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  1. It's almost time for another Nintendo Direct, but this time it'll be based on Platinum Games' upcoming Bayonetta 2. While there was a good amount of info spilled on the game during the Treehouse Live @ E3 event, expect to hear all of the major details laid bare tomorrow. Interestingly enough, Bayonetta 2 also marks the first time a Nintendo Direct has been centered on an M-rated game; it'll be interesting to see how that's handled in comparison to previous Directs. In any case, be there Thursday afternoon/evening at 3pm PST/6pm EST at this link if you're interested in hearing more about the game. Are you looking forward to hearing more about Bayonetta 2?
  2. If you're a huge fan of Super Smash Bros., chances are you're going to buy both the 3DS and Wii U versions of the game this Fall, but everyone else might need some convincing in order to double dip. Nintendo evidently anticipated this, and so they've revealed an incentive to buy both. Those who register both versions of the game on Club Nintendo will receive the Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS & Wii U: Premium Sound Selection; a soundtrack CD that contains music taken from and inspired by the game. Not much is known about this soundtrack beyond that just yet, but Nintendo mentions that more info about the offer will be provided at a later date. Even still, it's exciting to see Nintendo offer physical (as well as substantial) incentives for buying games, and hopefully we'll see it happen more as we head into 2015. Does this offer make you want to buy both Super Smash Bros. for 3DS and Wii U now?
  3. Today Nintendo fans received a number of big, exciting announcements out of the latest Japanese Nintendo Direct, but Nintendo of America also confirmed a number of bits for North America as well. Amiibo, the little interactive figures based on different Nintendo characters, have officially been priced at $12.99 each and are now available for pre-order at select retailers. The first twelve Amiibo figures to launch will be Mario, Donkey Kong, Peach, Yoshi, Link, Samus (in her power suit), Villager, Kirby, Fox, Pikachu, Marth, and Wii Fit Trainer. No release date has been announced just yet, so stay tuned for more info to come. New Hardware Bundles The Wii U will be receiving two new bundles soon, the first of which will be a Super Mario 3D World Deluxe Set, which will include a Wii U console, Super Mario 3D World, and Nintendo Land for $299.99. Walmart will also have an exclusive bundle that includes a Wii U console and a physical version of Mario Kart 8 along with Nintendo Land, and it will also be available for $299.99. Both bundles will be available starting mid-September. Also coming are three new 2DS bundles featuring Electric Blue, Crimson Red, or Sea Green 2DS handhelds along with a download code for Mario Kart 7. Each will retail for $129.99. Release Dates Previously, we had known a number of the release dates for upcoming games such as Hyrule Warriors releasing on September 26, Super Smash Bros. for 3DS releasing on October 3, Bayonetta 2 releasing on October 24, and Pokemon: Omega Ruby and Pokemon: Alpha Sapphire releasing on November 21, but now we have a few new dates to add. Pokemon Art Academy now has a release date of October 24 and will teach players how to paint their favorite Pokemon using a variety of toolsl Ultimate NES Remix is coming to 3DS via retail and eShop on December 5th and will feature remixed, rapid-fire challenges across 16 classic NES games. It's unclear if this one is merely borrowing selections from both NES Remix 1 and 2, but it sounds as if this is not a collection of both of those games in their entirety. NES Remix Pack is coming to Wii U via retail and eShop also on December 5th and this will be a collection of the two previously released NES Remix games. It will also be $29.99 while each of the two individual games will remain at $14.99 each on the eShop. Fantasy Life is coming to 3DS on October 24th. This Level 5-developed RPG/simulator features the ability to control your character's destiny as you choose one of many different Life Classes that will give them a unique perspective on the world. Unfortunately, both Captain Toad Treasure Tracker and Art Academy for Wii U still do not have specific release dates but they are still slated for release before the end of the year. Upcoming 2015 Games NOA also reiterated that the following games are planned for a 2015 release. For Wii U: The Legend of Zelda (working title) Splatoon Xenoblade Chronicles X Yoshi's Wooly World Kirby and the Rainbow Curse Star Fox (working title) Mario Maker (working title) Project Giant Robot Project Guard Mario vs. Donkey Kong (working title) Mario Party 10 Devil's Third For 3DS: NFC reader/writer Codename: S.T.E.A.M. Fossil Fighters Frontier Monster Hunter 4 Are you excited for Amiibo, the new bundles, or any of the upcoming games? Let us know below!
  4. Last night's Nintendo Direct brought a bevy of information regarding Hyrule Warriors and how it plays, but it also brought announcements of three new playable characters. Two of them, Zant and Ghirahim, were already known to be in the game, but we now that they will be playable; Zant will use a scimitar as his weapon while Ghirahim essentially uses a blade and himself as the weapon. Ganondorf was a welcome, if not unsurprising addition as the third confirmed playable villain character. He sports a giant sword as his weapon, and his new design in Hyrule Warriors is similar to that of his Twilight Princess design, but with longer hair and combined with the garb he wears in Wind Waker. In addition, it was announced that other DLC costumes for Ganondorf (including his Ocarina of Time and Twilight Princess incarnations) would be provided to Club Nintendo members for a limited time after release. Other DLC costume sets for Link and Zelda ranging from Ocarina of Time to Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword were also announced as pre-order incentives from different retail outlets which will be detailed at a later point. You can watch the entire Nintendo Direct presentation by clicking the source below. Source: Nintendo Direct Are you looking forward to being able to play as a villain in Hyrule Warriors?
