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Holy hindsight! Five series that should have been on Wii

Mar 10 // Tony Ponce
In a 2009 interview with Kotaku's Stephen Totilo, Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime expressed frustration regarding why the biggest third-party titles were skipping Wii: "I've had this conversation with every publisher who makes content that is not available on my platform. The conversation goes like this: 'We have a 22-million unit installed base. We have a very diverse audience... We have active gamers that hunger for this type of content. And why isn't it available?'" The unfortunate reason was that, prior to Wii's launch, most publishers didn't have faith in Nintendo's unconventional strategy, especially coming off of GameCube's lukewarm performance. By the time they realized that Wii mania was real, they were too entrenched in HD development to easily shift gears. When support did come, it was in the form of minigame collections and low-priority efforts farmed out to C-team studios, most of which seemed to target the stereotypical "casual" gamer while ignoring the rest of the audience. The Wii wasn't conceived as a "casual machine," but rather a low-risk development option that could ideally satisfy everyone -- with a focus on videogame newbies, true, but not an exclusive focus. From the beginning, there was enormous interest among the enthusiast crowd for more substantial software, but as the years slipped away and their needs weren't met, they simply turned their attention elsewhere. There were sporadic attempts to appeal to enthusiasts, though most typically fell into the mid-tier category -- the types of games that, on a well-served platform, would help round out the library. But without headliners to attract an audience in the first place, the MadWorlds and Little King's Storys of the world were stuck playing an empty venue. It's clear that the Wii was no powerhouse and wouldn't have been able to realize many of the eventual HD hits in a satisfactory fashion. However, you can't tell me that publishers weren't sitting on golden preexisting properties that could have easily been adapted to the hardware -- properties that had a near guaranteed chance of finding success, which would in turn have led to a greater influx of auxiliary Wii software and a healthier third-party ecosystem overall. Just to name a few examples... Kingdom Hearts Remember the rumors years ago that Kingdom Hearts III on Wii might be happening? A series whose chief draw is allowing you to visit famous Disney worlds and battle alongside famous Disney heroes seemed like the obvious choice for a Nintendo platform, where family-friendly entertainment is the order of the day. Square Enix thought so too, just not in the manner we had hoped. Following Kingdom Hearts II in 2005, numerous word-building side stories and interquels were released on portables, with the bulk appearing on Nintendo machines. One in particular, Dream Drop Distance for 3DS, was even billed as a lead-in to the eventual Kingdom Hearts III. Meanwhile, the series was completely absent on home consoles. This would have been a perfect opportunity for Square Enix to port KHI and II onto Wii in their "Final Mix" forms. That way, those who followed the series on PS2 would be able to transition smoothly, while others with little exposure to the games would have the perfect entry point. And with all these returning and newly minted fans on Wii, maybe the PSP-exclusive Birth By Sleep would have had another platform on which to score sales, which were otherwise soft in Western territories. Metal Gear When Super Smash Bros. Melee was brought out West, it introduced players to Marth and Roy, two unknown characters from a Japan-exclusive franchise called Fire Emblem. The warm reception these fresh faces received gave Nintendo the incentive to start localizing future installments in the tactical RPG saga. I had hoped that Solid Snake's appearance in Super Smash Bros. Brawl would have led to a similar decision regarding Metal Gear, but no dice. Why was Snake in Brawl to begin with? Definitely not because of his rich history on Nintendo platforms -- Metal Gear did more for PlayStation than it ever did for NES. No, it's because Hideo Kojima practically begged Masahiro Sakurai to put him in. Regardless of how the arrangement came about, Snake was a welcome addition to the Smash roster, quickly rising to the top of many players' lists of favorite fighters. A smart publisher would have tried to capitalize on that kind of exposure. Konami could have tested the waters with a Wii reprint of The Twin Snakes, which had become quite rare in its original GameCube format. Follow that up with with MGS2 and 3 ports, possibly an up-port of Peace Walker as well. MGS4 was never going to come over for obvious reasons, but hey, 360 didn't get it either, and Xbox and Metal Gear are good buddies these days. Instead, the only Metal Gear to appear on a Nintendo platform post-Brawl was Snake Eater 3D, which was made redundant a few months later with the release of HD Collection on Vita. One of the most popular characters in Nintendo's all-star roundup wound up being nothing more than advertisement for competing platforms, even though he didn't have to be. Street Fighter Did you know, if we disregard the combined-SKU Resident Evil 5, that the original Street Fighter II for Super Nintendo is the single best-selling game in Capcom's history at 6.3 million copies? It also happens to be the best-selling third-party game in the SNES library -- and that's before we even factor in the various updates! Among Wii owners were a fair number of lapsed gamers -- people who may have gamed in the arcades or on an NES or SNES back in the day but have since lost interest. I guarantee a significant cross section of that group were former SFII players itching for a proper follow-up. And since the goal of the Street Fighter IV project was to make the series accessible again to the widest possible audience, it would have behooved Capcom to include in its multi-platform plans the console built entirely around the concept of accessibility. You can't tell me that SFIV was dependent on high-end hardware -- it was designed to be a traditional 2D fighter with 3D window dressing. The fact that a spot-on port was later developed for 3DS, with static backgrounds as the sole concession, should be all the proof that a Wii version could have looked and played just fine. If you want to argue that SFIV was ill-suited to Wii because the Wii Remote was an inappropriate fighting game controller, I think you're overestimating the general game-playing public's need for the "perfect gaming controller." Besides, anyone who desired a more traditional pad would have made the effort to buy one -- such as with Tatsunoko vs. Capcom. Speaking of TvC, there's a game that strikes a fine balance between technical skill and accessibility. Although I appreciate the effort it took to localize such a licensing nightmare, that seahorse in the logo was the kiss of death -- only hardcore anime aficionados had the slightest inkling who these strange new characters were. It's odd that Capcom would invest in TvC yet couldn't be bothered to hammer out an adequate SFIV port, which would have had a significantly larger shot at finding a receptive audience on Wii. Persona Atlus has enjoyed a wonderful working relationship with Nintendo since the former's founding in 1986, and that relationship thrives to this day. In fact, over the past generation, the bulk of Atlus' in-house productions have found an exclusive home on Nintendo platforms, including new IPs like Etrian Odyssey, Trauma Center, and Radiant Historia. Of important note is how Atlus has gradually been shifting the entire Megami Tensei franchise back into the Nintendo camp, beginning with Devil Survivor on DS and culminating with Shin Megami Tensei IV on 3DS. One particular MegaTen sub-series, however, has remained with Sony: Persona. It's apparent that Atlus was reluctant to jump into HD development right away. Releasing Persona 3 as a late-gen PlayStation 2 title was one thing, but sticking to PS2 for Persona 4 as well? That earned the company quite a few stares. But if Atlus was insistent on squeezing out every last ounce from legacy hardware, why not prep those Personas for simultaneous release on the low-spec Wii as well? Atlus already had a Wii development pipeline in place, so the financial risk would have been extremely minimal. Wii versions could have only added to those games' success. The series has finally come to Nintendo in the form of Persona Q on 3DS, although the game's main selling point -- the crossover of P3 and P4 characters -- would feel more appropriate had those two titles actually appeared on a Nintendo platform prior. Grand Theft Auto "Nintendo has done all it can to persuade Take-Two Interactive Software to bring the Grand Theft Auto franchise to Nintendo consoles, and it is now up to the third-party publisher to decide whether Rockstar Games' immensely popular series will appear on Wii." Reggie Fils-Aime shared this nugget in December 2006, shortly after the Wii's launch, to let the world know that Nintendo desired the violent crime series on its hardware (those Game Boy Color and Advance titles don't count). Sadly, Take-Two didn't seem to want to play ball and even laughed at the notion just one year later, when then-executive chairman Strauss Zelnick asserted, "[T]here are other titles better suited to the Wii than Grand Theft Auto." Nonetheless, talks continued, and Take-Two and Rockstar Games eventually decided to give Nintendo a shot... with a DS game. That's not what fans were asking for, but baby steps, we figured. Take-Two CEO Ben Feder did state that Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars was an important step in the company's relations with Nintendo and suggested that this new title could pave the way for future developments. The rest is sick, sad history. Chinatown Wars earned rave reviews, becoming the highest-ranked DS title on Metacritic, yet sold just under 90,000 copies in the US in its launch month. Not willing to take any chances, Rockstar quickly announced PSP and mobile ports. Mature games were reaffirmed as poison on DS, and all hopes of another GTA on a Nintendo platform vanished. Let's try to understand why Chinatown Wars failed. First, GTA is not a handheld series. Some brands are simply better suited to home consoles than handhelds or vice versa -- Monster Hunter, for instance. Yeah, both Liberty City Stories and Vice City Stories on PSP were million sellers, but those sales were a drop in the bucket compared to what the console installments regularly pull in. Those were ported to PS2 months later too, so it's not like Rockstar had full confidence in them either. Still, both LCS and VCS sold much better than Chinatown Wars, which brings me to my second point: GTA only became a phenomenon with GTAIII and the leap into the third dimension. Taking the series back to its top-down roots was never going to appeal to all the same people who fell in love with the real-world atmosphere and fully voiced and acted cutscenes, no matter what kind of review scores it earned. Need further proof? Although you can find copious news bites around the web lamenting the poor sales of Chinatown Wars on DS, you'd be hard-pressed to find any mention of sales of the PSP port. It's safe to surmise that it tanked even worse than on DS, because Take-Two would have said something otherwise. The mobile ports likely outsold those two combined, though it's difficult to draw a solid conclusion there when sales were aided by rock-bottom mobile pricing. Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars was the wrong game for the wrong platform. From day one, Rockstar should have been working on a Wii game in the desired 3D style as Nintendo had originally intended. It would have been more expensive to produce, though I doubt anywhere in the range of GTAIV's $100 million price tag. If Rockstar didn't want to take that gamble, it could have assembled a PS2 trilogy collection, or ported the PSP games, or anything! We're talking about the biggest home console of all time, after all! If you still doubt the viability of GTA on Wii, consider Call of Duty: World at War, which sold over a million copies on Wii. Big deal, you figure, since sales of the PS3 and 360 versions vastly outstripped it. But also consider that Activision has repeatedly withheld information regarding the Wii versions of Call of Duty installments up to and sometimes even after release, limiting awareness to those who had prior knowledge or had seen one of the rare TV commercials. Somehow, the game still broke a million -- can you imagine how much better it could have performed had Activision given it exposure comparable to the HD builds? How could Take-Two wholeheartedly say, during a period when Wii was selling faster than any other home console before or since, that the audience wasn't there? Grand Theft Auto is one of the biggest gaming brands of all time! Its most recent entry has shipped 45 million units across all platforms! Its consumer base includes every type of gamer, from kids to adults, from the hardest of the hardcore to those whose only other gaming purchase in a year is the latest Madden! If Take-Two honestly believed that there was little to no chance of success in adapting Grand Theft Auto to Wii, it means that either its marketing department is completely clueless as to what makes GTA so appealing, thereby attributing each record-breaking achievement to blind luck, or everyone in management simply didn't give a shit. As you can see, I'm not suggesting that publishers should have thrown millions at unproven concepts. All it would have taken to get the ball rolling was some low-risk ports based on established, popular brands. Even if some of these franchises wound up not resonating with the Wii audience, most are powerful enough that they would have been accepted without question. Had key third-party tentpoles been established and found success on Wii early on, smaller studios would have felt comfortable in producing Wii content. Instead of the sudden decline as casual players lost interest, Wii could have maintained a steady momentum by serving the enthusiast crowd low-tech yet feature-rich software, in turn extending its life. By the time Nintendo introduced a follow-up console, publishers would have been far more willing to offer support than they wound up being with Wii U. Though we can only speculate precisely how such a movement would have affected Wii and the industry overall, it could only have been a net positive -- for Nintendo as well as third parties that struggled to stay in the black or simply wanted to grow their consumer base. You can blame Nintendo for certain Wii shortcomings, but third parties are at fault for letting painfully obvious opportunities slip through the canyon-sized cracks.
Wii got shafted photo
Third parties missed some major opportunities
By the end of 2014, Xbox 360 had slid past Wii to become the best-selling seventh generation console in the US. While a fantastic achievement for Microsoft, this event also punctuates the drastic shift in Nintendo's market do...

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...

Porn numbers photo
69 isn't the only porn number
Pornhub, which I am told by other people familiar with the webpage is a site for viewing adult, pornographic films, has released its statistical year in review. It's not as detailed on the videogame console side of things lik...

Review: Skylanders: Trap Team

Oct 07 // Chris Carter
Skylanders: Trap Team (3DS, Android, iOS, PS3, PS4, Wii, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One [reviewed])Developer: Toys for Bob / Beenox / Vicarious VisionsPublisher: ActivisionReleased: October 5, 2014MSRP: $74.99 (Starter Pack) The premise is basically the same as it always has been with the Skylanders series. Once again an ancient evil (The Doom Raiders) has awakened, and it's up to the Skylanders and their new allies (the Trap Masters) to put them away. Players will do this by using all of the toys released so far, as well as the new Trap Master figures that can access unique crystal areas, and the trap pieces. To be clear, all of the toys from the first three generations of Skylanders can be used here, which is a pretty neat way to keep a collection relevant. At this point it's hard to believe that Toys for Bob is still coming up with unique characters and movesets, but pretty much every new toy I've used shines in its own unique way and has its own personality. Visually, Trap Team has taken some strides since Swap Force, which is a big accomplishment considering how great that game looked on newer consoles. Everything looks like a legitimate Dreamworks or Pixar animated film, and the idea of the franchise transitioning over to the big screen is completely believable based on the game alone. The script isn't as sharp as Swap Force, but it's still perfectly acceptable for kids, and completely skippable for adults. Gameplay-wise the series still holds up, with addictive hack and slash gameplay that deserves to be respected with any modern action release. Characters will naturally grow their abilities as time goes on and most of them will have a tool for every situation, making every toy feel fun and viable. Higher difficulties also help ease in veteran gamers who may view Skylanders as a kids-only franchise. On the other hand, there's nothing really new that justifies spending $75 to get the Starter Pack, which includes the game, the new portal, two traps, and two characters. It sounds ridiculous, but while Swap Force technically innovated with the ability to jump and a few other elemental mix-up mechanics, Trap Team doesn't really add anything exciting to the mix. Well, the "new" bit is found in the traps themselves, but I was pretty disappointed with how they actually play out. The concept involves the new Traptanium portal, which has a tiny slot to fix in plastic traps that are shaped like pegs. The game has 46 special villains in it that can be captured as you make your way through the story, and if you have a trap toy handy of the correct element (the game comes with the Life and Water traps), you can collect them to re-use from that point on. The trapped character also "talks" by way of the peg, which lights up in the portal. Traps are a bit of a letdown in two ways. One, the actual use of trapped villains involves summoning them for a limited amount of time as a playable character. Said time is linked by way of a special meter, and at the end of the day, it amounts to nothing more than a temporary power-up. It would have been much cooler to have each villain as a fully playable character at all times with their own level system and custom movesets. Whereas the hulking  giants and the swap combos fundamentally changed the game, traps don't feel nearly as innovative. Additionally, adding traps to the game is just too much in terms of the physical collecting aspect. While all eight elements of traps can be purchased now in stores, two "mystery" elements are not for sale, and thus those villains cannot be captured until those are released. While I'm generally okay with gating off small bonus rooms by way of elements, giants, swap doors and Trap Master crystals, gating off characters while juggling the similar looking trap toys doesn't really make for a fun time. Taking off and putting on toys feels intuitive. It doesn't matter if the toy is big, small, or has interchangeable parts -- simply placing a new character on a surface and playing instantly is a fun and well designed activity. The traps on the other hand will leave many people confused as to who is in what trap, and since they're only truly used at certain points of the game to capture enemies, they often feel like they're sidelined. Thankfully, all of the other mechanics I mentioned earlier from past games are still readily available, and you can still complete the game only using the traps from the base kit. In true Skylanders fashion there's plenty to do though, even for those who don't dig the traps. The Kaos Doom Challenge is probably the biggest addition, and expands the arenas from Swap Force into a full-on horde mode with tower defense elements. Why the series didn't have this sooner is beyond me, but it's a ton of fun to play with friends, and a great way to get more use out of your whole collection of toys. Skystones, the in-universe card game is also back in a bigger capacity, battle arenas are still in, and a few more minigames like a 2D platformer diversion are available to unlock. While I never really connected with the trap mechanic or the new Trap Master toys, Skylanders: Trap Team is still a well-oiled machine. On newer consoles it looks fantastic, the action gameplay is still exciting, and the charm is still there. I just hope that Activision and its ilk have more interesting concepts in mind for the next iteration.
Skylanders 4 review photo
Same great gameplay, not so great new gimmick
Toys For Bob has found some rather interesting ways to evolve the Skylanders franchise. While the conceit the first time around was simply interactive toys, the developer mixed things up with giants on the second go, and...


I've discovered a new go-to game for relaxing

Sep 12 // Jordan Devore
I can't recall exactly how I got it into my head that I needed this 2010 Wii title. Nothing against the Wii, but there are so many other things I could be playing, whether for work or for leisure. Maybe it was a postponed Hawaii vacation that left me daydreaming about scuba diving. I can't be sure. What's important is I passed on the original Endless Ocean in favor of its sequel, which the internet rightfully told me to do. If you're only now hearing about the series, take that advice too. Blue World is a diving adventure game with a heavy emphasis placed on swimming around at your own pace, taking in the sights and sounds while exploring. And really, that's what makes it so unbelievably relaxing: there is little if any frustration to be had. You can't die. You can however chill out with a pack of giant otters in a South American river, or hitch a ride on a dolphin. Now, don't get me wrong, there are some horrifying, monstrous sharks lurking in certain areas -- but they can largely be avoided. And, more importantly, you can electrocute (err, "pacify") the shit out of them with your Pulsar device and go about your business. Even if that fails, the worst they or any other dangerous species will do is knock a bit of oxygen out of your tank. You might think that'd be a big deal, what with oxygen being the life-sustaining necessity that it is and underwater videogame levels often being stressful, but it's not. If you run out of air for whatever reason, you'll just be taken back to your boat with no real consequences. Remember almost drowning in Sonic the Hedgehog? This game is the opposite of that. Occasional scary-looking sea creatures aside, Blue World is a peaceful, laid-back journey. The music, which features vocals -- something not enough games are willing to adopt -- is beautiful, even uplifting. Combined with the steady breathing of your player character, the audio will put you in a zen-like state, totally unaware of the passage of time. Feel that stress melt away. Now, all of these feel-good descriptions are not to say you can breeze your way through the entire game. There's a story -- a sizable one at that -- but completing it feels like merely scratching the surface. Then the real fun starts: there are hundreds upon hundreds of real-world species to find across sea and land; coins to collect; and pieces of treasure to salvage. With or without the aid of online guides, finding all of that stuff would take ... jeez, I can't even hazard a guess. Certainly a long, long time. And that's not even counting all of the other stuff packed into Blue World, like training dolphins, running an aquarium, decking out a private reef, taking photos, and giving tours. It's JRPG deep, which is important because there are plenty of games that are inherently relaxing but not many that can keep your interest for 30+ hours. Every step of the way, the game rewards you with new titles. I don't know what the hell a "Temple Falcon" is, but I am one now, apparently. The positive reinforcement is appreciated. Chad Concelmo said it best in his review of Blue World for Destructoid: "The game is harmless, pleasant, relaxing, and just makes you feel really good inside."
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Unwinding in an endless ocean
I play videogames for many reasons. Sometimes, I play for the story -- the chance to visit new worlds and live out someone else's life. Other times, it's the sense of competition I find most alluring, or the chance to master ...

Here's everything that happened during Nintendo's 2014 E3 Conference

Jun 10 // Chris Carter
[embed]276355:54390:0[/embed] News: Miis and NFC toys confirmed for Super Smash Bros, out in October Nintendo reveals Skylanders-like NFC toy: Amiibo Yoshi's Woolly World looks AMAZING Nintendo talks Zelda Wii U, influenced by retro Zelda Captain Toad getting a full-on game, coming holiday 2014 Bayonetta 2 releasing in October with first game included Nintendo announces Kirby: The Rainbow Curse for Wii U Midna and Zelda are playable in Hyrule Warriors Xenoblade Chronicles X coming to Wii U in 2015 Create your own custom levels in Mario Maker Pokemon Alpha Sapphire, Omega Ruby coming to 3DS on November 21 Nintendo announces Splatoon, a 4v4 action game Nintendo teases new game reveal later today, likely Starfox Lady Palutena confirmed for Super Smash Bros. Out of everything Nintendo announced, I'm mostly excited for the Smash Bros. news. Lady Palutena looks like a ton of fun to play, and the Mii features are a lot more detailed than I would have expected. Now, we just have to wait. As a huge Bayonetta fan, finally getting a real date confirmation made me happy as well.
Nintendo E3 recap photo
E3 Unfiltered
Nintendo had a very well-rounded presentation today, with very few major reveals and mostly just new teases. The new Zelda Wii U game was briefly talked about and teased, as was Mario Maker, and a few others. The biggest developments were probably the new Smash Bros. additions as well as expanded NFC toy support. Here's everything that happened at Nintendo's E3 conference.

