There is a long list of things I do when I get together with my friends. Sometimes we play games, watch a movie, or eat some snacks. There is almost always some sort of alcohol involved. I do have one peculiar friend that has been hanging out with me for almost five years now that always wants to do the strangest things – usually a lot of running, jumping, kicking and sliding. I’m probably one of the least athletic people you’ll ever meet, but my friend CommanderVideo makes a compelling argument as to why these activities should be fun, and necessary for saving this and all other worlds.
The last time CommanderVideo (you may know him as protagonist of the Bit.Trip series) and I hung out, we were paddling his way across the stars. At the time, we thought that would be the last we ever saw of CommanderVideo, but Gaijin broke one of their own tropes and announced they were making Bit.Trip Presents Runner 2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien, which was the first true sequel to the fourth installment of their six part series. The fact that they were reusing a previous mechanic was enough to irritate an army of Internet trolls, but then they took their blasphemy a step further – they were going to change the graphics and music style as well. After one particular Bit.Trip fan (me) stopped rolling his eyes and scoffing enough to actually look at Runner 2, it was clear that this would be a game worth checking out.
At its core, Runner 2 plays just like the first Runner game. It is an auto-run platformer, which means the character’s forward movement is automatic and it is up to the player to initiate actions that will keep the character from face planting into the insane amount of obstacles between him and the finish line. While this isn’t a wholly original idea, it is one of the first games of this type that incorporated rhythm elements into its game. Once you get the hang of the beat, it’s all a matter of having fast enough reflexes to be able to predict the correct timing of your life saving button presses.
When you hit an enemy or obstacle, and you will do this often, one of two things will happen. Either your chosen character will fly back to the beginning of the level, or if you chose to take the checkpoint in the level you’ll go back there and you get to try again. There is a benefit to skipping the checkpoint, because not only will you skip the point penalty you take each time you start over from the checkpoint, but you also get a point bonus at the end if you skipped it. This feature, along with the new adjustable difficulty makes the game a lot more accessible to a wider range of players.
For those of you who have played the original Runner, don’t think for an instant that there is nothing new for you here. CommanderVideo and his friends have quite a few new moves, such as a sliding jump (which means you’ll be gliding through some very tight nooks and crannies) and the ability to initiate some dance moves that rack up points each time they’re executed successfully. There are also branching paths, unlockable characters and costumes, retro themed bonus levels, and scads of other goodies. Runner 2 is just a huge bundle of classic Bit.Trip goodness presented in a whole new and interesting way.
The guys at Gaijin have already proved that they really know how to make an eye-catching game, and they took it a step further and really outdid themselves when designing Runner 2. The color palate manages to be bright and vivid without looking gaudy, and the art style is distinctive enough that there is no worry of this game being mistaken for another. Clearly a lot of time was spent on visuals, and they’re presented in such a light hearted and whimsical manner that a lot of players will find it difficult to fully explode in a fit of anger at this game, even when playing the most punishing levels.
As previously mentioned, Runner 2 is a game with strong rhythm elements, so the sound design is a very distinctive element of the game. The soundtrack is filled with toe-tapping tunes that are easy to groove to, which is good because grooving will be essential if you want to complete this game. Just like the other Bit.Trip games, the songs in each level gain more layers as you collect the score multiplying power-ups, so you’ll have to grab them all to hear the song at it’s fullest by the end of the level. If you’re lucky enough to play this game on the WiiU, try plugging headphones into your GamePad and turning its volume up to experience the music at its best quality and as loudly as you can bear without worrying about disturbing your neighbors, or rupturing your ear drums.
If you had doubts that an actual sequel would work in the Bit.Trip universe, or about a more modern approach to the game’s graphics and sound, then please immediately cast those doubts aside. Runner 2 is an excellent game that definitely reaches the high bar Gaijin set for itself, and perhaps even pushes that bar up a few notches. It has been designed in such a way that Bit.Trip newbies will appreciate it, but veterans that are willing to give it a chance will dive into it for another adventure in the strange universe of CommanderVideo. Just don’t get mad at him when he comes over, forgot it was his turn to bring the beer, and has a whole posse of similarly shaped, uninvited people with him. They’re good people too, and they really know how to spice up a party.
Pros: This is a gorgeous game that really knows how to get your heart racing and will challenge even the most seasoned of gamers.
