Shaun White Skateboarding
Look at Shaun White
Look at Shaun White’s stupid smile
Shaun White has a skateboarding videogame
It’s made by Ubisoft
It’s a story-focused adventure
You have to turn a grey, lifeless town of conformists into an exciting colourful town of free-thinking individuals
You do this by skateboarding next to them
Boring men in suits turn into cool skateboarders
Boring grey town cars turn into cool purple The Fast and The Furious modded sportscars
Boring independent shops turn into Wendy’s restaurants
You have to buy tailslides in it
Shaun White Skateboarding is available for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii and PC.
10:47 pm • 18 October 2014 • 6 notes
The Wii U Gamecube Controller Adapter is more exciting than they’re letting on
SECOND EDIT - According to Nintendo UK spokesperson, the listing did just get the product’s features really weirdly wrong. http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2014-10-08-wii-u-gamecube-controller-adaptor-compatible-with-more-than-just-smash-bros
EDIT - Nintendo UK Store listing has now been changed to remove any specifics about the adapter’s functionality. I assume this is not how they wanted to make this announcement, and not that the original listing was wrong.
Just putting this up here, because nobody else seems to have picked up on this yet.
A few months ago, Nintendo announced that Super Smash Bros. for Wii U would support Gamecube controllers. That was nice. Nobody really knew too many specifics beyond the fact it would use a USB converter. Now, a Nintendo UK store listing gives us an idea of how it’ll work.
This adapter will allow you to connect your GameCube controller to the Nintendo Wii or Wii U. Connect your GameCube controller to your Wii or Wii U console. Compatible with all games supported by the Wii Classic Controller, Wii Classic Controller Pro and Wii U Pro Controller.
This suggests that the Gamecube adapter will let you use a Gamecube controller in lieu of a Classic Controller on both the Wii U and Wii. Seemingly, this would also apply to the Wii U in Wii Mode.
It’s a subtle distinction, but it makes a world of difference to the applications of the device. Specifically, it’ll add Gamecube controller support to the handful of weird Wii games that supported the Classic Controller, but not the Gamecube controller (Xenoblade Chronicles, The Last Story, No More Heroes 2, etc.) as well as the long list of Wii U games with Classic Controller or Pro Controller support (Super Mario 3D World, Hyrule Warriors, Pikmin 3, etc.).
Seemingly, this little adapter will have a wealth of different applications, including giving Gamecube owners a decent contol option for Mario Kart 8 multiplayer without having them buy over £100 of new equipment. As someone who’s already very fond of the Gamecube controller, and has about 6 of the things, I find the idea very exciting.
The adapter itself is maybe a little pricey for some people, but if you’re buying Smash Bros anyway, you can buy a bundle with the adapter that effectively only adds £5 to the price of the game.
There is always the possibility that the listing is misreporting how the adapter functions, but to get it wrong with this many weirdly specific details about how it works? And from an official source? I doubt it.
8:22 am • 8 October 2014 • 2 notes
Something about Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS
I don’t want to write a review. I’ve not even played as every character yet. I’ve unlocked them all though, and I think I’ve got a sufficient grasp on what the game is at this point, and that the way I’m thinking about it now will be relevant to some people.
The one thing I want to clarify is how I’ve always seen Smash Bros - It’s not a fighting game. Fighting games are technical, and about moves and technical inputs and stuff. Smash Bros is a competitive platformer. It’s about watching your speed and position, and whether or not you can make a jump, and nailing landings. A lot of people approach it as a fighting game, but get put off by its apparent lack of depth and skill, but viewing it as a weird competitive platformer makes much more sense of everything. I mean, it’s a game about not falling off a platform. That’s a platformer (shut up about sumo). All the nonsense piled on top of it feels more welcome when it’s a Rolo to the Rescue contemporary than a rival to Garou.
