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Satoru Iwata and his legacy: What it means to me

The last few months have been dramatic for gamers, especially Nintendo fans. We had E3 and all it’s announcements, the success of Splatoon, and the drama surrounding Devil’s Third. Suddenly, all that was cut short by the tragic and untimely passing of Satoru Iwata. I want to have an open exploration of my [quite likely] imperfect thoughts on everything that’s happened over the last several weeks, especially Mr. Iwata.

I, by and large, am a fan of Satoru Iwata’s ethos and actions as President of Nintendo. He was a generous man who put a face on the company and revamped its image for the better. Most importantly, he successfully navigated Nintendo through an industry in a state of flux, finding the right balance of innovation and tradition to put Nintendo in a healthier, and more artistically rewarding, position than much of the industry.

Satoru Iwata had an interesting perspective, as he once used to create games himself
Satoru Iwata had an interesting perspective, since he used to create games himself

He brought us two of the best Nintendo handhelds in DS and 3DS, and two of it’s most underrated systems in Wii and Wii U. Under his tenure, Nintendo delivered more first and second-party support than ever before. The DS has the best game library of all time, the 3DS has the best library of the current generation, and Wii brought us a 2D Mario title, two 3D Mario titles, two Zelda titles, three Metroid titles, a Fire Emblem title, the revival of series like Punch Out and Sin and Punishment, and of course stalwart evergreen titles like Mario Kart Wii and Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Wii U has the best console library for adventurous gamers, what with titles like The Wonderful 101 and upcoming Shin Megami Tensei X Fire Emblem crossover. Things weren’t perfect – nothing is – but Mr. Iwata’s persistent humility and ability to acknowledge Nintendo’s limitations made the occasional shortcoming easier to bear, so long as we had the empathy to “please understand.”

Mr. Iwata’s passing throws community drama into a different light. Suddenly, instead of bemoaning the lack of Metroid on Wii U, I’m seeing a holiday season filled with solid games that many are excited for. After E3, some fans felt Nintendo wasn’t supporting Wii U any better than EA; now, it’s hard not to see just a steady stream of Wii U games ready to launch in the upcoming months.

Nintendo has a diverse bundle of games set for upcoming release, and a track record of greatness on all their systems. Now it’s clearer than ever: under Mr. Iwata, this tradition continued without on-disc DLC and 50 gb patches.

Many of us have been pensive in the wake of Mr. Iwata’s passing. We looked back at our relationship with him, looking over what he brought, what he intended, what his presence meant, and how we reacted. It’s understandable to feel a bittersweet positivity reflecting on the passing of a man who brought us so much joy. It isn’t “capitalizing” on his passing, nor is it “glamorizing” his failure. It’s love, and it’s fine if this positivity is born of introspection after tragedy. Earnest expression, visible so rarely in the Internet age, is a beautiful thing.

I know it’s easy to get caught up in drama, to focus on the things you want and the things that aren’t there, instead of the things you have and the things you enjoy. Mr. Iwata devoted his career to combating this cynicism, looking to make people happy. When we look back on his career, his life, and the impact he left on the industry (and us), and as we wait for new announcements and games to discuss with our friends, this is what we should remember: He believed games should be fun for everyone, and he was right.

“Above all, video games are meant to just be one thing: Fun for everyone.”

Quadcopter Pilot Challenge review

Quadcopter Pilot Challenge is a title by TACS, giving the player the controls to a little remote-controlled aircraft. Though it sounds fun in theory, does the game manage to create a memorable experience worth your time?

The visuals don't stand out, but they aren't terrible, either
The visuals don’t stand out, but they aren’t terrible, either

Visually, Quadcopter isn’t anything special, though it does boast solid frame rates and nice color usage. In short, this isn’t a title you will show off to your friends, but it isn’t terrible, either. An interesting, albeit purely aesthetic, touch is the addition of the GamePad being used as a cockpit view. It’s a nice touch of visual flare that was just a fun addition.

