it’s taken me a little while to get it figured out, but i’ve posted my first review of the new year at my new location, Intergalactic Video Game Academy. the site is in its infancy, but will be shaping up in the coming months. hope to see you there! (btw, it’s too much effort to migrate all my old posts, so i’ll be keeping this blog here for the time being. feel free to browse the archives!)
for my last game of the year, i decided to wrap up my experience with rusty’s real deal baseball for 3DS, one of the few games released this past year that i actually played through, and one of nintendo’s first forays into free-to-play gaming. the game has a unique hook: although the 10 individual minigames supposedly have a base price of $4, the game features in-game haggling whereby you can reduce the price of the set from $40 down to a much more reasonable $16. the frame story involves a middle-aged dog trying to revitalize his business as well as repair his family life, and although it serves as a cute device the “story” such as it was didn’t really increase my compulsion to buy more minigames.
the minigames themselves have a very warioware type of aesthetic (apparently totilo at kotaku thought so too), which i enjoyed, and each one (approximately $2 each) distills some aspect of baseball (hitting, catching, even umpiring) and presents a set of 50 basic and 50 advanced mini-challenges plus two endless modes. i played through the majority of three of the minigames (bat & switch, quick catch, and feel the glove), and there’s a good amount of variety within each set, there’s a uniformly high level of polish, and the controls in general feel pretty good (although some take getting used to). because of the arcade nature of the challenges, there’s a distinct feeling of pointlessness of achieving them since given enough time you’ll get it eventually (a classic case of “i could be learning to be a pro basketball player in the time it would take to complete this challenge”). with games like wii sports of wii fit i’m more willing to waste time on pointless challenges since i’m also at least burning a few calories, but in this case without a compelling story or goal my need to be a completionist just wasn’t enough for me to want to finish all the advanced challenges (some of which will have your blood boiling and rage quitting in anger, and apparently i’m not the only one who felt that way). i found the challenges were also not really suited for short “pick up and play” type bursts, due to the amount of concentration required.
i didn’t feel the need to pay for the rest of the minigames (especially since some of the ones i was more interested in were the ones that didn’t unlock more of the story), so i’ve set this one aside for now. if i were more interested in baseball i could imagine this would’ve been an easier sell to me, and although i didn’t end up seeing the game through to the “end” i enjoyed the time i did spend with it overall. nintendo would’ve gotten more dollars out of me if they had just released this as a single package, but i love that they tried a different and completely unique approach to micro-transacations, and i can definitely see myself picking up a couple more at some point in the future.
haggle your way to victory with these rusty’s real deal baseball links:
– this post at gamefaqs has the exact combination of discounts to use to get the lowest possible prices for the four non-story minigames, although i haven’t verified it
– miiverse page
– official site with videos of each minigame
– complimentary fan review at kotaku
– review at nintendolife.com
– list of unlockables at gamefaqs including info on streetpass bonuses
– a look at some localization changes at tinycartridge.com
– entry at wikipedia
for my latest “get off the couch” game i decided to revisit the original wii sports, a game that, due to the success of wii, has ended up being one of the best-selling video games of all time and in the 8 years since its release has become something of a classic. when i’d sat down with the game about five years ago (!) (figuratively speaking, since then as now i’d actually spent most of my time playing the game standing up) i’d spent most of my time playing the three tennis training games and hadn’t actually spent much time with the other four sports. this time around the first tennis training game was still my default activity (although, sadly, i never did quite make it to the platinum ranking), and it’s kind of surprising how just compelling and addictive that one minigame is. the pace of it is somewhat frustrating in that the serves alternate between groups of them being close to vs. far from the net, and returning balls close to the net can require some luck. but the thwack of each hit you return with your virtual tennis racket is extremely satisfying, and it’s easy to get into a zen-like state of returning serve after serve after serve. i was happy to find that tennis was enjoyable as i remembered (and my forehand definitely improved as well, haha).
although i would’ve been perfectly happy playing just that one tennis training game, i did spend about half my time playing around with the other four sports, mostly via their training modes. i didn’t spend much time with baseball since swinging the bat felt rather too similar to tennis, and try as i might i still haven’t developed the right knack to do well in bowling, although i did feel i was slowly (veeeeery slowly) improving. golf was pretty fun, although it seemed much more about trial and error than developing any skills and it was rather slow paced, so in the end i spent most of my non-tennis wii sports time playing boxing.
