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…
It’s something that every Mario fan has thought about at least once – wouldn’t it be great to design your own levels? I mean, how hard can it be? In a year where Nintendo have finally given their mascot a break from a new tentpole release, this year’s Mario presence comes in the form of Mario Maker; the game that will finally answer the question as to how much work goes into creating a Mario game.
And to help you in answering that question, Nintendo have created the simplest and most effective toolset to create the levels of your dreams. Using the Wii U GamePad and more than a handful of nods to the SNES Mario Paint interface, Mario Maker presents you with a series of tiles, each offering an element from the original NES classic. Simply drag them onto the stage, and you can dive straight into a test environment. It’s an incredibly intuitive system, which has the added benefit of giving you the chance to test and fine tune levels as you go.
The demo I played gave me free reign as to the design of the stage – the only limit, as the old cliché goes, was my imagination. Naturally I opted to add the ever popular Hammer Bros in first, then another one on top. And another. And then wings to the bottom one so the whole pile of Hammer Bros started flying as they approached.
Diving straight into the action by the simple tap of a button instantly showed up a problem – it was physically impossible to get past them. Back to the drawing board, and few modifications later, it was very playable, albeit a simple case of dodging a few stray hammers and making a break for the flag.
After 10 minutes I’d taken out the floor of the stage, added in pipes, rising platforms, piranha plants, mushrooms and an almost impossible leap of faith that took a lot of skill to achieve. The result was a challenging level of my own creation, born from just a few Hammer Bros jumping up and down. Read more…
While the rest of the world seems obsessed with the shooter genre, Nintendo has constantly stuck by its family-friendly image – something of a relief to many of us. But with children being exposed to violent games at such a young age, it falls to Nintendo to offer them something comparable on the Wii U. The answer? An ink-based shooter starring squid people. Welcome to Splatoon.
The biggest surprise from Nintendo’s E3 ensemble, and one of the biggest hits on the show floor, Splatoon is Nintendo’s answer to the shooter genre. An 8-player online, team-based shooter that doesn’t promote gritty realistic violence. And it is absolutely brilliant.
Controlled with the GamePad, Splatoon is instantly accessible, and instantly entirely new. While the standard analogue controls remain, with triggers being used for shooting and grenades, the fine tuning of your aim is taken away from the right trigger, and replaced by motion controls. While many shooter fans may cry foul, the option to turn off these motion controls is available, but one I would not recommend. Splatoon is very much a rapid, reaction based shooter, and the ability to aim using your controller adds a huge amount of precision.
The aim of the game is to douse the map in as much of your team’s ink as possible, while stopping the opposition from doing likewise. This causes a huge change in how you approach the game. While points are scored for kills, it is far more beneficial to get out of danger and start inking the opposition’s colour away, rather than getting into a drawn out battle. And this is where Splatoon’s master stroke comes in – squidding.
Each of the Inklings (the squid characters you play as) have the ability to transform into a squid, and with it, hide in your team’s ink. It is this mechanic that transforms Splatoon from a simple inky shooter, into a tactical game of skill. With the ability to hide in your ink, battles can changed, with once invisible enemies popping out of the opposition’s ink at a moment’s notice. It makes for a hugely challenging mechanic, and one, as the demo progressed, that I began to see the ingenuity of. Read more…