Friday, September 4, 2015

Most Overlooked Wii U Games - Part Three

SuperPhillip Central continues its look at the wondrous world of overlooked games with Part Three of the Most Overlooked Wii U Games. Despite being a poor seller in the grand scheme of things, the Wii U library is full of plenty of variety. Some titles do well, while some do not. This series of articles talks about the latter. If you missed the previous two parts of Most Overlooked Wii U Games, you can check them out here and here.

Batman: Arkham Origins: Blackgate - Deluxe Edition 

Someone got Batman in our Metroid! Or is it Metroid in our Batman? Regardless, the original Batman: Arkham Origins: Blackgate was a fun enough Metroid-style Batman game from former Retro Studios developers, the minds behind Metroid Prime. However, the key opponent from making the game truly great was its incredibly confusing map system. With the Deluxe Edition's release on the Wii U eShop, among other platforms, the map was made 3D-- great since the entire game's areas feature different heights, lengths, and depths that the vanilla version's 2D map just didn't help in navigating. In addition to the big mapping improvement were new areas of the game, new Batsuits, difficulty levels, and improved visuals, really putting the console's horsepower to good use.

Wind-up Knight 2

Taking the success that was the mobile version of Wind-up Knight 2 and putting it on a home console, developer Robot Invader could have simply phoned in its collective effort on the Wii U port. Fortunately, that wasn't the case with the Wii U's version of Wind-up Knight 2. Instead, the game supports off-TV play, much more satisfying button controls, and the same collection of over 30 auto-running levels to make a game that will go Medieval on anyone bold enough to try out the game. The idea that mobile games cannot be worth the price of admission or are inferior products is one that permeates in the minds of many gamers, sadly. However, giving Wind-up Knight 2 a chance, they will find addicting gameplay, marvelously crafted levels, and lots of content for the relatively small price.

Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures 2

The original Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures was an inoffensive game, but at the same time, that's pretty much all it had going for it. Sure, there were nice ideas here and there, but it was overall a pretty rote 3D platformer. Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures 2 takes the foundation of what its predecessor had, and adds a wealth of improvements, notably much more well crafted and well made levels. The fact that there's reason to explore each level for one of three special fruits is also a wonderful aspect of this highly underrated and overlooked sequel. Don't write off Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures 2 as just another licensed game based off of a cartoon. It has plenty to like, whether it is its humor, its well done level design, its variety, its ideas, and much more.

Legend of Kay Anniversary

An overlooked remastering of a game that was overlooked already the first time around when it released on the PlayStation 2, Legend of Kay Anniversary takes players on a journey across a Far Eastern world as the precocious warrior cat, Kay, as he goes on an adventure to oust the nefarious rats and gorillas that threaten his village and people. Along the way he encounters characters, enemies, and bosses of all shapes and sizes, solves environmental puzzles, completes tasks and objectives, and explores mysterious areas. While Legend of Kay Anniversary very much feels like a product of its time, the PS2 era of game consoles, its modest price for a retail release means that even if you don't fall in love with the game, you don't have to regret buying it that much.

Kung Fu Rabbit

Also available on smartphones, tablets, the Nintendo 3DS, and the PlayStation Vita, Kung Fu Rabbit casts players in the role of the eponymous rabbit as they collect carrots, defeat enemies, wall jump, avoid hazards, and rescue the baby bunny at the end of the game's 50+ levels. Heavily inspired by Super Meat Boy, Kung Fun Rabbit's gameplay is more accessible and less frustrating, but still offers a nice challenge. In each level, you can go through it normally and rescue the rabbit awaiting you at the end of the level, but there is also a side task of collecting all of the carrots to further expand the replay value and longevity of this already level-packed game. The best part about Kung Fu Rabbit is its price-- a modest five bucks or so. Throw in off-TV play to enjoy the game as you drown out the repetitive music with your own sounds, and you have a fun platformer deserving of praise.

Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer (3DS) TV Commercial

One of my favorite aspects of Animal Crossing as a series is the immense amount of customization allowed within its world. Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer takes that aspect of the series and focuses on it heavily for this Nintendo 3DS exclusive. The game releases near the end of this month, and I'm quite excited for it.

Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection (PS4) TV Commercial

Within nearly a month of its intended release date, Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection has its North American TV commercial posted to YouTube via the official PlayStation channel. All three console Uncharted games have been given the remastered treatment, and boy, do they look exciting!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Let the Good Names Roll: Great Credits Sequences in Gaming - Part One

The staff roll, otherwise known as the credits of video games. This is where not only do we see all the names of the folks who worked on the game you just beat, but perhaps something special to go along with it, whether it's an overview of your adventure, the cast of enemies in the game, or something else. This article delves into some of the very best and most memorable staff rolls/credits sequences in video game history. From old school classics to modern marvels, part one of this expanding list will definitely bring some excellence. Click on the game title to see the credits sequence described.

Super Mario 64 (N64)

Not only do you get a magnificent and catchy theme from Koji Kondo to go along with the credits of this first game on this list, but you also get a wonderful overview of each and every course Mario and you jumped, punched, kicked, and in some courses, flew through, with Super Mario 64's astounding staff roll sequence. If you have a second controller plugged in, you can use that controller's analog stick to pivot the camera around during each course overview, giving you a special look at each level of the game.

Mario Kart 64 (N64)

Nintendo definitely liked to show off its jump to 3D with the Nintendo 64's software library. The track overview of Mario Kart 64 is just another way Nintendo did just that. Featuring an incredibly epic theme that remains one of my personal favorite staff roll themes in all of gaming, Mario Kart 64 shows all sixteen new tracks within the game, from the beginning where it shows Luigi Raceway and Moo Moo Farm to the conclusion where Banshee Boardwalk and the stunning Rainbow Road are showed.

Final Fantasy VIII (PS1)

Squaresoft spared no expense with their creativity at the credits of Final Fantasy VIII. Showing Squall's party through the lens of Selphie's camera was an often humorous scene. With shots of Quistis and Irvine, the latter trying to get the former to loosen up to little success, Irvine taking over the camera, pointing it at some girls to flirt with them (to Selphie's disapproval), Zell consuming large quantities of food, choking in the process to everyone's fright, and a final shot of Rinoa raising a finger and smiling at a mysterious someone, these shots to go along with the well known Final Fantasy theme made for a special ending to the game.

Resident Evil 4 (Multi)

With Resident Evil 4, the terror is finally over after Leon and Ashley escape via jetski.... or is it? The credits sequence features haunting music and a showing of art showcasing the villagers' lives before, during, and after the "Las Plagas" parasite infection. At the beginning, the villagers go through their innocent daily lives, then we see villagers getting injected with Las Plagas, turning the quiet village life into total Hell. The accompanying music alters itself when this event occurs, making a peaceful tune change into a highly foreboding piece. The credits sequence nails the tension of Resident Evil 4, and quite possibly makes for a scarier time than the entirety of Resident Evil 5 and 6. ...Possibly.

Star Fox 64 (N64)

Star Fox 64 was marketed, at least in the United States, as a cinematic gaming giant. This was mostly in part due to the significant amount of dialogue and action sequences within the game. All of this gave Star Fox 64 a grand movie-like feel. Nothing would end this game better than a credits sequence deserving of a blockbuster, and this was exactly what Star Fox 64 had. Featuring camera views of Fox McCloud, Falco Lombardi, Peppy Hare, and Slippy Toad flying alongside the Great Fox after a mission well done on Venom, the crew heads back home to Corneria to be greeted by General Pepper and the Cornerian Army. After refusing the general's request to join the Cornerian Army, the four members of team Star Fox rush along the plains with a heavy sunset in the background. The Great Fox rises from the horizon, and the game's credits are complete.

Mega Man X3 (SNES)

In this last example of a fun and memorable staff roll, sometimes the actual staff of the game isn't even mentioned. Instead, they're replaced by the cast of the game. With Mega Man X3, this is exactly what you get. Offering an awesome synth rock theme alongside Mega Man X and Zero running through the streets of a futuristic city metropolis, the cast of the game is given star treatment, showing each Maverick's name, power level, and picture. It is a bit odd to see the staff of the game completely uncredited in this sequence, but it makes for a memorable roll all the same.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs - Dadhi Dado Da Edition

Welcome to a special Tuesday edition of SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs. As stated yesterday, the VGMs are here today because last night I posted two new reviews to round out the month of August.