Outside of the nice color usage, there’s nothing that truly stands out visually, however. The artwork is decently done, the landscape that the various challenges take place on is decently done, and the animations are solid enough. Quadcopter is very much a game that isn’t visually terrible, but it doesn’t stand out either.

As far as the audio is concerned, the few compositions in the title were rather catchy. They fit the gameplay; they don’t draw away from it. The audio cues are well done, too, with the “whir” of the blades, the pop of balloons, and various other general audio cues working nicely to create a cohesive audio whole to complement the gameplay. The only issue I had with it was the lack of variety in compositions; there simply just weren’t enough. The songs may not draw away from the gameplay, but they tend to become more like background music. Again, not bad at all, but the lack of variety doesn’t help the audio experience stand out.

The player navigates their aircraft through rings before landing on a small platform
The player navigates their aircraft through rings before landing on a small platform

The gameplay was surprisingly fun, though, despite the wonky controls. The controls are simple: use the left stick to accelerate (tilt forward) or decelerate (tilt backwards), while the right stick is used to move up (tilt forward) or down (tilt backwards). Combining the usage of the sticks proves to be difficult, sometimes in a positive creating-more-skill sort of way, while other times it is simply frustrating. There were many times I would be really getting into a groove, flying my little copter around – zipping through rings and popping balloons for extra time taken off the clock – only to have it suddenly flip out. These sudden moments of wonky controls would not only take me out of my flow, but would pull me out of the enjoyment I had begun having.

Using the sticks very smoothly and fluidly wasn’t the issue; I found that facet of the controls to be rather great. It was the inconsistency or these fluid movements, and how it really punishes the player. Many solid runs I had, which became based on skill the longer I played the game, were thrown out the window in what seemed like random acts of craziness.

Outside of the wonky controls now and then, I had fun with Quadcopter. There are plenty of challenges to play, each with the option to go for gold, silver, or bronze medals. Though there are some other modes, the most fun I had with the title revolved around the challenges. I finished a first run-through of the game in a few hours time, but there were still plenty of medals left to be earned. In each challenge, the player attempts to pass through all the rings in the level in the quickest possible manner, popping balloons for time to be taken off the timer at the end. Once all the rings have been passed through, the player lands on a small platform to end the run. It’s a simple goal, but I found it to be somewhat addicting and fun, thanks to the difficulty curve. It’s nicely done, forcing the player to get better without being disrespectful; it still remained fun.

Other additions – such as earning reputation points to increase license rank – help to lengthen the overall gameplay experience, and create more replay value; you can always come back and get top marks on whatever challenges you desire. There’s enough content to keep the player busy for a solid amount of time.

The solid frame rate, ambitious attempt to use both sticks to carefully and methodically navigate your aircraft to the finish, and the amount of challenges are all strong aspects of this title. Now, I will most likely be in the minority here, and this is purely preferential, but I would’ve liked to have seen gyro controls as an option. I greatly enjoy seeing developers utilize what separates the Wii U from other systems; the GamePad. The developer seemed to have this partially in mind, what with the addition of the cockpit view on the touch screen; however, combining the cockpit view with gyro controls could’ve created a nice off-screen experience, as well as more depth to the TV gaming experience. Having this option would’ve been a nice touch to help push Quadcopter a little more into the spotlight.

QPC 2

Overall, I had fun with Quadcopter. I did find myself playing for long amounts of time in one sitting, addicted to the simplistic nature of the gameplay and finesse required with the controls. The few issues keep the title from becoming a great and unique experience, but it still proved to be an overall enjoyable one.

Overall Score:6/10

Quadcopter Pilot Challenge is available for $8.99 on the Wii U eShop.

Nihilumbra review: Nothingness never looked so good

Nihilism is the philosophy of “extreme skepticism maintaining that nothing in the world has a real existence.” This is an interesting concept to build a game around; Nihilumbra, by BeautiFun Games, does just that. As interesting a concept as it may be, does the title manage to propel itself into something greater?


