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Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker's amiibo functionality adds a small incentive to replay every level

Mar 21 // Chris Carter
[embed]289368:57872:0[/embed] Like the checkbox that appears after grabbing every crystal and completing the extra objective, it's easy to become addicted to filling out every entry. It sounds like an overly simplistic little thing, but it emboldened me to replay every map again and find that damn Pixel Toad. It's a nice way to get people to return, and it doesn't hurt that the core game is already great to begin with. Get a quick look at the functionality in the video above, and note that other amiibo function as power-ups of sorts, earning you extra lives with a tap. Of course, the best part about this particular amiibo mechanic is that Toad, the physical toy, isn't impossible to find. While retailers knew ahead of time that select exclusives wouldn't be replenished for weeks, if not months (I'm looking at you Target), Toad is readily available at every location I've visited. Heck, even his scalped price online is roughly $18, a far cry from the $60 or more asking price of the Trinity and other select rares to this day. I'm also a fan of the way Shulk was handled in Xenoblade Chronicles 3D, since you can replicate the amiibo bits by way of Play Coins and StreetPass. If Nintendo is going to add amiibo support in future games, it needs to either plan ahead of time if the figures are going to be retailer exclusives (Meta Knight's unique features in Rainbow Curse being lost to most of the market is still a tragedy), or allow unlocks through other means (no one is missing out not having Shulk for Xenoblade).
Captain Toad amiibo photo
Oh, and you can actually buy the figure too
Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker launched its amiibo compatibility this week, and I've found a new reason to revisit the game. It's as simple as adding in a "Hide-and-Seek" mode, enabled by tapping the newly minted Toad amiibo ...

Review: Mario Party 10

Mar 16 // Chris Carter
Mario Party 10 (Wii U)Developer: Nd CubePublisher: NintendoReleased: March 20, 2015MSRP: $49.99 (standard game) / $59.99 (with Mario amiibo) If you've played a party game before, you'll have the general gist of Mario Party 10. This time there's a lot of uncertainty as to what control schemes are supported, so I'll break it down -- Wiimotes. Yep, just Wiimotes. You don't need Motion+, you don't need any Classic Controllers (including the new Pro), and you don't need anything other than Wiimotes and the occasional GamePad depending on the mode. What you'll immediately notice about 10 is the stark improvement in the visual department. The sharper and more vibrant engine makes the game feel more alive -- it's a huge upgrade from 9, which was dated upon arrival. Everything from Yoshi's bold green hues to Donkey Kong's amazing hair is crafted with care, and you'll notice the difference everywhere from the map screen to the minigames themselves. Sadly, developer Nd Cube (who took over for the now defunct Hudson), is still stuck on the vehicular based concept from the last game. Every single time you play the core "Mario Party" gametype, on every map, every round, you'll progress in a shared vehicle that goes from point A to point B, with everyone facing the same exact challenges and the same boss fight at the end. The idea was divisive in Mario Party 9, and I expect the same thing here. Personally, I'm a little more used to the mechanic, but it still severely limits the longevity of the game as a whole. If everyone is sharing the same rolls and movement, rounds are extremely dull as there is very little choice on any given player turn. For instance, in the past it was key to see where others were going, and either split up or chase them down individually. Even in the latter situation you'd get to experience all the trials and tribulations of the board with them -- but in the vehicle, they may pass over all the "cool stuff" leaving you with tiresome rolls and nothing to show for it. The other limitation is that every game on every board is estimated at roughly 30 minutes. There's no modification of turns like in the pre-vehicle games, so even if you wanted to have an hours-long session or a short 10-turn round, you couldn't -- you're at the mercy of the car. Right now there are a scant five levels on offer -- Mushroom Park, Haunted Trail, Whimsical Waters, Airship Central, and Chaos Castle. I haven't found a secret stage yet despite playing all of them. Having said all that, the minigame quality in general is markedly better than that in 8 or 9. At this point Nd Cube seems to be more at ease with the Wiimote technology, offering up a variety of different activities that aren't just waggle-fests. It's not truly innovative since only a small handful of Bowser games use the GamePad, but I'm happy with the variety on display with Mario Party 10. There are lots of traditional sideways NES style games, single-button games that actually rely on timing, and there's a good balance of easy to pick up bashes that require input rather than luck. One of the other core modes that does shake things up in a big way is Bowser Party. This one is five players, with four using Wiimotes in the traditional manner, and Bowser on the coveted GamePad. The concept is to have "Team Mario" run away from Bowser while the Koopa King chases them down, rolling multiple dice after the entire team has had their turn. If he catches them, he gets an opportunity to decrease their health (by way of "hearts") before they get to the end of the board and win the game. While the idea is fun, I ultimately had mixed results. Some games are skewed heavily towards Bowser, and some are skewed towards the team. While the majority of them are balanced, I had a string of bad luck as Bowser once with terrible rolls that didn't let me catch up for four turns in a row, and when I did, my two subsequent games were luck-based or favored Team Mario. As a result, I never even interacted with them for half the game through no fault of my own. I know there's always going to be an element of "Mario Party luck," but that's a little over-the-top. In another game things went exactly the opposite, as Bowser was able to catch up almost every turn. There's even an in-game challenge for catching and killing the entire team on the first go. The ending is also anti-climatic as heck, since the final confrontation isn't a boss fight, but a "find the star" micro-game that lets Bowser hide it with one of three enemies, and players take turns finding it. As you can probably tell, Bowser Party also uses the vehicle. To add insult to injury, you can only use three maps in this mode as opposed to all five. It's odd, as the boards are only tuned in a minor fashion to accommodate extra Bowser-only features; they aren't fundamentally redone in any significant fashion. There's absolutely no reason why all of the maps couldn't be used in Bowser mode, or why there couldn't be an exclusive map for it. It's enjoyable particularly because it allows a fifth player to get in on the action, but there's a lot of room for improvement if there's a Mario Party 11. Now onto the last mode, and for some, the most anticipated: amiibo Party. This one features a smaller board with a more traditional style of "trade 20 coins for one star, the person with the most stars wins." Except here, the idea is to facilitate huddled up party play, where everyone is gathered around the GamePad -- it's also stuck at a hard 10 turns to get people in and out faster. As a nice touch you can use the Bowser amiibo to unlock a mini Bowser mode within the system, and every player gets "tokens" that function like old school power-ups in earlier Mario Party games that are much more interesting than the other modes. I'm torn on amiibo Party as a whole though. While it's nice to have a classic mode in tow, the maps are small. Like, very small, to the point where a dice bonus can nearly get you around the entire board in one turn. You can change the theme and modify a few of the on-board minigames by using an amiibo (for instance, Rosalina changes it to a galactic theme), but the boards themselves remain tiny. With maps that were even a little bit bigger, this could have been a major game-changer and the bonafide side-core mode for people who don't like the vehicle. There's also the interesting little gimmick of having to put down the amiibo to roll, and place it back on the GamePad to "acquire" an item. It's a little thing and one I actually don't mind doing, but I'm sure a lot of people will find it annoying to have to group up on top of the GamePad. The main idea of keeping your customized amiibo from game to game or house to house is neat. Thankfully the extra minigames (accessed by a separate main menu) elevate everything by quite a bit. In addition to getting daily rewards for supported amiibo, you can also earn extra currency by tapping any amiibo to the GamePad on a daily basis, once per day. The bonus games are pretty killer, including Badminton Bash (1-4 players), Jewel Drop (1-2), solo Bowser Jr. challenges, the typical minigame-only tournament setup, and single-player Bowser minigame face-offs. The former two are easily my favorite, as Badminton is basically a mini-Mario Tennis. There are no real options and there's only one court, but it's fun nonetheless. Jewel Drop deserves a special shoutout, as it's a modified match-four version of Puzzle Fighter, Puyo Pop, or whatever other genre staple you want to compare it to. It only supports two players but the level of depth involved is insane, and I ended up playing for hours on end once without realizing how much time had passed. There is a "Toad Shop" that lets you buy the staple two extra characters and CPU difficulty, on top of extra cosmetic items like new cars, music, and art. If you're the type of person that doesn't care about fluff though you'll exhaust Toad's inventory in just one day of play, especially if you're keen to use the amiibo as bonus points. Mario Party 10 has an admirable bundle of minigames and sidegames, but the lack of interesting boards and half-measure amiibo Party mode hurt the overall package. There is simply not enough meat on the core game modes, seemingly in favor of adding in a hodgepodge of concepts that are isolated from one another. It's time to give up the vehicle concept, Nd Cube, as it inherently limits the sprawling nature of the maps we once played for years on end. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher. All of the current Mario Party 10 amiibo were also provided.]
Mario Party 10 review photo
Not the Narnia of Partias
I haven't enjoyed the past few console editions of Mario Party. I felt like 8 was rushed to the Wii as an excuse to show off the technology, and it ended up being a generic waggle-fest that was a stark drop in quality co...

Samus wants to be in Shovel Knight

Mar 11 // Jonathan Holmes
What Samus Wants photo
Like Stella, Samus wants her groove back
When we last checked in with Samus, she was trying to score an interview with Tim Rogers, co-creator of Videoball. Despite the fact that she's been appearing in videogames for over 25 years, he still didn't know who she was....

Mario Party 10 amiibo photo
One of these isn't even out in March
Our Mario Party 10 review is coming next Monday, but for now, I can talk about select elements of it. After weeks of speculation on the supported amiibo for the newest franchise entry, I've narrowed it down by way o...

Review: Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars

Mar 04 // Darren Nakamura
Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars (3DS [reviewed], Wii U)Developer: NintendoPublisher: NintendoReleased: March 5, 2015MSRP: $19.99 Once again, various minis are scattered across stages, and they must touch all of the coins and get to the exit. The "why" of it is unimportant, it's the "how" that is the focus. Minis cannot be controlled directly. A mini will start walking forward once tapped with the stylus or if another mini walks into it. Most of the player's job is to manipulate the environment in order to allow the bots a safe path to the exit. To that end, there is a handful of tools at the player's disposal. There are girders that can act as platforms, ramps, and walls. There are springs that allow the minis to clear gaps or reach new heights. There are conveyor belts, lifts, and pipes that will move the little toys around the map. A tenet of Game Design 101 is to gradually introduce new elements to the player, never overwhelming but eventually creating something complex. Tipping Stars adheres to this idea strictly. Each world features a new environmental piece: the first level introduces it, the next few levels mix it with everything else, and the last few levels require the player to demonstrate mastery in order to move on. [embed]288509:57600:0[/embed] There are a few common threads that tie the worlds together. Each has eight levels. The seventh level always features a Mario mini holding a key and a locked exit. Not only does the player have to complete all of the usual objectives, but he has to have the robots lined up in the correct order, or else the keyless one at the front will just bump stupidly into the lock while the one with the key cannot access it. The eighth level acts almost as a boss encounter, where one mini becomes possessed and must be bopped with a hammer before the stage can be completed. It adds motion to the otherwise stationary puzzling of choosing which pieces go where. Despite the fact that Tipping Stars follows all of the rules of good game design, it lacks anything special to make it noteworthy. The puzzle design is straightforward to a fault. Solutions never require lateral thinking and as a result I never felt any sense of accomplishment upon completing one. Instead of making me feel smart it just made me feel mechanical, like one of the minis marching aimlessly ahead. Oh, I finished that puzzle. Onto the next one. That isn't to suggest that Tipping Stars is too easy. Some of the later levels (and especially the bonus levels) can be quite difficult. However, the difficulty is often in timing and execution rather than in strategy and foresight. For some puzzles, it's possible to see the solution but still muck it up by not poking the minis at exactly the right moments. The level editor from Mini-Land Mayhem! makes a comeback, with the expected incremental upgrades that come with the new hardware. Levels can be shared on Miiverse, and more player-created levels can be saved than before. Basic levels can be created right away, but a lot of cosmetic alterations and the higher level equipment must be purchased with stars.  Stars are the in-game currency, and are generally earned by completing puzzles. Higher scores earn more stars, but each level only grants up to three stars. The key to the economy is that it's not possible to gain enough stars to buy everything by playing the built-in levels alone. To make up the difference for some of the higher-priced items, stars can also be generated by playing user-generated levels, having one's own levels played, or by "tipping" another creator for particularly well-made content. The most commendable addition to Tipping Stars is the inclusion of cross-buy and cross-play. A purchase on either 3DS or Wii U will net a download code for the other, and saved levels can be transferred between the two. It's nice to see Nintendo testing out the idea, even if it's on a mundane title. Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars is not bad. It is essentially Mini-Land Mayhem! with visual and technical upgrades. It never instills any sense of wonder or accomplishment, and it often feels more like work than play. It's a very paint-by-numbers affair; for a puzzle game it doesn't actually require much thinking, only doing. It is a game that exists, and that's about as much as there is to say about it. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Mario vs. DK review photo
\_(ツ)_/
A little more than four years ago, Nintendo released Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Mini-Land Mayhem! on the original DS. It continued the series' focus on the miniature Mario robots, to the chagrin of fans of the platforming in the ...

Exclusive: Dot Arcade is a new full color videogame for Wii U

Feb 25 // Jonathan Holmes
James isn't working on the game entirely on his own. He's partnered with talented programmer and composer Andrew Lim to help bring the game to life. James tells us Dot Arcade "...started off its life as a physical system prototype! It was essentially a wooden box with an 8x8 LED grid and a SNES controller plugged in. A perfect accessory for any coffee table." Hearing that, my mind immediately turned to Tenya Wanya Teens, a game I've been excited about but unable to play for years. It hasn't been released to the public, and is only available at events due to its unique, lightbulb-intensive controller. James knew what I was talking about, stating "Tenya Wanya Teens came up as a topic a few times during our development -- I think there's a really similar spirit behind that as there is with Dot Arcade." So how did James and Andrew get around the limitation that comes with creating unique hardware for a game? It wasn't an overnight process. According to James "...creating and manufacturing physical hardware is really complicated for just two dudes alone. But the dot games were a sensation with everyone we showed them to, and co-workers at Andrew's day job nearly made it a ritual to have lunch session showdowns for the highest scores. It's definitely the type of game that brings people together, and I remember that's one of the things I mentioned hoping to put special focus on as far back as when I appeared on Sup Holmes." Luckily for us, that passion for bringing people together just happened to be a perfect fit for Nintendo's latest home console. James said "We wanted to find some way we could share the dot games with the rest of the world, and Wii U seemed like the right fit. It was important that the experience emphasize the more intimate GamePad screen, but also beneficial to broadcast gameplay to others in the room on T... and taking it a step further, share scores with friends anywhere through Miiverse! So we started development on the collection of games, Dot Arcade." Dot Arcade isn't one game, but a collection of three games -- Mr. Snake, Dodge Club, and Rally Driver. Each uses the same 8x8 screen of virtual flashing lights to display the action. It's something like the classic Lite Brite art-toy with a mind of its own. Each game has it's own "cabinet artwork" created by a featured guest artist like Jordan Canales and Jeremy Hobbs. While the game wont be out until "probably next month," James isn't shy about letting us know about his future plans for the series, such as "...secret extra cabinets for each game." and a plan to make "...Dot Arcade into something like a bit Generations series and introduce Dot Arcade Vol. 2 with three new games/featured artists... and so on, as long as there's an audience with interest!" It will be interesting to see how enthusiasts react to Dot Arcade. James is well aware that "The end result is a bit tricky to describe" and"static screenshots don't seem to do the games justice" but he's hopeful they'll still find their audience. Like so many successful solo designers before him, James loves videogames, and he's made a game that he and his friends really enjoy. That gives him faith other people will enjoy it too, as according to James, Dot Arcade is "...the most raw form of video game -- there's no story other than what's implied by the cabinet art, and there's no real game graphics to speak of, just a focus on having fun manipulating an object on the screen. They're entertaining in a way that's shared only with the most vintage of video games. " Some cynics assume "vintage" games are all trying to pass off a lack of ambition as "8-bit cool", but that's not the case with Dot Arcade. James and Andrew worked hard to make sure the games provide something fresh while remaining true to the fundamentals, stating they've "...even paid special attention to detail throughout the experience, and kept everything authentic to how it worked on our physical hardware. The beeping / buzzing sound effects, frame-by-frame input feedback, slowdown with many objects on screen... as well as details outside the gameplay, where the menu music on the TV and GamePad are different, but complement each other in unison. We've only seen first party Nintendo games try to pull this off." I take Dot Arcade to be the riskiest type of "retro" game. It's not the type of game many are nostalgic for, and like James said, it's not a game that can sell itself on screenshots and characters alone. Like the 16x16 pixel Zelda demake from a while back, Dot Arcade gets by on a combination of the strength of its design and the imagination of its players. The fact James has enough faith in himself and his potential fans to put out a game like Dot Arcade speaks to love of videogames and the people who play them. 
Dot Arcade photo
James Montanga abstracts upon the abstract
Two of James Montagna's most well known games are Adventure Time: Hey Ice King Why'd You Steal Our Garbage?!! and Wonder Momo. These games sold because of their characters. Wonder Momo had built up a strong following thr...

