Nintendo developer Shin’en Multimedia has given F-Zero-starved fans exactly what they wanted with a new mode in FAST Racing NEO. During a recent interview at UK gaming convention EGX, the title’s art director Martin Sauter explained the new mode will feed those players who want to experience a hardcore racing mode – one that is very similar to F-Zero.
Designed as an unlockable in FAST Racing NEO, Hero Mode can be accessed once players have passed various campaign speed classes, with Sauter claiming it to be a considerable challenge for experienced racers. While the boost gauge can be charged for extra speed in the regular modes, Hero Mode will switch it up and use the boost meter as a shield. Of course, in order to unlock the next mode, players must finish first in the race. FAST Racing NEO is still on track for its December 2015 release on the Wii U eShop.
TT Games has confirmed that LEGO Dimensions will be supported with add-on content for at least another three years. In a recent interview with Eurogamer, the developer has stated they have “no intention of stopping” when it comes to adding DLC and figurines to the latest addition of the LEGO franchise. Due to launch next week in North America and Europe, LEGO Dimensions pulls together various universes from pop culture and literature – such as Lord of the Rings, Wizard of Oz and Back to the Future – into one game.
For the starter pack on Wii U, LEGO fans can expect to pay anywhere between £70 and £80 for the game, which includes the toy pad, Portal bricks, three minifigures and the Batmobile. But if you want to experience the game fully, players may want to look into the various figurines launching throughout this year and 2016, with wave one arriving alongside LEGO Dimensions.
Speaking during EGX this week, TT Games’ associate producer Mark Warburton said they were satisfied with the content on offer. The game launches in North America on September 27 and in Europe on September 29.
“We have a three year plan at the moment and we’ve got no intention of stopping there. We’ve created the technology to the degree that we’re happy it meets our needs for the future. We’ve created the toy pad so that it shouldn’t need to be updated. And we can just create new level and character packs to keep expanding that.
“You can 100 per cent the game and get the Platinum trophy just from the base set. People have been playing Lego games for 10 years now, and we shouldn’t be offering anything less than that. You get the game, you get the toy pad, you get 200+ odd level bricks. We think we’re offering a lot of value with that and there’s a lot of gameplay there. There’s also a huge offering [of extra content] if you’re a fan and want to get into that we support that. But if you’re only a fan of particular thing you can only get that.”
Leave your shovels, fishing rods and nets at the door as you embark on a new journey with interior design in Nintendo’s latest Animal Crossing title. With the beautiful New Leaf style back in focus, Happy Home Designer isn’t quite the perfect fruit collection, but it still sparkles with its typical franchise charm.
From Animal Crossing New Leaf’s assistant director Isao Moro and developed by Nintendo’s EAD team comes a new 3DS spin-off for the delightful simulation game. Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer is made for those who spend more time decorating their homes, than bothering Blathers with creepy crawlies for the town museum. So if you always wanted to give your favourite characters’ homes a flavour of your creative talent, then Happy Home Designer is certain to pop a spring in your step. Though you aren’t quite the mayor of a town this time, you’ll still provide clients with better customer service than the lovely but ever idle Tom Nook. In fact, he’s managed to become so elusive in Happy Home Designer, that he only ever graces your presence once or twice and, thankfully, doesn’t ask for bells.
Yet unlike any other iteration of the Animal Crossing series, players can begin the game by choosing their own avatar’s facial structure and features such as skin, hair and eye colour. Of course, leaving it to chance based on various questions always gave a fluttering thrill with the risk involved, but restarting repeatedly was never a fun choice. Yet the icing on the cake comes with being able to change your entire look whenever you wish throughout the game; a real positive change in the series.
Once you’ve chosen your avatar, Happy Home Designer presents players with a short tutorial section where you’ll meet the huffing and puffing Lyle and his daughter Lottie in Nook’s Homes. Tasked with creating a cosy home for Lottie, you can get to grips with house staples such as beds, tables and chairs in the neat menu section. But designers will only be able to complete one client home or works project per in-game day, meaning it’s back to basics when saving your game. Simply sit at your desk in Nook’s Homes and write up your report to save, similar to the bed in previous titles. Perhaps it’s a blessing in disguise, after all we avoid Resetti, but there’s nothing like the freedom of pushing the start button to save.
