Impressions from the Toronto Nintendo Switch Media Event

While today marks the day that the general public can get their hands on the Nintendo Switch before its March 3rd release, Nintendo of Canada was kind enough to allow the media (and some guests) the opportunity to do so just a couple of days prior.

From start to finish, it was quite the experience, and while there are still questions left unanswered in the month and some change we have left before the product goes on sale, it was nonetheless enlightening in other ways. Following are the impressions of what games I was able to check out at the event. Plus, I got to play the games in a variety of different ways, thanks to the Switch’s various control schemes, so I’ll talk about those as I go, too,

(Plus, if you’re not familiar with some of these titles, most have trailers you can view by clicking on the respective header.)

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Sonic Mania

This was my first stop as soon as I went through the doors. It almost felt like some sort of blasphemy to make a beeline straight for a SEGA game as the first title I’d play on Nintendo’s newest system, but my inability to do so in the six months’ worth of events since the game’s announcement was no doubt a major contributor — I’ve already had the special edition on pre-order for months.

Anyway, it was good, and felt just like classic Sonic to me. Maybe there’s a slight difference that someone more dedicated can point out, but compared to all of SEGA’s previous efforts to go back to the Blue Blur’s roots, this unquestionably comes the closest.

Unfortunately, the demo available here was the earlier one, so no Mirage Saloon or Knuckles gameplay to enjoy. Still, it was fun to play through a revamped Green Hill and the new Studiopolis Zone, and try to figure out the new Drop Dash, which is probably the trickiest standard move Sonic’s ever had.

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For this title, I was given the right Joy-Con controller, which is an aspect of the Switch I’ve been wary of since it was first teased late last year. My worry stemmed from the fact that the analog stick is set so far in on the controller that I feared it would be uncomfortable to use, thus making it the “loser’s” controller in any battles of who-uses-what when getting ready to play — sort of like the junky third-party controller no one wants to use.

I’m happy to say my fears were completely unfounded! I suppose it owes to the small size of the Joy-Cons in general, but it wasn’t problematic for me at all. I imagine it’s going to vary depending not only on the size of the hands the person using it has, but perhaps also on the game, since I didn’t really need to use any of the shoulder buttons either. Still, for a test run, I found myself quite pleased (and relieved).

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Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers

And here we have another old friend. As The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild had a queue (complete with tickets handed out for what time to come back in order to play), I had to find some other way to occupy my time — at least until my plus-ones Ian and Aleah finished their turns on Zelda. So why not see what the World Warriors are up to?

This is pretty much Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix, with two “new characters” added: Evil Ryu and Violent Ken, who are less new characters and more recolors with some added moves (Ken has some sort of teleport, I think?). Much as I’m fine with them stopping there, part of me wants to see “Cranky Dan” step up at some point in the series.

I was at a disadvantage here, as I typically remap my controller in these games to have my Light/Quick moves on the shoulders, but I was still able to hold my own quite well (not that I’m a pro or anything). Basically, it felt just like Street Fighter II should, and you can even change the visuals from the UDON-rendered high-definition graphics to the vintage pixel art.

While it’s a shame that Nintendo isn’t getting something fresher — which can’t be helped in the case of Street Fighter V, what with Sony helping fund that one — I’m nonetheless glad to see this one arrive back in the family of consoles which helped make it big. I got the Xbox 360 version years ago, but found it nigh-unplayable due to that controller’s Dpad.

Speaking of which…

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While I’m pretty sure that you can technically play the game with the Joy-Cons, that’s not likely going to cut it for any serious player of the genre. Fortunately, for this one, they had the Switch Pro Controller on hand.

Let me tell you, using this controller was an absolute joy, and makes me all the more disappointed they weren’t available for pre-order when I went to put money down on the system. While it shares the name and general shape of the Wii U Pro controller, I’ll be honest: Try as I might, I could never quite get completely comfortable with that one. Something about it was just a bit off to me, particularly when it came to games better played with the Dpad.

This, however, was a joy to hold and worked flawlessly — at least, for all intents and purposes of playing Street Fighter. The Xbox One controller has been my favorite for this generation, but the Switch Pro Controller felt just as good to me — maybe even a little better (I may have to conduct a more direct comparison sometime).

Let’s just hope these aren’t as hard to come by as the controllers for the NES Classic Edition — I still haven’t been able to find one (in fact, one store told me that while they got more of the systems in since launch, they never got any more of the controllers — damn).

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Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

After regrouping with Ian and Aleah, we decided to get in (the much shorter than Zelda‘s) line for Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. Four stations were set up, each featuring a different game mode and a different way to play the Switch. The combination of a need for multiplayer, a new Battle Mode to check out, none of us having played the Switch in “handheld” mode yet, and a diner scenario that was right up my alley all came together perfectly in one quadrant.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe takes the best game in the series in quite some time and adds even more characters (though unfortunately, still no return of R.O.B. from Mario Kart DS), more items (the return of the Super Feather!), Double Dash!!‘s ability to carry two items at once, and best of all, the return of the traditional Battle Mode with new and returning arenas!

There were four of us playing (someone else joining the three of us), and while I’m not sure which stage they picked, I lucked out in the roulette and we played a remake of one of the courses from Super Mario Kart, aka “the best Battle Mode in the series” in my opinion. Realistic looking balloons were strapped to our karts and we raced around, trying to destroy each other and eight computer-controlled competitors. I came in second place, beaten out only by Aleah.

It felt like coming home… albeit a bit more crowded. I hope that there’s a way to play in smaller groups with just your friends and no computers.

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The way we played, as mentioned, was in the Switch’s handheld mode — no dock connecting it to a television, and the Joy-Cons fastened to the side.

To be honest, this probably ended up my least favorite way to play. The combined Switch just didn’t feel as good in my hands as the larger Wii U GamePad, probably hewing a little closer to the XL versions of the Nintendo 3DS, only not. It’s kind of hard to explain, but I think supporting the weight of the full unit and the small size of the Joy-Cons just didn’t rest comfortably in my hands; I think the lower corners were mildly digging into my palms, and I don’t have particularly large hands.

I don’t know that it will be particularly detrimental for me in the long run, though; I have a tendency to rest a Nintendo 3DS against my chest when I play (usually when sitting back or laying down), a luxury I didn’t really have here. I have a feeling it will feel just right for me then, but until I can try it like that, it remains a mystery — though one that will be solved in about 36 days.

That said, the ability to play as it sits separate from the Joy-Cons on its little kickstand should help as well.

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The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

The time on my ticket arrived, and I finally got to play The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild for the first time. I didn’t get to make it out to the Electronic Entertainment Expo last year, and while Nintendo of Canada normally brings some of that fun up here for us to try out, that didn’t happen last year.

In the interim, Breath of the Wild has been occupying this weird sort of space in my mind, a limbo where I didn’t really associate it as a Wii U title (what with all the buzz that it would be available on the then-titled NX), but without knowing what the NX was until recently, not forming a strong association there, either. It’s just been an island unto itself in my mind.

That said, playing it here has certainly helped it take root in my mind as a Switch title. I only got to play for 20 minutes, and while they encouraged us to speed through the story bits, they still managed to take up a chunk of time nonetheless. Still, I did alright, I think, by raising some towers from one destination before things reset.

Exploring the world reminded me a bit of Xenoblade Chronicles X, which I largely enjoyed despite the combat not quite fully clicking with me. Fortunately, that’s not an issue here, as the more familiar Zelda-styled controls brought everything together. I feel like this might just be the Zelda game that I’ve been waiting so many years for, but only time will tell if that’s the case for sure.

Still, if they’re using the original Nintendo Entertainment System classic as a source of inspiration? I think I’m going to be in for a really good time.

