Mega Man 11 is the Real Deal

I don’t get this “Mega Man 11” thing! It just looks like Capcom is trying to rip off Mighty No. 9!

All joking aside, I got to play Mega Man 11 at E3 today (after an excruciatingly long wait in line), and walked away very impressed with the game, which is now on my radar as one of my most anticipated titles of the year.

When Mega Man 11 was first revealed, a lot of fans were disappointed with the new visual look, and wanted another 8-bit throwback title. Personally, I think making another 8-bit entry would have felt a bit tired by this point. Besides, Mega Man 7 and 8 weren’t 8-bit, so it’s not as if Mega Man 11 is the first entry to go against the series’ NES roots.

“At least the long line included monitors with fun questions and factoids about Mega Man’s history. This was by far my favorite one.”

One concern I did have though, was that the new look may have meant a new direction for the series’ difficulty, and maybe ease things up a bit to grab a new audience. I’m not one of those people who demands that every game be extremely difficult, and that any game that’s on the easy side is automatically bad. But in Mega Man’s case, the difficulty is as much a part of the series as the Blue Bomber’s ability to steal the powers of defeated Robot Masters.

Although only one stage was available in the demo (Block Man’s), it proved to be pleasantly challenging. Perhaps more importantly, the challenge was brought about by some creative ideas in the level design, with the standout moment being Mega Man navigating through confined rooms which are on a conveyor belt heading for an insta-kill grinder. Mega Man has to shoot path-blocking stones, and navigate the rooms by jumping and sliding in order to escape them and, by extension, escape the grinder. But once one such mini-room is completed, there’s another one in line on the conveyor belt.

It’s concepts like that why platformers remain one of gaming’s greatest genres. Even with a template as old as Mega Man’s, getting creative with the level design is all the developers need to make things feel new again.

Additionally, Mega Man now possesses an ability to slow down time for a short while, with certain level elements and enemies taking advantage of the mechanic. One enemy hides within a spinning wheel, which has only a small opening for Mega Man’s blast can make it through. While Mega Man can time his blast to destroy the enemy under normal conditions, the enemy’s wheel spins fast enough to make it difficult to get the timing down. That’s when slowing down time comes in handy, as it turns the small opportunity to hit this particular enemy into a much bigger one.

The time-slowing mechanic is a fun little twist on the Mega Man formula, and hopefully a few similar mechanics are introduced to keep things fresh.

From what I can gather from my limited experience with the game, Mega Man 11 looks to not only revive the series after a notably lengthy absence, but also adding to the series’ norms in ways to make it feel like a proper continuation for the franchise, and not simply a throwback.

I was tentatively excited for Mega Man 11 when it was announced, but after playing a stage of the game, it’s really looking like the Mega Man title the gaming world needs…especially after Mighty No. 9.

“I’m a better Mega Man than Mega Man! I’m actually aiming my mega buster at the bad guy!”
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E3 2017: Day 3

E3 2017 has come and gone. While there are plenty of discussions to be had on the presentations and such, I’m just here to recollect my experience at the show. While there were some detriments to this E3 (namely the ungodly long lines), it was fun to be able to experience E3 again, and I look forward to next year’s show… provided they sell reasonably-priced tickets to the public again. Anyway, here’s how my last day at E3 2017 went.

First the bad news: I didn’t get to play Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom. I tried – several times – to get in line for it, and every time the line was “temporarily closed,” until the last time I tried and it was closed for the day. So that sucked. Otherwise, I had a good last day at the show, though I didn’t actually play a whole lot.

The first game I got to play was a second go at Dragon Ball FighterZ against my brother. I managed to win once again after a hard fought battle (I usually suck at fighting games, so I don’t mind bragging here), but I really can’t stress enough how much I enjoy this game. It was definitely worth a second look, and was definitely one of the best surprises of the show.

Speaking of pleasant surprises, the next game I managed to play was Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle. Now, when I first heard of the rumors of this game, I can’t say I was too excited. I was never a fan of the Rabbids, so to hear they were crossing over into my favorite franchise was a bit iffy. It also didn’t help that the rumored title was Super Mario RPG: Invasion of the Rabbids, which seemed like a disappointing follow-up to the classic Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars (one of my favorite video games of all time).

Now that the game’s been revealed (and has no connection to Super Mario RPG), I’m actually really excited for it. The game basically plays like the XCOM reboot, but with Mario and Rabbids characters, and music by the composer of Banjo-Kazooie (Grant Kirkhope). That is an odd combination, but certainly an interesting one.

Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle is essentially a tactical RPG, with the game featuring eight playable characters (Mario, Luigi, Peach and Yoshi, along with four Rabbids dressed as those four characters), though the demo only featured three (Mario, and the Peach and Luigi Rabbids). The battles use a turn-based system, with players able to move their characters to different places within a certain distance on the field at any time. During movement, players can boost their characters’ distance by pairing them with another character or going through pipes, perform a sliding attack by crossing an enemy, and ultimately find a spot to cover from enemy damage. After the characters are positioned, they can attack enemies using an array of weird sci-fi weapons.

It sounds simple, but Mario + Rabbids proved to be surprisingly deep and complex with its tactical elements. What seemed so easy on face value had me making a number of mistakes before learning better.

Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle may be one of the weirdest games I’ve ever heard of, but if the demo was a taste of what is to come, then I can say I’m actually very excited for a game featuring the Rabbids. Never thought I’d say that.

Truth be told, standing in line for Mario + Rabbids took up a good deal of time, so I didn’t get to play a whole lot else on this final day of E3 2017, though I did get to explore the show floor a bit more, and I liked what I saw. Two games I’m looking forward to but skipped were ARMS and Crash Bandicoot: N. Sane Trilogy. With ARMS literally being released tomorrow, I didn’t feel the need to stand in a lengthy line for it. And while the Crash Bandicoot remake compilation is one of my most anticipated games this year, it comes out at the end of this month. So again, I didn’t think waiting in a long line for it made much sense (I would possibly make an exception for Mario or Dark Souls, if that scenario ever occurs).

So the last game I played at this E3 was, well, the first game I played at this E3: Super Mario Odyssey. Mercifully, Nintendo seemed to learn from the chaotic mess of a line from the first day of E3, and tweaked things to make it more tolerable. There were more, smaller lines this time, instead of a gargantuan mass of humanity. I probably only had to wait a half hour, which was a godsend compared to the first time around.

On the first day, I played the desert stage of the Mario Odyssey demo, which felt familiar to the Super Mario Galaxy games in that it was built around action and platforming. This time, however, I tried out the city stage, which felt more in line with Super Mario 64 or – perhaps more accurately – Breath of the Wild.

The city stage serves as a massive sandbox with objects galore to be found and completed as the player sees fit. In retrospect, I probably should have tried out the different costumes to see their abilities, but I was too busy gathering Moons (Odyssey’s replacement for the traditional Stars).

I got one Moon by performing well at a game of jump rope, one for besting an obstacle course, and a few for braving precarious situations. In total, I earned a total of six Moons, which the man working at the kiosk told me tied the record set for the city stage during the demo. Of course, this leads me to an aggravating little detail: My demo ended just as I was climbing the pole at the top of the highest building in the city, which the Nintendo employee ensured me had an additional Moon at its peak. So I was apparently seconds away from having the best record of Moons on the city stage for Super Mario Odyssey’s E3 demo. Just my luck…

In between viewing, playing, and waiting in line for all these great games over the past few days, I also enjoyed some of the other things E3 had to offer: I enjoyed a bit of a GameSpot interview with WWE wrestlers Xavier Woods and Samoa Joe on the last day, while during the second day I had a listen to some awesome Mario Kart 64 remixes courtesy of the Super Soul Bros.

“Joe’s gonna kill you!”

I’ve had a great time at this year’s E3. Yes, the lines were disastrous (hopefully they’ll learn how to better handle the extra people if the event is still open to the public next year), and sure, people can go ahead and comment about how Sony’s presentation wasn’t up to their usual quality, or how there weren’t too many surprises. But for me, it was simply a great time. I made lots of memories, played some terrific games (particularly Super Mario Odyssey, which I feel is destined to be a Nintendo classic), and just had a good time.

I’m hoping I can return to E3 again next year, but all I can say for now is that it was great to attend the event again. But good luck with 2018’s E3 having as stellar of a lineup of games as this year.

“Me…about to be crushed by the DK Rabbid…”

Freedom Planet Review

*This review originally appeared on Miketendo64.com*

Freedom Planet

Freedom Planet is a love letter to the glory days of Sonic the Hedgehog. In fact, it started development as a Sonic fan game, until its developers at GalaxyTrail decided to create their own IP out of their love of the 16-bit Sonic the Hedgehog classics. The end results are a satisfying platformer that could even be called the best Sonic game of recent memory, even if it doesn’t boast the titular hedgehog.