The hunt is on for the Meta Knight amiibo, here is what I found

Feb 20 // Chris Carter
Some stores were handing out tickets, but many, including mine, were not. Confusion was abound, because at the first store I went to, someone in line stated that they were told that the location had "fourteen" on-hand. It turns out that there were actually five total figures that were available for non-preorders. In other words, nine were on hold. The second store had 10 total, with only five available on-hand. Other reports I'm getting from friends range from five to 10 maximum on-hand for non-pre-orders. If you live in a rural area, you may be able to still snag an extra figure slightly after opening. If you're familiar with the Lucario situation at Toys"R"Us, this is basically the same exact thing. At the first store, the line was roughly 20 people long -- since I showed up near opening I did not get one, but thankfully I was able to get in on the first set of pre-orders, and my package is scheduled to arrive today. I have not been able to verify whether or not Best Buy will trickle in stock over the coming weeks, or whether the figure is like Rosalina, where stock is outright not being replenished. A manager at the first store noted that they "should" be getting restock, but he wasn't entirely positive. He also gave a quick tip out to consumers -- call or check back on Wednesday and Friday mornings at your location, because that's when new stock comes in. So where can you get it in the meantime? You can try to check the product's stock page throughout the weekend to see if any missed pre-orders spill over, or try to check your store for stock here. If you're calling your store or going in person, use this SKU -- 1375009. You can also find him at Amazon UK, Amazon.FR, and Amazon.DE, or check out our amiibo hunting guide for more ideas. Japanese sites are having a difficult time keeping him in stock. Good luck!
Meta Knight amiibo photo
Good luck
[Update: Get this. One amiibo hunter is reporting that you can get $5 off any Wii U or 3DS game nationwide if your store does not have Meta Knight in stock. Even if your store denies you, it doesn't hurt to ask!] Today, ...

Review: Kirby and the Rainbow Curse

Feb 18 // Jonathan Holmes
Kirby and the Rainbow Curse (Wii U)Developer: HAL LaboratoryPublisher: NintendoReleased: February 20, 2015MSRP: $39.99 Seeing as everything in Kirby and the Rainbow Curse is made of clay, you might guess that the game's story would focus on some calamity that has altered the very substance of Kirby's world, forcing him to venture into the unknown in an effort to set things right. If so, you've guessed right. Sort of. The fact that everything here is made of clay doesn't seem to actually phase anyone. Instead, the problem is that all the color has been taken out for the world by a couple of giant disembodied hands that look an awful lot like a certain pair of famous Smash Bros. bosses. No need to panic, though. The "Oh no where'd all the color go?" MacGuffin is in play for no less than three seconds before Kirby, Waddle Dee, and his new paintbrush pal Elline jump into a hole in the sky that takes them to a series of very colorful, often familiar environments. It would have been easy to start the game with Kirby's world being made from polygons (or whatever the heck it's made out of in Kirby Triple Deluxe and Kirby's Return to Dreamland) and then have it be transformed into clay by the villains, but maybe that would have been... too obvious? Too logical? Regardless, you should know from the outset that the story is nothing more than a thinly veiled excuse to see very cute things happen for a few seconds, leading up to even more very cute things. From there, the very cute things don't stop until you either turn the game off or you die. This could be the most decadent, shameless display of cute-porn that Nintendo has ever displayed, which is saying from the company who brought us this and this.  [embed]287744:57379:0[/embed] Like the DS title Kirby: Canvas Curse, this new Wii U title ditches Kirby's usual transformation antics in favor of a potentially divisive indirect control scheme. You don't control Kirby here. You draw "rainbow ropes" for him to travel on. That may frustrate folks looking for a more traditional 2D platformer, though the game offers some of that too if you're willing to delve into its multiplayer. As for single player, the controls do a lot to level the playing field for those new to the series, and for people in general. The single-player game has a grand total of three inputs: draw ropes, tap Kirby to make him spin dash, tap and hold on Kirby to make him do a super spin dash, and that's it. These are the perfect platformer control mechanics for the Angry Birds generation. Anyone who has ever used a pen before will come into this game with the skills they need to achieve. The controls may be simple, but they allow you to get into all sorts of risk vs. reward conflicts. Kirby is nigh invulnerable while dashing, allowing him to break through barriers, bonk his enemies into submission, and engage in other power moves, but what he gains in strength he loses in safety. A wildly dashing Kirby can be hard to handle, leaving the player to desperately draw the right ropes to help keep him out of harm's way. Most of the game is spent alternating between taking Kirby forward with ropes, getting embroiled in some puzzle or combat scenario that requires dashing, and then trying to juggle Kirby back to safety after he loses control. It's like running a three-legged race with an easily distracted, mildly intoxicated friend, which is probably more fun than it sounds. Speaking of friends, you'll be missing out on a lot if you don't check out the multiplayer. It makes good on the promise of truly "different-but-equal" asymmetrical multiplayer made by launch title New Super Mario Bros. U in ways that game never quite accomplished. The player with the GamePad controls Kirby in the standard indirect fashion while one to three other players take on the role of a spear-wielding Waddle Dee. Waddle Dee controls a lot like Kirby does in his main series, with free movement, multiple air jumps, and multi-directional melee attacks. There is no enemy swallowing for Waddle Dee though, and no transformations either. Kirby may believe in democracy, but he's got to keep some of the good stuff to himself. Waddle Dee's advantages are offset by a couple of handicaps. He has half as much health as Kirby and he can't scroll the action forward without Kirby. Sounds rough, but those handicaps are offset by yet other advantages. Waddle Dee can resurrect himself by mashing buttons for a bit, and he can pick up Kirby any time he wants. These ploys can be used for selfish reasons or altruism, depending on the circumstance and the relative moral quality of the player in question. These power dynamics allow for some interesting relationships to develop between players. If Kirby is feeling stress and overwhelmed, he can ask Waddle Dee to run quarterback with him as the ball, playing the role of passive world-builder by drawing rainbow ropes to help Waddle Dee move forward. If Kirby is feeling aggressive, he can charge forward with rapid rope draws and spin dashes, leaving Waddle in the dust. Waddle Dee will need to get aggressive at least a few times though, as multiplayer offers exclusive mini-boss fights against those friggin' hands that force our dear Waddle to really step up his game. Kirby can't damage the hands at all. If he dashes into them, they'll palm him easier than Jordan palms a Honeydew. During these tense encounters, it's up to Waddle Dee to stab the hands into submission while Kirby plays keep away.  That's not the only way the game plays with attraction and repulsion. There are times you'll need to draw ropes for reasons other than dragging Kirby around, like digging through sand, deflecting lasers, and other tasks that may leave our pink hero vulnerable. Then there's the need to earn stars, the game's "collect 100 of a thing and then a thing will happen!" currency of choice. Unlike in the Super Mario games, the "thing that happens" here is more important than collecting an extra life. It takes 100 stars to do a super spin dash, and you can only hold a few supers at a time. You'll need the charge attack to get through certain mandatory obstacles, so don't waste them. If that's not enough resource management for you, keep in mind that you can also run out of "rainbow rope juice" if you over do it with the drawing. Without juice, you're 100% stuck, though it only takes about a couple of seconds for it to recharge. These are just a few of the ways that this simple game keeps you engaged in constant stream of small but interesting decisions.  Transformation-themed levels that allow Kirby to turn into a tank, rocket, or submarine and various boss fights are there to help mix things up, though the game never comes close to getting stale. Large, activity-laden stages filled with a mix of new and familiar enemies and environmental hazards give you plenty to do. There are 28 levels in all, each relatively long, packed with hidden areas and hard-to-get collectibles to encourage replay. Beyond Story mode, there are 40 Challenge levels that really put your skills to the test. Each gives you four rooms to get through, and 15 seconds each to get through them in. While Rainbow Curse is a generally freeing and sweet experience, Challenge mode can get downright vicious. It's still cute though, because this game is always cute, even when it's repeatedly killing you. The game's collectibles are probably where its cuteness reaches an apex. There is a jukebox mode where you can listen to songs you've acquired that features a little head-bobbing Kirby with headphones on, and it's incredibly cute. There are storybook pages you can grab at the end of every level, and they are all painted and animated in a simple childlike style that is both humble and beautiful. As great as that all may sound, the amiibo-like figurines you can collect in-game are even more disarmingly impressive. I'm not ashamed to admit that I've spent an inordinately long time studying them from every angle, wondering how HAL managed to make them look so tangible and believable. They're a great example of how most modern console game depict a "real world" in a way that ends up feeling artificial, while Kirby and the Rainbow Curse depicts an artificial world that feels very real. I can only hope that HAL will make a new Mother/EarthBound game that looks like this someday.  Kirby and the Rainbow Curse will amaze fans of traditional stop-motion animation with its achingly charming visuals. It works great as a lighthearted single-player platformer, a wild and boisterous multiplayer campaign, a tough-as-nails action-puzzle challenge, a bite-sized Off-TV handheld experience, or a big beautiful HD spectacle on your television screen, all depending on how you choose to play it. It's a game that has a little something for everyone, all without compromising its unyielding, unique, and undivided attention on its mission to blast pure adorableness into the world in all directions. If Kirby and the Rainbow Curse doesn't make you smile, you may need to see a doctor for that.  [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Clay Kirby photo
I'm cute! I'm cuuuuuuuute!
Let's take a quick look at the history of videogames with clay-based graphics. Skullmonkeys is a one-off that most people don't even remember. The ClayFighter series has been dormant since the N64 days. Armikrog has been in d...

Hyrule Warriors masks photo
Odolwa has gotten chunky
Happy Majora's Mask day! Over the past week, I've spent I don't know how many hours trying to get through the new DLC in Hyrule Warriors. Even if I did know, I wouldn't say. A lot. Way too many. To access certain levels, you'...

Guide: Where you can import amiibo, and where you can find rares

Feb 11 // Chris Carter
General tips Your first step is figuring out what amiibo are actually rare if you are strapped for cash and can't order every wave as soon as they are available. There really is no way to do this without staying up to date on amiibo news from sites like Destructoid or the Amiibo Inquirer, since most rare figures are revealed by way of insider tips, whether it's from Nintendo themselves or specific retailers. For instance, King Dedede is supposedly going to be the most rare non-exclusive in Wave 3. Toad looks like he's going to be rare for all intents and purposes since he is selling out everywhere, but it seems as if that might not be the case. In the case of store exclusives like Rosalina, Lucario, Shulk, and Meta Knight, expect those to always be rare. My rule of thumb is to import exclusives, always, as a backup. Just in case my order is canceled and there are no extras in-store, I have that two to three week shipment coming in from Japan. Those usually end up going to friends or getting traded. If I ever miss out on a rare amiibo, I have a few "chips" to bargain with. Finally, the "defect" amiibo craze seems to have died out, but if you have a choice in-store of multiple packages, always look for an anomaly. Nintendo World Store Do you live in New York City or close by? Your first stop for rare amiibo is going to be at the Nintendo World Store. It occasionally gets rare amiibo in stock, and even stocked exclusives at one point. You can also call the store at (646) 459-0800, or check its fairly up-to-date Twitter feed. Nowinstock.net A friend recently turned me onto this site, which is basically just an aggregator for when retailers actually get their stock in or start taking pre-orders. You can sign up for email alerts, but SMS texts are the fastest way to get notified for when amiibo sales happen. There are also other retailer stock notification services like BrickSeek, or GameStop's SKU tracker -- just replace this Shulk SKU with the one of your choice. Amazon Europe Amazon France and Amazon Germany are probably the best storefronts in terms of getting consistent rare amiibo in stock. You may have to create a new Amazon account in some regions however, and you can't take advantage of Prime. These are generally tougher to use than Japanese sites, who almost always have translated text on-hand -- but it's very easy to figure out with an online translation service, and the checkout process is fundamentally the same across all of Amazon. Japanese sites I've had good experiences with Play Asia, Nin-Nin-Game, and Ami Ami. There are other sites out there like YesAsia as well, and I'm sure some readers will share them in the comments along with their results. Note that it usually takes two to three weeks for your shipment to arrive, and with various issues with US ports going on lately it may take longer. Trading Trading always has an inherent risk that the other party won't follow through, but for those of you who are more trusting, there are online trading posts out there like /r/amiiboswap, the NVC Amiibo Group, or this NeoGAF thread. Also, try to ask fellow amiibo collectors if they're willing to trade extras if you're in a pinch -- many would be willing to part with an extra Shulk for an extra Rosalina, for instance. Just know the general "tier" that an amiibo is worth so you have an idea of what to expect. Make friends with managers or employees This is a tip I often give people who want to find rare products, and I would never advocate being fake with people or "using" them in any way. But it's common sense that if you're a little nicer to people in retail, you will generally get better service. Also, developing a rapport with someone is an easy way to get recognized, and they will often go the extra mile for you when possible. Any decent manager will also accept that since you're a repeat customer, they also in turn get more cashflow for the store -- so ask to talk to them next time about their amiibo stock situation, and maybe you'll get your own insider tip. It's a win-win. Making friends with amiibo collectors in general who are willing to send you texts for when certain waves go on sale is also key.
Rare amiibo guide photo
Exclusin' ain't easy
Unless my Meta Knight pre-order is screwed up by Best Buy, I'll have every existing amiibo on-hand by next week. A lot of people have asked how I'm so successful at getting some of the rarer figures, and the answer is "helping out a lot of friends, and getting help from friends." But there are a lot of ways to procure them. Here are a few that will allow you to sidestep scalpers on eBay.

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...

Review: Citizens of Earth

Jan 20 // Brittany Vincent
Citizens of Earth (PC [Reviewed], PS4, PS Vita, 3DS, Wii U) Developer: Eden Industries Publisher: Atlus Released: January 20, 2015 MSRP: $14.99 The game puts you in the shoes of the newly elected Vice-President of Earth, on vacation after his arduous first day in office. Your dear mother wakes you up and after grabbing your brother, you're on your way. There are protesters, rival politicians, sentient coffee beans, and loads of opposition out there and it’s up to you to… do something. There’s a story in there somewhere, but it kind of gets lost in the many, many, sidequests in the game. There are tons of characters to add to your entourage, and each of them typically requires a short-to-medium length quest to convince them to join your party. Each recruit has a specialty: your brother as a delivery man allows you to order items from anywhere, the homeless man can dig in places that would disgust others, and the mascot can change the difficulty level on the fly, and so on. This game is busy. Usually I’m thrilled to death by the aspect of tons of content and new characters to recruit, but Citizens of Earth throws out busy work as if more content means good content. Quests are tracked by a very vague “Agenda” on your tablet/menu, which isn’t very helpful at all. In some cases, I’ve quit playing for the day and came back and had no memory of what I needed to do to complete some things. An early quest has you “collecting evidence” to help get a potential party member out of jail. That’s all the quest log says: “collect the evidence.” What no one tells you in the game (or at least no one I talked to) is that to “collect evidence” you have to seek out and fight three crazed Java Beans which drop the “evidence” once they’re defeated. These obscure requirements plague the game, and almost every recruit and story mission has these same objectives you have to complete to progress. After a while I felt like I wasn’t really headed anywhere at all, and just moving for the sake of moving. [embed]285619:56954:0[/embed] That brings me to the biggest problem I had with Citizens. I didn’t care about any of the characters. I don’t mean I hated them, I mean I had no feelings whatsoever about them. They’re vapid and offer nothing more than superficial representation of their various occupations. The world itself is the same way. Lame puns abound, and after the first few chuckles it starts to wear. In just the first chapter of the game, I’d heard enough about “Moonbucks” and “Java Junkies” to never want to drink coffee again. It tries too hard to capture the modern setting and hip weirdness of EarthBound without ever trying to develop its own strong identity. The battle system is one of the worst I’ve seen in an RPG, despite having played numerous titles with similar mechanics. It’s based around “energy.” Every action except for running from battle or item usage requires you to pay close attention to the amount of energy you have. Some attacks have characters gaining energy, and some require energy to utilize. This makes battles incredibly slow as you’re forced into a constant cycle of using your weak attacks to build energy so that you can use the more powerful attacks that cost energy. In practice it can be like auto-battle, and although there are items and equipment that help with energy restoration or reduce its cost, it’s a tedious process and I really disliked it. Perhaps these long, drawn-out battles could be forgivable, but there are always swarms of enemies in each dungeon-type map, and there’s a very small invincibility window, so if you’ve just defeated an enemy and one is right near you, guess what? You’re forced into battle. Again. There’s nothing you can do to stop it, and this becomes endlessly frustrating after a while. The leveling system is also unbalanced and I found that enemies that I was getting destroyed by were chump change after only gaining one or two levels. Then, upon entering a new area I was nothing but a weakling all over again. The difficulty can be raised and lowered at will through a party member you can recruit near the start of the game, but I feel like I should be able to play the game on one difficulty the whole way through and not have to worry about changing it due to the lack of developer efforts to balance it. It’s important to note that if you’re at a high enough level, you can send your team to “charge” at an enemy and defeat it automatically, but if you’re in a new area, that option is rarely available. It’s unfortunate that Citizens of Earth fails so badly in the character and story department, because superficially I love it. The art style is wonderful and there’s so much potential. It’s here that the developers really lived up to the EarthBound name. The character design is excellent, comprised of beautiful sprites, and one of the things that kept me playing was wanting to see new NPCs and enemies and what they’d look like. The world itself has a lot of style as well, and its design meshes with the characters quite well. It would have been great to have played a game with a script of similar quality to match this bright, fun setting. Other small bugs and inconsistencies abound. The default keyboard controls are unintuitive, and the triggers between maps can be a bit too large. This usually results in accidentally leaving buildings because you get too close to the door, while other doors require you to use the interaction key to activate them. Citizens of Earth is a mess, and the quality of its various components vary widely. However, there’s still a somewhat decent game beneath the frustrating amalgam of boring, grinding gameplay and bizarre design decisions. There's a lot of potential behind the scenes that could be reworked into a much more satisfying experience. As-is, Citizens of Earth is at best a semi-mediocre journey with lots of quests to complete. Alas, it seems that while it tried its best to do so, it just couldn't quite grasp EarthBound's true form.  [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Citizens of Earth review photo
Bound to earth
The Fifth Element came on TV the other day, and it really got me thinking about mise-en-scène versus characterization. It’s one of my absolute favorite movies, and is an exemplar of sci-fi in cinema without being...