Yikes, who woke up on the wrong side of bed?
Yikes, who woke up on the wrong side of bed?

Visuals – 9/10

Nihilumbra looks great. The 2D artwork works very well for this game, and flows very smoothly. There is a wide color palette used, from bleak grays to bright yellows, and they’re utilized well. The locales reflect this color usage, including – but not limited to – areas such as forests, deserts, and even cities. Another way the colors are used relates to the direct gameplay: there are different powers obtained as the player progresses through the story which help to get past obstacles, each with its own distinct color. This color usage enhances the actual gameplay, and highlights the art direction even more.

Speaking of locales, the level designs in Nihilumbra are visually pleasing, incorporating background and foreground aspects to help make this world have depth and reality. As you walk along (well, more like scoot along), backgrounds display beautiful lands, while the foreground provides depth to this world in the form of pieces of the land protruding out of the ground. All of this gives character, and helps the player to latch onto this world. This especially helps when the narrator, and general outlook found in the game, is rather bleak and feels emotionally heavy.

NU 2
“When I grow up, I wanna be a scarecrow!”

The nicely done color usage and exceptional level/area designs are joined with solid frame rates, which never dipped or lagged under stress. This title runs smoothly and looks great while doing so. The fluid animations and solid frame rates compliment the hand-drawn feel the game displays, adding to the character built into this world, though no life – outside hostile creatures, of course – seems to inhabit it.

One complaint I have was the enemy character designs; they weren’t bad by any means (some are rather neat, actually), but it didn’t seem varied enough. When there isn’t life or activity in the levels/areas to help keep the player engaged and drawn into the crafted world, the enemy designs have to be plentiful. Nihilumbra doesn’t have enough variety in this aspect.

Outside of this minor complaint, I couldn’t find much wrong with the visuals in Nihilumbra. I think it worked well with the nihilistic storyline and helped me to actually care about the world, especially the protagonist. Nihilumbra has smooth animations, solid frame rates, and very nice artwork.

Nihilumbra has excellent art direction and visual style
Nihilumbra has excellent art direction and visual style

Audio – 9/10
I greatly enjoyed the pieces in the game. Every composition, except the “chasing” scenes where the Void is after your little dark blob of a protagonist, has an ethereal and haunting feel to it. It fits the game content, and gives the player a sense of exploration of something new – and possibly terrifying.

Each area has a theme associated with it which plays through the levels within it; the compositions are very well done, standing apart from one another while maintaining continuity with the overall nihilistic theme. The only repetition I observed were the Void chase sequences I stated above. It didn’t feel cheap or overused, though, and gave a good sense of urgency as the Void hurries to swallow up the protagonist.

A narrator speaks to the protagonist throughout the game, sometimes enticing it to just fall back into the Void, while other times acting as a consciousness (speaking on how the protagonist may feel at the time). I found the narration to be a little cheesy, but overall enjoyable; the unique voice of the narrator and the well written dialogue truly help to add to the gaming experience in Nihilumbra, making the audio a more substantial foundation in the gameplay. Audio met visuals whenever narration arose, as the words from the narrator would appear on various parts of the screen in a rather artistic manner.

The narration is a little cheesy, but still very enjoyable and well done
The narration is a little cheesy, but still very enjoyable and well done

Audio cues also take part in making this hostile world seem more real. There were some nice cues, such as the screech from an enemy, the zap of electricity, or sizzle when the “red power” is spread on the ground beneath an enemy. Each cue gives personality to either the characters or the landscapes being explored.

I greatly enjoyed the compositions in Nihilumbra, as well as the narration. The audio cues helped to further the audio foundation, as well, making the overall audio experience in the title memorable and enjoyable.

Gameplay – 8.75/10
Where the audio and visuals excelled, the gameplay in Nihilumbra fell just a little short. The player navigates the protagonist through each level, with the first level usually introducing a new power to utilize upcoming puzzles. The left stick moves the character left and right, while pressing “B” triggers a jump. Either pressing “Y” or touching the little ball in the top right corner of the touch screen opens up the powers menu, where the player can select whichever power-up he or she wants. The mechanics are simple enough, catering to a platforming/puzzle type of game.