Cons: Runner 3 hasn’t been announced yet.
Value: $15 is a tough price point to push on eShop customers, but it’s definitely worth the money. Once beating the game you can easily get some replay value by perfecting each level and unlocking all the bonus stages.
Verdict: Runner 2 has easily established itself as the standard by which all auto-runners will be judged.
Capcom just announced a new gameplay mode for their upcoming port of the 3DS title, Resident Evil Revelations. Infernal Mode not only offers more enemies or stronger enemies like a lot of games with changing difficulties do, but it also takes the formula a step further and remixes things like item placement and enemy placement. Infernal mode actually promises to be so hard, there is a warning on the screen to first time players that you can see in the video below.
Resident Evil Revelations hits Wii U, PS3, Xbox 360, and PC on May 24th, 2013.
Before you start groaning, rolling your eyes, and open up Paint to paste together a tollface comic to make fun of Capcom, you should read all the details of this patch.
In April, a month after Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate is released, a patch is rolling out. This patch isn’t to fix anything that’s broken, but rather to add new features! This patch will enable monster hunters from. North America and Europe to play together online. It will also add off-TV functionality, a feature that will be missing from the game when it ships.
Capcom also announced it will be supporting the game for several months with free DLC quests, the first of which will be available on the launch day of March 19th.
If you’ve been visiting our site for any length of time, you know that I was pretty much obsessed with Monster Hunter 3 for Wii. After putting well over 100 hours into the game, my poor decrepit launch day Wii gave up the ghost and I didn’t have the heart to start fresh.
Since then, I (along with other North American Monster Hunter fans) have been chomping at the bit for a new game. Finally, that wait is over! Capcom announced that Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate will be hitting North American stores for the Wii U and 3DS March 19th. The tons of new monsters, new areas to explore, new weapons and armor were enough to get my adrenaline flowing, but add to the fact you can transfer your save file back and forth between the Wii U and the 3DS and I am in LOVE with this game over a month before its release date. Despite the fact that we’ve just recently posted some details, we really just wanted an excuse to post some cool screens and a video.
Check out a couple of my favorite screen shots from the game and a video below! Also, check back with us later this month when we will have our impressions of the demos up!
This may be old news for a lot of you, but late is better than never, right? Capcom recently announced some more details concerning it’s upcoming action adventure game, Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate for Wii U and the Nintendo 3DS. This game is one of the first for Wii U that will allow cross platform play between its 3DS counterpart; meaning you can transfer your save file from the Wii U to the 3DS and play your same game on the go, and vice versa.
If you aren’t familiar with the Monster Hunter series, it pits players against fearsome monsters and gives them the opportunity to upgrade their equipment with materials obtained from these monsters. A demo hits the eShop for both systems on February 21st. The game’s retail release date follows soon after on March 22nd.
If you are as excited about this game as we are, you will probably enjoy looking at the pile of screenshots below.
Nintendo has released another Nintendo Direct video centered on the Wii U. Here’s a handy list, complete with opinions and commentary, on all that was shown.
The Wii U has been out for a bit now and every one has been enjoying the launch games. A launch game can only hold attention for so long before it’s time to wonder what’s over the horizon. Here’s a look at how some of Nintendo’s classics could work on the Wii U.
The Wii U is out and I have to say it has exceeded all my expectations, which should have been nearly impossible with the amount of excitement I experienced while waiting to wrap my arms around it on November 18th. While this isn’t actually a review of the system, it is a bit of interesting information that I discovered this week. The Wii U appears to have a better lineup of launch games than any console. This is clearly my opinion, but one based on research and nostalgia. I won’t start too far back, I figured Fifth Generation and on would suffice for this demonstration.
Starting with the misunderstood Sega Saturn, our lineup on May 11th 1995:
• Virtua Fighter
• Panzer Dragoon
• Clockwork Knight
• Daytona USA
Out of these four games the only game I would have gotten immediately would have been the imaginative Panzer Dragoon, a fantastic on-rails shooter that really needs a reboot.
September 9th 1995 gave way for the Sony Playstation which launched with:
• Air Combat
• Battle Arena Toshinden
• ESPN Extreme Games
• Kileak – The DNA Imperative
• NBA Jam Tournament Edition
• Power Serve 3D Tennis
• Ridge Racer
• Street Fighter: The Movie
• The Raiden Project
• Total Eclipse Turbo
As you can see, there were many more options, but was there anything that really enticed me back then? I really don’t think I was excited about the Playstation with these titles. Battle Arena Toshinden looked neat, but it definitely didn’t sell me on the system.
