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Holy hindsight! Five series that should have been on Wii

Mar 10 // Tony Ponce
In a 2009 interview with Kotaku's Stephen Totilo, Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime expressed frustration regarding why the biggest third-party titles were skipping Wii: "I've had this conversation with every publisher who makes content that is not available on my platform. The conversation goes like this: 'We have a 22-million unit installed base. We have a very diverse audience... We have active gamers that hunger for this type of content. And why isn't it available?'" The unfortunate reason was that, prior to Wii's launch, most publishers didn't have faith in Nintendo's unconventional strategy, especially coming off of GameCube's lukewarm performance. By the time they realized that Wii mania was real, they were too entrenched in HD development to easily shift gears. When support did come, it was in the form of minigame collections and low-priority efforts farmed out to C-team studios, most of which seemed to target the stereotypical "casual" gamer while ignoring the rest of the audience. The Wii wasn't conceived as a "casual machine," but rather a low-risk development option that could ideally satisfy everyone -- with a focus on videogame newbies, true, but not an exclusive focus. From the beginning, there was enormous interest among the enthusiast crowd for more substantial software, but as the years slipped away and their needs weren't met, they simply turned their attention elsewhere. There were sporadic attempts to appeal to enthusiasts, though most typically fell into the mid-tier category -- the types of games that, on a well-served platform, would help round out the library. But without headliners to attract an audience in the first place, the MadWorlds and Little King's Storys of the world were stuck playing an empty venue. It's clear that the Wii was no powerhouse and wouldn't have been able to realize many of the eventual HD hits in a satisfactory fashion. However, you can't tell me that publishers weren't sitting on golden preexisting properties that could have easily been adapted to the hardware -- properties that had a near guaranteed chance of finding success, which would in turn have led to a greater influx of auxiliary Wii software and a healthier third-party ecosystem overall. Just to name a few examples... Kingdom Hearts Remember the rumors years ago that Kingdom Hearts III on Wii might be happening? A series whose chief draw is allowing you to visit famous Disney worlds and battle alongside famous Disney heroes seemed like the obvious choice for a Nintendo platform, where family-friendly entertainment is the order of the day. Square Enix thought so too, just not in the manner we had hoped. Following Kingdom Hearts II in 2005, numerous word-building side stories and interquels were released on portables, with the bulk appearing on Nintendo machines. One in particular, Dream Drop Distance for 3DS, was even billed as a lead-in to the eventual Kingdom Hearts III. Meanwhile, the series was completely absent on home consoles. This would have been a perfect opportunity for Square Enix to port KHI and II onto Wii in their "Final Mix" forms. That way, those who followed the series on PS2 would be able to transition smoothly, while others with little exposure to the games would have the perfect entry point. And with all these returning and newly minted fans on Wii, maybe the PSP-exclusive Birth By Sleep would have had another platform on which to score sales, which were otherwise soft in Western territories. Metal Gear When Super Smash Bros. Melee was brought out West, it introduced players to Marth and Roy, two unknown characters from a Japan-exclusive franchise called Fire Emblem. The warm reception these fresh faces received gave Nintendo the incentive to start localizing future installments in the tactical RPG saga. I had hoped that Solid Snake's appearance in Super Smash Bros. Brawl would have led to a similar decision regarding Metal Gear, but no dice. Why was Snake in Brawl to begin with? Definitely not because of his rich history on Nintendo platforms -- Metal Gear did more for PlayStation than it ever did for NES. No, it's because Hideo Kojima practically begged Masahiro Sakurai to put him in. Regardless of how the arrangement came about, Snake was a welcome addition to the Smash roster, quickly rising to the top of many players' lists of favorite fighters. A smart publisher would have tried to capitalize on that kind of exposure. Konami could have tested the waters with a Wii reprint of The Twin Snakes, which had become quite rare in its original GameCube format. Follow that up with with MGS2 and 3 ports, possibly an up-port of Peace Walker as well. MGS4 was never going to come over for obvious reasons, but hey, 360 didn't get it either, and Xbox and Metal Gear are good buddies these days. Instead, the only Metal Gear to appear on a Nintendo platform post-Brawl was Snake Eater 3D, which was made redundant a few months later with the release of HD