Archive for the ‘Wii U’ Category

Switch Hype: Ranking Nintendo’s Ten Main Consoles

My my, I do love a countdown opportunity.

And so it is, dear reader, that we find ourselves here. Here at the dawn of what will be – for better or worse – a new cycle of Nintendo being Nintendo. The impending Switch console has the attention of the gaming world for now, and all the bad news has yet to come. It’s not an unfamiliar feeling for yours truly – one of bubbling excitement, of mildly tempered hope – but one in which I will gladly bask for the time being, if only because that feeling seems to be my number one most reliable source of blogging motivation. And would you look at that – the Switch will be Nintendo’s twelfth (let’s scratch the Virtual Boy) eleventh major videogame device! Yes, a nice, round top ten is ripe for the typing. How good.

I will now attempt to rank the ten major home/handheld Nintendo consoles of yore according to my own personal feelings about them. Yes, this will be a different list to your own, dearest reader. That’s OK. It is not an easy thing at all for a Nintendo tragic such as myself to see some of these wonderful machines placed below others – go ahead, try it – but I have struggled through it anyway. It’s probably worth mentioning that I haven’t owned all ten of these pieces of hardware, but I sure have played a significant portion of the game offerings they brought to the table through various re-releases and chance adventures, so I feel comfortable laying it out for your perusal. I’ve taken physical design, hardware refreshes, game library, nostalgia and all the usual good stuff into account. Here we go.

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10. Nintendo Entertainment System

Australian Release: 1987
My Favourite Games: Balloon Fight, Kirby’s Adventure, Super Mario Bros 2

Yes, the one that started it all is down here. The main reason is a boring one: The NES’ games don’t tend to hold up as well today as other later Nintendo titles, as by necessity they are visually and conceptually basic. Having said that, the very best of the NES crop represents some of the most satisfying, mechanically tight challenges to be found anywhere in videogames, not to mention some technical wizardry when it comes to working within memory limitations. Of the two-and-a-half consoles on this list that I never owned, this is the one whose game library I have sampled most widely, thanks mostly to things like the wonderful Wii U eShop games NES Remix 1 & 2 and the recently released NES Classic Mini console, and particularly in this bite-sized format there is a great deal of fun to be had with NES gems even for the less skilled gamers among us (e.g. me).

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Revisiting The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess – In High Definition & High Detail

Well this looks a bit weirdly-timed now, but I have been working on it for almost two months, so here we go. Strap yourself in.

It’s been a while, old friend.

Ten years ago, in 2006, I picked up The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess alongside my brand new Nintendo Wii console at the system’s launch. After years of hype and a string of exemplary prior Zelda games, I could barely contain my excitement. 80 hours of gameplay (and weeks of real-world time juggling Wii Sports) later, I had completed it very close to 100%. And what a rollercoaster it had been.

Twilight Princess promised a lot, as the Zelda series’ long-awaited return to the dark, “realistic” aesthetic made popular by Ocarina of Time following a controversial – at least at the time – stylistic sidestep with The Wind Waker. And in fairness, it delivered a lot – sensational dungeons, standout set pieces built on fan wish fulfilment, a breakout companion character and bosses on a truly grand scale, mainly.

Ooh baby.

Yet the game also came in for its fair share of criticism for its slow and inconsequential opening, largely empty world, bland colour palette, litany of rupee-related annoyances, relative lack of difficulty and slavish devotion to aping Ocarina at the expense of the freshness offered by predecessors Majora’s Mask and the aforementioned Wind Waker. Though I remember plenty of moments from Twilight Princess fondly, it came in at Number 7 on the Top 10 Zelda games list I wrote back in 2013.

And yet early last month, it received a new lease on life.

Link makes a triumphant return with a new HD sheen.

With help from little-known Australian studio Tantalus Media, Nintendo released The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD for Wii U here on March 5th. Based on the “waggle-free” Gamecube version of Twilight Princess, which I never touched, and boasting quite a few tweaks and supposed improvements, it marked the perfect opportunity for me to revisit the classic adventure with a critical eye, separated somewhat from the perhaps exaggerated criticisms the internet has whipped up over the last decade. Now that I have finally finished TP in its newest iteration, here is what I have to say about it.

Prepare yourself – this will be a long one. A very long one.