Predicting Nintendo's next big crossover

Jan 09 // Kyle MacGregor
The ideal Nintendo vs. Capcom's nonexistence is the crying baby in the airplane of my soul. It's dreadful. Every moment this doesn't happen is a moment wasted, another second closer to death. It's the Ross and Rachel plotline of videogames. You're perfect for each other. What are you waiting for? The likely outcome Maybe I discharged the Friends reference to soon. Mario and Sonic are the "will they/won't they" story of the ages. Can't you see it? The beloved mascots frolicking hand in hand through Green Hill Zone... It's the stuff of dreams! Hopefully the plump plumber can keep up with the blue blur. Other possibilities Oracles huff toxic gas for a living; not all of their ideas are always lucid and scintillating. Maybe she maunders the days away with visions of Pikmin: Total War and Kirbymari Damacy playing in her head. Or perhaps its Tales of Fire Emblem her heart desires. Wait, wait! Jot these down! The dark horse "Metroidvania" is a term people bandy about a lot. Nintendo and Konami should get together, copyright the word, and charge a nickel every time it's uttered. Or, you know, they could make a game where Samus crash-lands on a planet teeming with vampires. That would be just spiffy. Final destination Wario and Lara Croft both share an affinity for plundering treasure. It's a match made in heaven.
Nintendo crossovers photo
It's prognostication time
Somewhere on the slopes of Mount Nintendo there's an oracle that straddles a chasm wherefrom vapors emerge. She speaks in tongues, relying on an intern to interpret her enigmatic ramblings. The system has its misfires (this i...

amiibo updates photo
It's been a crazy year already for these things
The first bit of 2015 amiibo news is the juicy rumor that Toys"R"Us may be holding an "amiibo event" on the 15th, with rare figures such as Captain Falcon and Pit going on sale that day. According to this post, the retailer i...

Destructoid's most wanted games of 2015

Jan 06 // Steven Hansen
Steven Hansen, Persona 5Release: 2015   I had two options here. Talk about Gravity Rush 2, a game we still know nothing about save that I will love it, for the second year in a row. Or, talk about Persona 5, a game we know little about save that I will love it.  Gravity Rush and Persona 4: Golden came out in the same year. It was a good year for me. Looking for that to happen again. Also looking to see if the Persona team's writing on the series has matured at all post Catherine, another game I love to death. Everyone's problems will still probably be solved by your being the ultimate listener (a patient mute) and the power of friendship will win out in the end. That's fine as long as there are good characters, good music, and I can mainline dungeons in one day to get back to what matters, virtual friends.  And holy shit Metal Gear Solid V looks weird and good, full of fine detail and idiosyncrasy. Runners-up: Gravity Rush 2, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, Kentucky Route Zero, getting decapitated, Tetsuo & Youth, baseball Chris Carter, BloodborneRelease: March 24, 2015   Every year in one of these things I choose a Souls game and every year I am happy with my choice. Everything about Bloodborne looks great so far. On top of the From Software patented atmosphere, I'm loving the idea of randomly generated dungeons. The biggest thrill of the Souls games for me is the notion of exploring completely unknown and uncharted territory. Once I've done a few New Game+ runs, that bit sort of loses its luster. But with Chalice Dungeons, I may be playing this game for the entirety of 2015. Runners-up: Gravity Rush 2, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain Darren Nakamura, SeaFallRelease: 2015 Back in 2011, Hasbro released Risk Legacy, which accomplished what I thought was impossible: it got me to enjoy Risk for the first time since 1996. The key to its critical and commercial success was the invention and implementation of legacy mechanics. Where other board games start over from session to session, Risk Legacy "remembers" things that happen over the course of a campaign. Particularly brutal battles scar the world (literally--stickers and Sharpies are used to mark the board), and new rules are introduced as the game progresses. It was such a wild idea with so much potential to expand upon that I said it would be the next big thing in board games. And while it hasn't caught on as quickly as I had expected, there have been other games that have adopted the idea. The most notable currently available title is probably Viticulture's expansion Tuscany, but the one I'm looking forward to most is an original game by Risk Legacy's designer Rob Daviau called SeaFall. SeaFall is set to be a 4X (explore, expand, exploit, exterminate) strategy game that takes place on uncharted seas. Past that, there is not a lot of information out there aside from a press release from 2013 and sporadic reports from playtesters that it is totally rad. It was originally scheduled for release last year, but as time went on with so little news (except for the announcement of Pandemic Legacy, developed in part by Daviau), it became clear that the release would be pushed back. I can only hope now that it does release this year. Runners-up: The rest of Tales from the Borderlands, Heart Forth, Alicia, There Came an Echo, Paradise Lost: First Contact Laura Dale, Broken Age: Act 2Release: Early 2015, apparently. I really wish they'd give a solid date already.   I finished my first playthrough of Broken Age: Act 1 and instantly started over from the beginning of the game, not taking so much as a break to grab a glass of water. As someone who at all times has a backlog of games to tackle for work and too little time to cover them all, that's saying a lot. Broken Age: Act 1 was a really well-written comedy point-and-click adventure with charming memorable characters, hilarious writing, great world design, and a fantastically interwoven pair of nontraditional hero narratives. The pair of protagonists broke a number of expected tropes, they had layers of depth, and were consistently interesting to play as. Oh, and the last five minutes or so completely threw the entire experience on its head for me, forcing me to replay from start to finish so I could see all those well-hidden clues that changed the tone of the experience. While Act 1 worked incredibly well as a standalone experience, I can't wait to see where the universe-flipping changes will send the plot of Act 2. Seriously, such an amazing cliff hanger to tease a narrative sequel with. Runners-up: Zelda Wii U, Persona 5, Life is Strange, Bloodborne, Xenoblade Chronicles X Bill Platt, SplatoonRelease: 2015  I spent just about an hour going over all of the currently known game releases for 2015 to see which game I am most excited about playing. I already have a game in mind, but I wanted to make sure that I wasn't missing anything, especially with how jam-packed 2015 is shaping up to be. My choice will most likely come as no surprise to most of you, particularly if you had a chance to read over my favorite games of 2014. Without question, the game I am most excited for is Splatoon from Nintendo. From the very first time I laid eyes on those cute little squid kids, running around and inking each other, I was hooked. This is the Nintendo I love, when they are at their silliest and taking chances on something new. There are certain things you can always be sure of when expecting to play a first party Nintendo game. These include quality, polish, fun, and solid controls--all of the makings of a good game. From the videos we've seen as well as all of the hands-on impressions, I have no doubt that we are in for one hell of a good time. Runners-up: No Man's Sky, Zelda Wii U, Kirby and the Rainbow Curse, Adr1ft, Xenoblade Chronicles X, Uncharted 4, Yoshi's Wooly World. Josh Tolentino, No Man's SkyRelease: 2015 One of the first games I ever played was Moonvasion, a Defender clone on the Apple II. After playing it, the first thing I ever wanted to "do" beyond what a game allowed was to land that ship, get out, and walk around on the damn moon. That in mind, even if Hello Games' new baby turns out to be nothing more than the bare minimum of what's been shown in the trailers, No Man's Sky pretty much has me covered. Granted, it's not the first game ever to have exploration, planetary landings, and space, but only a few have done it and looked that pretty at the same time. Runners-up: Persona 5, Bloodborne, Satellite Reign, Metal Gear Solid V, Heat Signature, Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 4, Flagship, Uncharted 4 Caitlin Cooke, Hotline Miami 2: Wrong NumberRelease: Q1 2015Hotline Miami came out in October of 2012, but I didn't end up playing it until a year later. In an alternate universe I would have waited until this very day to start, because a year without animal masks and pixelated murder is unacceptable. In the meantime I've survived off the amazing soundtrack, but I still yearn for that sweet adrenaline rush I get every time I kick open a door. Thankfully, Hotline Miami 2 unleashes upon us soon with even more sweet tracks in the mix.  Fun fact time -- did you know that 6,858 people played Hotline Miami on June 24, 2013? Were you one of them?  Nic Rowen, BloodborneRelease: March 24, 2015 I can't wait to get splattered with gore and assorted monster viscera in Bloodborne. The latest spiritual successor to the Souls series is taking all my favorite masochistic adventure action out of the fantasy milieu and dropping us into a Gothic-Victorian inspired nightmare city. As much as I love fighting dragons and manticores, I think the new setting will do the series some good. I'm excited to hear that Bloodborne features a much faster pace, ditching the gigantic tower-shields and huge sets of armor of the Souls series for a riskier and more offense-based take on monster slaying. I'm really hoping it shakes things up enough that I'll be just as terrified and lost as I was the first time I played Dark Souls. Mostly though, I'm excited by the return of lead designer Hidetaka Miyazaki. While Dark Souls 2 was one of my favorite games of 2014, it lacked some of the special je ne sais quoi of the original Dark Souls. I'm hoping Miyazaki will bring back the magic, and with everything we've seen so far–horrifying feral werewolves, unsettling mobs of villagers, and spooooky ghost doors–it looks like he's right on track. Runners-up: Star Citizen, Evolve, Batman: Arkham Knight. Brittany Vincent, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom PainRelease: Probably Pretty Sure Definitely 2015  Hideo Kojima’s opus is and always has been the Metal Gear Solid games, and the fifth entry in the series is heading our way in 2015—at least, we’re hoping it will. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain looks to combine every single thing fans love about the series, from the epic cinematic touch Kojima lends to every inch of the production to the characters that we yearn to hear from again and again. If the near-perfect “Nuclear” trailer is any indication, this is going to be one of the most cryptic and engaging departures for the series and hopefully tie up some loose ends we’ve had for quite some time. It's going to be a thrill ride from start to finish, but hopefully it won’t break our hearts like Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots did. Or if it does, hopefully it’s in a good way. Hey, I sang "Snake Eater" before. Maybe I'll sing "Nuclear" for you guys, too.  Runners-up: Persona 5, Final Fantasy Type-0 HD, Amplitude, Kirby and the Rainbow Curse, Criminal Girls: Invite Only, Day of the Tentacle The Badger, Drawn to DeathRelease: Who-the-fuck-knows o'clock More game "journalists" had more to say about David Scott Jaffe's fucking dumb use of the word "fucktard" during the announcement of Drawn to Death than they did the actual videogame in question. Hopefully everyone will get their priorities straight before the game is released on the PS4 later this year, because getting Jaffe back into the third-person character action/deathmatch genre is a big deal. Jaffe on an action/deathmatch game with a decent budget and total creative freedom has never happened on consoles like this. It could turn out to be the game equivalent of Green Day's American Idiot, or that semi-shitty Metallica orchestral album. That's worst case though, and a semi-shitty worst ain't bad. It's more than you can say for most of the games people are hyped about for 2015, let me tell you.  Jonathan Holmes, Zelda Wii URelease: Whenitsreadyvember 14, 2015 I have enjoyed every new 3D Zelda game more than the previous one, so I have every reason to be excited about the upcoming Wii U title and its Nausicaa-esque interpretation of Link. There are a lot of other games coming in 2015 that I'm even more sure of, like Wattam, Majora's Mask 3D, Resident Evil Revelations 2, and the final build of Nuclear Throne, but Zelda Wii U is the game I'm most on pins and needles for. It's got me feeling incredibly optimistic and curious, which isn't always an easy combination to pull off. Zelda Wii U looks both alien and familiar in just the right order. That's my favorite formula for adventure.  Like with Splatoon, Zelda Wii U looks to take a genre that has been largely dominated by Western developers and "Nintendo-ify" it. They are clearly taking inspiration from the first game in series while pushing the core concept of Zelda in all new directions. While Skyward Sword worked to make your physical interactions with the game the star of the show, Zelda Wii U puts the spotlight on Hyrule itself. Thanks to the amazing art direction, interplay of serenity and excitement, and incredible sense of scope and scale, Zelda Wii U could be the Zelda game to end all Zelda games. Hopefully we'll find out for ourselves before 2016 rolls around.  Jordan Devore, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom PainRelease: Not soon enough When Steven first prompted us to contribute to this list, I expected to land on Bloodborne for many of the reasons Chris and Nic have described. I've played an early build of the game, and it feels terrific in the ways you'd expect -- also quick, brutal, and even unnerving. I actually jumped! But The Phantom Pain has the slightest edge. Kojima's lead-in game, Ground Zeroes, marked the first time I made it to the credits of a Metal Gear Solid. I've flirted with the series before -- most notably Peace Walker -- but never committed. Everything I've seen of The Phantom Pain makes me want to commit. We know it's going to be a grand, eccentric adventure, but how grand? How eccentric? Kojima has my curiosity like no one else. Runners-up: Yoshi's Woolly World, The Witness, Splatoon, Hotline Miami 2, Just Cause 3 Kyle MacGregor, Persona 4: Dancing All NightRelease: God dammit Atlus, give it to me now!  I like weird Japanese games, and they don't get much weirder or more Japanese than a dancing rhythm game based on the Persona franchise. My real answer is probably Persona 5, but Steven already talked about that and I don't have much to add aside from "HNNNNG PERSONA!" Shoji Meguro, it's your time to shine! Runners-up: Xenoblade Chronicles X, Titan Souls, Majora's Mask 3D, Evolve, Splatoon Brett Makedonski, Life is StrangeRelease: January 30, 2015 Man, I can't even explain the feeling I get when I think back to my gamescom 2014 demo of Life is Strange. It's this weird combination of giddy, anxious, nervous, and calm. It's completely inexplicable. I was just so immediately invested and entranced in the lives of the young women on screen that I had completely drown my own world out. Mind you, this is at the world's largest videogame convention when I'm supposed to be acutely alert. I can't say that 20 minutes with any other game has ever had that exact effect on me. That's why I'm impatiently anticipating my trip to Arcadia Bay, Oregon. I don't know if five episodes of time-travelling, indie-tinged self-exploration will live up to my initial exposure. Frankly, I don't care. These girls have so much life to discover, and I want to do it right alongside them. - What are you looking forward to? Ciao, amiche
Most anticipated 2015 photo
Oodles and noodles
Ugh. Mondays, am I right? They're a day that people don't like because you have to do stuff and things after (maybe) not having to do those things, you know? Lame. Let's turn our frowns upside down and instead talk about some...

Destructoid Discusses: Are amiibo worth it?

