The Dark Knight returns in this action-adventure game from Warner Bros. It features both hand-to-hand combat and stealth-driven areas where you need to quietly take out the bad guys. These segments generally have vantage points (often gargoyles) that you can utilize where enemies typically won't see you. Moving between these vantage points is crucial to success. I'm not generally a fan of stealth in games, but Arkham City makes stealth fun. Of course, Batman also has a variety of cool gadgets to use as you explore the large prison city. There are hundreds of Riddler puzzles and many objectives to accomplish along the way; there's always something to do, and it's hard to stop playing once you start. The game isn't perfect, however. There are some occasional camera and control issues, particularly when you're in enclosed spaces. It can be hard to see your character when in a corner, much less move him where you want to go. And even though the voice acting is great, those voices can be annoying at times when they keep repeating over and over. But those gripes are minor, as Batman: Arkham City is my favorite Wii U game so far.
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Nintendo's popular racing series comes to Wii U in Mario Kart 8. The bikes from Mario Kart Wii have returned to join the assortment of karts and cars available. You can choose to race as one of 30 characters, including all seven of the Koopalings. The coin system from some earlier games is back, so you need to collect ten coins to reach your maximum speed. A new anti-gravity feature allows you to race sideways or upside-down, although the camera doesn't always completely follow you--which can be slightly awkward. In this mode, running into other cars actually gives you a speed boost, which can change your racing strategy. Initially, the game had no on-screen map, but Nintendo thankfully added one in an online update. Unfortunately, the loading times before each race are quite long. As for online play, you can again race against random players or friends. Random races however, only let you choose from three tracks (or a random track) each time. Friend matches give you the full list, and they also allow voice chat in between races. Mario Kart 8 has its share of minor flaws, but it sure is a lot of fun. The tried-and-true Mario Kart gameplay provides many hours of enjoyable racing action.
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This eShop title is a compilation of four mini-games. The first one is Eels and Ladders--a board game like Chutes and Ladders
. Press an icon on the gamepad to roll a die and work your way up the board. It's a short, simple game that isn't very enjoyable. Next up is Mini Farmer: Grow five types of crops as you work to upgrade parts of your farm (windmills, sheds, etc.). Gameplay consists of pressing the A button and waiting for an indicator to change color before pressing "A" again. You only have a few seconds before your crops die, so you must pay attention at all times. It's tedious and has none of the charm necessary to make a farming sim fun. Copter is a Flappy Bird clone where you tap a button to keep a helicopter from crashing into the walls of a cave. The graphics are simplistic and drab, and the fun factor never gets off the ground. Finally, Cave Run is a game where you endlessly run forward, collecting gems, leaping over gaps, and avoiding obstacles. It may keep you entertained for a few minutes, but it quickly gets boring and repetitive. Overall, this compilation is definitely not worth the $4.99 price. There are no standouts, and the games range from poor to awful.
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This is a downloadable game only available in the Wii U eShop. It's a twin-stick shoot-'em-up on a microscopic scale. You control a tiny ship that goes from cell to cell, blasting viruses and various creatures. The left stick controls your ship's movement and the right stick controls the direction of your lasers. Things can get pretty intense and you may occasionally lose your ship among all the enemies and projectiles. But there are power-ups you can grab to increase your firepower. One thing I don't like is that you can't rotate the camera and you will sometimes have to play from an awkward angle. Between levels, there's a cool shop where you can upgrade your ship and buy extra lives. The game has just 16 short levels and can be beaten in only a few hours, but there are online leaderboards and achievement-style missions that add some replay value. The top-notch graphics are the highlight of the game; some of the levels are stunning. But fortunately, the gameplay is solid as well: Nano Assault Neo is a fun game to play. Anyone looking for a good, low-priced eShop game should give it a try.
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This disc is a compilation of two eShop games, NES Remix and NES Remix 2. It consists of short challenges from over two dozen NES games, often presented in rapid-fire succession. Special remixed levels add some spice and variety to the action, changing elements (e.g., playing a Mario level in the dark) or even combining games (e.g., playing as Link in a Donkey Kong level). The remixed levels are generally more interesting than the standard stages, but they make up only a small percentage of the game. The NES games featured are a mixed bag; some are undeniable classics, while others are tedious and/or have poor controls. This results in some frustrating challenges, especially for people not already familiar with those games. There is fun to be had here; I just wish there was a way to unlock some of the full NES games featured. Instead, only one full game is included: Super Luigi Bros., which is a mirrored version of the original Super Mario Bros. NES Remix Pack certainly has its flaws, but it does provide an enjoyable trip down memory lane for fans of the original Nintendo Entertainment System.
