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New Harmonix game photo
New Harmonix game

The joy of hitting balls: New Harmonix game an Apple TV exclusive

From the developer of Rock Band
Sep 09
// Steven Hansen
Harmonix is busy. There's Rock Band 4 to finish and a delayed-into-2016 Amplitude. There's an additional game that needs to be crowdfunded, which I assume is not Beat Sports, which was just announced at Apple's live streamed...
Super Mario Maker photo
Super Mario Maker

Mario Paint's fly-swatting mini-game lives on

In Super Mario Maker, of course
Sep 04
// Jordan Devore
One week from today, I'll get to relive Gnat Attack. The chaotic fly-swatting mini-game from Mario Paint lives on in Super Mario Maker, and I can't express how happy that makes me. It's not too surprising that this and other ...

Rusty's Real Deal Baseball: Haggle a dog to buy games

Feb 13 // Steven Hansen
Rusty's Real Deal Baseball is free-to-play in Nintendo's lexicon. I see it as more of a demo. Everyone will be granted free access to the first six levels of the aforementioned batting minigame, Bat & Switch (hah!) which you get to by jumping into your Nontendo produced 4DS entertainment system. This game is so weird and goofy and I love it. "The localization guys had a field day," I'm told. The pitcher has a suit and a pitching machine head. And starts throwing some wicked curveballs you have to belt out into the skyline, simply with a well-timed tap of the A button. If you back out of the minigame (and out of your magic game system), you can go visit Rusty's shop. Rusty's wife has left him. His girlfriend thinks he's a deadbeat. He has 10 mouths to feed -- his pups. Rusty is a dog. He is also a shop owner, just trying to make ends meet selling minigames. When you go to visit Rusty, you're treated to dialogue "episodes" wherein you try to convince Rusty to sell you another of Real Deal Baseball's 10 minigames, but at a bargain. Unless you're an impatient moneybags who hates fun, in which case you can pay the base $4 that each minigame is priced at outright. But $4 is a lot for a minigame (that would be $40!), which is why we're going to haggle with Rusty and learn a little bit more about him along the way. Thankfully, removing any shred of buyer's remorse, one of Rusty's pups will always be privy to the conversation to inform you if you could get dad to go lower, or if he's truly, desperately at wit's end. They wouldn't reveal how low Rusty's prices go, but I'm assured it's significantly lower than the base price. Doing well in the minigames you do have -- or the handful of demo levels -- also nets you stamps and items that aid in your haggling. Aside from Bat & Switch, I'm told there is a fielding minigame that requires you to catch balls with the circle pad, as well as an umpiring minigame that might manage to give me empathy for blue. You start calling balls and strikes, but as you reach higher and higher levels you end up responsible for foul tips, fouls, balks, hit by pitches, and more. As a fan of baseball, minigames, and dog shop keeps, I am stupidly into the idea for Rusty's Real Deal Baseball. Provided you can haggle those minigame prices down and cut some deep deals, it should be a fun experiment in variable pricing. I can't wait to have conversations with Rusty, bathe in the resplendent nature of the writing team's puns, and play wacky minigames.
Rusty's Real Deal Basebal photo
A minigame compilation with a meta game about haggling a dog to buy real games with real money
Leave it to Nintendo to make "free to play" weird. This time, thankfully, it's my kind of weird. Rusty's Real Deal Baseball is not a baseball game. Rather, it's a compilation of baseball-themed minigames. There's a hitting mi...

Nintendo photo

Wii Party U dramatically increases Wii U sales in Japan

Minigame collection and new bundle drive hardware sales
Nov 09
// Kyle MacGregor
Wii Party U probably isn't going to set the world on fire, but it just might help save the Wii U. The minigame-fest hit shelves in Japan last week along with a special console bundle that also includes New Super Mar...