my initial experience with boxing left me frustrated and thinking that the game was completely broken, but eventually i figured out how the game wants you to hold the controllers (i.e. up to your chest, and tilting down to punch instead of punching straight forward). i also had to unlearn what wii fit taught me about directing my mii character, as instead of leaning your weight from side to side this game requires you to tilt the controllers to the right or to the left to dodge. once i figured all that out everything worked pretty well and was quite enjoyable, and i actually earned two gold medals (whoo!)–and burned a few calories in the process. 🙂
in my previous post about the game i reflected on how magical wii sports seemed when it first came out, and although the novelty may have worn off, it’s somewhat surprising how much fun the game still is today. this game is practically synonymous with the wii console itself since they were released together, and back in 2006 it represented something new and fresh and inclusive: that graphics don’t matter, and that even simplistic, “family friendly” gameplay can be tremendous fun. once again nintendo made creating fun experiences look completely effortless, and wii sports‘ and wii’s impact is still felt today, and will continue to be felt far into the future. the impact of the game and the solid, timeless gameplay led me to bump this up from my original rating and add it to my “greatest games of all time” list. although i’ll be playing its wii u remake before i get back to this one, i’m sure when i come back to it years from now the original will be as enjoyable as it is today.
become king of the ring with these wii sports links:
– the entry at strategywiki.org is still a good source of the list of training mode medal requirements
– review at nintendolife.com
– somewhat surprisingly the official site for the game is still up
– entry at wikipedia
i don’t often buy games on their day of release, but i wanted to support captain toad: treasure tracker for wii u, one of the few instances of new IP from nintendo that also for the first time features toad (or at least, a toad) in the title role. toad has had a long history: he was playable in super mario bros. 2 soon after his debut and reclaimed some spotlight as player 3 and 4 options in the new super mario bros. series. he reached a peak in last year’s super mario 3D world as both a playable character with his original unique attributes, and also as captain toad, a series of side levels that featured completely unique gameplay.
it seemed pretty obvious to everyone that the captain toad levels could and should be expanded into a full-fledged game, but it was surprising that nintendo chose to release treasure tracker as a full title instead of a shorter downloadable title. however, after playing through the game the retail release does seem fully justified. the game takes the original concept of the 3D world levels and expands them beautifully. the main premise is that captain toad can’t jump because his backpack is too heavy, and so he has to maneuver through levels by investigating the diorama-like levels by rotating the camera and stepping on switches, etc., as well as by having the player use the gamepad to rotate parts of the environment, tap movable tiles and blocks, etc. the game’s design cribs heavily from 3D world (almost every unique stage you can recall from 3d world seems to have an analogue here). but captain toad’s limitation (the fact he can’t jump) is the impetus for a full game’s worth of creative levels.
the game’s pace is gentle and fairly relaxing: new levels unlock in batches and you’re not required to beat them all to beat the game, so you can pick which ones you want to tackle. also, levels are untimed, letting you explore at your leisure. three gems are scattered around the stage, and once you collect them an additional objective (e.g. “complete the level without taking damage”) is presented. for the most part the objectives are nicely varied and worthwhile, and the compact stages are great for exploring since they’re small enough to investigate fully without it becoming tedious. judging how to maneuver can get a bit tricky since the stages are so dense (and having true 3D as the 3DS does would have helped), but the gameplay is rock solid and the presentation is up to nintendo’s high standards (although again, perhaps cribbing a bit too much from 3D world).
getting to see toad, a long-time favorite, shine in the spotlight is a big plus, and having toadette, another long-time favorite, join him is an even bigger plus. (there may be hope yet for a game featuring daisy and/or waluigi! haha.) the two are cuter and more adorable than ever, and although the story is paper-thin (as is typical with nintendo with games like this), it’s nice to see the return of turnip-throwing as a core mechanic, plus some new enemies and locales. although the game demonstrates the versatility of the gamepad again, yet again i found myself forgetting to look back up at the TV and ended up spending a fair chunk of time just playing on the gamepad itself (and once again off-TV play proves to be a very handy feature). and although it seems some people weren’t satisfied with the length, i thought it was perfectly fine: finding every gem and completing every objective is worthwhile, and some additional challenges and bonus levels unlock as you proceed through the game.