The player navigates through various areas, each with a certain amount of levels to get through before reaching the end of the area. To wrap up an area, there is a “chase” level, in which the player must quickly navigate the level while the Void is frantically attempting to engulf the protagonist. These help to break up the gameplay a little and add some urgency to the situation the character has found itself in; these become acts of self preservation, even at the cost of losing the area to the Void. I found them interesting, since the player has to capitalize on the newly found power in that area, along with previously obtained ones, in order to survive.

You use the colored powers to do various things via the touch screen on the GamePad
The player uses the colored powers to do various things via the touch screen on the GamePad

The concept of using powers to complete puzzles and progress past obstacles seems great, but it felt a little under-utilized. The puzzles began to get more challenging and hefty towards the end of the game; the rest of it was purely for story and aesthetics (which, honestly, I was more than okay with). The powers could amount to some very fun puzzles later on in the game – use the ice power (light blue) to help an enemy slide into a pit, then switch to the fire power (red) to light the ground up underneath the enemy, while using the bounce power (green) to jump over the pit. The mechanics flowed very well, but I had expected more troublesome puzzles to figure out and incorporate the powers acquired along the way.

The Void "chase" levels appear at the end of every area
The Void “chase” levels appear at the end of every area

Luckily, upon completing story mode, a new mode opens up that gave me just this. The unlockable mode is quite difficult, and it requires the player to hone his or her skills with powers to get past each section. I found this mode to be incredibly frustrating, but in a very good way. With the addition of this mode, it’s clear the game caters to multiple crowds: those who just want the story and general difficulties (story mode), and those who craved difficult gameplay mixed with nicely crafted puzzles (unlockable mode). I don’t want to give the name of the mode, nor the objective, since it happens after the main story, but just know this: the mode is quite difficult.

NU 6
The narrative in Nihilumbra isn’t a happy journey, but it is an enjoyable story

Nihilumbra is a very story-driven title, with solid gameplay mechanics and the nice addition of colored powers. I feel like I had the best of both worlds with this game: a story that kept me engaged until the very end, along with challenging puzzles afterward.

Later on, the puzzles get and gameplay get more difficult
Later on, the puzzles get and gameplay get more difficult

Entertainment Factor – 9/10
As stated above, Nihilumbra is very much a story-driven game. There is no online support, outside of Miiverse posting, but the game doesn’t need anything of the sort. I greatly enjoyed the story in Nihilumbra, and I found myself attached to the protagonist by the end of the game, though the character never spoke, nor displayed much emotion (when there was a little emotion, it was powerful).

I also found much enjoyment in the visual style and music. Everything fit together nicely to create a solid whole, giving a great overall experience. After completing much of the unlockable mode, I had put in about 6 hours of play time in the game, a few hours of which was due to the story mode. After beating story mode, I was enticed to move on, with the new mode actually progressing the story a little further, but much more focused on puzzles and gameplay.


NU 10

Nihilumbra is a somewhat depressing experience that is definitely worth taking. The story is told well, the visual style and art direction are great, and the gameplay gets difficult later on. Add in excellent compositions and decent GamePad usage, and there’s a game that I most definitely recommend. Nihilumbra is worth your time and money, and will be a memorable experience about nothingness.

Overall – 8.9/10

Nihilumbra is available now for $9.99 on the Wii U eShop.

Shapes of Gray review: Simplicity is the key

Shapes of Gray, by Secret Tunnel Entertainment, is an eShop title that is…well, just that: full of various shapes of different hues of gray. The game doesn’t go for flashy effects, but rather, solid gameplay in the hope of capturing the attention of the player. Does Shapes of Gray manage to do this?


The visuals in Shapes of Gray are simple, and they work.
The visuals in Shapes of Gray are simple, and they work.