Collection on Vita. One of the most popular characters in Nintendo's all-star roundup wound up being nothing more than advertisement for competing platforms, even though he didn't have to be. Street Fighter Did you know, if we disregard the combined-SKU Resident Evil 5, that the original Street Fighter II for Super Nintendo is the single best-selling game in Capcom's history at 6.3 million copies? It also happens to be the best-selling third-party game in the SNES library -- and that's before we even factor in the various updates! Among Wii owners were a fair number of lapsed gamers -- people who may have gamed in the arcades or on an NES or SNES back in the day but have since lost interest. I guarantee a significant cross section of that group were former SFII players itching for a proper follow-up. And since the goal of the Street Fighter IV project was to make the series accessible again to the widest possible audience, it would have behooved Capcom to include in its multi-platform plans the console built entirely around the concept of accessibility. You can't tell me that SFIV was dependent on high-end hardware -- it was designed to be a traditional 2D fighter with 3D window dressing. The fact that a spot-on port was later developed for 3DS, with static backgrounds as the sole concession, should be all the proof that a Wii version could have looked and played just fine. If you want to argue that SFIV was ill-suited to Wii because the Wii Remote was an inappropriate fighting game controller, I think you're overestimating the general game-playing public's need for the "perfect gaming controller." Besides, anyone who desired a more traditional pad would have made the effort to buy one -- such as with Tatsunoko vs. Capcom. Speaking of TvC, there's a game that strikes a fine balance between technical skill and accessibility. Although I appreciate the effort it took to localize such a licensing nightmare, that seahorse in the logo was the kiss of death -- only hardcore anime aficionados had the slightest inkling who these strange new characters were. It's odd that Capcom would invest in TvC yet couldn't be bothered to hammer out an adequate SFIV port, which would have had a significantly larger shot at finding a receptive audience on Wii. Persona Atlus has enjoyed a wonderful working relationship with Nintendo since the former's founding in 1986, and that relationship thrives to this day. In fact, over the past generation, the bulk of Atlus' in-house productions have found an exclusive home on Nintendo platforms, including new IPs like Etrian Odyssey, Trauma Center, and Radiant Historia. Of important note is how Atlus has gradually been shifting the entire Megami Tensei franchise back into the Nintendo camp, beginning with Devil Survivor on DS and culminating with Shin Megami Tensei IV on 3DS. One particular MegaTen sub-series, however, has remained with Sony: Persona. It's apparent that Atlus was reluctant to jump into HD development right away. Releasing Persona 3 as a late-gen PlayStation 2 title was one thing, but sticking to PS2 for Persona 4 as well? That earned the company quite a few stares. But if Atlus was insistent on squeezing out every last ounce from legacy hardware, why not prep those Personas for simultaneous release on the low-spec Wii as well? Atlus already had a Wii development pipeline in place, so the financial risk would have been extremely minimal. Wii versions could have only added to those games' success. The series has finally come to Nintendo in the form of Persona Q on 3DS, although the game's main selling point -- the crossover of P3 and P4 characters -- would feel more appropriate had those two titles actually appeared on a Nintendo platform prior. Grand Theft Auto "Nintendo has done all it can to persuade Take-Two Interactive Software to bring the Grand Theft Auto franchise to Nintendo consoles, and it is now up to the third-party publisher to decide whether Rockstar Games' immensely popular series will appear on Wii." Reggie Fils-Aime shared this nugget in December 2006, shortly after the Wii's launch, to let the world know that Nintendo desired the violent crime series on its hardware (those Game Boy Color and Advance titles don't count). Sadly, Take-Two didn't seem to want to play ball and even laughed at the notion just one year later, when then-executive chairman Strauss Zelnick asserted, "[T]here are other titles better suited to the Wii than Grand Theft Auto." Nonetheless, talks continued, and Take-Two and Rockstar Games eventually decided to give Nintendo a shot... with a DS game. That's not what fans were asking for, but baby steps, we figured. Take-Two CEO Ben Feder did state that Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars was an important step in the company's relations with Nintendo and suggested that this new title could pave the way for future developments. The rest is sick, sad history. Chinatown Wars earned rave reviews, becoming the highest-ranked DS title on Metacritic, yet sold just under 90,000 copies in the US in its launch month. Not willing to take any chances, Rockstar