Review: Wii Party U

Oct 24 // Chris Carter
Wii Party U (Wii U)Developer: Nintendo (Nd Cube)Publisher: NintendoReleased: October 25, 2013MSRP: $49.99 (with Black Wii Remote Plus - physical release only) Wii Party U is basically Nintendo's crack at a Mario Party-like IP (although Nd Cube did recently handle Mario Party 9). Under the helpful watch of the absolutely adorable Muppet-like Party Phil and Party Penny, you'll take your personalized Mii on a journey across three modes: board games, a party mode, and activities played entirely on the GamePad. Yep, just like Mario Party, there are a few boards to travel across that basically serve as a delivery mechanism for minigames. The design feels a bit odd for sure, because in some ways the in-game mechanics are superior to Nintendo's famous party franchise, and in others, it feels more bare-bones. For instance, I love the rolling system in Wii Party U, as it's mostly based on skill rather than luck. Depending on the board, you'll either earn more dice for performing well in minigame challenges, or the dice rolls themselves are tiny microgames. So instead of simply rolling a die and moving that many spaces, you may have to shoot a blowgun dart at a numbered balloon by blowing into the GamePad's microphone, or quickly tap a procession of numbers flying across the touch screen. But while I found that minor mechanical tweak to be a unique change of pace, the boards have a distinct lack of personality. Instead of the clever tricks and traps found in most Mario Party boards (the Monopoly and Ghost Mansion maps really stand out for me), most boards in Wii Party U are very bare-bones, and offer generic mishaps like "go back three spaces." At the crux of the entire experience are the minigames, of which there are over 80. In a setup similar to Mario Party, you can access all of these individually from the main menu, as well as set up micro tournaments that consist entirely of skirmish after skirmish with some gimmicks involved to mix things up. The games range from luck-based endeavors like "hide from the ostrich!" to one of the most enjoyably competitive (albeit simple) Pac-Man clones I've seen to date. One really cool feature is the ability to "rate" games after you've played them on a five-star rating system, which is then collectively applied to games on the list via the internet. As an aside, the vast majority of these games are played with Wiimotes, so you'll need four of them to accommodate a full house. Thankfully most of them didn't go overboard with waggle, and there's a decent mix of old-school NES-style controls alongside some shaking. Effectively, you could call Wii Party U "Minigames: The Game," which would be both a compliment and a slight -- but in general I was having fun, even if I've seen most of it before. Party Mode is a bit more out of the box, offering activities like "rate your friends," to Pictionary, to a Twister-like free-for-all, where everyone is trying to grab certain buttons on the GamePad, and four Wiimotes laid out on the floor. You'll need a party of three or more to play the majority of these, and depending on how active your group is, your mileage will vary. For some of these games you'll need a special stand, which is included in the box to help prop up your GamePad. I wasn't too impressed by these, but with the right group you'll make your own fun. The final piece of the puzzle is a small collection of GamePad-only games. This portion is restricted to two players, since each person will be taking up one end of the controller, using opposite analog sticks to control the action. These are more like tech demos compared to the rest of the Wii Party U, and include things like foosball, baseball, and marble games. It can be a bit annoying to find a perfect spot that's in range of the Wii U to accommodate two players on the same screen -- but with an enthusiastic partner, at least half of these adversarial and co-op-enabled games can serve as a minor distraction. In short, it's more like an extra than a full-blown feature. Outside of the sheer amount of minigames and modes on offer, there isn't a whole lot to unlock in Wii Party U -- what you see is basically what you get. In terms of replay value you'd be hard pressed to be entertained for more than a week by yourself, and with two players, you may get another week or two out of it. But with three to four player engagements constantly, you're going to get a ton more mileage. In some ways Wii Party U feels like a more refined Mario Party, albeit with a lot less heart and charm. It constantly straddles the line between tech-demo and full-on experience, but after playing it extensively, my brain tends to gravitate towards the latter. Although it isn't the be-all-end-all of party games, I'm pulling for Party Phil and Party Penny to be in the next Smash Bros. -- because after all, Nintendo could really use more Muppets.
Wii Party U review photo
A modest get-together
Nintendo has a storied history with multiplayer games. Back in the days of the Nintendo 64 and the GameCube, its power to get four people in a room together was unrivaled. Now, every console supports four or more controllers,...

Rayman Legends' Kung Foot photo
Rayman Legends' Kung Foot

Kung Foot: Rayman Legends gets great new minigame

Kung Foot: Enter the...foot
Jul 17
// Steven Hansen
Last week, Ubisoft held an event for Rayman Legends, a game that's been a long time coming thanks to a delay on account of incoming multiplatform ports. While I figured we might just about have seen everything we need to know...
Game & Wario photo
Game & Wario

There are five new gametypes in Game & Wario

All the same craziness with extras in tow
Apr 17
// Abel Girmay
For the fans of 2007's Wario Ware: Smooth Moves, it's been quite the dry spell in between console entries. Having recently seen release in Japan, Nintendo is now showing off localized versions of Game & Wario. Here's a rundown on some of the new modes.
Game & Wario photo
Game & Wario

Game & Wario video blow out

Final confirmation that this game is awesome
Mar 28
// Jonathan Holmes
The last time I posted about Game & Wario, there was much editorializing on how I found the game initially disappointing but was slowly becoming more hopeful that it would find excellence. These new videos from...
Game & Wario photo
Game & Wario

Tickle sleeping children's feet in Game & Wario

New vids remind us that, yeah, this game is weird
Mar 14
// Tony Ponce
Everbody's buddy "NintenDaan" Koopman directed us to these latest videos for the upcoming Game & Wario. Now, I must admit that I haven't been following the development of the Wii U party fest because the word "mini-game"...

