Tag Archives: Wii U

Review: Jotun: Valhalla Edition

What a lovely looking game. It’s just so, so… lovely. BEAUTIFUL in fact.

Not since I reviewed Child of Light have I been so entranced by a game’s visuals – the hand-drawn animation here has to be seen to be believed. I’ve come away from it wishing that more games could adopt the same style – although it must take an utterly ENORMOUS amount of work to draw all of those frames by hand.

Still, between Jotun and the upcoming Cuphead, it seems that the hand-drawn look is very much the new ‘in’ thing – just as cel shading was all the rage about 15 years ago. (And speaking of cel shading, do play XIII (review here) if you get the chance. I liked it so much I ended up buying the entire set of graphic novels it’s based on.)

So yes, Jotun looks utterly lovely, but thankfully it also has the gameplay to back up its beatiful visuals. As Thora, you play a Viking warrior who has drowned at sea and must battle the Jotun – mythical giants – to earn a place in Valhalla. Thora’s story is narrated in wonderfully melodic language – I’m guessing it’s spoken in Norse, but I’m not sure – and I lapped up the game’s exploration of Viking mythology. Each level picks up on a theme from the Norse sagas, and they tend to be long treks with light puzzling, interspersed with the odd infusion of folklore. Having said that, occasionally your wandering is interrupted by some unexpected nasties – I won’t spoil them for you here.

Still, the meat of the game is the Jotun themselves. These five bosses exude character and are pretty tough to beat, but they’re such a joy to fight that I didn’t mind the many restarts it took to finish them off. The game creates such a wonderful sense of place, history and feeling of ‘the other’ that I couldn’t put it down. It may be a fairly short experience, but it’s perfectly formed.

Jotun was the first game by Thunder Lotus, and it’s a seriously impressive debut. Their next game, Sundered, promises a similar hand-drawn style to Jotun but with Metroidvania-like gameplay. Can’t wait.

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The Top Ten Wii U Games

Ed’s note: We’re proud to welcome Professor GreilMercs to The Manor, one of several new regular contributors. Check out his stuff at http://ivgacademy.com/index.php/blog.


Late last year, almost exactly four years after its launch, the last Wii U rolled off the production line. During its short lifetime, the Wii U was often misunderstood, not helped by a mangled marketing campaign and general confusion as to how to best utilise its unique second screen. History will no doubt view it as Nintendo’s folly, but despite its small install base and relatively slim catalogue of games, it was home to some of the very best titles of its generation.

We spent a long time trying to come up with a definitive top ten list of the best Wii U games, which turned out to be a surprisingly difficult job. Here’s what we came up with – be prepared for a few surprises…

10. Toki Tori 2+

GreilMercs (review) – The first Toki Tori  game (originally for the Game Boy Color) ranks as one of my favorite puzzle games ever, so I had high hopes for its sequel. The game is perhaps a bit too ambitious and sprawling, but the core mechanics are solid. Toki Tori, a yellow chicken who serves as the game’s protagonist, only has two moves, stomping to repel creatures and whistling to attract them. These combine with a menagerie of colorful characters for Toki Tori to interact with (including birds, crabs, and bats) and lead to a surprising amount of variety to the puzzles. The game is at times a bit frustrating and obtuse, but it’s oftentimes relaxing as well, and overall it’s a lot of fun and quite memorable.

9. Mario Kart 8

Lucius – When Nintendo announced Mario Kart 8, I wasn’t too excited. The last couple of entries in the series didn’t set my world alight, and I wondered whether it was time the series was put out to pasture. But my god it’s good. The course design is what makes it so special – swooping, whirling roller-coasters utterly packed with detail, all swishing by at terrific speeds in a whirl of colour. The game barely left my Wii U disc tray for the best part of a year – thanks in part to the generous, excellent DLC, which finally saw characters from other Nintendo series welcomed into the line up. And the music! Such amazing tunes… All in all, it’s by far the pinnacle of the Mario Kart series, only let down by a slightly subpar Battle Mode.

GreilMercs (review) – To be honest, I found Mario Kart 8 to be fairly underwhelming, and I didn’t feel like the HD graphics and anti-gravity mechanics brought much new to the series. Still, it’s a solid multiplayer game (despite its lack of traditional battle arenas), and the weightier physics of the karts added a bit of realism – well, as much as can be said for a game in which you can carry around a Piranha Plant and shrink opponents with a lightning bolt. The DLC, which expanded the Kart world to include other Nintendo IPs, added some variety to the proceedings. The game has only been bettered with its rerelease on Switch, which is certainly the definitive version.

8. Super Mario 3D World

GreilMercs (review) – Super Mario 3D World fulfilled the promise of 3DS’s Super Mario 3D Land, and completely fulfilled the development team’s goal of marrying the straightforward 2D gameplay of the classic Mario games with the variety and freedom of the 3D games, not to mention including a fun and smooth multiplayer experience. The game adds more new mechanics and power ups than most of the games in the series, including the Double Cherry, Goomba Mask, Cannon Box, Light Box, a Piranha Plant you can carry, and, of course, the Cat Suit. Playing as the reunited cast of Super Mario Bros. 2 with their trademark special abilities is a blast, and the secret unlockable character was a great surprise and feels right at home with the rest of the group. The game feels like a successful and satisfying culmination of Nintendo’s 2D and 3D Mario games, and it will be fascinating to see how they top this one.

