Splatoon Review

It’s time to let your tentacle hair down and splatter enemies in vibrant style with Nintendo’s brand new IP for Wii U. With its super slick battles combined with ingenious puzzle elements and gameplay, the third-person shooter Splatoon is deeply engrossing, addictive and injected with a tank full of fun.

Developed by Nintendo EAD’s team, Splatoon is your inner child’s dream come to fruition. It’s messy, colourful and gorgeously fluid in control. The third-person shooter is a sweet blend between US and UK-based TV shows such as Fun House or Double Dare – from the late ’80s and early ’90s – and the popular activity Paintball. Though if you’d rather be pain-free and always wanted to be gunged on Nickelodeon, Splatoon is as close as you’ll get to the action. Perhaps it’s my own inner child speaking but splattering enemies and painting the turf with ink is so satisfactory and fabulously fun, I could play all day.

Though online play is at the heart of the game, Splatoon also has a solid single player campaign which features 27 levels of platform magic. Playing as either a boy or girl Inkling, with adjustable skin and eye colour changes, you are tasked with bringing back the stolen Zapfish and must fight the Octarian Army using both humanoid and squid forms. By shooting coloured ink from your weapon, you can exterminate enemies at the push of a trigger. And turning into your squid form not only replenishes your ink tank, but it also enables players to move with stealth, jump higher and avoid enemy detection.

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Take that splat to the face, you slimy Octotrooper!

While it will never follow in the footsteps of Nintendo’s famed plumber – nor does it intend to – with its difficulty scale, the shooter showcases Mario-esque elements in style and gameplay. Sunshine jokes aside, players can ink invisible platforms to reveal walkways, slide fluidly through ink rails, blast rotating propellers to reach higher areas, hunt down keys to open launch pads, and even climb upon ink-soaked, expanded sponges.

Single player mode’s Octo Valley also serves up some interesting characters in the form of Cap’n Cuttlefish, bearing similarities to Kapp’n from Animal Crossing – though sadly without the melodic tunes – and notable bosses throughout the six worlds. Boss weaknesses are, however, painstakingly obvious which dilutes battle in light of its often chaotic environment. Players also have the opportunity to collect orange squid eggs in order to upgrade weapon damage rate, their ink tank and purchase an assortment of bombs. Discovering sunken scrolls throughout single player mode is also a great way to add to your private weapon collection during online battles. Simply take your blueprints to Sheldon in the weapons shop to unlock new and enticing guns or rollers to try before purchasing.

Adding to Splatoon’s puzzle elements in Octo Valley are various levels featuring Octolings and Octo Inkstrikers. While splattering the Octarian Army is insanely fun, players will need to keep their wits about them when confronting more difficult opponents. Octolings can move through ink, as well as use artillery, and Octo Inkstrikers seize the moment to throttle Inklings in one fell swoop. It’s in these stealth-favoured levels that Splatoon shines the brightest, often requiring much more thought than the standard splat-and-go approach.

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The guy on the left is the real legend, but definitely a Captain – I mean, Kapp’n.

Aside from single player mode, the third-person shooter also features local co-operative play in the Battle Dojo, amiibo compatibility which unlocks extra challenges, and four gear shops in the central hub, Inkopolis. In the Battle Dojo, two players fight against each other and compete to win the most points by shooting balloons. While one player controls their character via the Wii U GamePad in off-TV mode, the other must use an additional controller – such as a Wii remote or a Wii U Pro Controller – to play on screen. With only five areas to battle in currently, local co-op is highly limited and, unfortunately, one of the game’s downfalls. On the other hand, Inkopolis’ shops alternate their stock on a daily basis, so if you’re looking to keep up with the trends and upgrade your defences with hats, shirts and shoes there’s plenty on offer to do so.

Of course, the real meaty section of Splatoon lies within its online battle modes, including Turf War from launch, and Ranked Battles. In Turf War, you’ll play with up to eight players in four-versus-four online matches, where you must ink the most ground in your team’s colour for a chance to win. How many points you individually score will depend upon two different factors; how much ground you ink and how many of the opposite team’s players you manage to splat. Points accumulated will also level up your character, gain you in-game money to use within Inkopolis and allow you to unlock different weapons per level gained.

