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Hands-On: Yoshi’s Woolly World

July 28, 2014 1 comment

Yoshi's Woolly WorldThere’s one word that can summarise Yoshi’s Woolly World – adorable. Created from a mixture of wool, fabric, and all sorts of arts and crafts materials, Yoshi’s latest adventure feels like a game you could create physically given you had enough time. Strip away the brightly coloured worlds and fluffy exterior though, and Woolly World reveals itself to be largely the same as previous Yoshi games – run, jump, eat and throw things all in the name of collecting smiling flowers. It’s a tried and tested concept, and one that has become Yoshi’s staple over the years, but off the back of the indifferently received Yoshi’s New Island, it’s a concept that is in danger of becoming stale. But if you don’t want to reinvent the wheel, what do you do? A new lick of paint is the answer.

Mechanics aside, it is hard to not instantly fall in love with Yoshi’s Woolly World. Partnering with Good Feel Inc. and borrowing the woollen themes of Kirby’s Epic Yarn, Yoshi’s latest adventure oozes charm. It’s no mean feat creating an entire world out of fabric and upholstery, but it’s a challenge that the design team have completed in what appears to be relative ease. Every world is created top to bottom with stitched and knitted elements – Yoshi's Woolly Worldbe it the woollen Koopa Troopas and Shy Guys, to the balls of wool that stand in for Yoshi’s eggs, everything feels like it is fresh out of a knitting box.

Presented in HD, the game looks absolutely gorgeous, and the art style also allows for a bit of a remix on some traditional Yoshi themes. Woollen balls replace Yoshi’s eggs, while elements of the landscape can be unravelled to unlock secret areas; alternatively, ledges can be knitted to provide an alternate route. The woollen theme also allows for some cute animations for Yoshi himself, with his nose squishing up against heavy objects, and his knitted legs turning into wheels when he runs fast.

During my demo, I tackled three levels – two set in what appears to be the opening world, with another set in the sky. While the first two levels felt the most like ‘classic’ Yoshi’s Island with added woollen challenges, the level in the sky offered the first of Yoshi’s Woolly World’s new mechanics – cotton wool birds. Yet another riff on the crafts theme, these birds replace wool balls for the level; when thrown, they leave a path of cotton wool, which is fortunate as the level is largely comprised of empty space. Perhaps more importantly, despite its look, Woolly World offers up a decent challenge, especially when compared to Yoshi’s recent games.

Yoshi's Woolly WorldWhile there’s still plenty of time until Yoshi’s Woolly World hits stores, my playtime with it left me with the feeling that this is going to be the best Yoshi game since the original on the SNES. Aside from its adorable presentation, the developers have taken the woollen theme to heart, and created inventive, and fun, puzzles around the knitted world they have created. With 2-player co-op and amiibo support included, this will surely be another platforming hit for Nintendo.

Hands-On: Hyrule Warriors

July 28, 2014 Leave a comment

Hyrule WarriorsLike many of you, I’m a huge Zelda fan, but having never played a Dynasty Warriors game, the idea of a crossover had me worried. We’ve seen first hand the problems with overexposing a brand with the recent influx of Mario titles, and with The Legend of Zelda attaining almost mystical status due to its infrequent release schedule, the idea of a spin-off based on another franchise was seen as a bad idea to many.

Thankfully, my fears were put to rest as soon as I picked up the game. Say what you will about the gameplay depth of Dynasty Warriors games, but one thing is clear right from the start of Hyrule Warriors – there is a deep love and affection for the franchise in this game.

Be it the NES Zelda-styled loading screen, or the wealth of characters from different time periods available to play as, there’s a real knowledge of the franchise in here, and while Aonuma has decreed Hyrule Warriors non-canon, this feels like the team-up crossover we’ve been waiting for. Hyrule Warriors is The Legend of Zelda universe’s Avengers.

But no amount of fan service will make up for poor gameplay, and this is where personal taste will come into play. While Hyrule Warriors looks like a Zelda game on the surface, the gameplay is anything but. Based around a given battlefield, the aim is to cut your way through swathes of enemies (and we’re talking thousands here) as you make it to areas, known as Keeps, that bolster your defences (think Star Wars Battlefront but with thousands of battle droids). Beating the boss of that keep, a giant Moblin or aHyrule Warriors Lizalfos for example, earns your side reinforcements. And that’s the extent of the gameplay.

Of course, the battlefield exists while you are in it, so there will be times you are called from your path of destruction for a more focussed task. In my demo, set outside Hyrule Castle from Twilight Princess, I was called away to protect Impa, collect bombs to clear a pathway, and ultimately take down the stage’s big bad, King Dodongo.

