Tag Archives: Nintendo

Review: Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze

Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze

And so Nintendo welcomes Donkey Kong onto the Wii U with his first brand new adventure in four years.  Now, we feel very sorry for poor old DK as he must have a massive amount of pressure on his shoulders. Donkey not only has to look after Diddy and Dixie making sure they go to school and get a good education, but he must also look after elderly Gorilla Cranky, because there isn’t a nursing home under the sun that treats their residents like anything more than creatures in a zoo.

Along with his family, Donkey Kong also has to deal with some overweight Walrus and Penguin type creatures calling themselves the Snowmads who have decided to evict DK from his Island. Just when you think poor old DK should have had enough, he’s also got Nintendo on the phone. There aren’t many Wii U releases over the next couple of months so this one better be pretty damned good.

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze

As killer apps go, those Nintendo fans expecting Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze to come along and save their system are massively misguided. If Mario couldn’t achieve system saving sales success, then what kind of hope does Donkey Kong have? After all, Donkey Kong Country is a series that traditionally is a lot harder and less accessible to gamers than Mario is.

Donkey Kong Country is also a 2D scrolling platformer that doesn’t have the technical wizardry that Super Mario 3D World has. To the average Joe on the street DK is less superior than his plumbing counterpart.

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze

This is a shame because Tropical Freeze is a rich, colourful platformer. Retro Studios don’t explore the huge amount of variations on the platforming theme that Nintendo did with the latest Super Mario 3D World. There are still an extensive amount of ideas within Tropical Freeze though, that will keep players excited to unlock new stages and progress. The visuals are also stunning. Even though silhouetted levels are becoming something of a cliché nowadays, in Tropical Freeze, the hidden shadow stages are absolutely beautiful.

The massive variations between the different Islands also help to keep the aesthetics fresh and again, will propel you forward wanting to see everything right up until the final massive Walrus Viking Snowmad boss at the end. There are theatrical Lion King esque Saharan levels, Alpine levels with giant horn parping owls, and levels with bouncing jelly blocks that look so real you will shudder at the thought of poor old DK having to deal with his sticky fur.

Donkey kong Country: Tropical Freeze-18_PR_11

Our biggest complaint against DK isn’t towards the starring Gorilla, it’s more about the supporting Kongs. Donkey is joined by Dixie, Diddy and Cranky and players are able to choose which one of these characters they want to team up with after locating barrels hidden around the different stages. By allowing another character to ride on Donkey Kong’s back and treat him like a pony at the seaside, not only does DK get an additional two hearts on his health metre but he also benefits by gaining additional abilities. Diddy Kong can hover when jumping for slightly longer by using Diddy’s jetpacks. Dixie propels Donkey further by allowing her pigtails to transform her into a Chinook, or should we say a Chimp-nook. Cranky is able to bounce on his walking stick, sending Donkey Kong slightly higher, but also allowing you to traverse spiky ground. The problem is, Dixie’s abilities far surpass those of all of the other primates. Her skill to float like a helicopter effectively means she can do pretty much what Diddy and Cranky can do but slightly better. Therefore, the majority of the time, payers will find themselves picking Dixie Kong every time; apart from those very few moments where Cranky’s ability to navigate thorny ground is required. Character selection could have been refined a tad by Retro but, it’s hard to make too much of a fuss about this as it doesn’t really detract too much from Tropical Freeze. Should they get a chance to work on a third title, then its something Retro can definitely improve and build upon. Here’s hoping they don’t get the chance though and their next title will be a Metroid one. Well, we can dream can’t we?

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze

As to be expected with the Country series, Tropical Freeze is a very difficult game. However, the difficulty curve is so well judged you won’t feel like you’ve been cheated when you die. It might almost be said that Tropical Freeze is a game of polar opposites. There are levels that allow players to wander around rich and fertile jungles, exploring at will and looking for secret barrels and exits that will take them off to new areas. As there is no clock counting down a la Mario, you are afforded a more leisurely stroll when investigating the nooks and crannies of some levels. There are times though, when you will be catapulted down a mountain in an avalanche or on top of a rhino dashing away from a wave of lava.  When these moments occur, you will find yourself huffing and puffing like a Penguin getting into a hot bath because the game requires jet speed reflexes and laser guided precision.

If you are reading this and thinking, “Hmmm that’s nonsense I thought the latest Donkey Kong was a bit of a doodle”. Then you are either lying or have the kind of abilities that the Ministry of Defence want to take advantage of in their jet fighters.

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze doesn’t try to re-invent the platforming genre. It doesn’t even take full advantage of the Wii U’s hardware. If you are using the TV to display the picture then the image on the pad is de-activated and Visa versa, when using the pad to display gameplay. At least you get a choice of which screen you want to play on, how many other consoles give you that?