From launch, you’ll be able to play up to five different stages including Walleye Warehouse, Arowana Mall, Urchin Underpass, Saltspray Rig and Blackbelly Skatepark. While each area has its quirks, they also provide you with strategic routes depending on which weapon is chosen. And with Nintendo adding extra stages and free DLC after the game’s launch, stages are likely to be varied enough without becoming monotonous.

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Which weapon will you opt for; a roller, a sniper, a straight forward splatter gun? You might be stuck for choice!

However, there are considerable flaws in online play; a lack of match customisation is a particular sore spot with sessions locked to three minutes before you’re back in the lobby waiting once again. Plus, the five maps available from launch reduce to just a measly two, which are switched out every four hours. It’s tiresome when your 50/50 chance results in a string of battles on one map mode. But in order to combat the waiting times, Nintendo has added the retro arcade game Squid Jump to alleviate frustrations. It’s a neat extra, particularly when a blank screen is the easier choice.

If you’re itching to play some challenging matches, ranked battles are certainly your calling card. These strategic battles won’t be open from launch, however, you’ll be able to fan the flames of war once enough players have reached level 10. In Splat Zones, players fight against each other to take control of specific zoned areas. Again, there’s a set time limit which cannot be customised, and it’s particularly irksome during such battles when they can be over at the drop of a hat. Imagine shaking a can of pop or soda, watch it fizz a little, and then hand it over to the nearest person. Swap the pop for ink, and it’s bottled chaos, though perhaps without the angered face.

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Are you truly ready for Turf War as a squid kid yet? Get ready to paint the town, er, pink!

As much as I love Callie and Marie’s name choices, their introductory regular and ranked battle announcements are far from fresh. Mashing the A button like you’re rocking out at the Pokemon Center is the only option here as there’s no skip button, but at least the duo are much more interesting in design – apologies to the numerous Nurse Joys. With no voice chat in the lobbies or even between friends, Splatoon becomes a little ghostly, particularly since online co-operative play isn’t even an option with the Wii U GamePad as the only playable controller. It’s a missed opportunity from Nintendo on both parts, given the game is a few tentacles short from perfection.

With an intense online battle mode and free content updates promised from Nintendo, Splatoon is quite possibly the most entertaining third-person shooter you’ll play this year. Its varied though short single player campaign, coupled with a great control scheme and puzzle elements, gives players an adequate breather from online battles. So stock up on extra calamari, as you’ll be making ink squid rings in no time.

8/10

Please bear in mind that this review was written and based from a pre-launch set up, specifically for review purposes. As Splatoon is primarily based online, the final score may change when the servers are fully functional and when additional DLC has been released. 

Splatoon Currently Sits At 81 On Metacritic

With only 2 days to go to the big release, reviews are flying in for Splatoon and so far Metacritic has it on a Metascore of 81. There’s been 26 reviews so far, 21 positive and 5 mixed, but nobody outright dislikes Splatoon at the minute. It’s a great score, but with all the hype I was expecting a little higher. For some comparison, other Wii U games that also achieved a Metascore of 81 are: Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker and Affordable Space Adventures. Although, there is still time for it to increase! Here are some of the critic reviews:

The Escapist
90
The game’s single player is surprisingly in-depth for a title that has been marketed as a multiplayer game, combining elements of platforming and shooting in a style of game that reminds me of Ratchet & Clank or Jak & Daxter.
FNintendo
70
A strong emphasis on its online mechanics means that most of Splatoon is to be experienced on a multiplayer basis, which would be at a higher level if all future options and contents were already available. Given the importance of cooperative online play and team work, it’s also difficult to understand why there’s no voice chat but despite this shortcoming, Splatoon has all conditions to become a must have classic, once all the contents are made available.
NF Magazine
95
I think I’m addicted to ink. [Issue #15: Making a Splash! – May/June 2015, p.68]

Code Name S.T.E.A.M. UK Review

Team up with Henry Fleming and other pop culture characters in a brand new IP for the Nintendo 3DS. But hold on to your steampunk top hats as the alien menace gets into gear to terrorise innocent bystanders between London and America. With its comic-book style aesthetics, Code Name S.T.E.A.M. may look remarkable but its lack of substance derails gameplay entirely – ironically running out of steam.