quickly announced PSP and mobile ports. Mature games were reaffirmed as poison on DS, and all hopes of another GTA on a Nintendo platform vanished. Let's try to understand why Chinatown Wars failed. First, GTA is not a handheld series. Some brands are simply better suited to home consoles than handhelds or vice versa -- Monster Hunter, for instance. Yeah, both Liberty City Stories and Vice City Stories on PSP were million sellers, but those sales were a drop in the bucket compared to what the console installments regularly pull in. Those were ported to PS2 months later too, so it's not like Rockstar had full confidence in them either. Still, both LCS and VCS sold much better than Chinatown Wars, which brings me to my second point: GTA only became a phenomenon with GTAIII and the leap into the third dimension. Taking the series back to its top-down roots was never going to appeal to all the same people who fell in love with the real-world atmosphere and fully voiced and acted cutscenes, no matter what kind of review scores it earned. Need further proof? Although you can find copious news bites around the web lamenting the poor sales of Chinatown Wars on DS, you'd be hard-pressed to find any mention of sales of the PSP port. It's safe to surmise that it tanked even worse than on DS, because Take-Two would have said something otherwise. The mobile ports likely outsold those two combined, though it's difficult to draw a solid conclusion there when sales were aided by rock-bottom mobile pricing. Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars was the wrong game for the wrong platform. From day one, Rockstar should have been working on a Wii game in the desired 3D style as Nintendo had originally intended. It would have been more expensive to produce, though I doubt anywhere in the range of GTAIV's $100 million price tag. If Rockstar didn't want to take that gamble, it could have assembled a PS2 trilogy collection, or ported the PSP games, or anything! We're talking about the biggest home console of all time, after all! If you still doubt the viability of GTA on Wii, consider Call of Duty: World at War, which sold over a million copies on Wii. Big deal, you figure, since sales of the PS3 and 360 versions vastly outstripped it. But also consider that Activision has repeatedly withheld information regarding the Wii versions of Call of Duty installments up to and sometimes even after release, limiting awareness to those who had prior knowledge or had seen one of the rare TV commercials. Somehow, the game still broke a million -- can you imagine how much better it could have performed had Activision given it exposure comparable to the HD builds? How could Take-Two wholeheartedly say, during a period when Wii was selling faster than any other home console before or since, that the audience wasn't there? Grand Theft Auto is one of the biggest gaming brands of all time! Its most recent entry has shipped 45 million units across all platforms! Its consumer base includes every type of gamer, from kids to adults, from the hardest of the hardcore to those whose only other gaming purchase in a year is the latest Madden! If Take-Two honestly believed that there was little to no chance of success in adapting Grand Theft Auto to Wii, it means that either its marketing department is completely clueless as to what makes GTA so appealing, thereby attributing each record-breaking achievement to blind luck, or everyone in management simply didn't give a shit. As you can see, I'm not suggesting that publishers should have thrown millions at unproven concepts. All it would have taken to get the ball rolling was some low-risk ports based on established, popular brands. Even if some of these franchises wound up not resonating with the Wii audience, most are powerful enough that they would have been accepted without question. Had key third-party tentpoles been established and found success on Wii early on, smaller studios would have felt comfortable in producing Wii content. Instead of the sudden decline as casual players lost interest, Wii could have maintained a steady momentum by serving the enthusiast crowd low-tech yet feature-rich software, in turn extending its life. By the time Nintendo introduced a follow-up console, publishers would have been far more willing to offer support than they wound up being with Wii U. Though we can only speculate precisely how such a movement would have affected Wii and the industry overall, it could only have been a net positive -- for Nintendo as well as third parties that struggled to stay in the black or simply wanted to grow their consumer base. You can blame Nintendo for certain Wii shortcomings, but third parties are at fault for letting painfully obvious opportunities slip through the canyon-sized cracks.
Wii got shafted photo
Third parties missed some major opportunities
By the end of 2014, Xbox 360 had slid past Wii to become the best-selling seventh generation console in the US. While a fantastic achievement for Microsoft, this event also punctuates the drastic shift in Nintendo's market do...

