It’s one of the marquee moments on any Nintendo platform, and for one platform, the game that will hopefully drive it out of its current lull. Super Smash Bros is almost upon us, and this time around, in two forms – for 3DS and for Wii U. With anticipation building ahead of its release at the end of the year, I got some time with both versions to see just how big a leap this is from Brawl.
Let’s start with the Wii U version. The most obvious difference between this and Brawl are the graphical improvement afforded by HD. The game looks absolutely beautiful, and as shown in the daily screenshots, the range of small details on show in just a few minutes of gameplay is a sight to behold. With the addition of the GameCube adapter, this really does feel like the evolution of Brawl and Melee, and I slipped right back into the groove of playing it.
In terms of gameplay, Super Smash Bros for Wii U falls in between Brawl and Melee – it’s much faster than Brawl, and much punchier than Melee, leading to a weighted feel. Every impact feels like it has something behind it, and there’s a definite thud from the audio as KOs are made. This feels very much like the next step in Smash Bros. Read more…
If there’s one name that is synonymous with creative ideas in the games industry, it’s Shigeru Miyamoto. It’s little wonder then that Nintendo are turning to him in a bid to save their ailing console, looking for fresh ideas with a focus on the GamePad. While E3 gave us a tantalising glimpse of a new Star Fox game, two playable ideas from the mind of Miyamoto were shown; Project Guard and Project Giant Robot.
While both of these are in a playable form, they clearly remain at a tech demo stage, and showcase ideas that could be implemented on the GamePad. As to whether they’ll ever see a retail release, it really is anyone’s guess. Nonetheless, I got a chance to play them, and a rare glimpse at the tech demo process within Nintendo.
Project Guard is Nintendo’s crack at the tower defence genre. Besieged by robots of varying design, your job is to man one of 12 defensive towers to defeat the oncoming horde. It’s a simple principle, but one that is greatly enhanced through use of the GamePad.
While the TV shows video footage from all 12 cameras at once, with focus on a controllable one in the middle, selection of your currently armed camera is done entirely through the GamePad. The result is a split focus – do you focus on the overhead map on the GamePad to select targets, or do you attempt to utilise the displays of all 12 on the TV? It’s a delightful mix of tower defence and tactical thinking, and one that is enhanced with a group of friends helping you to analyse the TV screen.
The gameplay boils down to selecting a camera on the GamePad, bringing it up on the TV, and then taking manual control to defeat in-coming robots. There are a variety of robots to defeat, be it birds that steal the cameras or ball bots that need to be pushed away before they explode, leading to a high level of tactical planning, especially when placing cameras before the match starts. Read more…
In Nintendo’s continued quest to find a genuine gameplay purpose for the GamePad, it is surprising how little they’ve revisited the early DS era for ideas. Back when touch screens were a new idea in gaming, the DS played host to all manner of curiosities; some worked, some didn’t, but one that proved to be popular was Kirby’s entry – Kirby and the Canvas Curse.
Controlled by drawing paths for Kirby to follow, it plays very much like a more action orientated Mario vs Donkey Kong. Canvas Curse had its fair share of issues, but Nintendo have finally found an opening to revisit the concept. The result is Kirby and the Rainbow Curse for Wii U.
Whether this is a sequel or a spiritual successor remains to be seen, but as Kirby plotting has never been the franchise’s strongest point, we’ll take it as being just another game in the same vein. Rainbow Curse plays very similarly to the original DS game – Kirby himself rolls around uncontrollably, and it’s up to you to plot paths using a limited amount of Rainbow Ink. Tapping Kirby himself spins him up to speed, and that’s really all there is to it. Simple concept, but challenging gameplay. Read more…
Of all the Mario spin-offs, the Mario vs Donkey Kong series appears to be the least beloved. While the likes of Mario Pinball Land have fallen by the wayside, Mario vs Donkey Kong continues to march on, just like the miniature toys that the game is based around. With its latest incarnation in development for Wii U, could this be the series’ breakout hit?
As any long-time player of the series will know, each Mario vs Donkey Kong game comes with its own quirk, and this one is no exception. The aim of the game is still to direct your “minis”, be it Mario, Donkey Kong, Peach or Toad, to their designated door, but this time gaps are traversed using moving platforms. With each stage being filled with hazards, and with the minis never stopping, you must use these moving platforms to navigate them out of harm’s way. A simple premise, but a challenging puzzle to solve.
In my short demo, I trialled a few of the game’s earlier levels, and some of the later ones, which showcased the complexity that moving floors can add to the gameplay. While the World 1 levels offered little challenge, the later levels had me managing groups of “minis” on either side of the map, creating a huge tactical challenge. It’s puzzle gameplay at its purest, and should complement the relaxed pace of Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker nicely. Read more…
While it’s well documented that Nintendo turned down an exclusivity deal on the first Skylanders game, it’s clear that of all the console makers, Nintendo are the company that could make best use of the figurine model that series introduced. After all, Nintendo are considered the Disney of the games industry, and as much as every Nintendo fan would hate to admit it, we would all throw money at a series of collectible figurines. So as if hearing the sound of bank accounts emptying worldwide, Nintendo are introducing amiibos.
A collectible series of figures which promise to tie-in with various releases, amiibos are Nintendo’s first foray into the collectible figurine world, and judging by the quality on display already, it will be a hugely successful, and more importantly, profitable one.
Located behind a glass cabinet with the words “NO PICTURES” printed underneath them, it’s clear that Nintendo still consider amiibos to be a work in progress. On display during my visit to Nintendo’s post-E3 showcase were a handful of Super Smash Bros amiibos, including Mario, Samus, Fox and Link.
Based upon their portraits from Super Smash Bros, the figures look fantastic, and are very well painted and detailed. Set atop a sturdy Super Smash Bros logo base, the figures look superb and are very reminiscent of the opening of Melee on GameCube. It goes without saying that the electronics and NFC chip is stored in the base, and with a sensible size, amiibos should scan comfortably on the Wii U GamePad. Read more…
Brought into the public spotlight by being playable not once, but twice, in New Super Mario Bros Wii, Toad has had something of a resurgence lately. Thanks largely to Captain Toad and his brigade being introduced in Super Mario Galaxy, the days when Toads were merely background characters have passed. While this intrepid band of Mushroom Kingdomers played very much second fiddle to the Mario Bros, their appearance in Galaxy moved Toad up the roster, and in last year’s Super Mario 3D World, we finally got a chance to experience what Captain Toad gets up to while Mario is off saving the Princess. And now, those adventures have become their own game.
While the demo is completely out of context, it’s very easy to imagine Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker being framed as the untold story to a Mario game. Taking the puzzle box elements seen throughout Super Mario 3D World, Treasure Tracker is yet another good example of Nintendo seeing an idea, and simply running with it. The result is an intriguing mix of platforming and puzzle-solving; just without the ability to jump.
For those of you who didn’t play 3D World, the Captain Toad levels are standalone puzzle boxes; in a very literal sense, the levels are floating cubes with a stage built on top. Simply find your way around the stage, collect the star, and it’s done. Puzzle solving in its simplest form, set in a Mario world with the lovable Captain Toad as the headline act.
Very little has changed from 3D World, with Toad still reliant on moving slightly faster than Goombas to get away. Without a jump ability, enemies must be tackled in creative ways. In one of the demo stages, making your way to the top of the house after positioning a stack of Goombas meant that you could defeat them all by leaping from the top floor. Read more…