Regardless, the VGMs have returned with more marvelous music than you can shake a LocoRoco at. Speaking of which, LocoRoco is what we start this edition with. Then we have a reminder of summer with Harvest Moon 64. Following that is a great staff roll theme from Bomberman 64, a playful board theme from Mario Party 4, and a classic tune to prepare us for Super Mario Maker with Super Mario World's athletic theme.

Before you begin to listen to the music (simply done by clicking on the VGM title), check out the VGM Database where all previous 950 VGM volumes are located for your convenience!

v951. LocoRoco (PSP) - Dadhi Dado Da

The LocoRoco soundtrack is one that is very eccentric, featuring the little LocoRoco balls singing along with the music. It might be irritating to some, but not to SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs! No, here it is delightful and adorable. Delorable! There we go! That portmanteau works as a perfect description of the music that LocoRoco possesses!

v952. Harvest Moon 64 (N64) - Summer

Summer isn't officially over until later this month, so let's squeeze as much as we can out of these final weeks with some summer tune-age! This theme plays during the summer season in one of the better Harvest Moon games around, Harvest Moon 64. Good luck tracking down a copy, even used, for a decent price. You might have to work out in the fields and farms just to make enough bank to buy a copy!

v953. Bomberman 64 (N64) - Staff Roll

Two underrated games on the Nintendo 64 are both Bomberman 64 games. While the second is my favorite of the two, the original Bomberman 64 was definitely no slouch by any stretch of the imagination. Sure, having to perform platforming by bouncing off the backs of bombs was a bit frustrating, but overall the game was quite good. It also has a sublime soundtrack, evidenced by this staff roll theme, congratulations for a job well done.

v954. Mario Party 4 (GCN) - Toad's Midway Madness

Mario Party 4 was the first Mario Party release on the Nintendo GameCube. It featured some new mechanics to it that spiced up the party, but it ultimately was less of a fiesta than the previous three games. Still, you can't put down the catchy music of the game, such as this one for the first board of Mario Party 4, Toad's Midway Madness.

v955. Super Mario World (SNES) - Athletic

Synth piano all the way! Super Mario World is comprised mostly of the same melody and motif, only in different keys, rhythms, and tempos. It speaks volumes to composer Koji Kondo's ability to create a compelling melody that doesn't get grating even after hearing in practically every level in the game.

Review Round-Up - August 2015

Although not SPC's Game of the Month, Dragon Ball:
Xenoverse's power level was pretty extraordinary regardless.
August started out with a steady stream of reviews before slowing down a little. Six reviews were posted last month, offering looks at games like Dragon Fantasy: Volumes of Westeria, which earned a B, Badland: Game of the Year Edition, which netted itself a B-, and Legend of Kay Anniversary, which got itself a C-. What followed was two weeks without a review until Wind-Up Knight 2 stepped up and surprised the heck out of me with its quality, getting a well deserved A-. Following that was Gunman Clive HD Collection the very next day, earning a B+. Finally, Goku's friends and foes had some climactic, breathtaking battles with Dragon Ball: Xenoverse, asking Shenron for a good score, which it received with a B-.

Next month is going to be packed with reviews. I just hope my schedule will allow it! We'll see reviews of Super Mario Maker, Grand Theft Auto V, and much more! I hope you'll find yourself excited to see what else is coming!

Dragon Fantasy: Volumes of Westeria (Wii U eShop, 3DS eShop) - B
Badland: Game of the Year Edition (Wii U eShop) - B-
Legend of Kay Anniversary (Wii U, PS4, PS3, 360) - C-
Wind-Up Knight 2 (Wii U eShop) - A-
Gunman Clive HD Collection (Wii U eShop) - B+
Dragon Ball: Xenoverse (PS4, XONE, PS3, 360) - B-

Two titans butt heads in battle! Just one of many
battle scenarios within Dragon Ball: Xenoverse!

Monday, August 31, 2015

Dragon Ball: Xenoverse (PS4, XONE, PS3, 360) Review

As mentioned, here's that second review. The fifteenth Dragon Ball fighter receives its judgment from SuperPhillip Central here and now. Will this fighter be better than the ones before it? Let's find out with my review.

