Splatoon is almost out, but before then, you can enjoy one last Global Testfire session on Wii U. It'll take place tomorrow at 3PM PST, 11PM UK -- once again it will attempt to cater to players all across the world.
As a... read
A few months ago I shared some closeup shots of the Mario Party amiibo line, and you guys seemed to really enjoy it, so here we are today with the Inkling Boy figure.
I've been playing Splatoon for over a week now (revie... read
We may have seen the last of the 8GB Wii U. Nintendo has revealed, by way of their website, that they are eliminating the basic edition of the console in Japan. It's been fairly elusive all across the world as it is, and Nint... read
This is a pretty massive week for the eShop, which I don't get to say that often. Seriously, I'm psyched!The Wii U is getting Swords and Soldiers II today, which is a pretty fantastic (local-only) little strategy game. M... read
If you're a competitive Super Smash Bros. player, chances in in the last year you may have started hearing a lot about Gonzalo "Zero" Barrios. Appearing somewhat out of nowhere, he has come first in every single one-on-one Sm... read
In the latest of Nintendo's Iwata Asks series, the producer of Splatoon revealed that at one point in development you'd play as a rabbit instead of kids! Perhaps they changed it because "You're a rabbit now, you're a kid... read
When I saw the Kickstarter for Hover: Revolt of Gamers, I had to back it. It's been a while since we've seen anything even remotely related to Jet Set, and although I'm still desperately craving an HD remake of Jet Set Radio... read
The Wii U and 3DS eShops (the latter in particular) are a great source of original games. While disc-based titles are often thrown by the wayside by third-parties on the Wii U, there's a ton of exclusive content on there that... read
May 20 //
Swords and Soldiers II (Wii U)Developers: Ronimo GamesPublisher: Ronimo GamesReleased: May 21, 2015Price: $19.99
This time around, the playable armies of the Chinese and Aztecs have been replaced by Demons and Persians. Although the former two will be sorely missed (I'll never forget some of their sayings), the replacements have more than enough tricks up their sleeve to justify their inclusion.
The way Swords and Soldiers II works is strikingly similar to its predecessor. As a strictly "one on one" affair, players will opt to build and research units, sending them in a straight line against another foe. If one gets close enough your units will start attacking their resource accruing units, and just like a complex RTS, your days are numbered as your enemy whittles down your base for a win. It's not just a "set it and forget it" style, as a constant array of diverse spells that can be used at any time keep you on your toes, and can change the tide of any given battle within a round.
My favorite part of this scheme however is how quickly everything goes down. After you have the gold, units can be built instantly. Other than the select few instances in a match where you need to erect towers, no real "buildings" need to be created. It's all action all the time, but there is depth to it. While Soldiers does have a story mode, the heart of the game lies within its head-to-head versus and skirmish gametypes.
The campaign is basically table-setting for everything else, giving you a rundown of the strengths and weaknesses of each individual unit, some ideas for how armies counter one another, all set to the tune of a really goofy story that illuminates some background on all three armies. It's not going to win any awards, but the jokes are occasionally laugh out loud funny, mostly due to the superb voicework that carries over into the other modes.
Where the sequel mostly succeeds is diversity between the armies. Vikings mostly focus on spells, Demons, towers, and Persians have a health mix of both with their own unique trappings. Every time I started to embed myself in an army I felt like I was playing an utterly different experience, which is definitely a positive. Over time I ended up gravitating towards the Persians, who have some really cool abilities on-hand. I really love the invisible units that are only seen while attacking, but they're balanced, expensive to build, and have plenty of counters.
I also enjoyed the low mana-cost cannon structure, which does nothing on its own, but can fire a low-damage, tiny genie-summoning canon shot across the map. I quickly learned that Demons could counter my stealth units by building barrel riders -- suicidal creatures that would explode and destroy them even if they were invisible, and were at a lower cost. In return I researched the bribe skill, which allowed me to take over specific units at a cost of gold and mana.
There's hundreds of counters like that across the multitude of characters and strategies present in the game, and thankfully, it's never too overwhelming at any given time. After seeing a new unit you'll have an incentive to try out the army and use it yourself, which is really easy to do considering how open the research tree is at the start. If you want to spend all of your starting gold just to build one big unit -- you can do that. Likewise, you can bunker up with a defensive-strategy at the start, or "Zerg" rush with some low-cost units. It's surprisingly balanced and open-ended.
