Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around
hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Wii U

Review: High Strangeness

May 06 // Chris Carter
High Strangeness (PC [reviewed], Wii U)Developer: Barnyard Intelligence GamesPublisher: Midnight CityReleased: May 6, 2015MSRP: $9.99 High Strangeness is a simple tale of a young man named Boyd. He has a cat, he lives a simple life -- until shadow people invade his hometown and set into motion a series of events that will change his world forever. Sound familiar? Strangeness is meant to evoke the feeling of an old school RPG, using elements of both 8-bit and 16-bit adventures, meshing it into what the developer calls "the 12-bit realm." It definitely has an EarthBound-like feel to it, with snappy jokes, real-life oriented weapons like a flashlight and firecrackers, and an otherworldly plot. The writing has the charm of a typical Pokémon game, with cute jokes that are often very meta in nature, but not to the point of just repeatedly spouting obnoxious memes. I never really felt any attachment to the cast or the setting, but the era-appropriate dialog definitely helps along the way. Boyd will fight said shadows mostly by way of his flashlight melee attack, but he'll also have a few other tricks up his sleeve, like the aforementioned firecracker bombs, a set of CDs that basically function like Zelda's arrows, and more far-out weaponry like the power to control a shadow clone. Combat mainly consists of old school hit and run gameplay, with a stamina meter in tow to prevent you from mashing the attack button. It's rudimentary, but it works, especially when  you start to experiment and realize that every weapon is viable. My favorite bit about High Strangeness is the fact that you earn upgrade tokens for every kill (even normal enemies). Since these item or skill enhancements are actually quite useful, it creates a nice incentive to get your hands dirty as often as possible. [embed]291545:58443:0[/embed] The main gimmick however is definitely the concept of plane switching, which you'll unlock roughly 30 minutes in. With the press of a button you can phase between the default 16-bit world and an 8-bit realm, fundamentally changing the way everything works. Some enemies will be easier or tougher depending on what world you're in, and mechanically, basic gameplay changes as well. Boyd can use combos and run in the 16-bit era, but only attacks with one thrust at at time and moves in a grid-like fashion in 8-bit, and so on. The switch isn't instantaneous (it takes a few seconds) so it's not worth it to constantly change, but it is fun to see enemies in a new light or try out new tactics at will. Plus, some puzzles can only be solved by toggling planes, so you'll need to do it every so often -- thank goodness it doesn't get annoying. Because the game is faster paced in the 16-bit visual style I vastly preferred it over 8-bit, and felt like the latter could have used a few extra touches in terms of a unique feel. While it does have a certain amount of charm, High Strangeness is a very linear adventure. Puzzles usually don't take more than a few minutes at a time to solve, and when all is said and done, you'll probably breeze through it in roughly five hours. There is a very cool final boss at the end, but sadly, there's no additional difficulty settings or a New Game+ option, so what you see is what you get. There are also a few wrinkles, like the health and stamina UI that doesn't stay locked in one place, and moves if you get too close to it on the screen. Since the game has some dead space due to the constrained aspect ratio, I wish there were an option to keep it static. Additionally, I wish there were a "quick item switch" button, since pausing the game to change secondary weapons isn't ideal. High Strangeness might be a brief adventure that feels a bit shallow at times, but it's very easy to digest. Because of the short nature of the game it doesn't waste your time, and it's very easy for anyone -- retro enthusiast or not -- to pick up and play. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher. I did not back the Kickstarter campaign.]
High Strangeness review photo
Taming strange
[Disclosure: High Strangeness was developed in part by Destructoid community member Ben "AgentMOO" Shostak. As always, no relationships, personal or professional, were factored into the review.] Back in 2009, a smal...

Review: Cosmophony

May 05 // Darren Nakamura
Cosmophony (Android, iPhone, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 [reviewed], PlayStation Vita, Wii U)Developer: Bento StudioPublisher: Bento StudioReleased: May 5, 2015 (PlayStation systems)MSRP: $4.99 The setup is about as simple as it gets. Fly/glide/hover/whatever down a seven-lane tube. Avoid smashing into obstacles. Optionally shoot black triangle "enemies." That's about it. There are a couple of different measure for success. Getting through a level without dying is enough to unlock the next level. Doing that while destroying every black triangle along the way is worth a full rating. Each level can be played in Practice Mode or Normal Mode. Aesthetically, Practice Mode takes out the color and some visual effects, but the big difference is that it allows the use of checkpoints and gives the ability to fast-forward or rewind to replay tricky sections. Normal Mode is the real deal: make it through a level from start to finish; any mistake means restarting from the beginning. [embed]291451:58420:0[/embed] Cosmophony's unique hook is that it functions as a rhythm game, but the reliance on rhythm is hidden at first. In the early levels, there is a lot of room for error. Firing a shot at nothing carries no penalty and timing is irrelevant as long as moves are made before crashing. Often I would take out enemies before they were even on screen by spamming the fire button knowing which lane they would be in. That changes by the third level. There is still a little bit of leeway allowed for certain decisions. There is space to overshoot, moving three lanes left instead of two. However, after playing and replaying the same sections a few times, it dawned on me that every button press corresponds to a musical element. It's not just the shooting, but also the movement. Once that became clear, I was able to reach the zen state of concentration where my fingers were doing what they were supposed to be doing before my conscious brain could tell them. So few games hit that sweet spot, where the sound and light and difficulty all come together to create an intense mental experience. Level three of Cosmophony does that for me. Sadly, that falls apart for me at the fourth level. The difficulty ramps up consistently across the levels, but it goes too far to be enjoyable. Where previous levels allowed room for minor error and contained lighter sections for the player to refocus, it turns into a relentless exercise in rote memorization and execution. I was no longer finding my happy place where time slows down; I was only finding frustration. Cosmophony is like a firework. As it's flying up and sending out sparks, interest builds. Once it detonates it's an awesome show of color and sound. After that it's over and everybody goes home. It's short and intense, but it stops being interesting once it oversteps the line between fun and frustrating. I played it and enjoyed it until it felt unfair, and now I probably won't ever touch it again. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Cosmophony review photo
The difficulty sure ain't phony
I had been lulled into a false sense of security. I finished the tutorial and the first level of Cosmophony with a perfect rating in about 15 minutes. "Four more levels of this?" I thought. "Child's play." Cut to an hour and ...

