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Found 10 results

  1. Jason Clement

    Review: Nintendo Land

    Developer: Nintendo Publisher: Nintendo Platform: Wii U Release Date: November 18, 2012 ESRB: E for Everyone When Nintendo Land was first revealed at E3 earlier this year, few people knew what to make of it. A virtual theme park for Miis that encompassed a wide range of Nintendo's franchises - it's not quite the Wii Sports successor many had imagined. This time around, it was clear that Nintendo rethought how they would approach a casual game that would show off the Wii U and be accessible to everyone. Instead of the simple menu-based interface that Wii Sports exhibited, they chose to make it more of an interactive experience in which the game would emulate the feel of a theme park. Does it succeed as that first big console game attraction, or does Nintendo Land fail to launch? Interestingly enough, Nintendo Land is quite a surprise. On the outside, it may seem relatively simple in execution, like Wii Sports, but don't let the packaging fool you: there's much more depth to these games than Wii Sports or even Wii Sports Resort ever had. On a fundamental level, Nintendo Land's games still lean toward the casual end of the spectrum, but what make them stand out is the fact that they are based on popular Nintendo properties and that each game has multiple levels and skill levels and even trophies of sorts. Upon your initial arrival in Nintendo Land, you're greeted by an empty park with just the game attractions and a giant statue at the center, which is oddly shaped like a TV at the top. Then you're introduced to this game's assistant character of sorts, a floating robot with a TV monitor for a head named Monita. She speaks in a somewhat monotone robot voice but is actually quite likeable, and is the one who instructs you on how to play each minigame and the park itself. After the initial tutorial, you're let lose into the park itself, free to go and play whatever game you choose. Like I mentioned earlier, part of what makes Nintendo Land interesting is that Nintendo didn't just want to make a menu based mini-game compilation of sorts, so they introduced the theme park aspect to help Nintendo Land feel like a real place you could explore. Conversely, they knew that some people would just want to skip all that and hop right to the games, so they actually did include a menu that you can quickly swap to from the park that includes all of the games right there for you to pick from. Even though I really enjoyed the whole park aspect, I admit that I did use this mode a lot at times for its simple convenience. So how do the actual games stack up? Let's take a look at each of them in their respective categories below. Team Attractions Pikmin Adventure is a lot of fun, and one of three or four games that include tens of different levels for you to play through. The basic gist of the game is a lot like the actual Pikmin series itself; your Mii will play the part of Captain Olimar, and along with another Mii as a Pikmin helper, you'll command Pikmin to attack enemies and destroy bricks and the like as you progress through the level and attempt to escape via a spaceship at the end. As you progress, you'll run into tougher enemies and even a few large bosses. Like the other games, its gameplay is simple on a rudimentary scale, but the light strategy elements make it a lot of fun, and the stamps and gold stars are actually quite a challenge to acquire in the long run. The Legend of Zelda: Battle Quest and Metroid Blast are both essentially shooting gallery games. In the former, it features your Mii dressed as Link and running through the level on-rails, only stopping when you pull back your bow to shoot or swing your sword while you aim at the various enemies that are coming toward you in the level. This game actually has different and diverse level designs and features lite Zelda elements to it, such as hitting switches to proceed through doors and minibosses and the like. Metroid Blast is more of a free-roaming environment where your Mii is either piloting Samus' ship or on-foot and hunting down waves of enemies in the level; in this game, it's more about pin-point precision since you need to aim and shoot at an enemies weak spot to do any damage. Both games feature multiple levels (with Metroid featuring a good 20+ levels), so they're definitely meatier single-player experiences. Solo Attractions Octopus Dance is based on the old Game & Watch series with the black and white LCD characters (specifically the one titled Octopus), at least in theme; the actual minigame is nothing like that. Instead, it's a Simon Says-type game where you'll mimic the movements of an NPC character with the Gamepad's two analog sticks, doing everything from stretching your arms to the left and right to tilting the Gamepad in order to lean your character over and even giving the pad a quick shake for a jump. It's fast-paced and pretty fun, not to mention that the music here is incredibly catchy. Balloon Quest is a terrific follow-up to the original Balloon Fight NES game. You'll use the stylus on the Gamepad's touch screen to make quick strokes to initiate gusts of wind in the direction of your swiping, and that wind will carry your Mii through the level. Meanwhile, you'll need to be adept at harnessing that wind in order to dodge obstacles such as floating spikes and moving spikes, as well as enemy birds that are also flying with balloons and attempting to pop yours. Factoring in other elements that happen during different times of the day (stormy and windy), and there's quite a challenge in this one. It also helps that the music is fantastic. Donkey Kong: Crash Course