Another new layer of depth is the gold and mana drop mechanic. On every map, airdrops will occasionally fall down and litter the map. You're presented with a choice -- let your gold gatherers stay within the comfort of your base for consistent riches, or brave the world for a massive reward. This is on top of micro-managing your army, spells, researching, and building responsibilities. It gets even more intense on one map in particular, where the only way to any resources of any kind is to pick up drops.
Multiplayer is played by way of one mode -- a local versus setup where one player uses the GamePad, and another, the TV. Although the lack of online play is a bummer, Ronimo really chose a perfect platform that caters directly to the dual army conceit. In short, it's a perfect situation for my wife, who prefers the TV and the Wii U Pro Controller (though a Classic Controller Pro and Wiimote can be used), and myself, who vastly prefers the GamePad. I ended up plugging in some noise cancelling headphones so I couldn't hear her unit sounds (and vice versa), and it was a much easier setup than we achieved with the previous game, getting two PCs together, logging into Steam, and hoping we consistently connect to one another.
There is one hangup though -- you can set your tweak a few extra stats in versus like your starting gold settings or change up build and cooldown rates, but you need to do this every round once you quit out of a session. It will work if you stay the same armies on the smae level to "rematch," but it feels like an oversight to have to switch it back every time. Your mileage may also vary if you don't have a friend to play with, but then again, that's where Skirmish comes in.
If you don't have anyone on hand, you can opt to play with the AI. Surprisingly it's actually challenging, though I will say that the CPU cheats from time to time, like when it throws down an area-of-effect (AOE) ability on the ground, knowing that your invisible units will cross over it. Still, I can put everything on random and play skirmish for hours, despite the fact that there wasn't anyone to revel in my victories with on the couch.
Although Swords and Soldiers II has a limited appeal for those of you who like to only game solo, it's a fine strategy title, and a perfect mix of brevity and depth. I'm likely still going to be learning the ins and outs of each army months down the line, which is a really great thing.
[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Vikings, Demons, and Persians, oh my Swords and Soldiers, released in 2009 as Ronimo's first game, was an underrated treasure. Although it was soon eclipsed by their subsequent release of Awesomenauts a few years later, it remained a staple in my house, as it was wonderously easy to pick up and play at any time.
Swords and Soldiers II builds upon that foundation and adds just enough depth to keep things interesting. read feature
By your favorite person alive, me!
"Better than anything David Cage has been making" - Edgar Velasco (MoonSpiderHugs)
"You've gotta be squidding me." - Zainré Fang
"So Nintendo hired David Lynch to create a Splatoon commercial?" - quetzalcoat... read feature
I still know quite a few people who haven't stopped playing Don't Starve. Gamers all across the globe are still uncovering secrets for it years later -- a testament to Klei Entertainment's developmental skills.
Pretty soon yo... read
So far, I've missed every single opportunity to try Splatoon. Folks who made an effort to participate in the time-restricted Global Test Fire demo have had encouraging things to say about the game, which has me simu... read
90s Arcade Racer feels like a relic of the past. It's actually a brand new project that was Kickstarted in 2013, but I very rarely hear anything about it, and often forget it exists. Thankfully a new update was given las... read
Since it was brought to Wii U, Miiverse has been a home for a pretty even split of amazing art, terrible stick figure comics and rough sketches of genitalia. Now, prepare for Splatoon to be invaded with a similar mix of commu... read
The image above is not the official Splatoon timeline. It's a goof created by a fan. Still, it shows that some people are already invested enough in the game to start pondering where it fits in the larger Nintendo universe, d... read
[Update: multiple community members have sent in this link to AmiAmi, where they are on pre-order for July.]
