[Ed. note: Bumping our review of the digital version from June, as the game is available in stores today in the form of a physical standalone copy.]
The "other" brother rarely gets the respect he deserves. While Mario is off chasing the spotlight, Luigi is often content hanging back, kicking the dirt while his big brother saves the day. But this is 2013 -- the Year of Luigi -- and everything changes.
This time around, Nintendo has opted to morph the original New Super Mario Bros. U into New Super Luigi U by way of DLC that's available now, and a standalone disc coming at a later date. Luigi U features all new levels, a playable Nabbit, and an increased challenge.
While Nintendo could have put a little more effort into the presentation, I have to say, the core quality of New Super Mario Bros. U has been perfectly preserved here, and Luigi really gets a chance to shine with his new add-on.
With the success of SkylandersandSkylanders Giants, it was inevitable that someone would challenge the concept of marrying toys to videogames on such a large scale. So what better company than the juggernaut that is Disney, who was able to sink $100 million dollars into research and development for the project, titled Disney Infinity.
But Disney Infinity isn't exactly the same as Skylanders beyond the concept of toys as DLC. They're fairly different games -- for better, and for worse.
This past week Destructoid was the first to bring you news on an upcoming Wii U bundle that would be bundled with The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD. Today Nintendo released a new trailer for the upcoming game showing off Hero Mode, but then quickly pulled the video down. Why? Because the special edition Wii U bundle was featured in the video before it's been officially announced by Nintendo. Oops!
The video was caught by NeoGAF user D-e-f, and has since been reuploaded for all to see. It will probably be pulled again, so here's a screencap showing off the Wii U featuring special Zelda-themed artwork like the Triforce.
No further details were revealed in the trailer, such as price or release date. We expect this bundle to be out this Octoer with the release of the game, and that the bundle will go for $349.99.
Destructoid has learned of Nintendo's upcoming plans to release a new Wii U bundle and new 3DS XL bundles. The information was revealed to us by a source at Target, a major North American retailer, where they were able to show us a firsthand account of their store's inventory tracking system.
The Wii U bundle will contain the 32GB Deluxe version of the console, and come packed with The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD. This will retail for $349.99.
Additionally, our source revealed two new 3DS XL bundles for Pokemon X and Y. They'll come in two colors, red and blue, with the color choices presumably being a nod to the original two Pokemon games that were released in America. The inventory listing didn't specifically state which version of the games will be included with the different colored handhelds, but we can expect the bundles to retail for $199.99.
No release date was listed for either of the bundles, but we can assume they'll be out this October as Pokemon X/Y will be out on October 12 release, while Wind Waker HD has an October window.
We reached out to Nintendo for a statement regarding this, to which they replied with "Nintendo does not comment on rumors and speculation." Not an unexpected answer. We can probably expect an official reveal in the next month or so, most likely through a Nintendo Direct.
Call of Duty: Ghosts' multiplayer has finally been revealed, and it's the biggest overhaul Infinity Ward has done since the first Modern Warfare. What I got to play at the reveal event was pretty fun, but then again that's not shocking as I've always enjoyed playing the series' multiplayer.
And I think that's how things boil down here. If you've enjoyed Call of Duty's multiplayer in the past, then you'll like Ghosts' just the same. If you've never been into the series before, well, there's nothing too different here that will suddenly pull you into the experience.
That's not to say there aren't some cool new changes that refresh things just a little, but on the whole, there's nothing huge that will make you think twice about giving this one a go.
During today's reveal event for Call of Duty: Ghosts, a video montage showed what's new in multiplayer -- and new stuff there is. "We went through every single system in the game," said executive producer Mark Rubin, which resulted in this being "the biggest overhaul of multiplayer since the original Modern Warfare." Here are some of the highlights:
Character customization is in, including playable female soldiers. There are some 20,000 possible combinations which are both cosmetic in nature and affect gameplay.
Maps have dynamic events and environmental destruction.
There are seven new game modes, thirty new weapons, the new Marksman Rifle class, 20 new killstreaks, and a new co-op mode.
The create-a-soldier system is similar to Treyarch's Pick Ten. You'll have a budget to spend, and perks have varying number values associated with them.
You can create a squad of up to ten soldiers, each with a unique loadout, appearance, and ability to prestige.
New animations and movement systems: there's contextual leaning, a mantling system that let's you jump over obstacles, and a knee slide to go from sprinting to crouch or prone.
Modes: Cranked, where a kill makes you faster but also starts a 30-second timer in which you must earn another kill; Search and Rescue, where your team can revive you by picking up your tag or enemies can deny the revive by doing the same; and Squads, in which your custom squad competes against AI or other players.
