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9:00 PM on 10.27.2014

8 things right and 8 things wrong with Smash Bros. Wii U

I recently got my hands on Super Smash Bros. For Nintendo Wii U, and holy Bowser babies, are there a lot of new and expanded features! In fact, there is so much new stuff that I could hardly cover it all, so instead I am sharing my boiled-down list of the 8 most interesting things that I think Nintendo has done well for Smash U, and the 8 things I think could use some work.

Bill Zoeker


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Watch Dogs: Bad Blood goes punk, features co-op play and new modes photo
Watch Dogs: Bad Blood goes punk, features co-op play and new modes
by Alessandro Fillari

Say what you will about Ubisoft, but they've got a knack for trying something a little different for their DLC offerings. After the incredibly successful launch of Watch Dogs back in May, it seemed like they've been biding their time with the release of some smaller DLC packs to one of their best-selling new titles. With so much content packed in Watch Dogs, I was curious to see how a single-player campaign DLC can stack up.

But now, it seems Ubisoft felt that four months was enough for players to explore the city of Chicago as Aiden Pearce. With a new playable character, a new set of tools, and new missions to dive into; players can see the streets of Chicago through a fresh perspective, and can even bring a friend along for the ride.

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Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker shows off the pros and cons of the GamePad photo
Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker shows off the pros and cons of the GamePad
by Brett Makedonski

Anyone who has played Super Mario 3D World knows what to expect from Nintendo's upcoming Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker. That's because Captain Toad made an appearance periodically in his own levels throughout 3D World to lend a slower, more methodical style to the cat-suited platforming that mostly defined the game.

Nintendo realized that it may have a hit on its hands with the Captain, and thus Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker was born -- a game comprised solely of those bits where the protagonist hunts his way through puzzling levels for coins and gems. It's a simple concept, and one that our own Darren Nakamura covered in depth in an E3 preview.

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Mighty No. 9 feels great, but the core concepts take some getting used to photo
Mighty No. 9 feels great, but the core concepts take some getting used to
by Chris Carter

Mighty No. 9 is probably one of the most anticipated games of 2015. After a massive Kickstarter, creator Inafune and developers Comcept and Inti Creates have kicked off a long line of products to hype it up, including Mighty Gunvolt and a potential cartoon.

After all that hype though we finally have a chance to play the game. I have to say, it has the feel of a Mega Man game, but a few aspects definitely took some getting used to.

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Opening a treasure chest as Ganondorf felt wrong photo
Opening a treasure chest as Ganondorf felt wrong
by Jordan Devore

During a Nintendo showcase event at PAX Prime, I wanted to say "screw it" and just play Hyrule Warriors for an hour (or more) but with only two demo stations available and lots of other nice games media types eager to check it out above other titles, that wasn't an option.

I also wanted to play as Midna because she looked badass in her character trailer, slapping fools left and right -- but that wasn't an option either, damn it. We were encouraged to try pummeling crowds of enemies as Ganondorf, what with him being new and all. Okay, sure. He's cool too.

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I swam around as a snake and then I don't know what happened in Bayonetta 2 photo
I swam around as a snake and then I don't know what happened in Bayonetta 2
by Brett Makedonski

Minor confession to make: I haven't played Bayonetta. Yeah, I hear it's good, but I just never got around to it. It happens. Heading into a quick hands-on session with Bayonetta 2, I figured my inexperience wouldn't matter much.

Wow, was I ever wrong. Now a few hours removed from the demo, my head's still spinning from trying to discern exactly what the hell just happened.

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Costume Quest 2 is still cute, trying to be more engaging photo
Costume Quest 2 is still cute, trying to be more engaging
by Steven Hansen

Costume Quest, like every Double Fine game, is charming. It's a fresh-feeling, low stakes take on the JRPG genre, more Earthbound than Final Fantasy. Though, as Chad put it in his review, it's "RPG Lite," accessible for all ages.  

Double Fine doesn't want to sacrifice that, but does want to make Costume Quest 2's combat a bit more engaging. I was engaged with Paper Mario (or Final Fantasy VIII) style timed button presses that help your attacks do a bit more damage. Similarly, a well timed tap on defense will reduce the damage you take. This engagement, though, make things a bit easier so long as you can hit those button presses. 

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Kirby and the Rainbow Curse is almost too cute for words photo
Kirby and the Rainbow Curse is almost too cute for words
by Darren Nakamura

Nearly ten years ago, Kirby: Canvas Curse graced our original Nintendo DS handhelds, showing us (once again) that Kirby games could be about things other than floating around, ingesting bugs, and vomiting stars. Canvas Curse also had the responsibility of showing that fully touch-controlled games could be worthwhile, and by most accounts, it succeeded in that endeavor.

That same gameplay hook is back with Kirby and the Rainbow Curse. Now on the larger screen of the Wii U GamePad, players will still tap Kirby to make him move and draw rainbows for him to use as platforms. What is new is the clay aesthetic, which brings to the game its own neat mechanics.

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Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker takes the core idea and runs with it photo
Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker takes the core idea and runs with it
by Darren Nakamura

Super Mario 3D World was fantastic, and one of the reasons was its incredible variety throughout. Captain Toad made his first playable appearance there, with his levels acting as a sort of palate cleanser between Mario's running and jumping cat suit antics.