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For this title, I got to use the Joy-Con grip to start. I think it’s a little lighter than the Pro Controller, and it felt just as good. Of course, I wasn’t using the Dpad except to help toggle a few menus, if I remember right, so it’s a very different scenario. I was quite pleased, and if you can’t find a Pro Controller right away, there’s no need to immediately panic, as the games that it’s best for aren’t slated to be available at launch anyway. But that aside, they feel quite similar.

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Midway through the demo, I was allowed to snap the Joy-Cons into the Switch and go to handheld mode, which I was willing to give a second chance… except they had us wearing headphones to hear the sound, and however they were hooked up, it wasn’t coming through in handheld mode. Couple that with the distraction of an enthusiastic MC up on stage, and I returned to the television.

However, in doing so, I opted to keep the Joy-Cons unplugged and go at it Wii-style, like in Twilight Princess. It felt pretty good — better, even, given the greater number of buttons to take advantage of and no cord to worry about, allowing for a more relaxed posture with the separate halves. Even so, I can see why some people might still prefer to use the Joy-Con grip to play, but it’s still a nice option to have available.

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Splatoon 2

Ah, Splatoon… now that’s a name I’ve not heard in a long time.

Okay, that’s a total lie: I’ve heard it quite a bit since its release, especially with Aleah’s affinity for it, but I’ve unfortunately not had much time to play since then. As rusty as I was, in the two rounds I got to play, I opted for familiar weapons I did okay with before: The Splat Roller in the first round, and the Splat Charger in the second. The Roller also had a new secondary weapon, a sort of curling puck that spreads ink and bounces around off of walls and such, but drains your reserves pretty quickly.

A new weapon featured was a twin pair of pistols, which I understand are for more “aggressive” play. Part of me wonders if I should have tried those out. Either way, I got one loss and one win, but sadly, I think I was the lowest score for both rounds. At least I took a few of the other guys with me.

Tilt controls for high and low aiming return, which I found fairly handy — while I was resistant at first, I’m probably better with those than twin-sticks. Unfortunately, there is no more second screen, and while you can still pull up and map and leap to different points on the map, doing so now leaves you vulnerable, so best to be quick about it.

Incidentally, I forget which controller I used here — I think it was either the Pro or the Joy-Con Grip, so either way, see above. It worked well here.

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1-2-Switch

Now how could a coupla former NC boys resist a game that has you milking cows and slapping leather in a quick-draw contest? Ian and I waited in line to try 1-2-Switch, and were joined by a third gentleman in the closed-off booth for the demonstration. Ian had a little trouble with the foam cowboy hats, but fortunately for me, I brought my own.

The first round had us both squeezing two of the buttons on the shoulders of a single Joy-Con as we made steady pulling motions downwards to milk a cow. When the controller stopped vibrating, we’d release the buttons, raise it up, and repeat the process until one of us had squeezed out more milk — all while staring the other in the eye, as per the spirit of the game, if not the rules.

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For the second contest, Ian tagged out to the other gent, and we had to move our respective Joy-Con like a box with balls inside, trying to guess how many are in there. I was the victor, albeit with one off, though that was my fault — I felt the extra sensation of the ball hitting the side, but the delay made me think it might be something else.

That said, this and the milking game made me a believer in the high-definition rumble Nintendo spoke of when they went over the Switch’s features. I don’t know if many developers would use it to its fullest potential, but I was nonetheless impressed by how vividly and — for lack of a better term — accurate (I’ve never actually milked a cow; never even touched an udder) things felt. As rumble goes, it’s basically like the difference between digital controls and analog.

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Finally, the time came for Ian and I to kill each other by seeing who could draw their gun — i.e. the Joy-Con — the quickest and firing when the command was given.

First time out, I lost, though I maintain it’s because the wrist strap covering wasn’t properly secured. I wanted another go, and got one as Ian tagged out. While I feel that the reason I believe I lost before was validated by taking the other guy out in less than a second (he shot the ground, apparently; the game even measures the angle at which you fire), I still hope for a rematch with Mad Dog Flynn.

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ARMS

Next up, Ian and I checked out the ARMS arena. We got to choose our characters (I went with the girl in power armor seen above), we chose how to equip each arm (one option I went with was a boomerang fist), took in a quick tutorial, and we were off!

While there are some obvious comparisons to be drawn to the likes of Punch-Out!! or Wii Sports Boxing, this is a very different game. For one thing, I don’t know that dashing, jumping, and grabbing have any place in Little Mac’s world (then again, some of those other challengers do play dirty), and the motion controls feel overall more precise than in Wii Sports‘ offering.

The game was a lot of fun, and the overall aesthetic reminds me a bit of Splatoon in some ways, not the least of which being the bright colors and characters. There’s a lot more movement involved than in Punch-Out!! — you basically have the run of the entire arena — and it just feels involved in an altogether different way, as the types of moves you perform with the two Joy-Con feel more varied.

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Snipperclips – Cut it out, together!

When I first heard about this game, my interest was minimal, and so was Ian’s. As it happens, though, I caught what the game was all about on Nintendo’s Treehouse at the Switch unveiling earlier this month, and I just had to try it. After a bit of persuasion, he joined me at a table where the Switch was resting on its kickstand as we each took a Joy-Con and got ourselves situated.

Basically, you’re provided with a series of challenges and have to use teamwork in order to solve each puzzle. This ranges from filling in a dotted line silhouette to getting a pencil to a pencil sharpener, putting a basketball through a hoop, moving a wheel along a rail to a race car, and popping all the balloons in the room. To do this, you need to twist your characters the right way and work together to achieve your goal.

For instance, the characters’ bodies don’t have arms and are relatively flat, so to be able to hold the basketball, one character can snip away at part of the other to form a cup-like curve that can better hold the ball. With the balloons, one trims the other’s body until there’s a point capable of bursting them, and so on.

We solved the five or so puzzles put before us, and while I’m still a believer, I think Ian might be, too. It’s a game I look forward to seeing more of, for sure.

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Also worth noting is that this time, I got to take up the left Joy-Con, and to my surprise… I think I prefer the right one more! It wasn’t bad or anything, but before using any of them, I thought this would be vastly preferable to using the right one, and to me, it’s not.

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Super Bomberman R

Another game Ian and I tried was Super Bomberman R, the long-awaited return of a classic franchise, provided that the guys running it down don’t muck it up with microtransactions as so many across the internet currently fear.

Unfortunately, neither of us have much in the way of experience with Bomberman, and we were put into a four-player battle against two computer opponents. We were pretty soundly throttled, which led to us having to sit on the sidelines, throwing bombs at the computer until someone lost or we successfully blew up one of them, which allowed us back in (but only briefly, because we both suck at this).

The stage didn’t help matters, either, as there were these covered areas that you can’t see into very well. Probably great for veteran Bomberfans to plot strategies with, but not so much for newcomers, perhaps. On top of all that, I think they went around six to eight rounds before things were done.

It’s good to see Bomberman back, but I feel like I need some training — maybe in single-player — before taking that on again.

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Puyo Puyo Tetris

I’ve never been much of a Puyo Puyo player, but I’ve always enjoyed Tetris. Fortunately, for this game, you don’t have to be a fan of both to have a good time! I can’t speak for Puyo Puyo, but if it’s like the Tetris portion, then it’s just like what you’ve always known (well, sort of — Tetris has the modern rules in place, of course, such as quick-drop and holding pieces).

The most fascinating part of what I got to play, however, was that two players going head-to-head can play different games. So while I was playing Tetris, my opponent was playing Puyo Puyo — no switching around (ha) or anything. But if one of us scored well, such as my getting a double, triple, or Tetris, then extra blocks would rise from the bottom of his playing field, and vice-versa.