Finally on September 29th 1996 Nintendo came back swinging with the N64. With the only launch titles being Pilotwings 64 and Mario 64, the choice was easy. Mario 64 was certainly a system seller. I remember being so delighted to see Mario PUNCH THINGS! Percentage wise Nintendo can literally say that half their N64 launch titles were must buys. Still, the fact remains is they only released with two of them.
The Sixth Generation is certainly an interesting one that starts off with a bang. On September 9th 1999 the Sega Dreamcast launches. The system launched:
• Sonic Adventure
• AirForce Delta
• Blue Stinger
• Flag to Flag
• The House of the Dead 2
• Hydro Thunder
• Monaco Grand Prix
• Mortal Kombat Gold
• NFL 2K
• NFL Blitz 2000
• Pen Pen TriIcelon
• Power Stone
• Ready 2 Rumble Boxing
• TNN Motorsports Hardcore Heat
• Tokyo Xtreme Racer
That’s a lot to choose from, but I wasn’t excited about many of them. Of course, I HAD to have Sonic Adventure, that was a given. Power Stone looked pretty awesome, so I had to have that. SoulCalibur could also be seen as a must buy. So there were at least three decent launch title choices.
On October 26th 2000, Sony repeated greatness with the Playstation 2. No doubt, this was one amazing console, but how did it fair on launch?
• Armored Core 2
• DOA2: Hardcore
• Dynasty Warriors 2
• ESPN International Track & Field
• ESPN Winter X Games Snowboarding
• Eternal Ring
• Gungriffon Blaze
• Madden NFL 2001
• Midnight Club: Street Racing
• NHL 2001
• Orphen: Scion of Sorcery
• Q-Ball: Billiards Master
• Ready 2 Rumble Boxing: Round 2
• Ridge Racer V
• Silent Scope
• Smuggler’s Run
• Street Fighter EX3
• Surfing H3O
• Swing Away Golf
• Tekken Tag Tournament
• Unreal Tournament
• Wild Wild Racing
Wow! I look at that list and I think about each game and what I was into back then. Honestly I can’t come up with many choices that would have enticed me. Dynasty Warriors 2 could have been on my list for sure. Incredible, I am drawing a blank as I stare at them. At the time I wanted Kessen, but I remember hours into the game I turned it off forever. Thinking back, that’s kind of depressing. Interesting.
Nintendo wasn’t going to go quietly and on September 14th 2001 the GameCube was released with this lineup:
• All-Star Baseball 2002
• Batman: Vengeance
• Crazy Taxi
• Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX 2
• Disney’s Tarzan Untamed
• Luigi’s Mansion
• Madden NFL 2002
• NHL Hitz 20-02
• SSX Tricky
• Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader
• Super Monkey Ball
• Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3
• Wave Race: Blue Storm
A modest list of choices, but a couple of gems can be found. Luigi’s Mansion is definitely one because hey, who doesn’t want to fight ghosts as Luigi? Then the biggest no brainer was purchasing Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader. That game was so freaking amazing. It was the number one reason I bought a Gamecube.
A challenger approaches on November 15th 2001, as Microsoft launches the Xbox with these games:
• Halo: Combat Evolved
• Oddworld: Munch’s Oddysee
• Dead or Alive 3
• Project Gotham Racing
• NFL Fever 2002
• AirForce Delta Storm
• Mad Dash Racing
• Cel Damage
• Arctic Thunder
• Fuzion Frenzy
• Jet Set Radio Future (Japan launch)
• Double S.T.E.A.L. (Japan launch)
• Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2#Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2XTony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2X
• 4×4 EVO 2
Top of the list is really all that matters. Halo was a system seller for sure.
