Tag Archives: wii u

‘Mother’ Released on Wii U Virtual Console

Hours ago, Nintendo released the 1989 Japanese title Mother to the Wii U Virtual Console as Earthbound: Beginnings, localized in English for the first time ever. Until now, the only exposure to the Mother series English audiences have had was 1995’s North American release of the critically acclaimed Mother 2, released as Earthbound.

The Virtual Console was the biggest selling point for the Wii for me, and it continues to be for the Wii U. My latest Wii U purchases include Super Metroid, Donkey Kong 64, and Paper Mario. The release of Earthbound: Beginnings is certainly interesting and a direct message to the hardcore/loyalist/older audience.

Paired with Super Smash Bros. and accidental Amiibo announcements, as well as the reboot of the Nintendo World Championship, Nintendo seems to be drawing a lot of eyes as E3 nears. 

[EDIT: After browsing the Nintendo eShop, it appears Wii games are not considered Virtual Console titles. I’ve removed Metroid Prime Trilogy and Super Mario Galaxy 2 from my list of recent Virtual Console purchases. That doesn’t change the fact that my most recent purchases have been legacy titles. Thanks to @AlexandreSitbon for encouraging my research.]

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The Future of Mario Double-Down

I’ve been playing a lot more Mario Kart 8 lately and recently played through Moo Moo Meadows. My wife loves this course. It is simple and old, recently made beautiful. Maybe it’s the lighting, but I get a similar vibe from Moo Moo Meadows as I do Wild Woods. Call me crazy, but I’m doubling down on the direction of the next 3D Mario.

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Buttons

Over the past week or so, I’ve learned that you can play Splatoon with two controllers taped together. I’ve also learned that Batman: Arkham Knight is a sprawling complicated buffet of gaming genres.

While the latter may be less about controls, I’m going to bet a “complicated buffet of gaming genres” would be a whole lot less daunting if I didn’t have 17 input methods on my PS4 to use at a moment’s notice:

  • D-pad (up, down, left, right)
  • Left joystick
  • Right joystick
  • Circle
  • Square
  • Triangle
  • X
  • L1
  • L2
  • L3
  • R1
  • R2
  • R3
  • start
  • options
  • clickable touchpad
  • PS button

After you’re done digesting all of that, take a moment to get to know your Xbox One Wireless Controller.

As Ben Thompson pointed out:

Beyond casuals, this is a problem for returning and often busy players. The fear of returning to a video game after days, weeks, or months of not playing – hell, the fear of picking up any video game to begin with – may stem from the problems above. Tutorials are commonplace in video games. Half the time I forget what the tutorials taught me. But instead of digging through menus for a refresher, I return to button mashing and familiarity for the sake of progress.

I began playing video games with the following inputs:

  • D-pad
  • A
  • B
  • Select
  • Start

Today, most people start with less: A touchscreen. Even with an unabashed fondness for the admittedly hideous and complex Nintendo 64 controller, I’ve taken to iOS games that require simple gestures and brief touches but offer rich experiences.1 (See: Alto’s Adventure, The RoomMonument Valley)

Whether or not Journey can be considered a “game”, it is an award-winning experience that only utilized for 44% of the PS3’s buttons. While all buttons were used in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, it did something extremely interesting: Auto-jumping. When I first played the game, I thought it crazy that jumping was defined by the world, not the player. But I got used to it and eventually loved it. It made perfect sense. In a physical world of button fatigue, a virtual world helped establish what was critical to player timing and what was trivial based on surroundings.

I’ve been dipping in and out of Far Cry 4 lately. I haven’t come across a good instance where I should be the one to define when to grapple or it necessary to control the climb mechanism. (Granted I’ve only played for a few hours.) Grappling seems trivial. On the flip-side, Dragon Age: Inquisition controls my use of potions based on programming, default or player defined. Potion use is trivial. Your character needs to be healed, so the game heals you. The player need not press a button.

