Tagged "Wii U"

MarioKart81
Jun 06
By Matt Gander In Reviews No Comments

By their nature, racing games are perfect system showcases. The rivalry between Saturn and PlayStation launch titles Daytona USA and Ridge Racer in particular had the ‘90s gaming press frothing with excitement. Even before that Nintendo’s F-Zero impressed just about everyone who laid eyes on it. Hot on the heels of F-Zero came the legendary Super Mario Kart – a game that made anything on the Mega Drive look positively bland in comparison.

Mario Kart DS and Mario Kart 7 showed that the respective handhelds were no slouch when it came to throwing around polygons, while Mario Kart Wii proved that the console was more than just a GameCube in a slimmer case.

This brings us nicely onto Mario Kart 8. To say it looks sensational would be an understatement. A genuine treat for the eyes, there’s no way somebody could say the Wii U is underpowered after catching even the slightest glimpse of it in motion. Colourful and vibrant throughout, the frame rate doesn’t falter even with twelve beautifully animated characters on the track at once. The MKTV replays look better still, removing the on-screen clutter while adding a subtle filter.

MarioKart82

Rather than refine the series or take it back to basics, Mario Kart 8 builds upon its 3DS predecessor with a few notable tweaks here and there. That means the hang gliding and underwater sections are back for a second time, whilst the track selection is a mixture of new and old. Love them or hate them, bikes make a return as well. Cornering while on two wheels is trickier than before, but the pay-off is made slightly more rewarding because of it.

The majority of karts and bikes are locked to begin with, becoming available once enough coins have been collected. Half the characters are locked at the start too, including all six of the Koopa siblings and a few surprise faces. New vehicle parts unlock at such a steady rate that almost every victory earns something new, even if it is just a glider with a different motif.

Innovation comes not just from the aforementioned MKTV replays – which can be edited and shared online – but also from new anti-gravity strips that send Mario and chums upside down and vertically along walls. Handling becomes slightly slippery, allowing for some big power-slides… which of course provide those all-important speed boosts. Even the revamped retro tracks have been freshened up with an anti-grav strip or two, along with the occasional underwater section.

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NintendoE3T
Jun 11
By Matt Gander In Blog No Comments

If we were asked to describe the special E3 Nintendo Direct in one word, that word would be “safe”.

The itinerary read like a list of everything we expected, with very little in the way of surprises. That’s unless you count Bayonetta receiving a new haircut, anyway.

Pokemon X & Y started the pre-recorded exposé off, with the announcement of an 18th Pokemon type – fairy. Giggle all you want – this new type is super effective against dragons. The lovely looking sequel will also have some virtual pet elements that let you feed and play with your Pokemon to “form a bond” between them.

Mario3DWorld

No time was wasted introducing the promised Super Mario 3D World for Wii U. It’s a continuation of the Super Mario 3D Land series, viewed from a very similar perspective. A few people on our Twitter feed even mistook it for a new 3DS game, due to it sharing the chunky visual-style. Iwata drew a comparison with Super Mario Bros. 2 – four different characters are playable and each has their own unique skill, including Peach’s ability to float. Mario can also don a cat costume that allows him to run along walls and pounce on enemies. If Nintendo doesn’t bring back Mouser for one of the boss battles then that would be something of a missed opportunity.

MarioKart8

Mario Kart 8 was another title Nintendo had previously promised to show, and the Kyoto giant really delivered the goods with this one – it looks superb. Visually it’s very appealing, plus there’s a sprinkling of innovation – the karts (and bikes!) can transform into futuristic-looking vehicles that are able to drive along walls and such. Underwater and gliding sections feature too, as per Mario Kart 7. Nintendo claimed that the online modes will be far greater in number than ever before. The bad news? It’s not out until next year. This is something of a blow – if there was one game almost certain to make the Wii U fly off shelves this Christmas, it would be this.

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Mass_effect_3_special_edition_wii_u_cover_art
May 14
By Matt Gander In Blog 6 Comments

EA’s relationship with Nintendo was rocky even before the Wii U was released. Word has it that the publisher’s negativity towards the system stems from a deal to incorporate Origin into the Wii U’s network, which Nintendo quickly decided against.

FIFA13WiiUGamePad

Come launch day, EA provided just three titles to ship alongside the Wii U – FIFA 13, Mass Effect 3 and the US-only Madden 13.

Skip forward to six months after launch and the system has received just one other release – Criterion’s polished but belated conversion of Need for Speed: Most Wanted.

EA’s promises to bring “their biggest brands to Wii U” first fell short after news broke that Crysis 3 was up and running on Wii U but cancelled. Then last week the Wii U received perhaps its biggest blow so far – 14 “major titles” won’t be making an appearance, due to EA claiming that their Frostbite engine “doesn’t run well on Wii U”.

we could even end up with the scenario of FIFA 14 appearing on Wii but not Wii U

Two weeks ago we would have said that FIFA 14 on Wii U would be a safe bet. FIFA games tend to be strong sellers all year around, and so it’s likely a profit would eventually be made no matter how small. Now having heard that this year’s Madden is a no-go we are starting to have doubts. Due to its large user base, we could even end up with the scenario of FIFA 14 appearing on Wii but not Wii U. Just think how embarrassing that would be for Nintendo.

