The original Super Mario Bros. came out 30 years ago. Think on that: for some of you, Mario has been a constant: always there, always playable, and always saving a princess. The game has been through seven generations of video game consoles and more besides, and now Nintendo is giving you the chance to take control of the level design, and create the most evil, messed up platform hell ever created. Or a fun joyride–it’s your choice. If you’ve not yet heard of Super Mario Maker, then perhaps it’s time to sit up and pay attention.
Devil’s Third by Valhalla Studios is one of those games that was heavily anticipated, probably because it’s unusual to see an over-the-top violent game like it on a Nintendo console. The game has had a troubling history, what with game engine shifts and publishers shutting down. Still, it’s here now, and we’ve gone a few rounds with Ivan to see what the devil is up.
It’s a bit weird to be reviewing an NES game 26 years after its first release, but that’s the wonders of modern gaming for you. Earthbound Beginnings—or Mother, as it was known in Japan—is one of those legendary JRPGs that you hear about but have probably never played. Although the game was translated into English way back then, it was never officially released in the west because that era was the dawn of the Super Nintendo. We in South Africa never got this game, nor its sequel, Earthbound. Thanks to the Wii U’s Virtual Console, now you can play this NES classic, but is it worth playing 26 years later? Let’s find out.
If you’re not mainly a PC gamer, you might not be aware of Don’t Starve, a ridiculously successful indie minecrafty roguelike that came out in 2013. Its main claims to fame were the Burtony-Goreyesque graphics and the fact that you were dropped into the game with nary a clue about what to do, and then you just went ahead and did it anyway. Oh, and you die a lot. Do you like games where you die a lot? Unlike many roguelikes, it’s acutally more Rogue-ish than usual, and I’ll explain why.
Who among you are old enough to remember the arcade game Robotron 2084? Or Smash TV? Or any one of those old top down, dual-stick shooter games that spawned an entire genre. If you do, you’re going to have a massive dose of nostalgia in the form of Ultratron, from the same guys who brought you that other nostalgia-fest, Titan Attacks. Let’s get our guns loaded and our transistors blazing. Or was it the other way around?
Platform puzzle games are a darling of the Indie development community for a good reason, among them being the nostalgia effect. They’re difficult to do well, however, and an improperly-implemented puzzle mechanic can come over as boring, fiddly, or even ostentatious. Does Nihilumbra (“nihil” from the latin word for “nothing”, and “umbra” from the latin word for “shadow”. Don’t say I never teach you anything) for the Wii U suffer any of these problems or does it bring a spot of colour to a dark world? Let’s find out.
In 2009, Ronimo Games (the same people behind the amazing Awesomenauts) released Swords and Soldiers, ostensibly a real time strategy (RTS) game, but closer in fact to being a cross between RTS and tower defense (TD). The game, released on WiiWare, was enough of a success that it prompted remakes on other consoles and even on smartphones. 6 years later, and we finally have the sequel, named the same except with the “II” appended to it to let us know it’s not the same game as the first. I grab my viking helmet (no horns), Persian cutlass, and go demon hunting to bring you this review.
The Yoshi’s Island series has been one of the most beloved Mario spin-off franchises to come from Nintendo. The games have had varying amounts of success, as my review of Yoshi’s New Island shows. Now we have Yoshi’s Woolly World for Wii U, and I’m going to start the review with these words: you’ll want this game.
Art Academy for the Wii U is more of an app than a game, but its object is to teach people to draw and paint using the Wii U gamepad. A test of whether it is successful would be whether the skills learned within it are transferrable to proper pencil and paper media outside the app. I pulled out my easel and plonked the gamepad on it. Oh the conclusions I’ve drawn!
In 2005, the Nintendo DS saw the release of Kirby: Canvas Curse, a Kirby game that used an unusual mechanic to control the pink puffball: drawing on the touch screen. The game was well received by critics, and this, I imagine, is what prompted Nintendo to release a sequel for the Wii U, and with a new aesthetic: clay. Or “plasticine” as it’s sometimes known as. When my son was younger, he called it “lunch”. Let’s see how well-moulded this game is.