From the get-go, the Sonic influence is obvious. The game adopts the 16-bit visuals of the Sega Genesis, and no doubt its musical score echoes inspiration from Sega’s heyday (not just in Sonic, but a Nights Into Dreams influence can be heard from time to time as well).

The base game includes two playable characters: Lilac is a suspiciously hedgehog-esque dragon who has powerful kicks and hair whips, as well as the ability to “dragon dash” using stored up energy, and a helicopter spin to add a little boost to her jumps. Carol is a wildcat who isn’t quite as strong as Lilac, but has quicker clawing attacks, can wall jump, leap between specially marked platforms, and can use the aforementioned energy for a rapid kicking combo.

Post-release add-ons for the PC releases have added additional playable characters – including Milla the dog, the game’s tritagonist – though the Wii U version has yet to receive these updates.

Either way, having two characters from the get-go gives players a little bit of diversity in its campaign, as Lilac and Carol battle armies of robots to save their planet from the evil Lord Brevon.

This simple story is perhaps the biggest differentiation between Freedom Planet and the 16-bit Sonics that inspired it. If you play the game in Adventure Mode, each level is introduced and concluded with a series of cinematics, complete with voice acting.

I have to say, for having 16-bit limitations, the cinematics are actually quite impressive, though they can at times become a bit too lengthy, which is probably what inspired GalaxyTrail to also include Classic Mode, where players jump directly into the levels without all the cinematics.

Freedom PlanetOn one hand, I feel the game is definitely meant to be played with the story intact, and something feels a little off when playing it without them. But on the other hand, I’m not too big of a fan of some of the characters (like Milla, whose cuteness is forced to the point of obnoxiousness, or Torque, an alien ally who often wears a duck beak for some reason), whom I feel are a little on the pandering side, and again, some of the cinematics drag on and on. In the end, I suppose it’s all down to personal preference.

The gameplay remains stellar, however, with clever level designs that contain multiple pathways a la 16-bit Sonic, with new mechanics added throughout the adventure to keep it all fresh.

There are minor tweaks to the Sonic formula at play, however. Instead of rings that work as a health system and a means to gain extra lives, Lilac and Carol collect red leaves, with every two red leaves refilling one of their hit points. Meanwhile, blue crystals need to be gathered in quantities of 200 in order to gain an extra life.

Freedom PlanetIf there’s one big drawback to Freedom Planet, it’s that it boasts a rather glaring inconsistency in the difficulty between the levels and boss fights. The levels themselves can be easy or reasonably challenging, but even some of the game’s early bosses are on the frustratingly difficult side of things. It’s one thing if a hard game has hard bosses, or if the boss fights gradually become more difficult. But I can’t help but feel there’s no real transition in the boss difficulty. The levels themselves gradually stack up the difficulty, but the boss fights are difficult from the offset.

The complaints are ultimately minor, however. Freedom Planet itself is a whole lot of fun, and feels like a Genesis classic that never was. It’s lightning-fast platforming and smart level design stand favorably alongside Sonic’s most fondly-remembered adventures, it’s fluidly animated with surprisingly strong production values, and its soundtrack – like any great 16-bit title – is a thing of utterly infectious beauty.

Sonic may have lost a step or two over the years, but Freedom Planet is a reminder that the foundations Sonic built were timeless and, of course, way passed cool.

 

7

Nintendo Wii Turns 10!

Wii

Time to feel old, everyone! The original Nintendo Wii was released in North America ten years ago today. Yep, it was November 19th 2006 that the gaming landscape was changed forever, as Satoru Iwata’s home console brainchild was released, and changed perceptions of what it means to be a gamer.

The Wii opened the door for audiences who previously seemed as far removed from gaming stereotypes as possible. No longer were video games just a “geek” pastime, but a hobby for just about everyone, from small children to grandparents and everything in between. It not only changed the direction of Nintendo, but even Sony and Microsoft took note, and if the popularity of mobile games is any indication, the Wii’s impact is still being felt.

Sure, the console had more than its share of shovelware (but then again, so did the PS2, not that anyone seems to bring that up). And the Wii has long-since received flak from undeservedly self-important nerds who deride the console and its motion controls for not pandering to them. But the Wii was a genuine game-changer, and had its fair share of classics (many of which, I would argue, hold up a lot better than the beloved Nintendo 64).