There’s also an element of skill in the battle itself, albeit against a mindless army that seems less interested in attacking you than watching you kill their friends. Special attacks, and charge attacks, are built up using a magic meter, and items can be found and equipped on the battlefield (which can also be charged, resulting in a giant bomb for example).

While the roster continues to grow, my demo only included time playing as Link and Zelda, with a sword and rapier respectively. While both control similarly, there’s a distinct difference in their abilities. Link is far more of a brawler, with his sword unsurprisingly being most effective at close range, requiring you to really get in amongst enemies. Zelda however, had a much larger range with the rapier, and special moves such as light arrows allowed for a more tactical approach to battle.

Hyrule WarriorsThe demo I played was just a snippet of the finished thing, and while this section did seem more about the spectacle than the tactics, there are definite hints at a more in-depth game beneath the surface. For Dynasty Warriors fans, it’s the same gameplay but with the classic Zelda touch. For Zelda fans, it’s a love letter to the franchise and a way to celebrate everything about it in a new format. And that seems like as good a reason as any to give it a go.

Tony’s Time: 2014 – The First Half Bests

Tonys Time Purple

On the podcast this week we were asked about what our favorite games of the year had been so far. I mentioned a couple of titles, but I didn’t have a list of the games that I had played in front of me. Now I have the list of all the games I’ve played this year and I thought I’d give you my thoughts on the first half of the year. I haven’t played all of the big name titles out this year so this isn’t a comprehensive list of the best games of the year; just the best ones that I’ve played so far.

The Wii U has had a good year so far and there are a number of titles coming out throughout the rest of the year that I’m looking for. I also bought two new systems, the PS4 and the Vita, so I’ve had a lot of new stuff to play. These are some of the games I’ve played so far this year that I’ve really enjoyed. These games are listed in no particular order and, unlike our end of the year lists, it only comprises of games that came out this year.

Mario Kart 8 (Wii U) – After the last three Mario Kart games (Wii, DS and 7) I was beginning to sour on the franchise. I played all of those games and had a fun time with them for a while, but things begin hampering the experiences. I thought maybe I was growing past my love of the franchise and it wasn’t going to be something I was interested in much longer. I went into Mario Kart 8 with a little bit of hesitation and tempered my expectations and because of that I’ve been incredibly happy with the experience. My family has gotten to the point where it’s a huge competition amongst all of us and everyone has a chance to win every race. There’s no more intentional throwing of races to let the younger kids win. There’s no incredibly broken rubber banding of the AI. There’s no snaking or cheater online. It’s just been great fun for everyone that I play the game with.

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Gold / Platinum Awards For Club Nintendo Announced

Club Nintendo Platinum Awards

Nintendo has just announced the list of awards for people who have been faithfully registering their games, both physical and digital, through Club Nintendo all year. If you registered enough games to earn 300 coins then you reached Gold Status for the year. Registering enough games and taking enough surveys to earn 600 coins means you hit Platinum Status. This year Nintendo has decided everyone will get to download a game of their choice from the following list:

Gold Status

Super Mario Land 2: Six Golden Coins (3DS)
Metroid (3DS)
WarioLand II (3DS)
Donkey Kong 3 (3DS)
Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (Wii U)
Super Mario Bros. (Wii U)
Kid Icarus (Wii U)
Ice Climber (Wii U)

All of those are the Virtual Console versions of those games for their respective systems.

Platinum Status

Mario and Donkey Kong: Minis on the Move (3DS)
Dillon’s Rolling Western (3DS)
Fluidity: Spin Cycle (3DS)
Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D (3DS)
Dr. Luigi (Wii U)
Earthbound (Wii U)
NES Remix (Wii U)
Game & Wario (Wii U)

The list of games isn’t a bad mix of old and new, but I can’t help that think it’s a little disappointing and there might be people that won’t earn a rewards because they might have every game on the list. If you get your reward let us know what you chose.

Best of the Art Academy Miiverse

Everyonce in a while I like to browse through the Art Academy Miiverse community and see what the artists in that game have come up with.  Much of it isn’t great, but there is also a lot of really good art there.  Some of the artists I have followed because I want to see what they continue to come up with.  Here’s some of the art that I’ve seen in the last couple of days that I thought was worth highlighting.  I’ve put the pictures after the break to keep the length of the post on the front page to a minimum. 

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The Console Wars May Now Begin

Pacman Smash Bros

No, I’m not talking about Wii U versus Xbox One versus Playstation 4. That fight will rage on for a few years now. I’m talking about the classic “Who’s the best character in a video game?” argument. In a move that seemed unfathomable in the late 80’s and early 90’s for the first time ever we’re going to see Mario, Pac-Man, Sonic and Mega Man in a game together.