Nintendo is marketing Splatoon pretty aggressively, and the newest part of the blitz in Japan seems to be ... read
Back in May 2014, Monochroma was released. It was another Kickstarter success story that proved that the model can work, despite the fact that it had a rather middling reception at launch. Well, it partially-worked, as t... read
Nintendo took to Facebook today to assuage fears of US amiibo restocks, noting that Marth, and "a few other amiibo like Meta Knight and Ike" (gotta love the vagueness, like they don't know who exactly was reprinted) will... read
During the last Nintendo Direct event, it was revealed that Splatoon would host a limited-run "demo" called the Global Testfire. It turns out that this demo was actually an online-only, specifically timed beta test of so... read
Jurassic World opens on Friday, June 12. I'm skeptical, but I'll probably wind up seeing it anyway for the trained raptors. TT Games' LEGO Jurassic World, which spans the four films, releases the same day for all major conso... read
Mega Man May is still going strong in its second week, which will see the debut of Mega Man Battle Network 3 (Blue and White) on the Wii U Virtual Console. Also on the Wii U is Nihilumbra, Ultratron, Funk of Titans,... read
[Update: I am being told by a source at GameStop that Silver Mario will not be available for pre-order, and should be in-store on May 29 for purchase. "No replenishment" is the expectation being communicated to stores na... read
May 14 //
Brett Makedonski Chapter Three: The Hospital
Piece 1: This chapter's first piece is down the stairs at the beginning. It's right next to the text "He needs his mom. He needs comforting."
Piece 2: This is the first collectible in the game that NERO really makes you work for. It's locked behind a door that can only be opened by solving a puzzle. This room's off to the right after entering the hospital. The puzzle is completed by lining up the three holes in the bookshelf and throwing a light orb at the activation switch.
Piece 3: Now that we're properly in the hospital, we see that there are a ton of optional rooms to go into, and even multiple floors. We'll tackle everything on the ground floor first before moving upstairs. Keep an eye out for signs denoting rooms, as it'll help you find the right place for collectibles.
The third piece is pretty simple. It's in the left side of the restaurant. The restaurant is right by the words "Work needs me. We have bills to pay."
Piece 4: Move past the open courtyard to find a receptionist's desk. The fourth piece is behind it, by the phrase "There is nothing, nothing left to be done. What's the point?"
Piece 5: Staying on the lower level, you'll find a room marked "Pharmacy" which is near "I try to be collected, to not cry when he looks at me for strength." Piece number five is in the pharmacy.
Piece 6: This one's in the men's bathroom, which is a bit past "I try to be collected, to not cry when he looks at me for strength."
Piece 7: Now we've cleared out the ground floor and can move upstairs. I took the stairs by the restaurant, but there are many paths leading up. The next collectible is sort of near the text "Tell David not to fear, I will be there waiting for him in a better place." But, it's kind of off on its own without anything too describable nearby it.
Piece 8: Find the room marked "Women's Ward" and move through it to find the eighth piece.
Piece 9: Here's another that requires some work. This one's also in the Women's Ward, and it's locked behind another door. Solve the puzzle to be granted access to the ninth piece.
Piece 10: Still on the upper floor, there's a room called "Supervised Observation" that houses this piece.
Piece 11: Make your way around the upstairs to the Men's Ward. Work your way through here to find a side room with the penultimate piece of the puzzle.
Piece 12: After opening the gates, go down the stairs to find the final piece resting in the room that also contains the chapter's final puzzle.
Chapter Four: The Desert
Piece 1: At the beginning of the level, there's an anchor made of rock to the right. The first piece is up against it.
Piece 2: Continuing down the path from the rock anchor, veer a bit to the left to find this piece in plain sight across from the giant glowing artifact.
Piece 3: Now get close to the artifact, as the third piece is right alongside it. It's near the text "I never meant for any of this to happen. I'm so sorry."
Piece 4: Moving forward, there are some monkey statues that are covered in moss. The next piece of the puzzle is right in front of the central one.
Piece 5: You'll eventually come across the words "It's all my fault. I should've seen it coming." The fifth piece is a bit beyond that down a short path to the left.
Piece 6: You don't have to go far to get to the next collectible. It's just beyond the fifth one, and it's in between the trees with glowing cracks in their branches.
Piece 7: This one has quite the picturesque view! It's on the cliffside immediately behind "I could have done better. I should have done better."
Piece 8: The eighth piece is hard to miss. After crossing the rope bridge, it's just waiting right on the other side, ready to be collected.
Piece 9: After opening the gate, this one's right on the other side by the words "It wasn't meant to end like this." (I redacted some text from the narrator on this screenshot that could be considered a spoiler. I did this on the last image too. Although, if you've made it this far, you probably don't care much about spoilers.)