Jan 04 // Dtoid Staff
Chris Carter I own all wave 1 and 2 amiibo, and have all of wave 3 preorded. As I approach my 30s I'm finding myself in a collector's conundrum. I've had this discussion with Bill Platt a few times on how aging can curb your collecting habits (I'm running out of space!), but I think the amiibo figures are small enough to justify a purchase en masse. My favorite part about the concept is how they are affordable miniatures from franchises you don't normally see represented. I can now put Little Mac with my Punch Out!! collection to make it snazzier, and Marth will look great next to Ike and some Fire Emblem games. Obscure characters like these are only really found at trade shows by way of unofficial merchandise, and it's great to finally get my hands on a few of them from Nintendo. I really don't think the software angle is justified yet, and even some of the games on the horizon (mysteries like Mario Party 8 and Captain Toad) don't really excite me in terms of their amiibo functionality, mostly because Nintendo hasn't done anything worthwhile with them yet -- in other words, I wouldn't recommend them to anyone who isn't into the toy aspect. But as collectible figures, I think they fulfill an in-demand niche. Brittany Vincent I'm 25 and I own all of the current amiibo, including preorders for the retailer exclusives, with Rosalina as an import. Counting an extra Pit and Kirby (I actually opened Kirby), I have 19 figures in-hand. Either they're already haphazardly stashed on my bookshelf or I'm waiting for them to come in one by one from the various stores I had to cherrypick from because local places just couldn't keep the things in stock. I learned my lesson early, to go ahead and preorder every single one I can so I can beat the crowds, and as they're made available in different waves I'll continue to do so.With the help of r/amiibo and collectors online I've been able to complete my set, though it hasn't been easy. Why do I want them so badly? Mostly, I think they're cute, affordable, and the Nintendo characters I love. I'll rarely (if ever) use them with the games they're meant to be played with, but they'll sure sit pretty on my shelf for months to come. Then, somewhere down the road, I'll have a nice little set of collectibles to either sell or pass down to future generations. Either way, I've enjoyed the thrill of the hunt. As a gamer who has pretty much every single system, game, peripheral, and item she needs to enjoy any game at any time, it's something to look forward to again. And I love it.  Bill Platt I think I very well may be the oldest staff member here at Destructoid. I turned 41 yesterday (thanks for all the birthday wishes) and I am still an avid collector of all things related to video games. When the amiibo were first announced, I knew that I'd end up getting them all. I figured I'd grab them here and there as I saw them out in the wild. I never thought that these little plastic toys would bring out the hardcore collector in me.  As of this writing, I currently have 38 amiibo. I have all of wave 1 and wave 2 in doubles, even triples for some. I currently have all of wave 3 pre-ordered (including all store exclusives). Like Brittany, I ended up having to import Rosalina due to the terrible way she was handled by Target and whoever Nintendo is using as their distributor here in the states.I have one of each amiibo currently available out on display in my game room, with the rest sitting in a box in my garage. From a collector’s standpoint, I absolutely love these stupid little things. I've been talking with my wife lately about how the "thrill of the hunt" has seemed to fade over the past few years, with thrift stores and such getting wise to how much older video games can actually be worth. Now though, with the current amiibo situation, we find ourselves hopping in the car (with our daughter of course, she also loves the hunt) and driving to stores we don't normally visit to try to locate hard to find or rare amiibo. My daughter especially loves it as she is often the first to run to the game section to look for rare amiibo (and yes, she knows which ones are rare or not). There's been a lot of talk lately on whether or not amiibo are "worth it." That's a hard question to answer, as everyone has a different opinion of worth. For my family and me, they are most definitely worth it. My daughter uses them in Smash; she's leveled up over half of them so far, and I enjoy having them out on display. Darren Nakamura I'm 30 and I have only two amiibo (Samus and Peach). It sounds like I'm the first to chime in who hasn't gone nuts for these things. I wanted some for Super Smash Bros., and I got them via Destructoid's Secret Santa (thanks Josh!). I did get a twinge of regret when I heard that Villager and Wii Fit Trainer were hard to find, because those were the next two I'd even consider getting, but that passed after a few deep breaths and some practical consideration. By nature I have always been a bit of a pack rat with my stuff. Until recently, I had kept birthday cards from my grandparents from when I was a teenager, despite never looking back through them. Lately I've been trying to declutter, and not collecting useless junk is a part of that. And like Chris said, aside from any sort of sentimental attachment they may hold, amiibo functionality is lacking. The fact that not collecting these saves me some money is nice too; these things are small and inexpensive for sure, but those benefits kind of dissolve when you are buying 38 of them (wtf Bill). All that said, I know that I'm going to preorder if Nintendo ever announces a Ness amiibo. I'm actually a little disappointed that amiibo in general have had such success, because I know a Ness amiibo would sell out, but that wouldn't be as impressive now since just about every non-core amiibo is selling out anyway. Laura Kate Dale I'm Laura, age 23, I own all current amiibo and have all possible upcoming ones either preordered, or have friends abroad preordering retailer specific figures. I'm an unboxer, not a collector, and they currently adorn my work desk. Sure they're not the best designed figures in the world, clearly they were in game designs first and figures second, but my goodness are they nice and detailed. For me this is the first time in my life I have had readily available disposable income and relatively stable access to officially licensed, decent quality, relatively low cost Nintendo figures from a generation of titles. If you can pick them up at RRP they're a nice cheap-ish way to grow a collection of thematically similar figures for a few generations of games. They may not do much in-game, but when you have a decent number of figures that starts to add up. A handful of new costumes, a set of challenging NPC enemies, a set of new items -- it all adds up. It's a fairly cheap way to add a few nice looking figurines to my collection every month and have extra content to look forward to when big game releases happen. Kyle MacGregor I'm a 26 year old very conflicted owner of two amiibo, Marth and Zelda. Amiibo are terrible; let us never speak of them again. This is my reaction to most all amiibo-related news these days, particularly regarding their availability at specific retailers. But I'm an surly old misanthrope hailing from a long line of pack rats, one who has seen the great evil piles upon piles of plastic crap can do to a person. It's in my blood, the pack rattery, and I believe my aversion to collecting this bunk is some sort of primal defense mechanism. I do have a couple of these things, though. One I acquired out of professional obligation, given these things are the talk of the town and keeping up with the dernier cri is part of the job. The other is more difficult to explain. Despite my love for Fire Emblem, I didn't feel compelled to pick up a Marth amiibo at launch. He looks sort of shit, and doesn't quite do the character justice. Then the shortages happened and something went off in my brain. Word of the artificial scarcity had me importing Marth from Japan before I even had time to think about it. Every time one of these things is rumored to be ceasing production, I get an urge to run out and get one while I still can -- even if it's a character I feel little to no affection for. It's bizarre, really, and mildly terrifying. I don't even like these things. I'm not much of a collector. The in-game functionality has been lackluster at best thus far. And yet I feel this strange yearning. God dammit Nintendo.  Bill Platt I feel like I need to add an addendum to my earlier post, the reason why we have so many amiibo, one set for me, one set for my daughter and one set to keep hidden away for my collection. As you can imagine, when you have a child who games as much, if not more than you do, the number if games and game merchandise you end up buying is always double. For example, for almost all 1st party Nintendo games we buy two copies, one for the kid, one for me.Just thought I should maybe clarify that. Kyle MacGregor Addendum to Bill's addendum: It's okay to admit you have a problem. Bill Platt Ha, I've always been the first to admit that I have a problem with collecting, no doubt about that. Truthfully though, once you have kids, if you ever do, and they take up your hobby, shit gets expensive. Double this, triple that....it adds up. Jonathan Holmes I'm excited and afraid for that day Bill. I've kept almost every game and toy I've ever owned. Part of that is because I want my hopefully-future kids to have every toy I ever owned. Maybe they wont even want new toys, being too deeply buried in a pile of Mighty Muggs, '80s era Transformers, and now amiibo to even move. As for me, I'm Jonathan Holmes, 38 years old, and I have 10 amiibo: Little Mac, Captain Falcon, Villager, Wii Fit Trainer, Link, Luigi, Samus, Zelda, Fox, and Kirby. Like Bill, I enjoy searching for amiibo more than actually owning them. Shopping for them feels like a Pokemon ARG. You search various department stores like they were tall grass. Instead of walking down different routes, you drive down different highways. Real life or in-game, the feeling is the same. Maybe I'm going to stumble upon a rare, awesome piece of art that is both mass produced and one-of a kind at the same time. Maybe I'll capture it, bring it home, make some use of it for a few days, then store it in a box, likely to be forgotten forever. Maybe this process is the absolutely best way for me to spend my entire weekend. Maybe definitely, it is. Like Kyle, I get super intense when I know I may miss out on a rare amiibo. This is actually making the shopping process less fun for me. When you have to preorder an amiibo or get it online, it feels more like sending money in the mail to keep a child I never met from dying than it does Pokémon collecting. But I'll get to that later.  The most fun I had grabbing an amiibo was probably Captain Falcon, which I talked about here. The most touching amiibo I own came from @Shawn_on_games, who sent me a Villager for no reason. He's just super nice. We've never met in real life, only talked on Twitter for the past few years. He spotted the amiibo, thought of me, bought it and paid for shipping out of his own pocket. I sent him a Mighty Mugg and a t-shirt in return, but it didn't feel like enough. The fact that he wanted me to have a thing just for the sake of it was pretty darn moving. Appropriately enough, that kind of thing usually only happens in games like Animal Crossing, where NPCs are designed to be good to you. Shawn isn't an NPC though, and he wasn't "designed" to be a nice person. He has chosen to be one, and that's why I'm lucky to know him.  Compare the depth of emotion attached to those two amiibo stories to how I felt when my Little Mac amiibo arrived in the mail today, and it's far less profound. There was no thrill of the hunt. There was no chance encounter leading to unexpected victory. There was no kindness of strangers changing your outlook on life. There was just a slightly cross-eyed boxer in small plastic case, staring at me sadly, as if to say "Is this really what you want in life?" [embed]285700:56767:0[/embed] I couldn't help but be a little resentful towards Little Mac for offering me so little gratification. It's not his fault though. It's my fault for buying something I don't really want out of an irrational, wallet draining fear of missing out. Still, I wouldn't part with him for anything, because then I'd never see him again, and I never want him or any of my toys, or anyone ever, to ever die, ever. They say most collector's have a fear of death and loss driving them forward, and if they're right, then I'm sure I'd fit the profile. That's why I already preordered King Dedede, Mega Man, and Toon Link. I don't want lose the opportunity to wear a Dedede mask in Kirby and the Rainbow Curse,  left wondering what could have been. I don't want Mega Man to ever disappear from my life. I want Toon Link to stay young and fun forever.  My wife turned to me the other day and asked "So when is this whole amiibo thing going to stop?" and I said "Maybe when I'm dead? Hopefully not though. Maybe the Toon Link amiibo will work with the Nintendo games are kids will be playing, like how the GameCube controller works with the Wii U! Wouldn't that be amazing?!?!" And with that, my wife went back to looking at my amiibo collection the way that the Mom looked at the leg lamp in A Christmas Story. I talk about amiibo as potential immortals, but I wouldn't be surprised to find all of mine in pieces by the end of the week, with my wife's fingerprints on the broken bodies and the dog put to blame, as I shed real adult tears over my dead Kirby. If that happens, I guess I'll just buy him again. Money can't buy you love, but it can get you more amiibo, so close enough. 
amiibo photo
Let's rap about it
According to at least one cursory analysis, Nintendo's amiibo figurines are a pretty big hit, going toe to toe with Disney and Activision's similar line of game-integrated figures. Pretty impressive, considering they barely d...

amiibo madness photo
Give customer service a call
Back in December, Toys"R"Us canceled every Lucario amiibo pre-order (and some random Wave 2 or 3 orders). It sucked, because the figure is exclusive and they already took thousands of orders on them weeks before the...

amiibogeddon photo
Um, wow
[Update: Toys"R"Us put pre-orders back up momentarily this morning, and I expect them to either be faulty or drop very soon. Try to re-pre-order if you want at your own risk!] [Update 2: Now the retailer has taken o...

Review: Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker

Dec 01 // Chris Carter
Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker (Wii U)Developer: Nintendo EAD TokyoPublisher: NintendoReleased: December 5, 2014MSRP: $39.99 Don't expect any meaningful exposition from Captain Toad, because it's not here. Cutscenes clock in at 30 seconds at most, and there are only a few of them in total throughout the adventure. The gist is that the evil bird Wingo has stolen a treasure that Toad and Toadette have just located, and in her attempt to yank it back, Toadette is lifted into the air and taken. Toad embarks on an adventure to save her that basically just involves solving puzzles to progress, and eventually she will join him and return the favor. While the story won't win any awards, it feels like the first legitimate adventure for the duo, which should please fans of toads everywhere. No other Mario characters are jumping out and stealing the spotlight here -- it's just the two aforementioned characters and their thirst for treasure that fuels the game. Captain Toad is a puzzle game at heart and using the power of the Wii U's GamePad controller, involves anything from tactile controls to tapping, to microphone use. The concepts are pretty ingenious, including but not limited to: stunning enemies with taps, tapping to change-up platforms, triggering question mark or POW blocks, throwing turnips in first-person, and a lot more. [embed]284007:56393:0[/embed] Each level is what I refer to as a miniature "fish tank," allowing the player to scan, flip, and zoom in and out of the entire environment during an attempt to solve the puzzle. The objective in every stage is threefold: find three optional Super Gems, solve an optional objective, and locate the star to end the level. The optional objective is usually the toughest, involving side goals like "don't destroy a bridge," "stay in stealth mode the entire level," or "locate a special trinket." They aren't revealed until after completing a stage, which gives incentive to go back and replay it -- albeit in an attempt to give the game some padding since it doesn't reveal the objective upfront. Toad's gimmick is that he can't jump because "his backpack is too full" (aw). He can run though, as well as pull up plants Super Mario Bros. 2 style and use them to kill enemies, grab mushrooms to grow back to size should he get hit, use power-ups like hammers and Double Cherries to clone himself a la 3D World, and utilize a minecart with an infinite turnip supply to chuck at enemies. There are also a ton of different concepts like boost pads, donut blocks, and a mix of classic Mario objects and new surprises. The minecart bit is probably my favorite of the bunch, and the first-person viewpoint works in the game's favor because it feels so unique. I would easily pay something like $10 for a game that consisted entirely of minecart levels. While there are boss stages and they are often the highlight of any given string of puzzles, they are basically just regular levels with said boss adding some extra chaos to the mix. As a general rule the controls are pretty great, and I had little problem getting Toad to do what I wanted. If you haven't played the Wii U a ton it can be jarring to go back and forth from touching and looking at the GamePad to looking at the TV, but after a period of time you'll either get used to it, or just learn to use the pad entirely. The part I really don't like about the controls is the forced use of the GamePad's accelerometer feature, which can often be used accidentally while holding the pad. While it doesn't get to the point of ruining levels consistently, it's annoying in that I can't turn it off completely, since I wholly use the right analog stick to control the camera anyway. It's clear that Nintendo had a therapeutic goal in mind with Toad, because even during some of the more difficult levels the game is far from stressful or aggravating. This is especially evident when taking into account that players keep whichever Super Gems were collected during the same run. In other words, there's no worries if you get a tough to reach Gem then fall off a cliff, as long as you complete the stage eventually with the amount of lives you have left you won't have to obtain it again. The game also tracks the highest coin run on top of all the tertiary goals, so it's perfect to occasionally run through past levels again. The stress-free nature can work against it though. After completing the game I couldn't help but want more. While a lot of the mechanics in each level were a joy to see for the first time, after repeated play sessions some of them lost their luster, as the gimmick was basically a one-time thing. I even breezed through a few levels and roasted every goal on the first try, which led to the occasional bout of disappointment. While every new world feels fresh in its own way, there are a handful that are a half-measure when it comes to challenging the player. In terms of content, there are a little over 70 stages to tackle, including some bonus 3D World remakes (for those who have a World save file), which lightly modify the level to accommodate for Toad's lack of jumping. In essence these levels will take roughly 10 minutes to beat, and 30 minutes to completely master with all goals completed. There are also bonus stages to earn extra coins and lives, but those only take a few minutes and pop up sparingly. As a result, even with the lower price-point, you may feel underwhelmed by what's in the box if you don't absolutely love solving puzzles. There is amiibo support of some kind planned for a day-one update, and you'll find coverage of what that entails here at a future date -- for now we're in the dark. Captain Toad is an experience that doesn't attempt to really wow you, but instead delivers consistent puzzle experiences at a rapid pace. There's more Nintendo could have done with it, but it is a puzzler in its purest form, and that will be more than enough for people who wanted more of the titular hero after playing the bonus games in 3D World. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Captain Toad review photo
Toadally sufficient for puzzle enthusiasts
From the moment I played the Captain Toad minigame in Super Mario 3D World, I thought to myself "this would make a great downloadable title." It seems as if Nintendo can hear my thoughts, because it did just that. Priced at a...