The thing that everybody gets excited about Smash Bros for, however, is all the stuff. All the modes, the characters, the music, the stages, the trophies, the cameos… there’s so much stuff in a Smash Bros game. There’s loads of stuff in the 3DS one. It’s stunning that it’s running off a little cart in a thing that’s not even as good as a Gamecube. But you kind of have to view it from that angle. It’s a handheld Smash Bros game. It’s not the big new Smash Bros game.
I think a lot of people remember their first weeks with Melee and Brawl as big moments in their lives. Something equatable to a new Grand Theft Auto or numbered Metal Gear Solid. Things that took over their lives for dense, focused stretches. Every chance to play a multiplayer game was a big event, and all the time between those opportunities was focused on hacking away at this huge expanse of unlockable content. Melee’s introduction of trophies and strangely demanding character unlocks made every playsession exciting. Brawl’s incredible ambition in every direction made the game seem limitless and unpredictable, especially when it broke taboos about third-party crossovers. Smash Bros 3DS seems like a step backwards from that.
I mean, of course, it would have to be. How could the 3DS game possibly not be? But, it’s still something of a shame. Music, levels, and voice samples are often taken straight from previous games. The character roster seems patchy, with some character choices reportedly being made on the basis of hardware limitations. New levels rarely show the ambition or scope of some of the series’ highlights. There’s far too many reasons that Smash Bros 3DS feels safe and conservative in relation to the previous series of insane, flailing sequels. But it should, right? It’s the handheld one.
And that’s the thing. If this is “just the handheld one”, it’s absolutely fine. In fact, it’s an astonishing achievement. But the worry is that what has been shown in this game gives a fair idea of what to expect for the Wii U one - the one that ought to be as big a deal as Brawl was, six (fucking hell!) years ago.
There’s a distinct lack of identity in SSB3DS. There’s little in it that substantially sets it apart from the previous two games. Remember when Brawl was announced? Remember how bright it was? Remember the floating ruins? Remember how detailed everything seemed? Remember them announcing, fucking, Solid Snake? It was so bold and distinctive. Everything about the new games feels more in line with what we’d expect from a series of annual updates. Even the lack of a proper title seems very telling about Nintendo’s lack of desire to give them a proper sense of identity.
Now, it’s entirely possible that this is a very calculated move. They’re releasing two very similar games within a very short space of time, and they’ll have to run the well dry on hype for the less exciting one before they can shift the attention to the more exciting one. But how different is it really going to be? They say all the characters will be the same? Is there really all that much to a Smash Bros game besides characters? It’s a concern. Maybe not a terribly important one, but it would be a shame for something as mad as the Super Smash Bros games to finally calm down.
For now, I’m happy to accept this game as an incredibly generous accessory to the bonkers hypothetical Brawl sequel I’m forming in my head. I hope that’s what it is.
12:42 am • 4 October 2014 • 2 notes
EGX 2014 follow-up
This past weekend, the Earl’s Court Exhibition Centre in London hosted a big, humid games event, and invited loads of developers and publishers to show off their new games. I took the long trip down from Dundee to play the games, and destroy my clothes in litres of hot bodily fluid.
Here’s some details about the parts I’m happy to discuss.
Alien: Isolation (PS4)
This was a nice surprise. I like the Alien films (all two of them), but I hadn’t paid much attention to this game. I wasn’t expecting to really make much of it, so I’m happy to say it was a highlight for me. The EGX demo gave players 10 minutes to make their way from one side of a map to the other, avoiding a 9-foot tall xenomorph. Really simple set-up. It worked, though. You’re constantly trying to spy routes through corridors, that will keep you hidden and without obstructing your path too much. You can keep track of the alien by holding a button to pull up a motion tracker. This gives you a limited reading of what’s ahead of you, while blurring your peripheral vision. In the dark, late-seventies science fiction decor, it’s easy to miss something in front of you, and I died far too many times trying to get past the alien. It’s a simple game, but one that mixes stealth and survival horror elements well, while keeping refreshingly faithful to the source material. I think I’m going to get this.
Azure Striker Gunvolt (3DS)
No idea. I played about a minute of this, starting at a boss, and died twice. Looks really nice, and feels a lot like Mega Man Zero, but I’d have to play it from the start before I could start to make sense of it.