The Wii became a massive success for Nintendo, and even featured some of the most acclaimed games in history (notably the Mario Galaxy titles). Sadly, it’s successor, the Wii U -despite featuring a number of brilliant games – could not replicate the Wii’s success, and is Nintendo’s least-selling home console to date, as well as being unfairly berated on the internet (once again, it’s probably a better console than the N64, or even the GameCube, but I guess it doesn’t have blinding nostalgia on its side).

Perhaps because of the Wii U’s less-than-stellar sales, Nintendo is now dropping the Wii name from its next console, the Nintendo Switch (am I the only one who sees the missed opportunity for it to be named “SWiitch?”). But no doubt the Wii brand left a huge impact on not only Nintendo, but the world of gaming as a whole.

Here’s to the original Wii, and the brand it created. Happy ten years, you wonderful, ivory box you!

Paper Mario: Color Splash Review

Color Splash

Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars began the concept of transforming the world of Super Mario into an RPG series. Though Super Mario RPG never got a proper sequel, its legacy was continued by two series: the handheld Mario & Luigi titles, and Paper Mario. Both series were great in their own right, but it was Paper Mario that felt closer in spirit to Super Mario RPG.

Despite the Mario RPGs being among Nintendo’s best titles – up there with Zelda, Donkey Kong, and the Mario platformers – Nintendo, for reasons that will never make sense, decided to opt out of the Mario RPGs as time went by.

The last two Mario & Luigi titles have basically stripped away the depth in story, characters and gameplay from the first three titles, but Paper Mario has been altered all the more. Super Paper Mario took away the turn-based battles in favor of platforming with RPG elements, though it retained the strong storytelling of the previous Paper Mario entries.

It was Paper Mario: Sticker Star on the 3DS however, that remains one of Nintendo’s biggest blunders. Sticker Star brought back turn-based battles, but replaced the RPG elements with collectible stickers, a gimmick that quickly grew tired and even made battles predominantly pointless, since your only reward for winning battles were more stickers and coins…for buying more stickers. Not to mention the game removed virtually every story and character aspect of its predecessors, leaving it soulless on both a narrative and gameplay standpoint.

Sticker Star was greatly disliked by longtime fans of the series, and when Paper Mario: Color Splash was first revealed and looked to be replicating Sticker Star’s style, it seemed doomed from the start. But does Color Splash fix the many problems of Sticker Star? Or does it fall just as flat?

To put it simply, if Sticker Star broke the Paper Mario series, Color Splash does a pretty good job at fixing it. But even if you repair something after its been broken, it’s never going to look quite as good as it once did.

Paper Mario: Color Splash does adopt much of Sticker Star’s formula. Battles still use consumable actions (here presented as cards), and Mario still doesn’t gain levels, nor is he joined by any memorable partners that can aid him in battle (though his adventure is joined by a sentient paint bucket named Huey, who is a far more charming and funny character than Sticker Star’s Kirsti ever was).

There is a bonus this time around in the form of paint. Mario must paint his cards in battle to fully power them up, and also paint areas of the environment that have been drained of their color using the paint hammer. The inclusion of paint benefits the battle system by the addition of Hammer Scraps, collectible items that are rewarded after battle. Hammer Scraps more or less work like experience points, and when enough are collected, the maximum amount of paint Mario has at his disposal increases. This difference alone prevents the battles from feeling pointless, as they did in Sticker Star, though it sadly cannot change the tediousness of the battles themselves.

Color SplashThere’s no beating around the bush, making all of the actions in battle consumable items is simply bad game design. Sure, the game throws cards and coins at you all the time, so you’re rarely going to run out of actions, but you may easily run out of the cards you need for a given enemy or situation. You’re constantly scrambling to get the right cards, or going out of your way to get enough coins to buy them by the bulk, just so you’re sure to have enough to make your way through a specific section.

To further complicate things, the process of using these cards in battle is just as tedious as anything. You have to cycle through your cards on the Gamepad (which are always categorized, left to right, from oldest to newest), then set up the cards you want to use, tap the chosen cards to paint them, select the “done painting” option, and then finish things off with an entirely unnecessary “flick” motion to send the cards from the Gamepad to the TV. Then, and only then, can you perform the usual action commands in battle. The process can grow old fast, and you may find yourself avoiding enemies just so you don’t have to keep going through it.

Another huge downside to battles is that Mario will automatically attack the on-screen enemies in a set sequence from left to right. This not only removes so much potential strategy in battles, but also means that, should you defeat some enemies too soon, Mario could end up screwing things up (like jumping on a spiked enemy) and the player can’t do anything about it.