Rodea: The Sky Soldier photo
Rodea: The Sky Soldier

NIS confirms Wii release for Rodea: The Sky Soldier


A collector's item
Mar 04
// Kyle MacGregor
It looks like Rodea: The Sky Soldier will be the Wii's swan song. Today, NIS America confirmed first edition copies of the Wii U version will come equipped with the original Wii prototype. The aerial action game was...
No More Heroes photo
No More Heroes

Suda51: No More Heroes almost ended with Travis Touchdown's death


Sylvia nearly did him in
Mar 03
// Ben Davis
Edge recently interviewed Goichi "Suda51" Suda about the making of No More Heroes, which was coincidentally timed quite nicely with my own article about the game a few days ago. The interview covered Suda51's inspirations for...
Wii U photo
Wii U

Sin and Punishment 2 and Pandora's Tower come out next month for Wii U in Japan


Hopefully overseas in all regions too
Feb 18
// Chris Carter
Sin and Punishment: Star Successor and Pandora's Tower are two of my favorite Wii games, and now they're coming to the Wii U eShop. As per Nintendo's YouTube channel they will both be arriving next month in Japan -- the former has a March 25 date, with the latter coming earlier on March 4. Both games support the Classic Controller, in case you were wondering.
President Cat photo
President Cat

We salute you, President Cat


You have my vote any day
Feb 16
// Jordan Devore
Sukeban Shachou Rena, also known as "President Cat," was one of those games destined to never leave Japan despite our pleas. Back in 2009, western fans petitioned for a localization, but this minigame collection about a CEO cat was perhaps ahead of its time -- it sold miserably. No matter. Our love for Rena is unwavering. Dawww, just look at that face.
Wii  photo
Wii

Nintendo has 'no comment' on third-party Wii games for the Wii U eShop


In the meantime, let's tell them which ones we want
Feb 04
// Jonathan Holmes
Nintendo recently started selling full Wii games on the Wii U eShop, leaving only the GameCube's library off the list of Nintendo's past home console titles that you can play (officially) on the system. Other than faster load...

Here are some recommendations for Club Nintendo's new massive reward dump

Feb 02 // Chris Carter
The Wonderful 101 (Wii U - 600 Coins) I put this first because it pretty much needs to be the first game you pick up. It's one of the most original games of the past few years, and the Nintendo and Platinum partnership has definitely proven itself with titles like this and Bayonetta 2. Seriously, why are you reading this? Go get it now, then look at the rest. Super Metroid (Wii U - 200 Coins) Every year I go back and beat Super Metroid. It has a special place in my heart and it's not just due to nostalgia -- it's one of the best platformers ever made. With just the right amount of boss battles and a brilliantly creepy atmosphere, it's a joy to play and isn't so difficult that you're pulling your hair out deciding where to go. If you enjoy Metroidvanias and somehow haven't played Super, this is your next purchase. Game & Wario (Wii U - 600 Coins) I think Game & Wario gets a bad rap. It's always been a fairly niche series, but Nintendo tried some new things with Game and some of them didn't pay off for a large amount of people. Playing it with my spouse however was a joy. We loved trying to figure out where all of the hidden objects are with the "Shutter" minigame, passing the Wii U GamePad to each other when we spotted something the other didn't. We spent hours playing Sketch with parties, and Islands with each other on the couch. Fruit is a massive hit with friends as well, forcing up to four other players to "catch" and identify one thief, who sneakily uses the GamePad to hide in the crowd. If you have lots of friends over and an open mind, give Game a chance after you've picked up some of the other games on this list. Doc Louis's Punch Out!! (Wii - 250 Coins) I know what I said about non-native Wii U games, but hey, this one is exclusive! Once it's gone it's probably gone forever, and is only being offered because the service is closing down. For those of you who couldn't get into the series, you probably won't be all that impressed with what is essentially a small demo battle with one of the most iconic characters. But if you're a Punch Out!! fan, this is a piece of the franchise's history. Get it before it's gone. Kersploosh! (3DS - 150 Coins) This strange game about falling down a well is something I come back to very often. Every few months or so I'll get the itch to beat my last high score, or try out another trinket. Your object is to basically survive until you hit the bottom, utilizing a variety of different objects like pebbles, watermelons, or even a fragile egg. For a mere 150 Coins it's a great distraction if you're looking for something unique. Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D (3DS - 600 Coins) The 3DS version of Returns eliminates the only major problem I had with the original -- forced motion controls. With a tactile setup it feels identical to the Donkey Kong Country games of old, and earning every tricky collectible is now that much more attainable with a more direct control scheme. The first time I booted up Returns 3D, I spent 10 hours straight playing it. It's addicting as hell, and a must-have in your 3DS library. The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening DX (3DS - 200 Coins) This is still among the greatest handheld RPGs of all time. Out of all of the Zelda games ever made I think this one stands up as one of the easiest to pick up and play, and the DX version makes that even easier with a colorful new visual style. At 200 Coins it's a steal. Super Mario 3D Land (3DS - 600 Coins) If you want more retail games on the 3DS (or for your upcoming shiny New 3DS), 3D Land is the perfect starting point. Nintendo really outdid itself this time, adding in plenty of new concepts without resorting to a host of yawn-worthy "New" tropes. The 3D also works great, and some of the game's environments are breathtaking, even on that tiny screen. This is easily one of my top core Mario games to this day. Donkey Kong (3DS - 150 Coins) I don't think anyone expected the Game Boy version of Donkey Kong to be this good. It turned what was basically an endless arcade game into an RPG-like affair, bringing you through completely new zones and concepts. It's still the best iteration of the classic Donkey Kong formula. Kid Icarus Uprising (3DS - 700 Coins) Uprising isn't for everyone, but on a personal level I consider it one of the best games Nintendo has crafted in the past five years. It's full of charm from start to finish, from the clever and adorable script to the pitch-perfect voice acting. Every member of the cast sounds like they're having fun, and a lot of that rubs off directly onto players. The control scheme isn't perfect and I had to take breaks every hour or two because of cramping, but the adjustable difficulty slider is an excellent way to bring in newcomers and veteran shooters alike. With tons of twists and turns it's also exciting throughout, and a lot longer than I expected. This is one of the more expensive pickups, but if you have the extra coins and remember when Saturday morning cartoons were cool, you may find yourself falling in love with Uprising. Of course, this list is non-exhaustive; it just includes a few of my favorites. Make sure to recommend other pickups in the comments! Jonathan Holmes' bonus list of recommendations: Doc Louis's Punch-Out!!! The Wonderful 101 A Kappa's Trail HarmoKnight Earthbound Excitebike World Rally Sakura Samurai Tokyo Crash Mobs Donkey Kong (Game Boy)
Club Nintendo rewards photo
Lots of great stuff in there
Nintendo dropped a bomb on us today. A delightful digital bomb of over 100 games to download off Club Nintendo in exchange for your precious Coins. The service is gearing up for a remodel, but before then, all your Coins must...