Bayonetta 2 (Wii U)
I wasn’t looking forward to Bayonetta 2, but I was curious. I played a lot of Bayonetta 1, but I never really “got it” the way so many other people have reported they did. I don’t know if I can really communicate what I don’t enjoy about it, but I was hoping it was the controls. Given the opportunity to try the new game with stylus controls, I was eager to test it. The DS version of Ninja Gaiden was transformed by how physical and meaningful every input felt. I hoped an IP with a lot of 10/10 review scores behind it would have been inspired by how great a control set-up that was. Nope. Just tap the enemies, and Bayonetta will attack them in some way. Wasted opportunity. QTE sequences ask you to tap one small, stationary icon at the bottom of the screen to progress. A real disappointment. Otherwise, the game seemed to be very in line with the first one. Fairly simple combat, and big daft stuff spinning around it. People seem to want that. I’ll be skipping it.
Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker (Wii U)
I’m really excited about this game. The levels cleverly make use of puzzle and platforming ideas in an innovative and charming context. Based on the levels I’ve seen so far, the game’s going to offer a lot of variety and memorable moments. It’s a bit of a shame that actually playing the demo didn’t affect my interest at all. I’d already seen the solutions to the levels that were demoed during Nintendo’s extensive promotion of the game in their Treehouse live streams, and actually playing them didn’t seem too exciting. All that the demo really did was make me worry for the game’s replay value. I’d probably be better off forgetting I played it.
Fantasy Life (3DS)
A cool looking game that seems to blend elements of LEVEL-5 RPGs, like Dragon Quest IX and Ni no Kuni with elements of life simulators, like Animal Crossing and Harvest Moon, giving you different character classes to pick, allowing for entirely different ways to play the game. There was no way I was going to get anything out of it on a demo booth, though, so I left it after about ten seconds.
Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA F 2nd (PS3)
Dunno if I can really say much about this. I’m sure the game’s doing things that will enthrall and delight and inspire tattoos, but only for its intended audience of hardcore Vocaloid fans. Playing it as a general rhythm action fan? Yeah, it’s fun. It works. The songs are fast-paced and fun. Just seems exactly like the first one did to me.
Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number (PS4)
I’m very happy with this. The first game established its controls and ideas with refreshing confidence, pushing the player every step of the way. The second builds on that. The core of the game is unchanged, but new abilities and ideas punctuate levels with unique highlights. We rarely get map editors on games this good, so I’m thrilled to hear they’re including one in this. I didn’t see any big surprises, but I totally welcome the idea that this game is getting more exciting.
Kirby & The Rainbow Curse (Wii U)
Here’s a game I was really happy to have got a chance to play. I love Kirby games, but the heavily praised Canvas Curse did little for me. It was a loose puzzle action game in abstract settings. Solutions were often quite strict, and the control system didn’t really fit them. That seems to be the thing Nintendo have focused on with this spiritual sequel. Rainbow Curse plays up to the series’ platforming heritage, with expansive levels full of optional pick-ups and hidden pathways. This isn’t a puzzle game anymore, but rather a proper action game. Flying through the open skies, looking for things to collect and enemies to fight is fun, and given the forgiving difficulty of Kirby games, it feels as lighthearted as the plasticine art style suggests. Rainbow Curse feels like the game I wanted NiGHTS into Dreams to be. A real highlight of Nintendo’s show. Very excited about the full release.
LA Cops (PC)
One of the few games I knew nothing about before EGX, but quite a nice one. LA Cops is a top-down shooter, much like Hotline Miami, but its twist is that it’s based around a buddy cop system. You pick two partners before starting a mission, and you can switch between them at will, bursting into rooms and shooting criminals. The character switching mechanic didn’t play too heavily in the levels I tried, but I expect as you get onto harder levels, you’ll have opportunities to trap enemies and solve light puzzles by looking after where you’ve kept your guys. The game looks great, with a low-detail cel shaded look, and a full 3D camera, allowing you to peak into upcoming rooms. A modest game, but one I was pleasantly surprised by.
