wiiware

Cave Story+

Full Review

Cave Story CoverIn the last few years, I’ve had trouble focusing on beating games. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I’ve built up such a huge backlog from Steam sales and Humble Bundles, that I was getting closer to owning more games that I hadn’t conquered that had. This was personally my big reason for green-lighting the new Indie Impression feature: it would give me an easy way to at least try out lots of games without necessarily committing even an entire hour.

Having recently featuring Cave Story+, I quickly plowed through it after finishing up my impressions. It is one of those games you hear about for years as being great, and it keeps getting re-released with newer graphics on more platforms, once Cave Story+ hit Steam the time was right.

My initial impressions were positive, viewing the game as a pretty solid Metroidvania with tight controls, let’s see if I found the rest of the game as appealing.

Fluidity

Full Review

Fluidity CoverThanks to the indie uprising, we have a heightened visibility for games that might have gone unnoticed just five years ago. A garage developer's labor of love can now share front page headlines with the AAA behemoths of the industry. Many fine media outlets even make a special effort to cover these smaller productions. Indie games have become the punk rockers of the industry, offering a lean alternative to overproduced AAA formulas, often with rebellious verve and spunk that resonates with us ninety-nine percenters (and at a price we ninety-nine percenters can afford).

But even in this new era, where the little guys yield as many pageviews as their big budget competition, an indie game needs to have some innovative hook or bombastic message in order to rise to the top. I can think of no other reason why Fluidity, a brilliant puzzle platformer with Metroidvania elements, has gone largely unnoticed. (Except that the game is marooned on Wii's invisible WiiWare digital distribution service, that is.)

It makes sense, though, doesn't it? So many indie darlings that went big had some kind of divergent aura about them. Limbo and Braid made their names with artsy themes and visuals that you just don't see in big money productions. The cheery brutality of Super Meat Boy, Magicka, and Castle Crashers upgraded them from mere mechanical joys to acclaimed game experiences. Fluidity, on the other hand, lifts its style and mood from airline safety manuals, of all things.

Cave Story+

Indie Impression

Cave Story CoverCave Story was originally released all the way back in 2004, with development starting five years before that by a single guy, Daisuke Amaya. The side-scrolling adventure has gained momentum over the years, and is now recognized as being one of the original independent games that has spawned what is nearly a total upheavel of the video game industry. With the Humble Indie Bundle, Steam, Desura, and a slew of very talented developers, indie games are making huge waves, and sales.

While Cave Story is available on nearly every platform, it finally hit Steam a few months ago with the release of the fourth Humble Bundle. To note the higher resolution graphics and a new soundtrack, the game was re-titled Cave Story+, but there is an option to revert to the original look and sound.

We're very happy to present Cave Story+ as our third Indie Impression, following Super Meat Boy and Dungeons of Dredmor. Blackwell Legacy will be following in a few days.

Fluidity [Video]

First Hour Review

Fluidity CoverI don't know why I've bothered registering my games with Club Nintendo these past five years. So many surveys and registration codes, and what have I received in return? A couple calendars, an LCD relic, and a set of collectors' pins. It's downright sad next to the free eReader that Sony sent me.

But times have changed, and this is the new, modern Nintendo! The bold new Nintendo of 2012 not only releases limited-availability demos and supports paid DLC, it actually puts up some worthwhile prizes for Club Nintendo members. Specifically, Club Nintendo now offers a small selection of downloadable games in exchange for the coins that you earn by registering Nintendo products. First party games only, but hey, baby steps.

Fluidity, a WiiWare title of some renown (called Hydroventure in Europe), was one of the games available in December for a fair 150 coins (it's no longer there, but you can only get it on the Wii Shop Channel for $12). The game received positive press and has whiffs of Metroidvania and fluid dynamics puzzles, so that sounds like a winner to me. I've played an hour: am I happy with the coins I spent, or should I have gone for the Mario Folder and Bookmark Set instead? I'd be the coolest kid in homeroom with those folders...

MotoHeroz [Video]

First Hour Review

Motoheroz CoverAlthough it's common to see a physics engine mentioned in the opening credits of current generation titles, games that are driven by calculated friction, momentum, and the like are still so rare. Trials HD is one of the few I've experienced that uses complex physics as a gameplay core, rather than merely governing how crates jump and limp bodies flail after an explosion. Tellingly, Trials HD is also among the generation's most unique games, a blend of platformer, simulation, and racer that make it impossible to define with current genre labels and difficult for new players to grasp.

Developer RedLynx appears to preserve that essence and curtail the frustration in MotoHeroz, a WiiWare title that replaces Trials HD's injury-prone dirtbike rider with durable, tumbling buggies. Trials's garage skatepark courses are also traded for platformer-adventure mainstays like forests, snowfields, and deserts. Strip away the Wii-appropriate aesthetics, however, and the game seems to be a kinder Trials romp, very much the approachable but deep physics showcase of its Xbox 360 and PC cousins.

I spent an hour bounding through the Story Adventure and climbing the leaderboards in some daily online challenges. Check out some of the footage pulled from that sixty minutes.

Kyotokei - Video

First Hour Review

Kyotokei CoverLast year, when I checked out 3D Dot Game Heroes, I admitted my leniency regarding game copycats. Where some saw a sly attempt to cash in on the Zelda brand, I only saw a new adventure game in the same mold. The game's tone, both parody and homage, further erased any chance of disdain.