  5. TT Games has a recognizable formula with their ever-popular LEGO titles, but their distinctive formula continues to evolve with each new license and generation of console. The traditional cooperative gameplay still provides one of the best co-op experiences to date and goes so far as to transcend generational divides. The path that lies ahead for licensed LEGO games can only be determined by taking into consideration past adventures. Changes in the radial menu, dynamic split-screen game play and expansion to a world beyond a stale hub are just a few examples of how TT Games is constantly searching out areas of improvement for their craft. One of the most prolific changes has been the evolution in the way the stories unfold. Familiar Surroundings Made Better The standard hubs found in LEGO Indiana Jones and LEGO Star Wars appear as little more than a relic when placed side-by-side with the overworld experiences found in LEGO The Lord of the Rings and LEGO Batman 2: DC Superheroes. This alteration truly broadened the potential for all future LEGO games by expanding the experience beyond the confines of a story mission. Unfortunately, licensed LEGO games fall into the same pitfalls as any other multiple platform title and are typically held back by the constraints of the weaker systems. A compelling argument can be made that much of the squandered potential in the original LEGO Batman and LEGO Indiana Jones were a result of reluctance to abandon the Playstation 2 and Nintendo's Wii. This reluctance, however, is based in a reality where the consoles still held a significant market share well into the life cycle of the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360. The Playstation 2 and Wii are completely out of the picture for development purposes and companies that thrive on easily ported games now find themselves with a set of more powerful base systems to thoroughly explore. Although the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 will likely remain the base launching platform for most upcoming LEGO titles, despite the existence of the Playstation 4 and Xbox One, the margin for potential is greater than ever before. TT Games officially wrapped their release of LEGO Marvel Super Heroes in late 2013, but were already neck-deep in studs with The LEGO Movie Videogame and LEGO: The Hobbit. The media focus may be on the new generation of consoles, but the next few projects will undoubtedly play a major role in determining the viability of future licensed LEGO brands in console video games. Recent upgrades in the TT Games formula suggest the company is firmly facing forward, but there is also room to suggest that the company should also be looking backwards. Premature Release One problem that the LEGO: The Hobbit game now faces echoes an issue that plagued [/size]LEGO Indiana Jones all the way back in 2008. The date of release for the ill-fated installment, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, came a mere month prior to the LEGO Indiana Jones game and the content was conspicuously absent. LEGO: The Hobbit only follows the adventure through The Desolation of Smaug, which leaves the events of The Five Armies hanging in the balance. WB and TT Games had two distinct paths before them: release a standalone title akin to Lego Indiana Jones 2, which was a major source of discontent with their fanbase, or embrace the digital age. In an unsurprising move, WB and TT Games chose the latter, announcing that The Five Armies conclusion will be available as downloadable content. This does not rule out the potential for a "Complete Edition" with all available Hobbit content or even a "Tolkien Edition" that includes both franchises on a single disc, but this is certainly a step in the right direction as it leaves the door open for franchises with the most content-hungry fans. From Cooperative To Party Another aspect of the licensed LEGO formula which remains static is the number of players. Several franchises exist which could greatly benefit from expanding the number of players to four. The solid online capabilities offered from consoles could allow for even greater drop-in and drop-out game play. So why not make it a party? What better franchise to begin the four player experience than with a LEGO Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle game? A featuring LEGO Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and a voice over from the Nickelodeon reboot cropped up on Youtube in June of 2013. The video, sitting at over a million hits, led many to ponder the possibility of this fantasy becoming a reality through video games... assuming certain licensing issues did not prevent such marvelous ideas from coming to fruition. Online capabilities, expanded cooperative experiences and major story downloadable content are just a few areas which licensed LEGO games could easily explore in the future. Questions can be raised when it comes to the direction of TT Games, but if LEGO Marvel Superheroes and LEGO City Undercover are examples of the quality we can expect from the next generation of LEGO games, then this is one gamer who will remain anxiously excited. What changes would you like to see in new LEGO titles? What licensed franchises would you love to see tackled by TT Games?
  6. Much like they did with "Mega May," Capcom has announced that they are releasing four different Mega Man games on the Wii U Virtual Console over the course of August. While the order of their release will be random (meaning you'll need to check the eShop every Thursday to see which game has been released), the good news is that the four games have been revealed as follows- Mega Man 5 (NES) Mega Man 6 (NES) Mega Man X3 (SNES) Mega Man Battle Chip Challenge (GBA) It's also worth noting that the first Mega Man Battle Network game has released today on the Wii U eShop. Even still, there are a number of other Mega Man games that are still yet to be released, including the other five Mega Man Battle Network games, Mega Man Soccer, and the four Mega Man Zero games. Hopefully we'll see them in the near future. Source: Capcom-Unity Are you interested in getting any of these Mega Man games?
  7. Jason Clement

