Articles tagged with nintendo

Flesh Of
Beasts Edition
Nov 24
Posted by at 17:53

I've been playing Pandora's Tower which, as one of the Wii's hidden gems, is an annoying game to play.

It's a perfectly 'core' game, which uses the Wiimote/nunchuck combo meaningfully. Much like Super Mario Galaxy, the player character- Aeron- is mostly controlled traditionally with the analogue stick, and the remote is used as a pointer for aiming the chain used as the game's main weapon and means of interacting with the physical environment.

This is a good example of using motion control intelligently- rather than simply being a gimmicky 'something to do' (as in Galaxy) or being waggle for the sake of waggle (although the game isn't completely free of that) it's being used because it's better than the traditional control alternative, which would be some kind of inevitably faulty auto-aim or first-person section.

It's annoying not for any design-y reasons one might expect to see in a review, but because it's a glimpse of a alternate future where people didn't overlook the Wii for being casual-focused, where Nintendo didn't reject the hardware arms race and made a console which could handle PS360 ports well, and where the company didn't shit itself in the face of tablets, creating the misguided chimera that is the GamePad.

Perhaps, one where people didn't smell blood in the water after Microsoft backtracked over the xBox One DRM thing and bullied them into making Kinect optional.

Given that Nintendo have similarly blinked and all but confirmed a 2016 launch for NX as well as properly kicked off their mobile initiative in earnest, it's a future we've probably lost forever.
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Video Review
Nov 23
Posted by Ben at 15:50

We posted our Typoman review yesterday, and here's the accompanying video.

I feel a bit bad for the score I game Typoman, it's not without merit, but reading the review back, a 6 looked comical. I do think some people will find something to like about the game though

The video mainly focuses on the end of Chapter 1 and a chunk of Chapter 2. There's spoilers, solutions to puzzles, which depending on if you're stuck or not will either be a good thing or a bad thing, but don't say you weren't warned Show/hide video

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Nov 22
Posted by Ben at 09:16

A few weeks back we posted a feature called 'How Good Does Typoman Look'. The game had been featured as an upcoming indie game on the WiiU eShop, I'd missed it there, but after seeing the trailer I was won over. I thought the game looked fantastic, the concept at least, and was expecting good things. Unfortunately, the horrendous mess of Batman Arkham Knight on the pc aside, Typoman might just be the most disappointed I've been with a game all year.

The premise is wonderful. Typoman is a puzzle-platformer, where you must use and rearrange words to progress. Simple things like 'NO' being switched to turn a switch 'ON', 'remove'-ing things, draining the rain. It's cool, and when it's being that, the simple execution of a good idea, it's a good game. The problem is it feels like the developers decided that wouldn't be enough, and maybe they're right, maybe they do need to push on the way they do, focusing more on the puzzles and difficulty, maybe it's just that the balance isn't right.

Typoman is oddly ruthless. The platforming is needlessly precise, considering it's not the focus, final pixel jumps are not uncommon. There'll be sections where one nanosecond pause will guarantee failure, the final boss is a prime example of this. The boss itself wouldn't be too bad, but if you aren't moving the second you respawn after a death you're dead... again. One of the other issues that the final boss flags up that's an issue throughout is how little time you get to think. It's not constant, other times you'll have all the time in the world to not know how to solve a puzzle, but on occasion you'll be faced with imminent death and no respite to even look at the solution, let alone try it out. For the last boss I took to grabbing my phone and taking a picture of the letters available to me, then pausing the game and giving myself the time to think. Typoman really is peculiar in its ruthless streak.

When you do get stuck there's a hint system. Hit the '?' on the WiiU Gamepad, and you'll get a bit of prose, a poem of sorts that points you to the answer. Press the '?' again and the particular word you need to make will light up. It's good that the hint system is there, I certainly made use of it, but it comes with a few problems. The hints, even before you light the word up, can be a little on the nose, essentially giving you the answer when you just want a poke in the right direction. Conversely, you can have the answer, even the word revealed, and still be left staring at the screen with no idea what you need to do.

There's a balance problem with Typoman, it too often leaves you completely bewildered. You'll have everything you need but have no idea where to start. Take the puzzles that involve letter machines, a production line that lets you print letters to build words. You'll have more letters available than you need, it clouds things, especially when the word needed to provoke the action seems unintuitive. You can usually see the logic once you've solved it, but wonder if you'd ever have reached it without using a hint. It's the double-edged sword of the hint system, it's too easy to go to it, it takes away the 'game' a bit, it's too all or nothing. I wish they'd made the hints a bit more like those of a crossword puzzle, something to solve before just handing you the word you need.