It’s a neat way of bringing the two different games together, and should make for some interesting challenges.

And that was the last game I got to try (though I did take one more run at Sonic Mania before leaving). While there are still questions to be answered about Nintendo’s latest platform, I can at least say that I now sit here before you with confidence in what we have seen.

Finally, to close out, here are some pics from the event:

mariokartdinerClockwise from left: Ian, Aleah, David, and fellow visitor play Mario Kart 8 Deluxe‘s Battle Mode on the Switch’s handheld configuration.

mariokart8deluxe1 mariokart8deluxe2 mariokart8deluxe3Ian rides in Mario’s kart. David rides in Mario’s kart. David runs over Ian in Mario’s kart.
There’s probably a moral here. Somewhere.
(First pic courtesy of Aleah Baker)

snipperclipstableClippersnipping intensifies. (Picture courtesy of Ian Flynn)

splatoon2statueAleah is just squidding around with an old friend. (Picture courtesy of Aleah Baker)

switchzeldaarea1switchzeldaarea2Where Legends become real and the wild breathes.

switchatswitcheventThe star of the show!

switchmarioodysseyAnd finally, the moment you’ve all been waiting for: Mario’s Hat wearing Mario’s hat!

You can find more pictures from the event at Nintendo of Canada’s Facebook page (and they’ll probably have more from the public event later today soon as well).

Also, if you’re interested in the impressions Mr. Ian Flynn was left with after some time with the console, keep an eye on BumbleKing.com for the games, and the BumbleKast for his thoughts on the hardware itself. (And anything he says about not swapping insurance info after the kart incident is a lie; he just needs to learn how to take better care of Bob-ombs is all.)

David Oxford is a freelance writer of many varied interests. If you’re interested in hiring him, please drop him a line at david.oxford (at) nyteworks.net.

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Update: Added Dead Rising 4 and LEGO Dimensions expansion packs.

With apologies to Maffew, as well as everyone else for not getting this up a little sooner as I’d have liked.

Following is a quick list of titles and things good for grabbing as gifts for the gamer in your life this holiday season. Mind, these come as my own personal recommendations, and don’t account for everything, including some “obvious” picks (such as Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Final Fantasy XV, and Pokemon Sun and Pokemon Moon). Everything here has been released in some form or fashion since Christmas 2015.

Xbox One

killerinstinctdefeditionXbox One S – Your mileage may vary on this one; if you or the intended recipient don’t own an Xbox One already, then this is the way to go. If you/they are planning on getting a 4K TV in the next year, however, then you might want to wait for Microsoft’s Project Scorpio — or at least more details about it — to emerge.

Killer Instinct: Definitive Edition Originally introduced in 2013, the revival of Killer Instinct has finally reached completion after three “seasons” of releases. While I only reviewed the first season, much more content has been made available since then, including new guest stars from Halo, Gears of War, and Battletoads! What’s more, you can now get everything in one complete package at retail with the Definitive Edition, which also includes a soundtrack CD and code for a gold Gargos skin. Now that’s what I call an Ultra Combo! (Also available on Windows 10 via Play Anywhere with Xbox One)

Forza Horizon 3 This open-world driving game is great for relaxing, but also provides plenty of excitement as you partake in various races, challenges, and even hunts for classic vehicles. Sync up your own custom soundtrack (or use one of the stations in the game) and hit the road — as well as the plains, beaches, and anywhere else you can think to drive! (Also available on Windows 10 via Play Anywhere with Xbox One)

oriblindforestdefeditionboxOri and the Blind Forest: Definitive Edition (Review Pending) – Alongside Killer Instinct, this was one of the games which made me want an Xbox One in the first place, and I haven’t been disappointed. This Metroidvania-styled platformer has a beautifully eerie presence a surprising degree of emotion as well. I was saving this to say in my already long-overdue review, but to me, Ori feels like the perfect mascot for the Xbox One, and deserves to be adopted as one. Plus, for the price, how can you afford not to try it? (Also available for Windows via Steam)

ReCore (Review Pending) – From some of the creative minds who brought you Mega Man and Metroid Prime comes this mysterious tale from another world. As Joule Adams, you’re tasked with exploring the planet of Far Eden and finding out what happened to those who were supposed to colonize it for mankind’s survival. But while you seem to be the only human around, you’re not alone — a group of Corebots use the special abilities granted by their customizable frames (such as the “dog,” Mack) to assist you throughout this third-person adventure that feels in some ways like a mix of Mega Man Legends and Metroid Prime, coupled with its own unique elements as well. (Also available on Windows 10 via Play Anywhere with Xbox One)

Quantum Break (Review Pending) – Yeah, I know — I’m juggling a lot of balls in the air here (and yes, it’s driving me nuts). This is an extremely story-oriented third-person shooter with some interesting characters and some content that’s set up like an actual television serial interspersed with the game’s chapters. If you’re cool with a game you watch as or more often than you play, then this one’s definitely worth a look. (Also available on Windows 10)

Xbox Design Lab – The Xbox One Wireless Controller is one of my favorite controllers to come around in some time, with a comfortable feel and a Dpad that’s not only finally worth a damn, but pretty dang good in its own right! So what could make it better? How about your own choice of color scheme, and maybe a laser-engraved message as well? This holiday season, you can give a custom Xbox Design Lab controller as a gift by purchasing a code which the recipient can then redeem to make the controller of their dreams (and 14-day shipping is free!).

Dead Rising 4 – This late arrival to stores and this list alike is a must-own this holiday season for its Yuletide setting alone, but for fans of beat ’em up-styled gameplay, the latest adventure of Frank West really hits home.

Wii U

papermariocolorsplashboxPaper Mario: Color Splash After Paper Mario: Sticker Star, I thought that the magic of the series I loved might never return. Imagine my surprise when Nintendo took such great strides towards a return to form just one installment later! While still not quite on the level of the masterpiece that is Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door, this lite-RPG adventure is a great choice for all ages.

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD Nintendo’s next console, the Switch, isn’t destined to join us until March of next year, and the Zelda title designed to bridge it and the Wii U, Breath of the Wild, may take even longer still. In the meantime, they’ve updated the game which bridged the GameCube and the Wii with improved visuals and other features, including amiibo support! Get the game with the Wolf Link w/Midna amiibo, and you can begin prepping it to join you in the next Zelda adventure, whenever it may come!

Nintendo 3DS

kirbyplanetrobobotboxKirby: Planet Robobot Simply put, this is a must-have for any Nintendo 3DS owner. To say anything more would simply diminish it; if you or someone you know hasn’t played it, then rectify that immediately (or at least come the holidays).

Azure Striker Gunvolt: Striker Pack This spiritual successor to games such as Mega Man Zero really brings the thunder — or the lightning, at least! And with the recent release of Azure Striker Gunvolt 2 in the Nintendo eShop, you can now get both chapters together on a single game card at retail!

Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam It’s a crossover no one knew they wanted — or was even possible! Establishing the Paper Mario series as a separate entity (well, even more so), Nintendo’s two long-running Mario role playing game series collide as denizens of the Paper world are released into the regular Mario world, and chaos ensues! This one is definitely a “cut” above!

Sonic Boom: Fire & Ice While the original Sonic Boom games did little to endear the world to this iteration of the franchise, Fire & Ice is a much better second go. With humorous writing and voice acting that’s in keeping with the Sonic Boom cartoon and the addition of Amy Rose to the playable character roster, Fire & Ice doesn’t excel, but it is comfort gaming at its finest.