    Review: 1001 Spikes

    Developer: Nicalis, Inc./8Bit Fanatics Publisher: Nicalis Platform(s): Wii U, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PS Vita, 3DS, PC (Windows, OSX, Linux) Release Date: June 3, 2014 ESRB: T for Teen 1001 Spikes might go down in the record books as one of the most brutally difficult games in history. Every step you take and every leap you make will need to be heavily scrutinized as you try to carefully make your way to the key and then the exit in this retro-inspired, 8-bit platformer. And you will die—many, many times. But that's also part of the game's charm; 1001 Spikes revels in its masochistic tendencies, a fact that becomes glaringly clearer the further you progress. One might think that this would tend to work against the game, but it actually harkens back to the golden era when 8-bit games were at their most challenging, and succeeds because of it. The story begins with our protagonist, Aban Hawkins, on a journey to discover the treasure of a lifetime after receiving a letter from his archaeologist father, who is presumed to be dead at that point. After a few short levels in the first world (which serves as a sort of tutorial), the narrative digs deeper into Aban's history, revealing his troubled past with his father who harbors no love lost between them, a fact that is made abundantly clear when it's discovered that he left everything in his will to Aban's sister. Thus his desire to find the treasure is to one-up his father and show him that he's not a worthless nobody. Waiting within the different temples you'll explore are an array of various booby traps, crumbling platforms, lava, bottomless pits, scorpions, and much more. Oh, and spikes; lots of them. Bloody spikes, I should add—an aspect that no doubt contributes to why the game is rated T despite its feel-good retro look. That aside, this is a game that pulls out all of the stops to intentionally make sure you get caught in a cheap death and die. Think you're safe after missing a few hidden darts and a scorpion? Not when the panel you're standing on triggers a set of spikes that come up from underneath and kills you. Or a dart hits you unexpectedly. Such is the nature of the beast. Aban has only three actions in the entire game: a short jump, a high jump, and throwing knives (of which he has an unlimited supply, apparently); the latter of which is used to kill some of the scorpions or help repel certain traps (such as darts and the like). It might sound extremely unfair and maybe even unappealing due to its masochistic nature, but the game's cruel design is actually what adds so much to the game's charm. Ultimately when you boil it down to its rawest form, it's trial and error at its finest, but make no mistake—that doesn't mean skill isn't involved. To succeed, you'll need to learn and discern how to recognize booby traps as well as their patterns in each level. The further you get, the quicker on your feet you'll need to be. In addition to the story mode, there are a few arcade modes you can play through with up to three potential other players. The Golden Vase has you fighting to grab a golden artifact that produces more coins the longer you're in possession of it, but you'll need to avoid all of the traps and obstacles of the stage at the same time. Tower of Nannar has you chasing down cultists up a tower in order to save a kidnapped girl, all the while grabbing gold and treasure along the way. The Lost Levels is a remixed version of the main quest with longer but fewer levels and the addition of gold coins to collect. You can also unlock additional characters to play as (with a few surprise appearances), and there's even a shop where you can buy things with the gold you've collected from the extra modes, which is a nice touch. Visually, 1001 Spikes' 8-bit aesthetic clearly works in its favor. What better era of gaming to emulate if you're going to create a tough-as-nails platformer, right? And fit right in with those games it does; Nicalis and 8Bit Fanatics chose wisely when deciding what sort of visual look to go with. The pixelized artwork in cutscenes are also extremely well done and recall some of the best pixel work done in games like Ninja Gaiden and the like. And equally as impressive is the game's soundtrack, which emulates 8-bit synthesized music as well. I can't say I loved every song, but there were a few extremely catchy tunes, and just about every track fits to a "T" with the level it plays on. Ultimately, 1001 Spikes is an acquired taste; it largely depends on your level of masochism and how much you can handle when it comes to purposefully difficult game design. That said, it's a journey I'm glad I got to experience; thankfully, there is some legitimately great level design amongst the game's forty odd levels or so, and the experience doesn't just hinge on the novelty of it being extremely hard. When you finally get to the end of a level unscathed, it's a great feeling; once again evocative of the hard-earned victories that many 8-bit games used to make you work and struggle for. You may want to throw your controller a few times in the process, but it's all worth it in the end. Just watch that next step; it's a doozy. Pros + Tough-as-nails but rewarding gameplay + 8-bit aesthetic works well with the game's premise and is attractive + Music is catchy and fits well with each level + Extensive content and replay value Cons - May be too tough/infuriating for some Overall Score: 8.5 (out of 10) Great 1001 Spikes is yet another great retro-inspired title that recalls and successfully emulates the incredible challenge of games from 25 years ago. Disclosure: This game was reviewed using downloadable Wii U eShop code provided by the publisher.