is a quirky minigame where you control a little rolling contraption amidst an obstacle course that you must traverse by tilting the Gamepad. You'll trigger switches, platforms, and elevators with buttons while you attempt to balance the contraption and keep it from falling over, but if that happens, you'll lose a life. Fortunately, there are checkpoints scattered about to make things just a bit easier. Even so, this is definitely one of the more challenging games, and it's probably one of the most rewarding since it can be difficult to play through. There isn't much to identify it as a Donkey Kong game here aside from the aesthetics of the construction site (steel girders and such) from the original game, but it's still an interesting and fun experience to play through. Takamaru's Ninja Castle is perhaps the most classic version of the shooting gallery and one of the most simple games in concept. You'll swipe at the Gamepad in order to toss throwing stars at enemy ninjas that pop out from behind the background and around each setpiece. There are a number of different rounds you'll play through, as well as different types of enemies with different attack patterns that you'll need to learn to avoid before you reach a final round in which you engage with the last boss. It's definitely fun in spurts, though swiping at the touch screen to throw ninja stars can get a little tiring after a while. Yoshi's Fruit Cart was probably my least favorite of the games that I played, though it's not necessarily bad. It's just not as exciting as the rest. Essentially, you're given an overhead view of a field with several fruit on it on the TV screen. On the Gamepad, you'll use the stylus to draw a path for the Yoshi cart you're riding in to arrive at the goal, but the key factor is that you need to collect all of the fruit in the level along the way. Making things more difficult is the fact that you can only see the fruit on the TV but not the Gamepad, and you can only see the path you're drawing on the Gamepad but not the TV, so the objective is to examine the screen on the TV and guesstimate where you should draw the path in relation to the fruit on the other screen. As the levels go on, things get progressively more challenging as more obstacles are introduced, enemies patrol the screen, and fruit moves around. Captain Falcon's Twister Race is a racing obstacle course minigame based on the F-Zero series, and requires you to hold the Gamepad in a vertical position relative to the TV screen. The Gamepad will show you an overhead view of your vehicle as it races along the track, as well as any booster pads, obstacles, and twists and turns in the course itself, while the TV screen will show you a behind-the-vehicle view of the events. As you complete each course, things get more challenging as you'll dodge other vehicles and more obstacles such as spikes, narrow turns, and other hindrances that will attempt to slow you down as you try to reach each checkpoint in a certain allotted time. It's an enjoyable game for a few runs, but aside from trying to master it, you might not spend as much time with this game as the others. Competitive Attractions by Marcus Estrada When it comes to Versus Attractions in Nintendo Land there are only three, but they all work wonderfully. The first of the three is Animal Crossing Sweet Day. In this game, you take the role of either an animal or guard. Wii Remote players rush around as elephant-capped Miis trying to collect candy and deposit it elsewhere. All the while, the GamePad player moves two guards via the analog sticks to capture others. If the animals reach their candy goal before guards can take all their lives, then they win. The concept is fairly simple but ends up being a lot of fun to play with groups or even just one other player. Luigi“s Ghost Mansion comes off as a very similar game to Animal Crossing Sweet Day at first. The game is also played from a top down perspective and faces a group of one to four players on Wii Remote against a GamePad-controlled antagonist. This time around, though, the focus is on trying to stop the GamePad ghost by shining a flashlight on it. Ghost hunters only have a flashlight to protect them but can and will be creeped up on by the ghost. Unlike Animal Crossing, it employs vibration to let the hunters know when a ghost is near, as well as flashlight powerups. Although it is very simple, it has a bit more strategic flair than Animal Crossing. Finally there is Mario Chase, which is slightly different in visual presentation but still basically a glorified game of catch. While the Remote player assumes the role of running away, GamePad players have a bonus. Along with their own character who can tackle they also have two AI Yoshis who will meander around and hopefully stop running players in their tracks. However, only the human player can tackle the other, so no amount of Yoshi cornering will end the game. The thing that really keeps you coming back to Nintendo Land in the end (aside from fun multiplayer games that are perfect for party occassions) is the fact that you get coins from each game (for various reasons and achievements, including just participating) that you'll spend in a Pachinko-like minigame which takes place at Monita tower in the center of the park. During the minigame, a cursor will go back and forth at the top of the screen while you drop coins down through the slots and attempt to light up beacons by having the coins touch them. There are some 10+ different pachinko levels of varying complexity, so sometimes it'll cost 10-20 coins or more just to complete one level. Oh, and the reward for winning? A randomly selected prize in a question mark block that will pop out of Monita