Project X Zone 2 Let’s get crazy! This turn-based strategy game brings together characters from several of SEGA, Capcom, Bandai Namco, and Nintendo’s top titles for a fan service smorgasbord! Even if you don’t know all the characters involved (and the odds are pretty good that you won’t know everyone), don’t worry — you’ll probably find yourself wanting to check out some new games by the end of it. Heck, I never had any interest in SEGA’s Yakuza before, but now I can’t wait for Yakuza 0 to arrive on PlayStation 4 early next year!

PlayStation 4

dragonquestbuildersboxPlayStation 4 Pro – Speaking of PlayStation 4, if you’re interested in 4K gaming or virtual reality with PlayStation VR, then this is the model to look into. Just know that while it can stream 4K video, it won’t play Ultra HD Blu-ray discs.

Dragon Quest Builders Part of Minecraft‘s strength is its go anywhere, do anything you want freedom. However, if you’re interested in a game which captures the building and resource mechanics while providing you with a bit more of a purpose, then this alternate timeline sequel to the original Dragon Quest ought to be right up your alley.

Ratchet & Clank This latest release in the long-running PlayStation-exclusive franchise combines what made the original game great with a bit of added flair from the motion picture release, turns it on its head, sprinkles in some elements from other installments, and provides an experience great for longtime fans of the series and newcomers alike. And given that the film (which is based on the original game, with this being based on that) didn’t quite set hearts aflutter while the game was a number-one bestseller, it’s probably safe to say that if you have to choose between the two, going with the game is probably the best choice.

Multiplatform

deusexmankindboxartDeus Ex: Mankind Divided (Review Pending) – The Canadian Video Game Awards 2016 winner for Best Console Game, Best Game Design, Best Narrative, Best Performance, and oh yeah, Game of the Year. As Adam Jensen, you’re a cybernetically-enhanced human (though you didn’t ask for this) who is putting his myriad tools to good use as you make the decisions you think will best see you through to victory. Lethal or non-lethal weapons? Employ stealth, or go in guns blazing? These choices and many more are yours.

Rise of the Tomb Raider 20 Year Celebration (Review Pending) – For as iconic a figure as Lara Croft has been for the industry over the years, this installment follows in the footsteps of its predecessor by being decidedly not for children — or the faint of heart. It’s definitely an intense game that will keep you on the edge of your seat, and some parts can be pretty gruesome as well. That said, the original version came to Xbox One last year, but 20 Year Celebration throws in all the extra content that has been released since then, including some additional skins (such as a Retro Lara for a nostalgic kick), a co-op mode, and an Extreme Difficulty mode. On PlayStation 4, it’s also one of the first games to take advantage of the HDR features and 4K resolution provided by the Pro version, as well as a chapter playable in PlayStation VR.

WWE 2K17 The latest installment in 2K Games’ long-running sports entertainment adaptation is opting for a little more of a sim flavor this year. Create your own Superstars and events, alter others, and have the full run of Raw, Smackdown, and the rest of the shows WWE brings to a worldwide audience every week.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants in Manhattan On the half-shell, they’re the heroes four; in this day and age, who could ask for more? This IDW Comics-styled game is all about teamwork, whether you’re working with friends or strangers in online multiplayer, or managing all four green teens yourself.

skylandersimaginatorsboxSkylanders Imaginators Continuing the ever-growing theme of player-created content, this year’s Skylanders title allows you to create your very own Skylander called an Imaginator. They come in all different types, and become more powerful when one of the new Senseis shows them their moves. Plus, if you get the PlayStation 4 version (though it should come to the others next year), you can also get Skylanders of Spyro’s old pal, Crash Bandicoot and his rival Dr. Neo Cortex.

LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens “Chewie… we’re home.” These words from Han Solo reflect the feeling of this LEGO title as the series gets back to its roots, but with some new tricks as well. And it just feels so right.

Mega Man Legacy Collection Released as a digital download for Steam, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4 late last year, this collection of the Blue Bomber’s six Nintendo Entertainment System adventures (and all the gobs of additional related content included) not only arrived on the Nintendo 3DS earlier this year, but at retail for Xbox One and PlayStation 4 as well. Plus, if you go for the physical Nintendo 3DS version, you can also add an exclusive gold Mega Man amiibo figure to your collection!

Mighty No. 9 This spiritual successor to Mega Man comes with a pretty severe caveat, as the game has been very divisive: If you or someone you know wants a challenge, then this one may deliver. That said, it’s best to look around and see if you can find a good bargain on it to keep your bets safe. Think of this one as “stocking stuffer” material, or consider trying the free demo first. Oh, and be careful about getting the Wii U version — that one apparently suffered from some pretty nasty hardware crashing issues, and I’m not sure if they ever got all those fixed.

LEGO Dimensions Sonic the Hedgehog Level Pack – The toys alone are cool enough, but getting to use them in a game which does a pretty good job of marrying the LEGO and Sonic styles of gameplay is even better.

LEGO Dimensions Gremlins Team Pack – Based on one of my favorite holiday movies, exploring the town of Kingston Falls during the snowy holiday season makes this a perfect holiday gift for anyone who owns (or will soon own) LEGO Dimensions.

Other

supermarioadventuresSuper Mario Run Though this game is available now, you won’t be able to buy it in stores. However, as it commands a $13.99 price tag, an iTunes gift card or two for the intended recipient may not be the worst idea. Just remember that it launches as an iOS exclusive, while the Android version comes sometime later.

Super Mario Adventures This recently republished collection of the comic which originally ran in Nintendo Power magazine 25 years ago is, for many, one of the definitive pieces of Mario fiction (outside of the games, that is). A loose adaptation of Super Mario World, this also includes an additional chapter which loosely adapts Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins and gives us the origin of Wario. Sadly, the 14th and final installment was not included; thankfully, it was a standalone story, so the rest of the book holds up quite well on its own otherwise.

NES Classic Edition and NES Controllers – Good luck finding either of these! Even if you’re not interested in this plug ‘n play collection of 30 classic games for yourself, you’re almost guaranteed to know someone who is, so if you see one in the wild — grab it! And if you happen to come across the even rarer controller, a replica of the original NES input device, consider that it also works with some games (pretty much anything a sideways Wii Remote would) on the Wii and Wii U!

David Oxford is a freelance writer of many varied interests. If you’re interested in hiring him, please drop him a line at david.oxford (at) nyteworks.net.

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Wow! Quite a few marquee names are headlining the Nintendo Download this week. Let’s have a look, shall we?

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Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE for Wii U – The worlds of Shin Megami Tensei and Fire Emblem come together in the modern day as you battle through dungeons and strategize against your foes in this role playing game.

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Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games for Wii U – Happy Birthday, Sonic! The Blue Blur turns 25 today, and is ready to show his stuff in the latest version of his rivalry with Mario at the Olympic Games for the Wii U. 17 sports are featured, including Soccer, Beach Volleyball, and the Olympic Games debut of Rugby Sevens.

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Mighty No. 9 for Wii U – Keiji Inafune’s action platformer introduces Beck, a robot with the ability to absorb the Xels which comprise other robots. As the other Mighty Numbers run amuck, it’s up to Beck — aka Mighty No. 9 — to help hunt down his brethren, find the cause, and save the world from destruction!

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Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Red Rescue Team/Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Blue Rescue Team for Wii U – The world is in a state of crisis, but by forming rescue teams, your Pokémon can save the day!

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Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Sky for Wii U – Learn the secrets of Time and Darkness as you set out on an adventure to save the world!

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Super Ghouls ’n Ghosts for Wii U – Sir Arthur and his breezy boxers are back as the princess is kidnapped by underworld creatures once again.

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Splashy Duck for Wii U – Collect the coins, dodge the whales, and reach the finish line!

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Star Sky 2 for Wii U – Slow down, relax, and learn what consequences your choices bring in this nighttime adventure game.

