While all the talk this holiday season is Microsoft and Sony
releasing new hardware -- the Xbox One and PS4, respectively --
Nintendo is focusing on games starring a couple of popular characters to
boost Wii U sales.
I recently played several
upcoming Wii U titles when the Nintendo Airstream stopped by in
Dearborn, Mich. Recent releases like "Pikmin 3," "The Wonderful 101" and
"The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD" have kicked off a much-needed
steady flow of games for the struggling console, and after getting a
hands-on look at some major releases coming soon, I can safely say the
constant waiting is finally over.
The biggest of these releases comes Nov. 22 with "Super Mario 3D World,"
the follow-up to the successful "Super Mario 3D Land" on the 3DS. I was
a bit skeptical of it at first glance since it reminded me a little too
much like the handheld game, but that changed after playing a couple
levels with three other people.
This is the first
multiplayer 3D Mario platform game, and Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach and
Toad have their special abilities like in "Super Mario Bros. 2" from
the NES days. While Mario is an all-around type, Peach can float in
mid-air while Luigi has a super long jump and Toad is a speedster. The
Cat power-up is the new hyped-up ability, allowing the player to climb
up walls to secrets, claw at enemies, smack baseballs around, and
conveniently climb up the classic flag pole to nab an easy extra life.
Other power-ups include cherries to duplicate characters.
level we played featured clear pipes to zoom through, some with enemies
to dodge and multiple exits. Like the New Super Mario Bros games on the
Wii and Wii U, it's hectic fun to play with others. Unlike the 2D
side-scrollers where accidently (or purposely) bumping others into
bottomless pits and enemies happens quite frequently, there's much more
room to maneuver around on the 3D playing fields.
Releasing sooner on Oct. 29 is Sega's "Sonic Lost World,"
exclusive to the Wii U and 3DS platforms. Playing it gives off a "Super
Mario Galaxy" vibe where Sonic runs around a variety of spherical
worlds, collecting rings and kicking enemies while advancing through
The new control system allows for more fluid
movement, especially during running, which, of course, is what Sonic is
known for. Past games would halt the hedgehog if he ran into a wall or
other obstacles, ruining the flow. Now, holding down a trigger button
lets Sonic run up walls and trees, and it works very well. A mix of 2D
and 3D levels keeps things interesting as well.
& Sonic Olympic video games sell in the millions, and with the
Sochi games happening in February comes the latest in series. "Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games"
releases Nov. 15 and offers online play for events like Ski Cross and
Short Track Speed Skating. A unique feature involves the player winning
points for his/her home country that are viewed through online rankings.
tackled the Bobsledding event, where I steered it using the GamePad
while my partners lined up behind me with Wiimotes to help shift the
weight around. It was quite an experience to say the least, but we
didn't exactly break records since I missed a few speed boosts. We ended
up winning the bronze medal.
I also played "Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze,"
which was expected to release this holiday but now will launch in
February 2014. I was disappointed in that news since this was my
favorite Wii U game I demoed. Even though it plays pretty much like
"Donkey Kong Country Returns" on the Wii, it looks amazing on HD. It's
filled with color and detail, the music is catchy and it's just plain
"Wii Party U"
releases Oct. 25, the
sequel to "Wii Party." One of its mini-games is called Water Runners,
where players scoop water from a stream displayed on the GamePad and
must carry it to a pitcher on the TV. The physical version of the game
comes with a Wii Remote Plus controller and a horizontal stand for the
GamePad for easier use of certain games like Tabletop Baseball.
October is filled with third-party titles as well. These include "Just Dance 2014,"
which released Oct. 8, and "Skylanders SWAP Force"
on Oct. 13, "Lego Marvel Super Heroes"
on Oct. 22, "Batman: Arkham Origins"
on Oct. 25 and "Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag"
on Oct. 29.
"The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds"
to my Wii U experience I sat down with a 3DS to try out this next Zelda
game releasing Nov. 22. It immediately brought me back to the days of
"A Link to the Past" on the Super Nintendo, which is what the game is
designed around. Link's new ability to move along the walls really opens
up gameplay possibilities, like being able to clear certain gaps to nab
treasure or Pieces of Hearts, and getting past obstacles on moving
platforms. Using the hammer to smack pegs into the ground and launch
Link upward looks really neat with the 3D effect on.
game also features Ravio, a new character who lets players rent or buy
items before heading into another dungeon. This allows them to explore
dungeons in any order they want.
Get even tinier thoughts at www.twitter.com/JeffHoard921.