Donkey Kong delay hurts Wii U holiday lineup

Tropical Freeze pushed to February as Nintendo leans on Super Mario 3D World, Mario & Sonic Olympics, Wii Party U to bear the load.

Tropical Freeze

The Wii U’s holiday lineup is looking a little lighter as Nintendo today delayed the launch of Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze. Previously set for a December debut, Tropical Freeze has been pushed to February in North America, as confirmed by Nintendo president Satoru Iwata during a Nintendo Direct presentation.

“In order to deliver the optimum gaming experience, we need a little more time for development of this title,” Iwata explained, adding, “We would like to apologize for this delay and hope you understand.”

The Wii U’s holiday lineup still has a handful of big exclusives yet to launch, including Super Mario 3D World on November 22. The same month will also see the launch of Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014, as well as the digital debut of Wii Fit U. Meanwhile, October’s release slate is headed up by Wii Party U, Sonic Lost World, and this week’s retail launch of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD.

Analysts including IHS’ Piers Harding-Rolls and Baird’s Colin Sebastian have pointed to this holiday season as a key stretch for the Wii U. Sebastian said “the fate of the platform” rests on its holiday software lineup, while Harding-Rolls said this season’s sales performance will dictate his firms long-term outlook on the system.

Review: Rayman Legends

Ubisoft’s video game franchise takes giant leap forward with platforming milestone.

Rayman Legends

It’s hard to know exactly what kind of creature Rayman is, but he is certainly legendary.

Move over, Mario. You have some company at the platforming top.

It’s hard to know exactly what kind of creature Rayman is, but his legend is growing. And in Rayman Legends, it reaches its apex. Ubisoft’s colorful new entry is platforming gaming at its finest, brimming with content and overflowing with sheer fun, with just enough bizarre and innovative thrown in to always keep you guessing.

In one level, you’ll run at light speed to avoid oncoming flames, your jumps splendidly timed to the musical beats of “Eye of the Tiger.” In another, when a boat collapses straight down upon you, you’ll jump and wall-run and swing your way straight up, in perpetual motion and yet almost never moving all at once.

 Some levels offer straightforward platforming all the way up until the moment when you’ll rush to beat thorns, or flames, or something else to the end. Other levels offer intriguing risk-reward and timing, forcing you to decide whether to land on the parachuting enemies, or kill them and slide to other areas. Sometimes, you’re making these decisions at light speed; on other occasions, just often enough to mix things up, you get to take your time.

It’s some of the best, most interesting platforming level design in a while. Every single level feels original, different from the last, and that engrosses you throughout the entire game. If ever a platformer managed to keep you on the edge of your seat, this one is it.

In each level, you’ll want to rescue all the Teensies — sometimes by solving puzzles, sometimes by navigating tricky platforming, occasionally just by running into them to preserve some sense of ease in the game. Find enough, and you’ll unlock more levels, more heroes, and more special features.

The beauty of Rayman Legends lies in the little things. The pacing is spot-on, and, even in a genre that’s been around for decades, Ubisoft finds fun ways to be creative. There’s something satisfying about those levels where the music serves as cue for your leaping and attacking, and solving the light puzzles to rescue certain hidden Teensies is equally fun.

The visuals and sound effects add a lighter side to what’s often a challenging platformer. Find a hidden room, and you’ll hear a tongue-in-cheek “ooooooo!” And at the end of every level, things reach a cartoony crescendo complete with a wild and fun visual representation of your performance in the area. Do well enough in a level and you’ll earn a lucky card you can scratch off, revealing unlockable characters, paintings and other things.

It’s all an apt reminder that this is supposed to be a fun game, even if a few sections here and there are interminably challenging. None of it ever feels unfair, thankfully, courtesy of taut, easy-to-use controls.

Rayman, who’s really just one of a host of characters that you can control and unlock in this game, can jump, glide ever-so-slightly, attack and occasionally do other things — all standard platforming stuff and all easy to pick up. Momentum and timing, staples of platforming, are the name of the game here, and they feel completely natural in this effort.

It all adds up to one of the finest platforming games you’re going to play, and in a genre that’s seen its share of Mario and Sonic hits, that’s not praise that’s doled out lightly.