Doc Louis photo
Doc Louis

Doc Louis's Punch-Out!! headlines Club Nintendo blowout sale, with tons of new rewards


It also broke the site
Feb 02
// Chris Carter
As I was enjoying the hunt for the Rosalina amiibo with a friend yesterday, we talked about what the new Club Nintendo would be like. But first, they have to close out their current one so we thought, "hey, wouldn't it be nic...
Digital Wii games photo
Digital Wii games

Nintendo Wii games now coming to Wii U eShop


Starting with Super Mario Galaxy 2
Jan 14
// Kyle MacGregor
Wii games are now going digital on the Wii U eShop. The process begins today with Super Mario Galaxy 2 joining the Virtual Console library this afternoon. Punch-Out!! will follow suit on January 22 with the Met...
Rock Band DLC photo
Rock Band DLC

Harmonix surprises everyone with an imminent trio of Rock Band DLC songs


Foo Fighters, Avenged Sevenfold, and Arctic Monkeys
Jan 12
// Brett Makedonski
Remember the days of yesteryear when a bevy of plastic instruments was a de facto part of your interior design? Well, if you so wish, that look could make a comeback, as Harmonix is adding to the Rock Band library f...
Porn numbers photo
69 isn't the only porn number
Pornhub, which I am told by other people familiar with the webpage is a site for viewing adult, pornographic films, has released its statistical year in review. It's not as detailed on the videogame console side of things lik...

Club Nintendo photo
Club Nintendo

Club Nintendo adds Super Mario Kart, Kirby's Dream Land 3


A new 1080 Snowboarding would hit the spot
Dec 15
// Jordan Devore
The last three times I've written about Club Nintendo rewards, Kirby made his way onto the list. That trend continues today with the new set of game offers available until January 19, 2015: Kirby's Dream Land 3 (Wii U) - 200...
Dirty Harry photo
Dirty Harry

This cancelled Dirty Harry game was a wonderful, terrible idea


They didn't make his day
Nov 30
// Jonathan Holmes
Back in the mid-2000s, Warner Bros. was planning on bringing Clint Eastwood's iconic, brutality-friendly policeman Dirty Harry back to life in videogame form on the PS3, Xbox 360, PC, Wii, and even the DS. Eastwood had agree...
Club Nintendo rewards photo
Club Nintendo rewards