Rock the Dragon

After years of Dragon Ball Z fighting games, running through the same now-tired story, and featuring minute differences between titles, one might be completely fried when it comes to the games. However, Dimps and Bandai Namco Entertainment have gotten onto something special with the first Dragon Ball Z game of the eighth generation of gaming consoles, Dragon Ball: Xenoverse. With a new take on a tired story, character customization like never seen before, and competent gameplay, there's no need to make a wish to Shenron for a new, capable Dragon Ball Z game.

It's a big, bad battle royale!
You start out by building your custom fighter by selecting one of a handful of races from the Dragon Ball Z saga to play as, whether human/Earthling, Saiyan, Namekian, or Majin, for example. Each race has its own strengths and weaknesses. While the Earthling race is basically the Mario of the races, extremely well rounded, Saiyans have high attack and low health, the Namekians have higher health and regenerate health better than any other race, and the Frieza clan is fast but suffers from low attack strength. You can use a selection of faces, body types, hair types, and much more to tweak your fighter to your desired specifics.

Each race has its own strengths and weaknesses.
As you play through the story and other types of missions, you gain experience points from performing well-- doing things like taking a limited amount of damage, using special attacks, blocking a bunch, defeating enemies, and other aspects of battle. This experience, like an RPG, earns you levels that grant attribute points that can be spent on things like increased health, Ki (the energy used to perform special and ultra attacks), basic attack strength, special attack strength, and a lot more.

You also earn Zeni from battle, the currency of the Dragon Ball series, which can be used in the game hub of Dragon Ball Universe, Toki Toki City, a circular area divided up between three parts. It's in the commercial district that you can spend your Zeni on helpful healing items to be used in especially tough battles in the game, as well as costume pieces for your custom fighter.

Not only are costume pieces great for giving your fighter that special "je ne sais quoi" and fashion flair, but they also give stat boosts to your fighter as well. There are hundreds of different costume parts to choose from, some only being available by playing specific missions over and over again until you randomly unlock the costume part desired. Some costume parts are exclusive to certain races, but most are available for all.

The main attraction of Dragon Ball: Xenoverse is the story missions, having you under the tutelage of the Supreme Kai of Time and Trunks, who is making good on paying his debts for illegally traveling back in time to alter the past to make for a better future. Someone or something is altering the past with evil intentions, making it so history has changed with grave consequences. For instance, the first saga represented in Xenoverse is the Saiyan Saga. One change to history is that when Goku is holding Raditz for Piccolo to use his Special Beam Cannon to defeat him, as well as sacrifice Goku in the process, Raditz slips free just before the beam hits him. This is a great change to what really happened. It's up to your custom fighter to enter these scenarios and fix them. The changes to history in Xenoverse can be mighty big shocks to the Dragon Ball Z faithful. What else can you say about facing a highly capable and almost-as-strong-as-Gohan Hercule?

...I don't remember this scene from the show~!
Apart from the story missions, there are missions known as Parallel Quests. These missions, which can be played with two AI partners (you can select which characters they are) or up to two human players via online, take place in parallel universes where battle conditions and contenders are altered from the norm. One has you taking on Frieza's guards before taking on the power-obsessed foe himself, while others have you teaming up to take on Goku, Gohan, Krillin, Vegeta, and a host of other fighters one after the other at the Cell Games.

"I'll be right over here if you need me, Goku!"
Completing specific requirements in the Parallel Quests offers an extension of the quest, meaning a new foe or foes enter the battlefield as an extra bonus. Beating this enemy or enemies, resulting in an Ultimate Finish, usually gives something good for doing so , and losing a Parallel Quest at this juncture of the quest isn't penalized, as it's merely a bonus part of the quest.

However, sometimes you can complete a quest's completion requirements to unlock the extra part of the quest and still not get the next part. This is where Dragon Ball: Xenoverse's ugliest feature is seen, the random number generator. You see, completing Parallel Quests multiple times is a must because even though each quest has a list of goodies you can unlock, such as costume pieces, special attack moves, and Z-souls (equip-able items that grant a special ability in battle), you are not guaranteed to win them for completing a given Parallel Quest with an Ultimate Finish. Instead, it's totally and frustratingly random. This means that while your friend might get that special jacket that Future Trunks wears on his second time completing a quest with an Ultimate Finish, it might take you 10-20 times to finally obtain it. All that ends up doing is artificially extending the play time of Xenoverse, and unnecessarily so, as there is already a lot of content to be found in game.