The next Skylanders borrows a little from the Pokemon series

Apr 23 // Hamza CTZ Aziz
Skylanders Trap Team (3DS, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 [previewed], Wii, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One)Developer: Toys for Bob (last-gen) / Beenox (current-gen, 3DS)Publisher: ActivisionRelease: October 5, 2014MSRP: $74.99 (Game, Portal, figure, two Traps) The story sees Invader Zim Chaos trying to take over Skylands ... again. This time, however, he's going to enlist a group of villains trapped in a prison made out of Traptanium, the hardest material known to Skylanders. Chaos' plan works, sort of -- he's able to free the villains, but they all just escape instead of joining up with him. Enter the Trap Masters, the main draw of Trap Team. These Skylanders are bigger than normal core characters, but not as big as the Giants. The Trap Masters are skilled with all things Traptanium, and all their weapons are made out of the substance, shown off as see-through crystals in the game and the toys themselves. There's going to be around 50 new Skylanders, made up of a mix of these Trap Masters, new core characters, and reposed fan-favorite Skylanders. And of course all the previous Skylanders, Giants, and Swap Force heroes will work in Trap Team. Now here's the surprise, there's going to be over 40 playable villains as well that you'll have to physically capture, so to speak. "Pretty much the biggest thing we've done is this idea of constantly innovating," executive producer Jeff Poffenbarger told Destructoid. "Bringing toys to life was the first initial big innovation. We can certainly just continue to do that, but for us we asked ourselves 'What would even take that a step further?' We know we can bring toys to life ... but we also wanted to figure out how to reverse that magic. So you can bring toys to life, but how do we bring life to toys?" All of the escaped villains can be converted over to your team. Take them on, defeat them, and then capture them in a new special crystal toy. So yeah, kind of like Pokemon. Once an enemy has been defeated, players are told to insert a special crystal into the new version of the Portal of Power. It's actually a really cool effect, as the audio from the TV gets outputted into the Portal itself (and vice-versa) as they get sucked in and out of the adventure. Villains will also give you feedback, help, and advice from the Portal when not in use. One of the first major bosses is called Chompy Mage (pictured in the lead image), a crazy old guy who fights with a sock puppet on his hand (kind of like the Ventriloquist from the Batman series.) He can summon little tiny monsters, and later in the battle he'll transform into this giant jumpy gross monster thing. After he joins your team, all the power sets he used on you are now yours. While some villains are powerful in this way, there will be some with more passive abilities. One example shown was a mini-boss troll that can use a gun to freeze opponents. He can't really do damage, just freeze enemies. Those playing by themselves can actually hotswap between a Skylander and a villain with the press of the button to take advantage of this ability. Or say a parent can play as the ice troll to let their kid be more of the main star in the game. Traditional co-op with multiple Skylanders is still in the game too. So a cool concept, but here's where it gets kind of dumb. You can only save one villain into a Trap toy at a time. That I kind of don't have a problem with. You can at least store villains at a new hub location so you can swap villains in and out as desired into a crystal. The dumb part is that the Trap toys are all elemental based. So you can only store an ice based villain inside of an ice Trap toy, for example. My main concern is that this is going to get more expensive for fans than ever before. I'm just hoping the Trap Hero toys will include their respective Trap toy too. Plus these things are tiny compared to even the tiniest Skylander figure, and could potentially get lost really easily. Collectors be warned: There will be multiple variants of the Trap toys themselves as well. That said, you don't have to capture the villains, just like how you don't need all of the elemental types of Skylanders to beat the games. So what happens if you don't want to -- or just can't -- capture a villain after defeating them? Toys for Bob is still figuring that out, having kids and adults of all ages try out the game to find the best solution for everybody. Otherwise players can expect similar approaches to the mini-games, competitive multiplayer, the cross-platform saves, and the return of the jump mechanic from the past games. The visuals are just as gorgeous as ever, especially on the current generation of hardware. You know how you've always wished that the CG sequences from a game was what you were actually playing? That's Trap Team, essentially. The great visuals extend down to the toys themselves too, looking more detailed than ever. So yeah, Skylanders Trap Team. If you're a fan of the series, you already know you'll be picking this one up. I did want to make some special mentions of other playable characters before you leave. There's Chopper, a new core hero who's a little tiny T-rex with a helicopter rotor on its back. It can fly in the air and shoots swarms of missiles like it was straight out of Robotech. Then there's a duo team of villain trolls who control a walking chainsaw tank. Just let that visual sink into your head. Also SPOILERS Chaos himself is playable.
Skylanders Trap Team photo
Skylanders Trap Team has you capturing and reforming villains to your team
The developers at Toys For Bob are back in the saddle with Skylanders Trap Team, the next entry in their hit toys-meet-videogame franchise. This time the hook involves you capturing villains and enslaving brainwashing reform...

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Wii/DSi shop, Internet channels, and the like will not be affected
[Update: Nintendo of America, as well as Australia, have also announced the end of the Wi-Fi Connection service. Looks like it's across the board.] Nintendo of Japan has announced that they're ending all DS and Wii online ser...

Virtual Console Verdict: Super Mario RPG

Feb 11 // Chris Carter
Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars (Wii)Developer: SquaresoftPublisher: NintendoReleased: September 1, 2008 (Wii)MSRP: $7.99 Mario RPG starts off innocently enough. Mario wakes up from his slumber in his comfy "pad" to do battle with Bowser once again and save Princess Peach. But this time he'll have the power of the JRPG battle system, which compliments his already wondrous jumping abilities. Mario now has a few more tricks up his sleeve, most notably the power to defend himself, attack normally, use items, and unload special abilities. While developer Squaresoft (now Square Enix) could have easily left it at that, they made the combat system interactive -- an innovation that Mario RPG carries throughout the entire adventure. Simpy put, you can add an "accent" to everything to do by pressing the appropriate button at the correct moment. If you want to add extra damage to a regular hit, you just press "attack" again right as you're hitting your foe. It not only makes the attack more effective, but it also shows a satisfying animation for your trouble. If you want to defend against a little extra damage, you press the defend button right as someone is hitting you. The same goes for special abilities, which can add new effects like additional jumps if used at the right time. These little nuances can mean the difference between victory and defeat, and it never gets old. Mario RPG makes you an active participant in its battle system, which is a great mechanic for recruiting gamers who dislike typical JRPG conventions. Then the real fun begins. Quickly after defeating Bowser for the hundredth time, you'll soon realize that he is not your enemy. Smithy, a brand new character crafted for Legend of the Seven Stars takes over Bowser's castle, sends the entire cast into disarray, and Mario is sent back to his pad to begin the adventure anew. It's here that another unique facet of the game opens up, as you'll soon realize that you can fully explore Mario RPG's environments like real Mario game. You'll have free reign to run, jump, collect question mark blocks filled with items and equipment, and avoid enemies as you see fit. The crux of Mario RPG's success is that it actually compels you to explore, rather than making you feel like you have to. By operating like a typical Mario game, each map feels like a "level" and a direct challenge, rather than a series of dry maps that simply lead you from point A to point B. The cast is one of the best parts, drawing from some of the best parts of Mario lore with a completely new set of characters. You'll find a giant Bow and Arrow boss that shoots living ammo, an anthropomorphic bomb that is hell-bent on destruction, a Super Sentai unit, a noble shark pirate captain, and a giant demon dog that wants to eat your party alive. That's just the tip of the iceberg, as Bowser becomes a "good guy" and a member of your party, and Peach is completely playable (and one of the best characters in the game). Mario RPG's narrative will take you underground, in the sky, under the sea, and pretty much everywhere in-between. It will always keep you guessing, and even drop a few revelations every now and then to keep things interesting. It's nothing that earth-shattering consider the fact that it's still a Mario game, but you'll definitely get a different take on a lot of established lore. All of that alone wouldn't be enough to tip me over the edge and name it "one of the best RPGs ever made," but all of the extras and hidden secrets did. Every single area has tons of tiny nuances to sift through, from Peach's mysterious bedroom secret to a fully functional Casino, to ultimate items for each character. As soon as you start to get bored of the game's combat and exploration, Seven Stars will throw out some of the most oddball minigames you'll ever find in an RPG, like minecart rides, memory games, Yoshi races, and even hide and seek. Super Mario RPG is not only a solid JRPG, but it's a variety show that will keep you entertained every step of the way. Although it may not be the most challenging card in the deck, I'd recommend it to pretty much everyone out there -- whether you're a fan of the genre or not. It's that good.
Super Mario RPG photo
One of the best RPGs ever made
[Virtual Console Verdict is a short column that highlights some of the gems released on 3DS and Wii U eShop marketplaces. For a full list of Virtual Console releases, check out the weekly Nintendo Download series. I...

Review: Skylanders: Swap Force

Oct 14 // Chris Carter
Skylanders: Swap Force (3DS, PS3, PS4,  Wii, Wii U, Xbox One, Xbox 360 [reviewed])Developer: Toys For Bob (PS3, 360) / Vicarious Visions (PS4, Xbox One) / n-Space (3DS)Publisher: ActivisionRelease: October 13, 2013 (PS3, Wii, Wii U, Xbox 360 ) / November 15, 2013 (PS4, Xbox One) / November 2013 (3DS)MSRP: $74.99 (Starter Kit) Once again, Skylanders utilizes the "toy and game" concept, offering up a host of characters to use in-game so long as you own the physical figure. Since Swap Force uses new technology that incorporates figures with multiple pieces, you must buy a new Starter Kit to get the new "Portal of Power" base to beam the toys into the game. Yes it's a bummer, but once you dive into Swap Force you'll quickly forgive the inconvenience. For starters, the series received a huge visual upgrade that puts it on par with many animated theatrical films. While the jump from Spyro's Adventure to Giants wasn't massive enough to turn any heads, Swap Force sports some very high production values in multiple areas of the game, even on a console like the Xbox 360. Not only have old characters been overhauled to bring some more nuance to their animations, but the new characters look fantastic: especially the "Swap Force" members, which I'll get to momentarily. Skylanders also has a stellar voice cast to support said visuals, and pretty much everyone is at the top of their game yet again in Swap Force. Patrick Warburton effortlessly nails the goofy Flynn, and Steve Blum as one half of the anthropomorphic "Hip[po]Bros" is another welcome addition. Famous or not, the rest of the cast is stacked with delightful performances, like a talkative fish who does his best rendition of Steve Buscemi's "total silence" routine from Fargo. I really think at this point after seeing Swap Force in action, Activision could just hire Patrick Warburton and make a pretty entertaining kids show. So what's actually new? Quite a bit, actually. In Giants, the main gimmick involved having to use special "Giant" toys that were larger than most to barge through special barriers. It was highly inoffensive considering that the Starter Pack came with one, and that one Giant was all you really needed to access every bit of content. In Swap Force, many new toys feature detachable legs and upper bodies so that you can mix and match and form your own combinations. I ended up loving this part far more than I thought I would, for multiple reasons. Not only do the new Swap Force toys and in-game models have a ton of detail (Wash Buckler's squid legs are a highlight), but it also allows an unprecedented amount of customization as you search for your favorite playstyle. Immediately, I started experimenting with squid tentacles, snake coils, and chicken feet as I searched for my ideal Skylander, but had a blast the entire time -- especially since each part has its own upgrade path and unique abilities that carry over when you swap them. The key is that the Swap Force brigade isn't solely built around the "switch" gimmick, as a major emphasis has been put on their bottom halves -- which are used to drastically switch up your means of travel. Every Swap Force toy has a new means of getting around, whether that's rocket boots, teleportation, a whirlwind, or wheels -- and they're all a ton of fun. My favorite new character ended up being "Magna Zone," which is the combination of the robotic enforcer of Magna Charge and the fiery rocket legs of Blast Zone. Depending on what leg parts you use new mini-games open up that use completely unique mechanics, like races, flight challenges, Donkey Kong Arcade-esque climbers, 2D platforming sections, and sidescrolling beat-'em-ups. I was pretty surprised at the insane amount of variety the developers packed in, and thankfully, none of it gets stale or overstays its welcome. The core game is just as fun as ever, as it's really easy to just jump in and start blasting or hacking away. Every character still has three base abilities, but nearly all of them have some sort of variation that vastly changes how it operates, like the ability to charge them up into a new attack by holding a button. On higher difficulties Swap Force can put up a decent fight, which is great news for those of you who don't want to just effortlessly make your way through a bunch of playgrounds. Mechanically, quite a bit is new as well in Swap Force, mostly because you finally jump! It sounds absolutely ridiculous, but the first two games did not feature jumping -- instead, players had to use "jump pads" to climb vertically. But given the new-found freedom to leap about, secrets are now more cleverly hidden, new puzzle opportunities arise, and the game just feels better in general as a result. Besides bounding, a concerted effort has been made to make co-op play more fun, which is great news for those of you with kids, or a spouse who enjoys the simplicity of the series. Loot and food are now shared (preventing one player from stealing everything), allowing both players to enjoy the game equally. But multiplayer extends beyond that, as now, everything you do -- even if it's a solo area -- allows the other player to interact in some way. Instead of the one-player puzzle boxes from Giants, co-op partners now have to solve a special multiplayer brain teaser. If there is an area that only accommodates one player, the other is given a power-up or special attack to unleash at their leisure to assist. The enhanced co-op is going to come in handy when you're tackling the most amount of content yet in a Skylanders game. In addition to the fairly hefty campaign, there are more collectibles than ever to find, tons of secrets, and a large amount of bonus missions. The Arena also returns, and it has a staggering amount of gametypes. Thankfully there's a bit of variety this time around, that ranges from PVP, to co-op, to a mix of the two (which is my personal favorite). Like Giants, you earn money and experience in the arena, encouraging everyone to at least try it. You can also raise your "Portal Master Rank" in addition to your Skylanders' actual levels to unlock more items, so you're in for a long ride if you want to get everything -- and it doesn't feel like a grind, because it's fun throughout. Swap Force also benefits from the fact that every past toy is compatible with the third generation. So at this point, you can pick up the previous two games on the cheap, and use pretty much every toy in the current game somewhere down the line. As always, the toy's abilities, appearance, and statistics are still kept in the figure itself -- so you can bring your collection to a friend's house, or even switch console generations without any issues strictly in terms of your character progress. If you were thinking that this was going to be an Activision cash grab, think again. So much heart and soul is consistently poured into the Skylanders franchise time and time again, and Swap Force is no exception. In fact, it's the best one yet.
Skylanders: Swap Force photo
The Skyland of Doctor Moreau
Skylanders has had a bit of an odd history. Initially, it launched under the auspices of the Spyro name, and made a very small splash in the market -- so small, that barely anyone knew what it was. Fast forward to six months ...

New releases: Beyond, Pokemon X/Y, Disgaea

Oct 07 // Hamza CTZ Aziz
Xbox 360: Capcom Essentials, Just Dance 2014, Borderlands 2: Game of the Year Edition, Let's Sing and Dance, Dishonored: Game of the Year Edition PS3: Beyond: Two Souls, Disgaea D2: A Brighter Darkness, Capcom Essentials, Just Dance 2014, Atomic Ninjas, Borderlands 2: Game of the Year Edition, Dishonored: Game of the Year Edition, Orc Attack Wii U: Just Dance 2014 Wii: Just Dance 2014 PC: F1 2013, Gas Guzzlers Extreme, Borderlands 2: Game of the Year Edition, Farming Simulator 2013 Titanium Edition, Dishonored: Game of the Year Edition 3DS: Pokemon X, Pokemon Y PS Vita: Atomic Ninjas, Worms Revolution Extreme, Malicious Rebirth Just Dance 2014 (Xbox 360, PS3, Wii U, Wii) [embed]263182:50805:0[/embed] Dishonored: Game of the Year Edition (Xbox 360, PS3, PC) [embed]263182:50807:0[/embed] Beyond: Two Souls (PS3) [embed]263182:50808:0[/embed] Disgaea D2: A Brighter Darkness (PS3) [embed]263182:50809:0[/embed]
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Plus Borderlands 2 and Dishonored Game of the Year editions
It's here! It's finally here! Pokemon X and Y is out this week for the 3DS and it's pretty much going to be the only thing anyone talks about leading up to the next-gen consoles. Oh, Beyond: Two Souls is also out this week. ...

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Selling 100 million is a good stopping point, right?
The Wii may have secured a solid lead ahead of the Xbox 360 and PS3 with a tidy 100 million units under its belt, but let's face facts: its time in the sun is over. With the 3DS dominating in Japan and the US and the Wii U ne...

Review: Disney Infinity

Aug 24 // Chris Carter
Disney Infinity (3DS, PC, PS3, Wii, Wii U, Xbox 360 [reviewed])Developer: Avalanche SoftwarePublisher: Disney InteractiveReleased: August 18, 2013 (NA) August 23, 2013 (EU) [3DS, PS3, Wii, Wii U, Xbox 360] / October 2013 [PC]MSRP: $74.99 (Starter Pack) / $39.99 (Play Set with two characters) / $12.99 (Individual characters) In order to get started with Disney Infinity, straight-up, you're going to need to purchase the Starter Pack just like Skylanders (ouch!). It'll net you an Infinity Base that plugs into your system via USB, three figures in the form of Jack Sparrow (Pirates of the Caribbean), Sulley (Monsters University), and Mr. Incredible (The Incredibles), plus a hexagonal Play Set piece that includes a separate campaign for all three of these IPs -- which I'll explain in a bit. The toys themselves are extremely high quality, and a step up from the Skylanders figures as they're taller, generally larger, and made of tougher material that doesn't feel flimsy. They're non-articulated which is a bummer, and the base is rather large, but I don't feel like I could break them by stepping on them or dropping them, and they stand up perfectly on just about any surface. Just like Skylanders, information for each piece is hard-coded in the base itself, and you can travel with your characters and keep your level progress. Alternatively, you can have a friend buy the game for the Play Sets, and just buy a character to use yourself; you can also use them on any platform. So what can you actually do with these toys? Well, you place them on the Infinity Base to jump into a Play Set, which is a fully-featured world themed after Pirates, Monsters, or The Incredibles. Pirates will take place in a world full of swashbuckling ne'er-do-wells and the high seas, Monsters University is set on the titular university grounds, and The Incredibles world features the GTA-like city of Metroville. All of them operate in the same manner, playing out a narrative similar to the films in non-linear mid-sized sandboxes. [embed]260315:50188:0[/embed] Not all sets are created equal though, as the Monsters and Pirates Play Sets in particular aren't nearly as engaging as The Incredibles. While Metroville is a joy to explore, topping LEGO City Undercover's Lego City in terms of personality and fun-factor, the University and the high seas pale in comparison. The academia-heavy Monsters Play Set feels like a mid-tier Tony Hawk level at times, leading you to mundane tasks like cleaning up toilet paper attacks from rival college Fear Tech. Similarly, getting around by way of ship-travel can be a bit of a bore in Pirates, especially compared to the Helicopter- and Hoverboard-heavy Incredibles Play Set. With simple one-button attacks and at most a few abilities at your disposal, if I had to compare the gameplay to anything, it would be the LEGO games. You know by now whether you're the target audience, and if you can't seem to "get" them, you'd probably be better off staying away from Disney Infinity. But for the rest of us who don't mind easy-going mechanics from time to time, it's actually quite enjoyable. Each of the starter worlds has a roughly three-hour core campaign, with tons of content packed in all three like side-missions, story quests, and hidden collectibles that will push you far past the three-hour mark. For the purposes of this review, I purchased an additional $30 pack to augment the starter edition that came with the following characters: Davy Jones (Pirates), Randy (Monsters University), and Syndrome (Incredibles). You may notice that the IPs of these three characters match up with the starter kit -- that's because in order to play co-op between worlds, you need two characters from the same universe -- for example, Jack Sparrow and Davy Jones. The concept behind this according to Disney (beyond the obvious monetary reasons, shhh) is that each world is a separate contained experience, and having Mr. Incredible running around in the Pirates world would feel weird. The good news is split-screen co-op is a treat, as it allows each player to roam around the world freely, doing anything they wish without tethering people together on the same bit of TV real-estate. To test how far I could take it, my wife and I tried a ton of co-op together and had a pretty great time. There weren't very many limits at all. At one point I was in one area in the Incredibles city doing core missions, and she was in a completely different part looking for collectibles and saving the local Zoo. Whenever we felt like joining up for quests, we just followed the compass to the meet-up spot. It's a bit weird to play as Syndrome (the villain in The Incredibles) and see him causing havoc to the town in the story bits, but I'm willing to put up with it if the alternative is not being able to choose the character I want. So those three aforementioned worlds I talked about above? That's all you get with the Starter Pack. If you want additional game worlds (there are currently two extras right now -- Cars and The Lone Ranger), you're going to have to purchase a seperate Play Set, which comes with two characters (allowing co-op, inherently), and the hexagonal base that comes with the levels. In other words, think of it as really expensive DLC that nets you approximately another three hours of gameplay. Power Discs are another concern, as they're sold in blind packs, and net you additional content and bonuses by placing them under your physical toys on the base. Thankfully, most of these extras are small in nature or cosmetic, and can be ignored -- especially the stat boosts, which you absolutely don't need to beat the game. Now, this model would really turn me off if it weren't for the Toy Box, which is included in the base game and is extremely well done. Essentially, it's a completely separate mode that allows you to create your own world and setup a number of different objects from various Disney IPs like Scrooge McDuck's Moneybin, ESPN sports-themed equipment (yes, Disney owns ESPN!) and actual rides from Disney parks. If you want, you can queue up a race track and play with Cars characters, or create vehicles and animals to ride for characters with legs. This is where all the good classic IPs like Alice in Wonderland are hiding, and you can set up your town with hundreds of items from just about every major Disney film, from Robin Hood to Beauty and the Beast. Toy Box is really open-ended, and online play with the ability to submit and share levels online is a plus. It's one part Minecraft-lite, one part LittleBigPlanet, and the tools provided are fairly robust, easy to understand, and enjoyable to play with. If you're the kind of gamer who hates creating things though, you'll quickly run out of things to do in the Toy Box. There are a few extra modes to play around in besides Play Sets and the Toy Box, including other downloadable Box worlds, the Hall of Heroes (that lets you view all of your collected content, and morphs as you level up), and one challenge that's unique to each character. But beyond the game's modes, I can't help but feel like the initial cast of character should have been a lot stronger. For instance, there are a lot of Pixar properties that are playable, but very few classic Disney movies are represented beyond a few small NPC references. While I haven't purchased the Lone Ranger Play Set yet to test the actual quality of the sandbox, one has to wonder about the actual appeal of said IP in the grand scheme of things, and why Johnny Depp's likeness had to be in the game not once, but twice. Heavy-hitters like Toy Story, Wreck-It-Ralph and Phineas and Ferb are due to arrive later this year, but not at launch. Coming in with a bang with Star Wars- or Marvel-related properties would have made Infinity a must-buy, but as it stands, you really need to like Disney and Pixar to get into the launch cast. I can see the potential with Disney Infinity both within its future playset opportunities and the Toy Box, but it's not quite at a "must buy" status just yet. By the same token, I had a ton of fun playing the game, especially with a local co-op partner on-hand. So long as you're willing to put up with some rather elementary action gameplay, Disney Infinity is a solid choice for families, younger gamers, and gamers who are young at heart alike.
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Rather finite, but fun
With the success of Skylanders and Skylanders 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,...

