sit back and think/reflect/write about it.
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways:
1) Group AND Solo Friendly
I don’t actually run many dungeons in GW2. Having to hook up with 4 other players and perform up to a certain standard makes me a nervous wreck, because I take quite a long time to learn and master stuff. I am thus very overjoyed to find any sort of adventure instance that can be soloed as well as grouped, and am pleased to say all the new event instances are turning out this way.
The time I’m most open to grouping is when the place is new to all. My first taste of the Super Adventure Box was taken this way, with four other friendly guildies hooked up by voice chat, and I must say, this was one of the better ways to experience the SAB when one is new.
Five excited people running in all directions at once, hopping on anything that looked jumpable. A friend at your side to help distract mobs or circle around them for additional hits. Rabid bunny killing stirred up a bunado, with resultant chaos. The better jumpers able to lead the less sure ones along the path, and help them by dropping mushrooms. Additional eyes to discover secrets, and five person coordination to get sufficient keys and hit a chest at the same time.
However, the problems of a group soon become evident as well. Different playstyles threaten to clash. We had one member who was a very good jumper and looked very interested in finding out every last secret of an area – this made him very late to any checkpoint. I consider myself a not-terribly good jumper, but also highly interested in finding out every last secret, so I alternated between falling behind and getting a little lost, joining two or three other guys at the checkpoint and milling around restlessly, and then cheerfully running out of there at the first call of the other explorer saying that he found something. Two other members seemed to be good or average jumpers, but also basic Achievement-focused, so the moment they saw a bright shiny checkpoint, they wanted to be there, rather than killing every last mob in the area. And the last was a not-terribly-great jumper either, so he too shared some of the embarrassment of being the last one to a location – for which I was fairly thankful, else it would have been me all the time.
The difference in priority could be seen at the area with two checkpoints. Three members were happy to chill out at the lower checkpoint, while the two secret hunters were eager to see what the upper checkpoint was like. This resulted in us taking some 40-60 minutes a zone, and eventually stretched the schedule limit of a number of party members, who ended up tiring of the endless jumps (and the increasing difficulty making more folks fall) near the third zone, where one or two of us were attempting the series of bouncing mushrooms that eventually would lead to the elite skill Moto’s Breath, though we didn’t know it at the time. The party broke up one checkpoint shy of King Toad.
After that, I was content to solo my way through the Super Adventure Box. It gave me a better sense of control. I could obsessively dig up every last inch of ground without feeling like I was holding up someone. It’s more of a personal challenge that way too, as you and solely you are responsible for timing your attacks and movement just right and reading and avoiding the attack patterns of the mobs. I think I spent some 7 hours in there exploring before looking up any guides – so it’s good that I didn’t force anyone else to do this with me.
I did a basic run through all the zones with infantile mode turned on, just so I could see the whole thing, kill King Toad and get the lay of the land.
It netted a heart increase, which was nice.
Then I spent some 2-3+ hours covering each zone with a fine tooth comb, also on infantile mode, working my way through the secret room and every last bauble achievements. Zone 1 was completed with no guide reference, and I gave up after some three attempts at zone 2 – first I missed a whole lot of baubles that I didn’t know existed, then the last bauble at the shortcut worm’s end stumped and taunted me, then I missed -one- secret room on my most comprehensive hours-long zone sweep (cue immense immense rage.)
I went for the guides after that, and zone 2 was completed with a lot less rage and time. Zone 3′s jumps were pretty difficult for me so I went for the bauble checklist guide too. Along this time-consuming exploratory quest for all the achievements, I upgraded pretty much everything.
I’m happy to say that I’m now very comfortable with zone 1 and 2, getting comfortable with zone 3, and am working on learning the rapids. Yesterday I switched to normal mode to get the daily chests and it went like a breeze after all the time invested getting familiar with the areas.
2) Supports Different Playstyles
I find it very amusing sometimes just how different players can be. Me, I’m playing the zones mostly because they are there (and they are NEW) and I was driven primarily by desiring the Distinction in Applied Jumping title for my asura and secondarily, by learning the area and finding cool secrets. Skins? Yeah, some are nice, and I’m sure I’ll get 50 of the special baubles before the month is out, but I’m not in a rush.
Others are driven by the desire for the skins – so you see them speedrunning the zone, going straight for the end chests, deleting and making new characters to run through SAB, or figuring out the most efficient way to farm up baubles. Not that any of this is wrong. I think it’s great that the same content is keeping a whole bunch of different playstyles amused. (Just don’t make me group with you, please.)
Different others are happy to find that skins are available on the TP and have just bought what they wanted and discarded the SAB like a rotten tomato. Or some are just farming the Super Mysterious boxes out in the open world.