  8. Today Nintendo officially confirmed that NES Remix 1 and 2 are coming as a physical version bound for retail later this year. Fans might remember that this was actually foreshadowed when it was announced that Japan would be getting a retail release earlier this year. The NES Remix games were previously only available on the Wii U eShop and featured remixed challenges from classic NES titles such as Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, and more. NES Remix 2 added even more titles with the likes of Super Mario Bros. 3, Metroid, Kirby's Adventure, and others. No price has been announced for the collection just yet, but it seems likely that a budget price will be in effect ($20-30) given each games' $15 price tag on the Wii U eShop. Source: Twitter/Nintendo of America Are you interested in buying the retail release for NES Remix 1 and 2?
  9. SEGA announced release dates for both Sonic Boom games today. The 3DS version, Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal, will launch first on November 11, while the Wii U game, Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric will release a week later on November 18. As evident by their subtitles, both games will feature different plots and gameplay while being set in the same world/universe. Rise of Lyric is also more focused on action while Shattered Crystal (developed by Sanzaru Games) is more keen on on old-school 2D platforming. The latter also features a new character, Sticks the Badger, in place of Amy as she's kidnapped in that one's story. Expect to hear more about both as their respective release dates approach. Source: Destructoid Are you looking forward to either Sonic Boom game?
  10. Famitsu recently revealed three more characters that will be a part of Hyrule Warrior's growing character roster, and this time they're all from Ocarina of Time: Darunia, the Goron Sage of Fire; Princess Ruto, the Zora Sage of Water, and Shiek, Princess Zelda's Sheikah alter-ego. Darunia is surprisingly only the second confirmed male character thus far, and he carries a large hammer as his weapon. He's also slower when it comes to movement though he can roll up into a ball and roll around when he needs to get around quickly. And thankfully, his signature dance from Ocarina of Time will make an appearance here as one of his special attacks. Princess Ruto looks to have water-based attacks befitting her water theme, which makes sense, and it appears that Shiek uses multiple sai as well as the harp from Ocarina of Time. Expect to her more of their moveset detailed in the near future. For now, all three of these characters brings the roster up to ten playable characters so far. Will there be more? It seems to be a safe bet seeing that we've been getting announcements of new characters every few weeks or so now, and Hyrule Warriors' release in Japan is still 3 weeks away. Source: Polygon, Game Informer Are you excited about Ruto, Darunia, and Shiek being playable?
  11. Today's new character announcement for Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS brought not one, not two, but three character reveals. The first is actually a returning character, Captain Falcon, who makes his fourth appearance in the series and solely represents the F-Zero franchise so far. His moveset from previous games appears intact here, including his signature Falcon Punch move, and not much has changed as far as we can tell from the trailer. Lucina, from Fire Emblem Awakening, was the next revealed character; she's another sword-wielding character like Marth and Ike, as well as another much welcomed female character in a male-heavy roster. Last but not least, Robin, the protagonist from Fire Emblem Awakening, also was confirmed as a playable character as well as having both male and female versions of the character available. Robin carries a sword but is skilled in magic, which appears to encompass the entirety of his/her special moveset. With the inclusion of both Lucina and Robin, the Fire Emblem series is now one of the most heavily represented franchises in Super Smash Bros., rivaling only the Pokemon, Zelda, and Mario franchises (of which there are at least four characters represented from each). Super Smash Bros. for 3DS is scheduled to release in late October while the Wii U version will follow in November. You can check out the announcement trailer for the three characters below. Source: Smashbros.com Are you excited that Captain Falcon, Lucina, and Robin were announced for Super Smash Bros?
  12. Jason Clement