And thankfully Retro haven’t shoe horned in some touch screen mechanics just for the sake of it, like so many other developers would have been tempted to. As a result Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze is a well-refined 2D platformer. If you like hard-core old school gameplay then there are few titles available that come anywhere near as strong as this one.

Score: 8/10

System:  Wii U

Bought From: HMVDonkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze

Review: Luigi’s Mansion 2

Luigis Mansion 2

It must be hard living in the shadow of your older brother, especially if he’s shorter than you, you’ll probably end up with a bad back.

Aching spine aside its hard to feel too sorry for Luigi. Yeah sure he’s usually the support character but Nintendo have been celebrating the year of Luigi well out of 2013 and will continue to do so until the end of March this year.

Luigi also got to star in what is probably one of the strongest titles available for the 3DS. And while he only ended up with an ectoplasm saliva snog from a ghost dog as opposed to a dainty kiss from a Princess. Luigi was still saving not only the day, but his brother Mario as well.

Luigi's Mansion 2

The missions are perfectly sized, yeah remakes like Ocarina of Time are all well and good for the 3DS as you can impress friends with your palm powerhouse in a bid to alleviate the small todger syndrome that’s constantly nagging at the back of most hand held gamers minds. But, in all honesty, who actually wants to sit at home on a hand held when there is usually a console to provide a more impressive experience.

Luigi’s Mansion 2’s bite sized levels make it possible to play on the bus. One of my favourite things about the original on the Gamecube was the massive mansion and constantly uncovering new rooms within the same huge play area. This kind of level layout wouldn’t have worked on the 3DS and thankfully Next Level Games realised this. Rather than shoe horn home console level design into a hand held title, Next Level created lots of different smaller mansions providing a more accessible and arguably improved and more varied experience.

Towards the end of the game I was beginning to feel that objectives were beginning to get a bit more formulaic and a bit over familiar. However the boss battles and well judged increasing difficulty curve were enough to keep me interested.

Luigi's Mansion 2

The main criticism that we have towards the game isn’t so much a criticism of Luigi’s Mansion 2 but more of the 3DS itself. The controls are slightly irksome and highlight how much better the system would have been if it were born with a second analogue stick. When facing ghosts with your flashlight charged it is impossible to turn, so if a pesky ghost quickly goes past you find yourself furiously trying to strafe in a circle like a crab with an inner ear infection.

Where the game really comes into its own though is through the characterisation of Luigi himself. The animations during gameplay and the cut scenes build a more likeable, realistic and loveable character than Disney have managed in ages. In fact I would go as far to say, that with his limited dialogue Level 5 have created the most endearing computer animated character since Pixar’s Wall-E.

Luigi's mansion 2

Once you have finished the game if you are hankering after some more Mansion action, then there are plenty of collectible gems hidden away in secret coves that will have you hoovering  like a granny who’s taken the wrong dosage of her painkillers.

There are also plenty of bonus levels to be unlocked by hunting down and sucking up all of the troublesome Boos. The multiplayer is also a noble attempt, being able to partner up online with other players to suck up ghosts is interesting but not half as much fun as running around trying to get more points than the other players and grabbing the treasure before they can.

If you are looking for a charming, easily accessible title for the 3DS then we really recommend you take a look at Luigi’s Mansion 2 on the 3DS, trust us you will have a spiritual experience.

Score: 8/10

System: Nintendo 3DS

Bought From: HMV

Review: Steel Diver, Sub Wars

The Nintendo Direct announcement caused quite a stir last night amongst the Nintendo faithful. “What’s a Titanfall Beta?” Nintendo fans asked as they gathered around 3DS screens eager to hear Iwata’s hallowed words.

Nintendo Direct

There certainly was a lot for Nintendo fans to be happy about. Hot on the heels of the new Sonic exclusives announced last week, Capcom also stated that Monster Hunter 4U would be coming to 3DS in Europe and a new trailer for Bayonetta 2 was shown in all of its eye melting beauty.

Nintendo paraded their own wares as well. Bowsers Minions are to be playable characters in Mario Kart 8 and Little Mac was added to the roster in upcoming Super Smash Bros.

To be honest though, the thing that I found most exciting about last nights announcement was Steel Diver: Sub Wars. Iwata didn’t do a terribly good job in selling it though, claiming that it was “contemplative” slow paced tactical FPS.

Steel Diver Sub Wars

My favourite FPS’s and the ones I always flock to are those that are fast paced, with big explosions, colourful graphics a multitude of ridiculous weapons with names like BFG or Cerebral Bore. What Iwata seemed to be selling last night was Forsaken but with really bad lag.