OlliOlli2: Welcome to Olliwood (PS4)
The best surprise of the show for me was on Thursday, before I even arrived, Roll7 announced a sequel to a game I loved and immediately made it playable on the show floor. OlliOlli was a game about making tricky combos through sparse, clean environments. Jumping between suspended rails and over long stepsets, while trying to exploit every opportunity to boost your score. The sequel offers much more variety, exciting level features, and potential for experimentation. Fans of the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series will know how much adding techniques like manuals and reverts can offer a game like this. OlliOlli is even more focused on combos than THPS ever was, and in hindsight after playing OlliOlli2, it seems strange that there were parts of the old levels that didn’t offer any opportunities for combos. The new levels are just as tricky to run through, but the new techniques let you make use of every part of them. New level features, like ramps and split pathways further add to the player’s options. I really loved playing this demo. I loved how much sense everything made. It’s the only game of the show I’m going to struggle to go without for the next few months.
Shovel Knight (Wii U)
Shovel Knight’s been out for ages, but not on the Wii U in Europe. Surprisingly slow localisation and certification work has been keeping it away from the eShop, and even the developers don’t know when it’ll be out. It’s a relief to confirm that the game I’ve already put money towards is actually really good. Shovel Knight pays homage to Capcom’s NES games, but it actually seems quite a bit better than them. The controls are intuitive and satisfying, offering a lot of options to the player. Bouncing on the shovel is snappy and fun, while attacks feel weighty. Unless you’re part of the small demographic that I’m in, you’d be better off buying the Steam release than waiting for it to come to the Wii U and 3DS, but if you’re looking for a new game for one of those systems before the end of the year, you should definitely have a look at Shovel Knight.
Splatoon (Wii U)
A big draw at Nintendo’s stand was an 8-player demo of their new competitive shooter, Splatoon. I was concerned about how a territorial marking game might discourage direct interaction, but the game’s mechanics have taken this in mind. You have to cover as much of the map as possible in your team’s colours, but painting a surface comes with other advantages. You can transform into a squid, and travel along the paint, letting you navigate the map quicker. If you’re swimming behind teammates, you’ll slipstream and swim faster. If an enemy walks on your paint, it’ll slow them down. You can paint vertical surfaces to swim up them, or even paint in front of a gap so you can gain enough speed to jump across it. There’s a lot of ways to play Splatoon, and I think it’s going to be a lot of fun to get good at it. I’m still not sure how it’ll pan out as a full game, but it’s definitely got a really promising multiplayer mode.
The Evil Within (PS4)
I think most agreed this was the big disappointment of the show. Not because it was bad, but because it really didn’t demo well. Bethesda spent a lot on covering the exhibition centre in huge Evil Within ads, but gave players around 5 minutes with their slow demo. My demo crashed early on (I’ve heard several people tell me this happened on their playthroughs on both the PS4 and Xbox One), cutting my brief time even shorter. The demo let players walk through a few rooms, and see a few things, but didn’t really let them experiment with the game and find out if they enjoyed it. I really hope this new Shinji Mikami game is good, but this experience gave me little to build any faith upon.
Trials Fusion (Xbox One)
Again, this has been out for a while, but I hadn’t played it before. Trials Evolution was probably my favourite Xbox 360 exclusive (until it came out on the PC) and it didn’t surprise me much that Fusion felt much the same. Fun new enivronments and ideas, but it’s still really just a game about shifting your weight across big rollercoaster tracks. Good game. I enjoyed it. I look forward to owning something I can play it on.
Volume seems right up my street. An almost single-minded tribute to Metal Gear Solid 1’s VR Missions, with clever new gadgets and gimmicks. The game works well. Better than MGS: Special Missions. While MGS’s VR stuff took mechanics from a story based action adventure game and repurposed them, every idea in Volume has been designed for an abstract, stealth based puzzle game. Items don’t have to make real world sense, as long as you can understand what they do and how to use them. The addition of a map editor should make this a strong addition to the Vita’s library. I’m not quite so keen on the Portal 2-style comedy narration, but maybe playing the full game will make more sense of it.