I certainly have a reverie for the days of 5 inputs. A colleague and I spent time handling an original Game Boy last week, remembering just how comfortable and satisfying the early handheld felt. (The feels and travel of it’s buttons are a thing of beauty.) The more I sit back and think about the backwards oddity of shutting out an extremely large swath of consumers while deterring those who are ripe to purchase but are fatigued and tired of re-learning, the more I picture grandma’s remotes.

——

1 UPDATE: Super Mario Run nailed it.

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‘200CC Is So Fast It’s Starting To Break Mario Kart 8 Courses’

Yannick LeJacq writing for Kotaku:

Normally, busting outside of the normal confines of a level in Mario Kart 8 requires a) some sort of glitch or bug to be present and exploitable, or b) a hack of the game like the ones two modders famously performed last year. Kart racer and Reddit user dizzyzane wasn’t using any special hacking tricks, though. He was just driving really, really fast thanks to Mario Kart 8’s game-changing new 200CC speed class.

Love this. Like that moment when a toddler goofs, turning a harmless accident into a humorous event. Makes you appreciate the calculations behind great level design and game balance. (Though, it appears breaking Music Park’s ceiling was already possible in 150CC, just not to this extent, as per kingdomharms’s Reddit reply.)

EDIT: Thinking on it, I’m a bit mixed about 200CC. On one hand, if 200CC is truly a new feature, the fact that more levels were not broken open with the increased speed is a testament to Nintendo as a quality game maker. That is, unless, 200CC was planned from the get go; to which  200CC would have been a business strategy for increased play time / player investment. If that is the case, I’m always miffed at the holding back of content. (See also: Mario Party 10 under Nintendo Direct Play-by-Play from 1/16/15)

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Mario Kart 8 DLC Pack 2: Here We Go!

Mario Kart 8 DLC Pack 2 was released on April 23, 2015. The addition of Animal Crossing’s Villager and Isabelle as well as Dry Bowser don’t do much for me. Likewise, new karts have never been something I glamour for, often selecting the standard kart for every race. (I dig classic!) However, the new Crossing and Bell cups include some of the most gorgeous video game visuals I have come across, Nintendo game or otherwise.

As I was racing through the new and original Wild Woods track, I was itching for Dry Bowser to hop out of his kart and explore. (I’ve experienced similar feelings racing through Shy Guy Falls, Dolphin Shoals, and Toad Harbor.) Likewise, the Animal Crossing track turns the traditionally isometric town into a truly inhabitable world.

A racing game feeling inhabitable speaks volumes.

A breathtaking “open-world” Legend of Zelda is a reality. Likewise, Nintendo has shown stellar execution of HD visuals in Mario Kart 8. This adds up to trigger a craving for the next iteration of 3D Mario games to be set in a seamless HD universe; freeing itself from stage selection and selective star quests and instead opting in for a connected Mushroom Kingdom.

This does not mean an “open-world” Mario game. I am no champion for open-world games. In fact, I often loathe them. I become distracted by side-quests and/or feel forced spend hours completing unnecessary tasks to progress the story or grow the game only to be forced to backtrack or fast-travel to previously completed areas. More and more I feel “open-world” means “lock-in”, encouraging players to invest obscene amounts of time in a single game to the point where they are afraid or ashamed to give it up.

I would love to see the next iteration of 3D Mario games open up into semi-open, adventure style platformers à la Jak and Daxter. No overworld. No stage select. No “painting portals”. Missions are discovered throughout the Mushroom Kingdom in lands akin to Thwomp Ruins, Cheep Cheep Beach, and Moo Moo Meadows, each gated by the traditional “star-requirement”.

I previously posted some thoughts on Iterative vs. Redesigned Experiences:

Super Mario 64 could have just as easily been another side-scroller, albeit with better visuals. The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time could have been another top-down adventure. Donkey Kong 64 could have gone a number of pre-existing directions. Sure the Metroid series skipped the Nintendo 64 generation but Metroid Prime could have been another 2D platformer. The fact of the matter is that these titles reinvented their respective franchises. The worlds and characters we loved were shown in a new light and perspective. Sure, they are great games but they reinvented the way we thought about the franchises. This is what makes them so special.