overall i enjoyed this game way more than i thought i would. although i had enjoyed the levels in 3D world well enough, i hadn’t imagined that such a full, fresh, and varied game experience could be built on the same mechanics. the game was so memorable and enjoyable that i was sorely tempted to put it on my list of favorite games of all time, but about 3/4 of the way through the levels i felt the game’s premise had played itself out, and i didn’t find many of the bonus stages to be very compelling. in any case, i’m definitely looking forward to a sequel, assuming the developers can come up with a unique new twist to the winning formula of this game. as it is, the game is a worthy tribute to a character who has been a key member of the mushroom kingdom since the original super mario bros. game.
adventure time with these captain toad: treasure tracker links:
– entry at mariowiki.com, which includes a list of the bonus levels
– review at nintendolife.com
– official site, which includes an official “toad brigade adventure kit” you can print out
– miiverse community
about a month ago i finished the last three warioware games in the series, so it’s time to look back at the entire series and post my ranking. at nine entries the franchise is clearly at a lower tier compared to nintendo’s core series, like the mario, zelda, and metroid series, and looking over the list although the series started out extremely strong (its debut in the spring of 2003 was a jolt of originality and the manic “microgame” formula still holds up today), it’s sort of scraped along for the past few years. several of the more-recent titles could be considered to be offshoots as opposed to evolutions, and you could argue that there hasn’t been a true core warioware title since wii’s smooth moves (released 8 years ago), but in any case i’m still holding out hope that the series will rediscover itself before too much time goes by. in the meantime, it’s nice to be able to celebrate all that it has accomplished.
when i ranked the zelda series earlier this year i included excerpts from nintendo power, but this time around for lack of any better alternative i’ll just include metacritic’s ranking and excerpts from reviews close to the metacritic score (although it turns out that my ranking is pretty similar to metacritic’s). hope that’s not too confusing. oh, and before i get started, i should give a shout out to the best unofficial warioware title (not created by nintendo), which was feel the magic XY & XX by sonic team. i should also give a mention to two actual spin-offs of the game, both based on extras from the first title and released as DSiware: paper airplane chase, which included new time trial and vs. modes, and birds & beans, which has the same two modes as the GBA version but changes the size of the board to 30 squares (vs. 20 squares for the GBA version and 12 for the game & wario version). anyway, without further ado:
|the warioware series|
|as ranked by geozeldadude and metacritic|
|#||geozeldadude‘s list||ranking according to metacritic|
|1||warioware: smooth moves (wii): smooth moves was my first warioware experience, and i was definitely spoiled by it. at the time i was impressed by the series’ hallmarks, namely the lightning-speed pacing and the laugh-out-loud humor (not to mention fun reworkings of nintendo classics), but i also appreciated how well-structured the game was, in terms of taking all the myriad possible ways of using the wii remote and clearly organizing them into categories via “poses”. although some of the pointer-based movements take some trial and error, once you figure them out it’s pretty much non-stop fun. it’s a great intro to the series, and in my opinion has never been bettered since the versatile wii remote allows the game to offer even more variety than the original title, and even twisted. some of the later games felt more like tech demos than actual games, but this one felt like it not just showed off the new (and revolutionary) possibilities of wii, but really reveled in and explored them. a game that i’ve come to appreciate more since i first played it, and one i’m looking forward to revisiting.||warioware, inc.: mega microgame$! (GBA) (critic score: 89, user score: 8.8)
Nintendojo (90): It may be over quick, but it’s got the sort of staying power and pick-up-and-play appeal that’ll keep you coming back whenever you get tired of the latest games. It’s the perfect title for anyone who craves addictive, fast-paced action or just something different from the status quo.
IGN (90): There’s no way you’ll see everything on the first time through. This game is amazingly fun, incredibly funny, and a really intense gaming experience in the later levels.