3) Completely Optional / Has Alternate Means to Same Goal
See above. For those who utterly cannot jump, for whatever reason, there are still ways to get the rewards if desired.
Also, the presence of several jumping paths that will get you there in the end. There are one or two high risk dodge-jump or die places. Or take a longer route to the same place.
Zone 2 posits an interesting dilemma for me – take shortcut worm to the end, or do the longer route and dig up secret baubles (of which I can get 40 + 50 so far, and I’m sure more will be discovered as time goes by.)
4) Adjustable Difficulty Levels
Let me just say this here. THANK YOU FOR INFANTILE MODE.
It may be a slap in the face to the developer who spent all his time devising the fiendish jumps, but this is how you make your content accessible for people. Give them a stepping stone to learn and get comfortable with just absorbing a few things at one time.
To be frank, I probably would have stuck with it on normal mode as the jumps seem pitched just about right-to-challenging for my current level of skill, but I would have raged a lot more while trying for the achievements. And probably written a rant here and there about it too.
However, I have a friend whom has just gotten into the game, and I -know- his keyboard dexterity and sense of platforming timing and avatar coordination is not at my level. (This may change as he gets more familiar with the game or does a lot of jumping, but as of now, yeah..) If he and I ever get around to playing the SAB together, I’m sure there will be a lot less stress and frustration if we attempted it on the easy mode. That’s the point of one, though. So that more people can still have a similar experience with the content and have fun – if lesser rewards. And I appreciate that one can earn upgrades on easy mode so that one is better equipped for normal mode.
As for myself, after three solid days of plugging away at it with the rainbow slide to catch me if I fell, I think I’m ready to graduate to normal mode, and by next week, I probably will be happy to take on the grumpy cloud and the hinted-at may-come-in-the-near-future hard mode.
5) Perfect Nostalgic Platforming Parody (Music, Graphics, et. al.)
Let’s not forget our praise of the aesthetics. The bright cheerful colors brought to mind Minecraft and Super Mario immediately, I was in hysterics watching the Princess getting kidnapped intro cutscene, the 8-bit music a perfect accompaniment to all the jumping. I especially -cannot- do the Rapids area without listening to the music, it fits so well.
Even the fungus zone 3 gave me creepy Eversion vibes, which was cool.
6) Helps Me to Up My Game
I tweaked a keybind for the Super Adventure Box, can you believe it?
I was determined to learn how to dodge jump.
I’d taken dodge off V long ago, because that key is much more useful firing off a utility skill (along with X and C.)
I always double tap to evade. I’m used to it from other games, I find it fast and I can choose a direction to go in. I do jumping puzzles with it on, because I want to learn how to deal with it and not make those nervous shifting motions that always result in a dodge roll off a teeny branch into screaming falling oblivion.
But I can’t dodge jump with double tap.
After scrutinizing my keys, I decided to remove my least used “Target Ally” key on R (sorry folks, good thing you don’t often need targeted heals from me anyway) and replaced it with dodge.
After further trial and error and much cursing and swearing, I eventually got dodge jump to work about 50% of the time by striving to bang on R and space simultaneously, while going forward. It could be latency at work here, because I doubt I’ll ever get it to a point where it will work 90-100% of the time, it just doesn’t feel responsive or reliable enough. Either that or my Charr animations just don’t flip into the somersault that often because their running-on-all-fours animation conflicts with it or whatever – gonna try it on an Asura later and see if that’s better.
However, 50% of the time is functional enough to get to places I previously couldn’t.
Which is 100% better than before.
It’s interesting to note that I’ve gotten most of the obsession out of my system after nabbing the Distinction in Applied Jumping title. I actually visited WvW yesterday, something I abandoned for two days running to go SAB-crazy. I’ll probably be content to do this at a more casual pace now.
As for all those calling for it to stay for good, I’ll beg to differ. I think the sporadic event nature of it helps to draw people into it. Keeping it always available will eventually lead to it being a ghost town as players get bored and accustomed to it. I think a month is a very fair time for it to stick around. GW1 festivals were only one or two weeks or so and harder to accomplish anything with if you weren’t a daily hardcore player.
I do like the Super Adventure Box though. I like it a lot. I’ll be awaiting the next expansions to it whenever they arrive. (Just please leave baby-steps mode in.)
I liked it so much that I spent $10 on 800 gems this month and bought the no-lockbox lottery no-Mystic Toilet Super Minis to show my support for it. (I like the glow, thanks. The spider’s idle animation is awesome, I think my Asura will keep it as a pet. The monkey running animation is a great match with my on-fours Charr. The less said about the very odd Bee Dog, the better. 2 out of 3 ain’t bad.)
I’m sure it pales in comparison to how much money players have been throwing at the black lion keys for fused weapon skins, but well, wallet votes are wallet votes.