More than just a great racing game, I believe Mario Kart 8 provides a glimpse at the future of the Mushroom Kingdom. Like Super Mario 64 dropped the “3D game design” mic, a fully connected Mushroom Kingdom could bring the 3D adventure-platformer back into the limelight and showcase exactly how it should have been done 15+ years ago.

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Nintendo’s Trickle-Release of Retro Titles, Round 2

Sam Byford of The Verge on Nintendo’s trickle-release strategy for Virtual Console:

Here are some movies you can watch right now on Netflix without causing the value of film as a medium to implode: Raging BullFargoManhattanPulp FictionChinatownButch Cassidy and the Sundance KidAmélieTrainspottingApocalypse NowRocky. These are movies that a lot of people probably pay several dollars each for on iTunes (or, well, DVD) à la carte, yet their availability on Netflix doesn’t hurt their classic status. Nintendo has by far the most valuable back catalog and intellectual property in gaming; even if it only made its own titles available and ignored third parties completely, it’d have a vast library that a lot of people would be willing to pay monthly for.

Sure, some will pay the cost of a month of Netflix for Super Mario 64 this month. But what about next month? I can’t imagine Donkey Kong 64 or Paper Mario drawing similar revenue, but they’re exactly the kind of title people would dip into out of curiosity under a subscription model. In a world where EA is offering access to all but its newest current console games for just $30 a year, this doesn’t seem like the hardest of calls.

When Nintendo began trickling out retro titles for the Wii Virtual Console, I shared Byford’s strong aversion to the slow, methodical rollout of games that had been available on past consoles (and ROMs) for years. At the mention of Super Mario 64 coming to Wii U, and Wii titles before that, the aversion never surfaced.

That the comparison of video games to film is an “apples vs. oranges” debate. Consumption of classic movies takes markedly less time than consumption of classic video games. With little time to focus on a single game, let alone the plethora or titles released every week/month, it’s nice to put the brake on “the binge” with an unhurried drip. A subscription service would not only bombard players with a catalog as stress inducing as Netflix’s, it would also surely waste away subscribers dollars spent vs. content consumed.

Regarding price, for titles I love and want to re-experience, Donkey Kong 64 and Paper Mario being two of them, I am more than happy to shell out $9.99 ($2.00 if I’ve already purchased on Wii) to relive the experience. On the other hand, I see what Byford is getting at regarding titles I had never played. Many of these legacy DS games are going to be a hard sell for me, especially when pit up against some of my fondest memories.

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Club Nintendo Experiencing Heavy Traffic

Club Nintendo:

We’re experiencing heavy traffic at the moment, so accessing your account may take a little longer than usual and you may see display issues with your account when logged in. Please note that you’ll have until 6/30/15 to redeem your rewards. Thank you for your patience.

Yesterday, Club Nintendo announced a massive sale in conjunction with the discontinuation of the loyalty program, offering physical goods as well as Wii U, Wii, and 3DS downloadable titles at discounted redemption rates. I have since experienced issues a) accessing the page or b) signing in.

In May 2014, Club Nintendo experienced similar server strain due to heavy traffic generated by the Mario Kart 8 free game offer.

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Metroid Prime Trilogy for $10

Headed straight to Nintendo.com, signed in, purchased, and redeemed to remotely download on my Wii U at home. A seamless experience, assuming I have enough space on my Wii U.

I’ve only played through Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, but I enjoyed every bit of the experience. Gorgeous worlds, beautiful score, and a stellar if not the best use of the Wii Remote + Nunchuck.

As a reminder, current Wii Games on Wii U do not support the GamePad. Like Super Mario Galaxy 2 before it, The Metroid Prime Trilogy requires a Wii Remote + Nunchuck, neither of which ship with Wii U. This caveat is a problem.

[Via Polygon]

Update: Apparently, I didn’t have enough free space. I returned home and turned on my Wii U expecting to see a Metroid Prime Trilogy icon, but there was none to be found. Nor a confirmation or error message present. Confused, Iollowed the instructions here, deleted Super Smash Bros. (sacrilegious, I know), and completed the download.

