After announcing their existence earlier in the year, Two Tribes recently lifted the lid on its Classics range coming to the Wii U eShop, three games that come to Nintendo's latest system in shiny optimised HD forms. It's possible that they'll all be familiar to gamers in some form or other, with each having appeared on a mix of WiiWare, PC and smartphone platforms. They'll come at eye-catching prices, too, with a special launch rate of $1.99 / €1.99 / £1.80 setting them up as relatively rare examples of budget-priced games on the service.
The natural question to ask is whether these ageing games still represent a worthwhile investment in 2013, with Toki Tori coming this month, EDGE in November and RUSH in December. We've spent a good amount of time with the close-to-final builds of Toki Tori and EDGE and, undoubtedly, both look like promising and entertaining releases.
Toki Tori may be familiar to WiiWare aficionados, as the puzzle title was popular on Nintendo's début download service. Unlike the recent Toki Tori 2+, this is a more conventional, stage-based puzzle experience. Each area has eggs to be retrieved, and you have to calculate the correct route and usage of your limited items to successfully retrieve the stricken chicks without getting stuck or killed by an enemy.
With multiple worlds and plenty of standard, Hard and Special stages, this undoubtedly offers a substantial amount of content. The graphical lick of paint — this is based on the PC version — is also attractive, giving the visuals improved crispness and details, albeit within the limitations of improving a fairly old engine. Nevertheless, as a download-only puzzle game the visuals stack up well, and the overall presentation and music is packed with charm.
Wii U-specific features are welcome, and provide a range of control and play options to satisfy any player. It's possible to play primarily on the TV, of course, while using physical controls to move and use items; there's another display option where the GamePad mirrors the TV and utilises touch controls, with taps accounting for movement and using items — off-TV play utilises either control setup. When you throw in the rewind option to get out of trouble, this is surely the most accessible version of Toki Tori to be produced.
In that sense this covers every base. There's lots of content, with stages to test and challenge even the most keen fans, and most importantly controls that utilise the greatest strengths of the Wii U and its controller. If you want traditional physical controls you're all set, but for gamers perhaps most used to tablet and smartphone gaming the touchscreen controls are intuitive and easy to use. This is the Toki Tori we've loved for years, but could be the definitive edition.
EDGE is the one that stands out in the Classics range, as the title that hasn't appeared on a Nintendo system in any form before the Wii U eShop. It's a game with an oddly troubled history, as it fell victim to the odd patent wars with Tim Langdell and Edge Games, disappearing from smartphone platforms multiple times before, thankfully, winning its legal battles and returning in recent times.
And that's certainly a positive for Nintendo owners, as the Mobigame-developed action-puzzle game is oddly compelling despite its relative simplicity, coming to the Wii U based on the PC version. This includes the original game and the rather fiendish EDGE Extended DLC, much like Toki Tori cramming in a substantial amount of content — by our count there are over 100 levels. Your goal is simple, use the D-Pad or left stick to move a cube through tricky areas to an end goal, at which point you're graded on your completion speed.
It's a simple concept, and the levels begin with fairly easy designs to teach you how to move around, master the basic physics of climbing some blocks and trigger switches; the experience flows nicely. Once the initial stages are down the complexity ramps up, however, and you need to master gravity defying moves where you cling to movable blocks, and other areas that demand great precision and speed. When clinging to blocks (which gives you EDGE bonus time) we found the D-Pad most effective due to a bit of an awkward dead-zone on the analogue stick, which is perhaps a legacy of this title's virtual D-Pad legacy on smartphones; for general manoeuvres and speed, however, the stick works best.
Potential owners shouldn't fear, based on screens, that this is an overly minimalist game. In later levels and, particular, the Extended levels, there's plenty of creative design on show, including one relatively early level where you manoeuvre around a walking robot to avoid plummeting to your doom. Not that death is too damaging; it'll affect your time and grade, yes, but copious checkpoints allow you to always have 'just one more try'.
The visuals — despite 1080p clarity — are a pleasing retro throwback, and the audio also truly shines through. At times unapologetically retro, on other occasions infusing the old-school with hints of modern electronic music, it's a fantastic backdrop to the compulsive gameplay. You can play off-TV on the GamePad, of course, but playing on a TV with the volume up is certainly the best option.
Though each is so different in style, these Two Tribes Classics are both more than welcome inclusions on the Wii U eShop, especially at their budget prices. They may not be pushing any boundaries, but they're simple, undeniable fun; these may be worth sticking on those wishlists.