Well, those of you who scan our site on a regular basis will know that today - in London - Nintendo made a few announcements regarding the WiiWare and DSiWare service: first of all, they gave us the release schedule for a lot of upcoming games and then dropped a great piece of news on us that they’re starting up a Connection Ambassador Promotion that gives champions of WiiWare just rewards in the form of free Nintendo Points and games.
The day kicked off with a press conference where the above pieces of news were announced, and after that we were treated to a trailer for the upcoming LostWinds game, Tales of Monkey Island, and You, Me, and the Cubes (all of which we later got to play). Laurent Fischer (Nintendo Europe's MD of Marketing and PR), who hosted the event, then proceeded to describe WiiWare and DSiWare as services which are adding value in a separate environment to that of retail and are increasingly providing opportunity for developers to launch games that would have been previously unpublishable. We got an impression from him of genuine enthusiasm at Nintendo for their WiiWare service - it's not just a way for them to bring in more money. Topping off the conference was a short clip from Aardman Studios entitled 'Sandwitch Twins' and created in Flipnote Studio; entertaining and informative - jam and sardines just don't work. Trust us on this.
But the big part of the day was dedicated to us getting our hands on the games available to play (well, and free breakfast and lunch too - that’s always an important thing to us at Nintendo Life). And boy can we tell you there was a lot on offer! WiiWare had LostWinds: Winter of the Melodias, BIT.TRIP.VOID, Super Meat Boy, And Yet It Moves, Max & The Magic Marker, Night Sky, Zombie Panic in Wonderland, Worms: Battle Islands, Tales of Monkey Island Chapter 2, Miffy’s World, Learning With The Pooyoos Episode 1, ToriBash and You, Me, and the Cubes.
Taking these WiiWare titles one at a time; here are our impressions:
LostWinds: Winter of the Melodias:
The first title was a smash-hit success when the WiiWare service first launched, and this one looks to exceed all expectations. Seasonal gameplay mechanics have been added, there are a couple of new moves on offer here and there’s even a new selection of enemies to take on too. Being able to solve puzzles by switching season is great fun: there was one area where we had to climb a slope in the ice to activate a pull level that opened an underwater cove, which could only be accessed by changing back to summer. What made the first one good is still present here, just more things have now been added on. Winter of the Melodias struck us as everything a sequel should be: it improves on the last game in many areas and provides enough variety to keep the series from getting stale. Certainly a game to keep a close eye on.
Well, this one is slightly different (certainly less taxing) to the other BIT.TRIP games we know and love - still an awesome game, before you get worried! Players control a pixelated black dot, with the objective being to consume the other black dots that pass across the screen whilst avoiding any white ones. The more dots the player collects, the bigger they get; however, you won’t score points from these dots unless you press A to consolidate your own one back down to regular size: the larger you are, the bigger the points you gain, so you really want to try and get as big as you can before cashing in (just make sure not to hit them annoying white ones!) As expected, the soundtrack and visual style of this game are greatly appealing, and with a fun co-operative 2-player mode present, we’re yet again expecting great things from the guys at Gaijin Games. Eagerly anticipating getting our hands on this one properly.
Super Meat Boy
Well, if this game doesn’t symbolise the greatness that WiiWare can produce, we’re pretty stumped as to what can. Team Meat’s hilarious (and maybe slightly controversial) game Super Meat Boy is what we’d call a truly challenging and rewarding platformer. Playing as a bleeding chunk of meat, you must transverse a world of platforming peril full of meat grinders and all other stuff that could make our hero meat his maker (sorry, couldn’t resist!). This simply plays fantastically; we were compelled in each level to try and try again to reach that end goal and the sumptuous Bandaid Girl. Truly, this is one of the hardest and morbidly amusing platformers we’ve ever had the pleasure of playing – and with a villain called Dr Fetus, what self respecting adult could avoid giving this one a whirl? A real meaty platformer (well, I didn't say I was going to stop with the puns, did I?)