If Wii U can receive remote instruction to download, it should be able to fire back status updates. It’s not that I would be able to do anything about it, but at the very least I would know what to expect when I arrived home. This is especially alarming for large games. Instead of side-stepping hours of download and install time while at away or sleeping, customers will be disappointed to find that the download never even started. While I’m all for patience in the name of entertainment, I am passionately opposed to misguiding expectations. Under promise and over deliver. Not the other way around.

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Nintendo Direct Play-by-Play

What began as a review of the 1/14/15 Nintendo Direct turned into a play-by-play reaction piece.

From the top:

Puzzle & Dragons Z + Super Mario Bros. Edition (3DS)

The presentation kicks off with a Bejeweled clone. It seems completely unnecessary to create a “Super Mario Bros. Edition” of a game that is not focused on IP. I’ve always felt the same way with Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo. (More commonly known as Puzzle Fighter.) The first sight of the characters catch my eye, but I am no more apt to play once I see the style of game. It’s a cheap trick. To challenge myself, I recently tested Marvel Puzzle Quest. Same Bejeweled experience in a IP wrapper.

How about a new Super Mario RPG?

Pokemon Shuffle (3DS)

I don’t see how this is any different than Puzzle & Dragons Z. These types of games seem entirely based on luck. I was quick to counter my own point with Tetris but a) in Tetris, the player can see their next piece, and b) Tetris focuses on single piece placement, not masses of unordered chaos falling from the top of the screen. “In-game purchases” for more lives? Terrible. It all feels too much like a slot machine.

Regarding the life meter hearts, does zero count? (I had to do it.)

Wii Games on Wii U

With the new Wii Games on Wii U, eShop purchased Wii games are displayed on the Wii U menu. However, launching an eShop purchased Wii game simply launches the software in the existing Wii emulator. This means Wiimotes are expected.

Satoru Iwata, 8:36:

There are some Wii software icons on the Wii U menu. These icons are for Wii disc titles that been reproduced as downloadable software for Wii U. And you can start each game directly from the Wii U menu without first going into Wii Mode. Wii U’s backwards compatibility with Wii was developed by switching the hardware function to Wii Mode. Because of this, in the past, we couldn’t distribute Wii disc software for download on Wii U. Now that we can reproduce Wii disc software on Wii U, we can make these titles available to download. And some of the Wii games that were compatible with Wii Classic controller can be played using only the Wii U GamePad too.

The Wii console has an extensive software catalog, but Wii U owners may not have had the chance to play some Wii games even if they were interested in playing them when those titles were first released. We hope these new possibilities will allow Wii U owners to enjoy these Wii games more easily.

Prior to watching the Nintendo Direct, and without any discretion, I jumped at the chance to purchase Super Mario Galaxy 2. I was fairly disappointed when I realized that the eShop Wii Games were not Wii U ports, rather downloadable titles with shortcuts to the Wii Mode.

I only play my Wii U with the GamePad. I have a few Wiimotes lying around from my Wii days but only break them out if additional controllers are needed for local multiplayer. If Nintendo is expecting new Wii Game players to purchase these titles on Wii U, wouldn’t complete GamePad functionality make sense? Instead they are expecting Wiimotes at the ready. To my knowledge, there is no Wii U bundle that includes Wiimotes.1

On a positive note, I am very happy to see that the Metroid Prime Trilogy will be making it’s way to the eShop. I played through Prime 3 and loved the experience.

Kirby & the Rainbow Curse (Wii U)

This game looks gorgeous. The textures and animations take me back to ClayFighter, albeit with more polish and charm.

I still don’t understand how games requiring touch input benefit during TV + GamePad gameplay. The prime mechanic of this game looks to be drawing on the GamePad. I’m not sure how players will avoid a purely GamePad experience. I’m all for the Off-TV Play feature of Wii U. I use it all the time when my wife is watching TV. However, when a game requires GamePad touch input, I have trouble adapting (Pikmin 3) or I simply play through the experience on GamePad alone. The gameplay of Kirby & the Rainbow Curse seems better suited for the head-down, (sorta) focused nature of the 3DS.