As Steel Diver: Sub Wars is free though I though that I would give it a chance. This title marks Nintendo’s cautious toe dipping into the free to play market and as a first attempt it’s Admiral, sorry admirable. In single player mode the free version is limited to the first two levels, which are essentially tutorials and you can only choose one Submarine. The multiplayer mode is playable in its entirety though.

Due to Nintendo’s liberal amount of free content, Steel Diver feels more like an older Shareware game like Doom and Quake. Free to play titles nowadays tend to be so bloated with adverts it’s like playing an interactive infomercial.

How does Steel Diver play then? Well after playing through the first two missions of the single player (the only ones available in the free version,) it looks like it could be a really boring mess. The areas are lacking any detail to give them character. The radar only works for small periods of time so you constantly have to refresh it, which when combined with the sluggish controls make searching for that final enemy to kill a really boring chore.

3DS Steel Diver SubWars

But, the things that make Steel Diver’s single player mode so dismally boring are the exact same elements that help to make the multiplayer a tense and enjoyable game.

It’s a simple Team Death match style of play where the Red team and the Blue team compete to eliminate one another. Like Counter Strike there’s no re-spawning, so if you die you are forced to watch the rest of the game play out. If you leave the game early you lose any experience gained. This isn’t as bad as it sounds because the camera angles are so cinematic and the torpedoes move so slowly that you find yourself cheering them on as they try to connect with their target in a sort of natural aquatic bullet time.

The cumbersome lever controls on the touch screen, along with the members of crew that pop up to keep you informed of imminent collisions and how many torpedoes you have make you feel like you are actually in command of a giant submarine. There’s a sense that your vessel is populated by a few hundred souls who have their faith that you are going to captain them to victory and make sure that they see their families again.

Steel Diver

The most impressive thing that Nintendo have achieved with Steel Diver though is the perfection of team speak. Rather than listening to shrieking teenagers who seem to have no purpose in life other than to cause extreme irritation, much like genital warts, in Steel Diver gamers communicate through the use of Morse code, which is amusing, novel and helps add to the nautical theme of the title. It also takes a while to tap out messages so people only tend to communicate when they have something intelligent or really important to say.

Steel Diver is an incredibly addictive online hit that Nintendo should be able to capitalise upon by adding more submarines and modifications that people can purchase and carry more of their own presence into the virtual world. Currently you can purchase a single submarine for the price of just 89p or you can buy the full game which includes 18 subs, all of which are customisable, and you get the full single player mode for just £8.99.

Steel Diver should be a successful first step into the world of Free To Play for Nintendo and hopefully more companies will take note and adopt a more shareware style of distribution. Lets just hope that Nintendo’s next effort has a much better single player mode as well.

Why Developers Need to Stop Worrying and Learn to Love the Wii U

It seems the Wii U is in danger of being put away into the cupboard of obscurity and finding itself nestled in between a Dreamcast and a Virtual Boy.

I find this particularly irritating, because, like the Dreamcast before it, the Wii U holds so much untapped potential. The Wii U’s touch screen interface is a great innovation that when capitalised can lead to some truly brilliant gameplay experiences.

Unfortunately, like the Dreamcast it looks like no one is taking advantage of the hardware and, with no games, there may as well be no system. Maybe it’s something about consoles with screens on the controller that cause gamers to condemn them as novelties and therefore to failure.

In order to try and stop this from happening to the Wii U, I thought I might use my years of gaming expertise to highlight some ways developers could Wii U’ise their existing titles to improve and open them up to a new audience.

Obviously I’m so important and such a renowned expert on these matters that developers are bound to be reading this. But just in case any actually are I shall open with a small plea. Whether you decide to support Wii U or not, please don’t just settle for higher resolutions, more complicated textures and particle effects so microscopic you can’t see them anyway. Life like imagery is all well and good but gaming is an escape, and therefore innovation is required, not imitation and I feel that the Wii U is the strongest platform upon which both gamers and developers can unlock their imaginations.

1.GTA V

 Image

OK, its not like Rockstar need any help selling GTA V, it’s already reached record breaking audiences, but I feel like putting it on the Wii U would greatly benefit the game.

Rockstar Leeds did an amazing job creating a unique experience for the DS with GTA China Town Wars and I’m sure they could do the same for Wii U. My biggest critique of GTA V is that the controls can become confusing at times and I often struggle with radio stations or switching between characters. Imagine the touch screen turning into a car dash when you enter a vehicle with controls for tuning the radio and real working indicator and headlight switches. Or, more usefully imagine the pad acting like a sat nav allowing you to type in addresses and seek locations without having the laborious process of pausing and waiting for the menu to load up.