Piece 10: We're getting awfully close to the end. The tenth piece is up the path and to the left of the previous one. It's a little ways before "Why should the ending be more important than the moments leading up to it?"
Piece 11: Before going inside the lighthouse, this piece is just beyond the stone ramp leading up to the entrance.
Piece 12: Finally! The last piece! As you're ascending the lighthouse's spiral staircase, this one will be about halfway up out on a balcony. Pat yourself on the back for finding all 48 pieces and putting together all four puzzles.
In case you missed it, here's part one of the NERO collectibles guide, which covers The Caves and The Desert.
Let's put together a jigsaw puzzle! Well, we have 24 of NERO's puzzle pieces in the bag, which means there are 24 to go. The second half of the NERO collectibles guide features The Hospital and The Desert.
No sense wasting any time; let's jump right into it. If you don't know the drill, part one of the guide has all the details. read feature
May 14 //
Brett Makedonski Chapter One: The Caves
Piece 1: In a house off to the right at the very beginning. The text near the house reads "These brigands had dozens of hideouts scattered throughout the oceans."
Piece 2: Off to the right of the first puzzle. It's behind an orange plant and a tree with three branches coming out of the ground.
Piece 3: Shortly after the first puzzle. Right in front of the text "small waterfalls and underground rivers kept the caves humid for mushrooms to fluorish."
Piece 4: In the room where you get the light ability. Down the right-hand path from "One of those contraptions was blocking the passage in a dark room filled with crystals."
Piece 5: Shortly after the text saying there are two paths up ahead. It's to the right of the multi-tiered waterfall.
Piece 6: Take the left-hand path. The sixth piece is directly behind the text that reads "A giant torso of an ancient god made of stone was crying water to the lower room."
Piece 7: This one is in the room with the three monkeys puzzle which is necessary to progress. It's off to the right side of the door.
Piece 8: You'll soon come back out to another empty village. The eighth piece is in the house with the words "An opening in the rocks gave enough light and several ponds of fresh water served the brigands well." You have to go around the side of the house, though.
Piece 9: There's a ramp leading down to a puzzle with nine circles. The next piece is right on the other side of the ramp.
Piece 10: Just to the right of "Long and dark was the road David walked to meet his fellow brigands, but the sense of love they felt for each other helped."
Piece 11: The eleventh piece is up on the balcony under the text "There was something magic about that place, something romantic about the songs the brigands sang in the evenings."
Piece 12: The Caves' last piece is in a puzzle room where the far wall has three circles with rotating dots on it. This piece is to the right of that behind a large stone.
Chapter Two: The Forest
Piece 1: This one is right at the beginning of the level, behind and to the left of the words "In a remote area of the world, existed a place filled with wonders and beauty."
Piece 2: This piece is a bit in no man's land. It's far out in the field behind the text "Right in front of the tree, David had decided to found the village." It's nestled among three giant glowing mushrooms.
Piece 3: After opening the gate, you'll see the words "They already gave their assessment, they won't save him, so I will at least try to." It's in the nook behind this and between the buildings.
Piece 4: Shortly after the last piece, walk to the base of the waterfall to find this one. If you're having trouble, it's behind the words "It is taught that even today those glowing animals are still lighting those houses, giving the village a sense of false life."
Piece 5: This one can be found while walking through the village. It's behind the text "The villagers built an elaborate stone bridge in order to cross the small river ending at the waterfall."
Piece 6: After a mandatory puzzle that opens a gate, there's a clock puzzle a bit ahead and to the left. Along the left-hand side of the clock puzzle will be a little nook containing the next piece. Off in the distance is the text "That site had a strange attraction and for the villagers it was also connected to something even darker."
Piece 7: After the words "That site had a strange attraction and for the villagers it was also connected to something even darker," follow the path under an arch. Hang a left before the words "He's sounds asleep, how long have you kept watch?," and the next piece is resting in a field.
Piece 8: This piece is right behind a very large tombstone puzzle. The text in front of the puzzle reads "He asks for you, you know. He wants you to read him the giant jellyfish story this time."
Piece 9: From the last piece, keep walking directly backward from the giant tombstone. This piece is at the entrance to a canyon which leads to another puzzle.
Piece 10: After the tree falls, the tenth piece is just to the left of the text "The treatment just needs more time."
