Here's the first one: Super Mario Run. And to kick things off with a big, new year bang, let's start with a song...
Run! Run! Run!
Here comes an opinion that you probably won't like,
You're a sexist pig,
You're objectifying women,
Your adventures are full of stale, retrograde gender stereotypes,
You're unsuitable for children,
Run! Run! Run!
Reviews of Super Mario Run were not kind - at least, not from customers on the Apple Store. Too expensive at a penny under £8, not enough free content, and people angry that in order to play they need an Internet connection - not much use if you commute on the London Underground, or live in 1887, ages before Wifi was invented. Yadda yadda bing.
The negative reviews were a drop-kick to Nintendo's shares/testiballs, and though the company is big enough to shoulder the pain, it can't have been what Nintendo wanted from the smartphone debut of its biggest character.
Is this just a case of idiots grumbling like idiots, and jumping on a bandwagon once again? Well... a bit. There's no denying that Nintendo's decision to require an Internet connection - "to thwart pirates" - is a stupid, paranoid one, which has never been a good idea. I mean, just ask Microsoft.
However, perhaps most hysterically, further evidence that Super Mario Run had a target painted on its dungarees came when it got hit with absurd claims of being sexist.
You see, Princess Peach is kidnapped, offers to bake Mario a cake, and can only be "won" as a playable character using "coins", thus reducing her - and Toadette - to the status of trinkets. Or - worse - Russian mail-order brides.
As far as I'm concerned, none of the things Super Mario Run was criticised for were particularly valid. It felt like opinion engineering for the sake of it. These misplaced criticisims also obscured the most important matter: whether Super Mario Run is actually any good or not.
When it was first announced, Super Mario Run was mistaken for some sort of an endless runner thing, but it isn't.
It's a Mario game in which the running is done for you. There's a real big difference.
Levels are finite, they're not random, and the only thing you control is the jumping. Nintendo saw the importance of making Super Mario Run playable with just one hand, thus leaving the other free to do things, like waving at a brave horse, repeatedly opening and closing a musician's drawer, or pointing at a clow-clow.
It's almost a puzzle game - where the biggest challenge you face is that forward momentum. Collecting the coins is more of a focus than it has ever been before in a Mario game. Completing the levels isn't difficult; completing them and getting all the purple coins can be a headache when you just can't stop. You know: like when you eat too many Pringles.
Occasionally you'll run onto a pause block, giving you a moment to take stock - though the countdown timer doesn't allow you to rest for long.
TROPE ON A ROPE
Beyond that, all the standard Mario tropes are intact; blocks, buttons, coins, platforms and familiar enemies (in a change to convention, you'll automatically leapfrog ground-based enemies if you run into them).
There's a multiplayer, of sorts, where you race against the ghosts of other players. Any coins earned in this mode allow you to buy decorations for the world map, which let you design your own Mushroom Kingdom. Which is a nice touch.
On one hand (ha ha), it's very clever - Nintendo clearly considering the limitations of smartphone gaming rather than making a standard Mario platformer, using a horrible virtual touch-screen d-pad. On the other hand, it just isn't anywhere near as much fun as a regular Mario game. Which might've been too much to ask for £8.
Nevertheless, it feels a bit like a halfway house, Nintendo trying to have Princess Peach's cake and eat it (which is exactly the sort of thing they'd do - down with the patriarchy!).
Rather than go the route of a game such as, say, Lara Croft Go - which radically reinterpreted the Tomb Raider character for on-the-go gaming - Super Mario Run feels like it adheres too closely to the original gameplay, while removing the parts of it which have traditionally been the most fun. Perhaps Shigeru Miyamoto was making some sort of meta point about a subjugated male being castrated by a shrew. Sounds like him...
SUMMARY: Mediocre Mario Run more like.
SCORE: Three sexisms out of five sexisms.