I'm having a tougher time excusing Kyotokei, a WiiWare game that came out last week. My five minute experience with Ikaruga is enough to tell me that Kyotokei is clearly a copycat game, stealing the novel color-coded bullet hell stylings of the cult classic shmup. And unlike 3D Dot Game Heroes, I'm not getting a tributary or tongue-in-cheek vibe from Kyotokei. Instead, the game mimics the Touhou craze, which replaces the classic shmup players and enemies (spaceships and mechs and whatnot) with cute little girls for whatever reason. I guess that's not a big deal: Hello Kitty Chess is still chess, right?

Mechanical and aesthetic burglaries aside, the game looks like it might be fun. And Wii could certainly use some decent software in a time where an above-par movie-licensed game is gunning for Game of the Year. I decided to throw $5 at Kyotokei and see if I could get my money's worth out of this downloadable doppelganger.

I played for an hour. Check out this video of the first stage. Try not to blink.

Captain America Wii - Video

First Hour Review

Captain America wii CoverLast week, I checked out Captain America: Super Soldier for the PS3, a decision based equally on hope and whatever horrible curiosity entices people to play movie-licensed games. It was like approaching a derailed train full of puppies: you can't look away from what's sure to be a disaster, but also there's a chance everything turned out okay, and wouldn't that just be wonderful?

Well, here we are again. Another game called Captain America: Super Soldier has been released for Wii. It has the same name and is capitalizing on the same blockbuster movie, but it's a very different game by a very different studio. The PS3 and 360 versions were handled by Next Level Games, a developer that quietly created some of my favorite gems of the generation (in addition to a few duds, apparently). In contrast, the Wii version was in the hands of High Voltage Software, a studio that hyped its first big project to high heaven before the final product would be condemned to gaming purgatory. Since then, the company has released an immediately forgotten sequel and made some noise about what will surely be vaporware in due time.

That said, I can't help but admire the ambition and genuine enthusiasm High Voltage Software brought to trade shows, even if it didn't translate into a worthwhile package in The Conduit. HVS also seems to be one of the few developers that actually took Wii development seriously at some point, so I suppose it's qualified to bring Captain America to Nintendo's neglected little box. My expectations are about as low as you can get, but I'm curious enough to give the game a try anyway.

And hey, video! Watch a superdeformed Captain America throw his mighty shield, solve some mighty puzzles, and even throw a mighty Shoryuken.

Bit.Trip Runner

Full Review

bit Trip Runner CoverThe era of digital distribution has been good to many smaller developers. One needs to look no further than the Minecraft success story to see just how fruitful the budget game market can be.

Even on Nintendo's meager WiiWare service, some have found the opportunity to shine. Gaijin Games, a small studio founded by a former LucasArts employee, has found acclaim with its Bit.Trip series. With six games in the series released within two years, each Bit.Trip title is built on the same foundation of rhythm and psychedelic retro aesthetics but offers a different gameplay hook. Beat, the first title, is like the love child of Pong and a laser show. Core is more like a tricky Guitar Hero with a D-pad. Void is an avoid-and-collect using the nunchuk's control stick. Fate is a rail shooter utilizing the Wii remote's pointer. And Flux, the final chapter in the Bit.Trip saga, returns to an experience similar to the choreographed Pong performance that birthed the series in Beat.

I recently acquired Bit.Trip Runner, the fourth game released (and the third I've played, after Void and Beat). It happens to be the one that generates the most buzz in the gaming community. Runner certainly sounded appealing to me when I was introduced to it as a "rhythm-based platformer." My experience with the game, however, came somewhat short of my high hopes.

World of Goo

Full Review

World of goo CoverAs one of the forerunners of the modern indie game movement (along with Braid), World of Goo demands to be played.  Created almost entirely by two individuals on a miniscule budget (2D Boy), it has since gone on to spawn several ports while receiving numerous accolades.  I'm a bit late to this party, but its resumé speaks for itself.  With incredibly high 90%+ aggregate scores, it has been universally praised as a near-flawless game.  Greg has given it a similarly stellar 9/10.  PC and Wii first claimed the game in October 2008, followed by OSX in November, Linux in early 2009 and iOS in 2010.

All that's left to do is try it out for myself, two-plus years after the fact.  Could my personal thoughts and feelings for the game live up to its lofty accolades?

WiiWare Demos! FINALLY!

Blog Post

bit Trip Fate LogoIt's no secret that Nintendo is the underachiever in console features this generation, especially in the online space. While Xbox Live and PlayStation Network both started strong and have been continually updated with emerging content, Wii's only online feature at launch was the Virtual Console, and only the bare minimum has been added since then. Even now, Wii's online service looks downright antiquated next to what Sony and Microsoft provide. Perhaps that's why Nintendo tries its best to keep its meager online offerings a secret.

Case in point: game demos. Both PlayStation Network and Xbox Live offer hundreds of free, playable sneak peaks at retail and digitally distributed games. And Wii? Most of the time, that number is zero. Almost a year ago, to the day, an experimental batch of WiiWare demos were made available through the Wii Shop Channel. A few months later, they were no longer available.

A year after the experiment began, it seems Nintendo's going to start giving WiiWare the demo support it deserves...sort of. On Monday, November 22nd, Nintendo released a second batch of WiiWare demos and promised that more would be made available on Mondays. The following games are currently available: And Yet It Moves, BIT.TRIP FATE, Jett Rocket, ThruSpace, and Cave Story. If you have a Wii, you should download them all right now, though: they'll only be available for a limited time, assumedly replaced by new demos. Read on for my brief impressions of each, or head to the Wii Shop Channel and download them right now. You'll find them in the WiiWare section, under New Releases. Or you can find a Demos category when sorting by Genre.

Syndicate content