Be aware that this post contains a huge amount of spoilers – worth mentioning if you haven’t played the game before. All you need to know if you’re a Twilight Princess newcomer is that yes, I believe this HD version is definitively the best version of the classic title, and yes, you really should play it. If you really want to read on, continue at your own risk, but you should know that what follows is so exhaustive that you may not even feel like you need to play it by the end.
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To My Fellow Wii U Owners – This Is Probably The End

This will be a busy weekend for this blog.

Found on a Facebook fan group. Nailed it.

Looking at things that interest me in a positive light is well beyond a defining feature of my personality at this point. My default stance on just about anything videogame-related is optimism, for better or worse. But sometimes there isn’t all that much room for such a stance, and you just have to be real. If you’re a Nintendo fan of any kind, this is one of those times.

The most recent Nintendo-related announcement to cause waves online – an understatement in some corners – is the triple-bladed revelation from the company’s recent investor briefing that:

  1. Nintendo’s newest console, code-named “NX”, will be released worldwide in March 2017.

  2. The Wii U’s most widely anticipated game, a still-unnamed Legend of Zelda title, will release simultaneously on NX and Wii U, and thus will not see release until at least March 2017.

  3. Not only will the NX be absent from E3 in June this year, but this new Zelda (the Wii U version) will be the only game playable on the E3 show floor.

Still so mysterious.

There’s a lot to digest from this news, but the overwhelming, frigid-breeze-in-your-face implication here is that Nintendo is now ostensibly finished with the Wii U. Yes, Zelda will still come out for the ailing console, and I’m sure the game’s E3 presence will go above and beyond to showcase the benefits of the Wii U’s unique gamepad controller to the experience. But if the NX offers the better version of the game – and there aren’t very many great arguments around to suggest it won’t – then what Nintendo fan won’t just go for the NX version? What’s more, March next year is 10 months away, and the landscape of first-party game releases (and thus just about any game releases at all) for the Wii U in the next 10 months is looking awfully dry – I’m excited for Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE, but it’s one of only three retail-facing first party games we know about, the other two being Paper Mario: Color Splash and Mario & Sonic at the Rio Olympic Games. It’s hard to see this whole situation as anything other than an admittance that the Wii U is over, and that sucks.

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My Mario Kart 8 DLC Impressions, Round 2

I regret that this year’s guest blogging week had to be cut short by one day due to unforeseen circumstances, but I do want to take a brief moment thank all six wonderful contributors for their entertaining pieces. Moving on…

It’s official: Mario Kart 8 is now the biggest Mario Kart game to date. Say what you will, Battle Mode fans, but this week’s arrival of the highly anticipated second MK8 downloadable content pack announced last year means that the latest in Nintendo’s flagship racing series boasts more content than any entry before it. The game is now bursting at the seams with 48 painstakingly rendered tracks, along with 36 playable characters and a dizzying number of karts, bikes, ATVs and the like. Given the critical and commercial success of the last DLC pack, I wouldn’t be putting any money down on this being the last update, but we are at least now at the end of what we knew was coming, and there’s a sense of finality that comes with that.

So, much like I did for the first DLC pack last November, I thought I’d share my impressions of the new stuff. Everything you’re about to read has been scientifically tested by a small but lovable bunch of teenagers and twenty-somethings over an evening of, err, healthy competition.

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20 Reasons Why 2015 is a Huge Year for Nintendo

So I normally take a break from blogging around this time of year, and I probably still will, but it doesn’t look like Nintendo of Australia is taking time off at all, kicking into their 2015 right away. So I feel like I have to throw out this post right now.

2015 is going to be a pretty special year for videogames, with an impossibly exciting lineup of titles on all platforms slated for release throughout the whole year. And for the first time in a long while, it looks like Nintendo will be mixing it with the best of them consistently throughout the year on both of their primary game consoles. It has been a really long time since we’ve reached the start of a new year with such a clear picture of what that year will look like for Nintendo, and for the Wii U in particular, this one looks absolutely packed with the good stuff. And so it gives me great pleasure to present no less than twenty reasons why being a Nintendo fan is going to rock in 2015:

time that .

1- Captain Toad Treasure Tracker (Wii U)

With Captain Toad‘s January 3rd release, Nintendo is getting out ahead of every other major game publisher in 2015, and it’s honestly a very strong opener to the year. I’ve only played a small percentage of the budget-priced retail game so far (which, admittedly, came out about a month ago in the US), but it’s absolutely adorable and can get deviously challenging when trying to find all the hidden diamonds and constantly-changing optional objectives in its bite-sized “puzzle box” levels. The game is impeccably well designed and a real joy to play.

