Archive for November, 2013

Wii U review: Super Mario 3D World

November 29, 2013


Mario’s newest adventure thwomps its predecessors

Super Bell Hill introduces players to Mario’s new world of cat suits, clear pipes, cat goombas, and bell trees. It’s the happy sort of playground that kicks off any respectable 3D platformer, with plenty of secrets and setpieces to toy around with. It’s absolutely beautiful as well, grass swaying in the wind, depth blur obscuring far-off areas. And it’s explorable solo or with three friends, each player selecting a different character from the classic lineup of Mario, Luigi, Peach, and Toad. They each have differing abilities taken from Super Mario Bros. 2, and each character is selectable even in single player.

You’d expect this first level to be the best. Nintendo always pours their heart and soul into each new game’s beginning, crafting wonderfully eclectic playgrounds to hop and stomp and climb upon. But Super Bell Hill simply stands strong beside the game’s other areas, each stage in Super Mario 3D World so brilliantly exploring its own playful focus.



Wii U review: Wind Waker HD

November 13, 2013


To think that Wind Waker’s visual style was initially met with such scrutiny seems almost laughable now. Link’s cap billows behind him as the King of Red Lions parts the vast ocean, one big blue horizon stretching out endlessly, islands dotting the distance like freckled mirages wherever sea meets sky. Beautifully abstracted blocks of color cover large swathes of screen space, infrequent textures layered on in chunky, painterly style.

The great ocean has an essential character all its own, waves rising as white triangles or a roiling froth that spans leagues, pure blue on sunny days and mottled grey in stormy weather. There’s an endlessness to it, and setting sail for the first time is incredible. This is adventure distilled, perfected.

Wind Waker’s ocean may be the ideal template for Zelda overworlds. Players are encouraged to explore and discover; they see the next isle from the last. Every island is a real place in a fantasy world – look out over the walls of Windfall Island and you can see the sailing shop-ship, the gulls, the human-faced fish that tells you all about the world, the waves, the sunset.

Getting a running start, Link leaps straight down into the water that connects everything.