Review: Bentley's Hack Pack

Feb 13 // Chris Carter
Bentley's Hack Pack (PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita [reviewed])Developer: Sanzaru Games Inc.Publisher: Sony Computer EntertainmentReleased: February 5, 2013MSRP: $2.99 (PlayStation 3 - Cross-buy with Vita) Bentley's Hack Pack is basically a collection of the various hacking mini-games found in the main campaign mode of Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time. If you've played the game already, you've come across these in the mandatory portions of the campaign, and you pretty much know what to expect going into Bentley's Hack Pack. There's a twin-stick tank shooter (System Cracker), a scrolling shoot-'em-up (Alter Ego), and a Marble Madness-style game (Spark Runner) -- the latter of which is operated entirely by way of motion controls. But that's not to say that each game is just comprised of rehashed levels from the Thieves in Time hacking sections -- because they're not. They are all-new levels developed for the Hack Pack, along with some extras. [embed]244831:46923[/embed] Specifically, Bentley's Hack Pack contains unique challenges for every level in the game, like no-death runs, high-score challenges, and hidden-mask hunts. Like your average $1-2 iOS game, it provides you with an optional method of replay value, should you be inclined to want to go back and best your prior efforts. Each game feels fun in its own way, especially System Cracker, which has a degree of exploration to it with the challenges in tow. As you play through each stage and complete these challenges, you'll start to unlock little cosmetic trophies that you can view and read a little blurb about. If you're a Cooper fan, you're going to get more out of the Hack Pack as you press on to unwrap gifts and treasures that subtly reference old adventures from Sly 1-3. Nothing is really earth-shattering in the slightest, but neat little factoids on items strewn about the franchise add to the charm of the overall package. There's also a special unlock at the very end, which fans are sure to enjoy. Control-wise, everything outside of the Marble Madness-style game handles extremely well. Just like Thieves in Time, I found that for the motion-controlled portions of the game, the Six-Axis DualShock 3 controls are superior to the Vita's gyroscope, so play it on the PS3 if you can. The Vita version's marble game is still serviceable, but on more than one occasion I fell to some pretty frustrating deaths after motion dead-zoning. It makes me long for developers to figure out that they don't have to force specific control methods in their games for the sake of it -- give us options! Sadly, unlike Thieves in Time, although the game is cross-buy compatible (meaning you get the PS3 and Vita versions with the same $2.99 purchase), it is not cross-save compatible. Meaning, you can't play on the go with your Vita, save your progress, and pick it up on the PS3 seamlessly through through cloud save capability. There's also no cross-interfacing features at all between this and the core release, in case you were hoping for a coin or item boost in Thieves in Time similar to Fable Pub Games and Fable II. As Conrad perfectly stated in his Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time review, Bentley's Hack Pack, like the core iteration this mini-game collection is based on, is at worst, inoffensive. If you're a retro gamer, you've already played other titles that present the core precepts these mini-games provide, but Bentley's Hack Pack has an interesting enough framework to actually compel you to keep going, with a bit of the ol' Sly charm to boot. For a few bucks, it's worth taking the plunge.
Bentley's Hack Pack photo
An inoffensive mini-game collection
Sony does a pretty terrible job at promoting its first-party games. For instance, take Sly Cooper. Droves of gamers were not only unaware that Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time launched last week, but they were completely in the da...


Did you start your morning with PS Vita's Wake-up Club?

Never hit snooze again!
Jan 16
// Kyle MacGregor
Let's face it: waking up in the morning sucks, but Sony has a new game of sorts to make that harsh reality a little more tolerable. Wake-up Club is essentially an alarm clock with social game elements for your PlayS...

Game & Wario will contain 16 minigames

New info has been revealed, finally
Dec 05
// Chris Carter
At yesterday's Nintendo Direct presentation in Japan, Nintendo revealed a bit more information about Game & Wario, stating that it'll have sixteen separate minigames to choose from. The game is said to have a mix of fully...

Review: Rabbids Land

Nov 18 // Jim Sterling
Rabbids Land (Wii U)Developer: Ubisoft ParisPublisher: UbisoftRelease: October 18, 2012MSRP: $49.99 Rabbids Land revolves around a four-player board game. The board is made up of three rings, one of which is the central starting area and two of which contain a variety of squares with special properties. The aim of the game is to travel around the board, completing objectives to win a set number of trophies, before returning to the starting ring. Winner, obviously, is the first to get all the trophies and make it home.  Players pass around the GamePad in turns, tapping on a virtual die that determines how many spaces can be moved. The most desirable spaces to land on are game squares, as these pick the player and a random opponent to compete for three trophies. Quiz spaces ask a general knowledge question in exchange for two trophies, while traps remove a trophy from any player unfortunate enough to land on them. Prize spaces grant unique one-use abilities, such as a loaded die that lets you pick any number you wish, or the power to steal a trophy from another player. Finally, there are event spaces, which alter the board itself by adding score multipliers, bombs, or burglars that move around the board and steal trophies.  [embed]238852:45827[/embed] The mini-games make use of the Wii U GamePad in a variety of gimmicky ways, but it has to be said that none of them come across as very inspired. Unlike Nintendo Land, Ubisoft's own party offering is a little on the tame side, doing nothing that we haven't seen before from other mini-game compilations that use motion or touch controls. We have a game where you tilt the Pad to move a ball around, one where you trace images with the stylus, one where you use the gyroscope to look about and shoot at things -- it's all quite pedestrian stuff. There's a little bit of a spin when the Wiimote comes into play, with other players trying to stop the main participant from winning, but again, it's the same kind of stuff we've seen on the Wii already.  The games are slow paced, simplistic, and kind of dull. They all work just fine, but they're hardly exciting. Part of the problem is that I believe the GamePad is far less suited to the idea of party games than the Wii was, but Ubisoft is trying to force it anyway. The GamePad is a less physical controller than the Wii remote, and it's not exactly cause for a party mood when you're watching somebody hunched over a little screen, tracing lines with a thin plastic stylus. The GamePad's potential for asymmetrical multiplayer experiences is exciting, but not for these kinds of thoughtless mini-game experiences. The informed wackiness of people performing "crazy" objectives together is lost in translation when it comes to the more exclusive properties of the Wii U's primary controller.  There's very little else of note in Rabbids Land, for all its promise of silly adventure in a crazy theme park. Outside of the board game, you can tackle unlocked mini-games in a Free Play or a Treasure Hunt mode. Treasure Hunt places coins in the games that can be tapped on and collected. The more coins players find, the closer they get to unlocking various videos in the Extras menu. These videos are mostly brief skits featuring the Rabbids doing silly things, and I believe they're far more entertaining than the actual interactive portions of this product.  Rabbids Land isn't awful, but it's wholly unnecessary for a system that's launching with Nintendo Land, a game that trounces Ubisoft's attempts in every conceivable way. Rabbids Land does nothing exciting with the new input, nor does it take advantage of what the Wii U can do in order to provide games more suited to the GamePad. Instead, it tries old tricks on a system that's not built with them in mind, and the result is something disposable that has no real value to anybody.  If you play Rabbids Land, you won't have the worst time, but it'll be wasted time nonetheless. 
Rabbids Bland
It's hard not to like the Rabbids. Cute in an ugly way, stupid in an admirable way, the bug-eyed creatures bear an innate charm, and it's hardly surprising they swiftly stepped out of Rayman's shadow to star in their own fran...