Visuals – 6.75/10
Firstly, Shapes of Gray is not about elaborate usage of color, obviously – it’s all about simplicity. Simplicity in gameplay. Simplicity in audio. Simplicity in visuals. And you know what? I enjoy the art style in the game.

There is a circle in the middle of the screen, outlined in black, with three hearts at the top right and a timer running along the left side of the screen. All of these are, of course, colored with different shades of gray. Your character, a little diamond-like shape of a particular gray, can be moved around the circular map, avoiding enemy shapes and taking them out with it’s trusty sword.

The game runs rather smoothly, except for a couple specific levels that have a large number of bigger enemies (ones that dart at the player); these few instances, the frame rate dropped dramatically. This caused a rough patch with the actual gameplay, but aside from these few hiccups, Shapes of Gray ran well.

Simple look, simple colors, and simple designs are the theme in Shapes of Gray, and I think it works just fine.

Uh oh...
Uh oh…

Audio – 5/10
There isn’t much in the way of audio in Shapes of Gray. Where this simplicity worked well with the visuals, the audio comes up a little lacking. There aren’t many compositions to help combat aural fatigue, and the audio cues are done well enough – there just aren’t enough of them.

What is there is nicely done, with the audio cues resembling sounds you might find in an old Game Boy title (perhaps The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening?). And the audio does help to give the sword some heft when connecting with enemies. Overall, Shapes of Gray has solid audio; it just doesn’t have enough diversity.

Gameplay – 7.5/10
Again, simplicity is the focus, and this is where Shapes of Gray shines the most. The player must finish 49 levels (because 50 Shapes of Gray is a little too risque), completing the first mode. Each level holds greater challenges, whether it be new and smarter enemies, or simply more enemies. The player navigates their little shape around the circular battlefield, and must slay all enemies with a sword before the timer runs out. The left stick is used to navigate the level, while the right stick is used to aim your protagonist in a specific direction. Pressing the right trigger button causes your character to swing a sword; but you better time it right! There is a little delay on the swing, so be careful not to get too close to an enemy or you might lose a heart rather quickly.

There are checkpoints along the way (not save points, mind you) while making it through to the final boss (Level 1). This adds difficulty to the gameplay, since the player only has three hearts per checkpoint. Once the first mode of play is passed, it opens up another mode for the player to attempt. What I found to be lacking, though, was any type of leaderboards, whether local or online. A game like this would’ve benefited from an online leaderboard to compete against friends, since Shapes of Gray isn’t a game that is to “be completed,” but rather, to be constantly competing in.

The controls are solid, work well enough, and the gameplay is difficult: Shapes of Gray plays nicely.

The gameplay is simple as well, and it can become addicting. If only there were online leaderboards!
The gameplay is simple as well, and it can become addicting. If only there were online leaderboards!

Entertainment Factor – 7.5/10
I had fun with Shapes of Gray. Though online leaderboards would’ve enticed me to play even more, I still found the simplistic gameplay and visuals rather addicting. Though it was a little frustrating playing the same segments of levels repeatedly, I found enjoyment in the limited checkpoints, since they added a nice level of difficulty. Combine that with the timer for each level, and the very limited amount of hearts (life points), and Shapes of Gray becomes a fun little title that can easily become addicting. There is no story here, nor elaborate puzzles, but simple and addictive gameplay.


logo

Shapes of Gray isn’t a large indie title to sink hours of gameplay time into a story or campaign mode; it’s a fun pick-up-and-play title that can become addicting. The lack of online leaderboards is a bit of a let-down, but it didn’t stop me from enjoying the game. If you’re into games that require simple skill, and can be played in short spurts, then Shapes of Gray is a nice title to grab.

Overall – 6.7/10

Shapes of Gray is available now for $6.99 on the Wii U eShop.

Secret Tunnel Entertainment provided a review copy for Shapes of Gray.