The Super Smash Bros. for Wii U challenges unlocking guide

Nov 22 // Jonathan Holmes
[embed]284165:56423:0[/embed] 1. Clear Classic on intensity 9.0 without losing a life: Double Final Smasher Protection Badge equipment 2. Play as Lucina and score 8 or more KOs alone in Cruel Smash: Vampire Brawn Badge equipment 3. Play as Dr Mario and get Fever Rush 8 or more times alone in Trophy Rush: 100,000G 4. Play as Pit and score 4 or more KOs alone in Cruel Smash: Reaper trophy 5. Play Pac-Man in Stage 3 of Solo Target Blast and score 300,000 using the back (left) wall: Whomp trophy 6. Clear Solo Classic in 12 minutes on intensity 9.0 with Marth: Critical Hitter Sword equipment 7. Collect all custom moves: Smooth Lander Brawn Badge equipment 8. Collect all Mii outfits: Able Sisters trophy 9. Get 8 or more KOs in Solo Cruel Smash: Toadsworth trophy 10. Collect all Mii headgear: Majora's Mask trophy 11. Clear All-Star on Hard with all characters: Saki Amamiya trophy 12. Destroy a total of 50,000 blocks in Trophy Rush: Moon Launcher Protection Badge equipment 13. Clear True Solo All-Star without recovering health between rounds with Captain Falcon: Deathborn trophy 14. Score 450,000 in a single game of Target Blast Stage 3: Magolor trophy 15. Collect over 300,000g: Prince of Sable trophy 16. Collect 700 unique trophies: Item Hitter Agility Badge equipment 17. Get a Perfect on every stage in Target Blast: 20,000g 18. Clear Crazy Orders after 20 or more turns with Mario: F.L.U.D.D. trophy 19. Score 85 or more in a single Rival Smash: Waluigi trophy 20. Collect all CDs: Tac trophy 21. Clear Classic on intensity 9.0 without any customizations: Knuckle Joe trophy 22. Clear True All-Star in 6 minutes with Jigglypuff: Koffing trophy 23. Clear Classic on intensity 8.0 with 3 different characters: Master Fortress: Second Wave CD 24. Start the final battle in Smash Tour with 10 fighters: Flying Man trophy 25. Clear True All-Star on Hard with Duck Hunt: Samus (Dark Suit) trophy 26. Use Ganondorf in Home-Run contest and hit the Sandbag at least 3,280ft: King K. Rool trophy 27. Clear True Solo All-Star Mode within 6 minutes with Shulk on any difficulty: Mechonis trophy 28. Clear 3-Minute Smash after getting 120 KOs: Kritter trophy 29. Clear True All-Star Mode on Normal or higher without using healing items: 150,000g 30. Complete the reward conditions on all Solo Events: Galacta knight trophy 31. Clear True All-Star Mode without using healing items with Zero Suit Samus: Gunship trophy 32. Clear the "All-Star Battle: Secret" Event on Hard: Shadow trophy 33. Clear Classic on intensity 7.0 or higher with all characters: Regal Crown Mii headgear 34. Clear the "The FINAL Battle: Event on Hard: Soulflee trophy 35. Play Bowser Jr. in Solo Target Blast Stage 1 and score 150,000: Countdown Drill equipment 36. Play Samus and get a chain of at least 100 in Trophy Rush alone and without taking damage: KO Healer Arm Cannon equipment 37. Clear All-Star on Hard with 8 different characters: Caloric Immortal Protection Badge equipment 38. Clear True All-Star on Hard alone with Ike: Black Knight trophy 39. Play Cruel Smash alone with Luigi and survive for 1 minute: Mr. L trophy 40. Hit the Sandbag over 3,280 feet win Home-Run Contest: Daisy (Baseball) trophy 41. Clear a Master Orders ticket on Intense: Desperate Specialist Agility Badge equipment 42. Clear Crazy Orders after 12 or more turns: Soda Popinski trophy 43. Get 3 or more KOs on your rival in Rival Smash: Dixie Kong trophy 44. Clear True All-Star mode on Hard: Perfect-Shield Helper Brawn Badge equipment 45. Get 120 or more KOs in a single Endless Smash: Unharmed Attacker Agility Badge equipment 46. Clear Classic on intensity 8.0 with 2 or more characters: Master Fortress: First Wave CD 47. Clear "Kirby's Crazy Appetite" Event on Hard: Fire Kirby trophy 48. Clear 10-Man Smash within 25 seconds with all characters: Wonder-Yellow trophy 49. Clear Solo 3-Minute Smash with 100 KOs with Mii Gunner: Birdo trophy 50. Get a chain of 300 or more in Trophy Rush: CommanderVideo trophy 51. Play Ness in Stage 3 of Solo Target Blast and get 200,000: Jeff trophy 52. Play Meta Knight and score 90 KOs in Solo Endless Smash: Substitute Doll trophy 53: Get a Perfect on any stage in Target Blast: 5,000g 54. Clear all Solo Events: Special Flag trophy, Golden Hammer 55. Clear a Master Order on Hard or higher with King Dedede: King Dedede's Theme CD 56. Clear 3-Minute Smash with 110 Kos with Boswer: Banzai Bill trophy 57. Clear 10-Man Smash alone with Dr. Mario without taking any damage: Dr. Mario Masterpiece 58. Play Fox alone in Trophy Rush and get Fever Rush 6 or more times in a single game: Krystal trophy 59. KO your rival 4 or more times in Rival Smash: Ice Climbers trophy 60. Clear Crazy Orders after 10 or more turns with Greninja: Battle! (Reshiram/Zekrom) CD 61. Clear a Master Order on Very Hard or higher: Trade-Off Attacker Protection Badge equipment 62. Get a chain of 200 or more with Donkey Kong in Trophy Rush: DK Rap CD 63. Get 3 or more Checkpoint Bonuses in Smash Tour: Bionis trophy 64. Clear Solo 100-Man Smash in 3 minutes with Mii Sword-fighter: Multi-Man Melee 2 (Melee) CD 65. Collect 300 unique trophies: Timmy & Tommy trophy 66. Score at least 200,000 in a single game of Target Blast Stage 2: Dire Hydrant custom move (Pac-Man) 67. Defeat 12 or more fighters in a single Smash Tour: Crazy Orders Pass 68. Come in 1st in 5 or more Smash Tour battles: 2,000g 69. View every fighter's Final Smash: Smash Ball trophy 70. Destroy 250 blocks in a single game of Trophy Rush: Crazy Orders Pass 71: Get 1 or more KOs in Cruel Smash: Duck Hunt Stage and Character  72. Clear Solo Classic within 20 minutes with Olimar: Mission Mode CD 73. Play as Zelda in Solo Target Blast Stage 1 and get 150,000: Wolf Link trophy 74: Clear Solo Classic at intensity 5.5 or higher with Wario, without any customizations: Full Steam Ahead (Spirit Tracks) CD 75. Clear Solo All-Star on Normal or higher with Lucario: Meloetta Pokeball 76: Clear Solo 100-Man Smash in 3 minutes with Sonic: Speed Skater Shoes equipment 77. Hit the Sandbag between 1,640 and 1,656 ft. with ROM in Home-Rune Contest: Dr. Light trophy 78. Play Robin alone in Trophy Rush and get Fever Rush 4 or more times: Conquest (Ablaze) CD 79. Play Pikachu alone in Trophy Ruch and destroy a total of 200 blocks: Xerneas Pokeball 80. Clear 10-Man Smash in 17 seconds: Gerudo Valley CD 81. Play Sheik and score 50 KOs or more in Solo Endless Smash: Tetra trophy 82. Hit the Sandbag between 1,640 and 1,65 ft. in Home-Run Contest: Wonder-Green trophy 83. Clear the "Fitness Junkie" Event on Normal or higher: Snorlax trophy 84. Play Falco alone and get a chain of at least 150 in Trophy Rush: Accele-Reflector custom move (Falco) 85. Get a max combo of 50 or more in Training mode: Unharmed Speed Demon Agility Badge equipment 86. Hit the Sandbag 1,968 ft, or more in Home-Run Contest: Earthbound Masterpiece 87. Use a Tour Item 18 times or more in Smash Tour: Riki trophy 88. Play Link and score 50 KOs in Solo Endless Smash: Ripping Boomerang custome move (Link) 89. Play Mr. Game & Watch alone and destroy 100 blocks in a single game of Trophy Rush: Flat Zone X Stage 90. Clear Solo Classic on intensity 5,5 or higher with Kirby: Kirby's Adventure Masterpiece 91. Play Palutena on Stage 2 of Solo Taget Blast and score 80,000 or more using the back (left) wall: In the Space-Pirate Ship CD 92. Deal the final blow to a boss in Smash Tour: Ridley trophy 93. Clear Crazy Orders after 5 or more turns: Speed Crasher Agility Badge equipment 94. Get a score of more than 20 in a single Rival Smash: Star Wolf (Star Fox: Assault) CD 95. Play Charizard and get 328 ft. or farther without using the bat in Home-Run Contest: Rock Hurl custom move (Charizard) 96. KO your rival 2 or more times in Rival Smash: Super Mario Bros. 3 Medley CD 97. Clear the "No Mere Sparring Match" Event on Normal or higher: Punch-Out!! Featuring Mr. Dream Masterpiece 98. Clear Solo Classic without losing a single like with Little Mac: Title (Punch-Out!!) CD 99. Obtain a score of 25 or more in a single Rival Smash with Dark Pit: Guiding Bow custom move (Dark Pit)  100. Play Toon Link in Solo Target Blast Stage 2 and get 120,000: Lor Starcutter trophy 101. Reveal the entire wall during the credits: Credits CD 102. Clear Classic on intensity 5.5 or highter: Master Core CD 103. Get a max combo of 30 or more in Training: Title Theme (Wii Sports Resort) CD 104. Clear Solo Classic with Yoshi: Yoshi Masterpiece 105. Clear 10-Man Smash in 25 seconds: Fancy Suit Mii outfit 106. Play Peach and hit the Sandbag 1,049 ft. in Home-Run Contest: Title/Ending (Super Mario World) CD 107. Get 50 or more KOs in a single Endless Smash: No-Flinch Smash Protection Badge equipment 108. Clear Classic without losing a single life: Dr. Kawashima trophy 109. Clear All-Star on normal or higher: Hyper Smasher Brawn Badge equipment 110. Clear 100-Man Smash in 3 minutes: Wii Fit Plus Medley CD 111. Clear the "Behind Enemy Lines" Event: Tricky trophy 112. Clear 100-Man Smash: Tatris: Type B CD, Golden Hammer 113. Clear 3-Minutes Smash after getting 60 or more KOs: 1,000g 114: Have the game on for more than 10 hours: Mr. Resetti trophy 115. Clear Classic on intensity 2.0 or more with 5 characters: Master Hand trophy, Golden Hammer 116. Collect 50 different special moves: Nimble Dodger Agility Badge equipment 117. Recover the stat boosts a Metroid stole from you in Smash Tour: Vs. Parasite Queen CD 118. Score at least 150,000 in a single game of Target Blast Stage 1: Exploding Popgun custom move (Diddy Kong) 119. Clear the "The Falchion;s Seal" Event on normal or higher: Dashing Assault custom move (Marth) 120. Get a chain of 100 or more in a single game of Trophy Rush: Chomp Hat Mii headgear 121. Clear Solo 10-Man Smash within 35 seconds while playing as Mii Brawler: Fighter Uniform Mii outfit 122. Collect 15 different special moves: Air Attack Brawn Badge equipment 123. Clear Crazy Orders while playing as Villager: Rover trophy 124. Clear the "When Lightning Strikes" event: Pokemon Stadium 2 Stage 125. Collect 50 unique trophies: Celest trophy 126. Clear the "Playing Tricks" event: Smashville stage 127. Clear a Master Orders ticker while playing as Mega Man: Tornado Hold custom move (Mega Man) 128. Clear Crazy Orders: Crazy Hand trophy 129. Play all the maps in Smash Tour: Pac-Land stage 130. Get a chain of at least 50 in Trophy Rush while playing alone and as Wii Fit Trainer: Wii Fit U Trainer trophy 131. Clear 10-Man Smash: 100G 132. Clear a Master Orders ticker while playing as Rosalina & Luma: Rosalina in the Observatory/Luma's Theme CD 133. Clear a Master's Order ticket: Crazy Orders Pass 134. Bump into an enemy who appears on the board during Smash Tour: Nabbit trophy 135. Create a Mii Fighter in Custom: Peach Crown Mii headgear 136. Customize a fighter in Custom: Shield Regenerator Protection Badge equipment 137. Create a stage in Stage Builder: Saharah trophy 138. Bump into every opponent on the board in a single game of Smash Tour: Mecha Suit Mii outfit 139. Clear the "The Original Heavyweights" event: Kongo Jungle 64 stage 140. Clear All-Star: Victini Pokeball
Smash Bros. photo
All the unlockables!
Super Smash Bros. for the Wii U was released yesterday. If you've picked up the game, you've likely put a few hours into it already, though chances are a lot of that time has been spent on multiplayer. Sadly, there isn't too ...

Just how rare are some of Nintendo's amiibo toys at launch?

Nov 21 // Chris Carter
Also at every location, there was a maximum of two Villagers and Wii Fit Trainers each left on the shelf, with a stock of roughly 10 units per store. GameStop stated that Villager, Wii Fit Trainer, and Marth were sold out entirely and were only available for pre-order customers. This was the case for at least 10 of their stores in my area after they checked their system. But the most rare of all is without question Marth. By the time I had went to two stores and found zero of them, I got the idea to check Amazon -- sure enough, they're going for around $30 already. Speaking to the store reps, I found out that Toys"R"Us only received four Marths in total at my local store, and that all of the surrounding areas within a 30 mile radius were sold out. Best Buy didn't get any Marths, and my fourth stop, the second Target, only had two -- I picked up the last one. GameStop, Toys"R"Us, Target, and Best Buy all seemed confident with additional shipments of every toy except the aforementioned three characters. Keep in mind that throughout the holiday season scalpers and collectors are going to likely find out when shipments are before the general public, and will be there bright and early to collect. I was told that at my local Toys"R"Us, someone had gotten there at the store's opening and bought every Marth toy at once. While the jury is out on whether or not Nintendo deliberately induced a shortage on these few rare figures or legitimately didn't ship enough, you should definitely ask a friend if they're going out to today to pick you up a rare toy if you wanted one. Or of course, just order them online, since most of them are available outside of Marth.
amiibo report photo
You might want to get Marth now
While Nintendo provided me with the Link, Mario, and Kirby amiibo toys for testing with Super Smash Bros., acquiring the rest of the lot was completely up to me. So I decided to take a trip early this morning, survey any pote...