The Destructoid Wii U Game File Size Guide

Apr 30 // Chris Carter
GameFile Size 1001 Spikes 122MB Affordable Space Adventures 1GB Armillo 1.7GB Art Academy: SketchPad 524MB Assassin's Creed III 17GB Batman: Arkham City 19GB Ben 10 Omniverse 2.8GB Bayonetta 11GB Bayonetta 2 14GB Bit.Trip Presents: Runner 2 966MB Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker 1.2GB Castlestorm 294MB Citizens of Earth 3.7GB Darksiders II 9.3GB Deus Ex: Human Revolution Director's Cut 13GB Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze 10GB Dot Arcade 83MB Disney's Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two 7.3GB Dr. Luigi 108MB Edge 110MB Fist of the North Star: Ken’s Revenge 2 15GB Hyrule Warriors 7.6GB Kirby and the Rainbow Curse 2.8GB Lego City Undercover 21GB Mario Kart 8 6.3GB Mario Party 10 3GB Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games 9.7GB Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars 418MB Metroid Prime Trilogy 6GB Mighty Switch Force! HD 330MB Monster Hunter Ultimate 3 6.0GB Mutant Mudds Deluxe 31MB Need For Speed: Most Wanted 6.1GB NES Remix 387MB NES Remix 2 100MB New Super Mario Bros. U 2.3GB Scram Kitty and his Buddy On Rails 89MB Ninja Gaiden III: Razor's Edge 5.3GB Nintendoland 2.7GB One Piece: Unlimited World Red 11GB Pokemon Rumble U 537MB Pikmin 3 4.5GB Punch Out!! 4GB Pushmo World 507MB Rush 175MB Shovel Knight 173MB Splatoon 1.8GB Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed 5.7GB Steamworld Dig 89MB Super Mario 3D World 1.6GB Super Mario Galaxy 2 1.6GB Super Smash Bros. for Wii U 15.7GB Tank! Tank! Tank! 1.5GB Tekken Tag Tournament 2 16GB Toki Tori 135MB Toki Tori 2 536MB Wii Party U 5GB The Wonderful 101 10GB ZombiU 5.6GB
Wii U File Size Guide photo
From MB to GB
With the rise of digital distribution, hard drive constraints are becoming more problematic than ever. It's never fun purchasing a game only to find out you don't actually have space for it. Here is a constantly-updated list ...

amiibo tap: Nintendo's Greatest Bits is severely underwhelming

Apr 30 // Chris Carter
amiibo tap: Nintendo's Greatest Bits (Wii U)Developer: NintendoPublisher: NintendoReleased: April 30, 2015MSRP: Free (requires at least one amiibo) To even utilize amiibo Tap, which is a free download, you'll need an amiibo figure (MSRP: $13) -- full stop. After booting it up you're greeted with a menu noting that you'll have the opportunity to play various NES and SNES games (that are conveniently located on the eShop for purchase) by tapping a toy to the GamePad. Easy enough. The strangest thing about the app however is that it doesn't recognize specific characters. I mean, a lot of them are third-party or don't even have retro games, so I understand that much. But I thought for sure (despite the fact that it was already announced as randomized) if you tap a Mario character to the pad you'd unlock a Mario demo, but instead, it just opens up a random game. Once your amiibo is linked to that game it will automatically start up another demo with subsequent taps. For people with large amiibo collections, it's pretty confusing to keep track of. The demos themselves are straight-forward three minute "bits" if you will, with nine in all for every game -- to clarify, yes, that's nine 180 second sections per title. If you look at the video below you'll see a demo reel for The Legend of Zelda: A Link the Past, teleporting through various portions of the game, from intense scenes to boss battles. There's a timer on each sequence to prevent you from playing too much of the game, which is understandable. [embed]291278:58394:0[/embed] My opinion is that this whole app was rushed out of the gate, for any number of reasons. It would have been really cool to unlock new games by way of amiibo purchases, especially for figures that don't really have any functionality outside of a Super Smash Bros. NPC. A small homage to Super Princess Peach, the DS game, would have been cool, as would a new bite-sized demo for something like "Super Rosalina." The entire app isn't even future-proofed for new amiibo due to the lack of specificity, so there's no point in keeping it around to see how it will change when new figures come out. In its current state, it's not even worth downloading, as it's essentially a convoluted demo delivery service. If you have Super Smash Bros., just stick to the straight-forward Masterpiece demos.
amiibo tap impressions photo
Specific amiibo don't even align with franchises
When I first heard about amiibo Tap: Nintendo's Greatest Bits, I thought it was a cool idea at first, and a good concession for fans who may have missed out on a ton of amiibo opportunities this year. After actually playing it, I'm coming away extremely underwhelmed, and I'll likely uninstall it later today.

Nintendo, your work isn't done on Mario Kart 8

Apr 25 // Chris Carter
New crossovers: The sky really is the limit for new franchises. While I initially wanted a full-on "Mario Kart All-Stars" for the next game, I soon realized after playing the Animal Crossing pack that Nintendo could just keep supporting 8, and it would be more than good enough. With a real online infrastructure and a visual style gorgeous enough to withstand the test of time, we don't have to wait years until a new console iteration. Keep the crossovers coming. Samus, Fox McCloud, Kirby (with his Warpstar) -- all of them would fit perfectly into the Mario Kart universe, and I can see some really ingenious tracks down the road due to Nintendo's rich history as a character factory. One request is to just go all-out for the new characters though -- no "half Mario half new" -- just go all-new. Just inject F-Zero into the game already: We've seen the Mute City and Big Blue homages, but really, with F-Zero considered by many to be the definitive racing experience over Mario Kart, that's a huge market ready to be tapped. I'm not even talking about a "Pack" here -- more like a full-on expansion in 2016 featuring cast members from F-Zero, at least 10 tracks from the series, and extra elements like new characters and planets. Use that as a barometer for gauging interest in a new F-Zero game. Miyamoto himself said last year that "the struggle is that I don't really have a good idea for what's new that we could bring to F-Zero that would really turn it into a great game again." I have an idea -- fans already like what you've done with the franchise in Mario Kart 8, so think about expanding on it. A real battle mode: Finally, we come to my one big problem with Mario Kart 8 -- a lack of a real battle mode. No, that sorry excuse of "racing with balloons" doesn't cut it. I want real, tiered arenas that are all-new. Although I loved the core game as a racer, it really loses a lot of its spark due to the fact that so many fans grew up only playing the battle minigame. It cuts down on the replay value for fans as well, as I remember plenty of Mario Kart marathons that would have ended after a few hours if it wasn't for someone suggesting that we play "just a bit more" within the confines of the arena. I'm hopeful for these additions because Nintendo has shown it knows how to to DLC right. For $12 right now, you'll net seven characters (Villager counts as two!), eight vehicles, and 16 tracks. For reference, the game shipped with 32 courses. While I wouldn't trust a lot of publishers with this charge, Nintendo has the opportunity to really make Mario Kart 8 one of the longest-lasting games in the series, as the company has proven that it knows exactly what it's doing.
More Mario Kart 8 photo
More crossovers and a real battle mode
When Nintendo announced its DLC plans for Mario Kart 8, there was a combination of collective groans and cheers across the internet. The latter group was on the right side of history, it seems. When the first DLC Pack dr...