From the developers behind such notable game series as Fire Emblem and Paper Mario, Intelligent Systems has teamed up with Nintendo to produce an entirely new and heavily stylised IP, Code Name S.T.E.A.M. Taking its inspiration from H.P. Lovecraft’s works, the turn-based strategy title features many pop culture and literary references in its superbly crafted and visually appealing Steampunk world. Set between distinguished areas in London and America, players will get to grips with the story basics in campaign mode, alongside introductions from the game’s main characters Henry Fleming, John Henry and president Abraham Lincoln. After a brief encounter with the aliens, aid comes from the airship Lady Liberty and you’ll receive a new mission as Code Name S.T.E.A.M. members – a handy acronym for Strike Team Eliminating the Alien Menace – to defeat all alien forces and save the world from complete obliteration.

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Lion, Henry and Tiger Lily’s special quirks make them great additions to your team. Now where is Lion’s medal of courage?

Throughout campaign mode, Code Name S.T.E.A.M. introduces a number of playable characters with special weaponry, attacks and quirks for a memorable gaming experience. Popular characters from The Wizard of Oz – such as Lion, Scarecrow and Tin Man – make an appearance, as well as featuring characters from H. P. Lovecraft’s fictional works like Professor Randolph Carter, and Tiger Lily from J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan. With intriguing voice acting, catchy musical tracks, and an artistic style that breathes life into the storyline – which is only amplified by the stereoscopic 3D effects – the third-person strategy shooter has all the super slick elements to allure handheld owners with the making of an incredible new IP. But it unfortunately falls short in its often tiresome and mundane gameplay.

Players must choose four playable characters for all main campaign missions, with up to 13 unlockable. Each map encountered throughout the story has its own hidden routes with subtle twists to vary your attack mode, layouts for stealth enemy takeouts, and a number of scattered collectibles such as gears and medals. All characters are equipped with a staple weapon, as well as an additional sub weapon, which can be switched out to newer artillery with the more medals you collect. As its environment suggests, all characters are limited in movement and offensive attacks by the amount of steam carried. And although this gives ample challenge for players strategically, steam shortage becomes particularly frustrating in the earlier levels when higher boiler upgrades have yet to be unlocked. Essentially, it’s this slow moving process that boils all enthusiasm up into a dried and scorched river bed.

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Sometimes the characters are painstakingly obvious. Yes shouting will really help you stay hidden, guys. Rolls eyes with supreme levels of sarcasm.

From the beginning of Code Name S.T.E.A.M., players will be able to perform what are known as overwatch attacks. If you’ve saved up enough steam during your previous turn, playable characters will automatically fire at enemies who step within their ranged attack. It’s a neat twist that works both for and against you, since enemies can also launch their own individual overwatch attacks, too. And though there are many enemy types within the game, they are never truly distinguished from one another, all seemingly moulding into one big enemy to pulverise.

Having played the game both with and without Nintendo’s fast-forward enemy update, it’s quite clear there’s a considerable difference. Beforehand, the time-consuming alien attacks were egregious and superfluous – I even had time to boil a kettle and make a coffee in the time it took for all alien movements to reach a conclusion. But now, players can double the speed on a regular 3DS and triple it on a New 3DS with the new fast-forward function, so you never have to forcibly watch the action take place. It’s still missing a skip button, however, particularly when enemy forces are redundant – or out of the firing zone – and you’re simply searching for collectibles. It’s a real disappointment from Intelligent Systems, especially since the choice to skip turns is utilised within the Fire Emblem franchise. Nevertheless, the update makes enemy scenarios bearable instead of a mundane chore.

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These Fire Emblem amiibo characters are also compatible with Code Name S.T.E.A.M., providing you own a New Nintendo 3DS. A peripheral for older systems will be released by Nintendo in the future.

