Tagged "Wii"

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Mar 25
By Jake In Features No Comments

Games Asylum is 15 years old this weekend, which means we can finally watch Die Hard. Yippee ki-yay indeed, melon farmers.

Much has changed since 2001, so to wish ourselves a very bloody happy birthday, here are eight things that didn’t exist 15 years ago when we started this nonsense.

1. Motion control

The first big banana when it comes to flapping around in front of your TV was Sony’s EyeToy, released for the PlayStation 2 in 2003 – and in Europe first. That did pretty well, and plenty of people who don’t play games were convinced that cleaning virtual suds off their TV screen is a fun thing to do. Elaborate cable-based system Gametrak came shortly after, and did little to advance the cause.

Gametrak: Dark Wind Gametrak: Real World Golf

In 2006, Nintendo changed everything with the Wii. Briefly. It won the heck out of the generational ‘battle’ with the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, though a good proportion of 100 million plus owners might now struggle to remember anything beyond Wii Tennis. But you’ll still find it in the odd back room of a pub, a reminder that it really did break new ground.

That ground pretty quickly sealed back up though. The Wii U didn’t exactly pick up where its predecessor left off, PlayStation Move had little impact on PlayStation 3 or 4, and Kinect did little on Xbox 360 or One, despite a good start on the former and being initially bundled with the latter – a decision that was unwelcome, unsuccessful and short-lived.

So has motion control both risen and entirely fallen away again in the 15 years we’ve been going? Maybe it was just a fad, but perhaps virtual reality will see its resurgence: PlayStation VR may breathe new life into those Move controllers, Vive comes with motion controllers, and Oculus will have Touch.

PlayStation VR

But that depends on VR actually taking off. We’ll see.

2. Smartphones

Not that most people would even bother with that term now – they’re so ubiquitous, a smartphone’s just a phone these days. Not so in 2001, however. It was still all about Nokia back then, and not even the utterly ludicrous N-Gage – we were only treated to that in 2003. And forget your fancy iPhone, we didn’t have the first iPod until the autumn of 2001.

Perhaps we can lay some of the blame for the demise of motion control at the sleek feet of the smartphone. The Wii might have made gaming less frightening to a huge glut of population, but those touchable rectangles shovelled gaming straight into their pockets, and on a device they want regardless.

Apple really got it going, half accidentally, with the launch of the App Store in 2008, about a year after the first iPhone. That same year Android got going, and the rest is history – and the competition pretty much irrelevant.

3. Xbox

Microsoft are a Johnny Big Face in the console world now, but not a decade and a half ago. The Dreamcast still had a few games left in it; the PlayStation 2 was just a few months old, and a long way from becoming the best selling console of all time.

Though it didn’t exist, we knew the Xbox was coming. It had been announced a year earlier in 2000, and from that moment the fuss began about the hard drive, and whether it would just be a PC in a different box.

Xbox 2000 GDC

It launched in North America in late 2001, with Europe following in 2002. Probably best not to mention Japan.

And of course, it turned out that it wasn’t just a PC in a different box, and particularly with the launch of Xbox Live later in 2002, Microsoft did a lot to define what a modern console looks like.

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TrapTeam
Aug 20
By Matt Gander In Blog No Comments

New Xbox 360 and PS3 releases show no signs of slowing, but that’s not the case for the humble Wii and it hasn’t been for quite some time.

As noted in our weekly UK chart round-up, Chart-Track has struggled lately to compile complete top tens of full price Wii titles. Last week’s chart, for instance, was formed of just four games. Four.

After several quiet months – with How to Train Your Dragon 2 being the only notable release – half-a-dozen new Wii releases are lined up for this winter, thus giving a reason for those still clinging onto their beloved console to cling a little longer. It’s fair to assume these games will be amongst the system’s last.

TrapTeamWii

Skylanders Trap Team is the ‘big’ one. Whereas Disney Infinity 2.0 is skipping the Wii, Activison’s latest character collecting marathon is still Wii bound. Curiously, original series creators Toys for Bob are at the helm.

Trap Team made the gaming news recently after it was revealed that Activison are – rather kindly – including a code in the box to download the Wii U version for free. Presumably they’re expecting the few remaining Wii gamers out there to upgrade to a Wii U this Christmas. Nintendo is no doubt hoping this is the case, too.