Review: Mario Kart 8 DLC Pack 2

Apr 23 // Jordan Devore
Mario Kart 8 DLC Pack 2 (Wii U)Developer: NintendoPublisher: NintendoReleased: April 23, 2015MSRP: $7.99 ($11.99 bundled with DLC Pack 1) First up, let's run through exactly what's included in DLC Pack 2: Characters: Villager (male and female), Isabelle, and Dry Bowser Vehicles: Streetle, City Tripper, P-Wing, and Bone Rattler Vehicle Parts: Paper Glider and Leaf Tires Crossing Cup tracks: Baby Park, Cheese Land, Wild Woods, and Animal Crossing Bell Cup tracks: Neo Bowser City, Ribbon Road, Super Bell Subway, and Big Blue Whereas last time we got two characters who looked like retreads of the existing lineup (Tanooki Mario and Cat Peach), here there's Dry Bowser as the lone offender -- but he's so awesome on his badass, metallic, skeletal bike that I'm not even going to complain. Isabelle is a cute addition to the roster and, hey, cute is fine. But the Villager duo is where it's at for my money ($7.99). The boy's patterned pants are the best. Like, I went so far as to jot down a note about them between races. That might sound silly. It is. But for a game packed so full of little flourishes, you've got to appreciate the attention to detail. I particularly dig how Animal Crossing's iconic "Oh shit!" piano sound plays when you fall off course as one of these characters. I don't have much to say about the three other new vehicles, but admittedly I'm not one to dissect stats and stick to certain builds because they are technically superior. Aesthetics matter, too! With that in mind: the Streetle has a chubby beetle-esque frame; the City Tripper reminds me of a Vespa; and the P-Wing has got a cool sort of Speed Racer thing going for it. It wasn't long at all before I returned to old favorites like the Sport Bike, though. [embed]290911:58308:0[/embed] "The tracks," you might be thinking. "Get to the tracks already! That's what we care about." Yes, yes, I agree. No more stalling. (And thanks for the segue!) First up is Baby Park, a short and sweet oval-shaped course modeled after a bustling theme park. During its seven micro laps, you will probably be hit with a bunch of items and hit back just as hard. It's equal parts chaos and joy. Whether in first place or last, everyone's so bunched together that it feels like you're in the middle of the pack, always. I somehow took first place in an online match and it was as if I had cheated death himself. Cheese Land, a desert area with edible-looking rock formations, makes terrific use of the game's depth-of-field effects for its sprawling vistas. This track has come a long way since its debut in Mario Kart: Super Circuit for the Game Boy Advance, that's for sure. Unquestionably pretty, but not necessarily a standout track in my mind. Wild Woods, however, stands out. It might even be the standout. It's this oasis hidden deep within a lush forest and there's a little village of Shy Guys and Toads and they've got a waterslide which you of course get to race across. Someone at Nintendo finally figured out that driving down waterslides in Mario Kart is what rainbows must taste like: magic. Next is Animal Crossing, which closes out the Crossing Cup. It's a relatively simple area that shifts seasons to dramatic and delightful effect. Northern lights glimmer during winter in one playthrough, while cherry blossoms flow in another. Seeing this world and these characters rendered so beautifully has me giddy at the possibility of a new Animal Crossing on Wii U. Just, wow. Neo Bowser City kicks off the Bell Cup with a rain-soaked neon cityscape. It's a nice change of scenery from the usual castles and lava we associate with Bowser, but the layout didn't feel all that unique. Still, I have to commend the designers for coming up with these places that feel seem like tracks in a racing videogame and more like cross sections of living worlds. Hundreds of races later, we might still be picking out fresh details in the environment. Ribbon Road, another upgrade of an old Game Boy Advance track, might be my favorite. It's miniature Mario Kart in a child's bedroom, complete with those wind-up dudes from the end of Super Mario World, swaying jack-in-the-boxes that you'll need to glide around, and a monstrously large movie poster for "Kung-Fu Lakitu" plastered on a wall. It's a pitch-perfect theme and the course itself is continuously exciting to navigate. What a keeper. Super Bell Subway isn't as visually arresting as its predecessors but speeding through an underground subway makes for a good time all the same. This can be one of the more rewarding courses depending on if you're (un)lucky enough to get sandwiched between two trains. Finally, there's Big Blue, a track that translates well from F-Zero (and I'm not just saying that because of the fist-pumping theme song). It's another one of those long, one-lap tracks people either love or loathe. I adore 'em. Between the competing conveyer belts, the waterslide-like pathways and, yes, that amazing song, I thought to myself "So this is what it feels like to truly be alive." Is this all working up toward a future F-Zero game or are DLC cameos in Mario Kart 8 as good as it gets for fans? Ignorance might be bliss. The free new 200cc option isn't a part of DLC Pack 2 (and as such I'm not factoring it into this review), but since it's out on the same day, I figured you'd want to know at least a little about it. As expected, it is exhilarating. Also as expected, it takes some getting used to. I'm not even sure the AI is fully ready for it. The action moves at such a rapid pace that you need to rethink your routes and strategies (and possibly your vehicle of choice) or risk crashing into walls or falling over the edge frequently. Repeat after me: "there is a brake button." The free update also adds more costumes for Mario Kart 8's Mii character which you can unlock by scanning supported amiibo. I saw someone online with a Kirby sitting on their head and that was neat for a second before I got shot to hell with shells. Your results may vary. As with DLC Pack 1, Nintendo has shown what great downloadable content can look like and that it doesn't need to arrive on day one or even month one. While not every new track is memorable, there is a consistent quality here and a few of them represent Mario Kart at its best. It was a treat to see other Nintendo properties dip into the game last year and that novelty hasn't worn off yet. This is the future of the series. It has to be. [This review is based on a final build of the DLC purchased by the reviewer.]
Mario Kart DLC review photo
Animal Crossing is in the house
Nintendo is back with more crossover content for Mario Kart 8 and even as an on-again, off-again fan of the series, today feels reminiscent of waking up on Christmas morning confident that the present you most wanted this yea...

How to make Ryu an interesting character in Super Smash Bros.