Review: Nintendo Land

Nov 17 // Jim Sterling
Nintendo Land (Wii U)Developer: NintendoPublisher: NintendoRelease: November 18, 2012MSRP: $59.99 Nintendo Land is a virtual amusement park boasting a series of attractions based on classic Nintendo properties, from Super Mario to Animal Crossing. Essentially, it's a minigame compilation, but before you roll your eyes in jaded memory of the Wii's minigame-saturated library, bear in mind that the Wii U needs, perhaps more than any other system, this kind of title at launch. The GamePad can be used in many more ways than the Wii Remote, and Nintendo Land does a fine job of demonstrating this.  Each attraction uses the GamePad in a different way, meant to show off a number of intriguing ideas that, while not fully fleshed out on their own, could be evolved later down the line to potentially support any number of full games. There are 12 attractions in all, some of which are solo affairs, and others able to be played with friends using Wii Remotes.  [embed]238428:45745[/embed] Solo attractions are, as you might expect, for one player using a GamePad. Takamaru's Ninja Castle is a shooting gallery in which the GamePad is gripped on one side and aimed at the television. The player fires shurikens at the screen by swiping the touchscreen, as if they're whipping the throwing stars off of a table. Donkey Kong's Crash Course makes use of the gyroscope to tilt an arena of platforms and navigate a little wheeled contraption to a finish line. F-Zero Racing has players looking at the GamePad screen to get a bird's-eye view of the race course, while the television screen shows the racer from behind. Using these two perspectives, the player can gyroscopically steer the vehicle along a winding path from above, while using the rear perspective to navigate through tunnels.  Team attractions combine one GamePad user with up to four Wii Remote wielders to cooperate in levels inspired by The Legend of Zelda and Metroid. In the Zelda courses, the GamePad user is an archer, aiming with motion controls and firing with the right stick. Wii Remote players are swordsmen, and swing at the opponents while looking at the TV monitor. Metroid is rather similar, with players using spaceships and ground troops for a larger battlefield that isn't as much of an on-rails experience as Zelda. While Metroid is more free, I have to say I enjoy the Zelda attraction much more, especially when played cooperatively. Controls are simple, tight, and very well implemented, while the typical Zelda charm is of course a nice bonus. Competitive attractions are no less self-explanatory, as these pit the GamePad user against up to four Wii Remote players. By far the standout game is Mario Chase, in which the GamePad user is Mario and the Remote users are Toads, charged with catching him. Mario gets a full view of the arena that only he can see, while the Toads have a limited field of view on the television and only audio cues as to which colored zone their objective is hiding. It's a lot more fun than I expected it to be, and could make a great party game. Luigi's Ghost Mansion is similar, with one player acting as the ghost and using the personalized view of the map to sneak up on opponents before they can blast it with torchlight.  There are a few games using the (already) overlooked stylus, one in which players swipe gusts of wind to direct a balloon-hoisted character across a course of hindrances, and a very intriguing little puzzle game in which a course is drawn on the touchscreen to direct a Yoshi to eat pieces of fruit and reach an exit. The twist is that fruit and obstacles are only visible on the television, so the player has to estimate the approximate position of them on the touchscreen using the visual clues set up by the terrain. It's a clever idea, and can become quite tricky indeed once later stages are reached.  All these attractions are themed around a central hub populated by all manner of twee Nintendo Mii characters. In each game, coins can be earned and spent in a simple ball-and-peg minigame to unlock decorations for the hub, such as items and enemy statues, a jukebox, and a button to change the world's ambiance to daytime, dusk, or night. I do wish this area of the game wasn't as barren as it is. For all its promise as a virtual amusement park, Nintendo Land as a place isn't all that amusing. Outside of the attractions, there's very little to do, and the "park" is but a small circular arena that lays sterile in its clinical nothingness. The game might as well be a menu from which the games can be selected -- an idea given more credence when, after a few plays, you're given the ability to open a menu from which the games can be selected. Nothing Nintendo Land does is necessarily enthralling, providing as it does a selection of fairly disposable games that can be picked up or dropped at leisure. They're fun, but they're not going to keep you playing for hours on end. Their job, as I've said, is to showcase the GamePad, and that is what they do. They make an incredibly convincing case that the GamePad is more than just a poor man's iPad, especially when it comes to utilizing the two screens and exploiting the unique properties of one GamePad user versus multiple Wii Remote players. Its competitive modes are more than capable of being used as party pieces, and I have no doubt it can be used to keep kids entertained for quite a while.  Graphically, the game looks pretty damn impressive for a minigame collection. The bold colors look fantastic on an HDTV and do a fine job of showing just how great a Nintendo game can look when it's not tied to a standard resolution. One major downside of the game, however, comes in the form of a little robot called Monita. She acts as the host of Nintendo Land, and all I can say is that if any real entertainer talked to an audience the way she does, they'd be fired within a week. From her droning, monotonous voice to the fact that everything she says seems like a contemptuous demand rather than a suggestion, Monita is vastly unlikable. It's not as if it's been done on purpose, either -- she has zero personality to justify her hateful tone, it was simply a disastrous attempt to make her sound robotic. What's worse is that she talks ALL THE TIME. She never shuts up, and her constant annoyance really puts a crimp in an otherwise inoffensive little game.  That glaring aggravation aside, Nintendo Land is what it is. It never set out to amaze us by itself, it merely wants us to respect the GamePad, and you can't really expect much more from a title packed into the Wii U's box. Even so, it's worth noting that, unlike so many tech demos, Nintendo Land is still quite fun. It's not forcing the GamePad's touchscreen and gyroscope into gameplay that doesn't support it, and it's not making established genres less convenient to play with hamfisted new input that doesn't belong there. Its game selection isn't compelling to the point of addiction, but it's all pretty good stuff to snack on.  Those unconvinced about what the Wii U can do would benefit from finding themselves a way of trying out Nintendo Land. It manages to do a lot with the system without, I believe, even scratching the surface of what more focused and dedicated videogames could achieve. It's a game meant to excite you more about the system you just purchased, and that is what it does. Well worth checking out, at any rate. 
Nintendo Land photo
A fairly grounded fairground
The Wii U GamePad is a lot more versatile than it looks. Some potential consumers have not been quite as inspired by the system as they were by the immediate uniqueness of the Wii and its remote controller. After all, tablets...