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Blackjack 21 for Wii U – Not just Blackjack, but a simulator that aims to bring the experience as close to the casino as possible.

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Educational Pack of Kids Games for Wii U – A set of learning games for young children that teaches about math, colors, shapes, and more.

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Rubik’s Cube for Wii U and Nintendo 3DS – “The most authentic digital representation of the Rubik’s Cube available,” you’ll find both 2x2x2 and 3x3x3 here with touch controls, a solver, and leaderboards.

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Unholy Heights for Nintendo 3DS – Sucker monsters into your apartment building to charge them rent while keeping them happy with new furniture, then turn them loose on any “heroes” who dare to invade!

Theme Shop on Nintendo 3DS

This week’s new themes are “Rhythm Heaven Megamix Costumed Tebiri” and “Rhythm Heaven Megamix Ringside.”

Nintendo eShop Sales (Taken directly from Nintendo’s press release; prices in USD)

  • Nintendo eShop on Wii U and Nintendo 3DS
  • Nintendo eShop on Wii U
    • Vector Assault is 20 percent off (reduced from $4.99 to $3.99) until 8:59 a.m. PT on June 30.
    • Infinity Runner is more than 40 percent off (reduced from $6.99 to $3.99) until 8:59 a.m. PT on July 7.
    • Star Sky is 50 percent off (reduced from $4 to $2) until 8:59 a.m. PT on July 7.
    • Steel Rivals is more than 25 percent off (reduced from $6.99 to $4.99) until 8:59 a.m. PT on June 30.
    • Super Destronaut is 50 percent off (reduced from $1.99 to 99 cents) until 8:59 a.m. PT on July 14.
  • Nintendo eShop on Nintendo 3DS

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

David Oxford is a freelance writer of many varied interests. If you’re interested in hiring him, please drop him a line at david.oxford (at) nyteworks.net.

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Nothing especially huge has dropped this week — unless you count the absolutely enormous world of Xenoblade Chronicles — but there are two cool-looking free-to-play games available to try out this week. At that price, anything is worth a shot at least once, right?

Lost Reavers for Wii U – From Ancient Ruins and Medieval Castles to a Modern City, this free-to-play four-player co-op game is all about teamwork as you each pull together as one of four unique characters to retrieve treasures and return them to your extraction point.

The Deer God for Wii U – Oh deer! This side-scrolling adventure is all about survival, reincarnation, and karma as you find power-ups, test your platforming skills, and unlock secrets most ancient as you must live and survive as a deer.

Xenoblade Chronicles for Wii U – Shulk’s original adventure returns once again! Funny how after it took so long to get here, Nintendo of America is quickly re-releasing it in short order along with its sequel, huh? See where it all began with this Virtual Console re-release of the original Wii title!

Mini Mario & Friends: amiibo Challenge for Wii U and Nintendo 3DS – This freebie has been out in the States for a month through a promotion we northern folks never got to partake in, but now everyone can download this free title and conquer 50 levels using the special abilities of 11 Minis. All you need to get started is any one amiibo figure!

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Disney Art Academy pre-purchase for Nintendo 3DS – You can’t start learning to draw with Disney until May 13th (well, you can, but not with this title until it’s released), but you can pre-purchase it now and have it ready to go when the clock ticks down and the game is made available.

SEGA 3D Classics Collection for Nintendo 3DS – SEGA’s collection of 3D Classics is finally here! From previously-released titles such as 3D Sonic the Hedgehog to never-before-seen-in-this-part-of-the-world titles like 3D Power Drift, there is plenty to see here.

ASH for Nintendo 3DS – This turn-based role-playing game’s story is cast with an air of uncertainty as the royal army is deployed in absence of a king, leaving its leader to wonder the true intentions of the Magistrate.

Theme Shop on Nintendo 3DS

This week’s new themes are “Star Fox Zero : Space Battle,” “Shovel Knight Campfire Dream,” and “Plague Knight’s Theme.”

Nintendo eShop Sales (Taken directly from Nintendo’s press release; prices in USD)

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

David Oxford is a freelance writer of many varied interests. If you’re interested in hiring him, please drop him a line at david.oxford (at) nyteworks.net.

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On the go or on the couch, Nintendo has two big titles lined up. Plus, a pair of retro classics on Wii U’s Virtual Console and a sequel to an indie darling, to boot. It’s looking like a good week from here.

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Pokkén Tournament for Wii U – Available March 18th: Enough with the turn-based stuff, these Pokemon are ready to throw down with fighting game fisticuffs. With the Super Smash Bros. roster packed to the gills, however, what are they to do? Start their own tournament, Tekken-style, of course!

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DIG DUG II for Wii U – Dig Dug is taking a break from his side-scrolling adventures and going on a top-down island vacation. Too bad the swarms of Pooka and Fygar won’t allow him to rest! Inflate them to the point of bursting, or dig some clever traps to ensnare them!

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City Connection for Wii U – You’re out to make your mark on the world by painting the roadways around the globe by driving over them. Unfortunately, the cops aren’t too keen on your activities and are giving chase. Can you paint all the roads while making a clean getaway?

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Bird Mania Party for Wii U – Up to five players can compete for the best score as you soar past bushes, treetops, and stinging bees. Collect points and unlock achievements to the pumping music, or bring a friend along for co-op play!

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U Host for Wii U – Get together up to four friends or teams and create your own game show! Choose from more than 1,000 questions across ten categories, or create your own custom categories and questions that can add a personal touch to an upcoming event! All this, and mini-games, too!

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Mutant Mudds Super Challenge for Wii U and Nintendo 3DS – Max is back for a bigger challenge than any he’s ever faced! Purchase the game on one console and cross-buy will allow you to get it on the other. What’s more, the Loyalty Discount will save you 15 percent if you own the original Mutant Mudds or downloaded the Nindies@Home Preview version of this title.

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Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games for Nintendo 3DS – Available March 18th: It’s time to train for the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro! As your Mii, join Mario and Sonic in their separate Adventure Mode stories and take part in 14 events, including BMX, 110m Hurdles, golf, and soccer! (On a personal note, I always prefer the portables for their Adventure Modes, so this is the version I’m most interested in.)

New DLC

Fire Emblem Fates – New DLC Map – Royal Royale – A new map is available to download, or you can purchase Map Pack 1 to get everything released through April 21st for less than you’d pay individually.

Theme Shop on Nintendo 3DS

This week’s new theme is “The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess : Light & Twilight.”

Nintendo eShop Sales (Taken directly from Nintendo’s press release; prices in USD)

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

David Oxford is a freelance writer of many varied interests. If you’re interested in hiring him, please drop him a line at david.oxford (at) nyteworks.net.

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As if out of nowhere, Nintendo announced and showed a new Nintendo Direct on the evening of Thursday, March 3rd. Here it is in full:

I like how I hit things before, so I’m going to repeat that this time, with the post here focusing on the facts as we know them for the Canadian side (i.e. the prices we pay versus the States).

Star Fox Zero arrives for Wii U on April 22nd, and in two forms: the Nintendo eShop version for $64.99, and in a physical retail bundle with Star Fox Guard for $74.99. Star Fox Guard can also be purchased as a digital download from the Nintendo eShop for $19.99, and buying either game in the Nintendo eShop gives you a $10 discount to use towards the other game.

In anticipation of Monster Hunter Generations, Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate will be $27.99 in the Nintendo eShop for 48 hours beginning at 3pm on Thursday, March 3rd.

Fire Emblem Fates: Revelation, the third path in which you don’t choose a side, will be available as downloadable content to either the Birthright or Conquest versions of the game on March 10th for $24.99.