Typoman suffers from too many technical issues. The initial load time is long, once you're in the levels there's no loading, but getting there takes surprisingly long. Initially I thought this might be because I was running the game from a harddrive, but too many other people have mentioned it. Similarly the hitching, presumably it's caused by the engine streaming in a new area, but it's off-putting and can occasionally happen at key times. I've had a couple of moments where Typoman has got stuck, where spawned words have glitched through an object causing me to die. There's also an issue where leaving the game paused for a long period will make the pause menu freeze up, but that's a bit of an edge case.

Really the technical issues are the kind of thing that need to be mentioned in the review, but not necessarily the sort of thing that will ruin a game. Typoman's problems are all with its puzzle design and platforming. Difficulty is fine, leaving the player frustrated isn't, especially in the moments where the puzzle has been solved but the application let's you down. It's a shame too, there's moments where I really liked Typoman. There's some good ideas, some cool set pieces, and the concept is great, but once I got through the early sections I'm not sure how often I had fun. It's a game that's almost there, but as it is Typoman is too frustrating for its own good, it leaves you cursing it too often, and it left me feeling like it was a huge missed opportunity.
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Posted by Ben at 15:44
We featured Typoman in our occasional How Good Does ___ Look feature, and now it's out

Priced at £10 on the WiiU eshop, it certainly looks a good idea.

We may or may not do a review at some point, but until them here's the launch trailer

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Mystery Dungeon
Oct 20
Posted by Duane at 06:13

It's no secret that I'm a bit inexperienced when it comes to the Etrian Odyssey series, I've played many many similar games, but having not really spend much time with Nintendo's handhelds over the years, the series has mostly past me by. The same also applies to the Mystery Dungeon series, although I had a brief relationship with the first European Pokemon entry and, again, have played a fair few similar titles, most memorably Sorcery Saga: Curse of the Great Curry God (which I found to be quaint and humorous, if a little frustrating at times). Both genre's appear, to me at least, to be rather punishing, or challenging (depending upon how you want to look at things), but really rather rewarding once you get around their mechanics. But what's interesting here is that Spike Chunsoft (who mash out a huge number of games in both genres) have now made an attempt to combine the two with Etrian Mystery Dungeon.

This particular release takes more cues from the Mystery Dungeon series than the other half of the relationship, with the latter offering up the games character design, however the vast majority of the games graphical style, that being when you are in dungeons, is also taken from Mystery Dungeon and is definitely a case of function over form. This leaves the game looking uncluttered, which is definetly a good thing as there can be a lot to take in whilst exploring Etrian Mystery Dungeons... dungeons.

The “Rogue-like” nature of these sorts of games is what makes them challenging, which is what attracts most people to them. It's far too easy to head into a dungeon unprepared and quickly find yourself overwhelmed and out of your depth. The games mechanics want you to explore but can just as easily punish you for doing so as your stamina slowly depletes and then chips away at your health. Being limited to the number of items you can carry means no trip back to town is wasted, although it will refresh your progress in any dungeon you are in. Speaking of the dungeons themselves, Etrian Mystery Dungeon has randomly generated dungeons for you to explore, thankfully though they don't always remain that way, if you're happy to spend the “En” (the games currency) you can place a Fort on any level that you have already explored, which will then prevent the dungeon from being randomly generated on further visits, making gathering resources and completing quests much easier.

Progression is split up in two manners, you can obtain Missions, these tend to be designed to further progression through the game itself, usually in advancing the story or unlocking somewhere new to explore, whilst Quests give you tasks to do in locations you have already visited, providing you with rewards of cash or items. It's this element of segregation that encourages you to take the “baby steps” approach to advancing through the game that results in you feeling like you aren't getting very far, but take a chance every now and then to push further and you'll be rewarded with the sense that your party is actually stronger than you'd assumed they were.

Forts come in handy with character progression too. You can have a Guild featuring a number of members, however you can only take four characters in a party to go and explore, those left at your Guild HQ will gain some experience whilst you are away, but they're progression will be incredibly slow, however by placing upto 4 members into a Fort, they will gain more XP by just being “out in the field” so to speak and level at a higher rate than those left at HQ, this all means its much much easier to juggle different combinations of parties allowing you to tailor your exploration group for each time you head into a dungeon rather than feeling like you are stuck with the initial four members that you create.