Yoshi’s Woolly World (Wii U)
I’ve always considered Yoshi’s Island to be one of the more overrated of Nintendo’s platformers, so I’m really happy I love this game so much in spite of that. I played a brief co-op game through a level that let you make platforms from the trail behind a thrown egg. We made paths for each other, we ate each other, we spat each other out into Pirhana Plants. It was great fun. The multiplayer in Yoshi’s Woolly World is taken straight from New Super Mario Bros Wii, but in a floatier, more forgiving game, with more physical abilities, it works much better. I look forward to seeing how much variety there is between levels, and how much fun the single player game is, but I think this stands out as my favourite Nintendo game of the show.
That’s about all the new games I played. I saw some stuff (including some really nice Amiibo figures) and played some old stuff, but this has taken long enough already. Cheers for the press pass, guys.
9:21 pm • 30 September 2014 • 3 notes
PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale
I shouldn’t keep going on about it, but I think I’m looking for catharsis.
You know that thing when your old pals have made friends with someone who used to bully you in school, and you find yourself having a drink with them? And you gloss over your differences for the sake of it? And then they say something racist, and everyone else laughs, and the best thing you can think to do is to go home early and not really talk about it?
You know that thing when you’re pulling in a lot of favours to get some ridiculous opportunity? And then you have to deal with the bit you really weren’t looking forward to? And you feel like it wasn’t worth it? And then you find out it definitely wasn’t?
You know that thing where you’re so uncomfortable in a situation where the best thing to do either seems to be to totally intoxicate yourself or to find the most immediate way to completely detach yourself from it?
You know that thing where you’re forced to lie?
You know that thing where you doubt the value of your life choices?
You know that thing where you never want to see someone you loved, ever again?
Aye. That thing.
11:35 am • 4 September 2014 • 8 notes
Fuck it. Let’s do a review.
It doesn’t need to be hard. It doesn’t need to be clever. It doesn’t need to be funny. It doesn’t need to cover everything. Just do one.
What’s a game? What’s a game? Erm, Tomodachi Life. That’s a game.
What’s that? It’s not really a game, is it? It’s like a lot of little boxes you press your stylus on.
The appeal is, you can make people in it. You don’t just make an avatar. You make people with distinct personalities. They’ll form their own friendships and maybe start dating. That’s about it, really. The rest of it is dressing them up, feeding them and watching them go trough the same animations day after day.
You can give them toys, which will trigger the same animations over and over again. You can try to write them songs, though you can’t edit anything about the melodies or syllables or animations. You can play with them, which is boring. You can do very little else.
Then why, why, why have I played this much of it?
I don’t know. I’m mentally ill. I think I warm to things that have an illusion of personality to them. I wonder how two little NPCs will get along, and if they’ll get married, and how ugly their children will be, and if I’ll ever get any fucking StreetPass for this fucking game. It’s an ongoing, ridiculously shallow drama that slightly develops over different days. I’m ashamed to say I even get a little bit happy when an NPC based on someone I like is happy with something I’ve done for them.
Tomodachi Life isn’t a game I want to recommend. I might even think a little less of you if you go around recommending it to 3DS owners (people who would be better off buying about 30 other games (especially A Link Between Worlds), but I’ve played too much of this to suggest there’s nothing in it. It’s a far more unique game than the constant Animal Crossing comparisons give it credit for, and I don’t think I’m even part of the demographic that will get the most out of the game. It’s for gossipers. People who are excited by speculating whether or not people they know would be compatible. I don’t have any interest in that. Or at least, I don’t think I do. I can’t deny how much I’ve played Tomodachi Life.
