Archive for the ‘Wii U’ Category

Where can Paper Mario go from here?

October 27, 2016

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Reviewers are feeling a mite uncharitable about Paper Mario:Color Splash. The papercraft world is gorgeous, the dialogue is hilarious. But that combat system.

Helpless Mario can’t act on his own, instead playing cards for every action. Cards that need to be scrolled through, one by one. Cards that need to be selected, painted, then flicked upwards to start combat. Really, it’s not a terrible system, just a bit overfluffed. If you look at it from the outside, it’s more or less the same as Paper Mario’s combat has always been, excepting Super Paper Mario on Wii.

A large part of the problem, though, is that players don’t feel rewarded. Color Splash does away with almost all the series’ roleplaying game elements. There are no level ups, no badges, no flower points. Your reward for using cards to defeat enemies is that you get new, different cards. They might not even be more powerful than the cards you used during the battle.

This isn’t a problem with Color Splash so much as it’s a problem with every pure roleplaying game ever made. Barring the occasional eccentric oddball (Chrono Cross, I’m looking at you), the point of battling, the enjoyment of battling, is not the battle itself. It’s the reward. That experience meter that ticks up, granting you extra power so you can, I dunno, be more powerful. See those numbers go up. Get excited.

Paper Mario has found itself in a hard place. The Mario and Luigi series has become Nintendo’s flagship Mario roleplaying game, and Paper Mario has become… what? Looking at Color Splash, it’s clear where the series’ strengths now lie: great worldbuilding and dialogue. Paper Mario gives players a chance to explore the hidden, personal side of all of Mario’s friends and enemies. That’s a pretty powerful thing.

Color Splash is a modern adventure game with an RPG battle system thrown into the mix, a holdover from a different game altogether. I don’t want to overstate the case: battles in Color Splash are really not that bad. But I just want to solve puzzles and talk to Toads, dammit! Because that’s where Color Splash shines.

If it can’t be a roleplaying game, please don’t make it play like one. A pure adventure game where Mario colors the world and has ludicrous conversations with piranha plants is good enough for me. Perhaps he could –gasp!– solve altercations by taking advantage of environmental puzzles. Make it a pure adventure game, and double down on its strengths.

But maybe that would be boring. I’ll admit that I’m not an adventure gamer, plus, Mario has always been an action series. So put that hammer to use, Nintendo, and make an action adventure game. Nix the turn-based battles but bring back the badges; let Mario hammer blocks and stomp Goombas in real time. And for god’s sake, let Peach in on the action.

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Breaking into scrolling shooters

August 19, 2015

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you probably know that I love, love, love scrolling shooters. A while back I even wrote a massive post about scrolling shooters — I wanted to pick apart the genre in a scholarly way, highlighting notable games and asking questions that would get people thinking about them on a deeper level.

Well, I feel the need to add onto that article. Many of the games I listed in my original article are super rare and super expensive, and it doesn’t do anyone any good to appreciate them theoretically. More than any other genre, scrolling shooters live or die by the fundamental “fun-ness” of play. To that end, I’ve compiled a list of my favorite affordable and available shooters. These are shooters I would vouch for no matter what, but they’re also fun and accessible picks that won’t put a hurt on your wallet.

– PC –

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Cho Ren Sha 68K

I’m not much for classics, but Cho Ren Sha is everything you need and nothing you don’t. Every element feels perfectly balanced, as if the creators knew exactly what they wanted before they started programming. Colorful enemies, blazing-fast gunfire, powerful tunes, and a brilliantly simple powerup system (choose: bomb, powerup, or shield!) come together to make for one of the all-time greats. If Cho Ren Sha has a fault, it’s that it only has one background… but hey, it worked for Galaga.

Price: Free

Alltynex Second

Spaceships with gimmicky weapons are a time-honored scrolling shooter tradition, and Alltynex Second brings the heat with *three* separate gimmick weapons in one ship. Normally that would be enough to tank a game under its own excess, but Alltynex Second pulls it off wonderfully. The homing shot takes out small enemies, the power beam tears through bosses, and the laser sword cancels enemy bullets as it hacks away at their mechanized faces. There’s more than a little bit of hack-and-slash DNA in this one, and cutting apart enemies piece by piece never loses its appeal.