Infinity Ward has plans for eSports following Treyarch's work on Black Ops II but only mentioned the CoD Championship and Ghosts' inclusion in the 2014 MLG Pro Circuit.
The studio is reducing the number of air-based killstreaks; for instance, the UAV is now a ground-based device instead of a drone in the air. No more death streaks, either.
The Season Pass is back with another four map packs and the Team Leader digital pack, including an exclusive multiplayer character. You can transfer your stats, prestige level, and profile across console generations, and DLC from the pass carries over too.
Talk about an information overload. Hamza is in town for the event, so expect to hear more from him about Ghosts' multiplayer, including hands-on, this week.
There are some classics that don't hold up today -- and there are some that absolutely need to be experienced by gamers of all ages. One of those classics is the original DuckTales on the NES, which set a gold standard for licensed games everywhere going forward.
I was fortunate enough to play it at launch (as well as the frequently forgotten sequel), and to this very day, it remains one of my favorite games of all time. Imagine my surprise when I found out Capcom would be working together with Disney and WayForward on an HD remake.
Water is usually a background element in action/adventure games. Or at best, water gets a temporary spotlight in levels that let you take a break from standard play -- a quick splash and then back to land. It's rarely ever a focus in these games. Usually, underwater segments are the worst parts of these games. Poor water.
The ocean played a sizable role in Assassin's Creed III with its naval battles, and while that was fantastic, it only served as a tease for what the ocean offered. Reacting to feedback, Ubisoft is now bringing the deep blue sea to the forefront in Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag. They've embraced the open-world concept, and the free exploration extends to the ocean, not only by boat, but through underwater play.
We visited the team behind Assassin's Creed IV's ocean tech, Ubisoft Singapore, to learn how deep they were willing to dive this time around.
Nintendo should go third party, they say. "Nintendo should have their IP on every platform," they say. No matter how many times CEO Satoru Iwata or anybody in Nintendo management have repeated themselves, there's always some new chucklehead with the brilliant idea that putting Nintendo games on other consoles will result in a massive influx of revenue.
You should be happy to know that Satoru Iwata agrees with you! Nintendo would make a lot of money... in the short term, that is.
In a discussion with CVG, Iwata made himself as clear as possible: "If I was to take responsibility for the company for just the next one or two years, and if I was not concerned about the long-term future of Nintendo at all, it might make sense for us to provide our important franchises for other platforms, and then we might be able to gain some short-term profit. However, I'm really responsible for the long-term future of Nintendo as well, so I would never think about providing our precious resources for other platforms at all."
When Nintendo saw what "realistic polygon-powered graphics" were possible on the GameCube/Xbox/PS2, their first instinct wasn't to make a game about human beings doing crimes, saving the world, or even talking to each other. It does not seem that Hollywood-style activities are in Nintendo's DNA.
Instead, they came out swinging with a game about harvesting little carrot people born to die selflessly in battle against giant cute/ugly wildlife in a lush, bustling wilderness. On the surface, there isn't much here that resembles the "realistic life experiences."
Scratch that surface and you'll see that underlying concepts of Pikmin are all too "real." Balancing concern for others vs. self-centered greed, experiencing the frailty that comes from accepting the inevitable passage of time, and facing the anxiety that comes from voyaging out on your own are the core components that make this series tick. Basically, it's adult life in videogame form -- specifically the life of a boss.
Nintendo's latest earnings have come in an overall things aren't that bad looking for the company. They had a positive net return with ¥8.62 billion ($88 million) this last quarter. Nintendo is forecasting its net profit to increase to ¥55 billion ($563 million) by the end of the fiscal year.
So here's the bad news. The Wii U moved 160,000 consoles around the world between April 1 and June 30. 90,000 in Japan, 60,000 in the US, and 10,000 across Europe and Australia. Ouch. This bring total lifetime sales up to 3.61 million now. Meanwhile, the Wii moved 210,000 in the same time period. This also helped finally hit 100 million Wiis sold worldwide, by the way.
Good news is that the 3DS is doing great! It was the best selling hardware the last two months in a row here in the US, and has moved 1.4 million units this quarter.
Software wise, just over one million games were shipped in this same quarter on the Wii U, while the 3DS saw over 11 million software units moved. The biggest contributing factors have been Animal Crossing: New Leaf moving 5.4 million, and Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon moving 2.65 million.