The furniture catalogue can be accessed with your stylus, or the X button on the 3DS, and displays standard household items. Talking to new clients outside of Nook’s Homes gives players an opportunity to expand their current collection with new furniture sets and miscellaneous items when designing their home. Four new characters will mill around Nook’s Homes every in-game day producing a cloud bubble over their heads when near, so there’s plenty of choice when it comes to designing different houses from client criteria.
Franchise fans can also rejoice as the irksome push and pull mechanic used in previous games is no longer the sole focus of item placement. Simply use your stylus to place the object, rotate it and move it to anywhere in the room you wish. Even duplicating items is easy with a quick tap of the item in conjunction with the right shoulder button, alongside grouping select items together with a handy drag and drop tool.
After a number of in-game days have passed and you’re on your way to becoming an interior design pro, players will gain access to the Happy Home handbook; another fantastic addition to the title. Up to 14 lessons are available to choose, including new floor plans and layouts, changing interior windows and doors, as well as adding customised or refurbished furniture. And given bells are unheard of in Happy Home Designer, you’ll have to purchase lessons via play coins in increments of one, two or five. Unfortunately, players can only learn one new lesson per in-game day which causes minor frustration, particularly when most of the cool features are locked out from the beginning and, ultimately, are part of the core experience.
But designing character homes isn’t the only option as before long our wonderful, familiar friend from New Leaf pops up and we’re knee deep in public works projects. Unlike the projects in the past though, Isabelle gives you full leeway when designing the interior. Branch out with your creativity by planning a school, hospital, restaurant, offices and a variety of shops for the town’s market district. Happy Home Designer is quite simply a joy to play in these parts, giving fans the scope they’ve always dreamed of when bringing their Animal Crossing town to life.
As much as Happy Home Designer excites and drives our passion for client interior design, whether that’s through creating a mansion exterior, providing them with a beautiful garden, giving them extra space with two rooms, or from picking an adequate map location come rain, shine or snow, it’s still missing two features. The lack of town exploration dilutes the experience entirely. With no choice but to get in your car to visit character homes, it’s similar to driving in the dark; mostly black with an occasional light to illuminate.
Perhaps it’s part of an interior designer’s narcissism, but wouldn’t it be great to look on those houses in a complete town, knowing they were built from the ground up? The second, and probably the most important feature of all, Happy Home Designer doesn’t give you a happy home of your own. May as well just slap a mortgage on bare land, for old time’s sake, while Mr. Nook happily counts his golden bell stash.
Nintendo, though, have integrated Miiverse functionality seamlessly within the game and can be opened up at any time from the touch screen, alongside 3DS image share. Plus the addition of the amiibo cards are bound to come into their own and add enough variation to keep the game fluid and exciting. Personally, I’ve yet to experiment with them but players can access this feature easily within Nook’s Homes and the amiibo phone. In terms of online interactivity, players will be able to obtain special design requests which can be created and sent back to the requester.
Though Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer has its hang-ups, it’s an enjoyable game that never feels out of place from the main series. With enough home and project variety, an expansive list of items and characters that will always exude appeal, it’s a great side salad to New Leaf’s seasoned main.
It’s time to overload your imagination and baffle players worldwide with Nintendo’s finest level creating tool yet in Super Mario Maker. But even if you haven’t got a creative bone in your body, the game still oozes the typical Mario charm to pick up and play.
Developed under Nintendo’s EAD division and from Mario producer Takashi Tezuka, Super Mario Maker is a pocket full of dreams, desires and wishes for level creators worldwide. Designed both for creating and playing, the game brings so many inventive cards to the table it’s often hard to focus on just a few. With freedom like you’ve never experienced before in a franchise title, Super Mario Maker not only encourages you to think outside of the box when creating levels, it delivers various tools to users with the perfect pace. Over the course of nine days, you’ll unlock four Mario universes and a plethora of objects, enemies and power-ups to satiate your creative hunger. It’s simply the perfect excuse to keep you coming back for more; feed us a little and we won’t just crawl back, we’ll perform a perfect Mario dash with child-like glee.