FIFAwii

Then there’s good old FIFA, with an emphasis on the word ‘old’ there. EA hasn’t put any real effort into the Wii versions for FIFA for a couple of years now – they have simply received kit and transfer updates, yet still shoved out at almost full price. Sadly, this has also been the case for the 3DS and PS Vita versions, not to mention the PS2 and PSP iterations before that.

It’s amazing to think that FIFA 15 is coming Wii but not Wii U, isn’t it?

Just like EA, Ubisoft still sees the Wii as viable – Just Dance 2015 launches 24th October alongside the versions for other consoles.

With the Wii as long in the tooth as it is, we were expecting this to be a simple (read: lazy) track update and little more. However, the press release talks of features exclusive to both the Wii and Wii U versions including a new challenger mode, customizable workouts and an ‘on stage’ mode where two other players can become back-up dancers. We can’t be quite so positive about the track roster for this year though, especially when ‘The Fox’ by Ylvis is quoted as a “highlight”.

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lego_movie_wii_u_packshot_2d_eng_jpg_jpgcopy
Jul 28
By Matt Gander In UK Charts No Comments

With the film now out to buy, The LEGO Movie Videogame has shot up from #12 to #5 in this week’s UK chart. It’s #1 in the Xbox 360 chart and makes a re-entry in both the Wii U and 3DS top tens.

The movie’s release has seemingly helped to bolster sales of LEGO Marvel Super Heroes and LEGO The Hobbit, as well as causing LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes to reappear in the lower echelons of the top 40.

The rest of the UK’s top five sees only a slight shuffle. Watch_Dogs is top dog for another week while FIFA 14 holds onto #2. Then at #3 it’s Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition followed by Sniper Elite 3.

Wolfenstein: The New Order meanwhile makes a notable exit from the top ten, dropping from #4 to #12. Mario Kart 8 likewise departs, falling from #10 to #16. Fellow Nintendo title Tomodachi Life is back on the rise however, up from #14 to #11.

It’s interesting to note that the current full price Wii chart comprises of just seven titles, suggesting Chart-Track struggled to find ten different Wii games sold at full price last week. Crikey.

Expect to see The Last of Us: Remastered take the top spot next Monday. With the kids off school, LEGO Ninjago Nindroids may do well too. Another LEGO game – just what we all need.

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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Nov 30
By Matt Gander In Features No Comments

There’s always a duff title or two in any launch line-up. The reasons are simple – it’s either down to the developer’s inexperience with the system, or the publisher pushing to get the game out on launch day. Retailers always tend to overstock on launch titles, you see, and that’s very good news for publishers. We’re sure that new copies of likes of Asphalt 3D and Street Fighter IV will still be on shop shelves when the 3DS is on its deathbed.

With the Wii U launching in Europe this week, we’re looking at the worst Nintendo launch titles of all time. Pity the person who took one of these home instead of something plumber-related.

FIFA 64 – Nintendo 64

For the first four or five months of the N64’s life there were only ten games available, and three of those were sports games. FIFA 64 more than likely sold well due to the fact that there were very few other games out for N64 owners to buy, rather than the fact that it was a FIFA game. Rubbish animation, bizarre camera angles, slowdown and repetitive commentary – FIFA 64 was a bit of an embarrassment. A £59.99 embarrassment.

Universal Studios Theme Park Adventure – GameCube

A game featuring segments from Back to the Future, ET, Waterworld, Jurassic Park, Jaws and Backdraft sounds quite the appealing package on paper. Shame Kemco managed to screw it up superbly. Most of your time in Universal Studios was spent aimlessly walking around the crudely rendered theme park picking up litter and talking to Woody Woodpecker – the most annoying cartoon character on earth. Why make players pick up litter when they’re in a place built for fun?

GT Pro Series – Wii

One of Ubisoft’s Wii shovelware games, GT Pro Series was not an entirely new game but a vague remake of a GameCube racer with some tacked on motion controls. We’d imagine that a fair few gamers were duped into buying it simply because it came with a free steering wheel. Fellow launch game Monster 4X4 World Circuit was also a conversion of an older game (originally on Xbox) but it didn’t fail on every level like GT Pro Series did.