It's basically tag
Since its announcement, we seen a small trickling of the new game types in Nintendo Land. The latest is Mario Chase, a Mario themed game of tag where players have to chase after Mario. Player one is Mario, and with a ten seco...


Float on with Nintendo Land's Balloon Trip Breeze trailer

Sep 13
// Tony Ponce
Like most of you, I was taken aback when Nintendo first revealed Nintendo Land during its E3 conference. But after actually, ya know, PLAYING the thing, I started warming up to it. It's less the kind of "party game" we are fa...

Full list of attractions in Nintendo Land (Update)

Sep 13
// Tony Ponce
[Update: We now know the names of all 12 attractions] Nintendo shared some new attractions in Nintendo Land today: Mario Chase, Pikmin Adventure, and the retitled Metroid Blast. The Metroid minigame was showcased specificall...

Review: Lights, Camera, Party!

Aug 28 // Ian Bonds
[embed]233646:44864[/embed] Lights, Camera, Party! (PlayStation Network)Developer: Frima Studio Inc.Publisher: SCEAReleased: August 28, 2012 MSRP: $29.99 ($14.99 for PlayStation Plus) In the game's story mode, one of APE TV's satellites crashes into the Funzini family's house so the studio owner, Gus Pacho, invites them to star in a wacky game show and compete for the grand prize: THE HOME OF THEIR DREAMS! Players then have to compete against each other in a variety of mini-games sharing a single controller. As each player gains points during their game, whoever wins the round wins a portion of the house designed with their selected character in mind. For example, Papa Funzini loves candy, so his house is themed with sweets, while little Billy Funzini loves cowboys, so his dream home looks western, and so on. There are five family members to choose from, but this is only used to put a face to your profile in story mode and a style to your home sections. The story mode supports up to four players, but there's a party mode which supports up to eight. Again, all of these modes can be played with a single Move controller. The mini-games themselves are your standard motion-controlled fare: swing at this, rotate that, move it up to do one thing, down for another, etc. Honestly, there's nothing really inspired or unique that you haven't seen before in another form in some other mini-game collection, but at least the motion controls perform well. Because it's PlayStation Move, they incorporate some forward and back movements -- such as twisting blocks to be pushed into the properly shaped holes -- so it's not just a lot of waggle (though there is plenty of that, too). There's also some color matching for the ball on the top of the controller, but every mini-game is easily described just before you perform it, from holding it up to your face to dodge incoming pies, to yelling into the mic on the PlayStation Eye camera to raise the decibels and destroy a mountain. For some reason, there is a heavy monkey theme to be found (many of the games star the APE TV's staff, who are all monkeys), but it's never explained. Not that you'll be looking for much plot here. As you play through, there's a decent amount of competition to be had, as players can try to beat high scores on different events. However, the announcer will begin to get on your nerves. Even as you fail an event completely, he'll claim that you're "one step away from victory" despite completely screwing up. But hey, positive thinking, right? Thankfully, there's an option to turn him off by lowering the sound of the voice in the options menu. Also there is no single-player option, other than the game's challenge mode. The game is meant for families to pick up and play quickly while hopefully having fun and laughing at the on-screen antics and variety of mini-games, all while frantically passing the one controller back and forth to each other. However, because there's not a lot of games unlocked at the start, I found myself repeating mini-game events in my first few go-rounds. Once you unlock a good batch, though, you shouldn't see too many repeats, as there are a total of 50 mini-games in all. Because there are only five avatars, when playing with more than five people, you'll also end up having many folks using the same character for their profile. Again, not a huge deal, but a bit more variety would have been nice. There's not a whole lot that can be said about this title. The main "story" can be played in about a half hour max if you have all four player slots filled, and the mini-games speed by fairly quickly. There at least is a selectable difficulty for the mini-games, which can present a challenge, but usually only in the time limit needed for task completion. There's also the aforementioned a challenge mode, where you can choose which mini-game you want to play to see if you can beat high scores and for medals and such, with a promise of DLC on the way for more mini-games, but after a few rounds, you'll feel as though you've already seen and done everything that you would want. Lights, Camera, Party! is not a bad game. What it does, it does fairly well, and the art style looks neat. However, despite the graphics and accurate gameplay, the collection falls into the problem all mini-game collections have: repetition, which leads to boredom. Once you've done a few mini-games, you may not be compelled to unlock the rest. This exists to be a mini-game collection, and nothing more. You know what to expect.

