When you hear the phrase “online team-based shooter,” Nintendo is usually the last company you think is involved. The company best-known for colorful, cartoon-like platformers and family-friendly franchise party games has dabbled in competitive online play with recent Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros. titles, but those modes were additional options to their respective games and never the main attractions. But at E3 last year, Nintendo unveiled Splatoon to the world, representing both a new IP and a new approach toward online play from the house that Mario built. READ MORE
The Kirby series has a long history of experimentation. From Epic Yarn to Mass Attack, the pink puffball has been seen as Nintendo’s test subject for a multitude of crazy new ideas despite the series’ otherwise well-regarded formula. 2005 saw the release of Kirby Canvas Curse, considered by many to be the first great original Nintendo DS game and a fantastic new experimental take on a well-worn formula. It only took Nintendo ten years, but here we are with Kirby and the Rainbow Curse, a spiritual successor to Canvas Curse utilizing a new, unique art style. While it doesn’t stand up to the 2005 classic, Rainbow Curse still has plenty going for it.
Citizens of Earth feels like a tribute to the SNES classic (and tragically underplayed) Earthbound. I am a huge fan of that game for its irreverence, setting and gameplay, and Citizens of Earth takes liberally from its best elements. It’s genuinely funny and strategically deeper than it first appears, while leveraging its characters and setting well. Its attempts to reclaim the magic of its source material are largely successful, but most of all, it’s just a lot of fun to play. READ MORE
Last year’s Super Mario 3D World was stellar as a whole, but a series of levels designed as a change of pace proved to be more than many expected. It’s great, then, that these stages get a second chance to shine in Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, this time as the star. Don’t worry: any worries you have about the formula not working for a whole title can be quieted, as the Captain’s adventure finds way to keep things fresh. READ MORE
The premise of the original Super Smash Bros. on the N64 centered around the idea that Nintendo figures were drawn from a toy box, brought to life by Master Hand to duke it out on various battlefields. While the franchise hasn’t really been known for its lore, the concept itself has clearly defined the path the series has taken. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, brought to life by Masahiro Sakurai and a team at Bandai Namco, feels even more like a collection of cool toys in a box than previous installments, eschewing any attempts at narrative and cohesion in favor of a menu full of disparate-but-entertaining options. READ MORE
Bayonetta 2 is a direct follow-up to the 2009 original, in which the title character had to shoot her way through wave after wave of angels to prevent the destruction of the world at the hands of a resurrected Creator. Taking down a god was bound to have some repercussions, and that’s where Bayonetta finds herself when one of her summoned demons misbehaves, inadvertently killing fellow Umbra Witch Jeanne and sending her soul to Inferno. READ MORE
Pier Solar and the Great Architects is a return to the 16-bit glory days of the JRPG genre and was originally released for the Sega Genesis in 2010, over a decade after the last official release for the system. It was conceived as an attempt to emulate the core concepts that made other RPGs of that era so memorable, and it largely succeeds in doing so, both for better and for worse. Pier Solar developer WaterMelon ran a Kickstarter campaign in 2012 to remaster the game in HD for release on modern consoles (along with — of course — the Dreamcast), and it is this “definitive” version of the game that will likely gain exposure to a wider audience as copies of the limited-run Sega Genesis version can be very difficult to find. READ MORE
Developer Shin’en has become known for two things during its long run of supporting Nintendo download platforms: fast-paced shooters and quirky games that get a lot out of limited hardware. Art of Balance is certainly representative of the second group, a simple-on-the-surface stacking puzzle game with a zen-garden aesthetic that allowed for some cool water and lighting effects in a minimalist environment. The first game was a WiiWare standout, and after a foray on the 3DS eShop, the franchise heads to the Wii U in a form clearly shaped by the experiences developing both previous entries. READ MORE
Most of the time, it’s the object of a review to evaluate a game on its artistic merits, like what it’s trying to communicate and how it goes about delivering on that vision. With some games, though, like this fourth installment of the Skylanders series, what we’re looking at is undeniably a product: a collection of bullet points loosely tied together and pressed on a disc for consumption by mass-market shoppers. That’s not necessarily a bad thing for every game, but it does make the “film criticism” school of reviews largely inappropriate.
So I’m going to follow Trap Team‘s lead and package together some bullet points for you. READ MORE
Do you remember the end of Skyward Sword? When Link had to plow through wave after wave of bokoblins as he made his way to the center of the Sealed Grounds? Wasn’t that an awesome change of pace for the Legend of Zelda series? Well, if you liked that, you will absolutely love Hyrule Warriors, which takes Koei Tecmo’s successful Dynasty Warriors franchise and applies Nintendo’s world of Hyrule and its storied history. READ MORE