Poor Wii U sales photo
Wii U moved 160,000 across the globe last three months
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 ...

The best and worst games of 2013: May Returns

Jun 03 // Jordan Devore
[embed]255225:48921:0[/embed] Zeno Clash II (PC [reviewed], PlayStation 3, Xbox 360) The world of the original Zeno Clash was genuinely interesting, and certainly an example of less is more, but this time around it merely seems interesting, before revealing itself to be a bit shallow under the veneer of zaniness, though the veneer is certainly impressive and did succeed in keeping me eager for more. Zeno Clash II might be bigger than its predecessor, but it fails to be truly better. It's worth experiencing for those who loved the original, because it still contains a lot of what made that title unique, and the combat -- when not descending into huge brawls -- is wonderful. But in an attempt to spin a meaty, almost Argonautica-style epic, ACE Team might have gotten a wee bit lost, just as I did when I tried to use that good-for-nothing, half-arsed map. Read the full Zeno Clash II review Haunted Hollow (iPhone [reviewed on an iPhone 5], iPad) Haunted Hollow is a surprising little game. It manages to rise above the status of a throwaway mictoransaction-begging App by providing a deep and compelling system at the core of the experience. With a few more tweaks, it would be worth spending more time with, but as it stands, depending on your ability to play with others it may be a more fleeting experience. Read the full Haunted Hollow review Anodyne (PC [reviewed], Mac, Linux) Anodyne’s weaknesses would’ve been greatly justified by a solid narrative. Instead, we’re left with a semi-decent dungeon crawler featuring some rather attractive sprite art and great soundtrack. So while Anodyne’s minimalistic riff on Zelda is definitely unique enough to warrant a purchase, it unfortunately never comes close to inheriting the legacy of its father, too lost in its odd pretentiousness to ever arrive at the point. Read the full Anodyne review Deadly Premonition: The Director's Cut (PS3) The foundation of Deadly Premonition, the stuff that matters, is still absolutely perfect as far as I am concerned. It is true, of course, that this perfection has been scarred somewhat by the faults found in The Director's Cut, and there's no denying that longtime fans may not be getting what they hoped for in this package. To newcomers or the severely dedicated, however, this is still a bloody great time, and remains one of those games that truly, desperately, must be experienced to be believed. Read the full Deadly Premonition: The Director's Cut review Way of the Dogg (Android, iOS, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed]) Way of the Dogg is a wasted opportunity. As someone who consumes pretty much all the media on offer in this game it doesn't even appeal to me, which should tell you that something's wrong. It's a shame, because with an "M" rating and a little more plot tweaking, this could have been something special. Someone call the popo -- this game just did a 187 on your wallet, foo. Read the full Way of the Dogg review Super Little Acorns 3D Turbo (3DS eShop) Super Little Acorns 3D Turbo is just what it advertises itself to be: a fun little portable game experience built for quick play sessions. It's not overly difficult, but does add challenging goals for those who wish to have them. There's a decent amount of content for such a little game, and I defy you to not have fun with it. Simple, addictive, and easy-to-control gameplay, coupled with the goofy looking cartoon-y characters make for great bite-sized fun. Read the full Super Little Acorns 3D Turbo review Jack Lumber (iPad, iPhone, PC [reviewed]) All in all, Jack Lumber is pretty straight-forward with what it's offering you. While it could have stood to include a bit more content with the PC re-release and a few enhanced tweaks, it's still an incredibly fun time-waster that happens to challenge you from time to time. You'll cut wood, you'll freeze time, repeat, and somehow it remains compelling. Read the full Jack Lumber review Poker Night at the Inventory 2 (Mac, PC (reviewed), PlayStation 3, Xbox 360) If you are looking for a good poker game, then this is a no-brainer, but even if you aren't a huge poker player don't overlook this. The witty conversations and fleshed-out characters make this a fantastic little game, with very little holding it back. While it would be nice to not hear repetitive dialog, minor faults don't ruin Poker Night 2 as a whole. For five bucks (on PC) I highly recommend this gathering of fictional celebrities -- and I'm not bluffing. Read the full Poker Night at the Inventory 2 review Mars: War Logs (PC) Mars: War Logs is the kind of experience one can only call serviceable. It exists, it does what it does, and it performs its job suitably. It doesn't do anything terrible, but it never once goes above a basic standard of acceptability. It's very clear that it wants to ape the best action-RPGs of the genre, but its too basal and hurried to pull off a single remarkable thing. It's a shame because Spiders' last attempt -- Of Orcs and Men -- was genuinely great, a game that similarly failed to be all it wanted to be, but at least had an interesting story and some wonderful presentation.  War Logs, by contrast, simply exists. Read the full Mars: War Logs review Star Command (Android, iPad, iPhone [reviewed on an iPhone 5]) Star Command is an addictive sci-fi simulation experience, provided you're willing to stick it out until the second playthrough to get to the real meat of the game. There just isn't enough there the first time around to captivate the majority of potential buyers, as most of the initial gameplay boils down to a few repetitive, shallow actions. Still, good things come to those who wait, and if you're looking for a fun, cheap sci-fi game on the go, this is it. If you go in expecting a more zen garden-like experience than a real space sim, you shouldn't come out disappointed. Read the full Star Command review Gears of War: Judgment Call to Arms DLC (Xbox 360) Even with the VIP Pass, what you get is only total of six maps and two game modes, and the ability to play for double XP. For a game that is already light on multiplayer content, this really feels like a lazy, half-hearted effort to generate a quick buck from the fans of a dedicated franchise. While the Master at Arms game mode is fun and injects a certain level of enjoyable chaos to your standard free-for-all game type, and Blood Drive is a nice throwback to Gears of War 2, three maps and one new game type simply isn't enough for the price. Read the full Call to Arms review Mario and Donkey Kong: Minis on the Move (3DS eShop) A part of me misses the classic arcade action that seemed poised to make a comeback at the start of the Mario vs. Donkey Kong series, but I'm still glad Nintendo decided to explore new avenues for the Minis. Mario and Donkey Kong: Minis on the Move retains some of the Lemming-like quality of the more recent MvsDK titles, but the drastic changes to the gameplay have resulted in a faster, more free-form experience. It can be as simple or as mind-bending as you want it to be; either way, you'll be satisfied for many hours on end. Read the full Minis on the Move review [embed]255225:48924:0[/embed] Game Dev Tycoon (PC, Mac) When Game Dev Story introduced the idea of a game development sim to Japan in '97 and then the West in 2010, it was a novel concept that made overlooking its flaws easier. While Game Dev Tycoon is a superior experience with a better interface for its platform, it still suffers from the same pitfalls of monotony and lack of player feedback that Game Dev Story suffered from. While I appreciate the perspective Game Dev Tycoon has given me on game development, from indie studios in debt to huge studios juggling multiple projects, it was never the game's sim elements that had me returning. It offers a pleasant walk down memory lane of past consoles and technology, but that's about it. Read the full Game Dev Tycoon review Victoria II: Heart of Darkness (PC) Heart of Darkness still contains many of the issues that hampered the core game, with the frequency of rebellions making the late game frustrating, as populations become extremely liberal and demanding, and the tutorials are still insufficient when it comes to explaining the game beyond the most basic principles. Put in the work, however, and Heart of Darkness will reward you for the effort. It's still huge and uncompromising, but there's no better way to experience Victoria II. The improved combat and naval mechanics were oft-requested, and Paradox followed through, while the new features make the studio's vision of Victorian war, politics, and economics all the more believable and grand. Read the full Heart of Darkness review Color Commando (DSiWare) Color Commando has initial shades of fun, but it's basically over before it starts. Despite the cheap-looking enemy designs, there is a decent amount of charm here -- the game just doesn't get an opportunity to develop it. If you're itching for a platform puzzle title and have exhausted all of your choices on both the DS and 3DS, Color Commando is a decent way to spend a couple of bucks, but otherwise, it's skippable beyond a shadow of a doubt. Read the full Color Commando review [embed]255225:48925:0[/embed] Metro: Last Light (PC [reviewed], PlayStation 3, Xbox 360) Metro: Last Light is a disappointment in several respects. That simply has to be said. Its design painstakingly addresses criticisms of Metro 2033 to such an overzealous degree that it actually undoes many of the things 2033 was praised for. The fact you have to pre-order or pay to access a game closer to the original's heart is also damn near inexcusable, and again I emphasize that I will not review a mode that has been tacked on in such a fashion. However -- and it's a big however -- Last Light is also a fine game on its own, and if we're to judge it without the shadow of 2033 looming overhead, we can say it's a game packed with structurally sound combat, a rewardingly fluid narrative, and an atmosphere that runs the gamut from intriguing to chilling. Read the full Metro: Last Light review Reef Shot (PC) Reef Shot could have been much, much more than what is offered. As a first-person adventure game, it does little to stimulate the player to keep pressing on, except perhaps to hopefully see more fish variety. If you're like me and want to just meander about the ocean floor and take some photographs of virtual fish to relax and enjoy yourself, Reef Shot offers very little. Read the full Reef Shot review Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance: Blade Wolf (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed]) Blade Wolf rides on the coattails of an interesting character, but suffers from some of the same issues as the Jetstream DLC in that it doesn't do enough. With all new environments and maybe some more of the aforementioned old-school VR mission action, this would be a must-buy. As it stands, only the most hardcore should apply here, but at least it offers up some good old-fashioned robotic chainsaw-hacking fun. Read the full Blade Wolf review [embed]255225:48926:0[/embed] Anomaly 2 builds upon the original in every way, leaving me to wonder if this is as good as the concept of a deconstructed tower defense game can get. Anomaly 2 is an immediate and exciting strategy game unlike any other, but over time the repetition and lack of depth leaves something to be desired. It’s a welcome distraction on a phone or tablet, but the limits of the game are quickly noticed when played in long bursts on PC. For fans of the first that looked past these shortcomings, Anomaly 2 is a bigger, smarter, and better looking game. Read the full Anomaly 2 review Eador: Masters of the Broken World (PC) Eador: Masters of the Broken World is laden with good ideas and myriad reasons for strategy nuts to go... well, nuts, but for every compliment I could pay it, there's a caveat. Strange design choices and a serious lack of polish mars the things it does so very well. For a while, I couldn't even play the damn thing it was so unstable. Crashes every few minutes, and a bug around every corner made it not worth my time. After a few patches, I finally managed to play it without fearing that I'd be dealing with a freeze or a crash every time I moved my hero, and I'm glad I stuck it out. It manages to capture what makes titles like HoMM or Kings Bounty so gripping without simply treading the same old ground. Yet it's still really quite flawed. Read the full Eador: Masters of the Broken World review Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D (3DS) Truthfully, as a retro gamer, while I never found the core game to be that challenging, attempting to get everything (including the extra mirror mode that restricts you to one heart and no power-ups) is one of the hardest quests you can ever embark upon in gaming. While I gave up in the original due to some motion frustration, I'm well on my way to utterly completing the 3DS version (I only have mirror mode left), and I'm loving every minute. If you missed out on Donkey Kong Country Returns the first time around, or you disliked the motion-heavy controls of the original, pick up this version. With solid tactile feedback, the 3DS edition of the game has cemented itself as one of my favorite platformers of all time without question. Read the full Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D review Dust 514 (PlayStation 3) Dust 514 has promises of greatness. It reaches high and attempts to accomplish something not many games have even tried to this day, which should be commended. But right now, it needs a few more major updates before it gets there. With a hefty amount of microtransactions that border on offensive, there is a very ambitious, competitive game underneath the sloppy veneer. Read the full Dust 514 review The Starship Damrey (3DS eShop) Despite being entertaining in its own way, The Starship Damrey ultimately fails to provide a hardcore, old-school adventure as promised. There's potential for an even more expansive campaign, which I hope Level-5 explores one day -- if Liberation Maiden can get a sequel, so can this! For now, rein in your expectations. Read the full Starship Damrey review Resident Evil Revelations (PC, PlayStation 3, Wii U [reviewed], Xbox 360) Resident Evil Revelations isn't as good on consoles as it is on the 3DS. It clearly wasn't designed for larger machines, and the somewhat clunky, rudimentary controls indicate that it would need to be rebuilt from the ground up to prove a superior alternative. However, it's still a fine game and still the best Resident Evil game available right now, and if you've not played it already, you truly ought to. If you've already tried it on 3DS, there's not a lot to bring you back, but any other Resident Evil fan would be best served giving it a go. Read the full Resident Evil Revelations review Plants vs. Zombies Adventures (Facebook) Plants vs. Zombies Adventures is fairly inoffensive fun, and serves as the appetizer to PvZ 2's main course. The implementation of sprays makes combat a bit more interactive, and there's a decent variety of plants to keep your strategy liquid. It could stand to implement a more forgiving energy mechanic, but unlike many other social games, it at least gives you something to do while you wait. Read the full Plants vs. Zombies Adventures review Reus (PC) The pace of Reus, starting players off with tutorials and then short games, ultimately growing into two hour sessions where all of human history plays out, off-sets the game's complexity. Its simple controls and clean interface also makes something that could have been an obstinate chore pleasant to get to grips with. At first I bemoaned the lack of more detailed menus and alternative control options, but I miss them not at all now. Reus is a game of logical, organic systems presented as simply as possible. It's a delight to play at every turn, and it strikes the perfect balance between providing new content and not overloading players. Beneath its unassuming appearance exists a challenging experience that will last a good long time. Maybe not as long as it took for humanity to grow from nomadic tribes to city-dwelling go-getters, but who the hell has time for that?   Read the full Reus review Sanctum 2 (PC [reviewed], Xbox Live Arcade) As a whole, Sanctum 2 feels confused. It isn't quite as much tower defense as fans of the first game would probably hope for, since more of the emphasis this time around is placed on the first-person shooting element. It also hides way too much information from the player, leading to a lot of guess-and-check strategies. The game remains a refreshing hybrid of genres, however, and many of the frustrations temporarily wash away as you lay witness to the last enemy in the last wave die, proving that your strategic planning and accurate shooting have paid off. Read the full Sanctum 2 review Call of Juarez: Gunslinger (PC [reviewed], PSN, XBLA) Call of Juarez: Gunslinger is a funny game and a satisfying romp, with clearly influenced ideas that all have their own unique little spins. I'll fully admit that I went into it expecting another damp squib, but came away thoroughly impressed. While it sadly won't get much attention, given the fact it launched quieter than a church mouse with its mouth stapled shut, I wholly recommend it to fans, newcomers, and those who felt burned by the last awful game in the series. Not only is Gunslinger the best Call of Juarez game, it's a damn fine and worthy shooter in its own right. Read the full Gunslinger review Might & Magic Heroes VI: Shades of Darkness (PC) There are many games that will only appeal to "fans of the genre," but this goes farther than that and becomes a game that appeals to "fans of the series." It's not really a terrible thing, but it's not a great thing, either. If you like Might & Magic, you should definitely play Shades of Darkness. It's a solid expansion with an insane amount of new content; you'll be giddy for dozens of hours. If you don't play the series, however, this doesn't provide a great reason to check it out. There need to be more tool-tips with information and an introduction to the factions, lore, units, and abilities -- none of that happens here. Read the full Shades of Darkness review Leviathan: Warships (Android, iOS, Mac, PC [reviewed]) Leviathan is best enjoyed if you already have friends playing. It's a game that offers little to the solo player, despite the single-player campaign. With pals, it's an entirely different, much more entertaining experience. If you do have a tablet, then I recommend picking it up for that rather than PC, purely because of the much lower price. All versions are completely identical, so you won't be missing out unless you desperately want to play it on a larger screen.  Read the full Leviathan review Best Park In the Universe - Regular Show (iPad, iPhone [reviewed on an iPhone 5]) Best Park is spread over 15 levels, all of which feel roughly the same. Once again, the repetition begins to set in mostly as you face similar foes across levels that actually are quite different looking. More updates are planned for the game which will add extra levels, but for now, you'll have to deal with the ones you've got. It's a better attempt than prior efforts but Best Park in the Universe doesn't really aim all that high. As long as you're not expecting much, it's a decent beat-'em-up that somehow manages to produce a solid control scheme. If you're a diehard Regular Show fan, you may enjoy it. Read the full Best Park in the Universe review StarDrive (PC) For a one-man effort, StarDrive is impressive. It's huge, looks great, and it has a nice balance between automation and micromanagement. Lamentably it's also buggy, with crashes and glitches raising their head frequently -- though admittedly less now, since it's been out for almost a month -- explains its systems poorly, and it becomes extremely boring only a couple of hours into a game.  It doesn't add anything drastically new to the genre, and thus there isn't much reason why you should get it when titles like Galactic Civilization II are better and cheaper, or the contemporary Endless Space -- for all its flaws -- offers a more unique take on the 4X experience. Read the full StarDrive review Fuse (PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed]) The most troubling thing about this review is that I am possessed of self awareness enough to know it's going to look like a punishment. It's going to look like I'm one of the many disappointed gamers who saw the changes from Overstrike to Fuse and was prepared, from the outset, to hate it. I cannot disprove such a perception, if that is the perception you wish to have. All I can say is that I, a fan of Insomniac, had faith when I was assured Fuse would be just as good as Overstrike promised to be, and I was looking forward to playing it. To have my residual doubts about the game brought miserably to light was not pleasant, and certainly not desired.  Whether it's true or not, Fuse does feel every bit like another victim of the heavily focus-tested, leader following, perpetually terrified mainstream game industry. It's every cloying and desperate element of the retail console market, brought together -- fused, if you will -- to create a factory standard example of a game that tries to be everything the hypothetical mainstream consumer drools over, and ends up as nothing remarkable. Read the full Fuse review Dragon Fantasy Book 1 (PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita [reviewed]) In staying true to its roots, Dragon Fantasy Book 1 is a bit of a drag. I like the main characters well enough, but I'm not particularly interested in the glibly presented story or world, and some of the retro JRPG systems are super aggravating or simply mind-numbing. That being said, the game did grow on me in the last three sections, and I think the bridging of storylines -- and mechanics -- in Book 2 could prove a bit more fruitful. Read the full Dragon Fantasy review The Night of the Rabbit (Mac, PC [reviewed]) What got me through those instances was the menagerie of woodland critters (and an Alan Moore-inspired forest guardian), the sumptuous art, and the mystery that is slowly teased, but ultimately unravels in a quickly wrapped-up, anti-climactic ending that I could definitely have done without. Yet for all its flaws, The Night of the Rabbit may still be Daedalic's best adventure game. The issues are numerous, but the significant size of the game also offers up a lot of opportunities for it to redeem itself, which it does manage. The Night of the Rabbit still contains all of those classic "ah ha!" moments when you, at long last, cease to be dumbfounded, and the novelty of the magic spells surprisingly doesn't wear off, continuing to be implemented cleverly throughout the long experience. With a lot of patience, you could find yourself having a bloody good time. Read the full Night of the Rabbit review The Swapper (PC) I came away from The Swapper with nothing but amazement. From the first time you see the literally hand-crafted visuals until the final moment in the game, which is sure to give you pause for thought, you will be in complete awe. Brilliant puzzles with even more brilliant solutions compliment the philosophical plotline, leaving an unforgettable experience unlike any other. Read the full The Swapper review
May 2013 reviews photo
Review round-up: The games of May 2013
May was largely a quiet month for new game releases. Despite what felt like a slower schedule, especially coming off of a rather absurd April, here on Destructoid we did have a pair of 10s with the portable Donkey Kong Countr...

