The Nintendo Download – 11/6/2014

Wow, what a batch of releases today! Not only does it keep up this week’s somewhat-unintentional SEGA theme, but it also brings one of my all-time favorites to the Virtual Console, so let’s get right to that!

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Super Mario Advance for Wii U – As many know, the western release of Super Mario Bros. 2 was actually a considerably-modified version of a Japanese game Nintendo made for Fuji Television called Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panic. In bringing it over, Nintendo added numerous elements to make it fit in with the still-developing Mario world and series, among other changes. Super Mario Advance takes this idea to its ultimate conclusion, making it even more Mario-like than before, making this arguably the ultimate version of Super Mario Bros. 2.

Lots of new content and details have been added as well, making this as much a remake as it is an update. Even if you’ve played Super Mario Bros. 2 to death, there are a lot of new things to see, explore, and discover in this version of the title. If you’re using the other Super Mario Advance series titles to gauge how different this one is? Don’t. It’s the most heavily modified of any of them, barring Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3‘s use of e-Reader cards for additional content.

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Sportsball for Wii U – Up to four players can take control of exotic birds who flap, tackle, and dunk their balls into the net for points and glory through seven game modes. Check out the trailer here.

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The Swapper for Wii U – Create clones using the Wii U GamePad controller and solve puzzles found throughout an abandoned space station. Click here for the trailer.

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Disney Infinity (2.0 Edition) for Wii U – Bring Marvel Super Heroes and Disney classics together in the latest iteration of Disney Infinity. You’ll still have to buy a base and figure in order to play, though. Figures and Power Discs from the first game are compatible with this version, but I’m not sure about the base. Check out the trailer here.

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Flapp & Zegeta for Wii U – Near as I can tell, it’s Flappy Bird in space, and with a story as you set out to rescue the kidnapped Zegeta.

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Pier Solar and the Great Architects for Wii U – This role playing game is the story of Hoston, a young botanist who seeks a special herb to save his father’s life. That’s a pretty unique idea for an RPG adventure! “Little do they know, it is the beginning of a winding journey that unravels his father’s past and the mystery of Pier Solar and the Great Architects.” Oh, there we go. Anyway, this seems to hit a lot of classically-styled notes, so if you’re into RPGs, it might be worth a look.

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SDK Paint for Wii U – Create 2D and 3D artwork, then hang it in your very own gallery for all to see!

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Shuttle Rush for Wii U – Another retro-styled adventure, this one a platformer, and another stuck on a space station. This one, however, is running out of air, and you’ve got to get enough from the vending machines along your way to escaping the station via shuttle in order to survive.

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Planes Fire & Rescue for Wii U and Nintendo 3DS – “Battle fires and save lives in over 30 Fire & Rescue Missions! Protect Piston Peak Park with 8 playable characters including Dusty, Lil’ Dipper and Blade!” That’s literally all it tells me.

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It’s available on Nintendo 3DS, too, and both versions are for only one player.

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PIKMIN Short Movies for Wii U and Nintendo 3DS – Nintendo’s creative mastermind, Shigeru Miyamoto, has directed a series of three short Pikmin videos, and after debuting them at the 2014 Tokyo International Film Festival, Nintendo has now made them available to purchase exclusively in the Nintendo eShop, all three for $4.99.

In addition, they’re celebrating with a demo version of Pikmin 3 in the Wii U eShop. If you enjoy it, you can carry over your save data from that version to the full version of the game and continue where you left off.

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Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal – Demo Version for Nintendo 3DS – It feels like just yesterday that I was previewing Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal for Nintendo 3DS… but it was actually Monday. Check that out, and then you can try it for yourself by downloading this free demo version. You can also check out a trailer here.

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nintendogs + cats: Golden Retriever, nintendogs + cats: French Bulldog, and nintendogs + cats: Toy Poodle for Nintendo 3DS – Despite receiving equal billing, the cats don’t play quite as heavily into this game as I would have liked, but they are nonetheless a welcome addition. Check out my rather aged review of this Nintendo 3DS launch title here.

As for me? I want to pick up a digital copy so I can keep better track of them without having to take out whatever game I have in the cartridge slot. For $14.99, that’s not too bad. Plus, you get a code for a free nintendogs + cats theme for your Nintendo 3DS menu, too!

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Pokémon Puzzle Challenge for Nintendo 3DS – Take on Johto Gym Leaders like Jasmine, Pryce, and Falkner as you aspire to become the Pokémon Puzzle Champion! You can check out a trailer for the game here.

Plus, downloading this title gets you a free code for the Pokémon Omega Ruby and Pokémon Alpha Sapphire Special Demo Version.

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KemonoMix+ for Nintendo 3DS – “I can make cute beast” says the webpage. Okay then…

Your goal is to train creatures called kemonos to help you explore the planet, “mix” them with other kemonos, and try to collect spaceship parts and return home to Earth in 2,000 days. Sounds a lot like Pikmin, actually, albeit with a much larger time limit.

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Safari Quest for Nintendo 3DS – A match-3 game with the objective of finding a white lion in the ten landscapes and puzzle-filled levels of Africania. Is it just me, or do those animals look like they’re from the Madagascar movies? Not a single word about those films, though…

Nintendo eShop Sales

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Siesta Fiesta for Nintendo 3DS – Until 8:59am PT on November 13th, this title is reduced by more than 30 percent from $5.99 to $3.99.