With Azure Striker Gunvolt 2 announced, you can get the original Azure Striker Gunvolt game for $10.49 in the Nintendo eShop on Nintendo 3DS until June 1st.

While Mini Mario & Friends: amiibo Challenge will be available for early access free with the purchase of any amiibo from Best Buy, Amazon.com, and GameStop in the States, it doesn’t appear that Canada has any such deal going, and we’ll have to wait until April 28th to play this free Wii U and Nintendo 3DS downloadable title.

Huh… and that’s really it. Not a lot of pricing information going on here. If you want a full look at the press release for other details, head on over to the next page.

As for my own thoughts, you can find what stuck out most to me over at PoisonMushroom.Org.

David Oxford is a freelance writer of many varied interests. If you’re interested in hiring him, please drop him a line at david.oxford (at) nyteworks.net.

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Over the past few years, SEGA has released a number of M2-developed ports of classic SEGA Genesis and arcade titles to the Nintendo 3DS as — what else? — SEGA 3D Classics. And now that the series of releases has seemingly wrapped up, SEGA is releasing the compilation known as SEGA 3D Classics Collection in the west.

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Available April 26th at retail and (surprisingly) in the Nintendo eShop on Nintendo 3DS for $44.99 ($29.99 if you’re in the States), the collection features 3D remakes of the following Master System and Genesis titles:

  • Power DriftA high octane sprite-based circuit racer.
  • Puyo Puyo 2A head-to-head competitive puzzle game.
  • Maze WalkerA 3D mystery adventure.
  • Fantasy Zone II: The Tears of Opa-Opa A classic psychedelic scrolling shooter.
  • Fantasy Zone II WFantasy Zone II W is basically an updated version of the game above.
  • Sonic The HedgehogControl the iconic character in the classic fast-paced platformer.
  • Thunder BladeHelicopters, guns, missiles and explosions. What more do you need?
  • Galaxy Force IISave the galaxy in this space themed3D shoot ’em up.
  • Altered BeastA beat ’em up set in ancient Greece.

While fans may already have some of these titles, SEGA points out that others — specifically, Power Drift and Puyo Puyo 2 — have never been released outside of Japan before. Then there’s Maze Walker (which originally employed the SegaScope 3D glasses for its 3D effect) and Fantasy Zone II: The Tears of Opa-Opa, two games never before released for the Nintendo 3DS.

And yes, I see you raising your eyebrow at that last one — I did review Fantasy Zone II W for Nintendo 3DS a little while back, but that was a remake of the Master System game upgraded to System- 16 arcade board standards with added 3D effects. Both that and the Master System version are being included here.

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Plus, if I’m understanding the official website correctly, this package also comes with a complete set of SEGA system Home menu themes for your Nintendo 3DS, including Hi-Tech, SG-1000, SEGA Mark III, SEGA Master System, SEGA Genesis, Game Gear, SEGA Saturn, and a spot marked “coming soon” — Dreamcast, perhaps?

Topping it all off is a series of illustrations by Ken Sugimori of Game Freak, Inc., which you can see in the box art and sprinkled throughout the gallery below.

David Oxford is a freelance writer of many varied interests. If you’re interested in hiring him, please drop him a line at david.oxford (at) nyteworks.net.

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amiibo_Timmy-and-TommyAfter some teasing of various upcoming amiibo figure announcements, Nintendo of Canada has pulled back the curtain on a pretty good chunk of it. Leading off with the previously-announced Ryu, Roy, and R.O.B. in Famicom colors coming in March, they’ve also announced that a new wave of Animal Crossing amiibo will arrive in stores on March 18th, headlined by Rover, Kapp’n, and the duo of Timmy & Tommy, as well as a stand-alone Digby figure.

If that’s not enough Animal Crossing for you, another wave of Animal Crossing amiibo cards will be released, bringing the grand total to 300!

Returning to store shelves will be new shipments of Charizard, Greninja, and Lucario, who will arrive to help celebrate Pokémon‘s 20th anniversary.

3DS_MSROG_Pack-ShotWhen Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games arrives on the Nintendo 3DS on March 18th for $49.99, amiibo functionality will be includes there as well. However, perhaps due to the vast rosters on either side versus the number of amiibo available for either, only the title characters’ figures will be usable here.

The functionality here is rather curious, as the press release states “By tapping the Mario or Sonic amiibo figures to the New Nintendo 3DS system (or on a Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo 3DS XL or Nintendo 2DS system using the NFC Reader/Writer accessory), players can boost Mario and Sonic’s outfits with that character’s power for the day.”

I’m guessing that there might be some sort of stats associated with clothing/equipment, but it’s hard to say for sure without more information about the game itself (I’m still crossing my fingers that it features an Adventure Mode).

Incidentally and interestingly, no mention is made of similar compatibility with the Wii U version.

The biggest news of the entire press release, however, came from the Wolf Link and Midna amiibo figure’s compatibility with The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD:

The retail version of the game will arrive on March 4th at a suggested retail price of $79.99, and it includes the aforementioned Wolf Link and Midna amiibo figure, which “currently” will be the only way to get said figure. Still, if Digby is any indication, the duo will likely strike out on their own before too long.

In any case, tapping the figure to the Wii U GamePad controller will open the 40-floor “Cave of Shadows” bonus dungeon, and according to GameXplain, awards the “Bottomless Wallet” (provided you already have the Giant Wallet) that holds 9,999 rupees upon completion. Plus, players can save their remaining hearts at the end of the Cave of Shadows to the amiibo, allowing them to use them to replenish their life energy inside the cave should one wish to try to beat their previous record.

Data stored to the Wolf Link amiibo will also be usable in the upcoming The Legend of Zelda game coming to Wii U later this year, but the specifics are being kept hush-hush.

Wolf Link isn’t the only one that works with The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD, though — Link and Toon Link from the Super Smash Bros. series can be used once per day to refill your arrow count, while Princess Zelda and Sheik will do the same for the player’s hearts. Those seeking a challenge, though, will want to seek out the Ganondorf amiibo — scanning his figure doubles the damage that Link will take. Stack that on top of the rumored Hero Mode, and you’ll find a challenge worthy of any truly great Hero.

Finally, Star Fox Zero has a release date of April 22nd confirmed. However, while amiibo compatibility is also reiterated, Nintendo has elected to keep its lips sealed on that particular matter for now — sort of an odd way to conclude a list of amiibo functionality announcements, one has to admit.

David Oxford is a freelance writer of many varied interests. If you’re interested in hiring him, please drop him a line at david.oxford (at) nyteworks.net.

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Last week saw the release of classic Sonic the Hedgehog/SEGA Genesis spiritual successor Freedom Planet, so it’s only fitting (and maybe a little amusing) that this week would follow with SEGA releasing the 3D Classics version of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (apparently the last SEGA 3D Classics project), as well as a pair of Nintendo 3DS Home screen themes to go with it. And for platforming action this week, Sonic isn’t alone (and I’m not referring to the debut of Tails)…

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Chibi-Robo! Zip Lash for Nintendo 3DS – I had a chance to play this not too long ago, and what I found was a rather charming and unique platformer featuring a cult-favorite Nintendo character new to the genre. Using Chibi-Robo’s plug, you’ll whip, swing, and pull through different environments to save the world’s resources from alien invaders.

Incidentally, if you’re an amiibo collector, you’re going to want to go to retail on this one — it comes bundled with an exclusive Chibi-Robo amiibo!

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3D Sonic the Hedgehog for Nintendo 3DS – Considered by many to be Sonic’s best adventure of all-time (I’m usually torn between this and Sonic 3 & Knuckles, at least in the Genesis era), Sonic the Hedgehog 2 was an event when it was released — literally, as it pretty much invented the concept of street dates for video games. M2 are up to their usual magic with this release, featuring a Super Sonic mode and local co-op and versus gameplay. You can check out a trailer here, though the upscaling hasn’t done it any favors.