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NinjaGaidenWiiU
Jan 14
By Matt Gander In UK Charts No Comments

It’s not just the weather that’s currently freezing in the UK – the top five titles in the top 40 are in identical places to last week. This means that FIFA 13 is #1 for a second week running.

SEGA’s Anarchy Reigns manages to make an impact in the top 20, placing at a not too shabby #16. It’s in at #2 in the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 budget charts, held off the top spot by Gran Turismo 5: Academy Edition and Forza 4 respectively.

The only other game to be released last week was Ninja Gaiden: Razor’s Edge on Wii U, which fails to enter the top 40. It’s in at #5 in the Wii U chart though, below the ‘big three’ exclusives and Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed.

This week sees the release of another Wii U-exclusive – SiNG Party. Sadly we can’t see this one making the top 40 either.

top_fifa13charts
Jan 07
By Matt Gander In UK Charts No Comments

The last UK chart of 2012 saw Far Cry 3 taking the top spot, but this week it’s back down to #2 with FIFA 13 rising back up to #1.

Since release FIFA 13 has been on the top of the chart no less than five times and it has yet to drop below #4.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, Hitman Absolution and Need for Speed: Most Wanted finish off the top five, in that order.

There’s still a notable lack of Wii U-exclusives in the top 40. We haven’t seen one now since Nintendo Land at #39 during mid-December. Chart-Track tells us that just one percent of all Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 copies sold last week were on Wii U. It’s not all gloom though – nine percent of all Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing Transformed sold last week were in fact for Nintendo’s new console. SEGA’s racer is at #12 currently, up from #16.

There isn’t much else going on in the top 40 aside from Batman: Arkham City GOTY Edition and Saints Row The Third: The Full Package entering at #25 and #40 respectively. Although these two have been out for some time now, this week marks their first chart appearances.

metacriticsworst_top
Dec 28
By Matt Gander In Features 12 Comments

Metacritic has been on the receiving end of some right old douchebaggery this year. Rest assured though that the scores below aren’t based on the site’s infamous user reviews.

If that was the case then you would be seeing the likes of Mass Effect 3, Diablo 3 and FIFA 13 listed below, which currently have ludicrously low user scores of 4.5, 3.8 and 4.6 respectively. I think we can all agree that these three aren’t quite the worst console games to appear in 2012.

Statistically, this little lot are:

Deadliest Warrior: Ancient Combat – Xbox 360 – 37%

This is the third game to be based on Spike’s TV show, but whereas the first two only stunk up Xbox Live Arcade and PSN, this third attempt made it out to retail in the US. Out of the five critic reviews on Metacritic, not one of them is above 50%, and all five highlight the lack of content and horrifically long loading times.

The Xbox 360 version is region-free if any gamers outside the US ever fancy seeing how bad it is for themselves. If that’s the case then do drop us an e-mail – we’ve got some chocolate shoes that need shifting.
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Dec 11
By Matt Gander In Reviews No Comments

Featuring such attractions as Buckingham Palace and The London Dungeons, ZombiU represents a good way to experience London from the comfort of your own home. It’s scarily authentic – the rougher areas are full of baseball cap wearing youths, the subway system is packed with brainless idiots who don’t know what they’re doing, and occasionally a rat or two will come scurrying out from piles of garbage. ZombiU also gives you the added advantage of being able to bash these brainless morons over the head with a cricket bat, which is something you can’t do in real life. Not legally, anyway.

So, the zombie apocalypse is upon us. Thankfully there’s somebody out there to give a hand to any survivors willing to listen. An ex-soldier known as ‘The Prepper’ has holed himself up in a secure location and has access to video cameras all over London. He believes the only way to survive is to be prepared – there is no cure or salvation. The Prepper communicates via the WiiU GamePad’s speaker and will do everything he can to help.

As the story unfolds it transpires that there may be a chance to be rescued from London after all. The Prepper, however, will do his very best to persuade you this isn’t the case. The voice acting for your mysterious guardian is superb – he genuinely sounds in utter dismay at how quickly London has fallen into chaos.

The Prepper also supplies you with a ‘bug out bag’ which turns the GamePad into an upgradable survival kit. The inventory can be viewed on here as well as maps, mission objectives and a sonar radar. The radar is a vital tool in your survival, tracking the whereabouts of any nearby zombies. Every single one is a threat taking several whacks with the cricket bat to kill for good.

It’s because they’re able to lead you to your demise within seconds that it’s sometimes wise to try and avoid conflict by looking for alternative routes. Meet your maker and your current randomly chosen survivor will come back as a member of the undead. When cast back into the boots of another survivor you get just one chance to get your backpack back from your former self. It’s an idea similar to retrieving souls on dying in Dark Souls.