Apr 19 // Patrick Hancock
Sprite GIFs used are all from the Street Fighter Wiki. Give him an EX meter and EX moves So, let's assume Ryu has his Hadoken, Shoryuken, Tatsumaki Senpukyaku, and some fourth move like a counter or his Joudan Sokutogeri. What would make Ryu unique isn't so much his actual set of moves, but what he can do with them. Give Ryu an EX meter, similar to Little Mac's KO meter, and allow him to build it up and use it. It could build just like it does in Street Fighter IV, by connecting with attacks or getting attacked. Spending this meter can work in a few ways. One would be double-tapping the B button to use an EX move instantly. Double-tapping is weird and I'm not sure it would work in Super Smash Bros., but it's an idea. Another option is to allow Ryu to consume an EX bar to make his next move an EX move. For example: when there's at least one bar of EX glowing, Ryu can hold B to drain it and store it, similar to how many characters store a charged up move. Then, the next special move Ryu executes will be an EX version of that move, with different properties.  If Nintendo really wants to get fancy, it could even work with Capcom to include Street Fighter V's mechanic of spending an entire EX meter to make a character "super-charged" until he is knocked down.  Art by DeviantArt user kupbot Make Ryu's alternate costumes like Bowser Jr.'s Whether Nintendo meant to or not, they set a precedent with Bowser Jr. and his alternate costumes. Ryu is a perfect candidate for this method of alternate costume since there are plenty of Shotokans for Nintendo to choose from. Since each character has seven alternate costumes, here is what I've come up with for Ryu's alternate costumes: Ken, Akuma, Dan, Sean, Gouken, Sakura, and Evil Ryu. Let's be honest, Ryu is boring. He's the "guy on the box." Sure, he's recognizable, but most people tend to gravitate to someone else in Street Fighter. He's a wonderful beginning character and incredibly important to the franchise, but I will be way more willing to use Ryu if I can actually play as Sean or Dan. Sure, it may only be an aesthetic change, but to some, aesthetics really matter. Speaking of which... Give Ryu custom moves from other Shotokans While it is incredibly disconcerting that Mewtwo does not have custom moves at the moment, I am still holding out hope that DLC characters will eventually come with or get their own custom moves. Considering it's one of the biggest new features in this entry of Smash Bros., it only makes sense to do so. Assuming Ryu does get some customs, why not take them from the characters that make up his alternate costumes? Here's some basic ideas: Hadoken custom move ideas: Dan's wimpy Gadoken Gouken's angled Hadoken Sean's basketball (I really like Sean, okay?) Fireball multi-hit Shakunetsu Hadouken Tatsu custom move ideas:Note: This is assuming Ryu's basic Tatsu moves him horizontally  Dan's multi-hit Dankukyaku Stationary Tatsu Vertical Rising Tatsu Shoryuken custom move ideas: Ken's fiery Shoryuken Sean's Dragon Smash The multi-hitting Shoryureppa Since the fourth move could be a multitude of things, I'll just stop here. I think the point is clear: there are a ton of variants on these moves, and it would be a shame to see them go to waste! Two different Final Smashes Luckily, Street Fighter's Ultras convert directly to Super Smash Bros.'s Final Smash. So why not give Ryu two of them? Everyone already expects the Shinku Hadoken to be his Final Smash, but what if, by hitting B and a direction, he could execute a different one? He could have the Shin Shoryuken or even the Shinku Tatsumaki Senpukyaku.  I honestly have no idea if this would be possible, but it sure would be cool! The bottom line is, Ryu is possibly going to be in Super Smash Bros., but without going the extra distance, he'll be a character not many people will be interested in playing. If Nintendo and Mr. Sakurai give Ryu the same care and attention I know they are capable of giving, Ryu could be a favorite character for many players. Roy on the other hand...
Ryu in Smash done right photo
Listen up, Nintendo!
Street Fighter's Ryu is currently rumored to be coming to Nintendo's newest entry into the Super Smash Bros. series, thanks to some hidden files in the most recent update to the game. It makes a lot of sense; Capcom...

Captain of my own destiny: Micro-goals and player liberty

Apr 19 // Anna Anthropy
Every level of Captain Toad is a dense little 3D dollhouse. (In fact, you start to wonder why it wasn't released on the 3DS, where I wouldn't have had to constantly flick my attention between the TV and the thing I was holding.) The player's job is to steer Captain Toad -- or later Captain Toadette instead, once she's submitted herself to being rescued by the character who isn't femme-presenting -- through these little dollhouses. It's refreshing to see Nintendo finally catch up with more progressive developers, who allow playable women characters in their games, but only after male characters (or micropayments) have "unlocked" them. I'm not actually sure the game ever awards Toadette the rank of full Captain. Captain Toad or (Ensign? Admiral?) Toadette move through each dollhouse, avoiding (or occasionally vegetabling) threats, discovering new ways to get around the place, and ultimately attaining the shining Star at the end. That's the point of each little dollhouse, its ultimate goal. But there are "micro-goals" too: three special coins hidden in each little house. They're sealed, like plucky detectives in Nancy Drew novels, behind breakable walls, or tucked into secret nooks or out-of-the-way paths. Their purpose is to encourage (and reward) more thoroughly exploring each dollhouse, turning it over and over on your touch screen to peek into every part of it you can see. That's a legitimate way of playing the game -- call it a "deep" rather than "wide" play style -- and is legitimately rewarding to a certain type of player. That's not usually how I play these games, though. Playing Captain Toad, I was more interested in just seeing as much as possible - the wide rather than deep style of play. I wanted to see all the dollhouses. I wanted to see lots of neat, new things in succession, and not to be stuck on any one for too long. (Certainly the fact that I wouldn't be able to play the game once I'd left my friend's house made me reluctant to linger.) But this style of play is legit too. A design that incorporates both simple unlock-the-next-level goals and extra, optional micro-goals is, theoretically, one that accommodates both styles of play. If I want to see new things, I prioritize the overarching goal that will get me to the next level. If I want to feel like I'm really plumbing the depths of each individual level, I prioritize the micro-goals. But more realistically, my play style -- and probably most players' -- incorporates elements of both: going for a challenge coin when I see how to do so, but not replaying the same level over and over until I've gotten all three. Where the design fails in this case is when it turns out these optional micro-goals aren't optional after all, and that you can only see so much of the game without prioritizing them. My friend was way more challenge-coin-oriented, but even so, the available levels eventually petered out. "Did you unlock any more?" he asked me. I had seen a level or two later than he had. After a point, Captain Toad explicitly enforces the "deep, not wide" style of play where it teases that it will accommodate both kinds of play. And it's not the only Mario (or "Mario universe?" "Mario galaxy?") game to be structured this way: this is the way they're designing them these days. I also bailed on Super Mario 3D Land before seeing the end because it wanted me to replay past levels and harvest more hidden coins. Maybe the hope was that after playing "wide" for long enough, I'd develop enough of an investment in the game to play "deep" when I was forced to. Nope. I stopped playing. Oh, I stuck on for a few more levels, a few more tollbooths. But then I got tired of these forced intermissions between the stuff I wanted to be doing -- seeing new stuff -- to do stuff I was bored of: retreading old territory. I was up to the challenge of the new stages. I was capable, ready, and excited to do more. But the game was unwilling to let me, and I got bored, and I gave up. Surely that's not the outcome the developers were hoping for: player gets bored, gives up? I think it's a failure when additional goals are used to narrow, rather than broaden, the player's experience. One of the games I've been spending a lot of time with lately, Alto's Adventure, a snowboarding game for the iPad, has a few different levels of overlapping goals: get as far as possible in a single run (survive), get as many points as possible on a single run (perform tricks), complete the current "missions" the game has given you (perform specific tasks). Some of the missions are long-term: perform 10 backflips using a character who has a difficult time gaining air. Some of them are really specific: smash a rock during a chase scene. While I'm playing for the overarching goal of travelling as far as possible, these extra goals give me opportunities to explore wider aspects of the game systems. I might have never attempted a triple-backflip if the game hadn't suggested I try it, in addition to my already-established goal of getting farther, seeing more. And not all games need extra layers of goals: Monument Valley doesn't need "missions" to distract from its sparse vignettes. But when extra challenges are deployed, it should be in the service of expanding the player's experience of the game, rather than forcing it. Maybe if you're a garden fungus, the only way up the ladder to the rank of Captain is doing whatever authority tells you without question. Maybe Toadette is the real brains here.
Captain Toad photo
Where playground meets obstacle course
A friend of mine got a good deal on a Wii U recently. That meant that I finally got a chance to play Captain Toad. It's really humbling to know that people at Nintendo have also played Monument Valley. I played through a bunc...