Yes, Rayman Legends is simply that good.


Nintendo of America President on PS4, Xbox One Launch Titles: “Meh”

With the PS4 and Xbox One set to launch in the same month, it’s not surprising that there’s a good deal of mud being slung by Sony and Microsoft. Now, Nintendo wants to get in on the fun.

Reggie Fils-Aime, Nintendo of America’s president, told IGN:

It’s all about the games. The competitive systems have announced their launch lineups. I’m allowed to say ‘Meh.’ I look at our lineup of titles and I feel good about our lineup. We’ve got Zelda. We’ve got Mario. We’ve got Donkey Kong. In addition to great titles like Pikmin 3 and Wonderful 101, I feel very good about our lineup, and I feel very good about the value proposition we’re putting out there for the consumer.

Apparently, the Wii U also has cloud capabilities, Reggie explained:

We’ve got cloud technology that we’re delivering with Wii U. Nintendo TVii is all cloud-based technology. But the difference is, we don’t talk about the tech. We talk about the experience. We make sure that the consumer has fun with the game experiences that we provide. And so I think as you compare and contrast Nintendo with other players in the space, for us it’s about games, about the fun, about the entertainment value, and not about the tech.

Of course, all clouds are not equal, with the term ‘cloud’ having a very broad meaning that includes Gaikai, Remote Play, Dedicated Servers, PSN, XBL and a visible mass of liquid droplets floating in the sky.

Today’s interview with Fils-Aime comes hot off the heels of the announcement of the 2DS and a Wii U price cut.

What do you think of the PS4/XBO’s launch lineup? Do you have a Wii U? Share all in the comments below.



The Last Of Us makes it 5 weeks at #1

Mario and Luigi: Dream Team Bros. enters UK chart at 2

The Last Of Us

This week’s UK number 1 is still The Last Of Us, making it five weeks on the top for Naughty Dog’s fungal adventure. If it can last six weeks it will match Call Of Duty: Black Ops II and FIFA 12.

Mario and Luigi: Dream Team Bros. was the only new entry in the top 20 this week, at number 2, but expansion pack Civilization V: Brave New World entered at 39.

UKIE Games Charts courtesy of GfK Chart-Track

Last Week This Week Title
1 1 The Last Of Us
4 2 Animal Crossing: New Leaf
New entry 3 Mario and Luigi: Dream Team Bros.
3 4 FIFA 13
2 5 Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition
10 6 Far Cry 3
7 7 Call Of Duty: Black Ops II
5 8 Assassin’s Creed III
6 9 Tomb Raider
Re-entry 10 Aliens: Colonial Marines
15 11 The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – Legendary Edition
13 12 LEGO Batman 2: DC Superheroes
12 13 Need For Speed Most Wanted
19 14 Luigi’s Mansion 2
8 15 The Sims 3: Island Paradise
9 16 Deadpool
Re-entry 17 Grand Theft Auto IV
16 18 God Of War: Ascension
11 19 Injustice: Gods Among Us
20 20 LEGO Lord Of The Rings

Nintendo preps free-to-play title

Wii U maker tells analysts it will explore new business model with non-Mario, non-Pokemon game by end of fiscal year

Nintendo preps free-to-play title

Nintendo may be resisting bringing its brands to smartphones and tablets, but it’s still interested in the business models that have driven the mobile boom. As spotted by Polygon, analyst David Gibson attended a Nintendo briefing event at E3 today and tweeted about the company’s intention to explore free-to-play.

“Nintendo free-to-play game will be released this [fiscal year] but will not be Mario or Pokemon game as already have good relationship in those brands,” Gibson said. (Nintendo’s fiscal year ends in March of 2014.)

While the platform of that game wasn’t specified, Gibson said Nintendo president Satoru Iwata made the remark in a section of the briefing dedicated to the Wii U. Iwata also said that the 3DS’ success in Japan is proof that dedicated handheld platforms can thrive despite the competition from smartphones.

Nintendo has already indicated that it would welcome free-to-play business models on the Wii U. One of the earliest games announced for the system was Ubisoft’s free-to-play Ghost Recon Online. However, that project never actually launched on the system.