Review: Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric

Nov 20 // Chris Carter
Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric (Wii U)Developer: Big Red Button EntertainmentPublisher: SegaReleased: November 11, 2014MRSP: $49.99 Sonic Boom is not a reboot per se, but a re-imagining of the Sonic universe with a new art style and villain. The biggest problem is that developer Big Red Button not only changes many things for the worse, but the "alternate" universe is a half-measure. First off, you might notice the new crew (Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, and Amy) are wearing different gear and wraps -- lots and lots of wraps. While the actual designs are passable, the in-game personalities aren't. The most criminal change of all is the decision to make Knuckles a lumbering idiot. As a once-respected protector of the Master Emerald, I enjoyed Knuckles' proud nature and his ability to bravely take on any problem head-on. He was a great counterbalance to Sonic's carefree attitude. But in Sonic Boom, he is a complete moron, billed as the "brawn" of the operation like a poorly produced Saturday morning cartoon (and it does have a cartoon now, which may explain things a bit). Case in point, this conversation between Sonic and Knuckles: Sonic: "And as we know, there's no time like the present!" Knuckles: "Wait, there are presents?!" Ugh. Tails, Amy, and Sonic are more than tolerable, but a lot of soul is missing, particularly when it comes to the titular hero. There's absolutely a way to make Sonic cute and campy and get away with it. Although a large group of people are always going to find the character annoying, I've found the "you're too slow" finger-wagging cockiness of Sonic endearing and sometimes unintentionally funny. In Sonic Boom, he's milquetoast, which is a shame. [embed]283867:56394:0[/embed] Lyric, the new villain in town, is a creepy lizard-like take on Dr. Paradigm from Street Sharks. He fits the mold quite well and is a foe worth chasing, but things start to take a familiar turn as Dr. Eggman once again makes an appearance. Big Red Button had so much opportunity to turn things on their head and craft a new world we haven't seen, but instead the studio played it safe with the same exact personalities as before, just dulled down. I just don't get it. As the promising story takes familiar turn after familiar turn, it becomes forgettable. Actual gameplay, on the other hand, is decent when not marred by technical issues. The platforming in particular feels right, and the camerawork is impressive throughout the adventure. In terms of frame rate, Sonic Boom feels like it caps out at 30 frames per second with occasional stuttering and choppiness. It's not broken, as the game is still playable throughout the annoyances, but it -- and the sound outages and messy cutscenes -- are something to be aware of. These issues affect the presentation but don't necessarily impede gameplay. It's a bit odd though, because the game looks worse than most of the recent 3D Sonic titles. The characters are bright and stylish on-screen and the indoor environments have a penchant to delight, but the outdoor settings feel half-finished in certain instances, like the team didn't get to flesh out most of the details. This is no more apparent than when you attempt to run on water in zones where you "aren't supposed to," and are met with a "glub glub" effect and instant death. Gameplay is predictable. Think of a basic 3D Sonic, but with areas only specific friends can reach (you can tag-switch characters with the d-pad). Tails can use gusts of wind, Sonic can spin up ramps, Knuckles can climb on certain walls, and Amy can triple-jump and balance on marked beams. Notice the words "certain" and "marked"; Sonic Boom isn't as open as you'd expect. While Sonic Boom's design inherently limits where you can go, it also makes for some fun puzzles in the indoor dungeon portions. Billed as an open-world adventure, that claim only feels half true. While there is a big hub with a few NPCs, it mostly acts as a gateway to the other zones, which are more linear affairs with branching areas. In terms of combat, all of your favorite moves are back like the Sonic Spin and homing attack, and character operate mostly the same way outside of Tails, who employs a more ranged style. It's not the most ingenious fighting system in a 3D mascot game, but it works. The new "Enerbeam" mechanic lets you use a beam-whip as either a tether to certain areas or as a weapon, but it functions exactly as you'd expect and barely comes into play. Like most of the game, its addition can be described as "adequate." Co-op (up to four players) makes things heaps more enjoyable, especially when kept at a maximum of two. Since one player can opt for the GamePad and the other a traditional controller on the TV, things get much more fun when it comes to the action and exploration areas. Switching characters is also smoother in co-op as you can basically tackle any obstacle in tandem without having to stop, wait, and do every puzzle individually. My favorite part of the game was playing with a partner and figuring out some of the clever indoor jumping puzzles together, often times saying out loud things like "What if I tried this? I'll go around and meet you there." If you have a friend who can't get enough of Sonic, you may want to pick up Boom at a discount and go halfsies on it. There's also an arena-like mode to experiment with, but it'll only last you an hour tops. When I first saw the announcement for Sonic Boom, barring the weird Knuckles redesign, I was excited by the prospect of change. The Sonic series hasn't taken many risks in recent years, particularly when it comes to the 3D aspect of the franchise, and Big Red Button had a lot riding on its inaugural effort. Unfortunately, the game could have used a few more months in the hopper and taken many more risks. Better luck next time. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Sonic Boom review photo
It has all of your favorite friends in it, like The Incredible Hulk
As a character, Sonic gets a bad rap these days. No matter what is announced, I can practically hear the collective groaning from my desk. Like any popular franchise with consecutive releases, some of them are going to be goo...

Here's how Nintendo's amiibo figures work, and how they interact with Smash Bros.

Nov 19 // Chris Carter
Setting up an amiibo with Smash Bros. was one of the easiest things I've ever done on the Wii U. All you do is go to the amiibo section on the main menu, touch it to the pad, select an account to register it to, and give it a nickname. From there, you can customize your amiibo "player" with one of the preset color palettes (my pal is a Dark Link skin called Shadow), feed it items to change its stats, and assign it custom movesets where applicable. From there, you can battle against amiibos as AI opponents, train with them, put them up against other AI fighters, or challenge your friends to take them out. They'll earn experience points and work their way up to the level cap of 50, at which point their tactics will be maxed out, turning them into a formidable opponent akin to a maxed out CPU setting. From there, they will allegedly adapt new strategies. Sounds neat, right? Well in reality, it's not all that exciting. Getting to level 50 can take just one day (or less) for those diligent enough. Plus, after starting up the game and unwrapping a brand new amiibo there won't be any custom moves unlocked to assign and customize the toy with. So basically at first, it's going to be a stock character with a new paint job and a nickname. In short, Nintendo easily could have had this functionality with AI save files on the Wii U's hard drive without the need to purchase a $12 toy. I haven't seen anything noticeable in regards to the "post level 50" functionality. It has also been revealed that amiibo figures can only store data from one game at a time -- at which point that data must be deleted. The only three games in the near future that use amiibo functionality besides Smash Bros. are Mario Kart 8, Captain Toad, and Hyrule Warriors, but Kart and Hyrule currently only have an equally underwhelming on-disc DLC type unlock system that will not erase your data. Captain Toad's amiibo functionality is unknown. So basically for now, we're safe storing Smash amiibo data unfettered by other games. But once Yoshi's Wooly World, Mario Party 10, and Kirby and the Rainbow Curse arrive, it might get annoying depending on what the amiibo conditions are. Then again, the toys themselves will become a hell of a lot more useful. Either way you slice it amiibos don't have me excited quite yet. But they do look pretty damn awesome on my desk. [This write-up is based on a retail build of the toy provided by the publisher.]
amiibo review photo
Nice figures, underwhelming use so far
Nintendo's long awaited foray into the toy market is here: the amiibo are ready for purchase, and the flagship game, Super Smash Bros., is right on the horizon. While the toys look great in person and the setup is painless, so far the actual interactivity is underwhelming. Collector itch aside, I'd definitely recommend waiting until more compatible games are out before committing to any purchases.

Review: Super Smash Bros. for Wii U

Nov 19 // Chris Carter
Super Smash Bros. for Wii U (Wii U)Developer: Sora Ltd. / Bandai Namco GamesPublisher: NintendoReleased: November 21, 2014MSRP: $59.99 For all intents and purposes, this review will cover the Wii U version. Mechanically, it operates identically to the 3DS version, so if you want to read more about the physics and changes from Brawl, check them out here. In fact, even the roster is the same, but characters unlock in a different order -- the methodology is still dead simple: just complete matches and the unlocks will come. Of course, there are plenty of extra level unlocks, Mii outfits to earn, music track unlocks, trophies to buy and earn, and challenges to complete. A few of the challenges are the same as those on the 3DS, but given all of the new (and improved) modes in the Wii U version, a good deal of them were changed. So, onto the new stuff! The immediately noticeable thing is that Smash Wii U is a beautiful game. Details like Rosalina's dress are now visible with an HD console, and the level of detail in pretty much every stage in the game is noticeable. The Orbital Gate stage from Star Fox Assault actually had my jaw dropping it was so impressive. Nintendo is really making the most out of the Wii U hardware, and I'd go so far as to say that like Galaxy 2 before it, this is one of the best looking games on the market -- including the other current-gen console lineups. [embed]283523:56292:0[/embed] The controls for the Wii U are markedly improved over the 3DS version's singular scheme. Using the GameCube controller adapter (which is basically just a hub that uses two Wii U USB slots), I busted out my Wavebird and never went back. It just feels natural, and it works flawlessly with Smash Wii U. For the purposes of the review I tested out everything, including the GamePad, Wii U Pro Controller, and Wiimote. Hell, players can even use a Classic Controller or a freaking 3DS system. The prospect of so many choices is pretty exciting for any Smash fan, whether they started at the beginning or are getting into the series for the first time. One thing I should note though is that the GamePad wasn't as comfortable for lengthier sessions, mostly due to the left analog stick and its propensity to click while getting into a match -- it just doesn't seem all that ready for heavy amounts of twitch gameplay. It's definitely a viable option though, and better than being cramped on the 3DS for hours on end. Due to the nature of TV play, the stages are also bigger, and in most cases, better. The standouts include a Metroid-themed stage where Ridley will swoop onto the arena and cause havoc, siding with the player who deals him the most damage. The Great Cave Offensive from Kirby Super Star is also a pretty amazing level, with tons of hazards and bits of lava to navigate. Other stages are returning fan favorites, such as Hyrule Temple and Onett, and accommodate up to eight players. Wait, eight players?! Yep, this time Nintendo has finally added an option to battle with eight people (on roughly a third of the total stages), and man is it something else. It's hectic, insane, and quite frankly, something most are only going to want to do sparingly because of how chaotic it is. Thankfully the mode can be played alone against CPUs, adding a whole new dimension to solo play. I tend to play it during long sessions once I'm tired of the other modes. The biggest improvement from the 3DS edition is probably the removal of the disappointing Smash Run, and the injection of Smash Tour -- a board game-like experience that sort of mirrors Mario Party. But don't get too caught up in the comparison, because there aren't any minigames here -- just battles with items and a board in the mix. At the start of every turn, character tokens and power-ups are scattered about a board for players to pick up. Power-ups raise stats (similar to Smash Run), and tokens grant extra characters to use during the match, as well as at the very end for a winner takes all battle royale once the turn count runs out. Every player rolls a die numbered from one to six, then is immediately allowed to run, as there's no waiting for other players' turns in Smash Tour. If two or more players end up running into each other a battle involving all four starts, allowing them to steal fighter tokens as a result. All along the way things are mixed up considerably with items, which can be used out of battle to move further, set traps, switch places with enemies, or vacuum up nearby items. Other items can be used specifically in battle, like starting with a homerun bat. There's actually a lot of strategy involved throughout the three Smash Tour boards available. While there is some Mario Party random madness involved, players really can plot a course and use items in a strategic manner to get the best of foes. It's also constantly engaging and rewarding since everyone moves at once. This is a new staple mode in my house. In terms of other game types, Event Mode is back! It's not only rewarding to navigate through wacky themed battles like giant Bowser and Donkey Kong wars solo, but it's also a blast to play with a co-op partner. Extra rules are also unlocked from the start, including crazy modifiers like everything starting off small or with a bunny hood, as well as the power to increase the frequency of item drops. All of the Stadium modes like Home-Run contest, Multi-Man Smash, and Target Blast are back, as well as the All-Stars gauntlet battle, Trophy Rush, and Classic Mode. Basically everything but Smash Run and StreetSmash return from the 3DS game. Master Orders and Crazy Orders are also fun modes, which let players risk coins for rewards -- similar to Trophy Rush. Online play wasn't available yet, but we will keep you updated. Another new aspect of the Wii U version is the level creator, which the GamePad makes very easy using its touch interface. The creator itself isn't super robust as it only allows for a handful of theming options and objects, but it's intuitive, and it works. If it feels like Nintendo didn't pack in enough, there's amiibo support, but sadly it feels underwhelming so far. Out of the three I tested (Mario, Link, and Kirby), there wasn't anything special there that couldn't have been done by a save file. Finally, there's a Masterpiece theater mode, which grants three minutes to play a selection of Virtual Console game demos. This is basically nothing more than a gimmick, as some of the points they decided to start the demos are bizarre. For instance the Mega Man II demo puts the player right into the first Wily Stage, and 30 whole seconds on the timer are taken up by a cinematic. It's probably the most disappointing of the bunch, but as an extra on top of extras, the disappointment is easy to swallow. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U delivers all of the rock-solid mechanics that the 3DS version gave us, with the joy of playing on a big screen with friends and a heap of worthwhile modes. It certainly doesn't negate the greatness of the 3DS edition, but for those who have a bunch of friends anxious to Smash and can only get one, this is the version to get. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Smash Wii U review photo
Absolutely smashing... yet again
Super Smash Bros. for the 3DS was everything I hoped it would be. It rekindled my love for the franchise after my group of friends and I lost interest due to Brawl, and I'm playing online more often than I would with most fig...