Even more impressively would be the ability to pre-view what characters are up to when you are not controlling them. If you are playing as Michael and want to switch to Trevor but want to make sure you aren’t going to end up in the middle of nowhere, imagine being able to see through his eyes on the tablet before you select him just to check out what he’s up to and where he is.

Rockstar if you want any more ideas as to how the touch screen controls can benefit Grand Theft Auto then please get in touch. I have plenty of thoughts as to how they could be used in the Strip Clubs but I don’t want it publicised just how dirty a pervert I really am.

2.Metal Gear Solid Ground Zeroes

Image

Now the MGS series isn’t really my cup of tea, in my humble but very strong and often outspoken opinion I feel its basically just a bit of a tech demo for cut scenes.

However, Hideo Kojima’s franchise has been good to Nintendo in the past, with a remake of the PSone classic for Gamecube owners who missed the original being one of the system’s must have titles.

Ubisoft have already proven with Splinter Cell that the Wii U is a great home for gadget laden espionage stealth thrillers. Along with being able to control a wide range of gadgets the tablet could act as the communicator. Instead of switching to a 15 minute cut scene, or having Snake sit stationary, Otacon or whoever it is that needs to know what Snake wants for dinner can talk through the tablet. This would add an additional layer of involvement for the player without breaking up the gameplay.

Maybe there could even be a section where Snake must navigate a corridor with a heart beat sensor. Players would have to breathe in a controlled fashion onto the Wii U’s touchscreen in a simulated breath control exercise that slowed Snake’s heart rate and made sure he could slip down the corridor undetected.

Snake could also hack into security cameras, giving him a kind of Siren: The Blood Curse third sight allowing players to navigate around enemies without raising an alarm.

3.Fifa

Image

EA’s decision not support Nintendo’s latest platform upset quite a lot of people who enjoy buying the same game they have bought every year for the past ten years.

I actually think that Fifa, and other sports licenses that EA own such as NFL would be perfect for the Wii U. Being able to use the tablet as a sort of ‘Manager on the sidelines,’ is a fantastic idea, allowing players to chose and change formations mid play, keeping opponents on their toes and the gameplay even more tactical and exciting.

EA, if by some small, tiny sliver of a chance you are reading this but still feel like its not worth bringing any of your sports licenses to Wii U, despite the superior control methods I have just pointed out. Please, could you reconsider and maybe just release Mutant League Football on Virtual Console. I’ll be your best friend forever.

4.Tomb Raider Definitive Edition

Image

Dear Crystal Dynamics, I know you have just released what you propose is the Definitive Edition of Tomb Raider for the Xbox One and more impressively the PS4 (I’m not trying to start a fight amongst the fan boys, promise,) but I feel like you could actually release a Tomb Raider Super Definitive Edition in the form of a Wii U version.

Now, Nathan Drake has surpassed Lara recently and become the adventurer everyone is talking about. As a big Uncharted fan I feel there is a bit that Lara could learn from the new boy. Especially in the form of Uncharted Golden Abyss on the PS Vita, where players must use the touch screen controls to make charcoal rubbings, clean dirt off of objects and at one point hold up the camera to a light in order to look through a piece of paper. Now, sometimes some of these moments do feel a little ‘tacked on’, and just an excuse to show off the hardware of the Vita, so why don’t you guys look at implementing something similar in a Wii U version but improve and fine tune the ideas. If you were to do this then Lara would be back on top of Drake (don’t be smutty minded at the back). There could even be a special un-lockable t-shirt that Lara wears if you complete the game that reads ‘Drake, The Last Of Us was better!’

5. Battlefield 4

Image

The Wii U really could do with a MMO FPS and I feel like Battlefield could do with the Wii U. Imagine a bomb disposal mode where players have to use the touch screen controller to defuse the bomb. Now imagine how tense that would be with people shooting at you on screen.

The pad could also be used to display control panels when entering vehicles like Tanks or Helicopters. It could even be utilised for the standard HUD thus clearing screen space and making life even easier for those hard-core gamers desperate to be the virtual best.

Crystal Dynamics, EA, Konami, Rockstar and any other developers who have overlooked the Wii U for some of their major franchises, as you can see I have just given you some examples of how the Wii U pad can help improve the experience of existing titles. In doing so surely you can all understand that the Wii U’s hardware is more than capable of providing a captivating experience that far surpasses those of more graphically powerful systems. If we all club together we can create one of the greatest generations of games. Or we could just ignore this second screen thing and just carry on chasing the graphical white rabbit into the bottomless hole of increasing polygon counts and more complicated physics that become less and less impressive with each generation.

