Wii U

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The team behind Adventure Time: Explore the Dungeon Because I DON’T KNOW! certainly had all the pieces in place to make a compelling title. WayForward has a long history of making good-to-great experiences using licensed properties, and the show (especially creator Pendleton Ward) certainly enjoys and reveres the medium. The first collaboration was a riff on Zelda II, an inspired choice that was nostalgic without being overdone. This second title’s inspirations are less clear. READ MORE

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When faced with following up Super Mario Galaxy as the flagship home 3D platformer, developer EAD Tokyo made a product out of cobbling together disparate smaller ideas. There’s the new (Cat Mario), the recent (local multiplayer), the classic (the overworld) and the callback (character abilities). This, meshed with the 3D Land aesthetic, sounds like it would be promising but uneven, a pile of good things that just can’t come together in a logical way.

But no, Super Mario 3D World is great both in parts and as a whole. READ MORE

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“Pac is back,” touts the back of the box, despite Pac-Man not actually having gone anywhere. It’s cool, though; I get the sentiment. Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures is a new cartoon for a new generation of Pac-Man fans, and this is the logical video game tie-in. It’s pretty inoffensive as far as platformers aimed squarely at children go, and has a bit of charm that ensures the game a full-page ad in this year’s GameStop Holiday Guide. As cynical a cash grab this may be, it isn’t without merit. READ MORE

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The task of working on the modern branch of the Sonic franchise is an unenviable one. The 2D-3D split has been successful for Mario, but Sonic never had anything like 64 or Galaxy. Even Rayman, with the well-received Rayman 2, decided not to sustain two branches and return to the original 2D formula. So while the Sonic 4 games have found success with little innovation, the larger games are forced to keep wandering in the desert until something new works. READ MORE

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The Dark Knight has come a long way since the days of the first Batman games. It had gotten so bad that any fans of the character were thankful for even a mediocre game. Thankfully, 2009’s Batman: Arkham Asylum changed everything for both Batman and comic-based games in general. Both it and its follow-up, Arkham City, are considered by many to be two of the best superhero games around.

Now, with Batman: Arkham Origins, a new developer is brought on to tell a prequel story all about Batman’s first encounters with some of his most famous villains. After two stellar titles, expectations are high; unfortunately, the game fails to meet those expectations in many ways.

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Tt Games struck gold with Lego Star Wars in 2005, and the concept still works more than 10 games later. Lego Marvel Super Heroes, thankfully and unsurprisingly, takes its cues more from Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes than from Lego Lord of the Rings, which means that while the world is wide open, it feels a bit more contained. Normally in an open-world game you want more space instead of less, but packing the activities closer together for a dense experience works when the traversal is just a means to an end. As much as I love the Lord of the Rings universe, I was ready for a central hub and level select like the older games have, and I never felt that way while playing Lego Marvel Super Heroes. READ MORE

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Skylanders, the franchise filled with both dungeon-crawling fun and rampant consumerism, is back for a third installment. The second, Giants, suffered from a series of half-steps, from a largely-recycled engine and hastily-put-together levels to mechanical innovation that’s largely limited to “what if you were really big?” It was also fairly short. Thankfully, Vicarious Visions steps in as lead developer for Swap Force, bringing in some fresh concepts as well as a desire to both prove itself and sustain a retail empire that could collapse without proper care. READ MORE

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Nintendo’s first move in the HD re-release space is not unsurprising, but it’s definitely important. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD is exactly that: an HD remake of a beloved classic, and what will probably be the first of many from Nintendo. Even with all of the bells and whistles you would expect from an HD remake, the game itself holds up remarkably and plays just as well as it did ten years ago. It also demonstrates a clear understanding of where the Zelda series’ strengths lie. READ MORE

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Platinum Games likes to make challenging titles with deceptively deep systems. Its latest offering, The Wonderful 101, is no exception. It is also a difficult game to describe, as it combines various genres – and indeed abruptly shifts between a few of them at various times – into one cohesive whole. READ MORE

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It’s been three years since we last saw Sam Fisher in action in Splinter Cell: Conviction, an entry that eschewed the usual stealth trappings in favor of heavy-duty tactical action. Many fans of the series didn’t care for the direction the series was taking and, if Blacklist is any indication, Ubisoft paid attention. Blacklist is easily the best, most fully-featured game in the series since Chaos Theory. READ MORE