Archive for November, 2013

Box Art Comparison

November 11, 2013

With the PlayStation 4 set to launch in a few days, I found my Sunday newspaper filled to the brim with adverts for the new console, showcasing the lineup of games for the console. But as I browsed through the ads, I couldn’t help but notice that the artwork on the boxes was missing something… but what?

Say, let’s look at this handy visual aid I whipped up. On the left you will find the launch lineup for the PS4, on the right, the current library for the Wii U. What are the PS4 boxes missing that the Wii U boxes have? Go ahead, take your time, I can wait.ps4vwiiu
That’s right! Color! Apparently, the PlayStation 4 is SO mature and SO hardcore, all of the color from the box art has been sucked away. Each box for the PS4 features a lone protagonist, glaring out at you, as all the color and life is sucked out of the background. Hell, even the SPORTS games follow suit; just add a military helmet and a rifle and you’ve got the cover for the next WWII shooter.

In contrast, the box art for the Wii U games are bursting with life and color, greeting you with open arms into their weird worlds and fighting for your attention on the store shelves. Why is Mario wearing a cat suit? What’s with this guy with a fist twice the size he is? And what crime has this red Pikmin committed that justifies locking him up inside a bottle? You need to buy this game to find out!

I didn’t make this up just to mock the PlayStation 4; this illustrates a problem with the game industry as a whole. As often as Nintendo is mocked for “playing it safe” with properties like Mario and Zelda, Nintendo’s got nothing on a majority of the rest of the developers and publishers in the industry. As much as devs and publishers brag about innovation, it seems the only “innovation” being pushed these days are A) slightly purdier graphics, B) games more and more dependent on online play and DLC, and C) games that are essentially the same shooters mimicking Hollywood blockbusters. Year after year, it’s all becoming homogeneous, each game looking and playing the same as the others, developers and publishers alike fearful of alienating the “dude-bro” gamers that they have become so dependent on. God forbid you change the gameplay or control style of what’s been established, even if it could lead to something that works even better for the games you enjoy.

This was BUILT for first person shooters, and the industry just took a big shit on it, not wanting to stray from the archaic dual analog establishment.

In closing, it’s not wise to judge a book by it’s cover… but it’s also not wise to make the cover of your book so drab and lifeless that no one even notices.

New Super Luigi U

November 5, 2013

Having recently picked up a Wii U (finally!), I indulged in a little spending spree, which consisted of Rayman Legends, Wonderful 101, New Super Mario Bros. U and Wind Waker HD. And the first game I decided to play (well, after Nintendo Land, of course) was… New Super Luigi U.
And why not? It IS the Year of Luigi after all.
Having not played the Mario flavor of this game (outside of the kiosk at Gamestop), it was an interesting experience to play the expansion pack before playing the actual game. Luigi’s jump is more skittish, yet farther reaching than Mario’s, and the level design reflects that. Once you clear the game, you can revert the jump physics back to Mario’s standard, which could actually make the game more challenging. The levels are short, but you are given a mere 100 seconds in each, which means less of a focus on exploration and more on just surviving to the end of the stage.

Not that there’s no exploration of course. There are still plenty of Star Coins tucked away in hidden places, and a dozen or so secret exits and levels to uncover. As for the challenge, I didn’t really find the game all that difficult…
Until I reached the last two worlds of the game, Peach’s Castle and Superstar Road. That’s when the controller tossing and swearing began, as poor Luigi met his end more times than I care to admit, and I found myself finally resorting to a P-Acorn late in the game, lest I embed my Wiimote in the wall. Superstar Road in particular proves just how much the staff of the game has a sadistic glee of making us suffer… just mention “Fire Bar Sprint” to anyone who has 100 percented this game and watch them break out into a cold sweat.

As an expansion pack to the original game, New Super Luigi U is worthy of carrying the name “Luigi”. Though the story and world map are the same, the new levels are packed with creative ideas and a high level of difficulty, as if someone at Nintendo heard the taunts that the New Super Mario Bros games were too easy and took the challenge to make the players sweat. Well, Mr. Nintendo Programmer, mission accomplished.