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The Legend of Legacy for Nintendo 3DS – Available October 13th, this peculiarly-named role playing game sends seven adventurers to a mysterious island in search of glory and treasure. Click here for a trailer.

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Goosebumps: The Game for Nintendo 3DS – Available October 13th, R.L. Stine’s famous Goosebumps monsters have come out to play in your neighborhood. Released from the books they originated in, it’s up to you to try to send these creatures of the night back to the bookshelf in this prequel to October 16th’s motion picture release.

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The Smurfs for Nintendo 3DS – Available October 13th, it’s pure smurfing chaos as Gargamel has accidentally released a dragon transformed by one of his experiments. Worse, the creature has smurfed the Smurf Village into a smurfy paste — what a smurftastrophe! Now you’ve got to help the little blue guys through a dozen mini-games to find an antidote for the dragon, restore the peace, and rebuild the village, too!

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Pocky & Rocky with Becky for Wii U – This Game Boy Advance adventure from Natsume offers you three playable characters to choose from (no points for guessing what their names are) as they set off on a quest of magic and danger to seal the Hydra Dragon away once again.

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RACE THE SUN for Wii U – Inspired by the arcade games of the past, Race the Sun aims to combine “high scores, short game sessions, and pure fun mingled with nerve-wracking tension” as you chase the sun in your solar-powered craft. No problem, right?

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Whispering Willows for Wii U – As Elena, you must use your ability to project your spirit outside of your body in order to communicate with benevolent spirits and wicked wraiths in order to solve the mystery of Willows Mansion — and your missing father.

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Perpetual Blast for Wii U – The objective here is simple: use your lasers and missiles in zero-gravity environments to destroy all the radioactive containers littering the solar system.

Theme Shop on Nintendo 3DS

This week’s new themes are “SEGA Game Gear,” “SEGA Genesis,” and “Chibi-Robo & Friends.”

Nintendo eShop Sales (Taken directly from Nintendo’s press release; prices in USD)

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

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Today is rather interesting — not a single new Nintendo 3DS game to be found! And I don’t mean the “New” Nintendo 3DS, I mean any new games for the system at all!

There is a puzzling bit regarding some Nintendo DSiWare games, and you can read about that below. On the bright side, there is a sale on the first wave of M2’s exquisite SEGA 3D Classics titles in the Nintendo 3DS eShop ($2.99 each!), so that may help make up for it.

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Art Academy: Home Studio for Wii U – 30 new art lessons allow you to hone your craft using the Wii U GamePad controller, then share it with the Miiverse! You can even post time-lapse videos of your work on YouTube. Plus, those who have Art Academy: SketchPad on their Wii U already can save $4 off the purchase of this title.

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Never Alone (Kisima Ingitchuna) for Wii U – Developed in conjunction with the Native Alaskan people known as the Iñupiat, this atmospheric puzzle platformer is inspired by a traditional story which has been shared across generations. Exclusive to the Wii U version of this title are more than 20 in-game cultural artifacts which feature high-resolution images and background information taken from the archives of the Smithsonian Institute. You can check out a trailer here.

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Shiftlings for Wii U – Two space janitors of questionable intelligence are joined by an air hose and charged with fixing problems while avoiding disaster in this puzzle platformer. One or two players can get in on the action as the duo must shift their size and weight between them to succeed. You can find a trailer here.

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Star Fox Command for Wii U – The final chapter in the saga begun by Star Fox 64, Star Fox Command features some strategy (good), multiple endings (very good), your choice of playable characters (really good), and controls almost entirely by the touch screen (not so good at all). I haven’t played this on the Wii U, but on the original Nintendo DS hardware, this really didn’t do it for me. And this comes from someone who enjoyed Kid Icarus Uprising.

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Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time for Wii U – Time gets twisted as Mario and Luigi team up with their younger selves to take on the duo of Bowser, Baby Bowser, and the malicious alien Shroobs to save Princess Peach and Baby Peach!

This game tends to get a lot of hate from fans of Mario role playing games, but honestly? I liked it. While the story is a bit darker and arguably not as good as other entries in the series, I felt it was more playable than Superstar Saga, which is what mattered to me more in the long run. The controls felt more responsive, the timing was better, and moving around the map wasn’t as much of a hassle.

Of course, it’s not as good as the third entry in the series, Bowser’s Inside Story, but Partners in Time marks a good evolutionary step.

G.G. Series games for Nintendo DSiWare – Okay, this is an odd one. Nine more of these have been released today, but I’ve heard different things, from the games not being available on the Nintendo 3DS eShop (DSiWare only) to simply not being available in Canada. I checked this myself, and sure enough — the only G.G. Series games there were from 2011. I hunted and I used the search, and that’s all I came up with. As such, I’m hereby suspending further updates regarding these titles pending someone confirming that they are indeed available in some way in Canada.

Theme Shop on Nintendo 3DS

New themes this week include “Comic Workshop 2: My Workshop,” “Harvest Moon: Chicken,” “Harvest Moon: Cow,” “Harvest Moon: Dog,” “Harvest Moon: Horse,” and “Harvest Moon: Theme Bundle.”

Nintendo eShop Sales (Taken directly from Nintendo’s press release; prices in USD)

Activities

From the press release: “Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. “Global Cup 2” Tournament – See how your Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. squad stacks up online in Nintendo’s Public Tournaments. Top players earn unique titles that are visible online and earn major bragging rights with their friends and around the world. The new “Global Cup 2” tournament runs from June 25 to July 1. Opt in via the SpotPass feature on your Nintendo 3DS family system for notifications on future tournaments, and click here for more information about multiplayer tournaments. Good luck, agents!”

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

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Sorry about the lateness on this one, but in case you missed it, Nintendo presented a “Nintendo Direct Micro” yesterday which brought a bunch of interesting news as we head into this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo. Check it out:

The highlights from the press release include a new Chibi Robo game for Nintendo 3DS called Chibi-Robo!: Zip Lash, which will have a bundle with a Chibi-Robo amiibo figure that can transform the character into Super Chibi-Robo in certain stages and help level the character up. Dr. Mario: Miracle Cure is coming to Nintendo 3DS on June 11, and features a combination of classic Dr. Mario and Dr. Luigi modes, as well as the new titular “Miracle Cure” which can clear away large swaths of viruses and pills all at once.

Late this year, Nintendo 3DS owners can get their hands on LBX: Little Battlers eXperience on August 21 and Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon this winter. Meanwhile, Bravely Second End Layer is officially confirmed for a North American release, though that won’t be until 2016.

As an aside, I’m still working on my review of Puzzle & Dragons Z + Puzzle & Dragons Super Mario Bros. Edition, but that hasn’t stopped Nintendo from releasing free additional content for it. “In addition to two extra free unlockable worlds in both the Puzzle & Dragons Z and Puzzle & Dragons Super Mario Bros. Edition games, players can now start enjoying free weekly online distributions exclusively for Puzzle & Dragons Z.”

Oh, and on that note, while I’m still doing my review, the Tiny Girl Tiny Games version is up now. Better still? You can win a copy if you enter before June 6!

Moving on to Wii U, but not entirely away from Nintendo 3DS: Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games is coming in August 2016! Soccer and Table Tennis are in the Nintendo 3DS version, whereas Soccer, Rugby, and Beach Volleyball are on Wii U. There’s also a Golf event in one of them, along with new characters. The best part, in my opinion, is that they’re doing another Nintendo 3DS one after skipping out on that version for Sochi. In fact, that mode is why I tend to prefer the portable versions over their console big brothers.