1:17 pm • 7 August 2014
Please more skateboarding games please
You know what’s sickening? “Skateboarding is a fad”. Skateboarding is a “fad”, but cricket is a “sport”. That’s why we get loads middle aged mens’ shitty interests get celebrated all the time in this industry, but the fact that Activision totally fucked things up with stupid gimmicks and Tony Hawk knows fuck all about videogames (seriously, they’re consulting this guy about which formats to develop for) means publishers are nervous about doing anything with a skateboard in it. And that’s awful.
Let’s ignore how cool skateboarding may or may not be, and focus on how fucking great it is for videogame design. Unlike most other sports, skateboarding isn’t strictly defined. It’s what happens when someone goes on a skateboard *somewhere*. It isn’t necessarily about tricks or speed or famous men or anything. For ages, everybody thought skateboarding was basically just dancing with a toy, and then Rodney Mullen came out from 5 years of practicing in a barn to show us all how amazing cities were. It’s something that can develop within diverse constraints. It’s something that allows people to reconsider what they have to work with, and create ways to utilise it. Any environment becomes more interesting when reconsidered for its potential in a different context, and that’s what skateboarding is about - Thinking about what’s ahead of you and what can be done with it.
I think skateboarding should be added to every game. In games where you travel long distances over areas that are designed to compliment a set of defined mechanics (though that’s becoming less common, now the west’s so fucking enamoured with QTEs and scripted sequences, but never mind), it’s fun to think what cool skateboarding moves you could do there. It’s also a really great way to celebrate level design. Think of the poor bastards who had to model huge cities for games like Driver: San Francisco and Need for Speed: Most Wanted, where the only thing of interest was the roads. Wouldn’t it be great if we could spend some time discovering the potential of all those pavements and plazas and rooftops? Appreciating all of that effort?
There’s no one way to do a skateboarding game. There’s not a thing that it has to be. It doesn’t even really need to have a skateboard in it. I think it can be argued that Sonic the Hedgehog and Scram Kitty are kind of skateboarding games, too. All those curvy levels offering different approaches and spectacular high-flying moments. Thinking about skateboarding is a good way to make racing games and platformers more interesting. Make people want to replay your game. Linearity can be fine, if you give players enough gratifying, fun options within that.
You don’t have to get skateboarding right. Go Vacation certainly doesn’t get skateboarding right, but the inclusion of skateboards in its city area made the whole place much more fun to explore. You were allowed to connect combos on suspended rails and ride up the sides of huge buildings. Free roaming would have been much more boring without it.
I think I’m rambling now, and this is turning into a terrible update. But, AH GOD! SKATEBOARDING GAMES! Don’t stop making them!
11:26 am • 25 June 2014 • 7 notes
Early impressions - Scram Kitty and His Buddy on Rails - Wii U
What the fuck is “Scram Kitty and His Buddy on Rails”? I think that’s the question. I’ll try to describe it, though.
Scram Kitty is a top-down shooter with complex maze-style level design. You navigate by clinging to the walls, and jumping between surfaces. You always aim away from the wall, so the angle and curvature of each surface is important for attacking enemies. You have to carry out at least one goal per level, but completing additional goals will unlock levels faster.
I tried to make that as simple as possible, but Scram Kitty is a mad mix of different mechanics and influences. It’s Future Cop: LAPD meets N+ meets Bangai-O meets Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater meets Super Mario Galaxy meets Sonic the Hedgehog meets Kuru Kuru Kururin meets meets meets meets meets. The elements are old, but the blend is strikingly unique.
It’s a game with a steep learning curve, and your first couple of hours will mainly consist of trying to figure out how to play the thing. Not only do you have to get your head around the concept, but you’ll need to learn the nuances of each power-up, enemy and level gimmick, as well as the subtle and complex physics. This is a gamer’s game. Mechanics and learning through experimentation take precedence over all else.
And that’s one of the most surprising things. At a first glance, you’d be justified for thinking this was a cartoon mascot game. Scram Kitty is a cartoon cat, and you go about saving cartoon cats from cartoon mice, but that has very little bearing on the style and atmosphere of the game. This is a game about making it through narrow corridors filled with bullets. Scram Kitty himself only appears in a supporting role, giving you tips on the TV. He’s little more than a mascot for the game. If this was given an abstract foreign-sounding title, it would clash with your expectations far less, but I guess there’s a persuasive character designer at Dakko Dakko.
