Friday, 21 February 2014

Wii U Round-Up 8

Edge -- Two Tribes has visited the eShop with a sequel to WiiWare launch title Toki Tori, that original hit and two games from a disc-based compilation of 3D puzzle games using the Rubik's (of Rubik's Cube fame) brand (here subtracted because they presumably didn't think the license was worth renewing). The first of these is Edge, a game in which the player directly controls the movement of a cube through a floating obstacle course from beginning to end. Later levels where you need to hold and release the d-pad (the tighter digital control feels better on this title) get a bit frustrating, but every time a new mechanic is introduced players are treated to a wee illustration of what's required that helps A LOT in navigating the path.

It's a fun little game to blow a few minutes a stretch on and it's packed with levels so well worth the modest asking price if you enjoy a little puzzle action.

Rush -- The second cube-themed puzzler from Two Tribes, Rush was previously sold as Rubik's Puzzle Galaxy: Rush for WiiWare and is almost exactly the same as the WiiWare/disc version with the exception of the replacement of Wii Remote controls with touchscreen controls. This decision is likely because Rush is played exclusively on the Gamepad screen with the TV merely telling you to play on the Gamepad. I cannot see a reason why touchscreen controls for Gamepad-only play couldn't sit side-by-side with play on the big screen using a Remote, but it doesn't change the fact that this is a quality puzzle game with play consisting of placing directional pointers to get auto-spawning cubes from source to destination. Early on you'll need to study how the directional pointers interact with the environment to clear levels and there's plenty of levels to clear. Like Edge it's available at a budget price so skip the crisps and work your mind instead!

Pokemon Rumble U -- This was a gift for my daughter as I'm not a Pokemon player, but this is a fun little beat-em-up featuring a team of toy Pokemon battling other toy Pokemon as they try to return to the toy store. As you progress you collect more Pokemon toys to rotate into your team of four (any not controlled by humans are controlled by the computer), each of which have two abilities to use in an arena full of waves of toys to break.

It's a quick bit of fun which supports use of the Near Field Communication rectangle on the Gamepad for linking a figurine Skylanders-style. Unlike Skylanders the figures are only five quid and they're not required to use the characters in the game (you also don't know what you get until you open the capsule), but they do let you level up a character and take it to a friend's house for away from home play.

Super Mario 3D World -- 2013 was my Mario year - the year I finally "got" Mario via New Super Mario Bros. U. The reason I decided to re-visit (and finish and update my review of) that title was because of getting hyped for Super Mario 3D World: the first 3D Mario outing on the Wii U and a wonderfully crafted entry in the seemingly-unending Mario game train.

Peach is finally playable and there's another surprise female character to unlock alongside Luigi, Mario and a blue Toadstool person. Although there are challenging levels in the core game they're all doable by weak platform players, with an option for an invulnerable white tanooki suit appearing if you experience a series of deaths and need some extra help. The real challenge ends up being the collection of green stars to unlock access to the end-of-world boss levels and stamps to use in Miiverse posts.

Miiverse integration is the best we've seen yet on the Wii U with displays of others' posts greeting you in the end of level screen and ability to post your own as well as add to other threads. This allows for easy comment on posts by people looking for help or requests for assistance of your own without completely exiting the game. Such posts are linked to specific levels so they're always contextually correct - brilliant! The stamps appear to be Nintendo's version of achievements only a lot more fun and a brilliant driver for the Wii U's built-in social media application. We've seen stamps appear in another Nintendo game, NES Remix (subject of a future review), and I hope we'll be seeing 3rd parties doing stamps of their own before long.

Level design in this game is a fine art and the accessibility means all can enjoy these lovingly-crafted levels. For the hard-core platforming fan the addition of a few-dozen bonus levels will satisfy that desire for Super Mario Galaxy-level challenges. I'm proud to say I was up to the challenge, though the final three may task me for some time to come and I ended up having to use continues for the first time to keep getting all the stars, gold flags and stamps. Even someone like me who isn't the biggest platforming fan will marvel and smile - who knows, you might even become a convert to the genre!