With no overview map in missions, Code Name S.T.E.A.M. is certainly a challenge. There’s a real thrill and sense of freedom when going in blind to a new area, but it may leave some misguided. I’ve often restarted certain maps in order to find the most effective path, but this can be terribly time-consuming especially with those infuriating eyestalkers watching your every move. The best and most satisfying moments, however, arrive when up against large alien gunners or in a one-versus-one death match in A.B.E – the Anthropomorphized Battle Engine as it’s also known. These stages disrupt the monotony of the sluggish forward march to the green-lit goal and indulge players with light-hearted, action-packed segments that excel in the steampunk aesthetics and comic-book style.

Outside of the main storyline, players will be able to access local or online versus missions with three different modes available. Pilot A.B.E to victory, battle to the death or go for gold with medal battles on a range of easy to difficult maps. Like campaign mode, you’ll control four playable characters but will be restricted to planning your movements and attacks in just 60 seconds. Careful, stealthy decisions are thrown out the window here as focusing on all four proves difficult in the allotted time. Perhaps, focusing on one character in online versus mode would have produced cat-and-mouse styled results instead of oddly disjointed battles.

Though it has its drawbacks and features a largely hit and miss storyline, Code Name S.T.E.A.M. is worth taking the 3DS plunge on its artistic merits alone. But sadly the game lacks depth on many levels, much like those wispy steam clouds. A few short puffs and it’s game over for enthusiasm.

7/10

Based on the PAL Version.

Eurogamer Take A Look At The First Three Worlds Of Yoshi’s Woolly World

Eurogamer had a play through of the first three worlds from Yoshi’s Woolly World, and reviewed them to give us a bit of an idea of what to expect from the upcoming cutesy game in June. They reckon there’s far more to the game than its cushion-y soft exterior, and inside it can be quite complicated. As they share the same developer, Good-Feel, Yoshi’s Woolly World draws up many similarities to Kirby’s Epic Yarn. The gameplay involves you picking apart the very fabric of the levels (literally) to make your way to the end, and find all the collectibles and secrets– which apparently can take quite some time.

By the second world, turns out Yoshi’s Woolly World isn’t so soft after all, and the platformer starts to get noticeably difficult. Especially as checkpoints are apparently too far apart, so if you fall at the last hurdle you’re set right back and even have to find all the collectibles again, which really puts you off. Eurogamer bring up another problem, that the balls of wool Yoshi collects by beating baddies, and are used to get through the level, seem to run out too quickly. But despite all this, the game is apparently still a huge joy to play and although seems sweet and innocent, will offer quite a challenge to complete. The release of this game couldn’t come soon enough!

Just like its knitted Amiibo companions, Yoshi’s Woolly World offers a charming exterior that covers a solid structure and plenty of technology – but there’s more to the game than its soft and cutesy looks. Its difficulty may be loved by some, although niggling gameplay issues cause the attraction of its levels to slightly unravel.

Kirby And The Rainbow Paintbrush Review

The beloved pink puffball begins his first Wii U solo adventure in Kirby and the Rainbow Paintbrush. With only three power-ups, the paintbrush fairy Elline and Waddle Dee to help him, players will guide Kirby across marshmallow-like ropes in a clay-crafted world, oozing with charm and delectable intrigue at every turn.

As a direct sequel to the DS title Kirby: Power Paintbrush – or Kirby: Canvas Curse, as it is known in North America – and developed by Hal Laboratory, Kirby and the Rainbow Paintbrush delivers the magic of play-doh at the touch of your stylus. With 22 levels stretched across seven rainbow-led areas, the Wii U game features such stylish and languid serenity it’s akin to a casual beach stroll in the summer sunshine, rather than a Caribbean cruise on choppy waters. But that’s not to say Kirby takes a smooth ride with every roll in his claymation form, with plenty levels full of pitfalls, hazards and tricky moments for players to work up a sweat.

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It’s such an adorable tableau I just want to squish it. But it’s made of clay. Oh.

