Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Top Ten Most Anticipated Wii U Games

Last Thursday, Wii U fever officially hit and the hype is palpable. Whether it's because it is a new Nintendo console or because the current generation has long outworn its welcome, Wii U pre-orders are selling out across the nation. And that is without the more casual gamer not even being marketed to yet.

Regardless, a lot of information and games were revealed at Thursday's media event for the Wii U. This list encompasses the ten titles I am most excited for with regards to the console's launch window lineup of approximately fifty games promised. The fun of these lists is comparing and contrasting what games differing people are interested in, so after you check out my list, post yours.

10) Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed

It sort of rubs me the wrong way when people say that Sumo Digital, the team behind this kart racer, took the idea of transforming karts from Mario Kart 7 and hate them for it. Even if this were true, what is so wrong with taking a preexisting idea and fine-tuning it to make it better? Nothing, that's what. That's how some of the finest games and gaming ideas come to fruition. Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed blazes onto the Wii U with gyro steering, a map on the Wii U GamePad, and the bonus character of Miis, to join the all-star cast of Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, Nights, B.D. Joe (Crazy Taxi), Vyse (Skies of Arcadia), Beat (Jet Set Radio), and Gilius Thunderhead (Golden Axe), to name a handful. What is noticeable with the Wii U version that might be able to be worked out before release is the framerate drops present in various demo footage. Even if it isn't, I'll just look into an alternate console version. The original All-Stars Racing was a wonderful kart racer, outpacing Mario Kart Wii by a good margin (no blue shells every lap certainly helped), so that's why I look forward to this title, regardless of the platform.

9) Scribblenauts Unlimited

The Scribblenauts series returns, and this time it sports its fourth entry in the franchise on Wii U, Nintendo 3DS, and PC. The main objective of collecting Starites through completing various tasks is present and accounted for, but this time rather than exploring individual segmented levels, the whole world is one expansive series of connected levels. For the first time in Scribblenauts history, the reason for Maxwell's desire to collect Starites is finally revealed with a narrative. It is also the first time the franchise is hitting a console. From Super Scribblenauts (DS), the adjective system is present, but this time around multiple objects can be combined into one. So if you ever wanted to spawn a horse with skis, now is your chance. The customization doesn't end there either. You can edit objects with the in-game tools to make them different colors or grow them larger or smaller. These objects are able to be saved, with the Wii U iteration allowing for hundreds upon hundreds of objects to be saved, stored, and even shared with friends via online functionality. Super Scribblenauts expanded the possibilities of the series exponentially, and Scribblenauts Unlimited is looking like it is going to do the same.

8) Lego City Undercover 

Lego City Undercover, originally called Lego City Stories, is a Nintendo-published title from TT Games. Expanding on the open city idea of Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes, Lego City Undercover borrows several ideas from the aforementioned game. Chase McCain, the protagonist of the game, has a flurry of abilities such as pole-vaulting, wall jumping, using disguises to obtain new powers, and being able to enter vehicles such as automobiles and helicopters to get around Lego City. The Wii U GamePad has been revealed to have one main use outside of the helpful map of the city: it can be used to scan the perimeter for criminals for Chase to... well... chase. Lego City Undercover has the potential to be a big seller for the Wii U's launch. It may not be tied to a specific license this go around, but it has the power and brand of Lego behind it, a sprawling city to explore, and the series's trademark sense of humor.

7) Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate

If you needed any knowledge that Nintendo was serious about taking over the Japanese market, look no further than this launch title for the Wii U in Japan. Known as Monster Hunter 3G HD in Japan, Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate will be coming to the West in March of 2013 across both the Wii U and the 3DS. Players can take their character from the 3DS game, import them into the Wii U game, and vice versa to continue building upon them. Unlike the 3DS game, however, the Wii U version of Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate will allow for players to take the thrill of the hunt online worldwide. After the agonizing teasing and being led on by Capcom of America employees, it is sensationally nice to know that Monster Hunter is once again coming to the West.

6) Rayman Legends

I must admit that Rayman Legends was once higher up on this list of anticipated games before, but after hearing that "a good portion" of single-player will be an AI Rayman being assisted through levels by Murfy via the Wii U GamePad (see this video for that comment), the bubble of hype sort of burst. Now I'm not going to say that I am completely writing off the game or some typical cliche gamer overreaction, but I am more weary of the game. However, exactly what "a good portion" constitutes is up for interpretation. Anyway, Rayman Legends is a jaw-dropping gorgeous game. It is one of the most impressive looking titles I have seen in an artistic sense. Watching the rhythm levels as Rayman makes careful jumps in time with the music to survive made me especially giddy. I am cautiously optimistic for this game. I just hope Ubisoft didn't overly cater to the novelty of the Wii U GamePad and actually did make a competent 2D platformer.

5) Pikmin 3

Now this is a title that might actually be outside of the Wii U's launch window, but nothing concrete has been said, so I'm sneaking it on this list anyway. Pikmin 3 appears to have obvious development ties to the Wii, perhaps being worked on on Nintendo's previous system before being ported over to the Wii U. Regardless, Pikmin 3 is a nice looking game. It features at least two new Pikmin types: Rock Pikmin and some kind of pink flying Pikmin type that was quietly shown in a developer demo. The Rock Pikmin are much heavier than other Pikmin types, enabling them to smash through glass such as the armor of the boss in the Pikmin 3 E3 2012 demo. Instead of controlling two captains, Pikmin 3 has players controlling four. Curiously, Captain Olimar is nowhere to be found within the demo. Maybe he's just taking a well needed vacation to rest his muscles after his appearance in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Maybe not. I'm just being cute. Nonetheless, I look forward to Pikmin 3, regardless of whether it makes the Wii U launch window or not.