Eurogamer (90): If variety is the spice of life, then Wario Ware is the digital equivalent of Phall curry, burning the inside of your face with its charm and originality.
|2||warioware: twisted! (GBA): yet another case of a close second, and another case where if i had played this before smooth moves i could easily see myself giving it the edge. the microgames have a level of variety, wackiness, and over-the-top presentation only rivalled by smooth moves, all the more impressive since the hardware (accomplished by the cartridge’s included gyroscope) is more limited than the wii remote. the game, like others in the series, also includes tons of unlockable “souvenirs”, including music tracks, virtual kaleidoscopes, musical instruments, gadgets, and minigames, which definitely adds to the fun and replay value despite the fact most are completely random, throwaway, and useless. but, like the microgames themselves, almost all of them will leave you smiling and the ones included in this entry to the series were particularly strong. twisted was one of those cases where a sequel really took the original’s ideas and improved them in almost every way. a definite classic.||warioware: twisted! (GBA) (critic score: 88, user score: 8.9): the critic score is only one point lower than the original game, and the user score is actually one point higher than the original game. here’s what the critics said:
Electronic Gaming Monthly (90): The technology works perfectly – spinning your GBA around feels utterly alien yet supremely fun. [Apr 2005, p.135]
GameSpot (88): The spin sensor feels less like a gimmick and more like a tightly integrated feature that makes the entire game feel inventive and unique.
Nintendojo (87): A must own title for your Game Boy Advance. It’s the perfect traveling game even though the story mode is over quickly.
|3||warioware, inc.: mega microgame$! (GBA): the game that started it all. although i feel like the formula achieved more with twisted and smooth moves, the original is still completely enjoyable and fun. in some ways it’s even more of an achievement since it relies on simple button presses instead of a “gimmick”. a definite classic, and definitely the obvious choice for the top 3.||warioware: smooth moves (wii) (critic score: 83, user score: 7.3):
NintendoWorldReport (85): Variety is king in WarioWare, and while the game does not contain an absurd amount of pointless unlockables, or a true high-score mode for individual games, it is still a ton of fun.
PALGN (80): An excellent addition to the Wario Ware series and the ideal game to show what the Wii can do. Its lifespan may be a little on the short side but there’s definitely enough enjoyment here for your money.
|4||warioware: D.I.Y. (DS): i don’t really look to video games to be my creative outlets, but i was still impressed by all the tools D.I.Y. provides for making your own microgames, as well as 4-panel comics and songs, and not just that but provides ways to ease players into those modes without intimidating them. the game also included enough microgames, albeit simplified, to make it feel worthwhile even if you completely ignore the design modes.||warioware: D.I.Y. (DS) (critic score: 82, user score: 8.7):
1UP (83): Creativity often thrives under the most severe limitations, and those who relish the opportunity to entertain others (or even just themselves) in videogame form will love WarioWare D.I.Y. It provides a detailed yet streamlined mechanism for creativity, meaning the challenge is in coming up with creative ideas rather than wrestling with the interface.
|5||warioware D.I.Y. showcase (wiiware): past the top 4, the ranking of the remaining games in the series really depends on your preference. D.I.Y. showcase provides a way for you to take your warioware D.I.Y. creations from your DS and view them on your TV via your wii, and overall works quite well. games look pretty good in the transition from DS to TV, and the wiiware title also includes about half as many microgames as the DS game, all of which can also be transferred back to your DS for modifying into new creations. there’s not a whole lot to do and the $8 price tag does feel a bit on the high side, but for fans of the DS title this is be a nice complement, although not essential.||warioware: touched! (DS) (critic score: 81, user score: 8.2):
Edge Magazine (80): It may be formulaic, but that formula is still one of invention, surprise and excellence. [Jan 2005, p.87; JPN Import]
Play Magazine (80): My only criticisms are that the NES-themed games aren’t as creative as before, and the game is a bit easy. [Apr 2005, p.70]
PALGN (80): But my biggest problem with the game is really just the slight lack of craziness that I’ve come to expect from Wario Ware. I rarely laugh out loud at a game, but the original Wario Ware provided me with much humour with its general wackiness.
|6||warioware, inc.: mega party game$! (GCN): the game is definitely more of an expansion to the original than a new game, and recycles all the content while adding new modes, mostly multi-player. there are a couple of new unlockable single-player modes, namely a “master” (i.e. marathon) mode in which you play through all 204 of the microgames (omitting the 9 boss battles) and see how many you can get, and two random minimalistic music videos. the most worthwhile single-player addition is a time attack mode where you try to complete 20, 40, or 60 microgames in the least amount of time (for every one you win the speed goes up and for every one you lose the speed goes down). not being into multi-player much in general the other modes were sort of wasted on me, but i appreciated them despite not getting much of a chance to play around with them.||warioware, inc.: mega party game$! (GCN) (critic score: 76, user score: 8.3):
GameBiz (77): Unless you’ve never played the first Wario Ware or are going to take full advantage of the multiplayer aspects, there isn’t really too much new for you here.