Anyone eager to see their favorite Nintendo characters interact with one another in a cinematic capacity in the new Super Smash Bros.should begin preparing for disappointment right now. CG cutscenes won't be included in either the Wii U or 3DS versions of the game.
Creator Masahiro Sakurai wrote in his column on Famitsu that because the Super Smash Bros. Brawl cutscenes ended up being uploaded to the Internet, they wouldn't be included in the newest iteration. "You can only truly wow a player the first time he sees [a cutscene]. I felt if players saw the cutscenes outside of the game, they would no longer serve as rewards for playing the game, so I've decided against having them," Sakurai commented.
The omission of cutscenes doesn't equate to a lack of single-player campaign, however. Nintendo has already confirmed that Super Smash Bros. will have a single-player campaign, but it'll be different than Brawl's Subspace Emissary, without cinematics tying together the entire experience.
In a way, it's kind of admirable that Sakurai's sticking to his guns with his beliefs regarding the cutscenes. However, it'll be probably be 2014 by the time his game comes out. Concern that video from his widely distributed media will end up on the Internet is something that he should've accepted about a decade ago.
EarthBound was re-released on the Wii U Virtual Consoles this week, with off-TV play and online access to the packed-in strategy guide from the game's original 1995 release on the SNES. Many fans of the game were overjoyed, while many more took one look and said, "You want me to pay $10 for this?!?" They may have grown to love Ness from his appearances in Smash Bros., heard about the game's influence on the creators of South Park, seen the amazing merch from Fangamer, or read one of the many brilliant essays on the subject, but when confronted with the actual opportunity to buy the game, they were left cold.
The sad fact is, EarthBound isn't any more marketable today than when it initially failed to meet sales expectations back in the '90s. Though Nintendo was wise enough to avoid telling the world that the game "stinks" and is "garbage" this time around, the underlying barriers between EarthBound and the mass market remain the same. It's very hard to see from a distance what makes the game so great.
Here's my best attempt to give you an up close look at why this game means so much to so many.
In a bizarre turn of events, Nintendo may be gearing up to release EarthBound on the Wii U Virtual Console today for $9.99. Thanks to a listing spotted on Nintendo's official website, it appears as if the game will be dropping in multiple regions.
Why Nintendo would release the game with zero fanfare is unknown, but stand by for official word from the Big N anytime now, as I prepare today's issue of Nintendo Download.
Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot has revealedZombiU made no money, the Wii U launch title failing to become "even close" to profitable. Despite rumors and teasing, it now appears no sequel is on the cards for the foreseeable future.
The Ubi boss man went so far as to blame ZombiU's performance for the final decision to make Rayman Legends multiplatform. The implication seems to be that the great-but-flawed survival horror game did so badly Ubisoft has really cold feet about throwing exclusive support behind Nintendo's system.
In the same GI.biz article, Electronic Arts got some digs in at the Wii U too, stating, "The lack of online engagement that we see on Wii U [is troubling]. It's so integral to what we do. They're so small it's hardly worth running the servers. It seems like a box that's out of sync with the future of EA -- which is one that gives a real social feel to our games. The Wii U feels like an offline experience right now."
Publishers have been quietly distancing themselves from Nintendo's home console since launch, and now we have some solid statements of explanation. Between ZombiU's failure and perceived shortcomings of the system's online capabilities, it's not looking good for the console's third party chances. Nintendo's going to need about a hundred more Marios, stat!
Man, that sucks for ZombiU, though. I love that game.
Speaking to Polygon about what it's like to choose which characters make the cut for Nintendo's popular fighting franchise, Super Smash Bros. director Masahiro Sakurai said that "The amount of stress I feel, it's almost to the brink of death.
"Because it's not just a matter of me personally thinking this character or that character is going to be in the game; it's that we also have the game balance, animation, graphics and sound to think about in order to make that character fully fleshed out in that universe. I have to think about all of that when I go through this decision-making process."
Cutting characters is similarly challenging. "Whether it's a minor character or a character that is one of the most highly skilled and most played, if that character is removed from the game, the people who live for that character in Smash Bros. are going to have their feelings hurt," stated Sakurai. "I think we have to really consider that, so I take a very serious, hard look at that and have empathy for the players who look for these type of characters when we're making these decisions."
Mega Man, the Wii Fit Trainer, and Animal Crossing's Villager have been announced as additions to the roster. So far, so good. I'm still cracking up over the Trainer. Sakurai says the team narrows down candidates by asking questions such as: "What is the uniqueness of this character? What does this character bring into the Smash Bros. universe? What do they have that other characters don't? How do they complement or contrast other characters?"