tower and be found somewhere on the park floor. It could be anything from a giant mechanical Deku Tree replica to a Zebesian replica from the Metroid series, or even a remixed song from the past of one of the game's many featured franchises. I've gotten a good 30-40 of these prizes so far, and my park is still far from being populated by them; there could be as many as 50-100 or more to collect in all. Therein lies the true genius of Nintendo Land; by playing the games, collecting coins, and redeeming them for these prizes, you begin to populate your park with Nintendo paraphenalia and lore, and it really does become more like a virtual Nintendo theme park. Each reward acts as a piece of Nintendo history, and even tells you a bit about it when you tap on it on the touch screen. Listening to one of the remixed songs blast through the speakers around the park is also a pretty cool experience, and it actually sounds like you're hearing it in a theater/colliseum-type environment. At the end of the day, Nintendo Land is a remarkably solid tie-in for the Wii U console. The game shines best when you have friends and family to play some of the different games with, but many of the single-player games are quite enjoyable and offer enough depth to satisfy even core gamers. If you end up buying the Wii U Basic Console instead of Premium, Nintendo Land is well worth buying for its immense replay value and homage to Nintendo's past. And if you already own it due to buying the Premium console but haven't played it yet? Pick it up and give it a try; you just might be surprised at how addictive it can be. Pros + Tons of content and replay value to experience + 12 different games to play through with many different modes + Visuals are smooth, appealing + Building up the park with Nintendo memorabilia is lots of fun Cons - Some games aren't as good as others - 3 of the games can only be played with two players or more Overall Score: 8 (out of 10) Great Nintendo Land is a great entry point to the Wii U and helps show what the console is all about with the different uses for the Gamepad. Pick it up especially if you're into multiplayer at parties and if you love Nintendo memorabilia.
  2. Last year was interesting because there was really only one game that stood out above everything else for me - The Legend of Skyward Sword. Going into 2012, I wondered if any other games would really resonate with me like that title did, and what transpired throughout the year manage to surprise me quite a bit. It became evident to me that the games that would really stick with me were the ones that were mostly shorter, powerful experiences above all else. That isn't to say there weren't games to enjoy purely for the fun of it, but there were at least four or five different surprises for me throughout the year that I wasn't expecting at all. Take a look below, as you might be surprised at more than a few of the games I selected for my top 10. 10. Nintendo Land If you're looking in disbelief at the #10 spot right now, know that I would've been right there with you just a few months ago. Upon actually playing it, however, Nintendo Land is deceptively deeper than originally thought. The actual minigames have a simple-but-fun element to just about all of them, but when you factor in multiple modes, multiple difficulty levels, and multiple levels (sometimes spanning into the 20's-30's) for some of the games, there's quite a bit of content here. And the actual task of using coins won in minigames to help pad out Nintendo Land's theme park with statues, remixed music, and other objects from the publisher's history is a lot of fun in itself. 9. Rhythm Heaven Fever Official GP Review Rhythm Heaven Fever exceeds and surpasses 2009's Rhythm Heaven (DS) and does it with the push of a button, literally. As much as I loved the DS predecessor, tapping and flicking the touch screen amped up the difficulty considerably on certain games (which often required precise timing), so that hampered my enjoyment a bit. Fever returns the series to a button-only control format and it's much better off for it, not to mention that a lot of its music features what I consider the catchiest songs of the year. If you love rhythm/music and unique games, definitely check it out. 8. LEGO The Lord of the Rings This year saw the release of two of the best LEGO games yet; the first being Lego Batman 2, which introduced an open world format for the first time in the series. However, I found the second LEGO title, LEGO The Lord of the Rings, to be a more ambitious game overall, and it corrected quite a few of the bugs and glitches that LB2 had. Toss in an open world Middle Earth that is fully explorable (along the path that Frodo and his companions took), a brand new item system, and levels that adapt some of the best moments in the movies quite well (Helm's Deep and The Battle of the Pelennor Fields are especially impressive), and it's easily the deepest LEGO game to date. Bring on LEGO The Hobbit next! 7. Tokyo Jungle Official GP Review Tokyo Jungle was never on my radar from the beginning, but I knew that I had to try it when our own Leah and Marshall were raving about it over Twitter. It's a good thing I did end up playing it too, because it's easily one of the most unique experiences I've played in years. Along with some pretty happenin' electro-ambient tunes, what really struck me the most about this game was how different each playthrough felt as a different animal, and how much strategy comes into play in adapting to the ever-changing random atmosphere in order to survive. Post-apocalyptic games have never been that interesting to me before, but Tokyo Jungle's animal-themed take on it took me by surprise and went for the jugular. 