The Seventh Generation starts off on November 22nd 2005 with the release of one the most popular consoles, the Xbox 360. It launched with the following titles:
• Amped 3
• Call of Duty 2
• Condemned: Criminal Origins
• FIFA 06: Road to FIFA World Cup
• Kameo: Elements of Power
• Madden NFL 06
• NBA 2K6
• NBA Live 06
• Need for Speed: Most Wanted
• NHL 2K6
• Perfect Dark Zero
• Peter Jackson’s King Kong: The Official Game of the Movie
• Project Gotham Racing 3
• Quake 4
• Ridge Racer 6
• Tiger Woods PGA Tour 06
• Tony Hawk’s American Wasteland
Here’s a fun fact, my roommate at the time and I were discussing whether or not to go halfsies on one. The biggest drawback each time we talked about it was the lack of games we were interested in. Looking at that list, nothing captures my imagination.
November 17th, 2006, the launch of the Sony Playstation 3 gave way to these titles:
• Blazing Angels: Squadrons of WWII
• Call of Duty 3
• Genji: Days of the Blade
• Madden NFL 07
• Marvel: Ultimate Alliance
• Mobile Suit Gundam: Crossfire
• NBA 2K7
• NHL 2K7
• Resistance: Fall of Man
• Ridge Racer 7
• Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07
• Tony Hawk’s Project 8
• Untold Legends: Dark Kingdom
Another underwhelming list, except for maybe Resistance: Fall of Man. That was a pretty great game. That list is just as unimpressive as the Xbox 360’s.
Nintendo let us play with our Wii on November 19th 2006, and had these games as launch titles:
• Avatar: The Last Airbender
• Call of Duty 3
• Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 2
• Excite Truck
• The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy
• GT Pro Series
• Happy Feet
• The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
• Madden NFL 07
• Marvel: Ultimate Alliance
• Monster 4×4: World Circuit
• Need for Speed: Carbon
• Rampage: Total Destruction
• Rayman Raving Rabbids
• Red Steel
• SpongeBob SquarePants: Creature from the Krusty Krab
• Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz
• Tony Hawk’s Downhill Jam
• Trauma Center: Second Opinion
• Wii Sports (bundled with the Wii console)
This selection seemed a little more promising, and comparatively it was. Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess was for sure a must buy. I was also pretty pumped to get Red Steel which was a small display of what the Wii could do.
I find it interesting that in the seventh generation, the three consoles had unimpressive launch titles as a whole. Perhaps they were going for “Look what our system can do!” Perhaps these are tastes of things to come.
Bringing us back to the present, on November 18th 2012, Nintendo made history with the Wii U.
• Assassin’s Creed III
• Batman: Arkham City Armored Edition
• Ben 10: Omniverse
• Call of Duty: Black Ops II
• Chasing Aurora
• Darksiders II
• Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two
• ESPN Sports Connection
• FIFA Soccer 13
• Funky Barn
• Game Party Champions
• Just Dance 4
• Little Inferno
• Madden NFL 13
• Mass Effect 3: Special Edition
• Mighty Switch Force! Hyper Drive Edition
• Nano Assault Neo
• NBA 2K13
• New Super Mario Bros. U
• Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge
• Nintendo Land
• Rabbids Land
• Scribblenauts Unlimited
• Sing Party
• Skylanders: Giants
• Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed
• Tank! Tank! Tank!
• Tekken Tag Tournament 2: Wii U Edition
• Transformers: Prime – The Game
• Trine 2: Director’s Cut
• Warriors Orochi 3 Hyper
• Wipeout 3
• Your Shape: Fitness Evolved 2013
That’s a big list, but is it any good? Currently I have five of these titles. Nintendo Land came with the system, but you had to buy the deluxe version so I think it still counts partially. The other ones include New Super Mario Bros U, Scribblenauts unlimited, and Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed. These are all fantastic games. So much so that when I want to play my Wii U its difficult for me to decide what to play. The other thing is, I don’t have a whole lot of money so there are still launch titles I absolutely need like ZombiU, TANK! TANK! TANK!, Batman Arkham City: Armored Edition, and Assassin’s Creed III. That’s four more titles. All together that’s NINE Launch titles that I consider must haves. That is more than half of the other systems’ launch titles all together. Granted, this is just about launch titles. What really matters is how they hold up in the long run and that’s still a way off, but at this point, from this perspective, the Wii U is kicking some serious butt.
You’ve seen the games launched on each system over the years, which games did you buy at launch and how did you feel about them? Let us know in the comments below.