Then there’s the reason that this isn’t a review - As much as I like Scram Kitty and want to talk about it, I don’t really expect to complete it. There aren’t a lot of levels in the game, but unlocking some of the later ones will require you to complete an increasing number of challenges on the previous ones. Challenges that ask you to take out a hidden enemy are tricky, but entirely doable. Challenges that ask you to race from one side of a level to another, and then a few other places under a strict time limit, require you to learn a level inside-out, figuring out the best angles to jump from and precisely which short cuts are the quickest. These are the kinds of challenges that I find the most daunting. That said, learning levels and really paying attention to what works is one of the most compelling aspects of Scram Kitty.
This is a special Wii U exclusive that will definitely appeal to fans of old skill-based games where victories are earned, and never handed over. If that sounds like you, you really should put some time into this. If I ever put in enough time to complete the thing, I’ll follow this up with a proper review.
9:52 pm • 15 May 2014 • 3 notes
I’m going to write some things about some of the games I’ve been playing recently, but didn’t review. They’re all Nintendo games, because I’m not interested in anybody else’s games right now, and I want to earn enough points for the Super Mario 3D World soundtrack.
NES Remix 2 (Wii U)
This is a better game than the first one by default, because it bases its challenges on better games. NES Remix 1 had levels based on Ice Climbers and Wrecking Crew and stuff, and I didn’t want to play them, though there was an odd charm to some of the challenges. NR2 has a bit more fun with its challenges too, with more ambitious Remix stages that can be clever, cute or silly. There’s also a couple of little bonuses, including a mirrored version of Super Mario Bros. Sitting down to play NES games for a while is a nice time, and these games offer a new reason to do that. If you were interested in the first, but didn’t pick it up because of the price, consider this one.
Dr Luigi (Wii U)
This is an oddity. An overpriced end-result of people going mad about this whole “Year Of Luigi” half-joke, half-concerted-effort-to-make-the-most-out-of-a-second-tier-character. It’s not exactly what you’d be quite justified for assuming it is though, as it offers a new mode that surprisingly mixes up the core gameplay much more than you’d think it would. Dr Mario is a game that you can play very methodically, saving up colours to pay off later in big combos and stuff, but Dr Luigi’s new mode gives you pieces to play with that are twice as big. The Luigi part is down to the L-shape of each block, but that means you have to consider the vertical and horizontal position of each block in a way that you wouldn’t have to in with the traditional rules. It’s not massively different, but it does make show that there was an idea to this game, besides reskinning a NES puzzle game to fit in with a fad, and charging too much for it.
Kirby’s Adventure Wii (Wii)
Found this at a relatively affordable price (relative to the daft online prices, anyway) and picked it up, despite the imminent 3DS sequel. It’s a really well done Kirby game, but there’s not much more to say about it. Levels are nice and varied, everything is presented really nicely and clearly, and there’s a decent number of side-objectives for more ambitious players. It’s a great introduction to the series, and a great first platformer for young players. The oddest thing is how much this somewhat overlooked game has in common with the hyped-up Kirby Triple Deluxe. Both games look, and seem to operate almost identically. Adventure Wii even has the same Mega abilities that seems to be advertised as a new feature in Triple Deluxe. I’ll find out if there’s much of a difference between the games very soon, other than the second-hand prices.
Kirby Air Ride (Gamecube)
Another pricey Kirby game I got a fairly good deal on. This is a weird racing game. It’s focused on a one-button input, and a lot of external variants to add depth. That’s pretty much what Sakurai does - he polishes a simple core structure and covers it in flashy nonsense. This feels a lot like the more recent Smash Bros games or Kid Icarus: Uprising. You can unlock a variety of wildly diverse vehicles that allow you to win races in different ways. Courses generally feature a lot of optional routes, passive enemy characters with copyable abilities and gimmicks that be ignored or exploited, depending on how you want to play. The whole game seems to be tailored towards multiplayer. The game’s full of unlockables, but the game doesn’t really care too much if you come in first in a race. It rewards you for playing the game a lot, and trying different things. There’s a couple of extra modes that are about as fleshed out as the core Air Ride mode. They’re messy and odd, but they’re focused on making competitive multiplayer an exciting thing to come back to. If you’ve got people to play this with, this might make an odd little highlight to your Gamecube collection.