Perhaps it’s the adorable clay animation that makes Kirby’s opening sequence one of the cutest ever witnessed, but it certainly tugs at our heartstrings when Dream Land is sapped of all its beautiful and vibrant colour following the appearance of a mysterious void. Brought back to life by the paintbrush fairy Elline, Kirby and Waddle Dee must take their chances against the evil forces in Seventopia, led by the wicked Claycia, in order to rid the dull hue from Dream Land.

Armed with an ink gauge, players must use the GamePad’s stylus to draw colourful ropes from left to right – or vice versa – for the pink puffball to roll under or over, whilst collecting stars, bonus treasure chests and secret diary entries across levels. Yet, despite the accuracy when drawing from stylus to GamePad, Kirby feels oddly unresponsive at times, particularly when coaxing him onto a newly drawn rope. He’ll occasionally roll the other way if he bumps into the start of a rope or will come to a complete standstill, refusing to budge, even though a rope is quite clearly beneath. It’s this lack of control that makes the game’s levels frustrating and confusing to newcomers. Fans of the series may fare better following the learning curve, though may share in equally stressful times when it comes to piloting Kirby across zipwires in a hanging basket during later levels.

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Sadly you’ll be looking down at the GamePad for most of the game, but hey, rainbow ropes are fun.

With only four hit points, players will need to utilise Kirby’s defence tactics wisely by tapping him to build up speed and bump into enemies. Collecting over 100 stars will allow Kirby to perform a star dash and break through those super sturdy metal blocks to reveal hidden chests or pathways for players. But due to his turbo-charged and frenetic nature, Kirby’s star dash can be difficult to control with your ink gauge and occasionally initiates when tapping the pink puffball for a simple speed boost, only adding to the dissatisfaction. It is, however, incredibly handy to store several star dashes at once given there’s no cap limit on star collection.

In story mode, players will have the opportunity to use special Kirby power-ups in various levels, including a rocket, submarine and tank. Aside from providing level diversity, both the submarine and tank power-ups control beautifully and seamlessly. The underwater levels – normally insufferable in many franchises – are absolutely breathtaking in HD visuals and are expertly designed to allow for fluid, elegant control. Rainbow Paintbrush also includes a level which allows players to control two Kirby’s at one time and, though it may seem perplexing on paper, it works with such devilish, playful charm it is completely irresistible and a highlight of the game.

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Submarine Kirby controls like a dream in the underwater levels. Totally intended pun.

But, equally, there are also oddly convoluted levels such as the volcanic area, which considerably spikes in difficulty and often contains awkwardly placed obstructions to halt and frustrate players – especially if you are left-handed. And while the eight boss levels are fun they are largely uninspired, with three repeated, though the final showdown does shake the monotonous feel.

Aside from the main gameplay, Kirby and the Rainbow Paintbrush features multiplayer and challenge modes. The latter features over 40 different mini challenges, where players must beat the clock to find four treasure chests hidden in the levels. It’s a good change of pace, giving extra length to an otherwise short game. Multiplayer mode, on the other hand, allows four players to join the claymation game and play alongside Kirby as Waddle Dees. While it creates an additional enemy in Grab Hand, the mode feels disjointed as Waddle Dees must follow Kirby on screen, getting transported if you dare to stray too far.

With a completed game at just over 7 hours of total play, Kirby and the Rainbow Paintbrush feels too short. The HD visuals are astounding with the clay animation but, with touch-based controls, those gorgeous colours are pallid in comparison on the GamePad. Perhaps if there was an additional single player button mode utilising Waddle Dee, Rainbow Paintbrush may have had longevity. But for now, Kirby’s paintbrush rope is a little frayed despite its glossy front. We’ll keep on rolling until his next adventure.

7.5/10

Based on the PAL Version

Xenoblade Chronicles 3D Review

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Shulk, Reyn and the rest of the crew return in this 3D remastered version of Xenoblade Chronicles which is exclusive to the New Nintendo 3DS. It goes without saying that the original was one of the best Japanese role playing titles that we’ve had in recent years with an immersive storyline, huge and lush landscapes to roam around in, and a fantastic real-time battle system. If you have a passing interest in role playing games then the game is without doubt an essential purchase.