Nintendo today confirmed the addition of Namco’s popular pellet muncher to the roster of Super Smash Bros. It’s a move that many wanted when it was announced that Namco Bandai would be helping with the development of the game. It’s also a move many people didn’t know was going to happen. It’s a move, though, that’s actually happening. This is real life. All those arguments you had with your friends as a child in the 80’s can now actually take place.

Get those Gamecube Adaptors plugged in. Pick your favorite fighter and let the games begin.

Nintendo’s New IP Is Splatoon

Splatoon is a four-on-four multiplayer action game that drops players into a battle arena that two teams strive to claim as their own. Players of each team spray ink on the ground around them while blotting out the opposing team members in turf war competitions. Each character can turn into a squid-like character and swim through his or her own team’s ink – gliding up and down walls and under floors – with ease. Using intuitive controls made possible with the Wii U GamePad’s gyro sensor makes it easy to look around and aim, and the on-screen map displays the entire arena at a glance, both of which feel great and redefine multiplayer action. Splatoon is targeted to launch in the first half of 2015.

Bayonetta 2 Coming in October, Bundled With Original Game

Bayonetta 2 is the upcoming action game from Japanese developer Platinum Games. It’s the sequel that should not have happened, but Nintendo is making it happen and the developer showed off a new trailer today showcasing all the action of the game.

In addition to the new trailer they also announced that the game will be bundled with the original game released in 2009. Also shown off was the ability to dress Bayonetta in costumes based on popular Nintendo characters like Peach, Link and Samus. And yes, seeing Bayonetta in the pink dress was a little bit weird.

More Smash Bros. Details Announced

June 10, 2014 1 comment

Nintendo announced two brand new fighters to the Smash Bros. roster today during their Digital Event. These two new fighters are Mii’s and Palutena. That’s right. You’re finally going to be able to fight as digital Reggie. In fact the Mii’s were shown off in an epic battle between Reggie and Iwata with Iwata pulling out a new amiibo character (more about that later) to get the upper hand. The Mii characters come in three different varieties and you can customize their move sets to fit your fighting style. Those three styles are brawler, a character that fights with no weapons and likes to get in close; a weapons specialist and a gunner.

The other surprise announcement was that of Palutena, the Goddess of Light. She’s taking a break from saving Pit’s life to take on all-comers in the newest installment of Nintendo’s fighting game.

Alongside the announcement of the new characters Nintendo also announced Smash Bros. for 3DS will be hitting stores on October 3rd with the Wii version slated for Holiday 2014.

The previously announced GameCube adaptor cost a price. You’ll be able to pick up the adaptor for $19.99 when Smash Bros. launches this holiday. There is also a new Smash Bros. branded GameCube controller that will be available for $29.99. If you’re the type that likes to get bundles a new one featuring the Wii U version of the game, the GameCube adaptor and one of the Smash branded controllers will be available for $99.99.

This Is the Pro Controller I’ve Been Asking For

WaveDash

Nintendo just announced that they’re going to be releasing an adaptor for the GameCube controller that will allow you to use that device with Super Smash Bros., which is coming later this year. Third party company PDP has announced that they’re releasing a controller that will function similarly to the GameCube controller, but will be required to be plugged in to the Wii Remote in order to function. One company, WaveDash LLC, is looking to give many people another option; one that will function as a fully functional Pro Controller, but will also give you the look and feel of the classic GameCube controller with some modern touches.

They’ve introduced a Kickstarter campaign for their controller, the WaveDash. This new controller is shaped like the original GameCube controller and features a button layout identical to that classic device. Some new updates allow it to fully integrate as a Pro Controller for the Wii U, such as the inclusion of a second shoulder button. On the GameCube controller this would have been the Z button, but on new controllers it is labeled as the L button, while the triggers are labelled with the Z name. In addition to that the right analog stick (C-Stick) has been redesigned to be more along the lines of a modern controllers size. It also has three more buttons on the face where the Start button originally was. The d-pad, which was fairly small on the GameCube controller has been increased slightly in size for better comfort. It also features a rechargeable battery pack that can be recharged through the use of a USB cable.

The company is asking for $399,000 to cover the cost of building the controllers. The Kickstarter campaign runs until July 11th. For $44 you can secure one of the controllers for yourself should the funding goal be met. There are 350 controllers available at that price for early funders with another backing level of $49 to secure a controller. $85 will net you two controllers for multi-player sessions. If you’re interested in checking out the project you can head on over to its official Kickstarter page.

I’m incredibly interested in this project as this is the design for a Pro Controller I’ve been looking for. I love the look and feel of the GameCube controller. If you want to play your games like it’s 2001, now’s your chance. Check out the WaveDash and see if it’s something you might be interested in.

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