Price: $8 on Steam

Crimzon Clover: World Ignition

“World Ignition” is more than just a flashy subtitle. When Crimzon Clover exploded onto Steam, scrolling shooter fans went totally bonkers. That’s because Crimzon Clover nails every aspect of bullet hell design—hardcore action, non-stop explosions, over-the-top visuals, and an endless supply of glittering point items. There’s a wealth of content, with four different arcade modes and two novice modes for people (like me) who just aren’t that great at bullet hell games. Crimzon Clover demonstrates yet again that a one-man indie can outperform even the biggest studios. If you want to experience for yourself the intricacy and adrenaline of bullet hell shooters without the costly import prices, Crimzon Clover is unmissable.

Price: $10 on Steam

Also try: Danmaku Unlimited 2, Hydorah, Jamestown, and Kamui

– Xbox 360 –

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Score Rush

Score Rush combines all the best elements of Geometry Wars with the kaleidoscopic gunfire of a bullet hell. Twin-stick controls, 4-player multi, and tons of psychedelic particle effects make this an incredibly fun and accessible shooter. It’s just about the only scrolling shooter that you can have an entire room of friends playing in no time. Such is Score Rush’s simplicity and curb appeal—when I think of no-brainer 360 purchases, Score Rush is at the top of the list.

Price: $1 on Xbox Live Indie; Free on PC

Raiden Fighters Aces

Raiden Fighters Aces offers a rare glimpse into what scrolling shooters looked like just before bullet hells changed the genre completely. There aren’t any intricate patterns of slow-moving bullets here—In Raiden style, the action is blisteringly fast, emphasizing twitch reflexes and wide dodges in order to avoid enemy sniper shots. All three Raiden Fighters games are included on-disc, and between them there’s a massive number of playable ships, each with their own weapons, stats, and bombs. And that soundtrack, holy crap. What it lacks in melody it makes up for in raw intensity.

Price: ~$15

Deathsmiles

I could tell you all about what a great developer Cave is and blah blah blah but instead I’ll say that this game features a giant rotting cow named Mary as an end of level boss, and I think that really says everything right there. Deathsmiles’ Halloween motif leans cutesy rather than gory, but underneath the cheese is a smart shooter that cuts through the typical bullet hell crap. Level select, per-level difficulty select, and simplified bullet patterns mean that you don’t have to be an absolute monster to beat Deathsmiles. Even so, there’s more than enough for players to bite into as they gain skills and start chasing high scores.

Price: ~$10

Also try: Akai Katana, Ikaruga, and Chronoblast

– Playstation 3 –

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Zanac X Zanac

Allow me be a crazy person for a second and tell you that one of the best scrolling shooters on PS3 is actually an enhanced port of an NES game. Zanac is a thing of subtle beauty, by which I mean it’s actually kind of hideous and could easily fool you into thinking it’s total garbage. But oh man, don’t tell that to Zanac. Because Zanac hears. What sets Zanac apart from other scrolling shooters is that it features randomized waves of enemies, sent by the AI that is Zanac. How many shots you’re firing, what powerups you pick up; everything is analyzed by Zanac and every game of Zanac is customized to kill you, specifically. The powerups in this one are just incredible—absolutely top of class. Plus there’s a really sweet challenge mode that could keep you playing, like, forever. Oh, and also a really good Playstation version included called Zanac Neo. Yeah, there’s that, too.

Price: $6 on PSN

Under Defeat HD

Under Defeat boasts the sort of elegant beauty that you’d never expect from a scrolling shooter about World War II helicopter pilots. Every scene is bursting with detail, and the stunning particle effects and dynamic smoke highlight the action across stages of forested gun-emplacements, massive naval fleets, and bombed out military bases. Even though the game takes place in a fictitious alternate timeline, a strong sense of realism makes Under Defeat extremely compelling. The “lean into your shots” control scheme is novel and fun, and the scoring system utilizes the player’s vulcan, cannon, and rocket powerups in a simple and satisfying way. To top it off, this version also includes a widescreen, twin-stick mode with a remixed soundtrack courtesy of the always-great Yousuke Yasui.

Price: $10 on PSN

Gradius V

Gradius V may be the ultimate sidescrolling shooter. I don’t mean that it’s the best, or that it’s my personal favorite. What I mean is that Gradius V seems to carry the entire legacy of the genre on its shoulders as you play—It’s monolithic, majestic, and impossibly slick, with tight level design and spectacular boss battles. It’s also ruthlessly difficult, requiring players to memorize certain routes to make it through. That’s all part of what it means to be a Gradius game. But the system of unlockable continues means everyone can eventually play Gradius V to the end, and really, I’d say this is the best game in the series since the original Gradius codified the genre in 1985. Play them both.