The best and worst games of 2013: Hyperdimension April

May 02 // Jordan Devore
The Organ Trail: Director's Cut (PC) Organ Trail: Director's Cut has a few things going against it. It's a parody game, which is always a risk, and it involves zombies; an increasingly tiresome creative crutch. But through wit, ingenuity, and good old fashioned sadism, it manages to succeed against the odds and provide a truly rewarding spin on a number of classic ideas. For the price, you really couldn't ask for more. Read the full Organ Trail: Director's Cut review Ms. Splosion Man (iPhone [reviewed with iPhone 5], iPad) When you add it all up, buying all three worlds solely through in-app-purchasing amounts to less than the asking price of the original XBLA game (less than $10). But there's something really wrong with the way the system is presented here. Simply put, if it's a paid app, the game should be fully unlocked -- especially if there are microtransactions already in place -- and especially since there is no warning of this withholding of content before you purchase the game. It's a shame that there's such a weird barrier between the player and actually playing the levels they want. With a bit more tweaking of how many coins it takes to unlock each stage, or the elimination of the system entirely, Ms. Splosion Man would be one of the finest games on the entire App Store. Read the full Ms. Splosion Man review BattleBlock Theater (Xbox Live Arcade) If you absolutely positively hate platformers, I'm not so sure you'll enjoy BattleBlock Theater. UnlikeCastle Crashers which had the benefit of the simplistic, pick up and play beat 'em up genre, you get more out of BattleBlock the more you're willing to put into it. Positive reinforcement is gained through skill and triumph rather than simply bashing things in mindlessly, so in that regard, the universal appeal is a bit lower than most of Behemoth's older titles. But as long as you're willing to give it a chance, you'll reap the rewards of a fairly deep, interesting game that was built with a lot of heart. I can't wait to see how Behemoth follows this up, and I hope it doesn't take five years to do it. Read the full BattleBlock Theater review Toki Tori 2 (PC, Wii U [reviewed]) Although charming and admirable, Toki Tori 2 at times is almost too minimal. Puzzles never really reach maddeningly difficult levels until more than halfway in, but often times it's hard to feel inspired to move to the next area -- or bother discovering it -- if there's no real incentive for doing so outside of general completion. Read the full Toki Tori 2 review Evoland (PC) Evoland makes for a thoroughly enjoyable few hours, and I'd recommend it to any Zelda or Final Fantasy fan in a heartbeat. While a few of the referential jokes cross over into cringe territory, most of them hit the mark, and there are a few little gags that really encourage a smirk, if not a real-life, out-loud chuckle. It's incredibly difficult to fault what's on offer, but it's quite easy to lament what isn't there -- chiefly a lot more of what's on offer. Read the full Evoland review Edge of Twilight: Athyr Above (iOS) Athyr Above comes across predominantly as a game on the wrong system. With some design tweaks, it may have enjoyed a far better time on something like the PlayStation Vita, which can handle a game clearly more suited to physical buttons. I've got nothing against the touch interface, and enjoy quite a few iOS games, but Edge of Twilight clearly has no place using it, not if this is the best it can do.  Read the full Edge of Twilight: Athyr Above review Dungeon Hearts (PC [reviewed], iPad) Once a game of Dungeon Hearts is won, new soundtracks unlock (five total). This would a stick instead of a carrot if it weren't for how great of a musical score it is. Along with the graphics, the music is a clever homage to the days of SquareSoft but manages to have an identity of its own. I can extend that statement to the entire game. Dungeon Hearts takes the Final Fantasy worship that has inspired many a RPG Maker indie and does something far more inspired and enjoyable with it. On a positive note, Cube Roots has been very active on listening to feedback on social networks and even provided a noteworthy update four days after release. Whether you are a fan of fast-paced, challenging puzzle games or an old-school RPG fan, Dungeon Hearts' charm will rub off on you. And if you are a fan of both of those things, you won't even mind its shortcomings, in time. Read the full Dungeon Hearts review BADLAND (iPhone, iPad [reviewed]) Much of the fun that comes from BADLAND is from the anxiety it will cause you in narrowly avoiding an insane deathtrap with your last fuzzy after watching a whole mess of clones explode throughout a rough patch of poisonous plants. LocoRoco this game ain't, as it's nearly impossible to save ALL of your community and so it becomes quickly necessary to focus on the ones that you just might be able to save and let the stragglers fall by the wayside or get burst into pieces by razors blades, gears, or javelin spikes. Read the full BADLAND review Tactical Intervention (PC) For those of us who remember the days of hostages falling down canyons and giant APCs glitching through walls in Counter-Strike, Le has made a game for you. It's unfortunate then that the game is buried under a myriad of problems, from dated, ugly presentation to shooting that feels clumsy. With how Le has talked up the game over the years, it's not a surprise that it's so ambitious. And with the many delays and last minute open beta, it shouldn't be a surprise that it's a total mess. Read the full Tactical Intervention review Receiver (Windows [reviewed], Mac, Linux) Just like the skate. and Monster Hunter franchises, Receiver focuses on the player's mastery of the game's unique mechanics. It will take some time and dedication to truly "master" the game, especially considering that each pistol demands the player to spend a lot of time with it just to understand how to reload the damn thing. By the same token, Receiver is one of those games that feels so incredibly satisfying once it is finally understood and everything clicks. Then you remember that a group of talented people made it in a week and you question what exactly you're doing with your life.  Read the full Receiver review Slayin' (iPhone [reviewed on an iPhone 5], iPad) Slayin' is one of the best games I've played on iOS in some time. I'm really glad that it keeps In-App-Purchasing down to a minimum, and delivers enough thrills (retro or otherwise) to justify the meager price tag. If you're a fan of retro games and prefer gaming in small chunks, give this a shot immediately. Read the full Slayin' review Guacamelee! (PlayStation 3 [reviewed], PlayStation Vita) The game fully supports PS3/PS Vita crossplay, and you can use the Vita to control Tostada in 2P co-op on the PS3. The perks don't stop there either. Collectibles, a horde mode-style dungeon, side quests, a new difficulty mode upon completion, and plenty of other secrets help with the replay value. None of those bonuses would mean squat if the Guacamelee! didn't provide a fun world to mess around in, which it does. Right from the start, Guacamelee! offers up a sugar skull-covered playground to delight in and devour with mucho gusto. It's a game I'll be playing and replaying again for some time to come. Read the full Guacamelee! review Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory (PlayStation 3) It reeks of laziness, but that pales in comparison to what is easily the worst part of the entire experience. The quest system. Ugh! Poorly implemented and only there to waste your time, a seemingly endless number of errands awaits just to artificially lengthen the game. Rarely challenging, never interesting, these fetch quests exist only as arbitrary roadblocks that will need to be surmounted before the story is allowed to advance. Dwelling somewhere between mediocrity and greatness, Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory isn't a bad game by any stretch of the imagination. It just isn't a very good one either. A nuanced, rhythmic, and generally entertaining combat system awaits alongside a nascent story for those that can endure more than their fair share of suffering. Read the full Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory review Afterfall: InSanity Extended Edition (PC) InSanity was never going to be a great game. It would have struggled to be considered a good one. It did, however, have that certain special something, possessed of enough charisma to at least make me debate whether or not it was a bad game. That is, until the gear shift and rapid decline, at which point I gave up trying to be nice and settled in for an absolutely terrible time. It's a shame, because it had its hands all the tools necessary for underground success, but failed to prove itself consistent enough to stand out from all the other obscure, low-budget, bottom-feeding action games on the market. Read the full Afterfall: InSanity Extended Edition review Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance: Jetstream DLC (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed]) Hardcore fans will most likely want to experience Jetstream because it's more Revengeance, but if you were lukewarm with the core experience, more of the same probably won't wow you in any way. Platinum Games doesn't really do DLC all that often, and the studio really need to up its game if it wants to dive into add-ons in the future. Read the full Jetstream review Tekken Card Tournament (Android, iPad, iPhone [reviewed on iPhone 5], PC) If you're actually interested despite the constant paywalls, the good news is there will be physical cards this Summer with QR codes to add to your digital deck. If you're a card game fan like myself, finding a group of people to play this with in a social gathering and getting free digital cards may be more enticing than ponying up for microtransactions. But again, that isn't available yet. In many ways, Tekken Card Tournament is a shame, because it's actually a decent, simple little card game. If someone laid a real-life starter deck in front of me, I'd actually play it for an extended period of time, but as it stands, it's not worth slogging through the mictrotransaction and "energy" nonsense to do it. Read the full Tekken Card Tournament review Sonic Dash (Android, iPhone [reviewed on an iPhone 5], iPad) Sonic Dash isn't a bad game, but it could stand to be much better than it is in its current state. With more zones and less weighty in-app-purchases by way of an update, Dash could be one of the more enticing endless runners on the market. As it stands, you might find yourself picking this up, and running right past it after a fleeting sense of enjoyment. But said time with it will undoubtedly be enjoyable, nonetheless. Read the full Sonic Dash review Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers (3DS) Soul Hackers is not a full-on remake, and more of a re-release. But you know what? Considering how well the game holds up even today, that's ok. Soul Hackers may have a number of antiquated principles and mechanics, but none of them are unprecedented or that difficult to deal with. So long as you're willing to put up with a bit of age, you'll be diving into one of the most accessible and enjoyable Shin Megami Tensei games in the series. Read the full Soul Hackers review Pandora's Tower (Wii) I previously called this title a "middle," but maybe that's doing it a disservice. Curious gameplay issues abound, only some of which I touched upon, in addition to the visual and voice acting mishaps. Still, it's bursting with so much content that you are bound to find a morsel that tickles your taste buds. There are even shades of that infamous NES-era challenge, though the difficulty thankfully stops shy of being completely overwhelming. It's just a damn fine videogame. Pandora's Tower is a bittersweet end to the Wii's life: a taste of the kind of software that could have carried the console during those slow months. As it stands, it won't be anything more that an engaging action RPG with a clever hook. But I suppose I can live with that. Read the full Pandora's Tower review Age of Empires II HD Edition (PC) Yeah, it actually took me longer than I’d like to admit to notice and fully grasp the importance of that inclusion. It’s only been a few days since the game dropped and there are already a pretty decent set of HD texture packs, gameplay tweaks, and tons and tons of other goodies. In the same way that Skyrim took my initial investment of 75 hours and magically extended that to something in the neighborhood of 500, the Workshop for AoE II is an amazing bonus. And, combined with access to multiplayer via Steam, it's really the only addition the game needs. All told, while a little frustrating if you’re not into tons of micro-management, Age of Empires II HD with the Workshop and updated multiplayer features is an excellent title. The brilliance of the game’s design is still there, you just might need to look past its age to see it. Read the full Age of Empires II HD Edition review Call of Duty: Black Ops II: Uprising DLC (PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed]) One arena withstanding, Treyarch had a lot of fun with this map pack, and it really shows. From the joke-ridden Studio and Magma, to the surprisingly refreshing Mob of the Dead, there's a lot of solid content on offer here in Uprising. In terms of raw layouts, pretty much every map on offer here delivers solid FPS action, and there wasn't one arena in particular that I outright disliked. I feel like at this point in Call of Duty's history, the design needs to be a little bit more out there to really sway new users, but for fans and enthusiasts alike, you really can't go wrong with these maps. Read the full Uprising review Terraria (PlayStation Network, Xbox Live Arcade [reviewed]) Terraria is an incredible experience, and no game has filled me with the same sense of wonder and drive to explore in a very long time. In this port to consoles, those feelings are preserved, but perhaps not as elegantly as they could have been. The control scheme turned out better than expected, but the multiplayer functionality is far from ideal. Still, I cannot recommend this enough to anybody with a heart for exploring the unknown and an inherent passion for discovery. Read the full Terraria review Cities in Motion 2 (PC) Though these issues hamper the overall experience, Cities in Motion 2 is a jump in the right direction, and is a significant improvement over its forebearer. It's more polished, though the occasional minor bug cropped up from time to time, and Colossal Order cut the chaff while adding in new, oft requested features such as the timetable system, which allows players to tailor the departure times of vehicles to cater to demand -- or lack of demand -- during certain times of the day, like the morning or evening rush hour. I didn't expect the game to grip me in the way it did, and I certainly couldn't have predicted how excited I would become at the prospect of getting people to their jobs in time. Cities in Motion 2takes a mundane and, frankly, boring subject matter, and makes it genuinely compelling. It has made my dreary real-life bus journeys a tiny bit more interesting. Read the full Cities in Motion 2 review ShootMania Storm (PC) Shootmania Storm is a community-centered first-person shooter with next to no community. It's an unfortunate situation, but one that the game finds itself in nonetheless. Though the menus are clunky and the game doesn't do much to welcome new players, the core game of Shootmania Storm is so wonderful to play that I can't help but want to always improve. It has a remarkably high skill ceiling, even if the basic controls seem simple at first. I believe the phrase is "easy to understand, difficult to master." Yeah, that fits this game perfectly. Read the full ShootMania Storm review Sacred Citadel (PC [reviewed], PlayStation 3, Xbox 360) A nice presentation helps make things a little more interesting, but there's still no escaping the fact that Sacred Citadel fails to inspire much passion. It's an okay game, a solid arcade throwback, but it's a mere face in a crowd and doesn't stand out very much. It'll give you five or so hours of satisfactory action, dishing out amusement and annoyance at varying points, and while I think it's worth checking out for Sacred fans, most brawler connoisseurs would be better off sticking with the classics.  Read the full Sacred Citadel review Dillon's Rolling Western: The Last Ranger (3DS eShop) Like a lot of country music, The Last Ranger suffers from being repetitive and overly simplistic at times. Thankfully, it's very well performed, infectious, and packed with plenty of personality. If you play in occasional 20-30 minutes burst, you may never grow tired of this composition, but if you try to marathon through this album of outlaw armadillo hits, you'll be tempted to put the thing down for good. Read the full The Last Ranger review Injustice: Gods Among Us (Android, iPhone [reviewed on an iPhone 5], iPad) As mindless as it is, Injustice iOS is a very easy way to get reacquainted with your favorite DC Comics characters. It would have been a much better experience as a straight $4.99 download, with the ability to unlock every character in the game through straight progress, but despite that wasted opportunity, you really can't go wrong with at least trying out this free game. Read the full Injustice mobile review Fish out of Water (iPad, iPhone [reviewed on an iPhone 5]) If you're looking for a new time waster, Fish Out of Water is a decent experience, despite its lack of depth. If you require something with a little more meat on its bones, feel free to wait, because in all likelihood, just like Jetpack Joyride, this will go free at some point given the fact that in-app-purchases are already featured. Read the full Fish out of Water review [embed]252288:48312:0[/embed] Dead Island Riptide (PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed]) Is Dead Island Riptide a fun game? At times, yes. In terms of raw combat and power fantasy, it's just as good as Dead Island ... and it's just as bad at the same time. The bottom line is that there's no excuse for it not being superior. Being "just as good" isn't good enough, especially not whenDead Island had things on its side that Riptide doesn't. Those new to the series entirely will likely not notice the problems quite so much, and be as forgiving to it as newcomers were to Dead Island. While Riptide banks on you having loved the first, in actuality you have a lot more to gain if you've never touched it.  If you played the first game, however, I'd recommend waiting for a real sequel, because Riptidefails to get away with pulling the same trick twice. Read the full Riptide review God Mode (PC [reviewed], PlayStation Network, Xbox Live Arcade) As mentioned earlier, God Mode is the type of game that grows on you. The biggest complaint I have is a lack of variety, which is to be expected of a budget title. What Old School Games did include in this straightforward, arcade-centric shooter shows promise of a more fleshed-out project. There's also a hint of personality with a goofy narrator, but the execution isn't quite there.God Mode is an easy recommendation to make for those who want relatively mindless entertainment -- just don't go in expecting much more than that. Read the full God Mode review Dishonored: The Knife of Dunwall (PC [Reviewed], PlayStation 3, Xbox 360) While The Knife of Dunwall's missions may not reach the heights of the Boyle's masquerade or the Golden Cat, the first mission -- which sheds more light on Dunwall's grisly whaling industry -- is undoubtedly one of the best designed game-spaces in both the DLC and game proper. It both encapsulates what makes Dishonored such a delight to play and introduces a few new things, including the horrific Butchers -- a particularly nasty enemy who requires a wee bit more thought that most to dispatch. The new protagonist and plot may have been underwhelming -- and completely unfinished until Arkane releases the next piece of DLC -- but I'm less disappointed due to the polished gameplay. Daud has less tricks than Corvo, and damn do I miss the talking heart, but it all goes towards making The Knife of Dunwall a more focused package. Read the full Knife of Dunwall review LEGO City Undercover: The Chase Begins (3DS) The long load times from the Wii U version are also back, but with a vengeance! I'm talking load times that will trump even the earliest of PSOne Classics, sometimes dipping into the two minute mark. In addition to serving as an overall nuisance, it also makes going into buildings and loading new areas a chore -- and when load times impede exploration, you know it's really bad. Considering how other 3DS developers have done more visually with their titles, it's a bit odd to see a game like LEGO City suffer on the 3DS, especially given the aforementioned aesthetic sacrifices. If you're a diehard LEGO fan, odds are you'll get some form of enjoyment out of The Chase Begins. For everyone else, you're better off skipping it entirely, or picking up the superior Wii U version of the game. It's one thing to pare down an experience on a portable: it's another to sacrifice its integrity in the process. Read the full The Chase Begins review Monster Loves You (PC) If you go into Monster Loves You with the knowledge that this is really an interactive story for children, then you can get plenty out of it. It's quick to get through and packs the same kind of charm and sweetness as a good kids book but it really is a game designed for younger gamers. If you're looking for in-depth mechanics, then there's really not much on offer here but given the target audience, that is understandable. Read the full Monster Loves You review Monaco: What's Yours Is Mine (PC [reviewed], Xbox Live Arcade) Monaco: What's Yours is Mine truly is a game for anyone and everyone. It is simple enough to pick up and immediately understand how things work, while at the same time offers the complexity to have multiple players spend a few minutes sitting still, devising a self-titled "Best Plan Ever" complete with tracing the plan on the screen with fingers, saying “Ready? GO!”, only to see it backfire in seconds. Regardless of whether you plan on flying solo or with some buddies, do yourself a favor and go play Monaco. I know I'll be doing the same for a long time into the future. Read the full Monaco review Assassin's Creed III: Tyranny of King Washington: The Redemption (PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed]) Across all three parts, it took me a little over four hours to complete the content in total (with a few more hours tacked on for 100% collection/completion). But however you choose to buy this DLC, whether it's by way of the Season Pass or piecemeal, I'm not so sure the two first halves are worth putting up with to get to this. In fact, despite my enjoyment of the final chapter it's probably best to just wait until a proper Game of the Year Edition hits and play the side story that way. Ubisoft had major potential with King Washington, and sadly, there were a few missteps that prevent me from recommending the package as a whole. If you've already picked up the first two parts and are on the fence about Redemption though, it's probably a good idea to just bite. Read the full The Redemption review The Sims 3: University Life (Mac, PC [reviewed]) University Life is decent on its own as an expansion, but when you stack it up against the other eight for The Sims 3 it really doesn't jump out as being that special. It's better than Seasons, but it's not game-changing. If anything, this just serves as a sign that the series is getting long in the tooth, and EA needs to think about releasing a complete edition to make all of this stuff more accessible to more players. Read the full University Life review Robot Unicorn Attack 2 (iPad, iPhone [reviewed on an iPhone 4S]) Every added element invites you back into the core game, where you lose yourself to the sights and sounds, literally chasing your dreams. And with the incorporation of community events, you feel a pleasant connection, touching the lives of others as they are touching yours. It's a heartwarming thought to know that, rather than trying to eclipse someone else's high score for your own self-satisfaction, you are working together for the benefit of the whole. Nothing about this game can bring me down. Not even the curiously long load times when you open the customization menu -- which I'm sure will be improved via update later down the road. Simply put, it lifts me like few other games have. And you too can be as content as I am right this very moment. Read the full Robot Unicorn Attack 2 review Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus R (PlayStation Vita) If it wasn't for the major omission of new features, the lack of online play, and the fact that Plus R is coming to consoles for free, I would have enjoyed Guilty Gear on the Vita a whole lot more. The fact of the matter is, the game still holds up even today, and the series is still relevant, tight, and competitive. So long as you aren't bothered by an utter fumbling of features in this port, you're still getting a solid fighting game that should at the very least, function as a portable training simulation for the console version. I'm pretty torn on the review given the omission of such a major function, but ultimately Guilty Gear is a great game, and that core was preserved here. Read the full Accent Core Plus R review Signal Ops (PC) Signal Ops is far from the game it could have been. The concept is great and for the most part delivers, but the Bolt character class and his job of carrying a radio does a lot of damage to the overall design. It feels incredibly restrictive, refusing to let the player go where they please and take their time getting there. It definitely has some moments of brilliance, but they are often quickly forgotten.  Read the full Signal Ops review Strike Suit Infinity (PC) Strike Suit Infinity is a solid deal, given its lower price point. It doesn't claim to be anything but a wave-based, score-centric space-arcade game, and that works in its favor. The simple design allows the game to focus on its wonderfully satisfying mechanics, even if they aren't communicated very well through the poor tutorial. If the crashes can be ironed out, what will be left behind is an absolutely great way to marvel at space and its beauty while blowing the crap out of some big, hunking space ships for that ever-so-tasty high score. Read the full Strike Suit Infinity review Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed]) In an odd move, the game is only available currently in its fully priced form -- so if you own the original, you need to purchase the $39.99 disc or full digital game with no option to purchase a discounted DLC package. As a result, it's really tough to recommend the game to anyone who felt lukewarm with the original given the fact that it's essentially the same experience, just with a new island. The small extras almost feel like a bribe of sorts, and Capcom could have done much better than this. Then again, it works both ways as you could rent the original, save a file, and then reap these benefits with Dark Arisen as your first experience. While I can't wholly recommend Dark Arisen to anyone but the most hardcore of Dragon's Dogma fans, if you haven't touched the franchise yet, this is a perfect opportunity to do so. Despite the issues, the series is an intriguing prospect that does many things right, and shouldn't be missed by action or RPG fans alike. While Capcom could have done a whole lot more with this expansion, the fact of the matter is the solid game underneath is still faithfully preserved. Read the full Dark Arisen review [embed]252531:48411:0[/embed] Don't Starve (PC) Playing Don't Starve can be infuriating. There's absolutely no guidance, and the initial punishing difficulty only increases. It demands that players figure things out for themselves and progress through exploration and experimentation rather than being spoonfed hints and tips. Its uncompromising nature will undoubtedly leave some unsatisfied and irritated, but for those who are willing to work and take risks, it pays off. The feeling of accomplishment when you manage to fend off countless cruel beasties, survive unrelenting foul weather, and fill your belly is potent. Mastering the wilderness is a difficult road, but from it comes a sense of empowerment. Of course, you could still lose it all in an instant. Such is the fickle nature of Don't Starve.   Read the full Don't Starve review Soul Sacrifice (PS Vita) Soul Sacrifice, true to its driving idea, is a game of compromises. There's a staggering wealth of content, but it can be tiring in its repetition. Battles are frantic and fun, but can be exhaustingly annoying if you choose the wrong friends. Very much like the game's Lacrima system, however, many of the sacrifices one must make to enjoy the game are negligible in the long run, and there's nothing that should stop one having a damn good laugh and getting utterly hooked on an adventure that really can be played until the Vita's batteries run dry.  Read the full Soul Sacrifice review [embed]251865:48405:0[/embed] Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon (PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed]) The result of all this is a deep and well crafted premise in a somewhat shallow game. Blood Dragon is well made, and thoroughly entertaining to lovers of the eighties, but in many ways, it becomes a victim of its own success -- the core ideas are so fun, so lavishly crafted, one aches to see them in a game equal to their quality. Blood Dragon is a good little game, and I highly recommend checking it out, with the caveat that it's one of those games that does a few things well enough to inadvertently highlight its own flaws.  As critical as I may be, however, I'd rather have Blood Dragon exist as it does than not exist at all. A game this delightfully stupid can only make the world a better place, and I sincerely hope this isn't the last we see of Rex Colt.  Read the full Blood Dragon review Star Trek: The Video Game (PlayStation 3, PC, Xbox 360 [reviewed]) As predicted, this is yet another movie tie-in game that feels rushed and incomplete. Oddly, it has nothing to do with the plot of the upcoming film, so why it was rushed to coincide only proves it was made merely to cash-in on the popularity right at the film's release. With as many mechanics that it borrows from other titles, and how poorly it implements them, it should be beamed directly into the trash compactor. Sloppy, glitchy controls and graphics, tedious gameplay, and spotty co-op makes for one adventure you'll wish would boldly go away. It's dumb, Jim. Read the full Star Trek review Witch and Hero (3DS eShop) Outside of an interesting final battle, a decent twist ending, and an unlockable hard mode, there isn't that much substance here. You'll keep bumping over and over until you've bumped your way to the final boss (really, the only good part of the game) -- then if you want, you can bump some more. Variety could have really done wonders here. Even with a small budget, tiny nuances like sword animations, items in the shop, and mini-boss depth could have gone a long way. Witch and Herotakes a simple, charming concept and somehow manages to make it repetitive, dry, and unfun. Given the price, you're better off skipping this retro-centric experience in favor of the endless sea of classics on the 3DS eShop. Read the full Witch and Hero review Injustice: Gods Among Us (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii U) When DC Comics’ most popular heroes and villains appeared in 2008’s Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, Aquaman was nowhere to be found. Thought of as a laughing stock with a shaky history in videogames -- the less said about Battle for Atlantis, the better -- Aquaman was tossed aside. Now, Aquaman is a total badass. Injustice shows a lot has changed in the world of DC since 2008. It also shows there is a lot that can still be changed in fighting games.For a game weighted down by genre conventions that are further imposed by fictional characters that have been around longer than most of our lifetimes, Injustice is full of the type of grand ideas we stopped seeing in fighting games since the late '90s. Whether it becomes embraced by EVO players or not, it's a nice shot in the arm for a genre that often feels niche to a fault. Read the full Injustice: Gods Among Us review
April 2013 reviews photo
Review round-up: The games of April 2013
This review recap is brought to you by Daft Punk's Alive 2007, which fueled the incessant copying and pasting efforts needed to put one of these together. I don't feel like I've blinked since I started working on this, but it...