Far Cry Vengeance – Wii

Here’s another wonky effort from Ubisoft. NGamer put this on their front cover – something which they no doubt regretted once they had the full game in their own hands. Their review is still up online – a resounding 23%. “Turns your living room into some kind of talent vacuum,” was their final verdict. Perhaps Ubisoft purposely made it poor to make Red Steel look good? We joke, of course.

Super Fruit Fall – Wii

There’s a little bit of history behind this 2D rotating maze puzzler – it started out as a £9.99 budget PlayStation 2 game from the purveyors of filth, Phoenix Games. It was then snapped up by System 3 for a Wii release… as a £19.99 budget game. Seeing as it eventually ended up on DS and PSP with bad scores all round, it’s clear to us that they thought they could make a quick buck on it rather than develop it into something great.

Army Men Advance – Game Boy Advance

Contrary to popular belief, not all of the Army Men games were bad. Army Men RTS was a more than sufficient real-time strategy game. There’s a reason for this though: it wasn’t made by 3DO – a company that released so many bad games in such a short space of time that their reputation was the punch line of many jokes back in the day. You would have had more fun putting plastic Army Men in a microwave then playing this shoddy shooter.

Asphalt Urban GT – Nintendo DS

The 1/5 from NGC Magazine that Asphalt Urban GT received was perhaps a little harsh but there’s no doubting it was a bad game – launch your vehicle off a ramp and it would often bounce back off an invisible ceiling. It was painfully apparent that it had a rushed development, making little use of the DS’s then-fancy touch-screen.

Ping Pals – Nintendo DS

If Ping Pals had more than a couple of weeks of development time, we’d be very surprised. It wasn’t even a game as such – more like a glorified version of Pictochat, the DS’s built-in (and free) chat software. “With PictoChat coming as standard, this is a bit like paying money to breathe air,” said the Official Nintendo Magazine. Off it trotted with a 9% review score.

Sprung! The Dating Game – Nintendo DS

Known as Crush during its development period, you can’t deny that Ubisoft didn’t understand the Nintendo DS’s demographic right from the start. It seemed odd at the time that Ubisoft were releasing a dating game, but nowadays we wouldn’t even bat an eyelid – stuff like this is the DS’s bread and butter. “The game is essentially just a bunch of conversations that take place during two characters’ stay at the Ski Lodge, so anyone actually expecting to hit the slopes for some skiing will be very, very disappointed,” said IGN.

Asphalt 3D – 3DS

Proving that history does repeat itself, Asphalt 3D suffered from all the faults of the DS original – glitches, slowdown and horrid visuals. Vehicles appear to be merely floating on top of the track, and when crashing into an opponent the screen simply judders and shakes, almost as if the crash animations were cut at the last minute. Ass-felt, is more like it.

The Sims 3 – 3DS

“It’s almost an achievement that EA has made a 3DS version of a game that’s not only worse than the Wii version, but the DS version too,” began the Official Nintendo Magazine’s review. “For some reason, the 3DS version of The Sims 3 has removed the mood bars that tell you how hungry, clean, tired and so forth your Sim is. No big deal, you know, it’s only the WHOLE POINT of the entire game,” they continued. Score? A miserable 20%.

Half of the games on this list are from Ubisoft but they do thankfully seemed to have bucked their ideas up for the Wii U – none of their games look truly awful. They even passed the buck on Funky Barn, a game which they published on 3DS but are letting 505 Games instead publish on Wii U. It must be flipping terrible.

Apr 11
By Jake In Most Played 1 Comment

Rayman Origins

It’s remarkable that Rayman Origins won the BAFTA for Artistic Achievement. Not because it isn’t a thing of beauty – it is, even on the distinctly standard definition Wii – but because of what it is. It’s a 2D platformer, with levels based around fire, ice, water, desert and so on. In the 16-bit heyday, it would have been unremarkable in the extreme. But now it stands out as a refreshing change, and wins a BAFTA for its trouble. Funny how things change.

Rayman Origins

While it looks lovely – and sounds just as good, with a dangerously high risk of earworms – the real genius lies in how it deals with death. The levels are split into short sections, separated by doors – which, incidentally, you pass through by punching an oversized eye – which act as checkpoints, and restarting after dying is admirably instantaneous. There’s no fuss around dying. Try. Die. Try again. No worries.

What this means is that individual sections of levels can become fiendishly exacting without crossing over into frustration. The game pushes its luck towards the end – the long last level in particular – but when you’ve got no time to mope around between deaths, it’s impossible to give up.