Price Reductions

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Flowerworks HD: Follie’s Adventure for Wii U – Beginning November 7th, this title will be reduced to $2 from $4.

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Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed for Wii U – This title has been reduced from $39.99 to $29.95. And if I may say so, it ranks among my favorite racing games, with it and Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing being my favorites prior to Mario Kart 8. That said, it’s still quite good and rather unique, thanks to its transformation feature, which is very, very different from the glider and underwater racing of Mario Kart.

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Sonic Lost World for Wii U – This title has been reduced from $49.99 to $29.95. You can watch myself and Sonic comic scribe Ian Flynn play the game for the first time for charity here. Please note that not only has the game been updated since (now you actually get an extra life for every 100 rings collected), but there is some cool free downloadable content based on Yoshi’s Story and The Legend of Zelda, too!

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Sonic Lost World for Nintendo 3DS – This title has been reduced from $39.99 to $29.95.

For more information, screens, and videos for each of this week’s releases, click on the corresponding links above.

At Nintendo of Canada’s recent holiday preview media event, I had the opportunity to see a lot of familiar games on display– some released recently, such as Bayonetta 2, and others coming soon, including Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, both of which I’ve played before and hope to be reviewing fairly soon as well. There were also two games I there I had only seen anything of online– Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal for Nintendo 3DS and Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric for Wii U, both due soon from SEGA.

Of the two, I dove into Shattered Crystal first. This was the one that seemed to have generated the more positive buzz, and besides, the demo unit was open.

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I only had the chance to play two levels, though there seemed to be several more available on the map screen for the demo. Going all the way to the starting point, I found myself in a Sonic-esque foot race against newcomer Sticks the Badger as none other than Sonic himself. If you’ve played the Sonic Rivals games or even the 2-player race modes found in Sonic the Hedgehog 2 or 3, then you know the type, though this of course used its own mechanics instead.

Despite trying to get used to how this game felt, I managed to place first. Sticks nonetheless kept pace with me much of the time, not getting too far ahead nor allowing me to leave her behind, either. It was during this race that something became rather apparent about playing Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal.

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Despite the sense of familiarity and use of classic elements, such as loop de loops, this was not the Sonic I knew. I don’t mean that in a bad way, either, but attempting to play this like a classic Sonic title was clearly going to get me killed… or at least cost me a lot of rings, which serve as the life meter here in a more traditional way. Once I managed to stop myself from jumping into enemies while expecting Sonic to spin, things began to fall into place and I started getting the hang of it.

In that way, it was about forgetting what I knew about Sonic on the whole and starting fresh– which seems to be very much what Sonic Boom as a whole is designed to do with the franchise. There’s something almost zen about clearing your mind and opening it to new possibilities here.

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Sonic isn’t completely devoid of his signature moves, however, and he’s even picked up some new ones. In this case, you need to specifically use his Homing Attack in mid-air to take out baddies through jumping. Sonic also has his Spin Dash, along with a new move, a sort of air-dash which allows him to burst forward in one of the four cardinal directions and break through specific obstacles to reach new areas.

Also of note is that much like in Sonic Lost World, there is a run button used here as well. Sonic moved swiftly on his own, but much as in Mario titles, this was good for picking up the pace when necessary while still allowing more precision platforming. Unlike that game, though, I didn’t notice any parkour-style moves to help the Blue Blur get around, though there are several speed pads around which offer a bit of a boost as well.

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In addition to Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, and the aforementioned newcomer Sticks the Badger are all on hand as well. They each seem to share the core set of moves/abilities, and you can switch between them by pressing their corresponding direction on the Dpad to use their own special abilities to better get around. Tails throws bombs that stick to enemies before exploding (to sometimes-amusing results, if you can get it to land on their faces) and can fly with his twin tails, but only when aided by a wind current; Knuckles punches and headbutts his way through enemies, and can dig much like the Drill Wisp from previous titles, though presumably without the time limit; and Sticks has her boomerang, which can be guided with the Circle Pad to bob and weave its way down dangerous corridors to hit enemies and switches. It’s actually rather fun and easy to use.

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But perhaps my favorite addition to the characters’ arsenal is the EnerBeam. The EnerBeam has gotten a fair bit of screen time and has been a major talking point since Sonic Boom was first revealed, and for good reason. In addition to pulling enemies’ shields away from them, leaving them vulnerable to attack, there are also spots which allow you to pull back with the touchscreen and launch the character you’re using to a new part of the stage.

What makes it my favorite, however, are the swing points which you’ll find situated throughout stages. I’ve been a fan of a good swing mechanic since Bionic Commando on the NES, and Shattered Crystal features one of the best I’ve ever experienced (and I’ve used some bad ones). The control, the sense of momentum, the ability to quickly swing from one point to the next with little hesitation and Homing Attack enemies on the way– it just feels good, even exhilarating– and basically serves to combine two of my favorite franchises in a most pleasing way.

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The only thing missing from my time with the demo was the sense of a “Sonic Metroidvania” I’ve heard people use to describe the game, but then, I only got to play two stages. The latter of the two was certainly substantial, however, and it wouldn’t surprise me if there were some secrets I missed as I made my way through the level which beg for a return to play again.

Overall, Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal has left a good impression on me, feeling like a good progression for the series, and I hope to get to play it more.

That just leaves the question: How does the Wii U counterpart, Rise of Lyric, stack up? Come back tomorrow for our look at other side of the Sonic Boom coin.

Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal for the Nintendo 3DS will be released on November 11th, 2014.