IGN (75): The fact that the vast majority of minigames in this GameCube title heralds from the GBA is a huge disappointment. But even if you haven’t played the GBA game, know that the single-player setup that worked so beautifully on the Game Boy Advance doesn’t translate well to the GameCube.
|7||warioware: touched! (DS): the game was designed to show off the DS’s capabilities, but otherwise didn’t feel as original as entries in the series. the game would have felt more novel when it was released around the time of the DS’s launch, but its core experience doesn’t hold up nearly as well as twisted or smooth moves. a prime example of a “by the numbers” sequel that, thankfully, the series’ developers haven’t had to resort to before or since.||warioware D.I.Y. showcase (wiiware) (critic score: 73, user score: 8.4):
Vandal Online (75): Its real potential resides in its connectivity with the Nintendo DS version. That is the real showcase.
Eurogamer (70): Still, if you fancy a means of enjoying the unhinged insanity of user-created microgames on the big screen, Showcase is a worthy purchase.
|8||warioware: snapped! (DSiware): as an entry in the warioware series the game would be fairly disappointing due to its limitations, chief of which is its short length (about 20 microgames, 5 of which require coordination with a second person) and the lack of any extras: you can easily breeze through the game in less than half an hour. the camera recognition, while enjoyable and novel, was a little iffy with two players, although solo it worked fine for me. despite the always enjoyable wacky warioware exterior, the game as a whole does have a tech demo feel, as many critics have noted. but a large part of the real enjoyment of the game is showing it off to other people, not just for the trademark warioware goofiness, but for the recap at the end of each stage that replays recorded footage of the player. in my case the combination of that enjoyment along with the appeal of warioware makes this an unregretted purchase, despite its limited gameplay and use, but for an introduction to the warioware series in general there are clearly better choices.||game & wario (wii u) (critic score: 61, user score: 6.1):
games(TM) (60): Well below the standards we’ve come to expect from Nintendo’s inventive, silly franchise. [Issue#137, p.123]
ZTGD (60): Game & Wario is disappointing mainly because the heart of the series feels stripped out, and in its place is a collection of mostly uninspired minigames. I really wanted to see Nintendo take advantage of the Gamepad in unique ways, not just have me tilt to steer.
Eurogamer Italy (60) Even though some games are funny, Game & Wario loses most of the appeal of its predecessors proposing just a bunch of “not-so-special” games.
|9||game & wario (wii u): feels like a real step back. almost completely eschewing the series’ formula to date (i.e. an onslaught of microgames to conquer), this game focuses on mini-games, pretty much none of which are that much fun. it’s pretty sad that i found i didn’t even want to play through all the levels, few as there were, and that unlocking each mini-game just resulted in another stab of disappointment instead of excitement. another case where i’m waiting for the next entry in the series and hoping that it gets the series back on track.||warioware: snapped! (DSiware) (critic score: 53, user score: 4.9):
Cheat Code Central (50): It’s a WarioWare game and it works with a camera, so it may pique your interest at first. However, it’s very short, it won’t let you save your goofy pictures or videos, and it’s tough to make it work!
Eurogamer (50) It’s fun for as long as it lasts.
even though i’ve been playing mostly first-party nintendo games lately, i’ve been on a roll getting caught up with series that i had previously completed but had new entries, so i thought i’d finish off new super luigi u, released as DLC for the wii u game new super mario bros. u as well as a standalone retail release.