It’s a gentle difficulty curve though, and for the first half or so, it’s just a joy to play a game which seems to want only to delight you. The elements are familiar – jumping, swinging, floating, hitting – but unusual in execution – for example the long blue chap with a big hand who acts as a rope – and combined absolutely expertly. Rayman feels weighty, flopping around the place in his limbless way most satisfyingly.

Rayman Origins

The game is littered with clever little set pieces, involving defeating enemies to release the little creatures you’re trying to rescue; some are a neat test of skill, but often one hit triggers a very pleasing chain reaction. There are also very competent scrolling shooter sections, and bonus chase levels requiring pixel-perfect precision. The latter are hellishly demanding, but get away with it because they’re not crucial to progress. And they’re fun, in a masochistic kind of way.

The addition of bosses in the second half of the game is not terribly welcome. They’re not unimaginative in design, necessarily, but their mechanics are tediously clockwork. There’s little skill involved, since it’s virtually impossible to react to a lot of their attacks – you just need to keep dying until you memorise the pattern, then make sure you’re in the right part of the screen at the right time.

But that’s soon forgotten once the brain-rottingly catchy end of level jingle kicks in, and it’s on to the next slice of retro platforming goodness.

Sep 13
By Jake In Blog 2 Comments

Nintendo Points

When Nintendo finally made demos a permanent reality on WiiWare, I was optimistic. But that seems to have petered out with, at the time of writing, only one demo available, that being of 2009’s NyxQuest: Kindred Spirits. WiiWare in general is hardly flying high, too, with three or four releases a month of late – not all of which you’d strictly describe as games.

(Incidentally, it’s interesting to read the thoughts of a developer releasing a title on WiiWare later this month.)

Where's Wally? Fantastic Journey 1

So, faced with 500 Nintendo Points sitting in my account, what to do? It doesn’t buy much: a NES game on the Virtual Console; a few scraps on WiiWare. But one game stood out: Where’s Wally? Fantastic Journey 1. It’s cheap because it’s episodic – and because, you know, it’s only Where’s Wally.

Perhaps I was swayed in that direction because I kept seeing a group of lads all dressed as Wally at Reading Festival recently. Ironically, they were a helpful landmark for navigating through the crowd, such was the ease of finding them.

I digress. Maybe I’m old fashioned, but Wally’s natural home is on the pages of a book. Scrolling around the screen with a timer counting down misses the point somewhat: it doesn’t encourage quiet enjoyment of the scene as a whole, taking in the little details; you have to find what you’re told to and get on with it.

Not that there isn’t entertainment in that. Also, repeatedly being told, “You’ve got the magic!” is a lot of fun. The spot the difference games are a welcome addition too, if you like that sort of thing. Which apparently I do.

In any case, it kept me occupied for a good hour and a bit. Which, to be fair, is more than the Wii has managed in a while.

Aug 17
By Matt Gander In Blog No Comments


Presumably to get some extra mileage out of the Wii and keep it in the public’s eye until the Wii U is released, Nintendo has shown off a new slimmer model. It’s due out for Christmas and comes bundled with two games – Wii Sports and Wii Party – along with a Wii Remote Plus with nunchuk.

Much like the new PSP E-1000 that Sony showed off yesterday, it doesn’t look that much different from the original model. The only notable differences are the blue bezel around the disk drive and the fact that it’s designed to sit horizontally rather than vertically. In order to cut costs, it won’t be compatible with GameCube games or accessories either.

This decision caused mild upset during the Nintendo community, and some might say that upset is unwarranted – people have had five long years to go out and buy the original backwards compatible Wii. Also: this ‘Family Edition’ (as Nintendo themselves call it) isn’t going to be aimed at those who want to play Doshin the Giant and Chibi Robo between Mario Kart Wii sessions.

Ranting about losing the GameCube joypad ports, however, is just about justified – playing Smash Bros. Brawl with the GameCube joypad is the pro’s choice, after all.

No price has been announced, but Nintendo has confirmed that it’ll replace all existing models once stocks run out in Europe.

In related news, JRPGs The Last Story and Pandora’s Tower have also been confirmed for Europe, making the Wii’s 2012 line-up look a whole lot rosier than it did, well, any time prior to this news breaking.

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