Transformation now: Some possibilities for Nintendo’s new theme

Though the rest of their E3 showing last week wasn’t nearly as bad as it was made out to be, Nintendo did seem to miss the target entirely during their Digital Event. The Digital Event started out very well, with great presentation – in the form of puppets – and Star Fox Zero footage, while the rest of the event seemed to fizzle out. However, I don’t want to focus on whether or not the presentation was sufficient, but rather, I found the theme for Nintendo this year to be most curious: transformation.

Could this be transformation in regard to the next console? No, it wouldn’t be that (at least, not yet), especially since Reggie Fils-Aime purposefully reiterated that no details for NX would be revealed until next year.

Could transformation reference the direction of the company moving to a more mobile-based foundation? No, it wouldn’t be that, either; again, Satoru Iwata had made it very clear earlier this year that Nintendo would still be making dedicated gaming hardware – the NX. To further this point, they gave a brief outline as to what the new mobile app would encompass, while not giving out too much other information on it. Nintendo will be utilizing mobile, as opposed to becoming fully immersed in the mobile market.

Ok, well, maybe the theme of transformation is in regard to the types of games coming to the 3DS and, more specifically, the Wii U and its GamePad usage (like they stated last year at E3)? I mean, they did transform into Star Fox characters during the presentation. I wouldn’t say so, as the only newly revealed game to fully utilize that (in the Digital Event) was Star Fox Zero. Sure, Super Mario Maker will make great usage of the GamePad, but we had known that since last year, so there’s no real transformation there. In addition, there are no new franchises that were highlighted (Star Fox, Zelda, Metroid), except for Xenoblade Chronicles X – but even its predecessor was on the Wii, so that isn’t a new IP either.

In fact, I would make the case that last year would’ve been the better theme for transformation: Splatoon was a new IP where the player could transform between a squid and a kid (and now that song is stuck in your head), Nintendo claimed to be fully behind the Wii U and many things were coming, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U/3DS and Mario Kart 8 transformed the franchises into something relatively new, the various collaborations with second and third party developers to make new titles (Hyrule Warriors, Bayonetta 2, Devil’s Third, etc). So, what did Reggie mean by this theme of transformation?

I believe Nintendo is transforming their name; they are reinvigorating their brand to a new audience of gamers. No, this isn’t the approach the Wii had, appealing to those who don’t normally play games. I wouldn’t even say this is fully focused toward families, much like they’ve been trying to do with the Wii U. I believe this transformation is the focus evolving to get “Nintendo” to be a household name again, much like the good ol’ NES and SNES days from over 20 years ago. Younger gamers these days don’t refer to Nintendo when speaking of gaming, for the most part. In fact, I’d make the argument that many would say, “Xbox” when speaking of gaming (same thing with parents who somehow aren’t “in the know” regarding video gaming). The Nintendo name and brand are still recognized, but aren’t household staples like they used to be; so I see Nintendo making their way back into that realm of conversation, but by other means than simply reaching the “hardcore” gaming crowd.


Nintendo Universal Studios

Nintendo at Universal Studios
This is a great step towards brand recognition and saturation; many families from all over the world visit Universal Studios (especially the Florida location), and what better way to get Mario and friends in the eye of the public without using, you know, actual gaming consoles. Heck, just look at the link above – that’s not a gaming site you might typically find Nintendo-related news on. Adding Nintendo-themed attractions to a larger theme park like Universal Studios Florida will potentially help to open younger gamers up to Nintendo products in their future. In addition, older gamers – like myself – might have interest in seeing just what the two companies can cook up; enough to perhaps visit themselves, taking their own families to see the Nintendo attractions. This is building the install base for any upcoming consoles, such as the NX.

Mario 30th

Super Mario Maker and Skylanders SuperChargers
Super Mario Maker was easily the show-stealer for Nintendo this year, I’d say even more so than Star Fox Zero. Nintendo is putting stock into the new Star Fox title, for sure, but there were plenty of events and things to do over in the Super Mario Maker section of Nintendo’s E3 set-up. It seemed that as much as Nintendo pushed Star Fox Zero, they pushed Super Mario Maker even more. I mean, it is Mario’s 30th anniversary.