The game is constantly trying to throw new challenges at you, from random floors (usually on lower floors of a dungeon) containing monsters that have received a buff, to rooms that contain an inordinately larger number of enemies than others. Boss figthts too can be difficult and tend to thrown the games “just hit whatever enemies closest” mechanics on their head by requiring you to take control of each party member individually (something you can do at any other time too, if you so wish) and act in a strategic manner, providing buffs for your party, drawing attention to particular team members or areas of a room to take advantage of traps, that kind of thing. Things don't tend to let up if you find yourself in the unfortunate situation where a party member is defeated either, as the creature that deals the killer blow will receive a strengthening buff resulting in them being not only hitting you harder but being able to take more damage. Etrian Mystery Dungeon's quaint appearance is certainly misleading, whereas Dark Souls (which shares many similarities with the dungeon crawler genre despite its playing perspective) looks foreboding, Etrian Mystery Dungeon looks cute, cuddly and easy. These things it is not, and some might say its all the better for it.
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Posted by Ben at 16:46
Loathed as I am to just post a trailer the excitement for Shin Megami Tensei IV Final has got a hold of me. I don't know why, I've not finished Shin Megami Tensei 4 yet and there's absolutely no guarantee we Europeans will ever even see this game, but hey ho, trailers are news nowadays

What I will say about the trailer for Shin Megami Tensei 4 Final, I was wondering how they were going to do a HD trailer for a 3DS game, they used some live action footage and some placeholder art. But they do also show some gameplay, and from the snippets we get, it looks like new areas, which is certainly welcome

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Posted by James at 14:37
After just 18 weeks on sale in Japan, sales for Nintendo’s Splatoon – a new IP on the Wii U – have overtaken those of its own Mario Kart 8 at the same point in the two games' lifecycles.

As of September 27, 2015, sales for boxed copies of Splatoon now stand at 682,000 units, with Mario Kart 8 at 678,000 units. This stands in stark contrast to the two Wii U games’ launches, where Mario Kart 8 shifted 326,000 units in the week ending June 1 2014, compared with Splatoon's 145,000 during the week ending May 31 2015.

How did lifetime sales for a brand new IP in an unestablished genre eventually trend ahead of a game in one of the biggest and most established franchises on console – a situation many of us, even Nintendo, didn’t foresee?

While Mario Kart 8 was off to a much faster start, shifting 125% more copies than Splatoon in its launch week – Splatoon also managed a strong Japanese launch given its roots in the unproven third person shooter genre and similar-sized marketing budget – the difference is that Mario Kart 8’s sales tailed off at a greater rate.

Indeed, Mario Kart 8 shifted a greater number of copies at first, including 73,000 during its second week compared with 69,000 copies for Splatoon. But Nintendo's new IP sold a greater number of units than Mario Kart in every following week -- the 185,000 unit lead Mario Kart 8 held over Splatoon diminished within four months.

The absolute sales difference between the two games during weeks 3-18 of their respective retail cycles was as high as 16,000 copies (in week 4), and as low as 6,100 units (week 9). In 14 of the 18 weeks Splatoon shifted over 10,000 more copies at retail than Mario Kart 8.

A closer examination of the relative difference between sales of the two games shows us how Mario Kart 8’s lifetime sales lead diminished so quickly. Splatoon shifted over twice as many units as Mario Kart 8 managed during the tail-end of the 18-week period (weeks 14-18). This difference peaked last week where Splatoon sold two-and-a-half times (250%) more copies than Mario Kart 8.

It’s this consistent, relative difference over the last six weeks – where Mario Kart 8 sales never recover from a sub-10,000 unit slump – which saw Splatoon overtake Mario Kart 8 by the end of week 18. The game continues to sell in the region of 20,000 units every week, and it’ll likely continue to do so in week 19 when Media Create releases new figures for the week ending October 4 2015.

If both Splatoon and Mario Kart 8 had large opening weeks given their respective platform’s small install base (Wii U is currently trending behind Wii, and far behind 3DS in Japan), why did Mario Kart 8’s sales decline so quickly when Splatoon’s didn’t?

One reason is that Mario Kart 8 just isn’t different enough for Nintendo to have been able to differentiate it to the mass market, especially so when the Wii U install base remained relatively small at the time in Japan. The Nintendo 3DS is the most popular dedicated videogames platform in the region by a long shot, and Nintendo had already released Mario Kart 7 on that system at the end of 2011.

While the Wii U’s Mario Kart is a vastly more advanced game, it’s difficult to communicate that across to the unconverted in order to create perceived value, so it’s likely that Mario Kart 8 reached a near-sales saturation given the Wii U install base over those first 18 weeks on sale.

This is best shown by the effect Mario Kart 8 had on Wii U sales in its launch week – Nintendo’s home console only shifted 19,000 units, less than what 3DS even managed (24,000 units) to shift despite having no big releases that week. It’s this cannibalisation between Nintendo’s two different platforms, both in hardware and software with similar IP, which is leading Nintendo to rethink its strategy for its next video games platform, code named NX. You can read more about Nintendo's core strategy in detail over here.

By comparison, Nintendo managed to retain Splatoon’s sales performance. There are two likely reasons why Splatoon’s long tail of sales have been more sustainable.