Xenoblade Chronicles takes place in an unusual universe where two titans, the Bionis and the Mechonis, have battled it out to the death. As with all things, time passes, and the lifeless gigantic bodies of the titans remain. Vegetation has grown on the titans, humans have built settlements, and life continues to evolve on the Bionis and the Mechonis. There are two main races in Xenoblade Chronicles, the Mechon and the Homs, both of whom are battling it out with each other for supremacy. Your job begins on the body of the Bionis where you have no choice but to repel the threat of the Mechon who invade your colony and in turn lead you to uncover the secrets of a mystical weapon called the Monado.

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Those of you who have completed the Wii version of Xenoblade Chronicles and are expecting visual refinement really won’t be blown away, as the game features slightly blurry and muddy textures that are generally devoid of any real detail. However, the game looks technically competent, though I have to admit that I personally expected slightly more from the New Nintendo 3DS – which is coincidentally required to play this particular game. I expect the vast majority of you will purchase this game for the engrossing gameplay and fluid storyline which are without a doubt top-notch.

So you’re probably wondering how are the 3D effects on the New Nintendo 3DS? Well, the 3D effects are subtle, but from what I’ve played they don’t significantly improve the overall experience. Again, I was slightly disappointed with this especially as it was one of my first games on the New Nintendo 3DS. This shouldn’t turn you off of the game though. Maybe I was expecting too much from the game which is the first to take advantage of the New Nintendo 3DS. However, as I said before, do not let this put you off.

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I was a huge fan of the original on the Wii and sang its praises back in the day. The game has aged extremely well as it’s still the engrossing and compelling game that it was when it launched back in 2011. Even if you have a passing interest in JRPG’s then you need to play it. I’ll admit that the original was one of the first Japanese RPG’s I’d played in years and it has since made me search out notable games of the genre. I love the battle system, I love the characters, the sprawling landscapes, the detailed storyline, and I’m sure you will too.

So is this a good showcase for the New Nintendo 3DS? It’s hard to say. It’s not really a looker and not a game that you will use to wow your friends. But it’s genuinely an essential game and it really feels miraculous playing this on a handheld. Sure, visually it’s not anything to write home about, but a great game is a great game and from a gamer’s perspective this is one of the best games of recent times. Is it the game to buy a New Nintendo 3DS for? Maybe not if you’ve got the original on the Wii. But if you haven’t, then yes, you really do need this game.

8.5/10

 

Mario Party 10 Review

It’s time to keep your friends close and your enemies even closer with Nintendo’s first HD Mario Party game for the Wii U. Promising a strong mix of luck and skill-based minigames, the game’s three party modes flourish with friends and refresh the franchise. But a series of drawbacks really kills the merrymaking mood, quicker than Bowser’s fiery breath.

Developed by Nintendo’s SPD team, Mario Party 10 brings two new modes to the buffet table with a GamePad-focused Bowser mode and Amiibo party, which echoes the classic mode from past series’ entries, as well as the returning Mario Party mode. With over 70 minigames to play, including 10 boss stages featuring enemies from the Mario universe, and a variety of extras in Toad’s room, players are unlikely to throw in the towel after a few short hours. But, as always, the franchise is best served in multiplayer with its infuriating RNG rates to test even the hardiest of relationships. Sore losers will crumble, newcomers will triumph, and the Luigi death stare will make a comeback between friends. Yet the resulting fun and ongoing hilarity with character animations is just too good to miss.

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My own Yoshi amiibo had an eggs-ellent time collecting coins and stars on his green-tiled board. Yes, I used that pun.

The best mode, perhaps, is one that stays closest to the iconic board game with Amiibo Party. Yet ironically, it’s the “bonus” section you can only unlock with a compatible figure model from the Super Mario series. As such, Smash fans can use their Mario, Luigi, Peach, Yoshi, Bowser, Donkey Kong and Rosalina amiibo with this mode, along with Toad and the remaining cast from the Super Mario Collection. Fortunately, not every player needs to own an amiibo, as just one model figure will unlock a character board. As per classic Mario Party rules, players can move their character figure around the board individually with the roll of a computer generated die, collecting coins to grab those elusive stars. Each round will give you a chance to build up your stack of coins via a minigame, in free-for-all, two versus two and three against one.