Fresh Club Nintendo rewards: Metroid II, Kirby's Pinball Land, Pilotwings


And a game about throwing pedestrians
Nov 17
// Jordan Devore
Do you have any Club Nintendo currency left this late in the year? I do not. I'm not even sure where my Coins went. I only have two remaining low-value surveys to fill out (though Super Smash Bros. is on the way), and that's ...
More like Bad Friday photo
More like Bad Friday

Toys R Us Black Friday: Still no great Wii U deals


The kids will be easier to trample
Nov 14
// Steven Hansen
If you're looking to pick up a Wii U this black-weekend-and-also-the-preceding-Thursday, you should probably stay in and scour digital deals (or "digideals," as we call them). You should probably do that anyway, but you shoul...
DEALZ photo
DEALZ

Walmart black Friday: Get your cheap Beats and Xbox


Capitalism starts Thanksgiving morning, 'cheap' Beats by Dre for everyone
Nov 12
// Steven Hansen
All these "black friday" ads seem to lean on the Xbox One. Is that a partnership thing with Microsoft and retailers? Is that retailers not picking up on the notion that the PS4 is selling better? Is it the assumption that the...
DEALZ photo
DEALZ

Best Buy Black Friday: Target has the cheaper Xbox One


Capitalism starts at 5PM Thanksgiving day
Nov 11
// Steven Hansen
Best Buy's Black Friday ad is up here. Similar to retailer Target, there is a $330 Xbox One bundled with Assassin's Creed: Unity and Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag (both digital), but Target throws i...
Black Friday photo
Black Friday

Target's Black Friday deals include a $330 Xbox One w/ $50 gift card and two games


And so it begins
Nov 10
// Jordan Devore
The last time I looked at a calendar, it was still October. Thank goodness I like this season, because Thanksgiving will be here soon enough. Target's Black Friday ad is now online, but if you're pressed for time, here are so...
Retro City Rampage DX photo
Retro City Rampage DX

Retro City Rampage DX coming to all platforms, including PS4 with Cross-Buy


WiiWare is even getting an update
Nov 04
// Chris Carter
In a move that could be considered one of the biggest mass updates in recent memory, Retro City Rampage creator Brian Provinciano has announced that every version of the game will be updated to its improved DX ...
de Blob photo
de Blob

Another de Blob isn't totally out of the question


The IP now lives on with Nordic Games
Oct 31
// Jordan Devore
Nordic Games has picked up yet another property from the defunct publisher THQ. This time, it's de Blob, a cute 3D puzzle-platformer about a blob who paints a drab city with its body. "We are excited about what the future hol...
The Voice photo
The Voice

The Voice still looks like garbage, but I want to play it


♫ I got garbage~~! On a clooooudy day~! ♫
Oct 16
// Brittany Vincent
Let it be known that I play any and all karaoke games, no matter how bad they are. Hell, I even bought Disney's Sing It because I thought there might be a couple Hannah Montana songs I could rock out to. But I think Activisio...
Club Nintendo games photo
Club Nintendo games

Relive that time Kirby was a golf ball with Club Nintendo


Fresh digital game rewards
Oct 13
// Jordan Devore
Coming off of Kirby Super Star and Art Style: PiCTOBiTS, guess I should have lowered my expectations for this month's Club Nintendo digital game rewards. Too late. Actually, it's not all bad: Wrecking Crew (Wii U) - 200 Coin...
Rogue Squadron photo
Rogue Squadron

Factor 5's canceled Rogue Squadron compilation sounds incredible


There was also going to be a multiplayer Rogue Squadon
Oct 10
// Jordan Devore
As if we don't have enough canceled Star Wars games to mourn already, here's a couple more. During a recent Nintendo Voice Chat appearance, Factor 5 president Julian Eggebrecht opened up about a Rogue Squadron compilation and...