DIGESTIVE GAMING NEWS 3RD FEB – 10TH FEB 2014

This week, much to the delight of Nintendo, SEGA announced two new Sonic titles that mark a reboot in the franchise. Nintendo were happy for two reasons, the first was that both titles are Nintendo exclusives, one for the 3DS and one for the Wii U. The second reason is that after revealing the artwork for the game, the internet decided to give Nintendo a break, and like a swarm of hornets began buzzing about how rubbish the redesigned characters look.

Sonic Boom

 

Sonic and chums now have slightly longer limbs, this was probably in an effort to make them look more humanoid and thus easier to relate too. Maybe it would have been easier for us to relate to a cartoon hedgehog who can run at the speed of sound if SEGA included a story line where Sonic had to take a job part time at McDonalds just to come up with his rent money. Knuckles also looks like he has spent quite a lot of time in the gym recently, while he and Sonic both have bandages wrapped around their arms like boxers. Maybe they have been training for appearances in the next Smash Bros? Maybe Marketing just thought it made them look like ‘cool urban boxer type tough guys’. Who Knows.

 

The Internet also claimed another victim this week in the form of Flappy Bird creator Dong Nguyen. The popular free to play title has had many gamers in uproar because they felt the pipes that featured in the title were ripped from the warp pipes in Super Mario. Well at least that’s what they claim, I have a sneaking suspicion that the keyboard warriors weren’t happy that one of their own was successful and able to move out of his mums basement. The gaming purists also probably weren’t chuffed about sharing there past time with a bunch of nonces who use iPhones either.  Nguyen decided to take Flappy Bird out of circulation in response to the wave of bile being projected towards him and as a result the title is no  longer available to download from the Apple app or Google Play store. Some legal analysts have stated this was a shrew move on Nguyen’s part as opposed to an emotional one as he would have no way of defending himself against legal proceedings from Nintendo should they pursue him in court.

Flappybird

 

Hideo Kojima was another game designer being forced to defend himself this week. Its been unveiled that the average completion time for the new Metal Gear Solid title, Ground Zeroes, will only take around 2 hours to complete. In my opinion this seems acceptable as the title is meant to serve as an introduction to Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, which is to be launched later on this year. Ground Zeroes is also available for pre-order at £20 here in the UK which is about the price of a brand new Blu Ray. Considering about an hour and a half of Ground Zeroes will be cut scenes the pricing seems about right.

 

Ground Zeroes

 

Activision have also announced that they will be switching the Call of Duty development cycle to three years as opposed to the standard two and thrown Sledgehammer Studios into the mix as a new developer. Activision have done this in response to critics who feel that the franchise is a little stretched out. Obviously increasing the production line and diluting the series even further is the best response to silence them.

CoD Ghosts

 

Not wanting CoD to steal all of the headlines, Battlefield announced that there is to be a new police style spin off from the main Battlefield franchise. To be honest this sounds like a promising thing. Battlefield has always worked well with huge expansive levels allowing a player to feel like they are inhabiting a full-blown warzone. Maybe a SWAT style spin off could add a more enclosed, claustrophobic element to the game where players are forced to use quick reactions to clear buildings as opposed to just demolish them with a Fighter Jet.

Battlefield4

Should You Wii U ?

Just before Christmas, one of the longest running generations of gaming history came to a close as self proclaimed ‘hardcore gamers’ tried to get their hands on the latest consoles, clawing over one another like Zombies trying to break into Jerusalem.

World War Z

Being an attractive highly sought after male with a crazy other half who insists on trying to adopt every single child we come across aren’t the only points that Brad Pitt and I share in common. Just like he manages to survive the Zombie outbreak in World War Z, I managed to avoid the hype-induced pandemic that had brain-swollen idiots purchasing £500 pictures of Xbox Ones from eBay.

Xbox One Fool

I decided I wanted to be different, and as such I decided to buy a console from the company who dares to be different. So I purchased a Wii U.

I used to be a huge Nintendo fan boy and shudder when I think back to my days of secondary school, laughing at people with Sony ‘Gay,’ Stations, because I was a homophobic, narrow minded, opinionated little shit who felt the N64 was king. Later on, the Gamecube extended my extremism. Pikmin is possibly the only RTS that works on a console. Rogue Squadron 2 translated the epic scale of an intergalactic space battle into the living room in a way never seen before, whilst Luigi’s Mansion and Eternal Darkness were perfect polarities off the survival horror genre.

Then came the Wii. Whilst the sales figures were astounding, Nintendo couldn’t have gotten it more wrong. The Wii-mote had gamers waving their arms like they were parking a plane. Nintendo argued the new control scheme would create more immersive and unique experiences. Well, they were wrong, having tired arms and not being able to relax actually distanced players and only Nintendo themselves tried creating anything unique, whilst all other developers insisted on creating mini game compilations.