Why does a game like this help Nintendo to transform their brand into a household name again? Nintendo is not just making another Mario game, but rather, giving gamers the chance to make their own Mario game. This is just another way for a new generation of gamers to get acquainted with the plumber we’ve grown up with ourselves.

In addition to younger gamers having the opportunity to make their own Mario levels, Nintendo also made sure to spend a lengthy amount of time on their collaboration in Skylanders SuperChargers during the Digital Event. This was smart for them, because it not only would be a reference point to their own NFC figurines (amiibo), but would utilize an already established franchise that reaches tons of younger gamers. More saturation and branding within the gaming world means a larger install base when the NX comes out.

Nintendo Mobile

Mobile usage will reach a broader (younger) audience
This aspect could be extremely crucial in this transformation process. Up until very recently, Satoru Iwata had been very adamant in stating Nintendo would not move to the mobile gaming platform. Now, there will be an app with separately dedicated software titles to entice people to make the move to Nintendo consoles. Why is this so crucial? When you go out for a nice stroll, take notice how many young ‘uns have smart devices or tablets (or access to them). Many consumers have either a smartphone or tablet, so why not meet them where they’re already residing? If done right, the mobile app will further build an install base for Nintendo’s NX, while perhaps even convincing some to move to the Wii U or 3DS now.


Nintendo might very well be transforming their image and brand through indirect methods (Universal Studios), gaming related methods (Super Mario Maker and Skylanders SuperChargers), and reaching out to potential console gamers by meeting them where they are at (mobile app). I do not think Nintendo is abandoning the Wii U, but rather, they are preparing a new generation for their future console. This would make sense why they focused on near-future releases at E3, as opposed to future content (waiting for reveal of NX details): it gives them an ample amount of time to establish the [hopefully] newly added foundation of young gamers they’re reaching out to.

This is a transformation for the company to not only catch up with the times, but to establish a new group of gamers as they transition to the NX. From this aspect, I can see how the Digital Event appears to be quite outstanding, and gives a perspective on what’s to come for the gaming company. Guess we will see how it all plays out later this year!

eShop deal celebrates E3 2015

Nintendo has some decent deals active right now. The promotion ends at 8:59am PST, and features games like Super Mario 3D World, Hyrule Warriors, The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker, The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, and Fire Emblem: Awakening.

  
There are quite a few other games to check out, for both the Wii U and 3DS. I recommend checking out the site to see the list.

E3 impressions: Day two

Before beginning, I want to mention that I will have a much more detailed experience at the end of E3, when all the dust has settled and I’m back home and able to carefully construct my thoughts. That said, here comes day two of my E3 impressions!


Today I was able to experience Star Fox Zero, Chibi Robo! Zip Lash, Skylanders SuperChargers, Metroid Prime: Blast Ball, Triforce Heroes, Fast Racing Neo, and Rodea the Sky Soldier (Wii U). I also had the opportunity to watch others play some indies gracing the eShop. It was a busy day, so let’s get to it!