Review: Pandora's Tower

Apr 17 // Tony Ponce
Pandora's Tower (Wii)Developer: Ganbarion, NintendoPublisher: XSEED GamesRelease: April 16, 2013 (US) / April 13, 2012 (EU)MSRP: $39.99 Pandora's Tower is the story of Aeron, a soft-spoken former soldier, and Elena, a country girl chosen to sing at the kingdom's Harvest Festival. The celebration was interrupted by a sudden monster invasion, after which Elena notices a mark on her back, the sign of a curse that slowly changes people into monsters. If not cured quickly, her transformation will be permanent. With the aid of a traveling merchant named Mavda, Aeron whisks Elena away to the Thirteen Towers, a grand temple suspended above a massive rift in the planet known as The Scar. To temporarily curb the curse's effects, Elena must feed on the flesh of beasts that roam the towers; to lift the curse entirely, she must eat the flesh of the 12 tower Masters. Ironically, consuming meat is forbidden in her religion -- only through corruption can she find salvation. [embed]251814:48161:0[/embed] As Aeron, you explore the towers in turn, defeating its monstrous inhabitants and literally ripping the meat from their bones. You acquire up to four different weapons, which can be upgraded using items strewn about during your travels, unlocking extended combos and deadly charge attacks. You can also equip armor, gemstones, and amulets to boost your stats, but should you receive heavy enough damage, they will break and require repairs. The most versatile tool in your arsenal is the Oraclos Chain, a mystical artifact with a wealth of functions. You can bind enemies so they can't move, lift and throw them into other creatures, pull switches, unlock doors, swing from hooks, and retrieve objects from a distance. It is with this chain that you tear flesh from monsters -- use the Wii Remote to target a defeated foe and whip the remote back to extract the juicy meat. Depending on what part of the body you latch onto, you can carve out metal fragments, bones, and other objects, many of which can be used to forge even more items and equipment. Useful though the chain may be, the camera sometimes thwarts your ability to target the appropriate enemies and surfaces. Pandora's Tower doesn't allow free camera control, opting for dynamic angles not unlike God of War. This can result in being unable to target something just off screen or latching onto the wrong enemy whenever they overlap in the player's line of sight. Very rarely will your view result in an accidental death, but it's an annoyance nevertheless. Combat is fairly simple -- "A" swings your equipped weapon, "B" launches the chain, and "Z" triggers an evasive roll. The enemies are comparably vicious; getting slammed by two or three at once can easily drain around half your health. Such skirmishes must be approached with caution and demand liberal use of the Oraclos Chain to limit your opponents' mobility. You can also employ single-use tools on the fly via a Monster Hunter-style item bar -- navigated with the direction pad -- rather than having to pause the game and break the flow of battle. Like I said, this game can be brutal. Death comes swiftly, and checkpoints aren't as numerous as in more recent action RPGs -- if Castlevania: Lords of Darkness - Mirror of Fate is at one end of that spectrum, Pandora's Tower sits somewhere in the opposite range. Now and then, you'll encounter enemy variants shrouded in a purple mist, which indicates that all their stats have been raised significantly. These guys can appear randomly appear in a room in place of their standard incarnations, and I advise you to avoid confrontation should you spot more than one in a group. The fights against the Masters are as exciting as they are clever. With the exception of a handful, only the Oraclos Chain is required to slay these great beasts, some which are quite docile until you start attacking -- echoes of Shadow of the Colossus in more ways than one. Encounters play out like puzzles in which you must find a way to make the Master lower its defenses so you can target its glowing weak spot. Once you latch on, you have mere moments to charge your chain's power meter and yank before the creature recovers. Some Masters are pushovers, others will make you work for your victory, but all are unique and require wholly different strategies. While you are traipsing about the towers, a meter in the bottom left tells you how much time Elena has before her transformation completes and your game ends. You will almost always be unable to clear a tower within the limit, so you frequently have to backtrack to the entrance and return to the Observatory where Elena awaits. The quality of the meat you serve her will determine how much time is added to the clock, but if you allow meat to sit in your inventory too long, it will spoil. Thankfully, the chances of flesh going rotten are low -- it never happened to me once during my playthrough, and I always made sure to sell off excess meat. Being mindful of Elena's status adds a healthy measure of urgency to your travels. You have to weigh the risks of continuing your climb with the likelihood of getting back to the Observatory with time to spare. Maybe if you hold out for a few more rooms, you'll discover a shortcut that will make the return visit quick and painless. Or if you have a certain item in your possession, you can teleport to the Observatory on a whim. Your role as a high-risk caterer will likely wear at your nerves, but the tension it builds is necessary to keep you focused. Furthermore, Elena will be in a semi-transformed state should you cut too close to the wire. Finding the normally cheerful and sprightly lass half disfigured and in excruciating pain ought to be enough incentive to get that butt of yours in gear. Keeping Elena in high spirits is just as important as preventing her metamorphosis. The Oraclos Chain also measures the couple's affinity, which increases with constant interaction. Like any doting boyfriend, you'll initiate conversations and gift her clothes and decorative accents. Strengthening your bond not only awards you with special items, it also affects which of the game's multiple endings you'll see. For a game with such straightforward direction as "kill monsters and save girl," Pandora's Tower is brimming with extensive amounts of lore. You will frequently pick up diary notes and journal entries that detail everything from the war-torn history of the fictional land of Imperia to the military's past experiments in the Thirteen Towers. Quite honestly, it borders on excessive, but it's all there for those players who desire additional context. I personally believe the plot would have benefited from less backstory, leaving ample room for interpretation. I do appreciate how Elena was given dimension beyond that of your stock damsel-in-distress. Confined to the Observatory, she tries her best to make it as homey as possible. She'll turn the fabric you gave her into bedsheets, translate ancient texts you discover, practice her singing, or tend to her garden. While abroad, Aeron may wonder what Elena is up to, triggering a short cutscene of her in deep thought or performing some odd task. Sometimes she'll see you off when you depart, and other times she will greet you with enthusiasm upon your return. A portrait of the dutiful homemaker would not typically be of special note, but the fact that Elena is strives for normalcy despite her curse is nothing if not tragic. Not knowing how much longer she can remain in control of her mind and body, she treasures the days she can spend with the man she loves. And when she does begin to transform and halfheartedly insists that she's fine so as not to worry Aeron, a heaviness forms at the pit of your stomach. Compare her to Aeron, who couldn't be more bland if he were a day-old plain bagel. It makes their relationship feel a hollow when Aeron exhibits no outstanding traits whatsoever. Coupled with some rather poor voice acting by both parties -- also, no attempt was made to sync the dialog properly with lip movements -- I'm surprised that the game was able to elicit any emotion at all. Such is the strength of Elena's characterization. Up close, Pandora's Tower suffers from very ugly texture work. On the flip side, environments are a rich blend of hues, as though a herd of unicorns barfed rainbows everywhere. It's good to see a developer that isn't afraid to use the full palette, but Ganbarion could stand to exercise a bit of restraint. Yes, it's okay to use all the colors, just not at the same time! I'm likewise pleased by the variety of themed gimmicks in each tower -- walls that can be scaled by embedding sharp rocks into their surface, gravity-defying columns of water with floating debris that can be ridden upon, etc. However, after the first five towers, the next set of five recycle the same elements and gimmicks. The game's lore explains this duality by stating that every "male" tower has a corresponding "female" tower, but that sounds like an excuse to cheap out on new level designs and obstacles. Pandora's Tower is a very meaty adventure that spans at least 20 hours, and that's not even considering post-game content. After beating the final boss, you unlock the ability to return to any major story juncture with all your current equipment and stats. You can then enter the secret crimson doors that were locked previously or shoot for a different ending by improving Aeron and Elena's affinity. I previously called this title a "middle," but maybe that's doing it a disservice. Curious gameplay issues abound, only some of which I touched upon, in addition to the visual and voice acting mishaps. Still, it's bursting with so much content that you are bound to find a morsel that tickles your taste buds. There are even shades of that infamous NES-era challenge, though the difficulty thankfully stops shy of being completely overwhelming. It's just a damn fine videogame. Pandora's Tower is a bittersweet end to the Wii's life: a taste of the kind of software that could have carried the console during those slow months. As it stands, it won't be anything more that an engaging action RPG with a clever hook. But I suppose I can live with that.
Pandora's Tower review photo
Beat and eat your meat
With the US release of Pandora's Tower, the final title in the "Operation Rainfall" trilogy has been localized. Major props to XSEED for taking a chance at giving the Wii one last hurrah! Pandora's Tower is an action role-pla...

Wii service shutdown photo
News, Everybody Votes and more all gone this Summer
Nintendo is set to kill off many of the Wii's online services in June, running a sword through Nintendo Channel, News Channel, Forecast Channel, Everybody Votes Channel, and Mii Contest Channel. Data exchange in certain games...

Review: Pro Controller U

Apr 07 // Patrick Hancock
[embed]247806:48005:0[/embed] The Pro Controller U may look like it's just a haphazard combination of the Wii U Pro Controller and an SNES controller, but it is actually comfortable to hold. It is a perfect weight, not feeling too heavy or too light. It feels slightly lighter than a PlayStation 3 controller and the wireless Xbox 360 controller, if that helps to put it in perspective. Whether or not you like your analog sticks to be both on top, both on bottom, or asymmetrical is a completely personal preference, but be aware that this controller has both analog sticks on top. Personally, I find the analog placement to be quite comfortable, with no problems whatsoever. The triggers and bumpers, to borrow Xbox jargon, also feel very nice, and are laid out just as they are on the Wii U Pro Controller. Even the SNES buttons are replicas of the originals, with X and Y being concave while both A and B are convex. The controller feels really nice to use, and that's about where the niceties end. First of all, allow me to reiterate a previous statement: This does not function as a Wii U Pro Controller. Despite using the words "Pro Controller U," this is not a Wii U Pro Controller in any capacity. I tried using it in ZombiU's multiplayer mode with no success. There's even an eensy teensy tiny line in the included pamphlet titled "TIPS FOR PRO GAMERS ONLY" that says, verbatim: "The Pro Controller U does not function as a Nintendo Pro Controller. This is correct.", as if they knew people would be disappointed and needed to console them with that last reaffirming yet disappointing remark. I expected a "We're sorry" after that, but alas none is present. Even if it just acted as a wireless Classic Controller and functional Wii Remote that pairs with Android devices, it would still be a really useful product. However, the controller I received malfunctions when trying to play games. After spending about two hours playing Xenoblade Chronicles with the Pro Controller U, I noticed that the main character, Shulk, would take a few stutter steps even after I stopped moving the analog stick. "Not a big deal," I thought to myself. Then about 30 minutes later, Shulk was stuck moving forward indefinitely. The left analog stick was sitting comfortably in the default position, yet there Shulk was, running head first into a wall forever. This digital input issue seems to mainly happen when changing the controller from Wii Remote mode to Classic Controller mode using the switch on the back of the device. For whatever reason, switching back and forth almost guarantees that the digital input will get stuck, rendering the controller unusable for most games. To be fair, you should never really need to change the controller between the two modes while in the middle of the game, and if you do, it can sometimes be reset by rebooting the system. The controller can also function as a Wii Remote with the flick of the switch on the back of the controller. This works exactly as you would expect, allowing a game that only uses a Wii Remote control scheme to be played on a more traditional controller. The problem here is that the buttons cannot be reconfigured and the SNES-like buttons are spaced far enough apart to make them awkward to use in conjunction as you would while performing a running jump in a platforming game for example. In addition, the D-pad will register a downwards input if your thumb is on the lower half of the left and right sides. This becomes a huge issue when playing platformers -- your thumb is bound to naturally press the area that activates a downwards input while attempting to move left or right, causing the character to lose all momentum in games like New Super Mario Bros. U. Pairing the controller with a bluetooth device is easy, as it just needs a third-party Wii Remote app to work. I used the "WiimoteController" app on my Galaxy Nexus and it paired easily and quickly. Not that any of it really mattered, since the D-pad and analog issues still persisted. I did get a pretty decent score in Canabalt, though, since that game only uses one button. The Pro Controller U is not only a terribly sleazy and misleadingly-titled controller, but it's also a barely functional one. Given the analog issues combined with the D-pad issues, it doesn't matter if it connects to every single gaming device known to man, since it would be unusable for almost every game. It's a shame, too, since if it were a functional controller for the Wii, Wii U, and Android devices, it would be a stellar device.
Pro Controller U review photo
Not for U
[Update: For clarification, this product is not made by ThinkGeek and simply retails on the site. The headline of this post has been changed to reflect this. Sorry for any confusion!] The Pro Controller U really appears ...

How Nintendo breaks hearts with the D.E.N.N.I.S. System

Feb 06 // Jim Sterling
[embed]244154:46787:0[/embed] While the system is designed for Dennis to trick women into having sex with him before abandoning them, its applications in business are frightening, and Nintendo's mastery of it is absolute. Like Dennis, Nintendo is able to seduce and conquer its fans by demonstrating value, engaging physically, nurturing dependence, neglecting emotionally, inspiring hope, and then separating entirely. Do you remain skeptical? Read on and understand.  Demonstrate Value This one's easy, because we already know, by Nintendo's own admission, that it secures customer loyalty by demonstrating the value of its product. Through marketing promotions, competitive pricing, and pledging to offer the widest variety of games to the widest variety of consumers, Nintendo attempts to demonstrate its value to the user. More often than not, it succeeds. In fairness, all videogame companies utilize the first step of the system. Duping the consumer into believing a product is worth the entry fee is what the game industry is all about. Nintendo's as committed as any when it comes to demonstrating its value.  Engage Physically No other company works harder to engage its customers physically than Nintendo. With the Wii, the DS, the 3DS, and the Wii U, Nintendo has been doing more to encourage physical interaction with users than any other company in the games market. Whether you're waggling a remote, tapping a touchscreen, or tilting screens left and right, when you're on a Nintendo system, you're 100% physically engaged.  Even those shy to embrace Nintendo's whimsical world of bodily nonsense are eventually suckered in. Games like The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword test the resolve of even the most adamant anti-waggle gamer, and the excellent Nintendo DS library has us all dragging styli around like they're little Weekend at Bernie's corpses! If you're a Nintendo customer, consider yourself physically engaged.  Nurturing Dependence  Nintendo has the key to the cage of some of gaming's most beloved and cherished franchises. Your inner child is Reggie Fils-Aime's bitch. Miyamoto is the way and the truth and the life, and no one comes to the Mario except through him. To get your hands on Zelda, Metroid, Kirby, and so many more, you depend entirely on so-called Big N.  Nintendo knows it, too. It knows what you like, and it knows you have nobody else to turn to. Games like Nintendo Land and New Super Mario Bros. feed your nostalgia, remind you of happier times before you became an evil-hearted adult, and convince you to stay with Nintendo if you want to keep getting that sweet, sweet hit. One look at the dogged loyalty of Nintendo's most ardent fans will tell you this has already been achieved. They remain hopelessly in the thrall of their master, suckling at its red, cracked teats with all the gratitude of a freshly-fed dog.  We're halfway through the system, and Nintendo's three for three! Neglect Emotionally Nintendo's demonstrated its value to you. It's engaged you physically with its cool new toy. It's nurtured your dependence with the allure of childhood memories and honest-to-goodness gaming. What happens next? Wii Music happens next.  Yes folks, you've just been neglected emotionally! Satoru Iwata's band of merry men are wizards when it comes to this step, leading fans on for so long before totally cutting them off. After stringing gamers along, Nintendo does an about-face, making its press conferences and announcements all about family-friendly crap that nobody cares for. We get some maniac woman on a stage, grinning like a bargain basement Joker as she tells you she's going to put a smile on your face. We get promises of Pikmin 3, but no actual news, while other favorite franchises are completely ignored. Reggie tells us Animal Crossing is a hardcore game and can't understand why anybody's feeling shortchanged. "Nintendo has abandoned the hardcore gamer," the cry rings out, over valley and hill. My Lord, why hast thou forsaken me? The answer is clear -- Nintendo's neglecting you emotionally. Inspire Hope Wait, they just announced Pikmin 3? Holy shit, was that a new Kid Icarus? New Donkey Kong? And what's with this Wii U eShop? It's, like, actually good. Nintendo's got a new online strategy, Nintendo's promising more core games. Nintendo's back, everybody! Nintendo finally gets it.  "Nintendo finally gets it." I've honestly lost count of how many times I've read that phrase over the years. After neglecting us emotionally, Nintendo makes some announcement or presents a fresh feature that has everybody (myself included) pull a U-turn and declare that, this time, Nintendo finally understands what we want, and at last knows how to give it to us. We are relieved. We are appreciative. And then ... we bang. Separate Entirely Weeks without games. A sudden 3DS discount that pisses off everybody who supported the system early. The eShop turns out to be bereft of content and shit as always. A reality that fails utterly to live up to the promises we breathed in like sweet oxygen. And all the while, Nintendo sits there, deaf to our pleas, blind to our entreaties. It's working on something else now, and has cut its consumers loose. It's okay, though. You need not be alarmed. Nintendo will be back, next time it needs to demonstrate its value to you. And the D.E.N.N.I.S. System rises again.
D.E.N.N.I.S. System photo
It's Always Sunny at Nintendo
Earlier this week, Nintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto claimed his company had failed to "communicate the value" of the Wii U to consumers, a turn of phrase that struck me as quite amusing. As a fan of It's Always Sunny in Phila...