Wii Granny

This turned the Nintendo Wii into nothing more than a novelty item that the majority of owners put away after ten minutes only to stare at from time to time and wish it would play DVD’s. It also caused Nintendo to distance themselves from the core game playing market; those who are more than happy to buy hardware with the sole intent of playing videogames on, as opposed to those idiots who think that videogames are a waste of time and for nerds, yet make sure they have an overpriced smartphone with their mobile phone contract for no other reason than to play Angry Birds.

After sales of the Wii began to drop, Nintendo realised gamers were beginning to figure out that the Wii was just a Gamecube with a motion sensor. So they decided to bring their back catalogue kicking and screaming into the HD generation. Being Nintendo though, they simply weren’t going to make Wii HD. If Nintendo were in the business of making stationary, they would have been the guys to come up with the pencil, and rather than rest on their laurels and rake in the money they would have released the pencil with a rubber on it the following year, then the year after that we’d get colour!

Satoru Iwata President and CEO of Nintendo wanted a system that built upon the Wii’s control system and improved upon the graphics. But he also wanted a system that was compact and quiet, so parents wouldn’t object to it being in the living room, whilst keeping the price accessible. Nintendo really wanted to attract back the ‘hardcore’ gamer and burst their doors wide open to them, unfortunately none of them came back. Nintendo went from Yoshi’s Dream to Yoshi’s Nightmare in terms of home console sales over night and it’s easy to see why.

Those of a moobed disposition, sorry, ‘hardcore gamers’ as they like to refer to themselves, felt that the Wii U wasn’t powerful enough. The Wii U is certainly as graphically impressive as the PS3 and the 360, unfortunately the Wii U arrived just as Sony and Microsoft began promising the most realistic ever graphics with real fire that would actually burn your eyebrows off on the Xbox One and PS4. Epic games added fuel to the fire by demoing the latest Unreal 4 engine and stating that they wouldn’t be supporting Wii U. It certainly hasn’t helped the Wii U amongst the more intense gaming community that in it’s entire library of games there isn’t a single title that fully exploits the graphical prowess of the system to make a gritty and realistic world. The PS4 launched with Killzone Shadowfall, the Crysis of the console world, while Xbox One promised a blending of cinema and games with Ryse, where all the characters motions were captured using classically trained actors at Andy Serkis’s new motion capture centre.

It’s the environments of Killzone and Ryse that the more adult gamer wants to see. They want arteriel spray pissing everywhere like an exploded water main, perfectly rendered using the latest particle effect. They don’t care about how cool the new shadow effects look on a re-release of an 11 year old Zelda game.

Sad Link

Surely the pricing of the Wii U will lead it to becoming many gamers second console though? Unfortunately not, as cheap as £250 is when compared to a brand new Xbox One or PS4. Those of the serious gaming fraternity inhabit such disappointing lives that it’s very difficult to impress them as they extoll doom and gloom at every opportunity. They mistrust Nintendo’s promise that the Wii U’s pad actually helps to improve the console experience, probably because they are tainted by the disappointment of the Wii’s controls. To say the Wii revolutionised controller input is like seeing a flambé pudding in a restaurant and then calling the Firemen and claiming the place is on fire.

“Why don’t they just bundle the Wii U with a basic controller and make it even cheaper, I’d buy one then.” Is what most of the inspirationally challenged sweat producers tend to mash out on their Razer keyboards with pudgy fingers that overspill and miss their mark. Often resulting in the evolution of such hilarious new internet words like “pwn”.

Well, I’ll tell you for why, my chubby keyboard warrior. Because the pad is kind of the point of the whole system. Selling a Wii U without the pad would be like selling a chocolate éclair without the cream. Sure, you can’t leave the room that the system is in and OK, not all games make full use of the pad’s capabilities, a lot of the time its just a second screen, BUT it completely evolves the console experience.

Wii U

Say your partner is watching one of those generic by-the-numbers Disney ABC dramas like Castle or Grey’s Anatomy. Or say the system is in your bedroom and you fancy a quick game whilst they are sleeping/watching something. You can just turn on the gamepad and plug your earphones in and your away playing a full-blown game with console style graphics on a pad.

Sony are falling over themselves and have invested a fortune to deliver the same experience with the PS4 and the Vita, and although with Sony’s hardware its an optional experience, it’s a damned site more expensive.

PS4 PS Vita Bundle

The games that do take advantage of the pad do so fantastically. The Wonderful 101 would be incredibly difficult to control without being able to swipe a quick shape on the screen to align all of your heroes accurately. It finally offers a system of control that previously only PC gamers enjoyed with their Mice.