Mini-games. Apparently, they're still a thing. If you own one of those new-fangled motion controllers for your system, invariably you'll discover that there are mini-game collections to be found for your device. PlayStation M...

Preview: Undressing Rabbids in Rabbids Land for Wii U

Aug 17 // Steven Hansen
Rabbids Land (Wii U)Developer: Ubisoft ParisPublisher: UbisoftRelease: TBA First, we had a hip, rhythmic affair -- because what would a Rabbids game be without the ability to boogie down? The player with the normal Wii remote and nunchuck watches the TV screen as a Rabbid jacks a sweet ride, blasting the stereo. Shaking the two controller bits in rhythm to the scrolling musical notes causes the car to belch cool guy flames. Meanwhile, the person with the Wii U controller watches the inset screen as their Rabbid clings to a rope tailing behind the car, tilting the controller to maneuver between the four lanes that fireballs can be coming down. Hit too many of them and the other player wins. In what was another attraction I’ve never seen at an amusement park, the second minigame I played was Raiders of the Lost Ball. Holding the Wii U controller parallel to the floor and looking at the inset screen, one player uses the tilt functionality to maneuver three separate Rabbids around a platform, trying to collect ten diamonds. Meanwhile, the other player tilts a Wii remote to try and crush all the opposing Rabbids with a giant boulder. Winner in two out of three rounds wins the game. Lastly, we have a cheeky cooperative matching game. Two rows of Rabbids in silly dress chill on display. With the Wii remote, one player lifts up their outfits from the front to reveal a variety of symbols and pictures, from clouds to cherries to flowers to skulls to poop. Meanwhile, the player with the Wii U controller, stylus in hand, lifts up the Rabbids’ clothes from behind. Players have to shout the underbelly images they’re seeing until you deduce which single image is present on both sides, at which point you can match them. Doing so five times under the time limit is a success. The Rabbid titles are often at least a passable way to drain time and occasionally good, zany fun. Soon enough we’ll see if Rabbids Land is a mere gimmick-laden cash-in or a jolly good time. It’s already competing with the bound-to-be-brilliant Rayman Legends for the go-to multiplayer Wii U game, so surely it’ll have to do some cool things to contend.

Those wacky Rabbids are back. I suppose the Wii U wouldn’t be complete without a party minigame compilation starring these lovable loons; plus, they rake in the cheddar. So here we are. A stopgap before Mario Party 27 t...


gamescom: Rabbids Land screens and trailer

Aug 15
// Jim Sterling
Whenever there's a new console, Ubisoft's always the first in line to provide the third-party support. In the case of Wii U, whether that's a good or bad thing depends on how much you love Rabbids.  Rabbids Land was shown at E3 where ... nobody remembered it. Let a new bunch of screenshots and a fresh trailer remind you it exists. Now you remember. Hooray. "DAAAAAAH" and all that.

Another Wii U title: Game Party Champions

Aug 09
// Dale North
More and more titles are being added to the Wii U launch window, and today Warner Bros. Interactive adds another with Game Party Champions. If the name sounds familiar, it should, as this is another in the Game Party franchis...

Impressions: Rabbids Land is the Wii U's Mario Party

Jun 12 // Bob Muir
In Rabbids Land, the Rabbids have invaded an amusement park and intend to have a good time, rules be damned. This takes the form of a board game punctuated by minigames. My demo didn't really show how the board game would be set up, but focused on a few of the minigames so that I could see the possibilities of the Wii U controller. The first minigame I played took its inspiration from Indiana Jones. The Rabbids dressed up like the famous adventurer and rode around on top of boulders in a vaguely Temple of Doom-themed area. Like many Wii U games this year, this one featured asynchronous multiplayer. One player tilted the Wii U GamePad horizontally to control three Rabbids on small boulders and gather ten diamonds. Meanwhile, the second player tilted the Wiimote to move one Rabbid on a big boulder who needs to squash the other player's Rabbids. The Rabbid on the big boulder could roll faster than the Rabbids on the smaller boulders, but the weaker Rabbids could slip through small green gates to momentarily escape their hunter. The GamePad had a top-down view of the entire area while the TV screen had an angled, slightly zoomed-in view, but in practice this difference didn't matter. If the big boulder Rabbid couldn't see one of the smaller boulder Rabbids, it was obvious that it was in the corner not currently visible. It might have been a lot more interesting if the small green gates shifted over time and were only visible to the GamePad player, but as it was, there wasn't anything here that couldn't have been done with two Wiimotes on one screen. Innovation aside, it was a fun game, with good tension for both players. The other minigame I was able to check out was a riff on a Tunnel of Love ride. The two players must work together to help unite soul mates by picking them out of a crowd. The identification process is both silly and dirty: pull up the Rabbids' skirts or kilts to see if they have matching symbols on their underwear. This game showed off asynchronous multiplayer much better than the first, thanks to the different views actually mattering. The Rabbids have different symbols on their fronts and backs, and each player can only see one side. So the Wiimote player aims at a Rabbid, presses A, and aims higher to lift the skirts or kilts, while the GamePad player simply drags the clothing up with their finger. The goal is to find as many matching pairs as possible before time runs out, and all the Rabbids are replaced once a pair is found. It turns into a shouting match as both players try to compare and match the symbols they have as fast as possible. Well, that's what it would be in theory at least, since my Wiimote partner seemed very overwhelmed by the concept and only spoke up once he had very carefully analyzed all of his Rabbids. Despite my partner's reluctance to have any fun with it, I could see this being a good icebreaker game at parties. There are many more minigames set to be included in Rabbids Land, and I'd imagine not all of them make "innovative" use of the GamePad. But if they're as fun as the Indiana Jones minigame, it shouldn't really matter. The GamePad just opens up more possibilities; there's nothing wrong with using old methods if they work. I'd still be interested in seeing how fun the board game element is before committing to Rabbids Land over the inevitable Wii U Mario Party installment.