i’d been somewhat disappointed in NSMBU overall when i finished playing through it early this year, and although it’s a completely solid game i, along with many others, found it to be far too close to the other games in the “new” super mario bros. series, particularly NSMB2 and NSMB wii. since NSLU was DLC, i was able to enjoy it as an expansion to NSMBU, so the fact that all the assets, the world map, and the boss fights, were identical to the main game didn’t really bother me. the level design is pretty solid (although some elements, such as yoshi, are as underused as in the main game), and the game changes things up a bit in significant ways. the obvious one, of course, is the fact that luigi is the main character and features the return of his trademark higher flutter jump (and slippier footing on the ground). the game also limits the levels to 100 seconds, which as a result makes them slightly more compact. the game is more challenging than the original, which is a plus for me, and to offset that the designers made nabbit a playable character who is invincible to enemies (but not pits, lava, etc.).
despite all the similarities, the game still manages to slip in some surprises. collecting all the star coins and finding all the secret exits is in general still very much worthwhile (although finding the exits in particular can be painfully arbitrary and somewhat a waste of time), but one nice surprise was the luigis hidden in every level. i hadn’t realized there was one in every level, but it’s a nice touch to the game, as it was released to celebrate the year of luigi. it would’ve been nice if there were some system to track that you’d found them all, but many of them are located near secrets anyway. there are also some other cute surprises, like special snowmen in the ice world. the miiverse integration is the same as NSMBU so it’s still a nice way to include a social element, although it’s kind of disappointing you can’t up vote esp. good comments or mark some as inappropriate.
overall this is an enjoyable game as DLC and as an expansion of NSMBU, even though it doesn’t really push the series forward at all. still, it’s nice to see luigi get a significant share of the spotlight.
check out these shiny li’l bro new super luigi u links:
– entry at mariowiki.com
– review at nintendolife.com
– info on a handful of easter eggs, etc. at gamefaqs
– video from nintendo’s staff showing off their super skillz
since the wii u version released today, i thought i would collect my thoughts on super smash bros. for nintendo 3DS. the 3DS version has been out for just shy of two months, and by now the new characters (which include two awesome, completely off-the-wall additions) have found their unique places amongst what has become an impressive roster of veteran fighters. sakurai, the director, has done a great job of sustaining the hype from the day the game was first announced to today, and as always the wild speculation over which characters would be included was pretty much a national pastime amongst nintendo fans until the final roster was revealed. although the story mode was cut in this iteration, the character reveal trailers were a great substitute and a great way to accompany the announcements of the new characters.
the first aspect of the game to consider is of course the characters. in general i would say the new characters don’t add as much uniqueness to the series overall as compared to the previous game’s batch, but there’s a lot of variety and they’re each satisfying to use (with perhaps the exception of the mii fighters who, because of their completely customizable nature, end up feeling oddly generic). although i miss the ice climbers and snake, their closest replacements (rosalina + luma and a hidden character) provide some of the same flavor and so are somewhat of a consolation. i like that previously combined characters such as samus and zero-suit samus have been made completely separate, and although it takes a lot of time to unlock all the options it’s also entertaining to play around with each character’s moveset variants. the game was intended to be more serious as a competitive game than its predecessor, and although i’m not an expert it seems like most people have been pretty happy with how it turned out in that regard. from the characters’ movesets overall it seems like the game requires a more deliberate play style than before (for example, a lot of the characters have countering moves or moves that put up a shield), but the game is still fast paced and fun at whatever level of skill you’re playing at.
in terms of modes, the game doesn’t really offer too many surprises with the exception of the new “smash run” mode. that mode feels very casual, and although it’s fun to battle against the mix of enemies from different series, the ending battle that decides the final outcome feels too random. having a portable smash bros. game is such a technical achievement that it feels churlish to complain, but its limitations are obvious. although many of the stages have fun gimmicks, the game only has a small number of them, even compared to brawl and esp. compared to the wii u version, and each stage only has two pieces of music. i’ve been playing it on a 3DS XL and the game fits decently well within the confines of that system’s screen size, but i imagine the game would feel much more cramped on a regular 3DS.
there’s not a lot more to say. the game doesn’t offer much in the way of new modes, but the series has always been about the core battling, and the new characters, tweaks to the old characters, and customizable moves provide a lot of great gameplay that will sustain us for the years we’ll have to wait until the next entry. the game is a solid entry in the series, and although overall the game feels limited on the 3DS compared to its big brother on wii u, being able to battle on the go definitely makes up for its limitations and it’s great to have both options.