    Review: Armillo

    Developer: Fuzzy Wuzzy Games Publisher: Fuzzy Wuzzy Games Platform: Wii U Release Date: July 3, 2014 ESRB: E for Everyone The era of video game mascots is largely over and has been for some time, but having played through Armillo, you almost wouldn't know it, and that's a good thing. Developed by newcomer Fuzzy Wuzzy Games, Armillo is a 3D action platformer that takes inspiration from platformers and mascot games new and old, and stars the titular round, brown, space armadillo. Taking on a genre like that is no small task, especially for an indie studio, but fortunately this title proves its worth and then some. What you'll soon discover is that this game easily makes a title for itself as the best 3D platformer on the Wii U eShop today. Armillo begins with the title character investigating an invasion by an enemy force known as the Darkbots, who have invaded the galaxy because they've over polluted their own worlds and need more energy. Upon Armillo's first encounter with them, they also end up kidnapping his brother, Bolobol, who looks similar in appearance but is blue and wears shades. Surprisingly, the story is not just an excuse for the gameplay but is actually kept at the forefront at all times from beginning to the end. Just about every level contributes to the story in some way, and there's also a twist or two thrown in that may surprise players. Each level (or planet) plays out on a sphere-like planetoid that is divided up into several areas; in many ways, each planet is like a giant maze that you'll need to guide Armillo through to get to the exit, solving different puzzles, avoiding obstacles, collecting orbs, and defeating enemies along the way. In addition to rolling around, Armillo can also jump and dash forward, the latter of which can also break down some obstacles and assist in long jumps. There are also certain power-ups you will find throughout the game that will give Armillo special abilities, such as a cannon that straps to his body and can destroy most obstacles and enemies, an ability that makes him cube-like and heavy, thus being able to crush enemies and obstacles, and yet another that makes him giant-sized. In general, most levels are unique and introduce new gameplay elements that help to shake things up and keep the game interesting. The first world is more reminiscent of more Mario atmosphere-like planetoids from Super Mario Galaxy, but then things progress to fire, ice, and generally more sci-fi themed planets in later levels. One of my favorite levels had Armillo switching the planet from ice to lava-like in order to proceed, and yet another had him flipping through panels on the topside and underside of the world to progress. Even though some of the ideas aren't wholly original and may have been seen in other games before, they're executed well in these instances. Levels also contain many hidden areas that you may likely bypass or not find unless you really seek them out by revisiting the area. Furthermore, each level has a secret item to acquire that unlocks a secret level. These secret levels are 2D platforming affairs that have a retro flair to them (both in appearance and music) and each generally has a design that makes that specific level unique (like one that has rotating gears, one where the level itself rotates, one where the level continuously grows in size, and more). Some are especially fun to play through and can offer a nice break from the usual 3D gameplay of the normal levels, but they're also often quite difficult as a timer often makes it difficult to get all the way through with minimal mistakes. Also of note is the inclusion of an option to use the Wii U Gamepad's accelerometer in order to control Armillo's movements. This puts a unique spin on the gameplay, making it more Super Monkey Ball-like in nature and thus more challenging. However, Fuzzy Wuzzy does note that it's best to play through the game with normal controls first (a suggestion that I would also agree with as well). And of course, being a Wii U title, off-screen play on the Gamepad is an option presented on the title screen should you wish to play it that way. Unfortunately, the game does have a few faults. The biggest is that there are certain areas where the game will hang for a second or two; it isn't hugely interruptive and won't affect your overall experience greatly, but is noticeable. Thankfully Fuzzy Wuzzy Games is working on a fix and should have it patched at some point in the near future. Another thing that mildly bugged me was when restarting from a checkpoint, the camera angle is usually different, making it a little difficult to discern where you came from and where you need to go; this is just a minor nitpick on my part, though. As mentioned at the outset, Armillo does a great job of harkening back to traditional 3D platformers of yesteryear. The game itself has an appealing, cartoonish visual style. It doesn't quite reach Super Mario Galaxy levels of detail and polish, and it's obvious that it was developed on a limited budget, but it's definitely one of the more impressive-looking games on the Wii U eShop right now. Even more impressive is the game's varied soundtrack, which dabbles in everything from ambient sounds to electronic, hard rock/metal, and even dubstep and more; if the soundtrack were made available, there are definitely some songs that I would love to listen to on their own. In the end, Armillo is a great first effort by Fuzzy Wuzzy Games. It's fun, and more importantly, packed full of content. After completing all 5 worlds, you'll likely have plenty of secret levels (of which there are just as many as the normal levels) to discover and play through as well as a few secret worlds that house offer some great surprises that I won't spoil here (you'll have to experience it yourself). Armillo is without a doubt one of the best values on the eShop (at only $8) for what it gives you in return, so if you're a fan of 3D platformers and or are simply looking for something for a good game to play on the eShop, definitely consider rolling with this one. Pros + 3D platforming gameplay is fun + Lots of extra content + Good soundtrack Cons - Some frame rate issues, hanging in certain areas - Camera angles can be a little confusing at times - Controls can be a little too floaty, especially in 2D levels Overall Score: 8 (out of 10) Great Armillo marks a strong debut for Fuzzy Wuzzy Games as one of the Wii U eShop's more exceptional titles. If you're looking for a fun 3D platformer with echoes of retro-inspiration and lots of content, definitely consider a purchase here. Disclosure: This game was reviewed using Wii U downloadable code provided by the publisher.
  13. Today Famitsu confirmed a number of new characters to appear in the upcoming Zelda cross-over game, Hyrule Warriors. Last time we got a number of characters from Twilight Princess, including Midna and Agitha as well as that game's versions of Link and Zelda. This time, it's Skyward Sword's turn to have a few characters added. First off the bat is Fi, the living embodiment and essence of the Master Sword that helped guide Link through that adventure. Unfortunately, not much is known about how Fi will fight, but expect to hear more in the coming days. In addition, two of Skyward Sword's antagonists, Ghirahim and The Imprisoned, will appear as enemies in Hyrule Warriors. Also, much like with the alternate costumes from Twilight Princess, both Zelda and Link will receive costumes from their Skyward Sword counterparts. Source: Famitsu (via The Escapist) What are your thoughts on Fi being a playable character in the game?
  14. Jason Clement