I remember picking up the first Rayman Raving Rabbids game when the Wii launched in 2006. While I had planned on buying Red Steel alongside Twilight Princess (a purchase mandated by Nintendo fan law), a negative early-mo...


E3: Shoot your friends in Nintendo Land's Zelda minigame

Jun 07
// Maxwell Roahrig
While I'm not terribly excited for Nintendo Land, Nintendo's latest collection of mini-games, there's no one on staff more pumped about the project than Jonathan Holmes. In this video, Holmes checks out "Legend of Zelda: Bat...

Google gets Zerg rushed

Apr 27
// Joshua Derocher
Open up Google and search for "Zerg Rush," then be ready to fight! Good luck! Google "Zerg Rush" and prepare to defend your browser [PC Gamer]

Star Wars Kinect to violate everything you believe in

Apr 02
// Jim Sterling
I will confess, I've not exactly been kind to Star Wars Kinect. In fact, I don't think anybody's been particularly nice to it, as cynicism and mockery appears to accompany all talk of it. Well ... allow Star Wars Kinect to r...

Review: Mario Party 9

Mar 31 // Jonathan Holmes
Mario Party 9 (Wii)Developer: Nd Cube Co., Ltd.Publisher: NintendoReleased: March 11, 2012MSRP: $49.99 The first 20 minutes of Mario Party 9 only offer a few token changes that may not even be noticeable to anyone but diehard Mario Party fans. Dig a little deeper, though, and you'll find that Mario Party 9 really isn't like all the rest. The host of this virtual game show, Mario, is the same, but the rules are very different this time around. That comes as less of a surprise after you discover that the title was developed by a brand-new team. This new team put together a title that feels more like a true Mario spin-off, and less like a stereotypical "party" game. As someone who has never been particularly enamored with the Mario Party series, that's definitely a change for the better. There is a much more balanced mix of motion-controlled and "standard" games this time around. A lot of the games are played with the Wii Remote held on its side, with either Mario Kart-style motion controls or no motion controls at all. While Mario Party 8 was released when motion controls were riding high, Mario Party 9 has seen release in the post-New Super Mario Bros. Wii period of the Wii's life cycle. Nintendo has learned that over 20 million Wii owners are happy to play a 2D home console Mario title with minimal motion controls, and they've taken that lesson to heart in the development of this title. The influence of New Super Mario Bros. Wii doesn't stop there. There are many subtle and not-so-subtle shout-outs to that title here. Remember that level in New Super Mario Bros. Wii where you were riding a raft across an evil purple swamp? You'll get that level again here, except with a Super Mario Galaxy-style 3D camera. That fusion of New Super Mario Bros. Wii and Super Mario Galaxy is pretty much the game's central theme, though there are a few smatterings of Super Mario Sunshine moments and hints of other Mario titles throughout. Buckenberry and Ala-Gold fans will be pleased. That's really just window dressing, though. What's more important is Mario Party 9's increased focus on videogame-y elements. There are now mini-boss fights, giant boss fights, more platforming levels, and maps that feel better with more branching paths and secrets. There are some moments when the uninitiated eye might glance at Mario Party 9 and think it's an honest-to-god Mario game. That's not something I think you can say for its predecessors. The games here are still simple and kid-friendly, but many of them feel much more like Mario experiences, and not just party games that happen to feature Mario-themed skins. A lot of other changes reduce the level of "board game logic" present in the title. All players now drive around together in a car. That places everybody on the board in the same location at all times, which puts the kibosh on the "race to the finish" mentality that was present in prior games of the series. There is also only one in-game currency now, giving players just one way to win. These factors all work to make the game feel more "fair" and logical. That may appeal to those of you who prefer the 1's and 0's world of videogames to the thoroughly analog and unpredictable world of board games. Mario Party 9 only takes that reduction of luck's power so far; there is still a lot here that is determined by chance. All the players may be cruising around together in a car, but only the driver gets the positive (or negative) effects of landing on special spaces on the board. It's still your dice rolls, not your own will, that determine exactly where you land. You can get a special die that will help you stack the odds a bit (like a 10-sided die, or one that only has 4s, 5s, and 6s on it), but you'll still never be in full control. Then there are the times that Bowser jumps out of nowhere and says, "Hey! You in 1st place! Fuck off, dude! I'm taking all your money and giving it to that guy!" Or the mini-game that just consists of watching a ball with your face on it fall down a hill, with the one whose ball hits the bottom first winning half your total cash. Moments like this work to remind the player that skill is important, but no one is above suffering the whims of Lady Luck. Mario Party 9 features less motion control, fewer board-game rules, and more of a videogame feel, but there's still plenty left to chance. Those waiting for a full-scale overhaul will have to wait a little longer. If you're like me -- that is, you've always wanted the Mario Party series to be more than just Mario in name, you'll definitely be pleased with the direction in which the series is headed.

"Another Mario Party? Good grief. Is there really any way this game could give us something we haven't already gotten from the Mario Party series? Is there going to be any reason to buy this game over the seven other Mar...