Pretty neat Amiibo support assuming the special unlocked abilities are completely optional.

Spring amiibo

Can’t wait for my Mega Man Amiibo.

Mario Party 10 (Wii U)

I remember spending countless nights playing the N64 and GameCube editions of Mario Party. I really hope this iteration brings the series back to its glory days. (Mainly because my wife will join in.) But I’m already a bit turned off when 1/3 of the modes are locked to Amiibo only support. I know I’m not going to win this battle, especially with a company that thrives on accessory purchases + the new trend of NFC figurines, but when I say Amiibo support should be completely optional, pieces of a game should not be missing/locked to Amiibos. Cosmetic additives, customizations on the go, and save data sure. But entire chunks of pre-built game? Mario Amiibo Bundle aside, selling 2/3 of a game at full price is lousy business.

But there’s more…

Bill Trinen:

If you decide to use your Super Smash Bros. Amiibo in Mario Party 10, you will need to erase that figure’s Smash Bros. Amiibo data.

You will need to erase the save data from one of the highest rated, most popular Wii U games out there. Nightmare.

Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker amiibo Functionality

Okay. Forget everything I said about Amiibo. I’m in!

But seriously, adding a simple hide-and-seek feature to an existing game is a great way to implement this technology. The core game exists without Amiibo while adding the optional “hide-and-seek for Pixel Toad” is no different than coin collecting, diamond fetching, or golden mushroom digging. Good move.

Splatoon (Wii U)

The addition of a social hub-world and what appears to be deep character customization adds so much to this game. My question: Will the Inkling replace the Mii?

I am still very excited about Splatoon.

Hyrule Warriors DLC: Tingle and Young Link

Young Link looks awesome.

Xenoblade Chronicles X (Wii U)

Since it was known as X, I have been intrigued by this title. I have only ever dipped into Xenosaga Episode I: Der Wille zur Macht but have always been attracted to the series’ cool and atmospheric design. More compelling: The big and lush visuals coming from a Nintendo box. It looks like the Lord of the Rings Fellowship traversing Avatar’s Pandora. Less compelling: That pop-in at 19:58.

Mario Vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars (Wii U/3DS)

I’m a big fan of donating to my favorite creators. Likewise, I love the idea of tipping Level Creators with the stars you earn, helping them unlock new design pieces.

Also, very nice to see Nintendo build in cross-by support for the 3DS and Wii U versions of this game.

Project Treasure (Wii U)

Huh?

Elliot Quest (Wii U)

Fun looking throwback title.

Blek (Wii U)

Painting-maze-pretty-shapes-cute-sounds… Did you say that this has been featured in museums? I’m in.

Citizens of Earth (Wii U/3DS)

A wacky RPG drawing heavy inspiration from Double Fine in which Mitt Romney looks to have been voted Vice President of Earth. Looks entertaining.

Gunman Clive 2 (3DS)

Love that art direction.

Moon Chronicles: Eps. 2, 3, 4 (3DS)

Was Episode 1 any good?

SEGA 3D Classics (3DS)

Get that After Burner II!

Etrian Mystery Dungeon (3DS)

I don’t get the whole “loot hunting” thing.

Story of Seasons (3DS)

Sort of a Harvest Moon reboot.

Fossil Fighters Frontier (3DS)

Archeology + Dinosaur Pokémon. Sounds addicting.

New Nintendo 3DS

I have been waiting for a redesigned standard, non-XL version of the 3DS before entering the 3DS market. I loved the portability of my DS Lite and have never been able to shake the feeling that I’m holding a Fisher-Price toy when using an XL. Not to mention it makes that terrible 800 x 240 pixel density look even worse.