Finally, “Things” make a return from Sticker Star, being 3D objects that can be turned into super powerful cards for use in and out of battle. Each Thing includes a hilarious in-battle animation (like a breakdancing piggybank or a tornado-like washing machine), and make for fun special attacks. The problem with Things arrises during boss battles. Every boss in the game must have a specific Thing used against them in order to defeat them. It is mandatory that you have a specific Thing with you during each boss, so that you can use them at the right moment. If you don’t have the right Thing, the bosses are, quite literally, impossible.

Color SplashIf this worked like Mega Man, and specific Things were merely particularly effective against certain bosses, it could be really fun and clever. Instead, you have bosses that are only beatable with specific items. There’s no strategy involved. If you know what Thing you need, you basically have victory guaranteed. It’s yet another display of blatantly bad game design.

Thankfully, this is where most of the complaining stops, because the aspects of Paper Mario: Color Splash that are enjoyable are very much enjoyable.

For starters, there’s a much greater emphasis on story and character than there was in Sticker Star (of course, any story and character at all would be much more than Sticker Star, but it’s intended as a compliment).

The plot is simple enough, with Mario and Peach traveling to Prism Island – a land renowned for its vibrant colors – after they receive a Toad drained of its color in the mail, sent from the island to the Mushroom Kingdom. Once they arrive at Prism Island, Mario and Peach find that the place is being drained of its color by an army of Shy Guys. Naturally, Bowser is up to his old tricks again, and it’s up to Mario, and his new paint bucket partner Huey, to restore color to the island and rescue the Paint Stars.

Color SplashSo the plot itself is nothing grand like Super Mario RPG or the first two Paper Marios, but Color Splash does liven things up with terrific writing and the series’ trademark humor.

Color Splash is one of the funniest games I’ve played in a long time. Whether it’s the visual gags that make great use of the paper motif, or the constant zingers the characters are spouting, Color Splash actually elicited a good number of laughs out of me throughout my playthrough.

Yeah, no kidding. I miss unique Toads.
Yeah, no kidding. I miss unique Toads.

On the downside of things, Color Splash continues Nintendo’s bizarre recent trend of making every NPC a generic Toad, with their only differing features being the colors of their spots and vests. I honestly can’t grasp why Nintendo thinks having every NPC looking like the standard Toad is more charming than the variety of characters found in past Paper Marios. It just takes away personality from the game.

This lack of variety also shows up in the enemies, who are relegated to simply being returning foes from Mario’s platforming ventures. Even the aforementioned bosses are restricted to the Koopalings. I seriously don’t understand Nintendo’s refusal to add new enemies to the Mario RPG series anymore.

On a lighter note, another highlight has to be Color Splash’s aesthetics. The game is absolutely gorgeous to look at, with Nintendo bringing the paper craft visuals of the series to life like never before. There are so many little details all over the place that make the environments pop. You can definitely tell the developers were having a great time thinking of ways to recreate Mario’s world out of handcrafted materials. It’s an absolutely beautiful game to look at, and it’s full of visual surprises.

Arguably even better than the visuals is the musical score. Color Splash follows in the tradition of the Galaxy series and 3D World of integrating a full band orchestra into the Mario series, and just as in past efforts, it pays off beautifully. Color Splash’s soundtrack is often (and appropriately) colorful and lively, but it ends up showcasing a wide variety of styles and tunes. It’s one of the best Mario soundtracks of the last few years.

Much of this review may sound a bit negative, but rest assured, the good ultimately outweighs the bad. Nintendo’s stubbornness may have never been quite as pronounced as it is here, with the continuing of Sticker Star’s infamous template. But the fact that Color Splash can take such a flawed blueprint and turn it into a very fun experience is also one of the biggest testaments to Nintendo’s mastery of the craft.

I very much love most of Paper Mario: color Splash: It looks stunning, sounds great, it’s often hilarious, always charming, and is full of fun little gameplay surprises. But the flaws that are present are a bit too prominent, and you may find that Color Splash is at its best in stages that work as their own, self-contained little narratives, and place the battle system to the side. Still, a tedious battle system is better than the pointless one of Sticker Star, and the stories, characters and writing that are present here help give the game an identity that was lacking not only in Sticker Star, but the past few Mario & Luigi titles as well.

Paper Mario: Color Splash may not bring back the glory the Mario RPGs once showcased so profusely, but its creativity and charm are so endearing that you can’t help but feel it’s getting things back on track.

But seriously, can we please just get a proper Mario RPG again? Please?!