The basic premise of the levels is that Captain Toad wants to help Mario collect stars, but since he is slower and cannot jump, he needs to rely more on puzzle-solving ability and keen perception (along with smart level design) to get things done. Fans loved it and clamored for more Captain Toad, so Nintendo explored the idea even further with Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker. As it turns out, the basic premise really has legs -- legs that still cannot jump.

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Turning yarn Yoshis into yarn balls in Yoshi's Woolly World photo
Turning yarn Yoshis into yarn balls in Yoshi's Woolly World
by Steven Hansen

Yarn Yoshi is a pretty good name. Yoshi's Woolly World is an okay name.

Yoshi's Yarn is a better name and what the game should've been called for the sake of alliteration and Yoshi's Story symmetry (a yarn is like a story!!!). I'm going to keep writing Yoshi's Woolly World as Yoshi's Yarn. Sorry.

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Hands on with Splatoon, a very Nintendo competitive multiplayer shooter photo
Hands on with Splatoon, a very Nintendo competitive multiplayer shooter
by Darren Nakamura

Two days ago, if you had told me that Nintendo was working on a competitive multiplayer third-person shooter, I would have thought you were crazy. Imagining Nintendo venturing into the territory of blood-spattered 360 no-scope headshots just does not quite feel right.

Of course, Nintendo can take a gameplay mechanic that is normally reserved for more "mature" games, open it up to everybody, and inject its own ideas to create something that is wholly its own thing. That thing is Splatoon, and we got some hands-on time with it here at E3.

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Mario Maker will make a level designer out of you photo
Mario Maker will make a level designer out of you
by Dale North

Mario Maker is a drag-and-drop level creator, letting you use classic (and newer) Mario game tiles and props to create your own stages. I gave it a spin here at E3 to try to create the next great Mario stage. I found that while making your own stages is quite easy, making a truly fun one takes a bit more work.

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Hyrule Warriors is more Warriors than Hyrule photo
Hyrule Warriors is more Warriors than Hyrule
by Dale North

You knew that upcoming Wii U title Hyrule Warriors would be a blend of Tecmo Koei's Dynasty Warriors and Nintendo's Legend of Zelda. But I'm here to tell you that the gameplay is much more like Dynasty Warriors than I thought it would be. Not that that's a bad thing.

The Zelda side is like the yummy icing on the top.

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The new Super Smash Bros. characters each bring a unique feel photo
The new Super Smash Bros. characters each bring a unique feel
by Darren Nakamura

Since the first game in the series, one of the most exciting aspects of the Super Smash Bros. series has been watching for the appearance of unexpected characters. Back then, it came in the form of unlockables, but it evolved into a pre-release hype-building machine that spawned the "confirmed for Brawl" meme.

Through the excitement of new character announcements, it is easy to neglect to consider the work that goes into making each fighter feel unique while still maintaining a relatively balanced game. We took some time to test out a lot of the newcomers to the Super Smash Bros. series, both on the Wii U and on the 3DS, and they definitely each have their own niche.

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Costume Quest 2 isn't for the hardcore, but it's for the hardcorn photo
Costume Quest 2 isn't for the hardcore, but it's for the hardcorn
by Brett Makedonski

If there's one thing that the folks at Double Fine aren't known for, it's being pigeon-holed into making the same game. In fact, almost all of its titles are wildly different from one another. From the likes of Brütal Legend to Stacking to Broken Age, nothing the studio does is derivative of its past works.

It's not exactly a flag that Double Fine waves proudly, but it maybe kind of is, in a way. That's why when I sat down with publishing manager Greg Rice last month to talk about Costume Quest 2, he almost sheepishly started off with "Well, it's the first sequel we've ever done," (apart from the add-on to Double Fine Happy Action Theater, which hardly counts).

The statement struck me as unusual as I mentally ran down the company's list of titles. "Has Double Fine really gone this long without iterating on any of its other games?" I pondered. Apparently so, and Costume Quest 2 will be the game that finally breaks the streak.

And, that's okay, because more Costume Quest is never a bad thing.

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Sonic Boom plays pretty much exactly as I expected photo
Sonic Boom plays pretty much exactly as I expected
by Brett Makedonski

[Update: Apparently, just this morning, Sega decided to subtitle both Sonic Boom for Wii U and the upcoming Sonic 3DS game. Sonic Boom on Wii U is now Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric, and the 3DS title is Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal. This preview only looks at Rise of Lyric.]

Heading into a recent play session with Sega's Sonic Boom, I was filled with odd, conflicting senses of hesitation and anticipation. Would this be an all-out trainwreck that I had to cringe my way through? If I set my internal bar low enough, would I be strangely surprised? Heaven forbid, might it actually be good?

The Sonic name has sat in an uncomfortable place for years now --  past failures in the franchise simultaneously meriting both more lenient expectations and a more critical eye to future installments. Sonic Boom looks to be no exception. Its faults stick out like poorly bandaged sore thumbs, but some of them are sort of acceptable because it's Sonic. Sort of.

The demo that we were shown was broken up into a few different sections that could be selected. There was a level from the campaign, a boss fight against Doctor Eggman, and a fast-paced, on-rails level to zoom through. They all played very differently from one another, and gave good indication as to what Sonic Boom's strengths and weakness truly are.

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