"Here's some Ki in your eye, chrome dome!"
Dragon Ball Z's strength lies with its extravagantly entertaining fights and unbridled chaos on the battlefield. Dragon Ball: Xenoverse attempts to match the action of the anime to varying degrees of success. In Xenoverse, battles take place in expansive areas with some destructible obstacles in the form of trees, mountains, houses, among other objects. This opens up the possibility for large scale battles featuring lots of horizontal and vertical flying and moving around. Unfortunately, the lock-on system, while helpful, can make for a very clunky experience when the fighting occurs up close and personal.

Combos are very easy to perform, relying on a series of light and heavy attacks to do damage and continue an impressive barrage of physicality. However, it's all too easy to find a combo that works and keep spamming it for most of the game. Blocks and the ability to teleport behind an attacking foe are indeed legitimate strategies, requiring some stamina to do, and these help in making battles less about spamming and more about strategy.

You don't want to be beaten by an Earthling, do you, Vegeta? The other Saiyans
would never let you off the-- oh. That's right. Almost all of them are dead.
You can utilize powerful Ki blast attacks in both super and ultra form, with the latter requiring more Ki to use. You can either patiently wait for Ki to regenerate or you can use one-time use capsule items to do the job. Each fighter can hold four super blast moves and four ultra blast moves. These are highly impressive to see in motion, offering some "holy crap" moments, particularly if you're the target of a said blast attack.

Big blasts are the norm for a DBZ battle!
Regardless, there is a certain amount of button mashing that Dragon Ball: Xenoverse allows, which can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on who you are. If you're looking for an accessible fighting game, you have one. If you're looking for something complex and in-depth, you should look elsewhere-- even within the Dragon Ball Z line of fighting games.

Xenoverse looks the part of an anime brawler with bright, colorful, and detailed characters, expertly animated. Seeing the detail as a fight goes on with your fighter gaining more scuffs, bruises, and blood is quite a nice touch. Areas feature plenty of eye candy and destructible objects as well. On the audio side of the spectrum, all of the voice actors of Dragon Ball Z Kai have lent their voices to Xenoverse, and all sound great in-game. The sounds of punches, kicks, and Ki blasts connecting enhance the throes of battle perfectly.

...And it was then that Kid Buu let out a huge burp.
Dragon Ball: Xenoverse delivers an amazing recreation of the action from the anime series. It's an obvious "must-have" for fans of the show. For everyone else, it depends on how much you can stand the obnoxious element of randomness to certain content within the game and how simplistic Xenoverse is as a fighter compared to other games in the genre. As someone without much love tied to the Dragon Ball Z series, Dragon Ball: Xenoverse managed to pull me in and unleashed a Kamehameha blast to my brain.

[SPC Says: B-]

Gunman Clive HD Collection (Wii U eShop) Review

SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs will be posted tomorrow because tonight I have a second review planned to round out this month. First, however, let's return to the world of Hörberg Productions' Gunman Clive with his makeover in HD for the Wii U eShop. Here's my review of Gunman Clive HD Collection.

Two great games given a second time to shine in a higher definition spotlight

Bertil Hörberg and his small studio of Hörberg Productions might not be a household name by any stretch of the imagination, but don't write him off just because of that. Bertil has proven himself to be a highly capable developer with two Nintendo 3DS eShop releases under his belt, Gunman Clive and Gunman Clive 2. Not only were the games well designed, but the entry prices were so low that the games sold above expectations, particularly the original. Now, the games are making the jump from the small screen to big screen with Gunman Clive HD Collection for the Wii U eShop. For a handful of dollars, you get some of the finest run 'n gun games in recent memory, made better with high-definition assets and graphics.

I said reach for the sky, pardner. Not shoot for the sky.
For those who don't own a system of the Nintendo 3DS family or haven't played either Gunman Clive game, the games have a similar type of gameplay to Mega Man titles in their run 'n gun glory. You travel from location to location through linear levels where exploration takes a backseat to the action. Each level is devised of several rooms taking anywhere between 40-80 seconds to complete.

