You might remember forma.8 as one of the Wii U demos in the Nindie promotion from 2015. It was one of the games that impressed me most at the time, and has stayed in my mind ever since. Every time the demo icon showed up on the eShop scrolling puzzle, I wondered when it would come out. The full game was finally released this month, and I have to give the team props for not cancelling the Wii U version like other devs have been doing. I’m glad I finally got to play it before Switch comes out. Before getting deep into this review however, I have to get one thing off my chest.
Shin’en have crafted a finely balanced library on the Wii U. To offset the speed and destruction of FAST Racing Neo, Art of Balance is a game about being as slow as possible. I held off buying this game for a long time for that reason, it just looked boring. A bunch of shapes on a plain background. I finally downloaded the game and assembled my own opinion of it.
Nihilumbra is a story-driven platformer with puzzle elements controlled by the touch screen. The goal is to “find yourself” by escaping the void, and proving to the game that you are good enough to exist. I knew I had no hope of finding myself, but at the very least I wanted find out if this was a good game.
I faced a moral dilemma when buying this game on my Wii U. It’s a Castlevania clone that directly re-uses assets from Circle of the Moon and the NES games, with the most simple graphics possible. Alright, sounds cheap and dirty, but those games are a lot of fun. Even if this game is a bit of fun, it’ll be a good night. If I didn’t buy it I’d be thinking about it all night, so here we are. Making dreams reality.
It was a lonely Sunday night as the Brazilian GP faced a rain delay. Harsh weather had flooded the track, and the already late 3am start would be pushed back even further to an undisclosed time. From the other side of the world, I faced an existential crisis as I turned off the coverage and stared at my Wii U. My headphones still on, I started browsing the eShop. It was meant to be playing Mario Kart 8 music, but for some reason it was generic eShop music from 2012. What kind of night was this? Could anything go right? I browsed the new releases and saw Grand Prix Rock ‘N Racing. It was a top-down racer, boasting real F1 tracks with a colourful presentation. I like all those things. Wow, a sunny Brazil. After watching the trailer I was sold. To quote the commentator’s thick vocabulary “LET’S GO!“.
The fastest download ever has hit the Wii U. I’m not joking, the Future Pack DLC for FAST Racing NEO clocks in at 13mb on the eShop, then somehow turns into a 2mb download on the HOME menu, then installs itself before you can even read the track list. What’s happening? Too late, we’re off.
We’ve all done it. You’re playing your favourite legendary videogame with a very important quest to do. Traveling across a field to your next destination, your mind is heavy with responsibility. If only there was something to ease the tension. Swaying in the wind, something catches your eye… fresh grass. Thick, luscious, green, just begging to be cut. A few slashes can’t hurt, right? HYAH! CHOP! Health and money fly out but you don’t even care. The sound effect is rewarding enough. The grass disintegrates into the air along with your troubles. The leafy smell comes through the screen and you start to feel connected to nature. The objective of saving the world fades into the background as you seek out more grass to cut. HYAH! More! MORE! MOOOORE!
12.38am. I had eggs for breakfast, but they were far from my mind in the middle of the night. It was Winter and I was lying down watching Summer Games Done Quick, taking in the joy of my favourite hobby from half a world away. One of my favourite reasons to watch speedrun marathons is discovering new games. Runny Egg was up next, and it was a good enough reason to stay on the couch. I’ve never heard of this game, but it looked cheerful enough that I could pretend it was Summer and continue escaping my life.
The Iñupiaq people of Northern Alaska might be the most hardcore gamers to walk this Earth. They create weapons out of the bare nothingness they find in the ice, and use them to hunt seals and birds. One such example is the Bola, a throwing weapon with weights on the ends of strings, made out of bones. They throw it upwards to catch birds, and can score combos by hitting one bird on the way up, then another on the way down. They sometimes even get a third as the birds fall onto each other. With such an opportunistic eye and advanced usage of motion controls, I bet they could get every medal in Star Fox Zero. Now switch that scenario around and put a hardcore gamer in a freezing climate, they would die within a week. The Iñupiaq spend their entire day grinding their survival skills and contributing to the community. They create parkas out of seal intestines and feathers, and sleds out of driftwood and bone. They’ve put thousands of years into this game called living.
Star Fox Guard is that “other” game that came out with Star Fox Zero, by a small Indie developer known as Shigeru Miyamoto. Previously known as Project Guard, it’s one of Miyamoto’s original ideas for the Wii U re-purposed into the Star Fox universe. As it turns out, Slippy’s uncle Grippy has been collecting minerals in space and he’s run into some trouble. I thought we’d never get to play this game, but miraculously it’s been finished and polished quite heavily. I’ve been playing the game a lot the past month and having a lot of fun playing every main mission, beating people’s levels online, and making my own. It’s very different to Zero because the control scheme is much simpler, all you do is scan through the cameras and shoot. Outside switching cameras on the touch screen and aiming them, it literally has one button. Every single button on the GamePad is the shoot button (even the dpad directions will shoot), and you’re going to need it.
Right after beating my first Fire Emblem game, I was so hyped and excited that I started Sacred Stones the very next day. With the two GBA Fire Emblem games sitting right next to each other on my Wii U menu, it just felt right and I was carrying enough energy from the first game to keep going. Despite a familiar game engine on the same system; a whole new cast, new maps, different enemy designs and a modified gameplay structure made Sacred Stones feel fresh and exciting immediately. I’ve just beaten this game after another 30 hour journey and I thought I’d write about the differences while both games are fresh in my mind. I won’t talk too much about gameplay specifics since that took up most of my Fire Emblem 7 writeup, but I will talk about what makes Sacred Stones a bit different and special.
Exclusive to the My Nintendo rewards program comes a new chapter in the Zelda series. For hardcore Nintendo fans only, this game takes place in a dark timeline where Link dies and the player never continues the game. Midna gets bored of waiting, and starts carving out numbers on the spines of soldiers. “Hold still!” Midna insists, as the frightened guard screams in agony from the Twilight Realm. He can’t even see what Midna is doing, as she chuckles from the realm of light. Convinced he’s gone crazy, the guard kills himself with his spear, plunging it straight through his heart.
“Aw, you ruined my puzzle!” laments Midna. The spear went right though some of the numbers, but it gave Midna an idea. “I could combine numbers and lines to make interesting pictures!” Hooray! Welcome to My Nintendo Picross.