When will it come out? It already is! Go enjoy this amazing game right now, you lucky things.
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2- Splatoon (Wii U)

I played a few rounds of Nintendo’s first-ever entry into the realm of competitive shooters at the EB Games Expo last year, and I immediately wanted to play more. The choice to emphasise territory gain rather than kills, and then to turn that territory into an actual physical advantage in a firefight (paintfight?) by having it improve your range and speed of movement makes for a deceptively deep competitive experience that is simple to understand but tricky to master. The gameplay flow of Splatoon is hella fresh, and I’m excited to see what its single player component holds to complement it.

When will it come out? It’s slated for the first half of the year in all Western territories, and from what Nintendo has shown it looks mostly done, so my guess is March if not even earlier.
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3- Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate (3DS)

When I was in Japan in late 2013, the super-popular Monster Hunter 4 had just launched, and it just seemed like everyone was playing it – businessmen, old ladies, children, couples, you name it. I’ve experienced firsthand the highly addictive qualities of its 3DS predecessor Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate and have amassed quite a few friends who are ready to dive in to a new monster-slaying, armour-tweaking sinkhole when finally comes west, fairly soon no doubt, in upgraded “Ultimate” form. Brace yourselves.

When will it come out? Something about this one screams “first quarter of the year” to me, but that might just be because the last Monster Hunter game released in March over here.

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A Public Service Announcement for Wii U Owners

Though it’s really, really difficult to believe right now, the Wii U just turned 2 years old a couple of weeks ago, and that means there is something you should probably look into rather soon if you happen to own a Premium version of the console (that’s the black one).

You see, whether you’ve realised it or not, ever since you’ve had your Wii U you may have been earning points towards what ultimately amounts to free money. And in a matter of weeks your ability to earn said points will cease, so now would be a good time to have a look at your point haul.

As long as you have a working Nintendo Network ID (which is required to use the Nintendo eShop online storefront in any case), every digital purchase you have made on your Wii U since you got it, whether we’re talking GBA games, SNES games, original titles like the NES Remix twins, full downloadable versions of retail titles, right out to Mario Kart 8 DLC, Hyrule Warriors Season Passes etc, has earned you points towards an “activation code” for $7 AUD eShop credit. Now I’m not exactly sure how much you need to spend to get this activation code, but I do know that I’ve earned three of them since the Wii U launched, and that I’m very, very close to my fourth:

NNP_Screen

So how do you find out what you’ve earned? Easy. Just go to p.nintendo.net/, choose your country, and sign in with your Nintendo Network ID. You’ll be met with a screen like the one pictured above. Note the text in the red box. Though you will have until the end of the coming March to redeem any codes you may have earned, your ability to earn those codes expires on the last day of this year. So depending on how close you are to a code, now may be the time to pick up Earthbound, Shovel Knight, Advance Wars and the like.

The more you know.

My Mario Kart 8 DLC Impressions

Yesterday, Nintendo entered a brave new world – one in which for the first time in their history, they have a Mario Kart game with additional tracks as paid DLC. Thanks to the largely unprecedented Nintendo move of adding substantial downloadable content to Mario Kart 8, fans now have an extremely enticing incentive to jump back into the game almost six months after it launched. For $10 AU (technically $8 if you buy the pack with the upcoming May DLC as well), three new characters, four new karts and eight new tracks are available for you to download at your leisure. Last night I brought some friends over to try out the new content, and here’s what I think:

Nintendo, this is the reason I love you.

It’s certainly weird to think of the Big N as a company peddling DLC, especially given how long they’ve gone without it in a general gaming environment that is positively rife with the stuff. But surely, this is downloadable content done right. This first pack is alarmingly cheap for what you get, and it’s extremely evident that a lot of design work has gone into it. Though I’m not really all that fussed about the new characters (Tanooki Mario, Cat Peach and Link from The Legend of Zelda series) or the new Karts (The classic B-Dasher, the Blue Falcon from F-Zero, the bulky new off-road Tanooki Kart and Link’s matching Master Cycle) , the detail that has gone into their design is fitting of Nintendo’s reputation. Link makes his trademark angry yell noises during hectic races and waves his sword around during tricks, for example, while Tanooki Mario’s horn sound will be familiar to anyone who grew up with Super Mario Bros 3. The real value for money, of course, is in the eight fresh tracks, and boy do they deliver.

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