    Review: Shovel Knight

    Developer: Yacht Club Games Publisher: Yacht Club Games Platform(s): Wii U, 3DS, PC (Steam) Release Date: June 26, 2014 ESRB: E for Everyone This review is based on the Wii U version of the game Playing Shovel Knight has been like a trip through memory lane. Imagine experiencing the best parts of some of the most classic NES platformer and action adventure games but combining them all into one game. That's essentially what newcomer Yacht Club Games accomplished here, and it's pretty incredible that they did it all so seamlessly in their very first game. Shovel Knight has all the makings of an authentic 8-bit experience, from the visuals to the mechanics and right down to its chiptune music, but don't be fooled; this might just be the best new property of 2014 thus far. Shovel Knight begins with the tale of the titular character and regales how he accomplished many great feats with his partner and love interest, the female Shield Knight, until one day, the two fell to the dark power of a cursed amulet in the Tower of Fate. Upon reawakening, Shovel Knight finds the tower sealed and Shield Knight missing. Falling into despair, our hero retires and secludes himself from the world, only for an enemy known as The Enchantress to rise in his absence, unseal the Tower of Fate, and conquer the land with her 8 knights of The Order of No Quarter. Upon hearing this, Shovel Knight takes it upon himself to journey to the tower and stop The Enchantress as well as hopefully rescue Shield Knight. As mentioned at the outset, the game takes heavy inspiration from several classic NES games, and it definitely shows right off the bat. Each main level plays out similarly to the 2D side-scrolling levels from Mega Man games, sometimes with a miniboss in the middle and ending with a main boss, which is one of the eight knights of The Order of No Quarter. A bit of DuckTales is thrown into the mix with Shovel Knight's ability to pogo bounce off of most enemies he comes across with his shovel (though you won't be able to pogo jump on the ground itself). Also, Castlevania influence is shown through the use of different items, and inspiration from Zelda II: The Adventure of Link comes into play in the form of the game's combat (attacking with the shovel, especially with the downward thrust) as well as a couple of towns where you can explore and talk to people. These also serve as hubs where you can buy additional health, magic, shovel, and armor upgrades. Finally, the world map is very akin to the one in Super Mario Bros. 3, in which you traverse a set of different locations interlinked by lines. The levels tend to steer more towards traditional platforming (along with a bit of puzzle platforming) with a lesser emphasis on enemies, though you'll still come across plenty throughout (and again, the occasional miniboss). Furthermore, each level does a great job of bringing new, unique game mechanics and playing to their theme well. For example, you'll have to touch snow in the air for it to get it to drop and cover spike-filled areas in Polar Knight's level, ride on torpedoes in Treasure Knight's submarine-based level, or ride and manipulate the wind created from propeller in Propeller Man's stage. There are also a number of additional areas to explore on the world map where you can gather treasure, but you'll usually need a special item to proceed. What makes the game especially interesting are other small but memorable aspects and quirks that set it apart from other titles. Being a "Shovel" Knight, naturally you can use it to break apart blocks or even dig certain piles on the ground which will reveal treasure. Instead of losing lives, you lose a percentage of your gold, but you're given a chance to retrieve it at the exact area you lost it. Villagers all seem like they have something legitimately interesting or funny to say. There are even random, roving enemies you'll encounter on the map, some of which have their own stories that will play out in the form of a boss fight. Where Shovel Knight really shines, though, is in its boss fights (and optional ones as well). Each is similar to a Mega Man boss fight, but taken to the extreme. Most are fast-paced, over-the-top, flashy, and extremely imaginative; a few standouts include Mole Knight, Propellor Knight, Treasure Knight, and Tinker Knight (whose I won't spoil); all of which are pretty creative and have an amazing visual flair. It might seem like simply trying to hit them would make it boring, but the number of different attacks and complex patterns each has is pretty astounding and makes these fights moderately challenging. And at the end of one, Shovel Knight delivers the final blow in slow motion, adding a dramatic flair that makes you feel like a real hero. Aside from its charming 8-bit presentation, the game has a great sense of visual style. Just about all of the character design is extremely likeable, starting with Shovel Knight himself, who has a great look. All of the Order of No Quarter have quirky yet different and memorable designs themselves, recalling some of Mega Man's bosses of old and how many of them ended up really growing on the players. Even the background imagery and scenery is fantastic, with multiple layers being used and highly detailed, and dramatic effects that include areas that are partially black (to simulate darkness) that light up when lightning strikes. While not adhering strictly to the NES's technical limits, Yacht Club Games did a brilliant job of breaking the boundary when they needed to in order to really make the game sing while staying true to the vision of a new retro-style game. Adding further to the retro aesthetic is a brilliant soundtrack, and arguably one of the strongest of the year so far. Jake Kaufman lends his musical talents here as well as Mega Man composer Manami Matsumae, who contributes two of her own tracks. And much like his work on DuckTales Remastered and the Mighty Switch Force games, Kaufman manages to pull off an extremely catchy soundtrack reminiscent of the old Mega Man games along with a dash of inspiration from Castlevania. He made mention that the OST can even be played on an actual NES, giving further legitimacy to what Yacht Club Games was attempting to achieve. In the end, Shovel Knight is not a game that is necessarily innovative or industry-changing; everything that it does already exists to some degree in other games during the NES era. However, what makes it truly amazing is the fact that it combines the best aspects of those games and creates something truly special and thoroughly entertaining because of it. From its quirky character design to its Mega Man/DuckTales/Castlevania-inspired gameplay to its outstanding music, Shovel Knight hits nothing but high notes all the way to its conclusion. Pros + Great, charming plot + Good amount of content to play through + Incredible boss fights + Soundtrack is very catchy; easily one of the best of the year + 8-bit visuals and effects are a joy to behold Cons - Some levels feel a bit longer than they should be. Overall Score: 9 (out of 10) Fantastic Shovel Knight is a great new property by Yacht Club Games that plays like a retro game yet feels modern and fresh at the same time, and is easily one of the best games of 2014 so far. Disclosure: This game was reviewed using downloadable code provided by the publisher.
  15. Two new playable characters were revealed for Hyrule Warriors in this week's Famitsu magazine (via Siliconera), and the first is actually another from Twilight Princess! Well, maybe not someone you were expecting, however. In any case, the character in question is Agitha. Fans of Twilight Princess may remember that she was one of the more unorthodox characters in the game, being the self-proclaimed "Princess of Bugs" and living in her "castle" in Hyrule Town. It's unknown yet what her weapon or method of attack will be just yet but you can probably bet it might involve bugs. She'll likely also receive a slight redesign like some of the other already announced characters have (Link, Zelda, and Impa). The other announced playable character is a new character named Lana, who may presumably be the mystery girl with the silver hair on the right side of the game's box art. Also mentioned in Famitsu is the fact that Twilight Princess villain Zant and one of the game's bosses—the flying, dragon-like creature Argorok—will figure into the game somehow. Will Zant also be playable? We'll have to wait and see. Hyrule Warriors is slated for release on September 26th in North America on Wii U. Source: Siliconera What other playable characters would you like to see in the game?
  16. Marcus Estrada