Lego City Undercover also does a fantastic job of using the pad to immerse players in the game experience. Characters from the . Satoru Iwata announced this week that the Wii U is to receive a firmware update that will allow the use of the pad to quickboot into a game. Meaning you will be able to bypass the system’s OS when first turning the Wii U on and jump straight into a game. This will cut loading times by 50%

In terms of the physical buttons on the pad, Nintendo have now provided players with the standard dual thumb stick and trigger buttons that Nintendo players have been calling out for since Sony released the Dual Analog. As a result the Wii U’s pad is probably the best controller Nintendo has ever made.

Even with all of these positives gamers still aren’t happy, keen to point out that the new Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze actually de-activates the screen on the pad if you are using the TV as the main display. Well my response to this is, so what? If you are not going to be looking at the screen on the pad surely its nice to have it disabled to improve battery life?

“Yeah, but if you are using the screen on the pad then the picture on the tv is disabled.”

My point still stands. The game may as well be displaying images of kittens wrapped in barbed wire being thrown into microwaves on the secondary screen, because if you don’t need to use it for controller input or aren’t even looking at it, then you aren’t going to see it. Whether you chose the controller screen or your TV, how many other consoles actually give you a choice?

Lego City Undercover Wii U

I bought the Lego City Undercover bundle from Amazon,  I wouldn’t usually use Amazon and while their bundle was the same price as everywhere else, they also included an additional copy of Lego Batman 2 as well. It turns out that everyone has a price, and mine is the cost of an average port that suffers from terrible multiplayer controls.

To give you an idea of the size of the base unit its about 4 inches longer than a DVD case and probably 2 inches wider. You can rest it upright on the included pair of feet or just lay it flat. The length might be a little awkward for any hipsters with bare minimalist tiny shelves that really bring out the brickwork in their open plan flat in Hackney, those who actually deserve human rights should be fine though. It’s a really quiet system too, the only time it really becomes audible is when it’s reading from the optical drive.

When I was manhandling the system into place by the TV it felt really solid and well built. The pad also has no flex in it at all and the buttons seem perfectly balanced and unlikely to cause any problems in the future. Of all the Nintendo consoles I have owned over the years I have never had a single technical issue with any of them apart from when my Game Boy screen covering fell out after 12 years of service.

Aesthetically speaking, Nintendo really have created the blandest console ever. If the Wii U was the cuisine of a single nation you definitely wouldn’t say it was Japanese. It’s more British in that its completely inoffensive and very bland. This isn’t really a valid complaint in the argument as to whether or not you should buy a Wii U and I feel shallow for bringing it up but the N64, Gamecube and Wii were all very iconic designs, and the shape of the SNES pad is something that is imprinted into gaming culture’s collective consciousness.

However looks aren’t everything (thankfully, otherwise I’d be screwed, I may claim to look like Brad Pitt but I also think that a Cheese Burger Crust Pizza is a balanced meal so you can see how my view of reality is skewed slightly.) What really sells systems is exclusive titles and recognisable franchises.

The Wonderful 101

In my opinion, the following Wii U titles are all worth paying full price for: The Wonderful 101, Pikmin 3, Super Mario 3D World, Sonic Lost World and Lego City Undercover. Lets also not forget that Batman Arkham City and Deus Ex both received overhauls in order to take advantage of the Wii U controller and provide the definitive versions. These are also worth picking up if you haven’t managed to play them already.

Pikmin3

If you take into account that Nintendo somehow, and I can only imagine it involved a ritual sacrifice, managed to gain exclusive rights to Capcom’s Bayonetta 2, plus the fact that we are going to be treated to Mario Kart 8 and a new Smash Bros this year, then the Wii U’s library actually looks a lot stronger than the PS4’s and the Xbox One’s. I’m also very interested to see how Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs will run on the Wii U. Ubisoft would be insane not to fully utilise the Wii U gamepad in a title that sees the hero running around hacking things with his PDA.

Watch Dogs

Can I recommend a Wii U then? Yes I can, despite the internet exuding negativity towards the Wii U like a fat person sweats, there are loads of great exclusive titles. There are also some great deals to be had out there as shops are desperate to shift stock. I recommend, and what I wish I had done, would be to get the cheapest base 8gb unit and then buy an external HD. You can find a list of recommended HDD’s on Nintendo’s website, and they are so easy to set up, that I can forgive the miniscule amount of internal memory.

Nintendo haven’t quite got the online services cracked just yet, but traditionally the big N felt that multiplayer was best served face to face with split screen modes. They are improving though and my experiences of Netflix and Lovefilm have been great. I have also watched a few films on the controller, the screen of which, doesn’t have the detail of the higher end tablets and is sharp and bright enough for it to serve as a viable alternative to your tv set. The touch screen also makes navigating the vast menus easier and less cumbersome than the 360 and PS3 counterparts.