Mewtwo in Smash Bros. for the Wii U and 3DS is on the juice

Apr 15 // Jonathan Holmes
Mewtwo has grown up a lot since his Melee days, where his design was largely based on his big-headed origin in Pokémon Red/Blue. Since then his legs have gotten bigger, his arms have gotten longer, and his head has gotten a lot less bulbous. In Melee, it seemed like a lot of his psychic attacks were there to compensate for his baby proportions. Now that he's become more physically formidable, that added psychic flair seems less like a necessity and more like a sassy style choice.  He's also a good head taller than Lucario, his former replacement. That's sure to make a lot of long-time Mewtwo fans happy. Seeing him tower over his crowd-pleasing, dog-faced protege feels appropriate, given his status as the original uber-Pokémon.  Mewtwo was only just released to the public today, so it will be a little while before we discover the details around his various moves and properties. From what I've played so far, he has two major changes in his normal move set. His neutral A combo now ends with a swipe that that sends enemies flying, and his down air A is now a down thrust punch that really packs a wallop. Both changes are quite fitting given his newly gained girth and stature.  [embed]290541:58195:0[/embed] As for his Smash Ball attack, he takes the form of Mega Mewtwo Y and dishes out some potential instant-kill damage with a fast-moving psychic shadowball. It's strange that his beefier Mega Mewtwo X form is nowhere to be seen here, but maybe I just haven't found him yet. If you've discovered anything else about Mewtwo, or any other aspect of the latest changes to Smash Bros. for the 3DS and Wii U, let us know in the comments. I heard Diddy got nerfed today, but I've been too busy having fun with Mewtwo to find out. 
Mewtwo in Smash photo
'It's what you do with the gift of life that makes you who you are'
A new era of Smash Bros. has arrived. Speculation about who's going to be next icon to join the all-star roster can become a daily part of our lives again. Starting today with the original uber-Pokémon Mewtwo, the age ...

Review: Affordable Space Adventures

Apr 04 // Patrick Hancock
Affordable Space Adventures (Wii U)Developer: KnapNok Games, NifflasPublisher: KnapNok GamesRelease Date: April 9, 2015MSRP: $19.99 Affordable Space Adventures is all about atmosphere. The entire game is dedicated to immersing gamers into the universe the developers have created, and it works brilliantly. The player (or players) are first shown an informational video by Uexplore, the company that creates and monitors spacecrafts. From there, any and all plot is revealed by simply playing the game. It immediately becomes obvious from the first level's surroundings that something has gone wrong and that you're now stranded on the planet Spectaculon. Luckily, according to Uexplore, Spectaculon has "no dangers*."  That is not the case. So, the only thing to do on Spectaculon is to explore, and hopefully find a way off the planet. The Small Craft™ is pretty banged up, but slowly starts to repair itself over time. As new things get repaired, a quick system message introduces how it works, and then it is up to the player to figure out how it helps them progress through the game's obstacles. Don't be fooled, there is story progression, but detailing any of it here would ruin it. It's all told through gameplay and a single ending cutscene and I can't comment enough about how the game never breaks its immersion.  [embed]289938:58054:0[/embed] Affordable Space Adventures is a true two-screen experience. The television displays the Small Craft™ and its environment, while the Wii U GamePad displays the ship's many systems. One can change the output levels of various ship systems like thrust, stabilization, weight, among others that become available as one makes progress. Each system has an effect on the ship's output levels of heat, electricity, and sound. This makes the player truly feel like a pilot, since many times these systems need to be adjusted on the fly.  One of the first things available, and perhaps the most crucial aspect of the Small Craft™, is the Scanner. Using the Scanner, players can scan alien artifacts to learn more about them. Specifically, what each artifact will react to. Some will react to sound, others to heat or electricity, some react to all three. To bypass the artifact, one can reduce their output in those three categories below a certain threshold, displayed on the GamePad. For example, if an alien artifact reacts to any level of sound or heat, players can begin to thrust, and then completely turn off the thruster before approaching the artifact to simply cruise by undetected. Alternatively, if one needs to do the same thing in a downwards direction, they can simply turn off everything, plummet downwards, and re-ignite the engine once their past the artifact. Just uh... be careful with that second one. The brilliant thing about Affordable Space Adventures is that it doesn't ever break its dedication and tell you how you should be using something. The initial system message makes sense within the universe, since it would need to tell pilots how to use certain mechanisms. The game never goes "Hey player! Why not try sliding on the ground past this enemy, with all your systems off? Great job!" It leaves them to their own devices and allows them to figure it out themselves.  The progression is flawlessly done. A new system on the Small Craft™ will be repaired, then a few levels will instruct you the extent of those systems and the various ways they apply to the world. Then, a new system will be introduced, and the cycle repeats. However, just like my math teacher used to say, nothing is ever left behind. Mechanics become layered on top of one another, forcing one to use what they learned previously in addition to the new mechanic. Naturally, the levels towards the end of the game will especially press players to utilize everything at their disposal to pass harder and harder obstacles. There is an easier difficulty available, but the standard difficulty is a good mix of challenge and progression. In addition to the difficulty, the design of the entire game feels just right. The temperature mechanic that is introduced later on does feel somewhat confusing compared to the others, but other than that every mechanic feels natural and easy to comprehend. Puzzles organically get harder with no discernible extreme spikes, so you should feel a strong sense of progression constantly throughout.  In multiplayer, up to two other people can join in and control different aspects of the ship. The game adjusts the responsibilities based on how many people are playing, but flying solo is easily the preferred method of play. Divvying up the responsibilities feels more like each person is playing a fraction of the game instead of adding a fresh take on the experience. Communication plays a large part, but it just doesn't add anything to the core gameplay. One individual in particular controls the scanner/flashlight, which is certainly an important job, but only controlling that is incredibly dull. Two players feels better than three, but both feel worse than solo play. Many of the puzzles are physics-based, and I did encounter some wonkiness during my playthrough. There were a couple of occasions where items got stuck and could not be moved, forcing me to restart the level. Luckily, each individual level is never too long and doesn't require one to repeat very much if something happens. The entire game will take people around five hours to complete, and there's hardly a dull moment throughout. The sound design deserves special mention here, since it really elevates the atmosphere to an incredible level. Sound is muffled/off when underwater, enemies creeping in have an especially eerie tone play, the bweeps and bwoops from the GamePad console are spot-on, everything feels and sounds perfect. A lot of what makes Affordable Space Adventure so endearing is the little things. For example, if it is raining or if you have just exited a wet situation, the Small Craft's™ windshield wipers activate. Or the fact that the player has to start the engine and all other systems manually if it has been deactivated for any reason. Even the loading screens are pages from the manual that comes with the Small Craft™, including Uexplore's mascot, Splory. All these small things go a long way to keep one interested. Affordable Space Adventures is a game that can only work on the Wii U. Its two-screen experience is exactly what the system was designed for and the result is a unique breath of fresh air that might actually force people to hold that breath in certain situations. The multiplayer doesn't pan out too well and there were some physics glitches, but this is a game that Wii U owners need to get their hands on. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Affordable Space Adv. photo
What a deal!
It isn't too often that a game makes great use of what makes a console unique. More often publishers and developers are looking to get it out on as many platforms as possible, which makes console-specific ideas feel tacked on...