    Yoshi's Wooly World Screenshot 2

    From the album: Marcus's Album

  17. Marcus Estrada

    Yoshi's Wooly World Screenshot 1

    From the album: Marcus's Album

  18. There“s something about the Yoshi series that always requires it to have a distinct, cute look. Yoshi“s Wooly World on Wii U is no exception to the rule. In fact, I think it“s the best looking Yoshi game ever not due purely to graphical fidelity but just design wise. Of course, the graphics do look mighty impressive too. But let“s worry about the visuals second and go over the gameplay present in the demo. Yoshi“s Wooly World is a 2D platformer as people have come to expect from the series. Yoshi is able to lick enemies, turn them into yarn balls, and then use these to shoot at things. At its core the game is very standard but has a handful of tweaks due to the yarn aesthetic. For example, when objects in the world have a little yarn bow on them you can lick the bow to undo it to reveal various things. The whole lick/eat mechanic also makes more sense. Since enemies are made of yarn it follows that Yoshi can somehow convert that into a yarn ball for shooting purposes. In any case, the game looks phenomenal. Yarn makes up every square inch of the landscape and looks about as accurate to real life yarn as possible. There are even tiny little fibers on the outer ends of each piece of yarn. The design decisions have fun with the yarn theme and makes it feel really joyous. For example, Yoshi sprouting a tiny yarn propeller on his head when fluttering is precious. Yoshi“s Wooly World appears full of such flourishes. Gameplay felt solid and the demo encompassed basically all you would hope to see. There were a good deal of collectibles to grab, multiple paths around a stage, and even hidden areas and treasures to find. There didn“t seem to be much use for the GamePad“s screen though as all the action is present on a TV set. I have a feeling fans will be quite pleased with Yoshi“s Wii U debut. It both looks astonishing and plays well. Of course, this was just a sampling of the full experience so many other aspects may make the final game even better or worse than it appears. Alongside Kirby and the Rainbow Curse, it looks like Nintendo is prepped to raise the standard for platformers yet again. Yoshi“s Wooly World is set to launch on Wii U sometime in 2015.
  19. After hitting a snag and having to delay the game from its original launch date, Yacht Club Games' retro-inspired Shovel Knight is finally back on track for a release next week. The game will release on June 26 on the North American Wii U and 3DS eShops first, with an international release on PC/Steam to follow. Yacht Club Games also mentions that it is working through localization and ratings specific to the European region and hopes to have something positive to announce soon. In the meantime, North American 3DS and Wii U owners have just a little under a week and a half left to wait before they can finally play Shovel Knight, so stay tuned! Source: Kickstarter Are you excited for Shovel Knight's release?
  20. Marcus Estrada