Next Skylanders lets you swap parts to form new toys

Feb 05 // Hamza CTZ Aziz
Skylanders: Swap Force (3DS, PC, PlayStation 3, Wii, Wii U, Xbox 360 [previewed])Developer: Vicarious Visions / nSpace (3DS)Publisher: ActivisionRelease: Fall 2013 It looks like a Pixar movie Activision showed off a very early look at Swap Force to us and even though there's still a ton to work to be done, it's easily one of best-looking games I've seen this generation. The visuals will seriously make you think you're watching an animated CG movie, but it's not just the graphics that give this feel. Vicarious is infusing a ton of animation and life to the characters, capturing the spirit of what makes a Pixar film -- and even some of the better Mario games, like Super Mario Galaxy -- so charming and engrossing. Ridiculously high praises, but completely justified. I can't stress enough how this new tone makes it really feel like a cartoon show. Characters you'll meet in the world are fully animated and voiced now with the bigger focus on storytelling, adding to the kids-show aesthetics. Nothing is pre-rendered either, and cinematics such as the one featuring Flynn (voiced by Patrick Warburton) that I saw were all comprised of in-game assets. The all new swappable toys As I said, there are 32 new Skylanders. 16 of them are your basic heroes, and the other 16 feature swappable body parts. This essential gives you the ability to make 256 unique combinations of different heroes. The two halves are connected by two small magnets that keep them pretty securely connected. In fact, I thought I was about to break the toy I was handed when I first tried to pull it apart. Combining different toys will serve multiple in-game purposes. One of the new Swap Force heroes I was introduced to was Wash Buckler, a water-element character that's a pirate squid. At one point in the demo, Wash Buckler had to go up against a mini-boss named Gear Gollum and Wash wasn't the best suited for this battle due to his slow speed. So the toy was taken off the Portal of Power, and his bottom half was removed to be swapped with the bottom half of Magna Charge, a fire- and robot-based new toy that gets around by a singular electro-magnetic based wheel. The two toys now formed Wash Charge, and the combo of Wash Buckler's attacks with Magna Charge's speed was able to make short work of Gear Gollum. Now imagine doing that with 256 characters. Not only that, but imagine the developers having to plan, animate, and name all of these different combinations, on top of everything else going on. It's quite the feat, that's for sure. Other new characters I saw included Countdown, a walking bomb that can throw his exploding head around and shoot rockets from his hands. Blast Zone is a knight made of fire that can breath fire and throw bombs, plus can move around with rocket boots. My favorite was Roller Brawl, a roller derby undead character who has giant claws on her hands, headbutts enemies, and moves around on roller skates with buzz saws in place of normal skate wheels. You should also know that each half of the toys have a memory chip, so they'll be able to level up on their own as you move them around to different halves. As for the level cap, Vicarious wasn't sure yet if they'll be raising it. Elemental zones are back, with the addition of two new zone types. The first are the dual element gates, so either a Swapple featuring the two required elements or just two people playing co-op with the right elements, will be required to enter them. More of the same there, but the new Swap Force Zones (tentative name) present totally new experiences. These traversal zones require a certain body type, and the one I saw needed a character with a rocket to enter it. From here, the player was actually free flying around an environment, hitting a bunch of rings in order to complete the challenge. You can expect various new gameplay elements, such as areas where you have to climb on walls, compete in races, and dig to find hidden underground caverns. What's old is new again As with Giants before, all the toys from the first two games will work in Swap Force, and yeah, all your upgrades and extras will be intact. Plus, they'll all feature new animations to match up with the new engine. All 100-plus characters now also have to ability to jump now too, a big fan demand that will add some new gameplay elements. Expect local drop in/out co-op, and versus mode to return as well. So this begs the question, is Activision pulling a Call of Duty by having two studios switching off with yearly installments? It's too soon to tell for sure, but I was told by the Activision reps on hand that Toys For Bob's Paul Reiche and I-Wei Huang, the two men that have the final say for the toys in their version of games, have been part of the toy design for Vicarious' version, imparting feedback to ensure the Skylanders feel is present. You can expect Swap Force sometime this fall, and while it's too soon to know what the final prices will be, we do know that the starter pack will consist of two Swap Force characters, one Series 3 Stealth Elf in a new pose and outfit, new Portal of Power, and the game. Needless to say, I was quite impressed by the fresh visual design and really dug the new toys. I love the idea of being able to merge different pieces together, and if anything, this is a great counter to Disney's Infinity project.
Next Skylanders  photo
Skylanders: Swap Force
The next Skylanders is the last thing fans were probably expecting as there's three major changes going on with Swap Force, the new entry in the series. For starters, it's not developer Toys for Bob making this one. Vicarious...

Pandora's Tower localized photo
Long-awaited RPG coming to the land of ROCK FLAG AND EAGLE
XSEED has announced that it plans to bring Pandora's Tower to North American Wiis in Spring 2013. The game was one of the three Wii RPGs Nintendo of America refused to localize, alongside The Last Story and Xenoblade.  "...

Preview: Unload your new toy chest with Disney Infinity

Jan 16 // Allistair Pinsof
Disney Infinity (3DS, PC, PlayStation 3, Mobile, Wii , Wii U, Xbox 360)Developer: Avalanche SoftwarePublisher: Disney InteractiveRelease: June 2013 Here's a general rule I have when previewing a game, one that investors (only the ones who play games) would be wise to adopt: If I have to use more than three games as a basis of comparison to describe an upcoming title, then it's something special but not necessarily something good. A game that does everything yet pleases no one is an ambitious mess. With only a limited demo and no hands-on time, I can't accurately state where Infinity falls between these two extremes -- one being a fun creative stroke of innovation and the other an incomprehensible turd -- but that the explanation doesn't begin and end with "Skylanders rip-off" is an achievement in and of itself. (For the short version of what makes Infinity special, jump to **** below.) [embed]242485:46370[/embed] I'm glad I'm not doing PR for this game It's awesome that long-standing Disney developer Avalanche Software isn't settling for a Skylanders clone. It's also awesome that it's not my job to sell this game and ensure its success. A 45-minute presentation for a family title should be overkill, but it felt as if Disney only scraped the surface during Infinity’s reveal at Los Angeles's El Capitan Theater, leaving many questions unanswered and seemingly deep aspects only teased. Though the game can only be played co-op with players on your friends list, there are some MMO roots to Infinity's design: The game is composed of isolated, property-specific worlds. Emphasis is placed on unlocking gear and attire. You acquire new stuff through real-world purchases (though it doesn't follow the traditional pay-for-currency model of MMOs) Participation ranges from hand-to-hand combat to exploring a large area by boat. Perhaps MMO is the wrong genre to compare it to, but there certainly isn't a right one. Hack 'n slash action in the world of Pirates of the Caribbean, creeping across campus in a Monster University stealth mission, platforming across a series of death traps a friend uploaded, trying to break the game's physics with three friends in Toy Box mode -- you can't explain Infinity's design any easier than you can explain how children play with their toys. It begins with emptying out every single thing onto the bedroom floor, G.I. Joes prodding out from beneath the sprawl of Ninja Turtles and Smurfs figurines, hoping something fun will follow. Where to begin No two players may have the same takeaway from Infinity, but all players will experience the same beginning. The intro opens with Jack Sparrow -- re-stylized in the pastel colors, saucer eyes, and vaguely Korean character design look that graces all Disney characters in Infinity -- rowing a boat through a pirate town under cannonball fire. After accepting a mission quest to rescue Gibbs, Infinity throws a series of tried-and-true mechanics at you: ground pound for an area-of-effect attack, cling and jump along ledges, fire a pistol at a locked gate, and always, always, always follow the big persistent purple arrow. To be fair, the game has a tasteful HUD that hides elements and contextualizes them in the world, such as a Blur-like health bar that temporarily appears around the player. Upon rescuing Gibbs, you are offered other islands and worlds to explore. Completion rewards the player with a ship for purchase in the toy kiosk at the center of town, a constant landmark across the game's worlds. With the coins acquired from defeating enemies and hitting the crap out of barrels, one mighty pirate ship can be purchased and boarded. From there, you can jump into a different section of the game (Pirates, The Incredibles, and Monsters University were shown off), play around in Toy Box, or customize your seaworthy vessel with items you acquired from red capsules hidden throughout. A new sail here, a fresh coat of paint there, and you're ready to island hop or have a naval battle. If a friend happens to join you, they can help man the cannons or go on their own adventure elsewhere in the world (without breaking the split-screen play). The Disney chokehold This is the company that had the government rewrite copyright law so it can hold onto its empire until the Earth enters the next ice age. While I can't say I ever met an unhappy Disney employee, the company itself has a habit of biting its own tail, and this is perfectly on display in Infinity. Avalanche Studios seems to be wholly content and grateful to be tied to such an ambitious project after many years of making games timed to movie releases. For an outsider, it wasn't hard to tell that Avalanche isn't being given the keys to the kingdom. I also get the sense it isn't being given the trust or freedom it needs to make Infinity a home run success, either. Looking beyond the elephant in the room (i.e. "Will Marvel or Lucas characters appear in the game?" Avalanche developers smiling, nodding, and saying, "We'll see."), it's baffling that Infinity's main concept is bringing the many worlds of Pixar and Disney together, yet no mission in the game will allow characters from another property to enter. There is an argument to be made that Monsters Inc. characters entering Pirates in the Caribbean may be out of character and a ham-fisted maturation of the property. That argument can be ended by pointing out that anything and everything is possible with the game's assets in Toy Box (read on below). If Disney was hoping I wouldn't notice the almost complete absence of classic Disney animated characters and expected that platypus from TV series Phineas and Ferb to fit right in with Pirates of the Caribbean and Toy Story, Disney is mistaken. So far, appearances from animated Disney films has been limited to minor aspects in the game world that can be applied in Toy Box. These range from the mundane (the Cave of Wonder's tiger entrance from Aladdin) to the fantastic (can I get a heck yeah for the inclusion of Tron's Recognizers?). Moderating player uploads and limiting players to only connecting with those on their friends list are to be expected. Limiting Avalanche's Toy Box, and in effect the player's, to only recent Disney CG properties -- really, who wants Bolt and Frankenweenie before The Lion King and Mulan? -- makes it appear as if Disney doesn't have a great deal of confidence in Avalanche to handle its top-tier properties, and it makes me wonder why. More importantly, it makes me wonder if the game will feel incomplete upon release, not fully making good on its grand concept of representing a child's play box where CHARACTERS from DIFFERENT PROPERTIES can PLAY TOGETHER. Right? Perhaps the rest is yet to come in a conveniently timed to E3 reveal. Let's hope. Once more into the toy chest I don't have kids, I don't adopt kids, I don't kidnap kids, and I don't have any young relatives or siblings. I am part of a demographic that isn't Disney's bread and butter. The same can be said of most game journalists, which is probably why Disney offered beer by the crate and dessert at 10am during the event. Such indulgent treats weren't necessary when Avalanche has an ace up its sleeve with Toy Box.****Hey, you found your way down here. Good to see you again!****Whether the included linear missions and secluded worlds are the origin or late additions of Infinity, it is Toy Box that realizes the game's namesake. Inspired by Avalanche's previous work on Toy Story 3, Infinity's revamped Toy Box mode is a hodgepodge of popular commercial level building sets. It's "Disney Forge" mode. It's "LittleDisneyPlanet." It's "Disneycraft." It's all those things and whatever else players will make it to be. At its simplest, Toy Box is a place where three players can join online and goof around, settle “What if?” scenarios between Mr. Incredible and Buzz Lightyear, build impossible obstacle courses, or construct a world that can be called home out of parts from 20+ Disney franchises. At its most complex, Toy Box can become a toolset that allows players to create puzzles via a logic editor that connects triggers to the environment, reposition the camera to make a traditional 2D side-scrolling platformer, or recreate Bowser's Castle from Mario Kart for others to race on. Toy Box is the one place where all of Infinity's items, art assets, and heroes come together to form a virtual space for kids to break, explore, build, and share. Combine all this with plans to run community contests, like one centered around building the craziest castle, and introductory templates and blueprints to ease players in, and Infinity has a real chance of presenting lessons learned from Halo’s Forge mode, Minecraft, and LittleBigPlanet to a younger and possibly wider audience. And all of this for the price of ... SCUMBAG GAME JOURNALIST turns to developer, who is explaining how to spend coins to purchase in-game items, and says with a smirk, "So, you can also buy those coins with real world money, right?" "No." That would be too obvious for Disney, which has a far more insidious plan. If Disney's plan comes together, it could create a perfect storm that will make the Elmopocalypse of 1997, Furbygeddon of 1998, and Skylanders drought of 2011 look like small footnotes in hungry-consumers-turned-stampeding-angry-parents history. Here's how you do it: You take Skylander's base reader and well-crafted figurine collectibles, then you add a third slot to the reader (the second slot is for a second player) which unlocks items, custom packs, buffs, and abilities, and finally -- this one is the real kicker -- you offer those franchise-specific tokens through blind purchase packs that leave kids frustrated over getting Frankenweenie for the fifth time and parents without any money to spend on Grandma come Christmas time. Like I said, it's insidious but not without a dash of genius on top. Whether you think it's better or worse than a pay-to-play structure, this aspect of collectible tokens and figurines brings the whole toy box concept full circle. Kids at playgrounds will make sacred trades, covet the impossibly rare Howard the Duck costume pack (not real), and become increasingly giddy each time they spill out the contents of their virtual toy chest onto their private play space -- one that may contain the iconic Disney castle in the background and Wreck-It Ralph's Sugar Rush track in the foreground. But it's also a space where memories can be made, not unlike the ones I made on a living room floor, once upon a time. Just don't expect to see Ariel make out with a facehugger.
Disney Infinity preview photo
Create, collect, go into debt
There's not a lot I remember about the rampant imagination of childhood, but most of the good memories came from the depths of my toy chest. Pitting Aliens against Transformers. Imagining Cloud Strife's sword slicing throu...

Retro City Rampage photo
Find that shoe!
Retro City Rampage was one of the most interesting releases of 2012. Written and designed largely by one man, the game was in development for years, leaving hungry fans to lay in wait. Xbox 360 and Wii owners may still b...

Destructoid's favorite Wii games: A farewell tribute

Nov 28 // Kyle MacGregor
When the Wii debuted, detractors of motion control quickly held up launch title Red Steel as the reason why such "gimmickry" would never work -- especially for the more complex gaming experiences of the current generation. After playing a little of the game myself and finding the launch library otherwise lacking, I wondered if the system would ever properly appease the crowd of seasoned gamers who preferred a more immersive experience beyond what casual titles such as Wii Play or Rabbids had to offer. Fortunately, Nintendo proved that the Wii was more than capable of catering to the "hardcore" crowd with their own summer release of Metroid Prime 3: Corruption. Not only did Corruption provide a great end to a very strong trilogy, it also proved that motion control could actually add to an experience, as long as it was done right. I will personally never forget zip-lining around SkyTown with ease or battling Mogenar in the Bryyo Seed, as both examples made gesturing with the Wii controller feel intuitive and engaging. Metroid Prime 3: Corruption also neatly tied up the story from the previous two GameCube installments while also leading directly into the events of Metroid II: Return of Samus. The graphics were spectacular at times (especially in the aforementioned SkyTown of Elysia), and not simply "for a Wii game" but for an endcap to a series with a great art direction. The musical compositions by veteran Kenji Yamamoto were also wonderful and pretty much what fans of the series had come to expect. Though the Wii continued to receive knocks against it for being a "casual" gaming device, Nintendo proved with Metroid Prime 3 that at the very least motion control is capable of providing for an incredibly engaging "hardcore" experience. Don't let the silly name, kiddie-style graphics, and point-and-click gameplay turn you off of what is quite possibly one of the greatest puzzle adventures available for home consoles. Zack & Wiki was a surprising title that featured sharp, clever writing centered around booby-trapped filled levels. Utilizing a simple point-and-click mechanic to move the titular characters around the level, then implementing some of the best uses for the Wiimote waggle we all know so well, was fresher than expected and held just the right combination of old-school play mechanics and (then) new motion control. While the game's 20 levels may sound sparse, each stage itself was a puzzle, and many took 30 minutes to a full hour to solve. While the frame rate wasn't spectacular, the cel-shaded graphics were beautifully animated, and there was a huge sense of accomplishment when you finally got your way through the brain-bending tricks and traps. There was certainly a lot of trial and (repeated) error, but to me that was part of the game's endless charm, and I have yet to find a title that engaged me more throughout the entire adventure. Honorable mention: Wario Land: Shake It! Little King's Story puts you in the shoes of a novice monarch reigning over a tiny hamlet, but instead of spending time passing edicts and going to fancy diplomatic soirees like regular heads of state, the titular little king is of warrior and adventurer stock and is more interested in exciting pursuits -- he's more Lionheart than Windsor. Don't be fooled by all the whimsy and the adorable characters; this is a game of imperial conquest, tense expeditions, and a loony religion. While turning the burgeoning village into a vast metropolis is a lot of fun, it's the little king's more action-packed adventures that make this one of my favorite games for the Wii. With his motley crew made up of soldiers, carpenters, and even chefs (the nemesis of the dangerous psychopathic chickens), the king can explore the wilderness, fight dragons, and most importantly expand his borders. Without the right combination of minions, however, he's utterly doomed. The soundtrack filled with wonderful classical rearrangements, the characters that bubble with personality, and the promise of constant adventure make this a game I can't help but come back to when I'm bored or feeling glum. Honorable mention: MadWorld Sometimes, even two years after release, I'm still in awe at how gorgeous Super Mario Galaxy 2 looks. Whatever witchcraft Nintendo brewed with the development of this game, it worked, and I don't understand why no other game even comes close on the Wii. In fact, if the Wii U can produce beautiful-looking games that are easier on the eyes than Galaxy 2, I'd consider it graphical porn. In addition to solid level design (potentially the best in the 3D series) and air-tight gameplay, it also hosts my new favorite Mario power-up of all time: the Cloud Flower. (take that Hamza!). For these reasons and more, you need to check out Galaxy 2, which trumps its predecessor in nearly every imaginable way. Honorable mentions: Donkey Kong Country Returns, Kirby's Return to Dreamland Kirby's Epic Yarn was by no means a traditional Kirby game. Just like the Paper Mario series, it dared to do something different for an established franchise and ended up knocking it out of the park. Though the game exhibits charm, personality, and style, it'd be easy for a game like this to wear out its welcome pretty quickly. It seems gimmicky, so it's therefore very impressive that Epic Yarn manages to keep the quilted aesthetic fresh from start to finish. It was a good reminder that sometimes videogames can be straightforward and still be incredibly enjoyable. Kirby's Epic Yarn was also deceptively difficult, especially towards the later stages if you wanted to get all of the collectibles. Whether or not you're a Kirby fan, this game had something for everyone. As Jim would say, he's made of goddamn string! Also, I'm a huge fan of Prince Fluff. He's so cool! It was hard for me to pick just one Wii game for this list, as the console is home to quite a few of my favorite games ever made, but when it comes to games that do a lot of different things while maintaining a near perfect level of craftsmanship throughout  It doesn't get too much better than Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Sure, the game has some floaty jumps that can make the platforming sections feel unfairly difficult, but for me, that just added to the game's Kirby-esque charm. I'm also a big fan of how different Brawl's metagame is from Melee's. I know a lot of people found that disappointing, but for me, I want a new game to be new! While Brawl appeared to be a straight sequel to Melee on the surface, it's really a separate experience, almost as separate as Street Fighter III was from Street Fighter II. Those are really the only two remotely negative things I can say about Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Everything else about the game in unquestionably perfect. The roster is huge, varied, and lovable, all unified under a visual style that managed to bring Solid Snake, Jigglypuff, and Captain Falcon all under the same umbrella without leaving anyone feeling out of place. The soundtrack is also worth the $50 price of admission on its own. In terms of length, the game can be played for tens of hours in single-player before you've unlocked all the content, and literally hundreds of hours with multi-player. It's a game that can be equally enjoyed by lifers who want to turn competitive Smash Bros. competitions into a career, and those who'd don't want to go any deeper than learning what all two attack buttons do. And they didn't even need to use motion controls! After playing Brawl for the past 4 years, I'm left doubting that there is anything Nintendo can do to top this one. It's the pinnacle of the 4-player fighting game genre, and the greatest crossover title of all time. Honorable mentions: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle, Rhythm Heaven Fever Like so many of my favorite games on the system, Fragile Dreams is a truly bizarre experience. It blurs the lines between several genres, borrowing elements from survival horror, action-adventure, and role-playing games. While the evasion of a traditional classification is interesting, it was the narrative rather than the hybridized gameplay where the game truly shined. One most emotionally evocative tales in recent memory, Fragile Dreams follows the journey of a young boy named Seto. After the only person he's ever known passes away, he's forced to venture out into a post-apocalyptic world in hopes of finding other survivors. Seto's lonely search makes Fragile Dreams not only one of the most tragic and heartwarming stories the Wii has to offer but also an experience unlike any other. Honorable mentions: Let's Catch, Muramasa: The Demon Blade, Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars The Bit.Trip games are some of the most interesting releases from this past console generation, and one of the defining series for the Wii. When Sony and Microsoft were focusing on big budget HD games, Gaijin put out Bit.Trip Beat, which showed the world that a small team of talented individuals can take a decades-old idea and breathe new life into it. With each entry in the series, Bit.Trip evolved from a neat musical Pong clone into an incredible metaphorical journey, introducing entirely new yet familiar mechanics. It culminated with Bit.Trip Flux, which brought the series back to its humble beginnings, with a few tricks up its sleeve. Each game in the series has its strengths and weaknesses, but all of them have the ability to cause the player to enter a zen-like state of almost synesthesia, taking in all of the neon colors and electronic sounds until it all just clicks. It's a difficult series to get through, certainly a throwback to gaming days of yore, but it's immensely satisfying to enter the Bit.Trip state of mind and come out on the other side having completed some of the more difficult levels. Even better is taking the trip from Beat all the way to Flux; each entry is fantastic in its own right, but the series as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The Paper Mario and Mario & Luigi series always have felt like a hollow shell of the magic contained within Squaresoft's Super Mario RPG for the SNES. These games always have reasonably good stories and combat but just feel like diminishing returns. Despite its namesake, Super Paper Mario doesn't share all that much with the rest of the series. There are RPG elements, but Super Paper Mario has a lot more going for it. It's the holy grail of Nintendo titles: the platforming of Super Mario World, puzzles of Zelda, and exploration of Metroid (it even plays a Metroid sample when you solve a puzzle).   Even better, the game's script is hilarious, often recalling Mother 3. The highlight is when you need to go to a world run by a hopeless nerd who grills you on the necessity of JRPGs among other things. The game gets a little too exploration-heavy in its second half, but the story and tried-and-true gameplay will keep you invested. Don't let the name fool you. It's super and it's Mario, and, yeah, I guess "Paper" fits somewhere in there too.  Over this past generation, "rail shooter" has become a term of scorn and derision, applied towards games that offer cheap thrills at the expense of direct player control. Not only does Sin & Punishment: Star Successor disprove the notion that rail shooters are fundamentally neutered experiences, it also stands as perhaps the best pure action game of the entire generation -- on the Wii or any other platform. Developed by Treasure -- responsible for such imaginative titles as Gunstar Heroes, Dynamite Headdy, Mischief Makers, Bangai-O, Ikaruga, and more -- the original Japan-exclusive Sin & Punishment was one of the holy grails of the N64 library. It was eventually brought out West via the Wii's Virtual Console, where it quickly shot up the sales chart. Based entirely on this positive reception, Nintendo and Treasure joined forces once more for a sequel that no one thought would ever see the light of day.Star Successor is everything that made the original great times a billion. The analog aiming of the first game is replaced by IR pointing, streamlining the controls and allowing for much faster gameplay. From swarms of hundreds upon hundreds of flying sperm to a boss who turns into a giant liquified manta ray, so much shit happens on screen at once that you never have a moment's rest. It's the perfect combination of Japanese weirdness, manic action, and nail-biting challenge, and I love every second. If you ever complained about the Wii not being "hardcore" enough and never played Sin & Punishment: Star Successor, you only have yourself to blame. Honorable mentions: Mega Man 9, Punch-Out!! When it comes to games, I am, if nothing else, drawn to the fresh and the funky. It's no surprise then that Suda 51 is among my favorite developers and gaming auteurs -- even if some of his more recent works have felt a little lackluster. No More Heroes gets my vote for best Wii game specifically because I feel like it's one of the few projects that actually works with Wii exclusivity. It never takes itself seriously and understands the limits and strengths of the console. Masafumi Takada's infectious theme and brilliant score help bring the whole experience to life in a way that I don't think too many composers could pull off. It's an absolutely psychotic ride from start to finish, and I wouldn't have it any other way. Frankly speaking, there's no other game like Sakura Wars on the market (except its PS2 version, of course), and players missed out by ignoring it. The game's utterly unique mix of conversation, relationship-building, and tactical combat set against the a preposterous steampunk version of 1920s New York (envisioned in the way only Japanese anime can) set it apart from the masses of mini-game collections and shovelware that tainted the platform in the eyes of the hardcore. In fact, it was only the hardcore gamer open to new experiences who was willing to give Sakura Wars a chance, which was a damn shame. Lackluster sales (it reportedly cost more to localize the game than it did to develop it!) discouraged NIS from localizing other titles in the venerable series, likely making So Long, My Love an experience that might never be seen again. So, Nintendo isn't exactly known for its fan service towards Metroid fans. In fact, it was somehow able to completely ignore Metroid's 25th anniversary last year, but that's a story for another time. However, back in 2009, Nintendo put out a collection of all three Metroid Prime games on a single disc in the form of Metroid Prime: Trilogy. This added motion controls, 16:9 widescreen capabilities, and the award system (introduced in Corruption) into the first two titles. Not only that, it also came in a sexy steelbook case and had a small art booklet that documented the story of the entire Metroid franchise up to that point. Nintendo said this release would be limited and, well, it really was limited. The collections went fast, and now people are left to track one down on eBay, where they easily go for well over $100 and much more if someone still has an unopened copy. Everyone that did pick it up were treated to one of the best deals in gaming (outside of The Orange Box) and were able to witness a rare moment when Nintendo celebrated one of the best trilogies of the past decade with its fans. Yes, all these games were re-releases, but Metroid Prime: Trilogy added quite a lot in the way of gameplay and in-game unlocks that simply can't be ignored. This is one of the best Wii titles, and these are easily some of the greatest games of all time. I love it when all of my gaming passions can come together under one banner, which is why Dokapon Kingdom managed to be such a compelling game. Mashing together a board game, mini-game activities, and RPG-like mechanics, it's a cute and very strange little adventure with a great sense of humor. Players move around a fantasy world, collecting new equipment and fighting off enemies. Meanwhile, random events and the interference of the other players will get in your way of becoming the richest in all the kingdom. It's deeply flawed, running entirely too long and consisting of so many random events that it's easy to just pitch a session and go play something else, but there are few more enjoyable experiences I've had with my Wii than a regular game of Dokapon Kingdom, spread out over a few weeks with friends. It's a vicious, funny, and adorable couch multiplayer title that is pretty much unlike anything else. So yeah, those are some of our favorite Wii games. Now tell us about yours.
Favorite Wii Games photo
Revolutionary Reminiscence
No matter what you might think of the Wii, there's no denying that Nintendo's seventh-generation home console changed the game. Despite its technical limitations, the machine outpaced its competitors, introduced motion contro...