[as a side note, for those interested as is my wont i spent most of my time playing with robin. as a long-time fan of the fire emblem series i was psyched to be able to finally play as a mostly magic-user, and although having his/her tomes and weapons break feels a bit pointless, overall his/her moveset is pretty enjoyable, if not super unique. looking forward to playing more with that character on wii u, as well as others i haven’t spent too much time with.]
smash with these little bro super smash bros. for nintendo 3DS links:
– official site, which includes all the character reveal videos
– review at nintendolife.com
– entry at ssbwiki.com
– entry at supersmashbros.wikia.com
– table of the series’ playable characters. squirtle and ivysaur = gone but not forgotten!
i caught up with the mario kart series by playing through mario kart 8 on wii u, although it was definitely more out of the need to be a completionist than any real interest in the game, sad to say. the previous entry in the series, mario kart 7 on 3DS, left me feeling pretty bored and jaded, and my overall experience with mario kart 8 didn’t really leave me feeling much different.
for me the pluses are all fairly minor. i appreciated that like its predecessor this game tones down the relentless onslaught of attacks by CPUs that was present in the wii edition. it’s nice to see the koopalings gain even more prominence by being included, although disappointing that it was at the expense of such long-time favorites as birdo. the game looks great in HD, although graphics have never been the main selling point for any game for me, and the use of jazzy live music is a nice addition. the inclusion of stamps for use in miiverse is a nice motivator to do some more single-player cup racing. the video highlights features are nice to have, although i haven’t been motivated to save any of mine, or view anyone else’s really. (similarly, the nerfed battle mode may have been a deal breaker to many, but i’ve never really been that interested in those modes anyway.) the new anti-gravity sections (which changes collisions such that you get a speed boost from them), “super horn” item (which allows you to destroy the dreaded blue shell), and upcoming unlockable costumes via amiibo are also nice to have, although none of these features are game changers.
basically everything else about the game is the same old story. coin collecting, custom parts, new and retro tracks (very few of which felt that memorable to me), air and water sections, motion controls, it’s all stuff we’ve seen before. the formula has really grown stale for me, and even though the previous entry was released two and a half years ago there wasn’t anything about this edition that excited me. the one thing i wasn’t expecting to enjoy so much was the physics, which make the karts feel like they have real weight, but that’s not enough to make me give the game more than a passing grade. even amongst nintendo series, the mario kart series has never been one that was very focused on innovation. the expansion of the universe to include other nintendo properties via DLC had potential, although i haven’t found the first batch of DLC to be that worthwhile personally. i’ll have to see if the second batch of DLC fares any better, or if i’m going to have to wait for the inevitable next installment to give me something to get excited about.
enjoy these weighty mario kart 8 links:
– entry at mariowiki.com
– review at nintendolife.com
– one of the original “luigi death stare” videos (and here’s the entry about it at knowyourmeme.com)
– official site
– mariokart.tv site
even though i’d recently “finished” warioware D.I.Y., i was so close to finishing up the 9 games of the warioware series that i went ahead and played through warioware D.I.Y. showcase on wiiware and game & wario on wii u.
first off, warioware D.I.Y. showcase does exactly what it sets out to do, which is provide a way for you to take your warioware D.I.Y. creations from your DS and view them on your TV via your wii. the touchscreen controls are replaced by moving the wiimote’s cursor and pressing its main button, and although these controls make things more difficult because it takes more time to move the cursor on wii than the stylus on the DS, overall the change in input works fine. games look pretty good in the transition from DS to TV, and the wiiware title also includes about half as many micro-games as the DS game (featuring the characters who were left out of the DS game, including more retro games thanks to 18-volt), all of which can be imported back to the DS game for use in making your own micro-games, and a small set of comics and songs. while nintendo had wi-fi support for this title you could also download new micro-games, but otherwise there’s not a whole lot to do and the $8 price tag does feel a bit on the high side. still, for fans of the DS title this would be a nice complement, and the warioware formula is surprisingly strong, as there are quite a few micro-games included that are as funny and memorable as any that have come before.