Price: $10 on PSN

Also try: Castle Shikigami 2, Velocity

– Wii (and Wii U) –

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Blast Works

I’m not sure I can call Blast Works a great game; hell, I’m not entirely sure I can even call it a good game. What it is, though, is a uniquely fun game, thanks to an irresistible premise: Blast Works is essentially Katamari Damacy as a scrolling shooter. Every enemy you kill can be latched onto any side of your ship; they contribute their firepower to yours and also act as a giant meat shield. By the end of the stage, you’ll feel like the end of level boss, because your fighter craft will be have a hundred other guns attached to it. All that craziness, plus the game has a robust level and ship editor. Blast Works is fun with friends as well, and… that’s why you bought your Wii, isn’t it? Ah, you were in it for Wii Fit. Nevermind then.

Price: ~$5

Sin and Punishment 2

This game is just bonkers. Sin and Punishment 2 is like a rail shooter, lightgun game, and scrolling shooter fused together and jacked up to eleven. There are a bajillion things to shoot at, and the level designs are truly inspired. There’s an overgrown ruin of destroyed Tokyo, a hoverbike chase on a not so abandoned highway, and a flight down a literal water tunnel, where giant morays and enemy ships burst through the walls of water to attack. That’s to say nothing of the bosses, which are massive, frequent, and phenomenal.

Price: ~$15

Wii Virtual Console

There aren’t many great retail shooters for Wii, but it still has one of the best collections of scrolling shooters on any system thanks to the Virtual Console. There are sooo many great and otherwise hard to find games; hell, it was the Wii Virtual Console that got me deeply into shooters in the first place. Take to the skies in your mech and blow apart neo-feudal Japan in MUSHA; headbang hard with the heavy metal soundtrack and awesomely mythological monsters of Lords of Thunder; destroy cute-em-up baddies as a Turbografx-16 videogame system itself in Star Parodier. And while you’re at it, definitely try out Gate of Thunder. It’s my favorite sidescrolling shooter of all time.

Price: $8-9

Also try: Blazing Lazers, Fantasy Zone, R-Type and R-Type III, and Soldier Blade

Those are my personal picks for fun, affordable scrolling shooters. Hopefully you discovered a new favorite or added something to your never-ending list of games to check out. Narrowing down this list was tough; scrolling shooters are a huge genre dating back to gaming’s infancy, and I had to cut a few of my absolute favorites. Maybe I missed a few of your favorites, too.

On that note, I’m gonna turn things around and ask you: What’s your favorite scrolling shooter?

Mario Kart 8’s first DLC brings Hyrule Castle and Mute City to the Mushroom Kingdom

November 16, 2014

An in-depth look at Nintendo’s “Super Smash Kart” DLC

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Mario Kart 8 is a big, bold, beautiful game. The track design is unmatched and the handling is sublime… but it was always lacking something. That something is levels, characters, and karts from other Nintendo properties like The Legend of Zelda, F-Zero, and Excitebike, all added with this new DLC. Cross-over tracks are a long overdue addition, considering how well Nintendo has crossed-over its games in Super Smash Bros. We’ve entered the era of Super Smash Kart—but what all does this DLC add to the already great Mario Kart formula?

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How to draw Mario’s shyest enemy: A bashful Boo!

October 31, 2014

First, draw a circle. It doesn’t have to be perfect!

kingboo1Then, add some nubbinses for the arms and tail, like so (the tail can be tough!)

kingboo2Now erase the part of the circle connected to the tail.

kingboo3Then just add a happy face!

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And BAM! You drew a boo! Happy Halloween everybody!

– Catstronaut Loves Games

 

 

Bayonetta 2 and the magic of doing the exact same thing, better

October 29, 2014

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I’ve been playing a lot of Bayonetta 2 recently. I think I’m approaching the final act, having just resolved the main source of conflict and uncovered the big bad. All this in just three days of playing at breakneck speed — pretty crazy, considering I don’t even like the first game all that much.

Sure, the first Bayonetta is good. I can appreciate what it’s going for, what people are praising when they call it the best brawler ever. But it just doesn’t feel right to me. It doesn’t gel. Everything pushes me out of the groove: the story is a bloated mess, end-of-stage grading is overly punishing, and enemy attacks are intrinsically awkward in a way I can’t put my finger on. I shelved the game halfway through.

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Upcoming Mario Kart 8 DLC brings this universe one step closer to perfection

August 26, 2014

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Link, Villager, and Isabelle are joining the race! Nintendo’s UK store recently listed two new DLC packs — and they feature more than just Mario. According to the listing, each pack will three new characters, two new cups, and four new vehicles, drawing from Nintendo’s Legend of Zelda and Animal Crossing games for track design and characters.