Similar to Mario Paint on the SNES, the main menu screen within Super Mario Maker is interactive. By using the GamePad, players can touch different parts of the game’s name to unleash items, enemies and other effects, all while able to fully complete the background level. It’s in these small, charming touches littered throughout the game that makes Super Mario Maker exude life and a complete pleasure to watch, play through and create.
But in order to become the ultimate level creator, Nintendo won’t just throw players in at the deep end without a floatation device. Instead, you’ll unlock new in-game items and settings by spending between five and fifteen minutes creating a level with those currently available. You’ll be guided through those first tutorial levels and, over nine days, can unlock additional sample courses to play around with. Getting a feel for your surroundings and the different options available to you is key to creating the best levels. In fact, some of the best user-created levels I’ve played have been ones that use just one theme, or focus on finding just one crucial item. Less is certainly more in Super Mario Maker.
Players can choose to design courses in either Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World or New Super Mario Bros. U. There are also six background options available for each game including the overworld, underground, underwater, ghost, castle and airship. At first, the amount of options presented seem just right, particularly coupled with the many transformation combinations offered, but before long you’ll be craving for different Mario universes to invent and explore within.
However, with that said, there are ample choices for creators via 60 in-game items and sound effects. Drag and drop wings on the back of Goombas, Koopas and Piranha Plants or supersize them with mushrooms – instead of Big Macs. Send Mario into sub areas through pipes and doors to lengthen the level, or use power-ups in humorous ways to dash through enemies, and decrease the time limit to really ramp up pressure and frustration.
Stand out from the crowd by recording your own voice in levels, or by using a mixture of the readily available sound effects such as fireworks and laughter to amuse – or annoy – other players. But if secrets are more your calling card, you can also use the mystery mushroom to spoil gamers with up to 100 different character costumes available, though thankfully you won’t have to unlock each one with their counterpart amiibo. And despite showcasing their pixel-led models in the retro levels only, it’s another small but wonderful touch from Nintendo.
When uploading your imaginative creations to the online server, players must complete their courses before doing so, weeding out the impossible levels whilst allowing you to tweak or edit the levels to your liking. At first, you’ll only be able to upload 10 courses but players can unlock more slots by earning medals. When other Mario fans play through your courses they can either leave a comment on Miiverse or reward a star to those they really enjoyed. Quite simply, the more stars you earn the more opportunities you’ll receive to bag a medal. And if you thought a level was particularly good, you can choose to download it to your repertoire to play whenever you wish.
However, it’s unclear at this point how Nintendo select levels for the featured section. How does your ingenious level become noticed in an oversaturated part of the game? For instance, I’ve seen countless creations by those with one or two medals, but not many from new creators. Even my own level was played by just seven users, six days after it was uploaded. It’s a major worry in a game that pushes heavily on its creative elements. Perhaps we need to hit the Nintendo “quality seal” to find an audience.
As levels are uploaded within a few short hours to the server, Course World offers an abundance of user-created levels. Players can scroll through courses by difficulty level, their maker, or through the Featured, Up and Coming and Star Ranking course tabs. But if you don’t fancy choosing any yourself, you can play through randomly selected courses in the 100 Mario run. By playing with either the Wii U GamePad, Wii Remote, Classic Controller Pro and Wii U Pro Controller, take on eight different user-created levels with 100 Mario lives at your disposal. This is a great way to find newly uploaded courses by other users, specifically those that haven’t been highlighted by Nintendo’s servers. There’s even a handy skip option if you’re finding a level too difficult or frustrating.
Super Mario Maker isn’t just a game for creators though as it also offers a 10 Mario offline mode to rival its online one. With over 70 levels designed by Nintendo’s EAD team, you must clear 8 levels with just 10 Mario lives in order to rescue Princess Peach. Super Star Dash, Find the Fireflower, Dry Bones Stampede, and Zig-Zag Lava Bubbles are utterly charming, fun and fresh levels to play through. But since the courses are entirely randomised, you’ll most likely run into the same ones repeatedly and – unlike 100 Mario – there’s no option to skip them. For players, then, Super Mario Maker is extremely light on content. Perhaps a mode similar to those seen in NES Remix placed as a single-player campaign would have given us something extra to chew on.