For those that live in the UK iPlayer and other on demand services such as 4oD are not yet available. However, the BBC made a statement earlier in January that they want to bring iPlayer to the Wii U and Xbox One by the end of the year. Nintendo in their infinite wisdom still hasn’t allowed DVD playback, but then who actually wants to use their Wii U as a DVD player when you have a mint conditioned Panasonic Q under your TV that you want to show off.

ZombiU

Oh, and I shouldn’t forget, that there was a bit of a Zombie problem for the Wii U at launch (although not quite the same as the PS4 and Xbox One’s). Its called ZombiU and should be avoided like the rotting festering corpse of a title that it is.

Super Mario 3D World

Digestive Gaming News 30th Jan – 2nd Feb 2014

This week Nintendo were reportedly set to announce that they would be releasing titles for tablets and smartphones. Mario on a phone? Prff, yeah right next it will be reported that Mario and Sonic are in the same game. What, oh yes ahem, they already are never mind.

nintendo

Nintendo were very quick to quash this rumour and while I can completely believe that Nintendo may release some sort of app for tablets and smartphones in the future that may expand the Miiverse or just deliver trailers and news, there is no way that Mario et al will officially end up on a mobile device that doesn’t contain Nintendo branding anytime soon. Those of us who are happy to play imperfect ports with terrible touch screen controls should have a google on the internet for this thing called an Emulator and stop bleating in internet forums. Its not Like Satoru Iwata doesn’t know what he’s doing.

Satoru Iwata

In fact, so confident is Iwata in his abilities at the helm of the worlds most beloved gaming company, he also announced this month that in the light of ailing sales he is willing to take a 50% pay cut until he has put Nintendo back on track. If only more CEO’s were as willing as Mr Iwata to take responsibility of their companies performance.

titanfall

Microsoft have had some exciting leaks and announcements of their own. A limited edition Titan Fall Xbox One, White Xbox One with 1tb HDD and a cheaper, optical drive-less Xbox One have all been touted as seeing gamers living rooms by the end of the year. Microsoft really could do with making a cheaper Xbox One, I’m not sure disc-less is the way forward though, but there is definitely room in the market for one without the Kinnect nonsense included.

Microsoft have also managed to acquire the rights to the Gears of War franchise from Epic Games and stated that they have already farmed out the series to Black Tusk studio to work on the latest sequel.

319951

The Xbox One definitely needs to get some exciting exclusive content under its belt, out of the current library I count… no titles, absolutely nothing worth forking out over £400. To be fair the PS4 only slightly edges ahead with Killzone bearing the slightest resemblance of anything interesting to me but then I’m a sucker for an average fps with eye smashingly intense visuals.

I’m not sure another Gears of War is required, I can’t help but feel like the prequel was a title too far for the franchise as the trilogy was so perfectly rounded off with GoW3 and the gameplay was already starting to become slightly repetitive. It’s funny how Nintendo are currently receiving a complete kicking from ‘hardcore gamers,’ about the Wii U not having enough original titles and launching without a Mario title, but its perfectly acceptable for Microsoft to launch a console without their spiritual mascot the Masterchief, and a catalogue of titles that has less originality than a TV show pitch from Simon Cowell.

Epic followed up the Gears announcement with a statement of their own as they felt the need to remind us they still make games and not just tech demo’s to sell the latest games consoles, mobile phones or tablets. And whilst they certainly do a better job at shifting the latest tech than Michael Bay, apparently there’s this online shooter called Fortnite that has been in development the last couple of years that Team Fortress fans might want to check out.

fortnite

The forums would also like us to believe that Sony gave Nintendo a good kicking this month by buying the manufacturing plant that makes the DRAM chips found in the Wii U, and it was also announced that the PS4 was the fastest selling console in the UK of 2013. Nintendo is hardly quaking in its boots, the 3DS was the BIGGEST selling console in the UK of 2013 and lets face it, I’m pretty sure Nintendo has enough of a back log of Wii U’s to give them enough time to source a new supplier of DRAM chips.

Vamers-Tomb-Raider-2013-Lara-Croft-Injured

Not content with troubling Nintendo though, the Sony fan boys were crowing over those daft enough to blow over £400 on the latest Xbox one. Because not only is the Xbox one’s pricing strategy under scruple, so is Lara Croft who apparently looks a lot prettier on the PS4 than the Xbox one. Surely anyone who cares has already played Tomb Raider Lara Croft by now due to the extensive amount of times its been on special offer on steam, Live, PSN and even given away as a free title with GPU’s. Also, lets remember graphics don’t make a game, gameplay does. Lara I hope you are reading this, just remember I will always love you no matter what you look like and however many frames per second you run in.