Review: Wave 4 amiibo Shopping

Apr 03 // Chris Carter
Wave 4 amiibo Shopping (GameStop, Target, Toys"R"Us)Developer: NintendoPublisher: SatanReleased: April 2, 2015 (Shopping), May 29, 2015 (Wave 4)MSRP: $12.99, Your Soul and Dignity GameStop: What started off as a great plan ended in shambles yesterday. On April 1, GameStop announced to the world that Ness was a exclusive to the store. I heard the collective groans of potential buyers everywhere, as I've seen this phrase a hundred times over -- "I don't even like amiibo, but I think I'm just going to get Ness because he's my favorite." When GameStop further clarified that "online and in-store orders would go live at 3PM EST" the following day, everyone breathed a collective sigh of relief. Unfortunately, corporate had other plans for the rollout and didn't actually tell anyone publicly. While the entire internet waited for 3PM EST as they were told, I obtained a memo from GameStop that morning that I shared with our readers. In short, it basically stated that the 3PM EST online announcement was a lie, and that pre-orders wouldn't actually go live until "later in the day" at an unspecified time. Instead, GameStop was going to push people in-store to get them to pre-order, with priority going to those people who could shirk their responsibilities or their jobs and head to a retail location. That was problem numero uno, and a very scummy tactic on their part to bait and switch. Problem numero dos happened shortly after. As it turns out, having every single GameStop location in the country try to process orders at the same time is a bad idea. Based on my experience in-person and testimonials across the country, it took roughly one hour for the first customer in line to get processed. Then yet another issue promptly reared its ugly head. What GameStop had done to speed the process up is provide one giant SKU for all of the Smash amiibo line, so you could just get them all and walk out. It was a great idea in theory, but the SKU wasn't actually its own allotment, it was directly linked to all of the other separate amiibo listings. When it came time for the second person to put in their order across the country (after another 30-60 minutes), Robin and Lucina were instantly sold out, and their "package" order was instantly canceled, forcing them to retry another order. At that point, everything was sold out except the Splatoon 3-pack, and in some cases, Ness, who took another hour to go through. I was at my GameStop for over two and a half hours and walked out with an order for the Splatoon pack. The customers at my location were rather accommodating and understanding, and we had a great time talking about the world of gaming with the manager. But other stores weren't so lucky, as I can attest to pictures of broken displays, store damage, and one case of a customer being ejected by shopping center security. Sure enough, GameStop's system completely crashed that evening, and no online orders went up for that day. At this point it looks like anything online at GameStop may not even happen at all. If you couldn't leave work, school, or an appointment to go in-store, tough. Target: Oh Target, we meet again. Rosalina was one of the worst experiences yet in terms of amiibo hunting, as she went up completely without warning in the middle of the night on Target's website and sold out within minutes. There was no indication that online pre-orders would even open, and after they sold out Target took to Twitter to basically state "tee hee, no more pre-orders, you'll have to hope she's in stock at our store at launch." It was so bad that Target obtained a memo from corporate the morning of her release, noting that Rosalina would never be restocked. It looks like the exact same thing happened with Jigglypuff yesterday morning. With no warning at roughly 10AM EST, Jigglypuff went from an unannounced figure to a Target exclusive, to being completely sold out in the span of about 30 minutes, before most of the people on the west coast could grab their morning coffee. Target also gave the same "you're screwed until May 29" response when asked about future pre-order rounds. Another exclusive launch bites the dust. I sense a pattern here. Why is Nintendo damn secretive about amiibo news? Toys"R"Us: Lastly, we arrive at yet another exclusive amiibo in the form of Greninja at Toys"R"Us. Yesterday, outlets reached out to the retailer to find out when pre-orders may occur, and the standard response was "from 7 to 9AM EST." I set my alarm for 6AM just to make sure, so I could report on it when it did drop. Of course, we all know that life doesn't work out how you want it to, and they went up at 3AM EST for around 15 minutes. Luckily I had a guardian angel in the form of our own Brett Makedonski, but thousands of others weren't so lucky. Joining the ranks of Rosalina, Greninja was the latest amiibo go up in the complete dead of night while most of America was sound asleep and completely sell out. I've said it multiple times, but regardless of "port strikes," "unforeseen demand," "retail fumblings," or other issues not attributed to Nintendo, most of the problems with each wave stem from the mere fact that Nintendo itself is making these exclusivity deals in the US. The shocking thing is that it saw how poorly these deals went down with prior waves and decided "screw it, let's do more." They actually had a good thing going on with the Gold Mario figure, so it's puzzling that they'd regress like this. They provided enough stock to last four or five pre-order rounds, Walmart announced it before it went online, and most importantly, it's a variant figure that already exists in two forms. If you want Mario you can readily find him without having to hunt down the gold version. If you want Marth, Ike, Robin, or Lucina for Codename S.T.E.A.M's DLC -- sorry, you're out of luck unless you feel like importing. Which, funnily enough has caused stock issues overseas, as some of my friends who own small businesses are reporting that US customers have drained all their allotments. Back in 2014 directly following the Marth, Villager, and Wii Fit fiasco, a Nintendo rep answered fan questions regarding amiibo during a Reddit Q&A session, and noted that exclusives will happen "as long as retailers are willing to pay" -- I don't expect that to change anytime soon. It's a shame, because while most of the people reading this are fairly savvy consumers (savvy enough to read a tech or gaming blog at least), I'm just thinking about all of the young Nintendo fans or clueless parents who have no idea how scarce amiibo are. While every Wave has had its snags, Wave 4 is the worst storm yet. Nintendo really needs to rethink its strategy, as well as take some direct cues from Activision's Skylanders and Disney's Infinity lines. One of the core issues is secrecy. Nintendo has this thing where you aren't allowed to know what is going on pretty much at all times. While Activision often shows you the entire lineup for a Skylanders series at the start then releases it in waves (you get a really cool poster thing that has everyone on it!), Nintendo sat on reveals for months. That secrecy may work for games that can be purchased digitally without fear of a shortage, but it is very clear that Nintendo is out of its depth here, and something needs to change.
Wave 4 amiibo review photo
April Fools came late for Nintendo
Yesterday, Nintendo unleashed hell on earth pre-orders for Wave 4 amiibo figures. The current lineup includes Robin, Lucina, Ness, Pac-Man, Charizard, Wario, Jigglypuff, Greninja, and three Splatoon flavored toys. As someone who follows this craze partially for reporting purposes and in part due to personal interest, it was the absolute worst day yet for amiibo fans.