Piece 11: Eventually, you'll find yourself in a cemetery. Take the right-hand path by the text "A statue representing a goddess was placed beneath the open mausoleum, it is said that the ghostly figures would gather there by night," and the next piece is hiding in an open stone structure.
Piece 12: Progress just a bit further through the graveyard until you see the words "Strange to say and to see, the mausoleum was the only bright and lively part of the cemetery." The Forest's last piece is directly behind this text in another stone building.
Good job! That's half of the game in the books. Here's the guide to the second half -- The Hospital and The Desert.
Let's put together a jigsaw puzzle! NERO is an experience in exploration that beckons for the player to scour every inch of its world. Scattered across the game's four levels are 48 puzzle pieces, and they're hidden in every nook and cranny imaginable. Parts of... read feature
In 2006, many of us were desperate for another 2D Mario game, and Nintendo finally came through with New Super Mario Bros. for the original DS. From what I remember, it was a good game. Perhaps not great, but certainly suffic... read
May 13 //
NERO (Xbox One [reviewed], PC, Wii U, 3DS)Developers: Storm in a TeacupPublisher: ID@XboxReleased: May 15, 2015 (Xbox One), TBA (PC, Wii U, 3DS)Price: $19.99
But to spend a little more time in NERO's world is a wondrous thing. The omnipresent phosphorescent set-dressing strikes a dissonant chord against the subject material, but works in an odd mutuality. When hope seems like it's sure to slip away forever, the aesthetic inspires in an underlying way. Hey, maybe things will turn out all right after all.
As this is a foray through a child's mind who's going through uncertain realities, nothing about NERO is metaphorically black and white. The journey is paced however you see fit. Meandering about is enticing, as everything about it begs for exploration. Backtracking is likely to occur often, as you realize you've been staring at the lustrous sky for too long and forgot to pay attention to your surroundings. Every time this happens, you'll fall a little more in love with NERO.
Wandering off the beaten path has its benefits beyond taking in more scenery. NERO is a first-person puzzle-solving game, but it can be very light on the latter if you so choose. The majority of the puzzles are tucked away in areas that aren't even necessary to venture to. Those who opt to complete these brain-teasers will be awarded with an extra slice of narrative.
Honestly, those who take the quick and narrow path through NERO are robbing themselves -- not just of a few puzzles, but of the core experience. It's a game where you slowly figure out that aimless wandering is the aim. It's something that requires some marinating, soaking in the world to fully appreciate it. Approaching NERO with a destination in mind is a mindset that will result in disappointment.
Likewise, those who appreciate clearly drawn lines will similarly feel frustration. NERO is intentionally ambiguous at all times about its narrative, but its tone is always striking. Different thematic accents constantly punctuate different scenes; the ones that don't happen to arch over the course of the entire journey. For all the discussion it's sure to raise regarding plot, it's undoubtedly a story of love and loss, grief and guilt, companionship and family, and coping when the world is so goddamn unfair.
All that being said, NERO isn't perfect. Detractors will knock it for a short run-time, flat textures, frame rate stutters, and lack of puzzle variety. However, isolating those issues is akin to missing the forest for the trees. There's something greater at play here, and letting yourself become immersed in NERO will likely render those shortcomings moot.
Even after finishing, it's difficult to pin NERO down to a concept or feeling that's easy to explain. It's a game that prioritizes emotion above all else, and it does so wonderfully. But as the boy at the heart of this tale learns, emotions are tough to understand, and thus NERO is tough to understand. You'll just know that you felt something, and that sensation alone is worth the journey.
A strange and distant land I don't know why I kept playing NERO. That's not a statement meant to express disdain. I literally don't know what -- but something -- drew me to keep trekking through this sad, enamoring world. Its gravitas has a gravity abo... read feature
The '90s had some terrible commercials, like for real. They often times had really cheesy or bad jingles, just like this new commercial for Splatoon. The only thing this is missing is a geeky kid with glasses covering a bull... read
We've talked about it at length before -- the great Marth amiibo restock of May. Well, it doesn't seem all that great so far. Amazon was trickling out select orders through the day last Saturday (and were, for all intents and... read
Playtonic has reached the two million mark for its Yooka-Laylee Kickstarter, and now, it's thinking far ahead of its "extra polish" stretch goal. It has set its sights on DLC, and the way it is handling it... read