Yet it’s in amiibo party’s customisation mode that really keeps the festivities varied and interesting. Drawn into four segments, the circular board can be customised to your liking after picking up a number of scattered character tokens. Blending the DK jungle with Peach’s castle, or Mario’s pipes and Yoshi’s mountainous eggs helps keep players on their toes. And it’s not set in stone once you begin playing either, with players freely able to mix and match between character boards throughout gameplay. It’s truly a fantastic blend of chaos and fun rolled into one.

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The perfect party for your best Bowser impressions. Release the carnage in the only GamePad mode!

As part of the only mode that utilises the Wii U GamePad, Bowser Party works as a mad dash to the dessert spread, where all the good stuff vanishes in the first few moments. Picture whippy cream for kids; amazing in the moment but a mess to clean up. Similarly, Bowser mode can be utterly delightful in its twisted minigame carnage, where knocking players out with fireballs, hammer slams and bullet bills is fantastically entertaining, as well as making excellent use of the GamePad’s gyroscope and touchscreen controls.

But if you’re a regular player cooped up in a vehicle, you’ll be fighting for your life in minigames devilishly skewed in Bowser’s favour, with very little drive to reach the end. And unless Bowser rolls a number to catch up to your vehicle, players will be stuck without a minigame in dreadfully boring cat-and-mouse territory. And don’t we always want to be the cat?

Although vehicles in Bowser Party feel justified, cramming all four players into a car in Mario Party mode dilutes gameplay, creates friction and tilts many of the available boards directly into luck-based fields. Players can choose from six boards in the luscious Mushroom Park, sinister Haunted Trail, the idyllic Whimsical Waters, the cloud-filled Airship Central and Bowser’s brutal Chaos Castle. Each board has its particulars, from Boos to hot lava, and can be adjusted via the menu to involve no luck-based minigames, vehicle selection and to change the CPU difficulty.

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The rolling green fields of Mushroom Park are so lush we could probably live there. Just don’t bring any flint and steel.

Aesthetically, Mario Party mode looks beautiful, with character animations fluid and funny as many fans would expect. Yet, unfortunately, the boards feel far too short. The minigames are sparse, despite being such a pleasure to play, mini star gates will only distribute to one player, and occasionally you’ll miss out on the coolest sections of the board because one character has mixed up the order of play. However, the mode’s saving grace is in its fixed boss fights.

With ten minigame boss fights, players can crank out their skills and best a huge Goomba by bopping on its head or take on Bowser in an epic end battle. As such, working as a team to beat the boss delivers great satisfaction, along with trying to thwart your friends and push them into danger for your own selfish needs. In fact, many of Mario Party 10’s minigames are top notch, with only a few duds including the narcissism-led Flash Forward and the clunky controlled Piggy in the Middle. While race-to-the-finish minigames such as Ice Slide, You Slide; Snake Block Party; Rapid River Race; and Peepa Panic all deliver fun-filled action, as well as others such as Steal the Beat and Boo Burglars to add rhythm and teamwork to the mix.

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OK, this guy. I mean THIS GUY is just a hoot. Unlock him and play as him. You will not regret it.

Other than the three main modes, Mario Party 10 has many extras in Toad’s room, achievement unlocks and bonus minigames such as Bowser’s challenge, a minigame tournament and a coin challenge. Players will also be able to unlock two new characters with Toadette and Spike, the latter providing laugh-out-loud, killer dance moves which are not to be missed. Yet since the game relies solely on Wiimote controllers, the GamePad is seemingly shoved into a corner, wearing the only dunce-labelled party hat in the room.

With the lack of a real single-player challenge and online mode, Mario Party 10 is a little too remote to be the life of a get-together. But the game’s interesting amiibo use, sublimely designed minigames and hilariously frustrating luck rates will certainly help beat the boredom. Mar10 day might have been and gone, but Bowser’s manic mayhem – arguments and all – is here to stay.

7/10