Review: Skylanders: Trap Team

Oct 07 // Chris Carter
Skylanders: Trap Team (3DS, Android, iOS, PS3, PS4, Wii, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One [reviewed])Developer: Toys for Bob / Beenox / Vicarious VisionsPublisher: ActivisionReleased: October 5, 2014MSRP: $74.99 (Starter Pack) The premise is basically the same as it always has been with the Skylanders series. Once again an ancient evil (The Doom Raiders) has awakened, and it's up to the Skylanders and their new allies (the Trap Masters) to put them away. Players will do this by using all of the toys released so far, as well as the new Trap Master figures that can access unique crystal areas, and the trap pieces. To be clear, all of the toys from the first three generations of Skylanders can be used here, which is a pretty neat way to keep a collection relevant. At this point it's hard to believe that Toys for Bob is still coming up with unique characters and movesets, but pretty much every new toy I've used shines in its own unique way and has its own personality. Visually, Trap Team has taken some strides since Swap Force, which is a big accomplishment considering how great that game looked on newer consoles. Everything looks like a legitimate Dreamworks or Pixar animated film, and the idea of the franchise transitioning over to the big screen is completely believable based on the game alone. The script isn't as sharp as Swap Force, but it's still perfectly acceptable for kids, and completely skippable for adults. Gameplay-wise the series still holds up, with addictive hack and slash gameplay that deserves to be respected with any modern action release. Characters will naturally grow their abilities as time goes on and most of them will have a tool for every situation, making every toy feel fun and viable. Higher difficulties also help ease in veteran gamers who may view Skylanders as a kids-only franchise. On the other hand, there's nothing really new that justifies spending $75 to get the Starter Pack, which includes the game, the new portal, two traps, and two characters. It sounds ridiculous, but while Swap Force technically innovated with the ability to jump and a few other elemental mix-up mechanics, Trap Team doesn't really add anything exciting to the mix. Well, the "new" bit is found in the traps themselves, but I was pretty disappointed with how they actually play out. The concept involves the new Traptanium portal, which has a tiny slot to fix in plastic traps that are shaped like pegs. The game has 46 special villains in it that can be captured as you make your way through the story, and if you have a trap toy handy of the correct element (the game comes with the Life and Water traps), you can collect them to re-use from that point on. The trapped character also "talks" by way of the peg, which lights up in the portal. Traps are a bit of a letdown in two ways. One, the actual use of trapped villains involves summoning them for a limited amount of time as a playable character. Said time is linked by way of a special meter, and at the end of the day, it amounts to nothing more than a temporary power-up. It would have been much cooler to have each villain as a fully playable character at all times with their own level system and custom movesets. Whereas the hulking  giants and the swap combos fundamentally changed the game, traps don't feel nearly as innovative. Additionally, adding traps to the game is just too much in terms of the physical collecting aspect. While all eight elements of traps can be purchased now in stores, two "mystery" elements are not for sale, and thus those villains cannot be captured until those are released. While I'm generally okay with gating off small bonus rooms by way of elements, giants, swap doors and Trap Master crystals, gating off characters while juggling the similar looking trap toys doesn't really make for a fun time. Taking off and putting on toys feels intuitive. It doesn't matter if the toy is big, small, or has interchangeable parts -- simply placing a new character on a surface and playing instantly is a fun and well designed activity. The traps on the other hand will leave many people confused as to who is in what trap, and since they're only truly used at certain points of the game to capture enemies, they often feel like they're sidelined. Thankfully, all of the other mechanics I mentioned earlier from past games are still readily available, and you can still complete the game only using the traps from the base kit. In true Skylanders fashion there's plenty to do though, even for those who don't dig the traps. The Kaos Doom Challenge is probably the biggest addition, and expands the arenas from Swap Force into a full-on horde mode with tower defense elements. Why the series didn't have this sooner is beyond me, but it's a ton of fun to play with friends, and a great way to get more use out of your whole collection of toys. Skystones, the in-universe card game is also back in a bigger capacity, battle arenas are still in, and a few more minigames like a 2D platformer diversion are available to unlock. While I never really connected with the trap mechanic or the new Trap Master toys, Skylanders: Trap Team is still a well-oiled machine. On newer consoles it looks fantastic, the action gameplay is still exciting, and the charm is still there. I just hope that Activision and its ilk have more interesting concepts in mind for the next iteration.
Skylanders 4 review photo
Same great gameplay, not so great new gimmick
Toys For Bob has found some rather interesting ways to evolve the Skylanders franchise. While the conceit the first time around was simply interactive toys, the developer mixed things up with giants on the second go, and...