6. Paper Mario: Sticker Star Official GP Review Paper Mario: Sticker Star was perhaps my most anticipated game coming into 2012, and for good reason. Introducing a new and innovative "sticker" element to the series, Sticker Star retained the same trademark humor and inventive gameplay that the first three games were known for. Sure, the shift in focus away from a more traditional RPG setting is a little disappointing given the high quality of the first two games, but overall, there were tons of great, memorable moments in this game, and collecting and figuring out what all of the different stickers did was a lot of fun, making it easily one of Mario's best adventures in years. 5. Rhythm Thief & The Emperor's Treasure Official GP Review Professor Layton clones are a dime a dozen nowadays (especially considering Konami's failed knockoff Doctor Lautrec and the Forgotten Knights) but Rhythm Thief blends the touch-centric Layton gameplay with rhythm segments and catchy music to a wonderful effect. However, the characters are the true heart of the game and its story (even if it is a bit absurd), and the game does an amazing job of introducing them and making you care about what happens to them as well, even managing to throw a twist or two that most players won't see coming. It's a shame that Rhythm Thief's future is uncertain as SEGA dropped much of their internal development earlier this year due to financial difficulties; the cliffhanger ending opens the way not only for a sequel, but an entire franchise to be spun out of this game, and I'd love to see it happen. 4. Xenoblade Chronicles Confession time: I haven't beat Xenoblade Chronicles yet, but from the good amount of time I did invest in it so far, I can say that it has one of the most stunning settings and worlds that I've ever experienced in a game; you can spend hours upon hours in the first area just exploring and doing sidequests alone. The narrative and story are pretty attention-grabbing and heavy-handed as well, and what happens in the first 15 hours is pretty significant, but doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of the game as a whole. In an era where JRPGs are largely thought to have had their golden years behind them, Xenoblade reignited my passion for the genre and keeps my hope alive that we'll continue to see great games like it in the near future. 3. The Unfinished Swan Official GP Review Not everyone will appreciate The Unfinished Swan like I did, but for those who did, the world created within is unlike any other. For me, like the top two games on this list, what this game does as far as imagination goes is pretty extraordinary, creating a storybook-like world with a narrative that unfolds through pages as you make your way through a world that was created with a single paintbrush. What's most unique about the game is how its gameplay evolves as you progress and new ways of interacting with the environment begin to open up. Coupled with a unique and heartfelt story, The Unfinished Swan is one of the best experiences I had all year long. Did I mention that Monty Python's Terry Gilliam does some superb voicework here? 2. Papo & Yo Official GP Review Another huge surprise, Papo & Yo was another title that I vaguely acknowledged up until a week or two before its launch. What looked like another Ico-like puzzle platformer was revealed to be a game with much deeper meaning, as it came out that the story in it is actually a metaphor for creative director Vander Caballero's abusive childhood under his monster-like alcholic father. The game itself isn't without issues, but the world it presents in child protagonist Quico's imagination is truly outstanding, being one of the first video games wholly grounded in South American culture, from its made-up Latin-gibberish language to the setting of a Brazilian favela and themes of poverty within it. Artistically, it's unlike any other game I've played this year, and its soundtrack is one of the most heartfelt and sorrowful (yet beautiful) in a year of largely excellent video game music. But the ending alone is what truly cemented Papo & Yo as one of the must-experience titles of this year; what it leaves behind when you're finished is a powerful lesson that stands true even for those who may not have experienced a childhood under an abusive family member. 1. Journey Official GP Review It's hard for me to truly describe why Journey is such an amazing experience. Is it the extraordinary art style - an otherwise painterly aesthetic that transcends the realism most other modern games shoot for (pun entirely intended)? Is it the groundbreaking effect and emotional ties that the multiplayer creates with seemingly unknown and random online players along your journey? Austin Wintory's hauntingly beautiful score which fits the game's narrative to a "T"? Or is it the story and narrative, a tale of death and rebirth, and destiny, that seem to linger in my thoughts? Or perhaps it's all of that at once? The idea behind Journey is something that largely has never been attempted up to this point. There is a goal, but there is little skill involved in reaching it; rather the emphasis is shifted to your experience as you journey to the final destination. Emotion through narrative, as creative director Jenova Chen put it. As I reflect on my playthrough and what other people have written about the game, one word keeps appearing above all else - "transcendent." "Surpassing usual limits," or "beyond the range of usual perception" as some definitions put it. And really, that sums up the experience as a whole for me, especially the final area. There's nothing else quite like Journey, and there may never be another game like it ever again.