$99.99 Wii Mini revealed

Nov 27 // Jim Sterling
Wii Mini  photo
Smaller version of old Nintendo console seems likely
Nintendo has officially revealed the Wii Mini, slated for Canadian release on December 7 and retailing for $99.99. According to the platform holder, the small-size Wii will be exclusive to our neighbors in the north for the d...

Review: Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two

Nov 17 // Jim Sterling
Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two (Mac, PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed], Wii, Wii U)Developer: Junction Point StudiosPublisher: Disney Interactive StudiosRelease: October 18, 2012MSRP: $59.99 Taking place after the events of the original Wii title, this sequel promises to be bigger and better, yet retreads old ground and does nothing to address the legitimate complaints players had last time. Even worse, those few tiny areas in which Epic Mickey 2 attempts new things only contribute to making the overall product worse.  The sequel's story sees Epic Mickey's Mad Doctor return, now claiming to be a good guy and winning favor with the Cartoon Wasteland's leader, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. In a plot that grows exponentially inane and contrived with each step forward, Mickey finds himself returning to the realm of forgotten Disney characters, teaming up with Oswald in order to resolve the vaguely defined conflict that we're supposed to care about because somebody told us it matters.  This time around, the game is fully voiced, but this is one of the aforementioned new features that help make things worse. The voice acting is universally dreadful, with exuberant squawking and simpering from heroes and villains alike. You may have been fooled by marketing into thinking that Epic Mickey 2 is a musical, but it's not. The only character to really sing is the Mad Doc, in a running joke that stops being funny after the first cutscene, especially since the voice actor's gravelly tones grate on the ears and the tunes themselves come across as awkwardly forced. Only one scene in the game feels like a real musical number, and even then, it's hardly memorable.  [embed]238026:45659[/embed] Gameplay is largely preserved from the original Wii title, and using a traditional controller feels like a notable downgrade. For non-Wii versions, you'll be using the right stick to aim a targeting reticule around the screen, making it perform like a third-person shooter despite the camera, controls, and interface framing themselves around a traditional 3D platform game. As you attempt to move and fire, the camera regularly shifts the reticule away from the target, and the way in which the screen moves independently of Mickey's firing line makes combat uncomfortable and difficult to visually process. It's something I don't think I ever quite got used to.  Once again, Mickey is armed with both paint and thinner, which he uses to remove or add pre-determined elements to the world. He can also use thinner to destroy monsters, or paint to turn them friendly. It's a system that never expands, isn't exploited in any clever way, and generally removes a sense of tactility and interaction with the world. Spraying paint at an enemy just isn't very satisfying, especially when it's such a struggle to keep the stuff on target as the opponents run wildly around and the camera does its best to disorient combatants.  Gameplay is divided into action-platformer sequences with light puzzle elements, and 2D sidescrolling levels. Players use the 2D levels, aesthetically inspired by classic Disney shorts, to travel to new areas of the Wasteland, whereupon they'll be required to engage in some fetch-questing and paint-splashing to advance to the next area. Every now and then, tasks can be solved in one of several ways, with a light "moral dilemma" element to them. Such "dilemmas" never really impact the story and seem to exist just to look interesting, rather than be interesting. Neither the 3D or 2D sections last very long, leading to Epic Mickey 2 becoming quite the disjointed affair that rushes its players from one chapter to the next in a maladroit fashion.  In fairness, some of the 2D sections can be quite enjoyable, especially when they take on the appearance of old black-and-white cartoons. As in the original game, these are the standout moments of the adventure. It's just a shame that they're so short, and almost insultingly simple. The levels are never designed with any intricacy, instead providing rudimentary left-to-right progress with a few obligatory obstacles tossed in the way. It's a shame nobody felt like putting more effort into these areas, as they're the only places where potentially compelling gameplay can be found.  Rather than evolve the gameplay in any meaningful way, Junction Point has instead settled on a tired old standby to give the illusion of evolution -- co-op. This time around, Oswald is available as a secondary character in an offline cooperative journey. Instead of paint, Oswald uses a remote control that stuns enemies or powers various machines appearing in Epic Mickey 2's trite little puzzle challenges. He can also use his ears like propeller blades, ferrying Mickey across chasms in a manner similar to Tails in Sonic the Hedgehog 2.  Co-op is not something to be ignored, and my advice to you is that, if you insist on playing this game, you do so with a human partner at your side. Relying on the CPU to control Oswald is a big mistake, as his A.I. is pathetic and regularly works to sabotage a solo player's progress. Left to his own devices, Oswald would rather run around worthlessly than actually help, choosing to attack enemies only at random and often preferring to scurry about in circles or let himself get hit. At times, he'll disappear from the game entirely, respawning on a whim. Pressing a button to call him over only seems to work half of the time.  He'll activate machinery only when he feels like it, and he has an awful time following Micky through sections that involve jumping on multiple raised platforms. One particularly nasty area requires both players to scale a wall, at the top of which Oswald is supposed to glide both heroes across to another ledge. Oswald simply refused to climb up that wall when I tried it, and disappeared into thin-air whenever Mickey reached the top. Only after multiple attempts did I manage to somehow trick Oswald into jumping up there. That is how you deal with Oswald as a solo player. You have to fool him into doing what he's meant to do. On other occasions, Oswald played an active role in getting me hurt or killed. If there are ledges that sink into deadly lakes of thinner when stood on, you can bet that Oswald will stand right on the thing and let it sink. At other times, he would jump into me and knock me into the thinner. Perhaps worst of all was a certain boss that Oswald kept saying he'd distract (constantly, because all dialog loops incessantly), so that Mickey could squirt paint at its back. This tactic soon fell apart when it became clear that "distraction" meant "follow Mickey around so the boss is always facing the player."  And for what? What is so good about co-op that it was worth rendering single-player so unbearable? Nothing. Just a few shoehorned, old-fashioned, enforced cooperative moments where both players have to pull switches, or Mickey holds something open so that Oswald can zap it. The kind of conceited co-op banality that has been injected violently into any sort of game desperate enough to want a popular feature listed on the back of the box but remains too lazy to make that feature do anything meaningful. This kind of crap should not be tolerated anymore.  As noted, the camera is about as unhelpful as Oswald is. Not only does it try and remain in a fixed perspective at all times, it's almost always set at some terrible angle that gives an unclear view of the surroundings. The interface is also dreadful, with both the action and jump commands bound to the same button. This leads to Mickey constantly jumping whenever the player wants him to grab an item or open the many doors that lead to various pointless shops or item-gathering sidequests. Mickey himself is slow, his jumps are pitiful, and his attacks have no precision -- especially notable for enemies that require use of thinner and head-stomps, something the uncoordinated, sluggish mouse isn't properly equipped for.  The Power of Two is a consistently annoying experience. From block puzzles that boast despicable floaty physics to NPC and tutorial dialog that repeats itself obnoxiously, one could be forgiven for thinking that Epic Mickey 2 was designed as a means of interactive psychological torture, built to exasperate enemies of the state into lunacy. Between its unfunny humor, unsatisfyingly brief levels, broken co-op A.I., petulant camera and grotesque voice acting, Epic Mickey 2 is the kind of game that drives sane people mad, and mad people sane.  It can at least be said that the game looks good. It still has the distinctly cute visuals that drive home the missed potential of the original idea, but the bright colors and unmistakable Disney aesthetic look a lot better on an HD console than it did on the Wii. The nostalgic 2D levels bring a measure of obscure charm to the experience, and may be worth seeing for those willing to put up with the suffering required to get there. You'd have to be an insanely loyal Mickey fan, though. Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two does nothing to improve itself over its predecessor, repeating old ideas while refusing to fix problems that are glaringly obvious to even the least tasteful of dolts. Anything added in the sequel has been done so to the its overall detriment -- the voice acting grates, the musical pretensions are vapid, and the cooperative schtick is corny, strained, and a total intrusion for solo play that slows progress, causes trouble, and does not bloody work.  At least Epic Mickey felt fresh enough that some of its faults could be overlooked by the more forgiving of players. The Power of Two has no such charm to hide behind. It's a gormless, chafing, unquestionably horrid little waste of time. Only the hardcore Disney obsessive need look into this one, and I don't advise they look too deeply.
Epic Mickey 2 photo
Fault Disney
Epic Mickey is easily among the more tragic wastes of potential we've seen in the videogame industry. It first whipped fans into a frothy lather of excitement when concept images were shown, displaying a twisted and macabre t...

Review: Retro City Rampage

Oct 31 // Tony Ponce
Retro City Rampage (PC [reviewed], PlayStation Network, PlayStation Vita, WiiWare, Xbox Live Arcade)Developer: Vblank EntertainmentPublisher: Vblank EntertainmentRelease: October 9, 2012 (PC, PSN, Vita) / Q4 2012 (WiiWare, XBLA)MSRP: $14.99 (PC, PSN, Vita) / TBA (WiiWare, XBLA) Retro City Rampage has had quite the colorful history. Originally conceived as the NES homebrew project Grand Theftendo, Brian decided to shift development to PC in order to escape the NES' limitations. From then on, the game started to gain an identity of its own. RCR may be an open-world sandbox, but a GTA clone it is not. It is a melting pot of ideas and inspiration, a conglomerate of cameos and pop culture references that are woven into the fabric so seamlessly that it feels like they truly belong together. It's Brian's own Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and the in-game world of Theftropolis is his Toontown. So rich is the city with heartfelt nods to cherished icons of yesteryear that you can't even go 30 seconds without being slammed by a parade of nostalgia. As you cruise the streets, you may notice the Ninja Turtles' Party Wagon or the A-Team's van driving by. Environments and objects straight out of Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, Sonic the Hedgehog, and more dot the landscape. There's even a boxing gym operated by a man who is totally a dead ringer for Doc Louis from Punch-Out!! [embed]237235:45596[/embed] A lot of these references are window dressing, so it might be easy to pass RCR off as lacking substance. That couldn't be further from the truth. The biggest references of all are built into the missions themselves, straddling the line between parody and homage but always with love and attention to detail. In one mission, you break into the home of the very Batman-esque Biffman, don his costume, and patrol the streets in search of Biffman's nemesis the Jester. In another mission, you bust onto the set of a Saved by the Bell knockoff during a live taping, beat up the high school boys, then take the girl back to your place for some "iced tea." In yet another mission, you have to dive into the reservoir to deactivate bombs in a recreation of the infamous dam level from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on the NES. These are the kinds of adventures you'll embark upon during the main missions, but you might want to kill some time driving around the street, jacking cars, and mowing down pedestrians instead. The more carnage you create, the more your notoriety grows, attracting the attention of ever more aggressive cops and eventually the military. As with GTA, there's something morbidly cathartic about spreading wanton chaos and destruction -- even more so when the world is populated by pixelated, toy-like caricatures of beach bums, gymnasts, and mariachis. Like I metioned, there is an overarching story. You are a hired thug known only as "Player," who is hurtled through time after stealing Bill and Ted's phone booth in front of a convenience store. Stranded in the future, you are fortunate enough to bump into Doc Choc, who's willing to let you use his DeLorean time machine if you can help repair it. Thus, you must track down the missing pieces of the machine, following leads and taking odd jobs along the way. During your quest, you frequently cross paths with your former employer, A.T. Corp., which holds a monopoly on nearly every industry in Theftropolis, from the media to software development. The biggest thorn in your side is the company's lead scientist, Dr. Von Buttnik, who rides around in a wrecking ball-swinging pod like a certain blue speedster's nemesis. In a stroke of hilarious cleverness, Player's conflict with A.T. Corp. sidesteps all player agency concerns. Player claims to be disgusted by A.T. Corp.'s nefarious business practices, which would seem at odds with his penchant for city-wide mayhem. When asked about this contradiction directly, Player flatly states that the two behaviors are not mutually exclusive. By embracing such a contradiction, Retro City Rampage allows you to have your cake and eat it too! Beyond the core levels, you unlock sub-missions that task you with using a specific weapon or tool to destroy a number of pedestrians or cars or to earn a certain amount of points within a time limit. You are then rated on your performance with a bronze, silver, or gold medal, and your score is posted onto the leaderboards. While scoring is typically very straightforward -- link kills together for a streak bonus -- I had serious issues in sub-missions involving handheld explosives like grenades or dynamite. Destroying people or vehicles with these items yields very few points, so the trick is to cause a chain reaction by using the explosion of one vehicle to destroy nearby ones. For some odd reason, this doesn't always result in a substantial amount of points. Maybe I've yet to discover exactly what triggers scoring chains when it comes to explosives, but I find them to be very random, making these some of the most difficult portions of the entire game. Then there are the guest mini-games, starring Commander Video from the BIT.TRIP series, Meat Boy, and even Harley Morenstein and Muscles Glasses from Epic Meal Time. Commander Video's game is an abridged version of BIT.TRIP RUNNER, Meat Boy's takes its cues from Rad Racer (use 3D glasses for stereoscopic mode!), and the EMT crew's closely resembles "Test Your Might" from Mortal Kombat. Clearing these games unlocks the characters' likenesses in either Free Roaming Mode or in the plastic surgery office alongside the Dtoid crew's mugs. The EMT game is not all that hard, but the BIT.TRIP and Meat Boy ones may make you want to smack your head against a wall. They start easily enough, but the challenge quickly ramps up. Particularly in BIT.TRIP, I was having extreme difficulty bouncing off alligator heads using the Xbox 360 controller. When I switched to the keyboard instead, jumping became far more responsive. That may have simply been a mechanical problem with my controller, but as I didn't have any similar issues elsewhere, I'm left to wonder. Customization is another major feature of RCR. You can change the border around the game screen to look like various monitors or arcade cabinets, add CRT scanlines, or apply color filters to simulate the look of old console, handheld, or computer software. If you want to pretend you are playing on an old VGA monitor, you can! If you want to recreate the feeling of squinting at the Game Boy's tiny spinach-colored square, that's possible too! Whatever tickles your nostalgia bone, there's an option available to satisfy your desires. Options extend to play style as well. By pressing and holding the fire button, you will lock onto the nearest target in your line of sight, but you can also use the right stick on a controller to enable twin-stick shooting, Smash TV style. You can dispatch enemies either by shooting them, bashing them, or running over them. n addition, you can pull a Mario and jump on their heads, a quick means to escape a tight squeeze when you are besieged on all sides. There's even a basic cover system for fans of Gears of War because... hell... why not? I haven't even touched upon the amazing chiptune soundtrack, composed by notable game composers Leonard "Freaky DNA" Paul (Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2, NBA Jam 2010) and Jake "virt" Kaufman (Shantae, Double Dragon Neon) as well as game music arranger extraordinaire Matt "Norrin_Radd" Creamer. Their tunes can be heard on the various radio stations while cruising through Theftropolis, the pulse-pounding bass and melodies giving voice to RCR's marriage of anarchy and candy-coated nostalgia. Unfortunately, the on-screen action at any time can be so overwhelming that it drowns out the music. At its worst, the soundtrack sounds like chaotic noise, hardly the catchy rhythms we associate with 8-bit gaming. That isn't so much the soundtrack's fault as it is the sheer concentration of activity that fills every second of play time, but it's nonetheless disappointing. It's this chaos that serves as both RCR's greatest triumph and biggest failing. To go anywhere and do anything, to never go a minute without being bombarded by visual and aural stimulation -- that all sounds good on paper; in practice, it often comes off as distracting. It's a jumble of events that fly past so quickly that your sense of focus will fall apart if you aren't completely devoted. But that was always going to be a problem, considering the ambitious decade-long journey Brian embarked upon. He wanted this to be his magnum opus, a love letter to everything that ever influenced him or made him smile. At the very least, the game never feels bloated or drawn out -- if you only attempt the main story missions, you'll be done in a matter of hours. However, if you want to lose yourself in the city or embark upon an Easter egg quest, the size and scope make for the perfect playground. Will there be people who don't like Retro City Rampage? Of course. In many ways, it bites off more than it can chew, especially when it comes to some of the one-time gimmick missions. Regardless, it is an ambitious achievement that celebrates everything that gaming has been and ever will be. It's clever, funny, outrageous, and even a bit frustrating, but there is a genuine respect for both the players and the sources of all the referenced material. I've barely scratched the surface of what secrets and activities are in store, but I'll leave the rest to you to discover on your own.
Retro City Rampage photo
Grand Theftendo
[Full Disclosure: Not only do current and former Destructoid staff appear as unlockable character skins in the game, there's also a main story mission during which you go inside a giant Mr. Destructoid robot. For these reaso...