    Mario Maker Screenshot 2

    From the album: Marcus's Album

  21. Marcus Estrada

    Mario Maker Screenshot 1

    From the album: Marcus's Album

  22. Marcus Estrada

    E3 2014: Hands-On With Mario Maker

    Mario Maker had been rumored before E3 began and it was a rumor that proved true! This upcoming Wii U title allows players to actually design their own Super Mario Bros. (or New Super Mario Bros.) stages. No doubt this has been the dream of many, as evidenced by all the ROM hacks of the world. Of course, Nintendo“s offering is set to be the most user friendly way to create your own levels once it launches. There was an early build of Mario Maker available to test at E3. It allowed players to make fairly small stages with a dozen or so objects. Various blocks and enemies were available, although a lot I hoped to see were not included yet. To make stages all you had to do was click and drag an object from the items bar and place it somewhere on the world. At any time you could also jump into the stage to test how something worked. Right now, there was a limit of 100 enemies per stage but these numbers may change in the future. I had no problems getting it to work but just bumped into the current limitations of Mario Maker. As of right now there is no way to make warp pipes. Pipes were available just for decoration or to stick piranha plants into. Similarly, although there were wings that could be applied to enemies, this wouldn“t make them fly. Basically all the things I had hoped to make when messing around with it weren“t possible - yet. It“s certain that tons of features are still being designed, such as other visual styles, stage backdrops, and additional objects. Most all of the design aspects occur while staring at the GamePad. Because of this, I have to wonder if a 3DS version isn“t in the works. Outside of technical limitations, it seems that the game would be a perfect fit. After all, you“re stuck staring at the GamePad for quite a while to perfect the level. Only actually playing it benefits from a larger screen. Well, whatever it ends up launching on, Nintendo fans are sure to get a kick out of seeing their dream stages in motion. Mario Maker is pegged for Wii U launch in the first half of 2015.
  23. Kirby is one Nintendo character that seems to only grow more adorable with time. Kirby and the Rainbow Curse might very well be the most attractive version of the plump, pink fellow yet. Settled on Wii U, this game turns the world of Kirby into one that appears completely comprised of clay. Longtime fans should also be excited that this appears to be a prettier rendition of Kirby: Canvas Curse. In keeping with series standards, his latest adventure is a 2D platformer. There are some tweaks thanks to Kirby and the Rainbow Curse“s implementation on Wii U, though. First, you“ll end up spending most of your time watching the GamePad instead of TV set. This is because you“ve got to control Kirby very carefully via taps on the character or by drawing rainbow platforms to guide him around. Double tapping Kirby causes a speed boost which is useful to best foes as well as break through normal blocks. Holding the stylus down on Kirby for a bit charges a stronger boost for tougher walls. There“s even a special ultimate boost which makes Kirby totally overpowered as he flies through absolutely everything. For all these boosting features, you“ll still practically need to hold hands to get Kirby where you want. This is handled via the rainbow paths that you draw. By drawing straight lines, curves, and loops you can make Kirby handle any stage. Sometimes all you need to draw is an incline to get over low barriers. Other times you“ll simply want to make wobbly pathways to nab collectibles. And hey, making Kirby run about in a loop is fun enough even without a gameplay specific reason. You could probably get accustomed to poking Kirby and drawing lines while looking at a TV screen but it wouldn't“ be nearly as easy as devoted GamePad attention. The only sad aspect of being so GamePad-focused is that you really miss out on some of the game“s inherent beauty. Although the clay look is fully viewable on GamePad, there was something especially fantastic about seeing it in larger form. I would always rush to look at the screen after finishing an area to catch a glimpse of the visuals in their ideal presentation. At least spectators will get a great show! In any case, Kirby and the Rainbow Curse is still a ways away with release pegged for sometime in 2015.