  3. Jason Clement

    Nintendo Land

  4. Have you ever heard the phrase “don“t judge a book by its coverâ€? Of course you have. If you haven“t, then you“re lying, because…come on. It“s a phrase that basically means that you shouldn“t judge something by appearance alone (usually pertaining to people). So if you ask me, this phrase is very relatable to video games. Whether you think a game is going to suck because you don“t think it looks fun, has unimpressive graphics in your eyes, looks too kiddy for you, or even if you think the game looks like the best game ever, just remember that you shouldn“t judge a game by its cover (hey, that“s the title of the article!). If you judge too quickly, you could really be missing out on something truly amazing… “Well THIS Game“s Gonna Suck…†Certain games sure do get a lot of hate these days. Now, it's one thing when you play a game and legitimately do not like it whatsoever, but then there are those people who hate on a game before they ever even play it. And oftentimes, these people don't even wait long enough for reviewers to review it before giving their final judgment. As soon as they see the game in action for the very first time, they're all like "well THIS game's gonna suck..." They're too quick to judge the game and often miss out on quality games they never give a chance. “The Wii U“s Gonna Bomb!†Ever since gamers got a look at Nintendo“s new home console, a lot of them seem to have convinced themselves that it“ll bring about the destruction of Nintendo. Now, realistically, that probably won“t be the case, but these people think it will. Why? Well, because they haven“t tried it out for themselves, that“s why. Even when almost every person who has gotten their hands on the Wii U has had mostly good things to say about it, the haters just won“t listen. And when they see the games for the Wii U (like Nintendo Land, for instance), they tell everyone that the console has nothing good coming along. We“ll see what happens when the Wii U is released, but I predict these people might be wrong. “It Doesn't Have the Best Graphics, So It's a Bad Game.†When people say “graphics don“t make a game,†they aren“t just saying that. Honestly, a game could look like real life and still be the worst game ever. But not everyone seems to think that. A lot of people are under the impression that if a game doesn“t have amazing graphics, it isn“t worth playing. That“s one of the things that just about killed the Wii for people who think they“re “hardcore gamers.†Of course, that“s not to say that all games with crappy graphics are good, but it ain“t the opposite either. Look, all I“m sayin“ is that a game shouldn“t be judged solely on how hard it is to distinguish between what you see in-game and what you see when you step back into reality. Graphics don“t make a game, and that“s that. “This Game is Too Kiddy for Me…†Oh boy, this one… Seriously, when people confidently tell others that a certain game is too kiddy for them in order to keep up with their “hardcore gamer†attitude, I just have to cringe. If a game was too kiddy for you, it wouldn“t be rated E for Everyone, but rather something more like E12- for Everyone 12 and under. It“s all personal preference, of course, but we aren“t talking about the people who actually care about their own gamer opinions. Instead, we“re talking about the people who flat-out won“t give a game a chance because it“s not violent or profane enough to be inappropriate for children to play. Their logic: if a kid is allowed to play it, it“s a kid“s game. But you wanna know a sad secret? Many of these “mature†gamers aren“t even in their teens yet… “THIS IS THE BEST GAME EVAR!!1!†It“s time to take a different stance here and talk about something that always tends to be a huge determining factor in gamer purchases: hype. Rather than gamers looking at a game and yelling “next!†before they even see what the game is like for themselves, there are many times in which gamers see a game and immediately decide that they“ll buy it on day one no matter what. Good examples would be any game in the Call of Duty series, Halo series, or Final Fantasy series; no matter where the series has gone in recent years (I“m looking at YOU, Final Fantasy XIII-2!). Another good example of something being overhyped is the old Atari 2600 game E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (*shiver*). That game was so hyped up because of the movie that it took the world until after they caused the game to outsell Space Invaders to realize that the game was the worst thing on the face of the Earth and had to be bulldozed into the desert to avoid Satan“s wrath from destroying the planet. “Violent Video Games Make Kids Violent.†Here“s a topic that parents and politicians love to try digging up legitimate evidence for, even though more evidence shows quite the opposite; these people see video games with any amount of blood in it as something that“s damaging their kid“s morals and turning them evil, thanks to a few nut-job gamers who decided on having some killing sprees. In their eyes, violent video games make kids violent, when all it really is are violent kids deciding to play violent video games due to their already violent nature (which could be due to other aspects of their life). But regardless, this train of thought (and the nut-jobs) has caused video game judging like no other. Whether it“s the judging of parents or politicians, or anyone else who believes these claims, there are plenty of people who will turn down a game, even if it“s an amazing piece of work, just because it has some violence in it. I guess they see these games as some sort of brain-washing to go out and kill. Now if you“ll excuse me, it“s time to go hunt me some zombies…
  5. Leah

    Nintendo Land

    From the album: Leah's Editorial Images

    © Nintendo