Review: Little Deviants

Feb 13 // Jim Sterling
Little Deviants (PlayStation Vita)Developer: Bigbig StudiosPublisher: Sony Computer Entertainment AmericaReleased: January 22, 2012 MSRP: $29.99 The kid-friendly premise of Little Deviants sees a collection of mischievous (yet highly marketable) aliens on the lam from an oppressive army of robots who can resurrect the dead for some reason. It's never quite clear whether the titular Deviants are supposed to be villainous protagonists or misunderstood heroes, but to ponder that further would be to put more thought into it than anybody else has. Needless to say, you're on the side of the GoGo's Crazy Bones lookalikes.  Story Mode will take players through each available game, making use of touch controls, cameras, gyroscopic movement, and even voice recognition. There's a substantial number of games, spread across five distinct areas, and they range from traditional racing games and whack-a-mole experiences to more complex feats of finger gymnastics. The base goal of every game is to earn a bronze medal by successfully completing actions and collecting stars to win points. Earning a bronze unlocks the next game, while earning silver and gold medals awards bonus items to look at in the gallery. Usually, earning higher grades and better medals is a good incentive for replay value, but some of the games are so unenjoyable, earning just a bronze is satisfying enough as it means the experience can be ditched and left alone forever.  The first available game has players pushing the environment "upwards" by pressing on the rear touchpad, exploiting physics to roll a spherical Deviant around a map and collect keys. This game is indicative of the game's greatest strength and biggest weakness -- the power to showcase genuinely exciting new technology, and the inability to showcase that technology in a satisfying way.  In this first game, the premise of pushing a ball around from underneath is laudably inventive, but it's also unintuitive and awkward. Having such an indirect influence on a bumblingly controlled ball is far from a pleasurable experience, especially with dangerous robots marching around. Yes, part of the challenge is in dealing with such a strange new interface, but dealing with strange new interfaces and contrived, inconvenient control schemes is rarely fun. Any other game would be slaughtered for such awkward controls, and it's not acceptable in this case just because it was intentional. Other games demand players to "pinch" their Vita by holding the same spot on the front and back of the system and stretching areas to fling Deviants around. Some go even further, such as rubbing the front screen one way while rubbing the touchpad in the opposite direction, then "tickling" the Deviant from behind while tapping the front screen to knock out robots -- all in the span of a few seconds. It's recommended that one holds the PS Vita over a cushion while playing some of these games, as dropping it is a serious risk when it's being held like a perverse octopus-crab with cerebral palsy would hold it.  When Little Deviants doesn't let its ambition escape its ability, it can be a relatively amusing -- if completely forgettable -- time waster. Simple games with inventive twists can be a solid laugh, such as a whack-a-mole-style game where robots need to be pushed out of windows from the touchscreen or touchpad depending on which way they're facing. There's also a surprisingly adorable mic-powered game in which one has to sing, whistle, or hum a tune at the correct pitch to send out notes and hit oncoming objects, and an augmented reality shooter that'll have players spinning around the living room in an attempt to shoot down robot ships. None of these games are stunningly brilliant, but they do a decent job of showing what the Vita can do without trying to show off.  These moments, however, are fleeting thanks to the developers becoming way too big for their boots. It is impressive that the Vita is capable of so much input, but that doesn't mean forcing the player to do three or four things at once is entertaining. This is especially true when the selection of games, unique though their controls may be, are mostly quite dull and inane. Strip away the gimmicks, and Little Deviants is just another minigame compilation at heart.  The aforementioned ball-rolling game is essentially a poor man's Monkeyball. A maze-like game in which players use the gyroscope to roll around and collect items is just Pac-Man with less excitement. For all the attempts to look cutting edge, Little Deviants is little more than a collection of games we've played multiple times before, with the added bonus that they're more of a hassle to play.  Outside of looking good and featuring cute, colorful characters, there's not a lot that Little Deviants has going for it. Either games are forgettably fun or memorably vexatious. It's a disappointing situation, because the game has not been badly put together and it seems to have been made with some genuine love. It's just full of bad ideas that have been implemented to make old ideas look new. They certainly do feel new, but rarely in a way that compliments the gameplay.  I get the feeling that games like Little Deviants will be a big part of the PlayStation Vita's early library offerings, games desperate to exploit every available feature regardless of whether or not it helps to make things more enjoyable. I hope against hope that studios calm down and learn a little restraint when it comes to exploiting these features, as this collection of clumsy, discommodious distractions is indicative of what can happen when developers forget the elegance of simplicity. New features are only worth including if they enhance an experience. When they get in the way of it, they should be axed on the spot.  It's a shame Little Deviants couldn't have been more ready with the chopping block.

The PlayStation Vita is rich in features, boasting every possible input method a portable gaming system could have to date. Multiple touch interfaces, dual analog sticks, voice control, twin cameras, and even motion sensing; ...


Kiki Trick on Wii is a Japanese explosion for the ears

Dec 30
// Tony Ponce
Sometimes, I have no idea what is going on in the minds of Nintendo execs. One minute, they're playing it safe with games starring Mario and Link; the next minute, they're releasing off-the-wall sh*t like Captain Rainbow and...

Little Deviants is cute and cuddly fun times

Dec 16
// Keith Swiader
One of the launch titles accompanying the PlayStation Vita is Little Deviants, a cute, cuddly ensemble of mini-games that are designed to showcase the new handheld's features. Ranging from rear-touch functionality to Sixaxis ...

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