And Yet It Moves
Not too long ago released on the Mac and PC, And Yet It Moves is a very interesting looking title. The art style is surreal; not quite bleak, but certainly touching on dark, and the main character is sketched in appearance. The build we got to play hadn’t had too much work in terms of adapting this title to the Wii, but we certainly got the feel for how it works: you can use a combination of the Wiimote and Nunchuck, Wiimote by itself or the Classic Controller. Whichever input, the idea is the same: you twist the level on a 360 degree axis in order to get your character to the end goal. By turning the levels on their sides, heads and everything in between you mess around with the physics – and thus can cause for scenery like boulders to move about and crush you. This is certainly one we’re interested it here, but definitely one we’d need to see once the control setups been properly configured.
Max & The Magic Marker
To say we fell in love with this title pretty early on would be lying slightly… some of us had fallen in love with it from the first trailer! Imagine then our gladness at getting to grips with Max & The Magic Marker to find that this plays just as well as it looks. Being able to draw your way through this platformer is great fun, and what’s more is that there are several ways to complete many of the game’s tasks. Looking at others play this vibrant and colourful game, we noticed a lot of variety in how people tackled tasks in different ways. There are enemies to avoid/flatten, puzzles to solve and perils to cross, so be sure to steady you drawing hand. Thankfully there is a feature which enables you to freeze time and go into Max’s imagination to draw objects without being pressed for time – this system works well and caters for those of us not that quick or precise with drawing on-the-fly. The long and short is that this title is shaping up well; and with promised unlockables and a series of themed environments, Max & The Magic Marker looks truly magic.
Take a screenshot of this game, frame it on your wall and have your mates come around to inspect the wondrous new artwork you have. Truly, this is a beautiful looking game, with some almost Oddworld-esque style areas that are a pleasure to observe. The gameplay too is a pleasure; this is such a simple game that you’ll have picked up how it works in short order. Night Sky is essentially a game about rolling a ball from point A to B: you press right and left on the D-Pad to spin the ball, with the 1 and 2 buttons providing extra traction, speed, inverse gravity, and potentially more unannounced functions. Puzzle solving and platforming elements mixed in with a luscious art style and peppered by enjoyable gameplay – another title to look forward to!
Zombie Panic In Wonderland
This reminded us of the DS title Little Red Riding Hood’s Zombie BBQ, and it is indeed a very similar game. The player is placed at the bottom of the screen, facing forwards, and onwards marches hordes of zombies – all of which making a most inviting target to be blown to smithereens (which we were only too happy to oblige with) . It’s good to see that there is still room on WiiWare for a bit of mindless fun and carnage – we were starting to worry that people were getting too artistic like! Whether or not the fun is too short lived will be determined when we get our hands on the full version of this shooter.
Worms: Battle Islands
What struck us in our hands-on of Team 17’s latest Worms game was just how much has been crammed into this content; in fact, we actually found out that this title was originally planned to be a disc-format release, so it’s a rather comprehensive game. As expected, the usual classic Worms game is here, but this time around there is a much richer and rewarding system of tactical matches where players can battle online against friends for specific abilities – such as being able to redeploy your worms’ positioning before a match starts – that are unlocked through the main game and defeating foes online. The objective of this, we were told, is to give Worms a level of depth previously undiscovered in the series: gamers will not just be playing for kudos, they will also be competing for each other’s abilities. There’s also a rather nifty looking level designer, a couple of minigames in the form of races, and a weapon’s creation facility (or, we've been told, you can just steal other player's custom-build weapons – they’ll get you for that!)
Tales of Monkey Island Chapter 2
OK, slightly delayed over here in Europe, but come on, it’s Monkey Island for crying out loud! Witty, funny, engaging, entertaining (use positive adjective on list), this is always going to be up there with our favourite titles. What’s even better, we had a chat with Dave Grossman and he told us he’s very keen on the idea of releasing all the episodic content on a disc once it’s all been made available on the WiiWare service – Yo Ho Ho! Furthermore, Dave told us his admiration for Shigeru Miyamoto’s Zelda series and the way it has been able to progress a story well with cinematics – created Monkey Island and admires Shigsy?! Hats off to you Dave! Needless to say, Monkey Island is going to be worth the points for those already enjoying the episodic content.