Now's a nice time to buy a Wii U: Here's everything you should know

Nov 17 // Steven Hansen
How do I buy a Wii U? This part is harder than you might think. First, you need a job, under the table or otherwise -- just some source of income (note: if you are genealogically wealthy, feel free to skip this step!). I know what you're thinking: A job? In this economy? Be prepared to work harder than you should for less than you deserve. Doing so dutifully, without violent outbursts or unionizing, will see you repaid with varicose veins, ulcers, and a meager stipend which can be exchanged for goods and services. One such good is a Wii U, of which there are different types. Don't buy an 8gb Wii U. The main option there is this Skylanders bundle. For the same default price ($300), you can get the 32gb "deluxe" Wii U with copies of New Super Mario Bros. U and New Super Luigi U.  You're not being sneaky paying $250 for the Skylanders bundle from GameStop because you're still stuck with an 8gb system. If you want to be a bit sneaky, get a refurbished "deluxe" Wii U with Nintendo Land for $200. Plus, "deluxe" owners still get cash back on digital purchases. Save money without Craigslist strangers insisting you walk into the shed in their backyards to pick up the console.  NOTE: The $330 Mario Kart 8 bundle isn't the worst idea if you know you want Mario Kart 8, which, like most Nintendo games, probably won't end up on sale soon. You also have until July 31 to register that Mario Kart 8 copy and get a free game. Availability is the problem here. No GameStop within 100 miles of San Francisco has one, for example.  What else do I need? Well, hopefully you have enough money from your job (after paying medical expenses, if you're American, lol) to afford a living space wired with electricity. You'll need it, along with a screen. You might also want more controllers for multiplayer games and an external hard drive if you're worried about the 32gb "deluxe" storage size. If you have Wii remotes from the U-less Wii, you can use those as controllers, though some games may require the Wii Motion Plus extension. You can also pick up a Wii U Pro Controller, which resembles the gamepads of its contemporaries, or try your luck with cheaper third party alternatives. Of course, there's always Craigslist. Just say no to sheds. Or tell you friends that your super cool get together hangout is BYOC -- Bring Your Own Controller. Wouldn't that be a cute thing to tell them? Your friends, I mean. "And b-t-w, it's going to be BYOC, and we have to keep the noise down because my diabetic cat gets spooked, and I hope you don't mind gluten-free treats, okay, hope to see you Saturday night!" Good videogames that wouldn't work if put in something besides a Wii U Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD Indeed, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker suffers from some archaic mechanics, its fundamentals not having aged quite so gracefully as its aesthetics. Its unwieldiness and occasional sluggish pace can, in fact, grow temporarily infuriating. However, the streamlined menu system and map access go some way toward making up for any setbacks, while the unmistakable Wind Wakercharisma ensures you won't ever stay mad at it for long.  After all, in a world of greedy cartography fish and cynical French Minesweeper purveyors, how could you not keep smiling? - Jim Sterling Pikmin 3 Pikmin 3 isn't everything that Pikmin has ever been before, but it's still the best representation of the concept to date. It feels like a full replacement of Pikmin 1, and a perfect companion to the different-but-equal Pikmin 2. The series' signature creepy, cartoon-like take on real trials of life is there in full force, bolstered by incredibly beautiful graphics, an unexpectedly involving story, tons of secrets, and new ways to play, all while never straying from the spirit of the original game. - Jonathan Holmes The Wonderful 101 The Wonderful 101 is one of those rare games that keeps getting more and more fun the more that you play it. If you have the dexterity to handle the controls and the patience to deal with a few momentum-killing platforming/puzzle bits, you're in for a heck of a time. - Jonathan Holmes Nintendo Land 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. - Jim Sterling Lego City Undercover For all its faults, charming is absolutely the word best describing LEGO City Undercover. While more could have been done to exploit the sandbox scenario, and while it sticks a bit too nervously to formula than it could have, Undercover is nonetheless a frequently pleasurable, occasionally hilarious little romp in a new LEGO world full of potential. Should TT Games get another chance to revisit this idea, I hope for -- and expect -- a lot more of an expansion on the concept, and a lot more focus on the fresh elements that provide Undercover's highest points. As for this first try, we have a pretty damn good effort that I'd love to see more of. - Jim Sterling Super Mario 3D World There was a moment where I was taking in the beautiful soundtrack, hovering over a tricky jump as cat Peach, and watching the glistening water below where the game really came together. It was then that I realized that Super Mario 3D World had achieved a level of platforming design that's close to perfection, and there was almost never a moment where I didn't have a smile on my face. This is the unequivocally the best Mario game since Galaxy 2, and it shows up anything the "New" series has ever done, and then some. - Chris Carter New Super Mario Bros/Super Luigi U New Super Mario Bros. U is a great little platformer that kicks off the Wii U launch with a bang. Players know exactly what they're getting with this one -- an entertaining and incomplex bit of gaming that provides challenge and smirks in equal measure. While certainly a "safe" game to launch with, it is by no means unremarkable, and the only people who would fail to have fun are those with a fundamental aversion to Mario or platformers in general. Literally everybody else would find it incredibly difficult to dislike this one ... even if some of those latter stages will make them temporarily despise it. - Jim Sterling Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze I didn't think it was possible, but Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze has topped Returns. It's an incredibly crafted platformer with an HD sheen and an insane attention to detail, and any fan of the genre owes it to themselves to experience it. With the addition of control options to the already proven formula, Retro Studios' rendition of Donkey Kong is pretty much flawless - Chris Carter Mario Kart 8 Mario Kart 8 is my favorite series entry since Double Dash, and if it gets arena battle tracks at some point by way of DLC, it will be a near-perfect package. Its vibrant visuals will hold up for years to come, ensuring that the game will withstand the test of time, and it will be a staple in my household for a long, long while. - Chris Carter ZombiU ZombiU is awkward, ugly, crawling in its pace, and often nonsensical with its narrative ... and I remember when horror games weren't ashamed of any of that, even actively exploiting it to create alienating, frightening atmospheres that stuck in a players' memories and made them too spooked to want to take another step forward. ZombiU did that to me. It made me afraid to walk into rooms, it made me think twice before tackling two opponents at once, and it frequently reminded me I was weak, piteous, but maybe just careful and lucky enough to get through.  And for as much as it screws up, ZombiU somehow does it well. - Jim Sterling Good videogames that would work if placed in consoles other than a Wii U (unless you tried to place the Wii U disc of that game in another console, which would not work, obviously) Rayman Legends Rayman Legends is occasionally flustering, and sometimes seems to demand more than a conventional controller is capable of. The surprisingly slapdash jury-rigging of Wii U features on other systems is glaring in its inelegance, too. However, we're still left with an impressively designed platformer that proves itself a worthy followup to Rayman Origins, making a few notable omissions, but adding some excellent new ideas of its own.  Charming, funny, and only sometimes exasperating, Rayman Legends is the kind of game that makes this industry a better place for its existence.  - Jim Sterling Deus Ex: Director's Cut Deus Ex: Human Revolution: Director's Cut gives you a ton of extra bang for your buck on top of an already stellar game, and if you haven't experienced it yet, this is the perfect opportunity to do so. If you have played it, I'm not sure the $20 Wii U premium is worth it, especially if you don't plan on using the Remote Play option. But somewhere down the line, the lower price of the other versions is a very enticing offer should you get that Human Revolution itch at some point, because this is the clear-cut best version of the game. - Chris Carter Resident Evil: Revelations Resident Evil Revelations isn't as good on consoles as it is on the 3DS. It clearly wasn't designed for larger machines, and the somewhat clunky, rudimentary controls indicate that it would need to be rebuilt from the ground up to prove a superior alternative. However, it's still a fine game and still the best Resident Evil game available right now, and if you've not played it already, you truly ought to. If you've already tried it on 3DS, there's not a lot to bring you back, but any other Resident Evilfan would be best served giving it a go. - Jim Sterling  Tekken Tag Tournament 2: Wii U As long as you're prepared to deal with the decidedly smaller community, the Wii U Edition ofTekken Tag Tournament 2 is the best version of the game. It's essentially the exact same package with a few extras, and a few tiny conveniences that put it slightly over the original. While I wouldn't double-dip if you're already a Tekken adopter, the Wii U Edition is a great place to start. - Chris Carter Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate Encountering monsters in Monster Hunter isn't like most other games. Monsters will take your breath away shortly before they take your life away. This is a game that will force you to learn from your mistakes, lest you repeat them and achieve the same failure as before.  While the visuals are far from stunning and the online lacks any sort of host migration, Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate is one of the best and most rewarding experiences in a long time, and will certainly keep you busy for a while. - Patrick Hancock Hahaha these videogames don't even have discs Shovel Knight Shovel Knight is one of the best platformers I've ever played, period. As I sit here with the theme song stuck in my head, I'm realizing that Yacht Club Games has created something truly special, and it was absolutely worth the risk to start their own studio. In addition to a potential Shovel Knight 2, I can't wait to see what they have in store for us down the road. - Chris Carter The Cave All told, The Cave is a morbid, humorous romp filled with life lessons which should be apparent already to all but the total sociopath. While there are some niggling issues with overall polish, it's a fun time for fans of adventure games that should set you to giggling and, hopefully, feeling just a little bit guilty about that glee. - Conrad Zimmerman Bit.Trip Runner 2 Runner2 feels like a very natural progression for the series. The team at Gaijin Games has crafted a more nuanced and impressive follow-up to what was great title in its own right. Avant-garde but with a healthy respect for the past, Runner2 is a marvelous rhythmic platformer that just about anyone should be able to enjoy. - Kyle MacGregor  Little Inferno Some may complain that the game is too short or is overpriced. They'd be missing the point, which is arguably part of the Little Inferno concept. As for me, I feel that the game is a bargain at $15. It's the only game of its type on the market today. I can't think of the last time that a game has made me think, feel, and laugh at such a consistent pace. It's mix of high-concept messages and simple, more-fun-than-it-should be "gameplay" make it a must buy for anyone who likes thinking about videogames and/or burning things. - Jonathan Holmes Guacamelee! Right from the start, Guacamelee! offers up a sugar skull-covered playground to delight in and devour with mucho gusto. It's a game I'll be playing and replaying again for some time to come. - Jonathan Holmes Mighty Switch Force! Hyper Drive Edition In fact, I still to this day can't beat par on every single stage in either version. WayForward really pulled out the stops on this one to make it truly challenging, should you decide to try and conquer every single score. Right now, there are no plans to bring the hyper stages to the 3DS version. - Chris Carter  NES Remix 1 and 2 NES Remix 2 is a solid follow-up with more "must have" games and a few extras to sweeten the deal. If you passed due to the ho-hum nature of some of the titles in the original offering, think about checking it out this time around. - Chris Carter  Pushmo World As much as I love the originals on the 3DS, this is pretty much the definitive version of Pushmo, especially when you consider the fact that the Wii U GamePad makes it semi-portable. So long as you haven't tired from the core formula yet you won't be disappointed, and genre-fans who haven't played the series in general should pick it up. - Chris Carter Aban Hawkins and the 1001 Spikes Like Dr. Wily or Jigsaw from the Saw films, the temple designers of 1001 Spikes put a lot of thought and care into all the ways they've planned to kill you. They want you to feel smarter, braver, more patient, more skilled, and closer to them as artists as you unravel the puzzling deathtraps that they've created. You must truly get inside their minds in order to fully deconstruct the monstrosities that they have built for your desperate pleasure, and ideally, you'll know yourself and the developers of the game better for the experience. This is a game that will have you thinking about how intense, perplexing, and perfect it was for days. Like a tiny mouse says early in the game -- "the harder the victory, the greater the joy of success" - Jonathan Holmes Good videogames you may or may not have played while Boyz 2 Men and Ace of Base were winning American music awards and Darryl Strawberry was being suspended for 50 days and cut from the Giants' roster Super Mario World It's still not on 3DS god damn it.  Earthbound I was too busy listening to Ace of Base to play Earthbound, I'll get to that eventually. Advance Wars  Fire Emblem: Awakening introduced a lot of people to Intelligent Systems, but the strategy developers have another delightful series, Advanced Wars, that seems doomed to never get a sequel while four Fire Emblem characters end up in Smash. Videogames that are not out yet but by the grace of our lord and savior Luigi will be soon barring acts of Luigi, amen Super Smash Bros. If you have a Wii U, you should probably get this game. Yes, it's on 3DS, but is that how you want to play the next Smash Bros.? Dust off your rolodex, get the gang back together, or find people on Craigslist to play with you. Bayonetta 2 'I feel that it's important to let your creativity flow and Nintendo has been able to provide us with the freedom to do what we had originally envisioned,' director Yusuke Hashimoto said. 'We were able to have a lot of back-and-forth between Platinum Games and Nintendo and they were able to provide objective feedback; 'Maybe that's a little too much', or, 'maybe you should try this'. I feel that was really good and helped push Bayonetta 2 to even higher quality.' Fatal Frame: The Black Haired Shrine Maiden The Wii has yet to bring us a new a new Pokemon Snap, but at least there's Fatal Frame. Hopefully this isn't just for Japan. I am now saying "Crimson Butterfly" in my head over and over. Xenoblade Chronicles X Bad name? Well, uh, better chance that it's a good JRPG.  Splatoon Its shooter by way of Tony Hawk graffiti mode is a novel concept that has, in early impressions, worked surprisingly well. It's a shooter that does things differently. We could use some of that. Used to be some pleasant variety in the genre.  -- Good-bye.
Wii U buying guide photo
Console break down and the best games, present and upcoming
[Bumping this guide from July 2014 as-was in anticipation of Smash Bros. week, the holidays, and some new Wii U owners. The only good "Black Friday" deal for the console seems to be $360 from Best Buy with Smash, Do...

Review: Mario Kart 8 DLC Pack 1

Nov 14 // Jordan Devore
Mario Kart 8 DLC Pack 1 (Wii U)Developer: NintendoPublisher: NintendoReleased: November 13, 2014MSRP: $7.99 ($11.99 bundled with DLC Pack 2) I've always liked Mario Kart enough to want to play it with friends, particularly back in the N64 days when everyone else was obsessed and their enthusiasm seemed contagious, but I never loved the series -- not until Mario Kart 8. That's when everything clicked into place. I get it, now. The handling feels right, the anti-gravity tracks are fresh, and just looking at the game is a joy. It's not perfect -- the lack of proper arenas in Battle Mode remains a huge letdown -- but I love it. Still, it only took a few months for me to lose interest given my usual fleeting attention span for racing games no matter how good they are. I've been wanting to get back into Mario Kart 8 ever since and that's the main reason I was thrilled to learn about Nintendo's plans for not one but two expansion packs. The Legend of Zelda and F-Zero and Excitebike and Animal Crossing in Mario Kart is cause for celebration. If those crossovers can't pull me back in, I'm dead on the inside. The first DLC pack is currently available, but the second won't be here until May. I'm going to go ahead and recommend buying both right now assuming you have already purchased Mario Kart 8 and don't regret that decision. The add-ons are $7.99 a piece or $11.99 together, and getting both will give you access to eight new colors for Yoshi and Shy Guy as a bonus. [embed]283817:56335:0[/embed] What's in DLC Pack 1, exactly? A good amount, considering the price: Characters: Tanooki Mario, Cat Peach, and Link Vehicles: Blue Falcon, B Dasher, Master Cycle, and Tanooki Kart Vehicle parts: Triforce Tires and the Hylian Kite glider Egg Cup tracks: Yoshi Circuit, Excitebike Arena, Dragon Driftway, and Mute City Triforce Cup tracks: Wario's Gold Mine, Rainbow Road, Ice Ice Outpost, and Hyrule Circuit Having more variations on Mario and Peach seems like a waste of character slots especially now that Nintendo is branching out to other series but three things turned my opinion of Tanooki Mario around: 1) he sometimes turns into a statue while performing tricks, 2) his eyes are far too mean for such a cuddly costume, and 3) his honking sound effect is a nostalgic treat. But as much as I liked the cat costumes in Super Mario 3D World, the appeal is mostly lost in Mario Kart 8. We're racing, Cat Peach, not running up walls. Sorry, but you aren't needed here. Link, on the other hand, is a crowd favorite. The bulk of the online matches I played were full of Link after Link and I don't see that changing anytime soon. Everyone wants to be the hero (which is all the more reason to rock Tanooki Mario). He fits in well with the rest of the cast and should feel more at home once Villager and Isabelle from Animal Crossing arrive in DLC Pack 2. As for the new vehicles, my favorite ended up being the Blue Falcon from F-Zero, not the Legend of Zelda-inspired Master Cycle. While the kart's stats aren't exactly to my liking -- I've traditionally stuck with heavy characters on the Sport Bike -- its wheels are well-hidden and the design is so damn cool. When Mute City came up for a vote in an online match and literally every player chose it, I was happy to be repping Captain Falcon's ride. Show me your moves! The B Dasher, popularized by Mario Kart DS, has a neat Formula One look. There's also the jeep-esque Tanooki Kart, but neither left much of an impression. I ditched them after a few matches. Perhaps I'll come around just as I did with the tracks Rainbow Road (SNES) and Ice Ice Outpost. Frankly, I didn't care for either course the first time around, but in subsequent playthroughs, I warmed up to them. A few heated online races can change your mind like that. Wario's Gold Mine, the first track of the Triforce Cup, had me immediately; it's like racing across a wooden roller coaster. Going down dips is so much fun. The course returns from Mario Kart Wii with stunning new graphics (that sunset is something else) and an anti-grav section. The next track in the cup is yet another Rainbow Road because we apparently can't get enough. (It's true.) This one is based on the original Super Nintendo Rainbow Road which should thrill long-time Mario Kart players. Thwomps crash down to create ripples in the track that you can boost off, but the timing is tough. It's short, simple, and a hell of a good time in online races. Ice Ice Outpost is perhaps the weakest of the DLC tracks -- it's not as alive with details as I would've liked -- but that's not to say it's a bad course; more like underwhelming. The track is split up into two lanes that weave around each other and through icebergs, providing many opportunities to swap positions either intentionally or because some jerk knocked into you. Hyrule Circuit closes out the Triforce Cup and it's even better than expected. While roaring across Hyrule field, you'll collect Rupees, not coins. Deku Babas replace Piranha Plants, and instead of Swoopers, there are Keese. Nintendo even swapped the item pickup sound effect for fanfare fitting of The Legend of Zelda. The track continues into Hyrule Castle and players can complete a little puzzle to boost over the Master Sword. If this is the standard we can expect from crossovers, I'm hopeful for the future of Mario Kart. Bring on Super Kart Bros. The Egg Cup kicks off with Yoshi Circuit and the track's numerous sharp turns still give me trouble just as they did in Mario Kart: Double Dash!! There's novelty to racing on a Yoshi-shaped island, but the actual surroundings aren't all that interesting (although it's not like you can pay full attention to background details without going off course.) Challenging stuff. Excitebike Arena is an oval track with tons of randomly-placed ramps to perform tricks off of and mud spots to avoid. That might not sound exciting but it ends up rounding out Mario Kart 8 nicely; there's nothing else quite like it in the game. And that song! It's a shame the DLC tracks aren't compatible with Battle Mode given how well Excitebike Arena would work in that context. Fans of the anti-gravity gimmick should check out Dragon Driftway right away. Most of the course, which has a Chinese aesthetic, is upside down or sideways. The track itself follows the winding body of a dragon (who you might recognize as Gobblegut from Super Mario Galaxy 2). And then there's Mute City. You don't have to be an F-Zero fan to love this fast-paced anti-grav track but you're going to be especially pleased if you are. It's full of boost pads and, in a nod to the source material, recharge strips (used here to earn coins). Just wait until that rocking theme song comes on. Mute City feels like an actual bustling city thanks to little details like billboards with Captain Falcon. Easily one of my favorite tracks, downloadable or otherwise. The rest of DLC Pack 1 isn't as consistently great as the core game, but it's all relative. By industry standards for post-release content, Nintendo is killing it. This is a must-buy for Mario Kart 8 players, and I'm hopeful the company will continue pulling in other franchises going forward. These packs can't just be a one-off experiment; the potential for cool crossovers is too high. [This review is based on a retail build of the game purchased by the reviewer.]
Mario Kart DLC review photo
Zelda x Mario Kart
Mario Kart 8's first DLC pack has Link riding a horse-shaped bike called the Master Cycle. And, good lord, Mute City from the beloved but still dormant F-Zero series. Also, a track based on Excitebike with a killer remix. Are you even going to read this review? Don't answer that. Let me have this moment.