Clive has the ability to pick up special guns which enhance his range, enable homing shots that target enemies, and unleash large bullets that leave big explosions in their wake. Having these special guns equipped helps out a lot during the levels, but the caveat is that with one hit you will lose the bonus.

Both games are brief rides from beginning to end, with Gunman Clive 2 being about double the length of the original. It's still less than an hour to complete the game. However, alternate characters and the pure joy of playing both games increases the amount of time you'll spend with the games exponentially. There are multiple difficulties for players to ease into the game-- with the Easy difficulty giving you a larger health bar to work with, as well as falling into a bottomless pit or a bed of spikes not automatically meaning you fail the level. Although levels lack checkpoints, them being so quick in length means you won't be cursing the folks at Hörberg Productions for dying over and over, which is quite possible to do as both Gunman Clive games can be quite challenging.

Alternate playable characters make for a different experience
when running through a familiar duo of games.
It also helps that both games are excellent for speed-running not only because they're so short, but also because they have such a satisfying flow and brilliant pacing to them. The variety of level hazards, enemies, and interesting level mechanics means you're always experiencing something new, whether it's riding on the back of a raging triceratops as you duck and jump over hazards or going all Donkey Kong Country with a fast-paced mine cart ride. There are odes to other games, such as what I assume inspired part of the gameplay of both games, Mega Man-- especially with Gravity Man level-style walls of gravity and disappearing and reappearing blocks.

There are some major differences between the original Gunman Clive and its sequel. One of these is that the original Gunman Clive uses the same range of tan, orange, and beige colors in its art style for the entire game, while Gunman Clive 2 opens up the amount of colors considerably, making for more variation for the eyes. Additionally, Gunman Clive 2 features several levels that take Clive out of his running and gunning preferences and puts him in control of a ship and a horse in behind-the-back 3D segments. While these remain as fun as they were in the 3DS version of Gunman Clive 2, the lack of any type of 3D means you can't rely on depth perception to avoid obstacles and enemies. It's a small issue, but an issue nonetheless.

The lack of stereoscopic 3D can make these sections a bit tricky.
Not impossible, but tricky.
Gunman Clive HD Collection runs at a steady frame-rate, and the moving sketchbook-like art style looks absolutely fantastic in high-definition. The colors pop on an HD screen, especially Gunman Clive 2's extravagant range of colors when compared to the original. The music of both games is remarkably well done, offering catchy and hum-able melodies that never get grating to the ears. Off-TV play is available for both games, and selecting which of the two games to play is as simple as moving the d-pad from one game to the other on the main menu. You can easily back out from one game's title menu to the game selection menu.

Don't get hit by this T-Rex, Clive, or you'll end up dino-sore!
With an absolute certainty I recommend the Gunman Clive HD Collection, especially if you've never played either game before. The low cost of entry should seal the deal for most potential buyers. If you've played both games to death already, then there is not much to make them worth returning to, even for the $4 price tag and the upgraded visuals. Still, Gunman Clive 1 and 2 are excellent games that have a new opportunity to capture a new audience in Wii U owners.

[SPC Says: B+]

Review copy provided by Hörberg Productions.

Super Mario Maker (Wii U) The Shift Commercial

Shift from the original Super Mario Bros. style to a Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World, or New Super Mario Bros. U style in an instant with Super Mario Maker, releasing a week from Friday. Nintendo has gone deep with their advertising for this 30th anniversary product for the Super Mario series. What kind of levels will you make?

Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer (3DS) Introduction Trailer

One of my favorite aspects of Nintendo's Animal Crossing series is the customization. When an entire game is devoted to this one aspect, you can be sure that I have a great interest in it. That's what Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer is all about, and it's set to release in a month's time. Check out this introduction trailer for the game below.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Wind-up Knight 2 (Wii U eShop) Review

An elusive Sunday evening review has been spotted at SuperPhillip Central! This game is a port of a mobile title. It's Wind-up Knight 2, and if you're into temple runner-like games, then get ready to get Medieval on this one! Here's my review.

This knight has might!