Who would you elect to be the next Smash Bros. DLC character?

Apr 02 // Jonathan Holmes
Chris: Waluigi C'mon now, this villain (anti-hero) is due for the spotlight. He hasn't even had his own debut game yet -- despite the fact that New Super Mario Bros. 2 totally should have starred Wario and Waluigi -- and he's just wacky enough to fit as an eccentric DLC character while fitting the Mario theme of many other existing cast members. His signature tennis racket could serve as the basis for his Smash attacks, his taunt could be a rose pose, and his air-dashes could be something wacky like swimming in the air like Faust from Guilty Gear X. The sky is the limit for Waluigi. Laura: Captain Toad and Ghirahim I'm personally throwing my votes in for Captain Toad from Captain Toad's Treasure Tracker and Ghirahim from Skyward Sword. Why Captain Toad? He's cute, he's adventurous and I'd be fascinated by the idea of a character who couldn't jump. Would he use a jumping item? Would he be land locked? How would that work with certain stage hazards? I want to see Nintendo tackle that challenge. Why Ghirahim? I know Smash Bros. needs more sword fighters like I need a hole in the head, but I've always been a fan of his presentation as well as his combat fluidity. He's fast, agile, magical and able to constantly misrepresent his location. Mix that in with fast aerial-sword combat and I'm totally on board. Oh, and his Final Smash transformation form is already sorted. Brittany: Bayonetta Honestly, the only character I've been waiting to see in Smash Bros. will probably never find a home there, but a girl has to keep up hope. My darling Bayonetta, as deadly as she is lovely, is practically begging for inclusion. With plentiful combos and deadly Wicked Weave attacks, she'd string up the competition as the mane event. I'd love to wrap my fingers around my controller and untangle a victory with her. Plus, there's the potential of seeing an amiibo figure released in tandem with making her available, and I live for the thrill of chasing those things. Then I could finally put Cereza on a shelf and call her mine forever. That's not creepy, right?  Jed: Birdo, Jason from Blaster Master, Mark from Monster Party Why Birdo? You know why, because I'm a dinosexual. Jason from Blaster Master -- one of my favorite NES titles, and one of the best Metroidvania games, would work great in Smash too. In his home series, Jason can travel on foot or in a tank, which could make him play like a mix between Bowser Jr. and Wario's motorcycle in Smash. The only big difference being that he could shoot projectiles while in or out of his tank. That's the "Jason difference." He also likes frogs. Mark, the boy hero from the cruelly overlooked Monster Party, was the first character that I'd ever seen reflect projectiles with a baseball bat. Ness is a wannabe poser next to him. Mark also turns into a flying dinosaur-like demon bat that breathes fire. Who cares about Ridley when you could be playing as Mark! Ben: Dillon, Mallo, and Sakura Samurai Nintendo had a ton of new IPs on the 3DS, and I'd like to see them have a bit more faith in their new ideas. In particular, Dillon's Rolling Western, Pushmo, and Sakura Samurai were all really neat, creative games with fun characters who would fit well in Super Smash Bros. Dillon is already in Smash as an assist trophy, but I still think he'd make a great fighter. Some of his moveset could be similar to Sonic's, but there's plenty of other unique attacks they could give him. Perhaps he could even set up gun towers around the map that other players could destroy. Sakura Samurai would easily work as another swordsman fighter, and Mallo from Pushmo could be really interesting. I'm not sure what his attacks would be, but I'm sure Nintendo could think of something fun. They made the Duck Hunt dog into a fighter, after all! [embed]289889:58026:0[/embed] Holmes: Star Man (from Pro Wrestling), Tingle, Chorus Men, The Wonderful 101 Like Ben pointed out, the Duck Hunt dog's appearance in Super Smash Bros. of the 3DS and Wii U tells me that anything is possible for the game's future cast. That said, out of my four picks, the only one that I think has a fighting chance is Chorus Men. Tingle is amazing, but he's something of a one-note tune in most people's eyes. Star Man is the greatest wrestler in videogame history, but Sakurai made it pretty clear that he doesn't want to add new characters to Smash unless they are part of an actively running Nintendo franchise. That's rule will probably doom The Wonderful 101 to exclusion as well. On the other hand, Rhythm Heaven is a hugely popular series in Japan, with a new release in the franchise coming up this year. The games haven't done half bad in the rest of the world either, especially if you count memes as a badge of success. I've already voted for Chorus Men once today on the Smash Bros. site, and I plan to continue to do so for the rest of my life, or until Nintendo closes the polls.  Summa: Bo Jackson (Tecmo Bowl) Before our sports games got all fancy with their simulation stat packing, I was filling out notebooks of game results and meaningless numbers that my best friend and I use to produce after weekend-long dual tournaments played out on Tecmo Bowl. If you played this legendary game, then you know that nobody dominated more than Bo Jackson. Want a move list? How about a spiked football to the head? How about an up-the-gut rush that knocks your opponent unconscious and utterly useless? If Nintendo wants to play with my nostalgia heart, then introduce this virtual God amongst men. Patrick: Snake There is only one answer to this seemingly limitless question: Snake. I'm not even a Metal Gear Solid fanatic (the only game I've played is Ground Zeroes), but his Brawl incarnation is so unique and freaking satisfying that I find myself missing Snake every time I look at the character selection screen. His play style is nothing like anyone else's; people said Duck Hunt Dog would play similarly, but he just doesn't. His move set doesn't need any changes, just make an HD model for him and boom! He's back. Kyle: Chun-Li "Nintendo vs. Capcom" isn't an actual thing, but it really should be. It really, really should be. You see, I have this strong desire to spinning bird kick Diddy Kong in the face. Or kikoken Diddy Kong in the face. Or lightning kick Diddy Kong in the face. The point is, Chun-Li is awesome and Diddy Kong deserves to die in a fire. Make my wildest dreams come true, Nintendo/Capcom. Darren: Bubsy April Fools!
Smash Bros DLC wishlist photo
Don't say Shrek...
Nintendo's April Fools Nintendo Direct was no joke. While there wasn't a whole lot there that would interest people who aren't existing fans of the publisher, there was something for just about everyone who already enjoys Nin...

What if videogame consoles were Transformers?

