I know what you’re thinking here – it’s barely been six months since we got our PS3, and now it’s all in with another console? And not just any console, a modern console. Slow down and get me off this crazy train, am I right? All I can say is thank God we didn’t go ahead and officially name this blog “Very Very Gaming 1995-2010”. That would’ve made this post so much more awkward. Even so, clearly between the Wii U and PS3, the remit of Very Very Gaming is expanding into new-er territory; I hope no one will mind. And anyway, it was a birthday present!
The Wii U makes a good first impression. The Gamepad works great as a controller/tablet hybrid, and the system’s interface is very nice. I haven’t had any onerous updates or anything that brings the experience to a screeching halt when trying to play a game or get something done (GTA V install, I’m looking at you). There are plenty of options and features to fiddle with on Wii U, but not so many that it feels overwhelming; unlike PS3, you won’t find “Printer Settings” in the Wii U options, no sirree! The online shop is a step up from Sony’s too. The interface is uncluttered and user friendly.
Really, the only downside so far – and this isn’t anything to do with the hardware – is how difficult it is to find Wii U games in shops. I know a lot of people make comparisons with the Dreamcast software library, but in terms of software availability and shelf space at games retailers the comparison that springs to mind is with PS Vita – not the sort of comparison any games company wants to hear.
Anyway I’ve had a bit of time with the system now, so I’ll give some first impressions of games, starting with…
Star Fox Zero
I heard the complaints back when this game came out back in April this year: that it’s too short, too faithful to the N64 game, that it’s “just” a rail shooter, that the controls are too unconventional. But even then, when I had no intention of playing the game any time soon, I just knew this game was for me. And so far that hunch has been borne out, mostly. I’ve beaten the initial main game which takes only a couple of hours, but I only just feel now like I’m starting to get the hang of the controls. I can see why that would be divisive, but as someone who really enjoys getting to grips with unconventional control methods – here’s looking at you, Odama – Star Fox Zero is a treat.
Crucially, the controls may be odd but the game is built around them and their unique capabilities. To see that, you need only look at the climactic Star Wolf fight, which has you dogfighting with four members of Star Wolf all on your lonesome. Thanks to the addition of precision aiming with the gamepad, the developers were able to make this battle more intense and frantic than anything found in previous Star Fox games.
Super Mario 3D World
This game oozes charm, it’s undeniable. As someone who wasn’t a big fan of New Super Mario Bros Wii but really enjoyed the Super Mario Galaxy games, 3D World feels like a solid compromise between the two series. Classic power-ups like the Fire Flower and Super Mushroom sit well alongside new additions like the Cat Suit and Double Cherry, and the same new/old balance is evident in the game’s mixture of 2D and 3D level design.
The multiplayer is a lot of fun, with a nice balance of co-operation and competitive fun. The way the game ranks you after each level and gives the “winner” a crown which other players can steal is reminiscent of the multiplayer in Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures for Gamecube. But, thank goodness, I’m now a few worlds in and friends and family are still on speaking terms with me, so 3D World can’t be that dangerous. Four Swords Adventures was some sick, twisted, mad scientist concocted social experiment designed to throw the world into utter chaos – frankly we should all be thankful for Nintendo relegating this game to obscurity with GC-GBA connectivity. Otherwise our world would look very different today…
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
Where did I get the impression that Tropical Freeze was widely considered to be one of the finest 2D platformers ever? I blame my fellow bloggers for giving me this false sense of a consensus. The reality seems to be a lot of mixed reactions to this game, and I can understand it, if only because of a glut of 2D platformers on Nintendo systems (and elsewhere too with indie games). The 2D platformer space is crowded these days, with Tropical Freeze facing stiff competition and lacking its own unique hook or gimmick.
Of course Tropical Freeze may turn out to be the best platformer ever, I’m not deep enough in to say. But, as good as Tropical Freeze is so far, it hasn’t immediately leapt out at me in the same way as, say, Rayman Legends. I really like the original Donkey Kong Country games, but Returns on Wii was a huge letdown and did nothing for me. I’m pleased to report that so far that Tropical Freeze is closer to the quality of the SNES games in my eyes, but right now I doubt it will surpass them.
That’s all for Wii U introductions. As well as these four games I’ve also played a TON of Xenoblade Chronicles X, but that is for another time.