Here’s the listing in full:

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Each Add On Content pack will contain two new cups, each with four courses, which, in total, increases the number of available courses by 50 percent. The Add On Content packs include classics like Wario’s Gold Mine from Mario Kart Wii, as well as new courses, some taking place in the worlds of The Legend of Zelda and Animal Crossing. New vehicles will also arrive with each pack, including the Blue Falcon kart representing the F-Zero franchise in the first AOC pack.

Mario Kart 8 Pack 1 – Released: November 2014

Pack 1 includes:

  • 3 Characters: Tanooki Mario, Cat Peach, Link
  • 4 Vehicles
  • 8 Courses

Mario Kart 8 Pack 2 – Released: May 2015

Pack 2 includes:

  • 3 Characters: Villager, Isabelle, Dry Bowser
  • 4 Vehicles
  • 8 Courses

As a bonus for purchasing both packs – as a bundle or separately – you can get eight different-coloured Yoshis and eight different-coloured Shy Guys that can be used right away.

That’s a lot of awesome news for Nintendo fans. Looking closely, we can see what appears to be an Animal Crossing village stage above Dry Bowser, as well as a probable F-Zero stage on the left under Link’s kart. I don’t recognize the stage on the bottom left, either — with the rough geometry on that hill, could it be based around Excitebike?

Also intriguing is the question mark panel on the bottom right. Maybe it’s a totally unrevealed stage, or maybe it’s a tip-off to the return of the fake item block.

Hopefully we’ll have all the answers in November 2014 and May 2015, when Nintendo’s slated these DLC packs for release. We might even get some battle arenas, too.

Until then, I’ll keep dreaming.

 

Indies have arrived

August 11, 2014

IndieNoMansSky

Amidst a scarcity of big budget games, indies are stealing the spotlight

Looking through my Playstation 4’s media bar last night, I noticed something strange: a complete absence of big-budget, publisher-backed titles. There was the Destiny beta, of course, but nothing truly substantial, nothing I’ve actually bought. In fact, the beep of an empty disc tray is something of a running joke in my house — of course there’s nothing in there; we don’t even own a physical disc for the system.

For me, that’s incredibly weird. I’m not a primary consumer of AAA big-budget titles, but neither do I consider myself an indie gamer. I’m not prone to playing navelgazing, experiential indie titles; instead, I play scrolling shooters, platformers, role-playing games, kart racers, and brawlers. Seeing that my library consisted of nothing but indies came as a real shock to me.

But that’s a defining core of this generation: the walls have broken down, and all of a sudden indies sit flush alongside mainstream titles. New distribution models are allowing indie developers a voice, and they’re making that voice heard.

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Wii U review: Shovel Knight

August 5, 2014

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Dig it or shovel off

To miss Shovel Knight’s NES-throwback ambitions would be next to impossible. Styled after any number of classic Capcom platformers, Shovel Knight features colorful sprites, chirpy tunes, a wide array of weapons and powers, and eight wild bosses to bury.

Shovel Knight dispenses enemies with sideswipes and pogo jumps of shovel justice, unearths gems by digging up rocky mounds, and hops from platform to platform seeking justice. Not to mention he’s seeking his partner and love interest Shield Knight — she’s been taken by a shadowy enchantress, and it’s up to Shovel Knight to save her. I promise their relationship isn’t as banal as it sounds.

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Wii U review: Mario Kart 8

May 30, 2014

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All revved up

I’ve played way, way too much Mario Kart this month. It’s easily my favorite videogame series of all time, and I was so amped about Mario Kart 8 that I played every single Mario Kart game multiple times over. I made myself a tiny bit sick of the series, honestly.

But Mario Kart 8’s here, and I really want to talk with you about it. Nintendo’s changed a lot with this most recent entry — there are larger, immediate changes, like the addition of antigravity, but there are also a lot of smaller systems changes and tweaking going on.

Because there’s so much going on, I’d like to make this review of Mario Kart 8 a little more in-depth than usual. Let’s-a get going.

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There will be waaah

May 8, 2014

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Nintendo brings Mario Kart 8′s roster up to thirty racers with the inclusion of Baby Rosalina and Pink Gold Peach: http://nintendonews.com/2014/04/pink-gold-peach-baby-rosalina/

Hopefully they don’t continue down this endless spiral of creating metal and baby versions of every character. I have one question for you, Nintendo: where my Dry Bones at?

Which new or returning characters would you like to see in the next Mario Kart?