Mar 28 // Mike Cosimano
Megatron: Xbox One In Dark Cybertron, IDW's first major Transformers-only crossover event, Decepticon leader Megatron did the impossible: he switched sides and joined the Autobots. Megatron has gone from trying to conquer the universe to exploring it with the wacky spacefaring cast of More than Meets the Eye (currently the best ongoing series in comics). It felt like a real stretch at the time (because it's a simple change in character that is going to sell a lot of comic books, like Bucky Cap or Lady Thor) but the issues released since then have justified his change of heart. Many Transformers stories have tried to make the audience feel sympathy for Megatron, but none have ever been so successful. More than Meets the Eye successfully reconciles the 'violent despot' characterization we all know and love with the new 'tired old revolutionary' Megatron used to soften his previous deeds, crafting a new version of the character that feels absolutely definitive -- against all odds. This reminds me of the Xbox One. When the console was first revealed, there was a sizable amount of justified backlash. It was a device for busy rich people: expensive, packed with irrelevant features, saddled with baffling limitations, and bearing a hidden $60 per year cost. Everyone was worried they wouldn't be able to play their single-player games if their Internet went down, or that the evil camera would watch them have sex in front of their television. Both fears were not totally unfounded, leading to an enormous backlash and low pre-order numbers. In order to save the system, Microsoft had to pull an about-face, reversing almost every controversial decision. Since then, we've seen the Xbox One drop the Kinect along with $100 off the MSRP, reach out to indies with the ID@Xbox program, and chase weird exclusives like Phantom Dust. Ever since Phil Spencer took over the Xbox division, the company has made positive strides towards fixing its reputation. It's not hard to see the parallels between Megatron (as written by James Roberts), Megatron (the character in More than Meets the Eye), and Phil Spencer's work on the Xbox brand. When you want to make a change, be it financially motivated, a creative decision, or an emotionally motivated faction change, there has to be some revisionism. You have to convince yourself that the past doesn't matter, and then you have to perform the Herculean task of convincing everyone else of the same. For the moment, it's almost impossible to tell whether Megatron or Microsoft were successful. We won't know how successful the Xbox One will be until well into the life cycle of the Xbox Two, and I honestly don't know where Megatron's character development could go from here. Either way, I'm looking forward to both. Tailgate: Wii U Tailgate is a relic. Not long after coming online, he fell into a sinkhole on Cybertron, only escaping his predicament after a six-million-year-long power nap. Physically, he is older than almost every character in More than Meets the Eye, but he approaches the Lost Light's various adventures with a childlike enthusiasm. Which makes sense -- he's technically two weeks old when the comic begins. Tailgate used his age to fabricate a series of stories, even claiming he was a bomb disposal expert. He's gone through some real trials over the course of the comic -- including almost dying of old age and saving half of the Cybertronian race in one week -- but he's come into his own, accepting his true role as a waste disposal 'bot and letting go of his tall tales. It's hard to hear the word 'relic' and not give the Wii U a little side-eye. When the console launched, it was months away from being outdated, with online decisions that were utterly baffling in the Xbox Live era and a launch library that was primarily a series of efforts at reclaiming old glories and ports nobody asked for. Hell, look at the name of the thing -- Wii U. Smarter people than me have been pointing this out since the console was revealed, but I'll be damned if that isn't the most transparent attempt to move units I've ever seen. The Wii U smacked of an old man trying to convince the kids he was cool, not realizing he was a kid at heart the whole time. All he had to do was embrace his inner child and the people would come running. There's something futile about chasing old glories, especially when they're made up. Nintendo has never been good with third parties. Remember that "historic partnership" between EA and Nintendo? Remember when Call of Duty: Ghosts coming to Wii U was a big deal? Where's Advanced Warfare? Where's Battlefield 4? The Wii U was a joke back when it was trying to be just another videogame console; another machine for you to enjoy those big tentpole releases. Today, it's genuinely beloved, even if the rampant amiibo shortage threatens to overshadow Nintendo's recent successes. Is the Wii U selling well? Of course not, that door closed when it launched with a crappy Mass Effect port and didn't have a killer app until a year into the console's life cycle. And Tailgate lost any chance of becoming an Old Cybertronian legend the second he fell unconscious. But we've got Mario Kart 8 now, and Tailgate defeated a genocidal despot by sticking a finger in his robo-brain. (God, I love these comics.) Accept your limitations, and use them to move forward. Can't wait for whatever NX is! Drift: PlayStation 4 Everybody on the Internet goes through a phase where they make an awesome self-insert character for their favorite thing. You know the type: mysterious, silent, unkillable, tortured past, maybe a bit of a dark streak? We've all done it! Be honest with yourself. Maybe post your original character in the comments. Now, imagine a world where you were paid to make that character an official part of your favorite thing. Hell, the character even gets a toy! And the best part? The character will be just as badass as you imagined: no watering down. That's Drift. And -- surprise surprise! -- when he premiered in the pages of the mega-event All Hail Megatron, everyone realized he was a cynical attempt at making a new fan-favorite character. Thankfully, he was redeemed in More than Meets the Eye, recast as a lovable hippie. Now, Drift is actually a fan favorite, despite being universally disliked when he first appeared. (Ironically, we've actually come full circle with the super racist Drift in the fourth Transformers movie) And, let's be real, nobody really liked the PlayStation 3 when it first came out either. It cost too much, the infamous "PS3 HAS NO GAMEZ" meme had a ring of truth to it (even though Resistance and Metal Gear Solid 4 were great) -- everything about the console reeked of post-PS2 swagger. But, much like the Wii U, the PS3 stumbled out of the gate. Compare that to the PS4, a console that came out swinging, easily taking and holding the lead. Now, I can't verify this for myself, but I've heard enough talk from enough different people that it makes sense: the PlayStation 4 is a Sony Computer Entertainment of America joint. That's why you're seeing people like Adam Boyes and Mark Cerny take the stage during E3 press conferences, and that's why the company is going after Western nostalgia properties like Grim Fandango. This change in power seems to be working: the PS3 never saw positive press the likes of which we saw when Jack Tretton confirmed the PS4 could play used games. Sometimes, it's smart to let go of the wheel and let somebody else take over. I'm not saying Shane McCarthy (the creator of Drift) is a terrible writer, or that Sony Japan doesn't know how to make a console. The PlayStation 2 is the best console of all time! But every so often, giving control of your creation to someone with a different vision works out best for all involved. It's just a simple matter of seeing that maybe you aren't the right person for this job. I mean, the PlayStation 4 has sold twenty million consoles so far, and Drift's resurgence in popularity got him another mini-series. Leaving your pride at the door works, as it turns out. Maybe that's the crux of all three of these consoles: pride. The Xbox One isn't trying to shove terrible ideas down our throats, the Wii U is no longer convinced it can be something it's not, and the PS4 isn't asking for $600. In many ways, success is about letting go of that pride, learning to accept your limitations and playing to your strengths. And it may have taken a little while, but I feel like each console is currently taking that to heart. I like where these consoles are at right now, and I think we've got a fantastic generation ahead of us. Also, Transformers are great. Thank you.
Transformers photo
Blast(er) Processing
This isn't clickbait. This isn't some article cashing in on hypothetical fan art of an Xbox turning into Megatron or a post about those awesome Mega Drive/PlayStation Transformers. This is my life, you fools. I've spent time ...

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
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. 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 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...

Auto-loading more stories ... un momento, corazón ...