A bright, colourful and simplistic children’s activity title. You control a cute looking rabbit though a 2D sidescrolling world where you point the Wiimote to discover objects hidden and help out Miffy’s friends by solving puzzles. With multiplayer support there to help out children (fear not, us at Nintendo Life needed no such help) we can see this one appealing to those with youngsters, as it’s not really a bad effort – it certainly looks a lot better than most children’s TV shows, and it encourages interaction rather than passive watching. If you’ve got kids, this might be worth looking at.
Learning With The Pooyoos Episode 1
Released this coming Friday, Learning With The Pooyoos Episode 1 is another game designed with children specifically in mind. It’s almost like watching a TV show than playing a game in its conventional sense: there are actions to perform, but these have been designed to be simplistic (and thus accessible to the younger generation). You can see the characters dance, give each other gifts and even go on balloon rides. The look of this game is lovely, and we can see that, actually, this might be just what the WiiWare service needs; a drive towards the truly younger end of the gaming spectrum. Games like this and Miffy’s World certainly aren’t going to be for older generations, but we can see them captivating a niche market here.
Right, the children’s games are covered; now back to those older ones. ToriBash is a game we’ve been very curious about: just how on earth does it work? Quite addictive actually, it it’s own unique way. Similar to martial arts, this game is all about mastery (pretty good then, seeing as this one is about martial arts). You control a fighter that looks like a beaded doll, with each segment of the fighter being manipulatable: hips, knees, arms, elbows, feet, hands, laterals - you name it. Through selecting these body parts and choosing either Force, Back or Hold, you can manipulate your fighter to pull off some truly awesome moves. The difficulty curve here is steep as steep gets, but once you start to get into the swing of things, you can really see how engaging this one becomes. After each mistake, you learn what to change with your move – and the ability to rewind time at any point in the single player mode means it’s very easy to hone your fighting choreography skills here; you can go back frame by frame to get the move working right - in the demonstration we were actually bore witness to a fighter catch his own head (which had just been ripped off) and throw it at an opponent... awesome stuff! What's more, you can even upload these videos of you brutally dismembering another fighter - that's going to be quite fun, we reckon. This game has real potential, and we’re eagerly anticipating some battles here at Nintendo Life when we can try some of the vs mode (place your bets now!)
You, Me, and the Cubes
Last but not least, we have Kenji Eno’s game with the Oxford Comma: You, Me, and the Cubes. In his time speaking at the conference, Kenji let slip that he’s been fascinated with the idea of developing for the Wii ever since Iwata announced the Revolution all those years ago (he even made a papercraft Wiimote to get the feel of how it would work!) The game is played on a series of connected cubes that you must throw people onto without disturbing the balance to the point where people fall off. Simple in concept, this game from the creator of D is by no means a walk in the park (thankfully it’s not a walk in a dark park, either – he’s too good at horror, that man). The session we got on it was enjoyable, and it will be interesting to see how it all holds together for when it goes live – there’s so much competition about now!
Well, all in all today was a remarkably impressive day: Nintendo truly delivered an event to showcase just how great the WiiWare service is. There are so many good titles on the horizon that the WiiWare consumers will be spoilt for choice over the next few months. To even ask us to choose a favourite here would be wrong, as there are simply so many great looking titles out there. We can honestly say that nothing here was a disappointment – many surprises, but no letdowns. We’d like to say a big thank you to Nintendo and all involved for delivering such a well-organised and entertaining day (with lovely steak – our compliments to the chef!), and also thanks to all those people who put the hard work into the fantastic assortment of games that were there to play.
I think Alex from Gaijin Games described WiiWare perfectly today: “It [WiiWare] isn’t about gray guns in grey environments, shooting grey people”. We couldn’t say it better ourselves!
And, now, time for this writer to get some sleep! DSiWare summary to come soon… Stay tuned with us though for some upcoming interviews and further news on some of these truly amazing looking titles.