I've discovered a new go-to game for relaxing

Sep 12 // Jordan Devore
I can't recall exactly how I got it into my head that I needed this 2010 Wii title. Nothing against the Wii, but there are so many other things I could be playing, whether for work or for leisure. Maybe it was a postponed Hawaii vacation that left me daydreaming about scuba diving. I can't be sure. What's important is I passed on the original Endless Ocean in favor of its sequel, which the internet rightfully told me to do. If you're only now hearing about the series, take that advice too. Blue World is a diving adventure game with a heavy emphasis placed on swimming around at your own pace, taking in the sights and sounds while exploring. And really, that's what makes it so unbelievably relaxing: there is little if any frustration to be had. You can't die. You can however chill out with a pack of giant otters in a South American river, or hitch a ride on a dolphin. Now, don't get me wrong, there are some horrifying, monstrous sharks lurking in certain areas -- but they can largely be avoided. And, more importantly, you can electrocute (err, "pacify") the shit out of them with your Pulsar device and go about your business. Even if that fails, the worst they or any other dangerous species will do is knock a bit of oxygen out of your tank. You might think that'd be a big deal, what with oxygen being the life-sustaining necessity that it is and underwater videogame levels often being stressful, but it's not. If you run out of air for whatever reason, you'll just be taken back to your boat with no real consequences. Remember almost drowning in Sonic the Hedgehog? This game is the opposite of that. Occasional scary-looking sea creatures aside, Blue World is a peaceful, laid-back journey. The music, which features vocals -- something not enough games are willing to adopt -- is beautiful, even uplifting. Combined with the steady breathing of your player character, the audio will put you in a zen-like state, totally unaware of the passage of time. Feel that stress melt away. Now, all of these feel-good descriptions are not to say you can breeze your way through the entire game. There's a story -- a sizable one at that -- but completing it feels like merely scratching the surface. Then the real fun starts: there are hundreds upon hundreds of real-world species to find across sea and land; coins to collect; and pieces of treasure to salvage. With or without the aid of online guides, finding all of that stuff would take ... jeez, I can't even hazard a guess. Certainly a long, long time. And that's not even counting all of the other stuff packed into Blue World, like training dolphins, running an aquarium, decking out a private reef, taking photos, and giving tours. It's JRPG deep, which is important because there are plenty of games that are inherently relaxing but not many that can keep your interest for 30+ hours. Every step of the way, the game rewards you with new titles. I don't know what the hell a "Temple Falcon" is, but I am one now, apparently. The positive reinforcement is appreciated. Chad Concelmo said it best in his review of Blue World for Destructoid: "The game is harmless, pleasant, relaxing, and just makes you feel really good inside."
Relax photo
Unwinding in an endless ocean
I play videogames for many reasons. Sometimes, I play for the story -- the chance to visit new worlds and live out someone else's life. Other times, it's the sense of competition I find most alluring, or the chance to master ...

The Voice photo
The Voice

Sing your heart out with The Voice


...or don't, depending on the songs included.
Sep 10
// Brittany Vincent
Let me preface this post by saying that I don't watch The Voice, or any of those other horrific singing shows. But I do sing a lot in my spare time. Not great or anything, but I do it for fun. And there aren't enough karaoke ...
Club Nintendo photo
Club Nintendo

There are some good Club Nintendo game rewards this month


Do yourself a favor and nab PiCTOBiTS
Sep 08
// Jordan Devore
Now, when I say this is a decent month for Club Nintendo game offers, I'm asking you to focus on Kirby Super Star, Super Punch-Out!!, and Art Style: PiCTOBiTS. Two Super Nintendo classics and an awesome, underplayed puzzler. ...
Porn photo
Porn

People really like looking at porn on their PS3s


Go ahead and upgrade to PS4, you guys
Aug 26
// Brittany Vincent
I'm not sure why you'd prefer using a console to look at porn over a PC or your phone if either are handy, considering the frustrating browser mechanics on many of them and the way ads like to display, but people like to do i...
Club Nintendo photo
Club Nintendo

Club Nintendo now offering Star Fox 64 and seven other games


I thought about Puzzle League Express for a second
Aug 04
// Jordan Devore
Nintendo has added a fresh set of games to Club Nintendo and it looks like I'm sitting this one out again -- can't go spending my precious remaining Coins on just anything. This set will be available until September 7: Super...
GameCube photo
GameCube

These officially licensed GameCube style controllers are sweet


For Wii and Wii U
Jul 29
// Chris Carter
Although they are technically third-party by way of the company PDP, a handful of GameCube-like controllers are heading your way as officially licensed products. According to an online retailer listing they are confirmed for ...

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