The fact that Nintendo will not be releasing the new 3DS non-XL in the US was baffling until I saw this tweet:

Bingo. I had completely forgotten about the 2DS but it looks like the it’s push will be even stronger. One new feature of the New 3DS XL is NFC support.

Reggie Fils-Aimé:

You’ll be able to power up your Super Smash Bros. series Amiibo on the go with all of the gear you’ve already unlocked in the game.

Unless you’ve erased it to play Mario Party 10’s Amiibo Party mode. Also, no AC adapter. Here’s Nintendo’s comment to Polygon:

“Rather than raise cost of New Nintendo 3DS XL by charging consumers for a component they may already own, we are giving them the option to only buy if they need an AC adapter,” a Nintendo representative told Polygon. The spokesperson noted that the New 3DS XL is compatible with the same AC adapter used by all 2DS, 3DS, 3DS XL, DSi and DSi XL devices.

I’ve always appreciated having more than one power adapter around the house. Just this morning, I used my wife’s MacBook Pro power adapter as it was in a nearby room rather than fetching my own. Nintendo cannot assume their customer is upgrading just to save a few bucks. Poor, disappointing decision.

Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. (3DS)

Looks great. Ideal Amiibo support.

ACE COMBAT ASSAULT HORIZON LEGACY+ (3DS)

Think Street Fighter titles are bad?

I miss air combat games.

Xenoblade Chronicles 3D (new 3DS)

A very impressive port of Xenoblade Chronicles X.

IronFall (3DS)

Looks like Gears of War for handheld.

Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate (3DS)

Are these games worth playing?

The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask (3DS)

I have such fond memories of Ocarina of Time and will always regret not playing the original release of Majora’s Mask. My ears perked when they announced the Majora’s Mask edition of the new 3DS XL. However, no game (or power adapter) included. I am completely stumped at the decision to release a special edition model of the console without bundling in the game the design is inspired from. If this was bundled with Majora’s Mask, I would have put some serious thought into purchasing one of these, regardless of console size. Then again, I opted out of the Windwaker Wii U bundle. Those Zelda markings would have driven me nuts.

Conclusion

Consumers are, by no means, sold on Nintendo hardware. We are living in a world where far superior hardware runs rampant and on the cheap. It is more apparent than ever that Nintendo is putting their might behind precious IP and highlighting that they are world-class software developer. I will continue to wait for the New Nintendo 3DS non-XL, something that might feel a little less like toddlers toy. And hey, with that extra money I saved, I’ll get to buy an official charger!


Side note: I still find it intriguing that Nintendo is continuing development of 3D.

1Ben Thompson points out that the Mario Kart 8 Wii U Deluxe 32GB Bundle included a red Wii Remote (and Wii wheel accessory). This bundle is no longer available.

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Wii U is My Primary Console

Ben Kuchera, Polygon:

That reality is rather quickly washed away by the fact that the Wii U has built the best library of exclusives of the current consoles, and that’s another trend that won’t likely end anytime soon. It would be hard to turn the Wii U into your primary console — there are simply too many games that will never be on the platform — but it’s equally hard to ignore Nintendo’s latest piece of hardware. There are simply too many amazing games that won’t be available on any other console.

This situation replicates what happened in the last generation: The argument between the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One is ongoing and contentious, but you don’t really need both. If you want to make sure you hit as many software high points as possible, you need a PlayStation 4 or Xbox One and a Wii U. The same way you needed a PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 and a Wii.

We’ve gotten to the point of the Wii U’s life cycle where it’s clear that owning the system, if you’re serious about playing the best games on the market, has become mandatory.

Since Mario Kart 8 was released, I have had no problem making the Wii U my primary console. And while I adore Mario Kart 8, I’d argue that the Wii U is worth it for Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker alone. It is rich with content and polish, is gorgeous and challenging, and is one of the most innovative games I have ever played. The hits keep coming.

Aside from Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, I’d argue against Kuchera and state that there haven’t been any PS4 or Xbox One titles that have made me want to shell out for one or the other. And, again, outside of Shadow of Mordor’s Nemesis System, innovation and is something this new generation is severely lacking.

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