D.I.Y. showcase may have been pretty basic, but game & wario feels like a real step back. almost completely eschewing the series’ formula to date (i.e. an onslaught of micro-games to conquer), this game focuses on mini-games, pretty much none of which are that much fun. each mini-game has multiple levels, but only beating the first level is required to unlock the next mini-game. this keeps things moving along, but the mini-games themselves aren’t interesting enough to even warrant the extra levels. it’s pretty sad that i found i didn’t even want to play through all the levels, few as there were, and that unlocking each mini-game just resulted in another stab of disappointment instead of excitement. in their review nintendolife commented that one of the games felt “like it’s all been done before on mobile devices”, but i felt that way about pretty much all of them. many of the games felt like the developers were really straining to justify the wii u’s gamepad, and in that sense felt like nintendo land, which i found to be similarly tedious and also more like a series of tech demos than a gaming experience. my affection for the warioware cast was the main thing that kept me even remotely engaged, and the only other memorable experiences were the virtual toys whose wacky humor fans of the series should be familiar with; “gamer”, the mini-game that actually revisits the typical warioware formula (including some hilarious variations of familiar micro-games from the past) but with the added trickiness of having to hide the gamepad when your character’s mom is nearby; and the miiverse sketching game, which is basically a pictionary-type drawing game where you can select from other people’s prompts and then view others’ responses alongside your own.
it’s too bad that the most-recent two entries of the warioware series are so middling compared to the brilliance of the first titles, but i have hope that nintendo and intelligent systems will be able to turn things around from here. in the meantime i’ll be taking a look back at the series before too long, and will be looking forward to revisiting some of my favorites in the series.
big-screen warioware D.I.Y. showcase link:
– entry at mariowiki.com
although i’ve worked my way through quite a few series by now, including the zelda series, i haven’t finished any remakes of any of the games, or any replays. i recently dusted off the legend of zelda: four swords anniversary edition on DSiware not long ago, and finished up the last two stages that i was planning on tackling this playthrough, which were the last two (of three) bonus stages in the “realm of memories” (more on that later).
a little history lesson for people who may not already know. the four swords game was originally combined with the GBA remake of a link to the past, and at that time required two people to play (my post on that game is here). the game was succeeded by the gamecube game the legend of zelda: four swords adventures, which again focused on multiplayer, but didn’t require it since the game enabled you to switch between characters and change the configuration of your team (e.g. a horizontal or vertical line) as needed.
this remake is of the GBA game, although it’s a standalone release and, similar to the gamecube title, has the new feature that you can play it entirely solo (along with being able to switch between two characters, the AI jumps in and controls the other character when needed). the solo mode works perfectly well, and from that perspective the game is already a big improvement over the original version. however, other pluses are that it was a free download, and it enables simple-to-connect local co-op with DSis and 3DSes (as opposed to the GBA’s multi-link cable). the DSi and 3DS’s second screen is used to show the locations of the other players and the goal but isn’t an actual map; it functions more like a radar, just giving you a general sense of where things are relative to you.
but the big draw is that this release includes 18 additional stages, more than doubling the amount of content in the original. these take the form of the “hero’s trial” (more-difficult stages unlocked by winning 5 multiplayer matches or collecting 30,000 rupees), and the “realm of memories”. the “realm of memories” is particularly notable because these stages revisit familiar locations from past games (namely link to the past, link’s awakening, and the original NES title). although the link’s awakening stages are spot on (and even presented in black and white) and include the same sprites as the original game, i was slightly disappointed to find that the stages based on the original NES title used the same sprites as the link’s awakening stages, although that’s just me being nit-picky. aside from the layout and presentation, those stages don’t have much to do with the original games since they feature the same enemies and mechanics as the rest of the game, but it’s a nice bit of nostalgia and a great inclusion in this title which was released for the series’ 25th anniversary.
all in all this game is a definite improvement over the original and enjoyable overall, esp. with other players. although it includes more stages, the game does start feeling repetitive pretty quickly (although not nearly to the extent as four swords adventures which was a total slogfest), and it’s still somewhat annoying that you have to beat all the regular stages three times in order to get the final ending (which i just don’t have the patience for). the zelda series has always been about the exploration and the puzzles, and so since this game is more focused on combat and multiplayer there’s not much chance it will rank that high in my list of favorites in the series. still, it’s nice to have a change of pace compared to the rest of the series, and it was fun to see familiar locales from previous games in a new setting.
don’t go solo without these the legend of zelda: four swords anniversary edition links:
– official site, although somewhat barebones
– entry at zeldawiki.org
– review at nintendolife.com
– list of unlockables at gamefaqs