The Good

  • Star Fox Zero was great. I chose to be different and play the level I hadn’t seen played (most others played the Corneria level, so I chose the “battle” level, titled “Area 3”). My rep did a great job explaining what button functions were, how to utilize them properly, and how the gyro controls work. I jumped right in and had no problem with the controls. Now, I recognize that many may have a learning curve, and the gyro controls will take a little getting used to. But honestly? I greatly enjoyed the gyro usage; it made the game feel unique, fresh, and cool – though gyro is nothing new, especially with Nintendo. My only complaint actually had to do with the button layout. I kept confusing the loop action with the U-turn action; for whatever reason, the buttons didn’t feel set correctly, and I constantly pressed the wrong ones. Otherwise, I thought they were great, and in fact, I was affected by them after the demo. I walked over to try out Rodea the Sky Soldier, and I found myself tilting the GamePad at first to look around. The controls stuck with me. In addition, the level I played felt like a Star Wars X-wing battle scene. There seemed to be tons going on, while my NPC teammates did what they could to help before Pigma showed up to go one-on-one with me. In addition, once I was able to grasp how to utilize the GamePad cockpit functionality, it was very cool. I used the screen to get in the general direction of my target (which could be locked on), then looked down at the Pad for more precise aiming. And heck, if you don’t like the gyro controls, you can turn them off. I was thoroughly impressed with Star Fox Zero and cannot wait to get my hands on the full game.
  • Chibi Robo! Zip Lash was surprisingly fun. I had never played a Chibi Robo game before, and I had fun playing this latest iteration while waiting in line for Star Fox. Essentially, you play Chibi Robo – the cutest little robot – and traverse different levels to figure out what’s going on with a surprise alien attack. It’s a fun little platformer that I’m now quite interested in checking out. Nice surprise!
  • Speaking of surprises, Skylanders SuperChargers truly surprised me. It was fun. Game of the Year? Of course not. But fun? Sure. In addition, the game looks quite nice. I got to see the Bowser and Donkey Kong amii-I mean, Skylander figurines, and they are very good quality (and they appeared to be what the retail products would look like). Thanks to these NFCs, I was able to play as Bowser with his cool jet. The player essentially explores this world in the sky (covered in clouds, which affect your vision), beating up enemies and nabbing loot along the way. I had a good time with it, and that legitimately surprised me.
  • Fast Racing Neo is great. It is a fast racing game; no weapons or items outside of boost orbs. What a small team of four people was able to create in this game is truly remarkable. As far as gameplay, there is a phase mechanic that changes the thruster color to either orange or blue. These affect what happens when driving over strips in the road: if you have it in blue phase and drive over a blue strip in the road, you get a boost. However, drive over that same blue strip with orange phase on and it’ll slow you down. It’s a fun way to set the game apart from other racing titles. Plus, it’s fast, and controls so darn well. Did I mention it’s fast?
  • Rodea the Sky Soldier is shaping up to be a nice title for the Wii U. At first, the controls were hard to get a handle on. However, once it “clicked,” the game turned into a very fun platformer with a lot of potential. I’m looking forward to this when it releases.

The Bad

  • Triforce Heroes isn’t necessarily bad. But, I didn’t think it deserved to be in the “good section.” Sure, it had fun moments, and it could lead to some fun local gameplay. It just feels a little…well, I guess a good phrase is “tacked on.” It doesn’t seem like a solid addition for Zelda fans like A Link Between Worlds (speaking of handheld Zelda titles, by the way), and it doesn’t feel like a good enough diversion from the delay of Zelda Wii U. It was alright, but alright for a Zelda title is a little disappointing.
  • I’m going to say this again: why were games like Fatal Frame, Devil’s ThirdFast Racing Neo, and plenty of other indie titles not mentioned during the Digital Event, or even given any time during big announcements? Rather, they seemed to be just thrown in. Heck, don’t even put solid dates on them – just give us some awesome footage to get excited about.

The Ugly

  • I hate to say it, but Metroid Prime: Blast Ball wasn’t too fun. Did it control well? Sure. Did it look good? The 3D was used well enough, and it ran smoothly enough. But, in all honesty, I could see myself getting bored really quickly with this multiplayer facet to Metroid Prime: Federation Force (by the way, that’s the real name, not Blast Ball). Simply put: it just wasn’t that memorable or great. A good way to describe the experience was “underwhelming.” I know there is a solo campaign that will be in the title (and Samus will make an appearance), but after playing this mode, I have very little interest or motivation to check it out. Plus, the art direction and character designs just don’t feel right for, you know, a Metroid Prime game.

Another day down, my fellow Nintendo fans. There were quite a few positives I ran into today, most of them being pleasant surprises. Tomorrow is the last day for E3 – perhaps Nintendo will, in fact, decide to drop a bomb at the end create some final excitement?