With longevity for creators, Super Mario Maker is an incredible design tool. But it’s a title that is solely reliant on user-created content, and therein lies its predicament. Truly amazing in short bursts but how long until the imagination well runs dry? Perhaps we’ll need to question how long that piece of string is first, then add wings to it.
Nintendo of Europe has unleashed its next Splatfest for fellow inklings this weekend. The latest competition in Splatoon pits Singing against Dancing, so choose your team wisely, and get your ink bazookas and splat guns at the ready. Simply head on over to Inkopolis plaza to choose your team and gear up with a special t-shirt only wearable during the event.
Those familiar with the third-person shooter for Wii U should know the drill by now. Results will be posted in-game after the full 24-hour period ends. Nintendo of America’s Splatfest has almost drawn to a close, however, and asked players to side with Decepticons or Autobots in a special Transformers weekend theme.
Military and melee weapons poised and at the ready, the hyper-violent Devil’s Third brings an interesting twist to the hack and slash come action shooter genre. But its clever changes of pace are often few and far between, with its choppy frame rates, sluggish AI and egregious in-game textures.
From the creator of the modernised Ninja Gaiden series Tomonobu Itagaki, alongside his team at Valhalla Game Studios, Devil’s Third challenges players to die harder with its appealing mix of slick swordplay and linear third-person shooter combat. The game is director Itagaki’s answer to one of Hollywood’s legendary movies, as not only does it combine the greatest action stars from the ’80s such as Jackie Chan, Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger in its main character Ivan, it blends them together with killer enemies, extreme yet superfluous stunts for the wow factor, and a ridiculous yet verging on hilarious difficulty scale. And just like an ’80s action flick, its aesthetics are more than a little rough around the edges, often sporting flat and ugly textures in each area, but it doesn’t make the Wii U game any less fun to play during multiplayer maps and its single-player campaign.
Before players let themselves loose in multiplayer mode, Devil’s Third features nine missions across Asia, Europe and America throughout its story mode. Playing as former mercenary Ivan, your assignment is to eradicate the terrorist group you once swore allegiance to and tackle the oncoming chimera virus, while earning the right to both freedom and redemption.
With each mission taking place in a different area, exploration is rewarded for those with curious souls. Up to six trophies can be found within the nooks and crannies of each level, as well as nine easy-to-find instrument war trophies throughout the game. Loot lovers beware though, as Devil’s Third often plants gigantic, unnecessary areas in maps with nothing but grim surroundings. It’s this lack of interaction and in-game detail which is a real disappointment for thrill-seeking collectors.
There are, however, moments where story mode’s layout and beauty truly shines. The spine-chillingly, creepy hospital halls and chimera-injected citizens patrolling its length throughout mission three replicate enemy Clickers’ movements from The Last of Us, while mission five’s Asian pagodas, shoji screens and blossom trees are highlighted wonderfully under the game’s moonlight effect. Devil’s Third also features some intriguing off-the-wall elements during missions to vary the monotonous shoot and slash mechanic. Players can take control of machine guns and pick off enemies one by one, shoot from the back of a helicopter, and blast through snowy fortresses inside a tank. It’s in these insanely fun moments, often coupled with pertinent music, that Devil’s Third really starts to crank up its gameplay gears.
If you’re unfamiliar with Itagaki’s previous games, Devil’s Third brings three difficulty modes to the table with casual, standard and hardcore. Depending on which mode you choose, each mission will last between one and two hours and supplies plenty of ammunition, so you can expect a fairly meaty single-player campaign. And given story mode’s variety, there are often many weapons littered on the ground.