There are a few other comparisons that can be made with that rather challenging RPG. The difficulty level is tough, but not impossible. Far from it in fact – every time you ‘respawn’ (for want of a better word) you’re given a handgun with six shots to give you a fighting chance, and sometimes items reappear in the lockers and such that can be looted. The online functions are very nicely done as well. You can imagine our surprise to enter a random building only to find a list of that day’s high scores scribbled on the floor in graffiti. You even come across the reanimated corpses of people on your friend list.

Atmosphere is incredibly tense throughout. There’s a clever use of filters which lends the game a distinct look, and there are more than a couple of moments designed to have you leaping out of your seat. The use of sound and lighting effects is impeccable. The torch can only be used for a couple of minutes before needing a quick recharge – having the batteries die while exploring a dark area is a harrowing experience, especially if you can hear shuffling in the background.

The environments are quite small, but due to the slow pace and how every situation must be handled with care, they can take quite a while to explore fully. However we did observe that a few areas such as the sewer systems that connect key areas and a few of the safe houses are lazily recycled. Entering two different safe houses only to find the knick-knacks inside lined up on the shelves in identical places did leave us feeling a little disorientated as to where on the map we were. It’s a minor quibble, but one worth mentioning.

At least ZombiU rarely feels like a slog like some survival horror games do. The use of explosives is brilliant and even helps it to feel fun in places. A few gun turrets can be found here and there to mow down the infected when they come rushing towards, and the zombies are, amusingly, easily fooled – flares can be used to distract them or lure them into armed mines. Indeed, happiness in this game is a backpack full of things that go boom. Ammo is scarce but every now and then you’re treated to a new weapon with a full clip of ammo. Such a find often lured us into a false sense of confidence as not even having numerous health-packs in your possession can guarantee survival.

Later a sniper rifle is added to your inventory. Shots have to be lined up by holding up the GamePad vertically. We found this tricky at first until realising that you can aim using the analogue stick as well as by twisting the GamePad about. The buttons to zoom in and out are logically placed, both within thumb’s reach.

For a launch title ZombiU is incredibly ambitious, and the developers have achieved exactly what they set out to do – create a tense yet rewarding survival horror game that makes good use of the Wii U’s unique GamePad. It’s fantastic to see a developer fully understanding what the Wii U is all about right from day one.

Whether ZombiU will be mentioned alongside other great launch titles such as Halo and Super Mario 64 in years to come is, however, questionable. Mistake it for a straight-laced shooter and you will die often, forcing you back to safe houses to try again and thus leading to some frustration. Treat every zombie encounter and situation with a degree of thought though, and you’ll find it immensely satisfying.

Dec 04
By Matt Gander In Reviews No Comments

There seems to be a growing trend with new console launches – a twin-stick shooter can always be found nestled somewhere in the launch line-up. The Xbox 360 had Geometry Wars, PS Vita owners could download Super Stardust Delta on day one and now early adopters of the Wii U have their own ‘old skool’ shooter. As fans of the genre, we couldn’t be happier.

Shin’en’s Nano Assault Neo is a little different from the aforementioned. With a nondescript ship under your control, you’re tasked with travelling from one minuscule spherical planet to another wiping out the parasitic infections that cover the surface.

Once 90 percent have been destroyed, the gate to the next planet opens and a countdown timer starts to tick. There’s thirty second on the clock to reach the gate – which isn’t a particularly tricky task – but it’s up to you to decide if you want to get the time bonus or attempt to kill off the remaining enemies. At the end of each stage your score is added to the online leaderboards.

Each of the four ‘clusters’ has three planets plus a boss battle against a large parasitic creature. Between levels there’s the chance to spend any credits you’ve picked up, in order to boost your firepower or increase your shields. You can also purchase an extra life, and we found that on the later levels it was well worth saving up for one of these – use up all your lives and you have to start the cluster from scratch. The bosses also become a whole lot easier if you purchase homing missiles before battle. A little tip, there.

There’s also a bonus stage to play, which proved handy for building up credits. It’s a simple affair set in a twisty tube in which stalagmites have to be avoided. The texture work here is impressive, although to be fair it’s a visually arousing game throughout. Some of the lighting effects are superb.

The game can be played entirely on the Wii U GamePad, but we did find that playing on a TV made the translucent enemies – which appear as soon as the second cluster – much easier to see and avoid. Indeed, the difficulty curve is quite tough, save only for the last boss which just so happens to be the easiest of the lot. When playing on a TV the GamePad can also be used to position the satellite drones that float around the ship to provide extra fire-power. We never felt the need to, but the option is there at least.

Once single-player has been licked a survival mode opens up. There’s also a list of achievements to unlock, known here simply as ‘missions’.

Although you can see everything on offer within a few hours, Nano Assault Neo isn’t a bad way to blow £8.99. It combines ‘old skool’ sensibilities with a sprinkling of innovation and has some flashy visuals thrown in for good measure. For a launch title we couldn’t have asked for much more.

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