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This 2D platformer borrows heavily from Mario's past. The map screen is much like the one in Super Mario World, with all of the worlds shown together. You can also collect power-ups at mushroom houses (and other places) and store them for later use, like you could in Super Mario Bros. 3. But as for the gameplay, it's a lot like New Super Mario Bros. Wii. Unfortunately, there's nothing really innovative about the level design. Practically everything in the game has been done before. There is one new power-up, the flying squirrel suit, that lets you glide and do a mid-air jump. It's not a bad power-up, but I preferred the propeller and penguin suits from New Super Mario Bros. Wii. It seems that each Mario game gets less and less innovative. But the good news is that the game is still fun to play. I enjoyed my time stomping Goombas, beating Bowser, collecting star coins, and searching for secret level exits. There are also some new game modes included that will appeal to those who like speed runs, repetition, and memorization. The boost rush
mode is kind of cool because collecting coins speeds up the forced scrolling, but the challenges
mode just has you performing tedious tasks with arbitrary time limits. Overall, New Super Mario Bros. U isn't the return to glory we may have been hoping for, but it is a solid 2D platformer that Mario fans will enjoy.
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In this unique game, you use a magic notebook to solve puzzles. By writing out the name of an object (using a keyboard displayed on the gamepad), you can make that object appear in the game. Each level is filled with people who need help in one way or another. If a man wants to go on an adventure, you can make a sailboat for him. If an animal is hungry, give it something to eat. You can also apply adjectives to objects. If a thief wants to slip by security cameras, you can make him invisible. You can give a person wings, you can make inanimate objects come to life, or you can give any number of qualities to objects or creatures. And that's where this game excels. This isn't a game that's going to tax your brain or challenge you; the fun comes from using your imagination to create ridiculous objects and hilarious scenarios. The possibilities are endless and it's a lot of fun. Some Nintendo characters are included, such as Mario, Bowser, Link, and more. There is also an object editor which you can use to create your own objects and creatures. It provides a lot of options, but it isn't as unlimited
as I'd like. This type of game isn't going to be for everyone, but if you enjoy using your creativity--or if the concept sounds fun to you--you're probably going to love Scribblenauts Unlimited as much as I do.
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This 4-on-4 third-person shooter lets you play as "inklings" that can change from humans to squids. Using a gun, paint roller, or large brush, you cover the ground with your designated ink color as you fight the opposing team. The team with the most turf inked after three minutes wins the battle. The game is a blast, but it's not without its problems. In online battles, the game makes no attempt to even out the teams based on players' levels. And even though there are over a dozen maps, the game rotates between just two of them at a time; the selection only changes once every four hours. There is no voice chat, but that may not be a bad thing. A single-player story mode is included, and it's very enjoyable...but it is a bit short. Nintendo clearly skimped on the one-player aspect of the game; you can't even play turf wars alone with bots. But despite the game's flaws, online play is ink-redibly fun and addictive. Once you start playing, it can be hard to stop. Splatoon is one of Nintendo's best online games ever.
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This Mario game lets you play as any character from the Super Mario Bros. 2 lineup: Mario, Luigi, Peach, or Toad. (A fifth character, Rosalina, can be unlocked later on). Even though this is essentially a 3D platformer, some levels have a 2D feel, with fixed camera angles. There are a whopping 12 worlds this time around, providing a nice variety of fun levels. But the highlight of the game may be the power-ups: A bell power-up lets you turn into a cat, which allows you to climb walls and reach new areas. A cherry power-up (only available in certain stages) gives you a clone of your character--you can have up to five characters that you control simultaneously. And some levels even have a Kuribo's Shoe
style ice skate you can hop into! The game is very enjoyable, but I do have one gripe: The depth perception. You can't always tell where your character is at when jumping. As a result, you can sometimes drift too far towards/away from the camera, suffering a cheap death. For this reason, I preferred using the control pad instead of the analog stick for the quasi-2D sections. But overall, Super Mario 3D World is a great game. It brings back some innovation and freshness that was severely lacking in New Super Mario Bros. U.
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Disclosure: Skunk Software has provided me with a free copy of Mini-Games Madness Volume 1: Hello World. This has not affected my review score in any way.