Arming yourself with a flamethrower is particularly fun against chimera-infected hostiles, while using the rocket-propelled grenade against helicopters and some bosses can turn the battle in your favour. The game also supplies players with plenty of melee weapons, including a Katana, Machete and the Ninja Sword to name but a few. Taking down enemies in a hack and slash style will boost Ivan’s Enbaku meter and make his tattoos glow. Unleashing the Enbaku enables a near invulnerability mode, leading to devastating – and often comedic – finishing blows.
Despite the third-person shooter’s satisfying weapon choice and game mechanics, it’s awash with flaws. An incredibly choppy frame rate combined with sluggish AI can seriously hamper the mood and your in-game strategy. It’s especially apparent in smaller trench-like or sewer areas, where enemies often suffer glitches in between running and shooting, bodies miraculously vanish and then reappear above you, sticking out of a wall, or jammed between a literal rock and a hard place. And there are even times when the frame rate drops significantly between cinematic cutscenes; Ivan seemingly can’t catch a break. Plus when under heavy enemy fire, the frame rate can suffer so greatly it affects your overall weapon aim which features stiff movement, rather than a more natural, fluid motion.
Problems with the mission marker often occur too, with substantial lags between each objective. I’ve often aimlessly – and with great frustration – shot at dead hostiles in order to trigger the next objective, or even walked blindly into the next enemy camp to stimulate movement. Not only will you feel idiotic in doing so, you’ll plaster Ivan with so many bullets in the back, he’ll be walking out with a new blood-soaked tattoo. No “yippee ki yays” or a spare vest to be found around here.
In another hair-raising error, story mode will plant Ivan into enemy saturated ambushes straight off the mark. During the earlier missions, you’ll encounter Big Mouse in an overtly surreal boss fight. Not only is this fight terribly unbalanced with a boss that has no distinct pattern and a dash that outruns your own, you’ll need to obliterate 20 plus soldiers before you are inevitably blown apart. Let’s not even joke here, just sign me up for the Suicide Squad, please. No capes either.
In stark contrast to the game’s subpar single-player campaign, Itagaki has given much care to its online multiplayer mode. Players will begin by customising their own male or female avatar as a Gunner, Assault or Sniper, equipping them with armour, camouflage and weapons with load-outs of their choosing. Weapons are only purchasable with in-game Dollen, of which you’ll be supplied with 30k at the start, while avatar gear can only be bought with rare golden eggs received at the beginning of your campaign, or from levelling up.
Golden eggs are, in fact, so rare that they can be bought with real money in the Nintendo eShop – it’s a little unorthodox to see some of the game’s biggest and best weaponry locked behind an insurmountable amount of Dollen, only purchasable if you trade one of your Golden Eggs for 100,000 Dollen or more.
Microtransactions aside, new players can only battle against others in drill matches until a certain level is reached to play in Siege. With a variety of modes from chicken catching to a steal-the-flag Transporter mode, there’s plenty on offer across a range of well-designed maps to tickle those multiplayer taste buds. For the most part, the frame rate during online matches appears to be very stable unlike during story mode, so there’s certainly less frustration when it comes to engaging with the enemy. And if you’d rather seek out achievements during matches, you can keep track of all your kills – whether it’s a headshot, long shot, your kill streak, or a revenge kill – on the Wii U GamePad, along with player statistics. There’s also an in-game chat room where you can type messages to friends as a substitute for voice chat.
Of course, the real challenge in Devil’s Third is during Siege matches. You’ll need to keep your wits about you here in order to join a clan or faction, or perhaps even lead your own as a commander, wiping out an enemy clan in a fortress takeover or through contributing to your clan’s overall effectiveness by providing extra Dollen. Unfortunately, due to the rather diluted servers pre-launch, I’ve yet to sample Siege mode. And given it’s a large part of the game, it would be unfair to pass judgment upon it at this stage.
In its own right, Devil’s Third has an astute multiplayer experience and features wonderfully wacky drill matches, which are a pleasure to play. Though its single-player campaign doesn’t quite hit the mark, and clever moments are often fleeting, it’s still a worthy game for any Wii U owner. Perhaps it’s the Devil’s multiplayer charm that keeps me playing – it’s certainly not story mode’s horns.
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