Firstly, Splatoon is fresh; it’s a big new IP from Nintendo in a genre they have never attempted before (the online-focused multiplayer shooter), but with their own unique twist added (players paint the map with their weapon in order to capture the most turf). Nintendo’s slant on the genre is also one that is also incredibly easy to understand and therefore communicate to players in marketing, so there’s broad appeal to consumers right down to the game’s distinctive and confident art direction.

This also helped Nintendo avoid any issues with Splatoon being cannibalised by games on its other platform, the 3DS. Splatoon isn’t a close substitute to anything right now – the expanded audience can’t stick with “Splatoon 3DS” and be done with it, and core players aren’t going to go into Splatoon with any negative preconceptions like some did with 2K Games’ Evolve, another multiplayer new IP which launched this year but failed to retain its players (Splatoon has even outsold Evolve worldwide).

More importantly, in a new approach for Nintendo Splatoon is operated like a service, with regular content updates that regularly unlock over time – initially off the disc and now through online updates – based on player metrics and feedback. This is augmented by server-based map and mode rotations, timely social media updates that tie into the game and its world, and fortnightly events called Splatfests.

While this was a conscious design decision in the interest of keeping a healthy player-base (see how 2K Games’ Evolve has fared by comparison), it’s likely to have had a knock-on effect on sales, as new content keeps people playing and discussing the game on social media. Nintendo itself has handled the game’s presence on social media well, with regular, fun updates across Twitter, which has a seemingly strong presence in Japan compared with other social networks.

The impact this has on sales best demonstrated by the game’s major update (version 2.00), which launched in tandem with a new marketing campaign in early August. In week 11 when the update landed, Splatoon sales rose by 26% week-on-week, to 36,000 units from 28,000 units.

In the same point of the game’s lifespan, Mario Kart 8 did not receive a large bump from the week prior, though both games did receive a sales boost in week 12, which would have been due to the long Obon festival weekend in mid-August the week prior; Mario Kart 8 sales rose 35% to 28,000 units, while Splatoon retained its sales bump, shifting 41,000 units, a 16% rise on the previous sales boost from the update and new marketing push. Since then, Splatoon’s sales have hovered at around 20,000 units every week.

Last but not least, Splatoon has been growing the Wii U install base in Japan, as indicated by sales of Mario Kart 8 also seeing a short-lived bump back to around 10,000 units following Splatoon’s launch. While it isn’t going to save the system this late into its lifespan, the hardware sales bump is on track to amounting to at least a 100,000 units across the entire year.

With Splatoon’s worldwide sales approaching 2 million units, Nintendo has managed to release a big hitter by Wii U standards in a year which saw two tent-pole releases slip to 2016. With Super Mario Maker out the gate, the remaining first party Wii U games releasing this year aren't really massmarket material, and Amiibo seem to have sold to Nintendo's biggest and most invested fans rather than the expanded audience. Splatoon is quite the standout success.

It’ll be interesting to see how Splatoon continues to perform in Japan in the long run. For now, Splatoon gives us confidence in Nintendo's ability to run a game as a service, both from a creative standpoint and a business one, and puts the company in good standing to tackle future endeavors of this ilk.

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Posted by Ben at 02:34
Not as you mighexpect some sort of remastering of Shin Megami Tensei 4, Final is a new game set in the world of Shin Megami Tensei 4.

It's maybe easy to look at this cynically, a chance for Atlus to reuse assets and mechanics, but I'm not sure Shin Megami Tensei fans are hugely bothered about that sort of thing.

Shin Megami Tensei 4 Final us heading to Japanese 3ds' in February next year. Who knows about a EU release, this late in to the 3ds' life there's certainly some doubt
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Posted by Ben at 16:19
I think the release date of 30th October for WiiU horror game Project Zero Maiden of Black Water might be old news, but it's also been given a demo on the eshop

The Demo lands on the 30th too, just in time for Halloween, as you'd expect. Judging entirely on the trailer below, Project Zero Maiden of Black water looks to tread the same kind of ground as Ring, or Ringu just so you don't think I'm referring to the American version

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Posted by Ben at 16:42
I never quite got around to Project X Zone, but I did hear some good things. After the likes of Namco X Capcom and Cross Edge I'd learnt that, despite my best intentions, I never get close to the end of these games

Project X Zone 2 has some new ways to tempt people in though, added to their menagerie of a roster are character from Fire Emblem and Xenoblade Chronicles

I loved Fire Emblem Awakening, so seeing Chrom and Lucina make an appearance is good news, and joining them is Fiora from Xenoblade Chronicles.

It's a smart move by Nintendo, allowing their characters to be used like this (and not just in Project X Zone), with their new consoles still a while out, drawing attention and focus to games on their platforms, even if they're 3rd party games, is a cost free way of keeping some sort of mind share

That's as nobby a sentence as I've written today, but it's done now, take a look at the screen shots posted below, and Project X Zone 2 comes out for the 3DS on the 19th February

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