Review: Bayonetta 2

Oct 24 // Chris Carter
Bayonetta 2 (Wii U)Developer: Platinum GamesPublisher: NintendoReleased: October 24, 2014MSRP: $59.99 (with Bayonetta 1) Bayonetta's simple and elegant technical action system returns in the sequel. On the surface, it's a two-button "punch-kick" system that also allows weapon switching and a ranged attack option. The beauty of the system is that it's very easy to learn, and on lower difficulties, it's viable to get by (albeit earning lower scores) with only picking up a few combos. But once you truly dig in to the tougher challenges, you'll have to master a large number of the game's combos to survive. Moves like the three-kick launcher, followed by an aerial rave, or the four-punch-kick flurry stun. While two buttons doesn't seem like much, the addition of delays and traditional fighting game moves expands the combo system to a whole new level. There's even air combos, and analog stick spin moves. The sequel once again uses concepts pioneered in Devil May Cry 3 like projectile juggling and instant weapon switching mid-combo to allow for a near endless amount of options in how you choose to approach any situation. If this sounds intimidating, don't worry -- the game teaches you everything fairly well. There's even a loading screen to practice on, with a combo list readily available to freshen up. It also tells you how many times you've used each move, in case you need an indicator of how to mix things up. [embed]282342:55930:0[/embed] Dodging is as essential as ever, triggering a "Witch Time" slowdown effect if performed right before a blow is about to be struck. One of my favorite things about Bayonetta is that it doesn't have those goofy "DODGE NOW!" icons above all of the enemies' heads that initiates an instant counter. You'll have genuinely need to pay attention to the battle at hand, learn the telegraphs (if there are any), and dodge on your own. Stylish torture attacks return (which are tag-team attacks with a partner), as do the big finale beast finishers and a lot of the classic abilities that made the first game so great. There's nothing better in gaming out right now than initiating a knockback move followed by a sprinting panther rushdown attack, then a juggle combo while triggering Witch Time after a quick dodge. It not only plays great, but there's so much style involved in just about every animation. Dashing turns you into a panther, double-jumping allows you to sprout butterfly wings, hovering turns you into a crow. Everything from the snapshot "photo finish" effect of completing a challenge room is painstakingly detailed. Control-wise, Bayonetta 2 exemplifies everything I love about the Wii U as a piece of hardware -- options. There's setups for the GamePad, touch controls, and the Pro Controller. There's four configurations of inputs in all, and Off-TV play is always on. I didn't think I'd be able to perform with precision using the GamePad as a controller back when the game was announced, but I'm loving it. That said, I wouldn't recommend touch controls outside of the novelty. In terms of the story, it's just as cheesy as ever, with characters like the Joe Pesci look-alike Enzo returning in a bigger way. To give you an example, Enzo's penis almost gets grinded up by Jeanne's motorcycle about ten minutes in, and Rodin, dressed as Santa Claus, drives a car on the side of a building. Oh, and Bayonneta kicks a fighter jet flying at full speed with a Sunday dress on. The choreography looks like it was taken straight out of an over-the-top action movie, and it's all the better for it. Bayonetta 2 doesn't linger whenever a new concept is introduced, which is a pretty big accomplishment since it's running on all cylinders throughout. Whether it's flying through the air in a special boss fight or piloting a mech, the game keeps you interested throughout its 12 chapters without re-using mechanics over and over. The level design is still reminiscent of Devil May Cry or God Hand in that its semi-open, allowing for a good deal of exploration and hidden treasures. There's also more underwater parts this time around -- don't worry, they're good. It's clear to see that the series has gotten an upgrade visually on the Wii U, and the frame rate is very clean -- I had no issues with my playthrough. As I said earlier detail is the name of the game here, as a lot of enemies have organic armor that can rip off bit by bit as you're slashing away. Bayonetta's new look is also perfect, in the sense that it's familiar but also different enough to divorce itself from the original. As an added bonus you can also switch on Japanese audio if you're into that, and the jazzy soundtrack is even better than the first game's offering (Bayonetta 2's take on Moon River is among my favorite tracks). The biggest addition is probably the "Tag Climax," which is a two-player mode that allows people to work in tandem while challenging each other to earn the highest score. You can bet "Halos" (the game's currency, which is linked to your campaign file) on whether or not you'll earn the highest amount of points, which also jacks up the difficulty. Bayonneta 2 allows you to select from a specific mission pool (called "Verse Cards") as well as from a pool of multiple characters and costumes. My favorite part of Tag Climax -- it has a CPU bot option! While many games completely forgo this mechanic that was once commonplace, Bayonneta 2 allows you to enjoy the mode even if none of your friends are online or you can't find anyone in the matchmaking system. This feature will come in handy years down the line when the online mode is dead and you still have the itch to play it. Like the first game, there's also tons of extra content that's available right on the disc with no DLC needed. There's new difficulties, verse cards, characters, a crafting system, Miiverse functionality, and stamps. There's also single-player challenge rooms in the realm of Muspelheim, which are similar to Onimusha's dark realm. These are no joke, with modifiers like "only Witch Time attacks do damage" or "complete the challenge without getting hit." To make it even tougher, you don't have a life bar in general -- you have a "hit meter" that decreases as you take even one bit of damage. The good news is that you can retry these as many times as you like until you best them. Oh, and there's also time trial races for extra chests, story fragments to find, and Rodin's shop is back for you to spend all your Halos in. It sports items, consumables, accessories, weapons, and moves to buy. You can even try out the moves beforehand. Unlike the first game, you can also opt for hard mode right out of the gate. Platinum basically thought of everything. Although this review doesn't take the bonus free copy of Bayonetta 1 into account, anyone would agree that it's a massive incentive to take the plunge. The first game still holds up to this day, and with a consistent frame rate and a ton of extra costumes, it's definitely worth playing whether you've already completed it or are experiencing it for the very first time. When Bayonetta came out in 2010, I thought it was nearly perfect. Four years later and Platinum hasn't lost its edge with Bayonetta 2. It's just as stylish and as fun as ever, and a must-buy for action fans who own a Wii U.
Bayonetta 2 photo
I've got a fever, and the only cure is more dead angels
Outside of Devil May Cry 3, Bayonetta is one of the finest action games of all time. The action systems were so clean, so precise, and so rewarding that it leaves pretty much everything these days in the dust. Bayonetta 2 doesn't change a whole lot, and that's perfectly okay with me.

All the Smash Bros. Wii U facts, differences from 3DS version

Oct 23 // Steven Hansen
You start with 40 playable characters on the Wii U, though there are some left locked. The game looks better in HD with all that resolution. And the screen size also allows for eight-player Smash, which is a special mode restricted to particular stages and offline play. There's some giant stages, like Palutena's Temple, Hyrule Temple, and an expanded Battlefield to host multiple fighters. Five- and six-player fights don't seem to have the same restrictions, while seven-player fights are missing. There's also a giant new stage with instant kill sections and a Donkey Kong stage with foreground and background bits of stage, both of which can be fought in. Of course, the Wii U version features more stages, some of which are laid out differently than the 3DS ones. Some old favorites return along side some new ones (Windy Hill Zone, Mario Circuit, 75m, Wii Fit Studio, Norfair, Onett, etc). The Miiverse stage, which will come after release, gathers up Miiverse posts about whichever fighters are playing in the background of a Battlefield sort of stage. A lot of the 3DS modes, save Smash Run, are playable, often with changes and multiplayer options. Target Blast is up to four player with a larger second bomb. There's two-player co-op or four-player turn-taking Home Run Contests. Trophy Rush is two player now as well, while Multi Man can be played by four players. And there are so many new, HD trophies. Ridley will join the battle on his stage. Beat him up and he'll fight for you. Keep beating him up and score a point for KO'ing him. In addition to time and stock, coin battles are back. There are also stamina matches where your hit points count down to zero. Special Smash is back, too, with all sorts of rule customization. Change speed, player size, all that good stuff. And you can mix and match. Item Frequency and the ability to turn individual items on and off are back, too. You can customize what music plays during battle or menus. There's about four times as much music on Wii U as there is in the 3DS version.  Classic Mode now allows for two-player co-op--good for getting two trophies at a time--and your battle advancement is based on how well you fought your previous match. Rivalries and other random events happen as well. All-Star Mode now works in a reverse chronological order and there's a new rest area. It's also playable with two players. As mentioned, Event Mode is back as well, beyond the expanded Challenges. Two-player event battles have their own section. One other solo mode, Special Orders, has you taking tickets from Master and Crazy Hand in increasingly difficult scenarios. There's also Master Fortress, a new form the Master Core shadow swarm can take.  A Smash Run-inspired, four-player board game called Smash Tour is basically Mario Party with Miis. You're still trying to gain power-ups, but you're also collecting characters. The final battle affords you 1 stock for every character you've collected, in order.  There is also a Masterpieces mode which lets you play bits of old-school NES/SNES games that Smash characters appear in. Think of the NES carts in Animal Crossing with time limits that encourage you to buy the applicable game from the eShop if you're having too much fun. I expect to play a lot of these snap shots.  Of course you can use a lot of controllers for Smash Wii U, including the GameCube controller if you have an adapter. The video also recommends a Wii Ethernet LAN adapter for smooth online play. Voice chat is cut off during online battles, but possible at character select.  There's also a photo mode that lets you stage your trophies and take cool snaps, which will later be distributable online. Online tournament hosting is being worked out still, but regular 64-player tournaments are possible.  With the GamePad, you can also draw your own custom stages, which is going to be sweet as heck.  Oh, and Mewtwo is coming next year if you register the 3DS and Wii U versions.  Phew.
Smash facts photo
Eight-player melee and more
Alright. If Smash Bros. 3DS is at least a little sparse, this video makes it feel all the more sparse. I mean, Event Mode is back. And there's a separate two-player Event Mode.  Watch along with the video abov...

Review: Shantae and the Pirate's Curse

Oct 23 // Chris Carter
Shantae and The Pirate's Curse (3DS [reviewed], Wii U)Developer:  WayForward Technologies / Inti CreatesPublisher: WayForward TechologiesMSRP: $19.99Released: October 23, 2014 (3DS) / TBA 2014 (Wii U) Shantae and the Pirate's Curse follows the storyline so far, which sees Shantae living a normal life without the genie powers that were taken from her at the end of the last game. This doesn't change up the formula much, as she still has her signature "hair whip" ability to attack enemies, and will still gain new powers over the course of the game -- they'll just be a little less genie-like in nature (though I miss her transformation forms dearly). It feels like a natural progression of the story, and it's interesting to see Shantae interact with people around her as a human. As usual, the narrative is over-the-top and wacky with jokes and references galore. It's never "laugh-out-loud" funny, but WayForward does a decent job of keeping things interesting, and their characters likable. The conceit this time involves an unlikely alliance with Shantae's nemesis Risky Boots, to put down the evil curse of the Pirate Master, Risky's old boss, once and for all. Instead of following the concept of Revenge's giant, singular open world, Curse instead has a small collective of islands, which function as mini-worlds with the same focus on exploration. [embed]282790:56058:0[/embed] This is where I become a tad conflicted. It's noble that WayForward would want to mix up the formula, but each map as a separate entity feels less impressive than one actual world. All of them have their own unique themes (a desert, a snow world, and an undead bog for instance), but the maps themselves feel small, and getting from place to place can be a hassle. Instead of teleporting around using spots in one hub, Shantae has to get back to the start area each time, access the ship, and sail somewhere else. After unlocking a new island, this usually comes into play in the form of some puzzle that must be solved before accessing the new dungeon. The task isn't always clear, so it may require players to search every previous island inside and out before progressing with the story. It helps that the core game itself is so solid that it's fun to roam around, but it can get tedious over time to have to island jump over and over. The bosses also aren't as memorable this time around, and even a comical boss rehash doesn't do the trick. Having said that, the actual mechanics are as slick as ever. WayForward's formula for Shantae is among its best work, and every jump, hair whip, and ability use feels perfect. This time our hero will have to rely on items and pirate gear to do the job, including classic concepts like potions and attack-boosting drinks, as well as more game-changing upgrades like a downward slashing scimitar and a gun. Because her newfound powers and items are so fun to play around with, the sometimes clunky transportation setup is excusable. The actual dungeons have some pretty interesting layouts (with plenty of secret areas to find, some of them downright dastardly), and overall I felt like a few of the game's areas were some of the most challenging zones WayForward has crafted yet. If you're like me and gobble up platformers for breakfast, you'll find a lot to like here. It took me roughly seven hours to complete the story with a decent amount of exploring. As a general rule it is longer than Risky's Revenge. Diehard fans can search for every heart piece in the game, as well as gather every bit of dark magic (hidden across each world) to unlock the true ending. Thankfully, WayForward has placed an indicator on the selection screen that shows how many of each collectible is left in every world -- so taking on that endeavor is manageable and not a hair-pulling ordeal. Shantae and the Pirate's Curse under-delivers on a few aspects of the overall package, but the fact remains -- genie or not, Shantae is still very much relevant in the current market. Just keep in mind that at times it feels like an appetizer for the upcoming Half-Genie Hero, which sees the full return of Shantae's powers as well as a fully playable Risky Boots.
Shantae reviewed photo
She's still got it
I've always thought that Shantae is a bit of an underrated series. While WayForward can be hit or miss these days, I can always rely on their ability to craft a good platformer. Shantae: Risky's Revenge for the DSi ...

Hyrule Warriors' 'Master Quest' DLC is worth the price of entry if you're already addicted

Oct 17 // Chris Carter
Hyrule Warriors: Master Quest DLC (Wii U)Developer: Omega Force, Team Ninja, NintendoPublisher: NintendoReleased: October 16, 2014MSRP: $7.99 (part of the $19.99 Season Pass) Let's start with the additional campaign. Put simply, it's a prequel and a side-story to the events that unfold over the course of the narrative. You'll see Cia's rise to power, how she recruited Wizzro and Volga, and her interactions with the denizens of each of the "portal" worlds like Skyward Sword and Twilight Princess. It takes place over five missions, all of which re-use maps from the story mode but offer new scenarios. Where these maps really shine are with the game's Hero difficulty. They're some of the most challenging ones on offer, and you'll have to employ some actual tactical thinking to best them without a few retries. The first map in particular is really cool in that it features three armies, all of which are constantly warring as the battle rages on. It also gives you a great look into the character of Volga, who is easily the star of the new update. Link's new Epona weapon is surprisingly one of the best parts of the package. It functions very similarly to horses in the Warriors series -- outside of the fact that you can't actually get off said horse. Attacks range from charges (with the classic carrot icons from past Zelda games) and area-of-effect abilities. In other words, Epona can be used in every map without an issue and kicks a lot of ass. I really liked the added touch of the shadow aesthetic when using the Dark Link skin. [embed]282707:56003:0[/embed] The new map is titled the "Master Quest," and gives you another board to work through in Adventure Mode from square one. Although hardcore fans probably breezed through the first map without too much difficulty, Master Quest is going to put your skills to the test. Every piece of the map features a certain challenge requirement, like "no healing of any kind," or a time limit on your objective. This is on top of the fact that a lot of the levels are just harder in general, and some require the use and mastery of the new characters. In my mind this is a great way to do DLC, as it's a natural progression from the first map. I would have liked to have seen something drastically different like a monochrome or Game Boy Color-themed Link's Awakening map, but the missions speak for themselves. Having said that, if you didn't dig the first map, you probably won't bother to complete this one, and you should wait for the next DLC pack to hit -- unless you like the idea of costumes and 8-bit weapons for your troubles. Finally, the last part of the paid Master Quest add-on is two costumes for Cia and Lana. These are essentially holy-themed getups, and while Lana's isn't all that special, it drastically changes Cia's appearance from evil to good, which is something. Still, it's not nearly as enticing as a Fierce Deity or Toon Link skin, per se. While the three free extra characters aren't technically part of the DLC, buying Master Quest unlocks a few perks, like their higher-level weapons and the ability to use heart containers on them. They're also some of the most fun characters in the game by far. Cia's badassery speaks for itself. As one of the core villains of the game, she uses her magic abilities and her whip as weapons. She can throw energy balls, summon flying discs to attack groups of enemies, and even summon a small army of Dark Links to lay waste to the battlefield. She's an AOE-oriented character but still holds her own in one-on-one situations. She also feels completely unique, even from Lana. As a neat bonus you'll also get two extra costumes right off the bat, including a hatless skin and a skin without her mask. Volga took me completely by surprise, and ended up being one of my new favorite characters. He plays similarly to a polearm character from the Warriors games, which should make more than a few fans happy. His "dragon" aspects are also well done to the point where it doesn't feel like they're overdoing it, and wings and claws will sprout during specific attacks. In terms of raw power he's one of the stronger characters in the game, giving you an extra viable roster option if you're the min-max type. Wizzro on the other hand feels weaker at first, but he's a highly technical character that shines in co-op. What's cool about him is that the vast majority of his attacks are ranged, putting him in a class of his own. He's adept at juggling and has a very useful beam attack that can be aimed at single enemies or even groups. I really like how the developers allowed him to use some of the basic moves of the Poe enemies but keep his own style. Hyrule Warriors is on a roll. Not only does the base game have more gameplay than nearly anything released in 2014, but the DLC does a decent job of augmenting the experience. While I'd like to see a little more original content in future DLCs, the three characters alone will add hours of entertainment.
Hyrule Warriors DLC photo
It's not as new as I would have liked, but it keeps me going
Hyrule Warriors is a massive game. If you want to 100% everything, get every weapon, and max out every character, it could last you roughly 200 hours or more. I'm hitting the 100-hour mark myself, due in part to the new ...


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