Excite Truck (Wii)
And another odd racing game. This was a Wii launch title with a lot working against it, which has driven down second-hand prices, meaning this is a total fucking must-have now. Excite Truck isn’t a traditional racing game. Racing isn’t so much about coming in first as it is about earning points. You earn points by driving like a madman. Rush through a forest, jump over a lake, or knock your opponent off a cliff, and you’ll earn big points for it. You’ll get rewarded with more points for coming in first, but I’ve managed to set high scores without finishing in the top three. This is a big, dumb arcadey game without a ounce of simulation in it. There’s rings to jump through, power-ups that morph the environment, and you can steer in midair. There’s not many games like this now, and far fewer that are anywhere near as good. Steering is tilt controlled, but it actually works pretty well here, letting you lean back into jumps and drift effortlessly. The most divisive element of the game is how much of the game is hidden away until you achieve S-ranks on every track. You’ll likely have to repeat races over and over until you’re lucky enough to make a perfect run on them. This is a refreshingly silly and energetic game though, and one you’ll be able to get for about a fiver without much hassle. You should get this.
Metroid Fusion (Gameboy Advance via Wii U)
Playing Super Metroid on the Wii U last year was a big deal to me. I loved it. This doesn’t really hold up in comparison, and lot of that is down to how it’s been modernised. I’m always banging on about lonely atmospheres and disorienting environments in games, as if they’re a good thing, because I’m a fucking weirdo. I think they’re central to what makes Metroid so good though. You’re supposed to be banging against walls, trying to figure out what to make of ancient ruins made by alien bird men. Metroid Fusion plops you in a space station with cordoned off rooms, and a computer telling you where to go. It’s not about finding out where to go, but rather, just going there. Metroid Fusion relies on the strength of its shallow, repetitive combat, instead of its gadgets and strange locations. It’s less of an issue than I’m making it out to be, but it’s what makes this game far less engaging and memorable than Super Metroid. That’s the problem that runs throughout the game, but by its closing hours, Metroid Fusion turns into a mess of cluttered hallways and ridiculous bosses. And the bosses look shit. This is still worth playing, and one of the more interesting Gameboy Advance exclusives, but don’t try telling me this is on par with Super Metroid.
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze (Wii U)
I’ve never been wild about Donkey Kong Country, but they’re good games, and I’m happy to play them. That’s about as excited as I can get about Tropical Freeze. It’s a lovely looking game with a lot of variety in its levels, and some really clever moments, but I’m just not all that into it. I’m not sure if I can totally pinpoint what it is, but I can try. I don’t have a problem with the game’s difficulty, but I’m not sure I really get much enjoyment out of the levels that are designed with so few options to try. Mario levels are linear, but they’re wide open, and you can approach things in a lot of different ways. DKC’s levels pretty much require you to play levels in very specific ways. There’s not many ways to successfully play these levels. I’m not sure if that’s the problem I have with the game, though, since I could say the same about Super Meat Boy, and I loved pretty much every minute of that. I don’t know if I even have that much of a problem with it. I like the game. I wanted to buy it less than a year after I bought Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D. I enjoy playing it. I just don’t have much attachment to it, and I don’t get excited about the idea of playing it. This is all very subjective, and unhelpful, but luckily, I’ve formatted this as an update instead of a review, so I don’t feel any obligation to tell you whether or not you should buy this. Fuck it. Wii U releases have been so slow since Christmas that if there was any chance of you picking this up, you’ve probably already done it. Why would I want to review this now?
2:00 am • 7 May 2014 • 4 notes