Merging toys and videogames with Skylanders

Oct 21 // Hamza CTZ Aziz
Paul Reiche's obsession with monsters Paul Reiche believes that "in our DNA here at [Toys for Bob] is monsters, heroic adventure, and having fun with fantasy adventure." Given Paul's history with gaming, it makes sense, especially with the amount of games he's made with monsters in them. Paul's first taste into the realm of gaming and monsters began with Dungeons & Dragons during high school. His early success with D&D would soon see him working for TSR (the former Dungeons & Dragons publisher), where he helped develop multiple Dungeons & Dragons and Gamma World games. Paul's interest soon shifted to digital gaming, and growing up in Berkly gave him a chance to learn programming at the Lawrence Hall of Science. This proved most fortunate for him as he "happened to be in the right place, at the right time" for the dawn of videogames, making his first D&D-based videogame for the TRS 80 and Apple II. From there, he and Jon Freeman (co-founder of Epyx) formed Free Fall Associates, where they worked on some of the first games for Electronic Arts such as Archon and Mail Order Monsters, both which had you controlling monsters that fought each other. Paul eventually left Free Fall Associates to form his own company, Toys for Bob, with Fred Ford in 1989. It was just the two of them at the beginning, and the company's first title was Star Control. Paul focused on the design and fiction, while Fred handled the programming. Star Control would later be ported from the PC to the Sega Genesis, but Toys for Bob had to work around Sega's restriction and create an unauthorized version for the system. "Back at this time we were trying to break first party," Paul told me. "It didn't work, so we worked with reversed engineered material to create Star Control. It was the biggest cartridge [on the Genesis] at the time." Picture via Ars Technica, which has more on the unauthorized Genesis dev kit They then made Star Control II, and according to Paul, "To this day, we still have a dedicated fan base who want us to abandon Skylanders and just go back to working on it (laughs)." In 1994, Toys for Bob worked with Crystal Dynamics to make Pandemonium, The Horde, and The Unholy War, the latter two both being monster-focused as well. It was also at this time that they made Majokko Dai Sakusen: Little Witching Mischiefs, their weirdest game ever. Paul loved the SD Gundam series, so he went to Crystal Dynamic's head of studio at the time, Rob Dyer, in order to reach out to Bandai and get the rights. Somehow they ended up making the Little Witching Mischief instead, a game based on the Japanese anime from the 1960s. The game was only sold in Japan, and he's not sure how well the game did as their original contact at Bandai ended up quitting. He is looking for copies of the game still, as they only have one in their possession.   Their last title with Crystal Dynamics was 102 Dalmatians: Puppies to the Rescue, for which they serendipitously looked at the original Spyro as the basic model in order to make a good kids game. Toys for Bob would go on to partner with Activision in the early 2000s and make Disney's Extreme Skate Adventure. The company was bought by Activision in 2005 and continued to make kid-focused titles such as Madagascar, Tony Hawk's Downhill Jam, and Madagascar 2. How the idea of Skylanders was born It was around 2008 when Paul noticed, "[T]he world started to change. The high-end licensed titles just weren't making enough money to really justify a great big studio in Northern California. So we ended up being asked come up with something new." Specifically, Activision had sent out a company-wide email asking if anyone had any good ideas that the they could patent. "I just kind of thought that was a funny email," Paul told me. "I said, 'Well, no one is going to answer this. Who would just send off their ideas into the void?' So I said, 'I will! It's a challenge.' "Whenever a studio is told that they know, 'okay, we better do this' (laughs). We want to remain in existence. So we sort of said, well, this is the first time in a long time we've been offered the opportunity to come up with our own game. "So one of the ideas I had, although I didn't know the precise technology underlining it, was this wireless communication through this portal where you have a character, and you would put it on the portal and the game would interpret it and that you can freely move the characters around. "And then they said, 'Oh, and by the way, would you like to work with the Spyro license?' We said, 'Yeah! That's a pretty cool license.'" Activision added that it can't just be a new Spyro game, though. It had to be a new kind of game, because for it to be successful in Activision's eyes, it not only has "to be the top kids game of the year, but it has to be in the top five games period of the year." An extremely tall order, but the timing couldn't have worked out better, as Paul saw it as a chance to combine his portal idea with Spyro. Paul and I-Wei Huang, character and toy director at Toys for Bob, went to Activision with a couple of illustrations to show off their idea, where they would make toys that would work with a piece of hardware that communicates with the game and create a real-world relationship. "The floor of what we needed to achieve was almost unachievable,” Paul explained. "Fortunately, they gave us some time to prototype, and we ended up coming up with this idea for Skylanders. "All through this idea, I kept asking myself, 'Am I smoking crack?' Because we literally had to craft everything by hand, go to Activision, show these crazy demos, and once we actually got to the point where we could put [a toy] on a portal, and it would come to life in the game, this sort of light bulb went on in everybody's head and we said, 'Okay, now we just got to make it good.'" Creating a toy company within a game company As we all know now, Paul and Toys for Bob's crazy idea worked. Penny Arcade immediately took to it, figures were selling for hundreds of dollars on eBay, and even Justin Bieber is a fan. Toys were selling out like crazy, especially around Christmas. Right now, there are so many Skylanders figures that if you were to put every one of them side by side, they would stretch out for 1500 miles. Paul further drove that point home by stating that there are more Skylanders toys than there are people in the United Kingdom! The series is successful now, but I couldn't help but wonder if Paul had any fears when developing the whole idea. "I think we were fortunate in that we didn't know what we didn't know. I think if we had known all of the things we were going to confront, we would have said it was impossible. But fortunately we didn't know, and so what we had was people who worked with us for many, many years. The guy who actually invented the portal technology [Robert Leyland], I've worked with him on and off for more than 30 years. Robert had done hobbyist electronics his whole life. We actually signed Electronic Arts development contract #1! A very obscure game about a murder on a zeppelin." Robert, I-Wei, and Paul went through a lot of different prototypes with the Portal itself, and even at one point made things out of dish drainers. Once the prototype was settled, they went to Red Octane, Activision's proper hardware group. "[Red Octane] had made all of the hardware for Guitar Hero, and then Guitar Hero had sort of found its natural level of success. And so they were ready and waiting to help us take a prototype and make it manufacturable. There's a whole proper physical engineering that we really didn't know about how to do it. We worked with a company called Creata, and they did the toy engineering for us. And then we worked with Red Octane and they did the Portal." While Red Octane was busy creating the Portal, Paul and the team focused on making the toys. "This time around, we sort of went from the Stone Age where I-Wei was crafting things with clay. I had made rubber monsters and plastic monsters as a hobby, that was my contribution to the hobbyist part. I was able to say, 'Well, I can show you how we can take your clay toy, make a mold and then we can cast a bunch of them.' 'Cause every time we would send a toy down to Activision for them to show somebody it would vanish." Paul joking speculates that some kid of an executive would end up with it. "So we started making our own little sweatshop here where we would, after work, cast all these toys and hand paint them. And then those would all vanish. So finally we ended up working with Creata, and they took our solid toys and showed us how they get broken apart." Paul described how the toys are broken down into a very complicated system so that they can be created with as much detail as possible, marveling at how "there's a whole science to how you break toys apart." It's a process that was well above what Toys for Bob could do on their own, so it was fortunate for them that Red Octane was seemingly lying in wait. As for Creata, that whole partnership came about thanks to a man named John Coyne. "We knew when we were getting into toys that we actually needed to have someone in the business who understood toys and had sold them before. So we found a guy named John Coyne, and he had worked at Spin Master, which was the company that launched Bakugan, and before that he had worked at Mattel, and he knew collectable toy lines. "So he helped introduce us to people in the traditional toy world. A lot of them said this is impossible. No one's ever, out of the blue, made 32 toys and sold them in Toys 'R' Us." Paul was grilled about the idea, being asked by people what isle they would sell the product in. To which Paul simply stated, "The aisle with space ... ?" It's not as simple as that, of course. "In Toys 'R' Us, there's an aisle for boys' 8-10 action figures, there's an aisle for girls, there's an aisle for this, etc. And we were like, 'It should sell everywhere! It should sell by the videogames, it should sell in the toys!' And they were just like, 'You can't do that!' "Fortunately, or unfortunately, there's been a decline in the age at which kids will continue to play with toys, particularly boys. They migrate to videogames cause videogames are so compelling. Toys 'R' Us was really excited that we found a way to reintroduce toys and make plastic toys more by adding this sort of intelligence into them and this communication, and then building this narrative about the toys moving between worlds. We showed it to them early on and they said, 'Wow, this is really cool.' So they worked with us as a partner, helping us, again, learn all the ropes of 'well, how do you move into this aisle?' "The world of retail is a whole really complicated business. We make videogames and we have partners at Activision that really help us and [one day] they said, 'We got the something shelf at Walmart!' And we were like, 'Cool! ... What is that?' And they said, 'This is the shelf that normally stocks ketchup and mayonnaise.' And we were like, 'Okay ... ' They said, 'No, you don't understand, this is the most coveted shelf at Walmart and you guys got it worldwide!' 'Cool! Mayonnaise and ketchup alright! We got it!' It's business. Because we have something people want to buy, we're getting a lot of support from the retailers." How the Skylanders are born The scope of how much quality control Toys for Bob have now wasn't made clear until I talked to I-Wei, who will draw, create loose sketches, make iterations, and then get a 3D model printed in full color. He told me, "Once we have this in our hand, that's when we go, 'Okay, is this a cool toy? Do we like it?'" I-Wei specifically showed me the many iterations of Bouncer, one of the new Giants characters. He first was this extremely fierce-looking robot with Gatling guns for hands. It reminded me of the Cylons from Battlestar Galactica, in fact. Cool but not something suitable for the kids. From this initial design, Paul and I-Wei tried to mold the character. They were set on giving him some type of gun-like weapon, and while trying to think of specific examples, they both kept using their own hands as a gun. It's something everyone has done with their hands, so they applied that idea to Bouncer. From there they went through many different color designs and wheel designs, making sure that not only did he look cool from the front but also from the back and above, as that's what the player has to see in the game. I-Wei went through about a couple of dozen designs, from small to large changes, before settling on something on paper with Bouncer. For the next step, the team modeled the character out in full 3D within the game, animating it and making it strike different poses. Part of this process is to figure out the actual constraits for the toy, as they have to make sure that it both fits on the Portal alongside another toy as well as in its retail packaging. Next they get feedback from Creata and the manufacturing process. If the design can't be mass produced within the set limitations then the design has to get altered yet again. Then there's the painting process -- this is something Paul and I-Wei really obsess over, debating back and forth with each other. Automation is not part of the paint process, and every paint stroke costs money. They first go about making the toy look cool then scale back, typically with the color schemes, in order make the toys affordable. "If you compare [our toys] to what's on the shelf today in Toys 'R' Us or whatever around the same price range, this is a much higher quality 'cause we use so much more paint then anyone else," I-Wei tells me. "That's mostly because we care, first of all, about our characters. Originally, it was because we were ignorant. We weren't toy people, we just wanted cool toys. "When we got prototypes back, it's like, 'No, that looks like crap, you knew you need to paint this part, and let's try doing this and this.' The toy companies are trying to tell us, 'You know, you're like twice more than what you should be. It'd be fine just doing this.' No, we just want a cool toy," was I-Wei's blunt answer to the manufacturers. I-Wei pointed out a case filled with Skylanders figures across from him that all had something wrong with them. "We go through a lot of eyes, eyes are never painted right the first 10 times." Bouncer in particular took a few months from concept to final version to complete. That's just one figure, but they're creating a lot of different characters at the same time, too. "I was really fortunate that I got to participate," Paul told me. "I-Wei and I decided early on that he and I would work together to do all the character designs. He's the artist, the illustrator, and the modeler. So really, the vision of the characters is very strongly in his hands. What I come into it is saying, I come from a D&D player head, I'm like, 'Okay, I have this giant tree guy, and he's going to be really strong.' I started clenching my fist, and I-Wei would go off and start sketching. "Sometimes, we'll get requests from the design department they'll say, 'Okay, we need a range guy, he's a fire range guy who's funny. Those are the things you guys have to work with.' But normally, I-Wei would bring me some sketches and I'll say, 'Oh my God, that guy's great. Now let's replace that crazy skull head with a furry little creature head,' and he would go do 40 variations on that. I-Wei sometimes just draws these crazy monsters, and I just get to play with them." Paul explains, "[I]t's this amazing new creative job, but by shifting and taking more responsibility over the look of it, what we're able to do is really increase the quality of the toys." The toys and game models in Giants are 1:1 this time around, something that wasn't the case for the first game as they didn't have certain technology at the time, specifically their gigantic 3D printer. Improvements have of course happened on the game itself too, as the team knows what they're doing better for the sequel. "This time around, we really knew what we wanted to achieve on both on the toys and on the game." Combat is better, there's a better presentation and more variety, and they even got some more Hollywood talent. Patrick Warburton is back as Flynn, Richard Horvitz is back as Kaos (who's basically Invader Zim here, I mean, come on). New to the cast is George Takei of Star Trek fame and Kevin "Hercules" Sorbo. Kevin actually reached out to Toys for Bob, asking if there was some way he could be part of the game so he could score some cool points with his kids that love the series. This is Crusher, a new Giants character voiced by Kevin Sorbo Dealing with pressure by focusing on quality Skylanders is now one of Activision's biggest sellers with the likes of Call of Duty. That adds new pressure to the humble studio, but it's "the kind of problem you want to have," Paul tells me. "You can't look at the dollars and the numbers or you'll go insane. You have to just focus on the things that you can control, which are quality. "There is tremendous pressure. We went from being nothing to being a half-billion dollar franchise. And of course [Activision] wants it to be more. We would love to do that too. We want more kids to enjoy our game. And success is good, it guarantees we continue to have jobs. The only way we can control it is quality, and that's what we focused on." This time around, "[Toys for Bob] went into the toys and said, you know last time the way we worked with the toy developers [and] the engineers was we would send them illustrations where we would send them in-game models and they would craft from 3D from the ground up. We would go back and forth with them many, many times trying to actually recreate the character that we created. "This time, we bought a 3D printer, and we did all of the new characters in hi-res and ZBrush ourselves. So we sent them, this is exactly how it should look. We had the 3D prints, so we could send them a solid object and say this is how it should be colored, and then we would go back and forth on the paint operations." The ultimate bar that Paul envisioned was reaching Nintendo heights. "When we started this project, we said, 'What do we need to achieve to make this work?' One of them was our game needs to stand up to Nintendo first-party titles. They're the gold standard of quality for our audience. "Nintendo has a way of tracking how many hours people are spending with what games. We just surpassed Super Mario Galaxy 1 and 2 in terms of average number of hours players play Skylanders. That was as good as we could of imagined. We want kids who are spending money on these toys to feel like it was really worth it. Not only in terms of how cool the toy is but that they got more play value. "I-Wei and I both have to evaluate stuff, and mine is 'Do I want to be this guy?' I-Wei's is 'Do I want to reach up on the shelf and buy this guy and convince mom to pay for it?' Without that, it's too cerebral because toys are way more emotional. Physical objects trigger different relationships than virtual ones. I think they're more emotional, and I think they're more deeper in your brain." Skylanders Giants is out today for the 3DS, PC, PlayStation 3, Wii, and Xbox 360, and coming November 18 on the Wii U. Read up on our review  for all that's new and improved. [Special thanks to COIN-OP TV and Nintendo World Report for providing some of the photos. Go check out their video tours at Toys for Bob for more!]
Playing with toys photo
Just how are the toys made?
Who knew actual physical toys would propel a videogame to become the number one selling Activision title (so far) this year and generating over $200 million in sales? Developer Toys for Bob struck gold with its ingenious idea...

The Wii is blatantly better than Barack Obama

Oct 18 // Jim Sterling
The Wii has a superior healthcare solution Sure, people like to talk about Obamacare like it's significant, but how many lives has it saved so far? How many diseases has it cured? I just did a Google search and it turns out both cancer and AIDS are still pretty much around, so thanks a lot, NobamaCOULDN'TcareLESS! Meanwhile, the healing properties of the Wii are documented and acknowledged by scientists who have been interviewed in newspapers. As you look at the mounting evidence, you find that Wii-habilitation has stopped elderly people from falling down stairs, eliminated fatness and old age, and made arthritis a thing of the past. There are no pictures of Obamacare saving some little bald kid's life. There are pictures of mad old duffers standing up and waving their hands around. Rejuvenation, for a healthsome America. The Wii is a job creator It took Obama four years to lower the unemployment rates below 8% or whatever it was they said on CNN when I was flicking through channels looking for Adventure Time. Whatever. It took the Wii four weeks probably to become a household phenomenon, creating intense demand in retail stores, thus creating more work, thus logically creating jobs. Somebody had to make, package, and sell those Wiis. How many people had to make, package, and sell Obama? We don't know, because he won't show us his birth certificate, but we can assume not many! Under Obama, people have been so unemployed that they can't even get jobs writing shit like this. Meanwhile, Nintendo has been picking up the slack by hiring people to manufacture, then ultimately dismantle, millions of Wii Speak devices. Don't question me on this, just look at the facts I'm writing. Stimulating the economy Talk about a stimulus package? I've got your stimulus package right here, Barry (I am talking about my testicles and penis when I say this, because "package" sometimes means testicles and penis, even though it doesn't in this case, but that is the joke of what I am saying). Barack Obama has done nothing to fix the economy, selling all our money to China, wasting it on education and science instead of giving it to Jesus to invest, and refusing to use his serpent's staff to banish the national debt to the Forbidden Realm of M'ak'Ta'Luao like we keep telling him to. Obama's stimulus package was a joke, especially when you consider the fact that the Wii basically is a little stimulus package in and of itself. In 2006, before Obama was even born, the Wii was responsible for so many people smashing their television sets with carelessly flung motion controllers, thus the electronics industry experienced a thriving boom. Just look at this graph: The Wii sold basketfuls, driving profits for GameStop, Best Buy, Walmart, Amazon, and other stores that I don't go to. It sold dozens of extra peripherals, continuing to boost fiscal earnings and economic stability. Not to mention the 10 copies of Okami it shifted, which might've helped too. The Wii IS America's stimulus, and the Wii U will be as well. Vote Wii U! Nintendo was a more progressive step forward for American culture Barack Obama made history by becoming the first African-American president of the United States of America. It was a massive accomplishment, a huge step forward for our culture, and it's something I absolutely, positively will not take away from the man. We should all be proud and give ourselves a pat on the back over how not-racist we are. Good for us and our victory, white folks of America. Good for us. However, as significant as Obama's presidency may be in the history of progressive attitudes, it's still but a speck on the gigantic radar of time, as compared to the huge, gelatinous splodge that is Nintendo. While Obama was soaking up the acclaim and making us all feel not-racist, Nintendo broke real ground by employing people who weren't even really human into positions of power. That Nintendo would promote Reggie Fils-Aime, the world's first executive to be made up of 75% chuck steak, is truly the achievement that human civilization will remember forever. As most folks know (mostly just by looking at him), Fils-Aime is only partially made up of homo sapien DNA, with most of his body mass constructed from bits off a butcher's slab. There's some pork in there and probably gravy for blood. He's a meaty, salty, oxtail president of Nintendo, something Obama, with all his petty humanity, could never hope to be. God willing, Nintendo will see meat-men in positions of power all over the globe. They can never die, you see, and need not sleep. America has been too prejudiced against homo savories for too long, and Nintendo's paving the way toward acceptance. Wii did more for gay issues than Obama Obama has stood with his gay brethren, making a stand for same-sex marriage and pledging his support to a demographic that has, for too long, been downtrodden, dismissed, and ultimately despised by a large section of the voting public. However, Obama is only supporting gay marriage for political reasons, and politicians doing things for political reasons because of politics absolutely fucking disgust me. How DARE a politician be politically motivated? How DARE Electronic Arts support LGBT issues because of reasons? How DARE!? How DAAAAAARE!?!?!? Sorry to burst your little bubble, BaCRAP OBALMYSUMMEREVENING (Barack Obama), but I'm going to throw my support behind a company that's done far more for gay issues than you could ever hope. I'm throwing my lot in with the Wii, a system that broke gay boundaries with Muscle March. [embed]237009:45475:0[/embed] Just watch the above video, and YOU tell ME what will ultimately be more beneficial for gay rights in America. Some silly bit of paper saying two guys or two gals are married? Or PURE. UNADULTERATED. MUSCLE!? You decide. I'm just dishing out the facts. Don't ever get me started on Captain Rainbow. The Wii isn't single-handedly responsible for every bad thing in America The debt ceiling. Unemployment. The economy. Terrorism. Jeff Dunham. Crime. No freedom. Jeff Dunham. All the fault of one Barack INSANE (instead of Hussein) Obama. As everybody who has watched FOX News under a democratic government can wisely tell you, the president is 100% responsible for absolutely every single bad thing that's ever happened in the country (all good things, by the way, are thanks to Ronald Reagan). The president micromanages the country like he's playing Theme Hospital, and just like Theme Hospital, people keep dying because of bad health care and inflated heads (a metaphor for big government). Meanwhile, the Wii is NOT president, and thus is NOT responsible for every single bad thing that's ever happened in the United States. How about them apples? Vote Wii U for president, because it's not the president, therefore it's not bad. The TROOPS Obama promised to bring THE TROOPS back home but didn't do so. He broke his promise and left THE TROOPS high and dry in Egypt, or wherever it is they are. One of them countries. While our boys are fighting his wars, Obamama's Boy is sitting at home, dodging the draft and laughing at all the people he's having killed, because he doesn't give a damn about our military and he is also big government. While Buttrack Buttbambutt merely promises, Nintendo's at least trying to get our TROOPS back on home soil. Only the Wii was brave enough to draw up a plan of action. Army Rescue, I haven't played it, but the name says all that needs to be said. The Wii has a living document that says it WILL rescue our army. Given half a chance, it'll do it before stupid 2014, too. TROOPS! The Wii simply has THE better president Ladies and gentlemen, I give you President Cat: [embed]237009:45476:0[/embed] I. Rest. My. God. Damn. Case.
Wii > Obama photo
The REAL political debate of the year
This year, two reigning incumbents are looking to win themselves a second term of power. I am, of course, talking about president-elect of the United States, Barack Obama, and president-man of the eighth console gen...


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