4) ZombiU

Ubisoft goes full circle with their standout Wii U launch game, ZombiU, a title that is a reboot of their very first retail game. Rather than being some good looking, well-conditioned hero like Resident Evil 6 (not saying that that's a bad thing, just offering a contrast), ZombiU casts you into the role of an anonymous survivor, battling the zombie horde within the confines of London, England. Utilizing the Wii U GamePad to aim weapons, unlock doors, and most importantly, insert and remove items from your survivor's bag (this happens in real time, so be sure you're 100% away from zombies during this process), ZombiU is survival-horror personified. If you are bitten by a zombie, your survivor will permanently be (un)dead. You will then switch to a new survivor who will have to find and retrieve the lost bag of loot and weapons from the now undead survivor. It is an interesting premise, but Ubisoft on Nintendo consoles does not have the best reputation of nailing mechanics and games. Will this be a must have game for Wii U owners, or will it be the next Red Steel (I'm sure those interested in ZombiU are sick to death of that comparison)? We won't have to wait long to discover the answer for ourselves.

3) The Wonderful 101

It seems with this game, The Wonderful 101 (formerly the tentatively titled Project P-100), and Bayonetta 2, Nintendo and Platinum Games are becoming quite close with one another. The Wonderful 101 has a band (well, massive band) of superheroes as they duke it out with a colossal alien invasion running amok within an urban metropolis. The game is essentially a quirkier Pikmin (if such a thing can exist). Through using the Wii U GamePad, you can control your collection of heroes and order them into various formations and forms, such as a giant sword or shot-reflecting gelatin. Not only are these forms fantastic for battling baddies and bosses, but they are also great for interacting and solving small environmental puzzles, like activating bridges and climbing up ladders. Hideki Kamiya once again assumes the role of director, and that beyond anything else has me really stoked for The Wonderful 101.

2) Nintendo Land

This is one of those titles that I have turned my opinion of it around on massively. The decision to make Nintendo Land the closing title of Nintendo's E3 2012 press conference made many gamers, Nintendo devotees included, scratching their heads and even spewing hateful bile. I was one that had my head turned in confusion. This was the marquee game? But as the months grew on and the games that Nintendo Land is comprised of have been revealed along with some of their features, I have - dare I say it - anticipation for this game. Much like Wii Sports was essentially a tech demo (a terrific one at that) for the features of the Wii, Nintendo Land is a demo of the features of the Wii U, most notably the Wii U GamePad. Titles like The Legend of Zelda: Battle Quest, Metroid Blast (which showcases an awesome Gears of War-esque horde mode) and Mario Chase display the asymmetric gameplay of the Wii U while games like Donkey Kong's Crash Course and Balloon Trip Breeze display some of the features of the Wii U controller itself, like the gyro and touch controls. I am particularly impressed with the cohesive arts and crafts style of all of the games, and I look forward to collecting stamps a la Wii Sports and Wii Sports Resort. Apparently others look forward to the entire package as the Deluxe edition of the Wii U with the game included in it has sold out in many places across the nation.

1) New Super Mario Bros. U

One of my favorite genres is without a doubt the platformer, so it seems obvious that New Super Mario Bros. U would take first prize on this list. Taking the standard Mario story and turning it on its head, instead of Bowser capturing the princess in normal fashion, Bowser and the Koopalings chuck Mario and friends out of Peach's castle where the King of the Koopas is holding her hostage, meaning Mario and company must make their way from far away back. I was worried that with two New Super Mario Bros. games being developed and released in the same year that there would be a feeling of sameness, but comparing New Super Mario Bros. 2 and New Super Mario Bros. U is like night and day. The games differ drastically and each offer something distinctive from one another. Mario has never looked so good in 2D before, and the addition of the new art style for backgrounds (glorious, glorious backgrounds), different colored Yoshis with different abilities, alterations to the typical level tropes of recent 2D Mario games, a unified world map, Boost and Challenge modes, and the always enjoyable multiplayer mayhem that I adored in New Super Mario Bros. Wii make New Super Mario Bros. U one of the killer apps for the Wii U's highly tempting and intriguing launch.


You might notice that I left out games like Call of Duty: Black Ops II, Assassin's Creed III, and probably the greatest omission of all, Bayonetta 2. For the latter, I got my fill of entertainment of the game from the embarrassing reaction of people against the game being a Wii U exclusive. I personally don't care much about it (didn't get into the original), but obviously many people do by the humiliating amount of sheer console zealotry and death threats. As for Black Ops II, I am really interested in how the online will be integrated into the game; it will be a prime example of the Wii U's online infrastructure, and while it's cool being able to play the game solely on the Wii U GamePad, I'm sort of Call of Duty'd out. Finally, Assassin's Creed III is from a series that I have a love and hate relationship with, so I'm on the fence with the third mainline installment. I hope I have explained myself clearly on my reasons for omitting these three titles. It's just that the ten I listed excite me much more.

So there you have ten really good reasons for being enthused about the Wii U's upcoming launch. Perhaps the most appealing aspect to me is, as noted in my Call of Duty: Black Ops II explanation, being able to play many of the games on the Wii U GamePad exclusively while something else is on the TV screen. Then again, another aspect that is exciting is the fact that Nintendo's IPs, which looked glorious on the Wii for the most part, will now be in high-definition for the first time. We'll see if the system and its launch window lineup satisfies and pans out well, or if the console will have a rough go of it when it is released in North America on November 18th.

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