I’ve always been a fan of Treyarch’s Call of Duty titles, mostly because they consistently gave the Wii versions justice when they could have easily released a lazy port on the system, like so many developers did for Nintendo’s last-generation console. Modern Warfare 2 and 3 both felt incredibly stale to me, which made the first Black Ops title that much more refreshing. The plot was a little convoluted, but it still managed to produce a campaign mode that constantly surprised me, right down to its ending. Two years later, Treyarch has returned with 2012′s Call of Duty title: Black Ops 2, a sequel to the first Black Ops title.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 on Wii U is just as feature rich as the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions, and is loaded with even more features than its counterparts. Useful features, too, like the off-screen play.
When Activision showed off Black Ops 2‘s off-screen play on a Nintendo Direct video feature, I thought it was pretty nifty but didn’t see myself ever using it. After playing through the campaign mode and countless hours of online multiplayer, I have to say: off-screen play is incredible. The game looks amazing already in 1080p on Wii U, and it suffers no framerate dips or any other performance hiccups when playing it on the Wii U’s GamePad instead of the TV.
Off-screen play for online multiplayer is even better. Two players are able to play locally, one on the GamePad and the other using either the Wii U Pro Controller, and Wiimote and Nunchuck (the game supports the same pointer controls as the Wii Call of Duty titles), or with a Wiimote and Classic Controller. Black Ops 2 lets players either play with traditional split-screen like the other consoles do, or one player can play just on the GamePad while the other plays on the TV. Again, there aren’t any performance hiccups or issues that would otherwise detract from the full experience.
Online multiplayer is essentially more of the same — small maps that make it hard to camp, but always ensure quick firefights. There are a few pretty significant shakeups, however, with the way streaks and classes are handled. Streaks are no longer determined by how many kills a player gets in a row; they’re now score streaks, and players can call in support (UAVs, drone strikes, etc) when they reach a certain score, which is increased by getting kills, capturing control points, getting assists, and more. It rewards players that don’t rack up tons of kills on game modes like Domination, but get plenty of points from capturing and defending control points. Classes are still customizable after a certain level is reached, but now players can have any number of perks and weapon attachments so long as they don’t go over a limit of ten unlock points. Of the two changes, the former provides far more impact on the game than the latter.
Zombies return, of course, with the usual experience and one additional game mode: transit. In transit, teams of up to four travel from area to zombie infested area by way of robot-controlled bus. It’s a little silly, but it’s not exactly meant to be a super serious zombie experience like Ubisoft’s ZombiU or Capcom’s Resident Evil.
I’m somewhat conflicted on Black Ops 2‘s campaign. The level design and set pieces are fantastic. Near-future weaponry is tons of fun (there is cammo that turns the player and/or enemies invisible) and there are plenty of high-intensity fire fights mixed with excellent stealth missions.. The story telling, though, is atrocious. The first Black Ops suffered from a convoluted story, but it was told in a halfway decent way at the very least. Black Ops 2‘s story is told in large part by a senile old man, and the game introduces so many new characters in each mission that it’s hard to keep up with what’s going on.
Treyarch did take some risks with the campaign mode. Most levels have branching pathways and every level has an end result that can either go one way or the other. In one level, players can either save a woman from being kidnapped or fail — failure doesn’t make players restart the mission, but instead changes the course of the game (in theory). The developers have touted the multiple endings in Black Ops 2, yet the actions players make (or don’t make) don’t really affect the in-game events, just the cut-scenes that roll during the credits. It’s a little weak, and feels like the decisions made in the game didn’t add up to much.
Black Ops 2 also features optional missions known as Strike Force. They play similar to RTS titles where players are able to look at the battlefield in a bird’s eye view, command units to control certain points, and take over NPCs in mid-battle. It looks good on paper, but the execution is very poor, making for a pretty mediocre experience overall. The AI for the player’s units is downright atrocious. In each Strike Force mission I played, I had to take control of numerous NPC soldiers just to get them to the right spot. Luckily these missions are completely skippable if players don’t care about getting the perfect ending.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 2
|Pros||Fantastic visuals; Off-screen play is ingenious; Levels are very fun; Fully featured online multiplayer.|
|Cons||Story is told by a senile old man; Too many random characters introduced, hard to keep up; Multiple endings don't add much to the overall experience; Strike Force missions are mediocre.|
|Verdict||Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 starts off the series on Wii U in a big way. It's going to be fun to see what Activision's many Call of Duty teams can do with the GamePad on a longer development period.|