 

6

Wings of Magloryx Review

Wings of Magloryx

*This review first appeared on Miketendo64.com*

Wings of Magloryx is an indie title on the Wii U released via the Eshop, and sees players take control of a dragon called Magloryx. This fire-breathing behemoth is on a quest to reclaim his five relics that were stolen by a wizard, all while collecting some treasure and kidnapping a few peasants along the way.

It’s certainly a promising concept. After slaying countless dragons in fantasy video games, it’s about time the roles were reversed, and the idea of playing as a dragon and destroying everything in your path sounds like fun. Unfortunately, the game’s execution lacks a whole lot of polish, and the end results leave a lot to be desired.

Gameplay-wise, Wings of Magloryx is simple enough: You travel across five different worlds (a total of twenty-five levels), with each level being a small series of floating islands. The goal of the levels is to either destroy a set amount of towers, or to defeat a boss. Bonus points are received for “rescuing” peasants (we all know Magloryx is really collecting his dinner).

The controls may seem simple at first, with Magloryx’s actions simply consisting of moving and shooting fireballs. But again, things stumble in execution, and the controls end up feeling clunky.

The left joystick moves Magloryx around, which is simple enough, while moving the right stick up and down changes the height in which the dragon takes to the air, and moving it from side to side changes the camera. Additionally, the ZR button is used to shoot fireballs, and pressing down on the right joystick is used to collect treasure and peasants.

Here’s where things get tricky: The camera movement alone is muddled, and using the same joystick to maneuver the camera and Magloryx’s height never feels right. The dragon himself also moves slowly and awkwardly, and shooting fireballs is incredibly inaccurate. Picking up peasants and treasure is the most cumbersome, however. You have to be low enough to the ground for this action to work (a problem in itself, as even the slightest bump to a rock or tree does damage), but even worse is that, half the time, pressing the right joystick doesn’t even seem to work. You have to keep pressing the right joystick until sparkles fly out of the peasants or treasure, and then fly into them to collect them. It just never feels right, and you just wish you could simply fly into the collectibles without the need of any extra button presses.

Another problem occurs when you inevitably bump into the countless “invisible walls” in the game. You would think the boundaries of the stages would coincide with the layout of the environment, but that’s not the case. Often times you’ll be circling around an island trying to eliminate enemies, and then are suddenly stopped dead in your tracks as the words “out of bounds” appear in the middle of the screen. It happens far too often, and it’s hard to figure out the levels when the stage design and technical limitations don’t mesh together.

Something else that really bogs the game down are the constant slow-downs. If even just a couple of enemies are onscreen throwing swords or shooting arrows at you, you can count on the game slowing down to a near halt.

Things are made all the worse through multiple graphical errors. Though the game has decently colorful and fun graphics, you’ll often notice that the destruction animations for the towers rarely work like they’re supposed to. You’ll destroy the entire tower and yet its windows will still be floating in midair. Enemy health bars will also remain onscreen long after the enemies themselves are defeated. And sometimes, you won’t even notice the enemy health dropping at all. You’ll just be bombarding them with fireballs, the enemy will be frozen still, with the fireballs seemingly passing through them, then the enemies will suddenly die. It’s details like this that make the game feel unfinished.

On the bright side of things, the music is pretty enjoyable (if nothing particularly memorable), and the fact that certain levels branch out the world map means you can tackle most stages at your own pace. You can even buy spells with the collected gold to change things up ever-so slightly.

It’s a shame then, that such a fun concept as taking control of a dragon to lay waste to the land ends up feeling so rushed and unpolished. This is an idea that could have produced a fun (if admittedly simple) game. Instead, playing Wings of Magloryx can feel like a chore, and some of the game’s aspects are so unfinished you can’t help but feel that Wings of Magloryx is little more than bargain bin fodder.

 

2

One Year of Super Mario Maker

Super Mario Maker

It’s hard to believe that Super Mario Maker is already a year old. Nintendo’s take on the game-creation genre is not only one of the best titles on the Wii U, but one of the best games Nintendo has ever made.

Players have uploaded millions of stages to Super Mario Maker’s servers, meaning that Super Mario Maker has essentially become an endless source of Mario goodness (and frustration). A new, 3DS version will be released before year’s end, with a few tweaks to the formula (including a greater emphasis on local sharing of stages, as opposed to worldwide sharing, which has drawn some criticisms). But it’s the original Wii U version that has really captured that Nintendo magic.

Let’s celebrate one year of creativity. One year of sharing levels. One year of agonizing, Mario-based frustration. Why not celebrate by making another Mario Maker level?