On the full Wii U front, Nintendo showed off the above trailer for Bandai Namco’s Project Treasure and announced that Art Academy: Home Studio will be coming to the Nintendo eShop on June 25. Perhaps more exciting for the here and now, however, is the first free downloadable content for Splatoon: the new Port Mackeral map, the opening of Ranked Battle mode, and the N-Zap ’85 weapon, seen at the top of this article.

For those too young to remember, the N-Zap ’85 is based on the Zapper light gun peripheral which came with many a Nintendo Entertainment System upon its release in the United States in 1985. According to the Splatoon website, “The N-Zap 85 is a shooter with excellent ink efficiency and rapid-fire capability. Its attack power isn’t all that, but it’s fabulous at quickly charging up the Echolocator special weapon. Combined with Splat Bombs, this set caters to fighters who like to cover a lot of ground in battle.”

If it’s of any interest to you, the 2015 Nintendo World Championships kick off at 3pm PT on Sunday, June 14, but there will be pre-show broadcasts prior to the event. Also, while the full roster of games won’t be made known until showtime, “hopeful contestants can prepare to compete in the original The Legend of Zelda, as well as a mix of other Nintendo games.”

Finally, Nintendo is expanding its social media presence, and you can follow them on both Periscope and Snapchat under the username @NintendoAmerica, where they will have behind-the-scenes content before and during the Electronic Entertainment Expo, which runs from June 16 to June 18.

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We haven’t even finished the second round of SEGA’s 3D Classics yet, but SEGA isn’t wasting any time getting to a third round of the M2-developed 3D remakes of their classic library.

While the second round focused primarily on arcade gems, this time we’re looking mostly at titles from the SEGA Genesis library. 3D Streets of Rage 2 will hit in July, with 3D Gunstar Heroes in August and 3D Sonic The Hedgehog 2 in September of this year.

“Just like the previously released arcade classics,” says the press release, “each game in the series delivers a full-fledged re-mastered vintage experience, stunning 3D visuals and optimized for the platform. All games in the series will include brand new modes and features, letting you play the game how you remember it but also in an entirely new way.”

Each game will be priced at $5.99 USD in the Nintendo eShop for Nintendo 3DS. Prior to that, 3D Fantasy Zone II arrives this week (in the meantime, you can check out my review of the first one here), and that will be followed by 3D Thunder Blade on May 14th, 2015.

This is an interesting turnaround, primarily because these past releases have had about a year or so between their Japanese and North American releases. Meanwhile, I don’t think this new batch have even been released in Japan yet, if they’ve even been announced.

For a look at how much work and care the folks at M2 put into these remakes, be sure to read the collection of developer interviews over on SEGA’s blog.

beanisawesomeBecause hosts Matthew Green and Blake Grundman have still yet to learn their lesson, I’ve returned once more to the Power Button podcast. Jiminy Willickers, this is almost starting to turn into a regular gig!

For this week’s topic, however, I brought back-up in the form of my tag team partner in crime charity, Ian “Potto” Flynn. We continue our look into the wide, wide world of comic books based on video games with Archie’s decades-spanning hit series, Sonic the Hedgehog, so who better to have on board for the discussion than the man who has penned more than 100 issues of the Blue Blur’s adventures, spread across some four books (and some change, if you count the Sonic Super Digest and Super Sonic Special magazine)?

Along the way, you’ll hear about some of the book’s milestones and achievements, what it’s like dealing with a video game licensing company, the work that goes into creating the book, and just for kicks, what happens if you do a search of your name followed by “the Hedgehog” on deviantART (and much screaming/crying from Blake as a result). To hear others tell it, it sounds like I got off easy there.

As ever, you can download this edition from Stitcher or iTunes, perform wicked RSS feed magicks, or just listen to/download it from Press The Buttons directly.

Hmm, with all this talk of blue video game heroes starring in books from Archie Comics, it almost feels like I’ve forgotten something… maybe it’ll come to me in a few weeks or so?

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.

The second of the two Sonic Boom demos I would try at Nintendo of Canada’s holiday preview media event was Rise of Lyric for the Wii U. Unlike the Nintendo 3DS game, which dropped you right onto a map screen, there were three separate scenarios available to try, each representing a different aspect of the game.

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The first segment I took on was an action scenario set in some sort of underwater waste disposal facility filled with robots, and later, large pools of liquid that probably don’t play nicely with fur and flesh. Unlike Shattered Crystal, the action here was less of a classic Sonic (or even Modern Sonic) style, and felt closer to a brawler of sorts– at least, where combat was concerned. Like the Nintendo 3DS game, using the Dpad allowed for changing characters between Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, and instead of newcomer Sticks the Badger, Sonic mainstay Amy Rose, each with their own style of combat.

Or, at least, it would have if the stage had allowed for it. Instead, only Sonic and Amy were available, likely per the story.

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Much like the Nintendo 3DS version, the EnerBeam got a fair amount of play here. Unlike that game, though, there was no swinging high jinks going on here; aside from using it to grab and disarm enemies, it mainly served to be used to trigger switches and things to allow for progression.

After obtaining a crystal, things took on a more traditional 3D Sonic feel as the duo booked it down a corridor with a monstrous robot hot on their trail. Movement was simply using the L and R shoulder buttons to move left and right, respectively. No cornering required; the characters handled everything else. It took me two tries to get through, as a jumping attack it didn’t use the second time squashed me flat.

Following some more puzzle-platforming with springboards, switches, and homing attack from one enemy to the next, I reached an area where I had to face the same robot who had given chase before in a boss battle of sorts. Defeating it would require grabbing other robots that appeared by using the EnerBeam and then, as with Bowser in Super Mario 64, swinging them around before launching them at the creature. Upon its defeat was where my time with this part of the demo ended.

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The two other portions of the demo took on different aspects from the initial part: A different boss battle and a different running segment.

I took on the running segment first, and all told, it was fun but brief. This time, all four characters were involved as they would spring through an outdoor valley area. It didn’t overstay its welcome, and if the first area was any indication, there are plenty more of these spread throughout the game, similar to how such segments were incorporated into previous titles.

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The last one I took on was a fun boss battle against Dr. Eggman, and much like before, defeating him involved using the EnerBeam to grab, swing, and throw things into his giant mech. Instead of robotic foes, however (who were also present), Eggman launched volleys of defective missiles which failed to explode on impact. Grabbing these with the EnerBeam were what was required to win the day here.

On the one hand, it feels like there may be a bit of a slightly-repetitive theme involved in swinging and throwing things at bosses with the EnerBeam, if the two I faced were any indication. On the other, it was still a bit different; after several missiles made contact, all four members of the team would use their EnerBeams to pull the giant mech down onto its face, at which point the lead character (in this case, Knuckles, who seemed to pack a nice punch) would have the opportunity to wail away on it before Eggman got his bearings and regrouped. Three times of doing this, and the boss was down for keeps.

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Between the two versions of Sonic Boom, I think the Sonic fan in me has to give just a slight nod to the Nintendo 3DS version, as it just overall feels closer to a Sonic game, even despite having to relearn how to approach it, as mentioned before.

But even with that said, I still had fun playing the Wii U version. It’s received a bit of scorn since E3, but I honestly had fun with it. It’s an interesting new approach for Sonic, and while it may arguably not be as distinct among its 3D platforming peers as games such as Sonic Generation, it still felt solid and manages to work in its own way. Even if one has a harder time appreciating it as a Sonic game than as a Sonic Boom game with its own merits, I think this semi-reboot of the franchise is worth a further look and I’m glad I got a chance to play it.

Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric for the Wii U will be released on November 11th, 2014.