For the mobile gaming illiterate, Wind-up Knight 2 originally released on smartphone devices, offering accessible gameplay that suited the touch controls of the hardware just fine. Now, this mobile game has made the move to the Wii U, granting players much more reliable analog controls, off TV play, and the same humor and polish that made the original release on mobile so celebrated. Developer Robot Invader did not just push out an non-optimized, uninspired, unimaginative port onto the Wii U. Instead, it's a fantastic game that should be played by anyone looking for an engaging auto-runner.

In this auto-runner, you have the ability to jump, wall jump, slash your sword, raise your shield to counter falling debris and shots from catapults, and roll along your way through each of the game's 30+ uniquely designed levels. The caveat is that your knight has a gauge on the top left corner of the screen that constantly depletes. If it empties, the knight explodes, resulting in you either restarting the level or beginning from the last checkpoint. Thankfully, you can collect wind-up keys that replenishes lost energy from the gauge.

Every knight's journey starts with one jump.
Each level has four goals to complete to earn crests. Having enough crests means you can open later levels. However, only about a third of the side quests need to be completed to see the ending level of the game. The initial goal of each level is to simply complete it. Here, you can try to go for an "S" ranking by collecting all of the coins in a given level as well as finding a usually well hidden gnome hat. Thankfully, retrying levels from a checkpoint or dying do not ruin your chance of getting an "S" rank. Getting all "S" ranks in the game unlocks a brutal difficulty called Nightmare Mode.

As usual with any beanstalk, I certainly hope there's no giant at the top.
Once a level has been initially completed, three side goals open up. These range from getting through the level without defeating any enemies, avoiding deadly purple coins, and collecting all of the diamonds to dodging acid rain, capturing faeries with your net, and rolling into assorted pins to earn strikes like you were the best Medieval bowler ever born. These side missions are enjoyable to play, as they make you tackle the levels in ways different from how you normally complete them.

Being chased by a giant boulder?
Who do I look like-- Indiana Jones!?
Levels constantly throw new surprises at you, such as ceilings that drop barrels, requiring you to raise your shield to block their run-ruining advances, spikes, trap doors, grass that slows your knight's movements to almost a crawl, ice that is slippery and speeds up movement, mushrooms that bounce your knight high into the air, and switches that open doors. While new surprises are great, sometimes these can feel a bit cheap, as there are some sudden deaths that occur which anyone except someone with perfectly proficient timing wouldn't be able to avoid. However, there are so many checkpoints that most of the time the-- for lack of a better term-- "cheap deaths" don't punish the player too much. 

Heads up, Wind-Up Knight!
There is some honor as a knight for not dying or requiring a checkpoint in a given level. There are also some nice rewards for doing so, outside of particular achievements. You earn coins for completing levels, getting "S' ranks, and other skilled honors. These coins can be spent on new armor combinations for your knight, granting such benefits as making you a coin magnet, being able to get hit one time without dying, and a slew of other bonuses. It's not just for your benefit either, as you can deck out your knight in some truly fashionable duds.

I'm too sexy for my armor. So sexy it hurts!
Each level introduces tips and tricks in the form of a Medieval Twitter-like interface, as well as humorous quips and comments from various users like the oblivious king, the strong-willed princess, and the hamster-loving black knight. These are written so well, and you can tell that like a lot of other aspects of the game, a lot of love was put into these "tweets."

I'm RTing this for Danzig.
Wind-up Knight 2 performs rather admirably in the presentation department, too. Although the visuals are a little bland and sterile, the backgrounds and environments have a fair amount of detail to them, which is quite impressive. The frame-rate of the game stutters a bit at the start of levels, but otherwise it isn't a problem. On the audio front, the music is suitably Medieval, using Renaissance era instruments to great effect. However, I did encounter an audio glitch once during my play-through where an endless grinding noise played over everything, forcing me to exit out of the game to the Wii U home menu and enter back into the game. Fortunately, as stated, this only happened once in my six hours of playing.

A mobile game arriving to a home console could have been an unmitigated disaster, but Robot Invader definitely did a wonderful job bringing Wind-up Knight 2 over to the Wii U. With a wide array of challenging levels, plenty of side missions to stab one's sword into, a surplus of unique armor choices, and a mode where players can compete for the best score via Tournament Mode, Wind-up Knight 2 shows that this knight indeed has might.

[SPC Says: A-]

Review copy provided by Unity Games.