Lucius – I just couldn’t get into New Super Mario Bros. U, and I feared that perhaps I was falling out of love with Mario games – but then this beast came along and reminded me why Mario is so bloody great. The sheer number of ideas on display is astonishing – it will introduce a new mechanic but then discard it after just one level, before bringing in something entirely new on the next one. You could easily build an entire game around one of the ideas used in just one level of Super Mario 3D World… and in fact they did just that. Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is an excellent spin-off game in its own right, but in Super Mario 3D World the Toad levels are just one tiny facet of a glorious whole.

7. Super Mario Maker

GreilMercs (review) – I generally shy away from games that focus on creating levels and such, but of course I had to check out Super Mario Maker. The lack of a story mode or sense of progression is offset by the sheer amount of variety of the official and user-submitted levels, much more than you might first think given the finite number of elements available. Although there are a lot of disposable submissions and boring “don’t move” Rube Goldberg-type levels, it’s not hard to find users whose creations easily rival Nintendo’s own level designers. The best levels are the ones that take the familiar Mario elements and make something new with a distinctly non-Nintendo feel, such as head-scratching puzzle levels. The game is surprisingly fun, and a refreshing change of pace from the Newer Super Mario Bros. series, which has for far too long been the default 2D Mario game experience.

6. Xenoblade Chronicles X

Lucius (review) – I’ve put around 130 hours into this game and finished the main story, but there’s easily enough content to keep me playing for another 130 hours – or more. The game is simply HUGE. And because of this, it nails the feeling of exploration, as you push your way ever further into the depths of unfamiliar and hostile continents. Like its predecessor, the sheer scale of the monsters you face is flabbergasting, and you’ll regularly be dwarfed by dinosaurs the size of buildings. After spending most of the game running away from these behemoths, there’s an enormous sense of satisfaction at returning towards the end of the game and smiting them with suitably souped up weaponry. Special mention should also go to the crazy story, which starts off with the Earth being destroyed – as openers go, it’s a strong one.

 5. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U

GreilMercs (review) – The lead-up to any Smash Bros. game is full of speculation and ridiculous amounts of hype, and the lead-up to Super Smash Bros. for Wii U (and 3DS) was no exception. It would of course be impossible for everyone’s favorite character to be included, but director Sakurai did a great job of adding another batch of new and surprising characters to the roster, many of whom had unique mechanics, such as Rosalina and Luma, Little Mac, Shulk, and Wii Fit Trainer. The game is overflowing with modes, including a surprisingly fun board game type multiplayer experience. Although the game isn’t as much of a step forward as Melee or Brawl, it’s still a game that you could (and people do) easily spend hours upon hours mastering, or just pick up every once in a while for some fun with friends.

Lucius (review) – I had an absolute blast with Super Smash Bros. for Wii U when I first got it. The unimpeachable roster of characters was undoubtedly the highlight, with everyone from Captain Olimar to the dog from Duck Hunt being represented, and there were even a few surprising debuts from non-Nintendo characters, such as Sonic and Pac-Man. The sheer range of playing modes on offer is astounding, and the trophies are brilliant bites of nostalgia, referencing all sorts of long-forgotten Nintendo lore. In the end though, I just found the game wasn’t for me – my interest in fighting games has waned dramatically over the years, and my friends found the multiplayer chaotic and too confusing to enjoy. That said, I can still appreciate that this is easily the pinnacle of the Smash series.

4. Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate

Lucius (review) – This was my first Monster Hunter game, and it dug its claws in deep. It’s a hard game to get into, but thankfully I had my MH-loving sister on hand to guide me through the game’s complexities and arcane stats. Once I’d got my head around the idea that the only way to ‘level up’ was to make better armour from bits of the beasts you slay, I spent many happy hours gleefully chopping my way through monsters with an eye on the next fancy outfit I had in mind. And speaking of monsters, the sheer variety of them is phenomenal – and they don’t go down easy, either. Each hunt is a tense game of cat and mouse, first tracking the animal down and then gradually learning its attacks, before carefully laying a trap or going in for the kill. There’s nothing else quite like it out there, and I for one am an eager Monster Hunter convert.

GreilMercs (review) – I missed out on Monster Hunter Tri for Wii, so Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate was my first real experience with the series. I was wary of the series’ infamously high difficulty curve, but it actually wasn’t too bad, and I spent many an obsessive hour playing the game and then studying up on the nuances of the game’s mechanics online. The gameplay loop, of fighting monsters to gain parts to make better weapons and armor to fight tougher monsters to make better weapons and armor (…) is addictive, and although I definitely feel like I’m missing out on the multiplayer side of things I still had a lot of fun playing solo.

3. Hyrule Warriors

GreilMercs (review) – I was pretty obsessed with Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, but that did not even begin to compare with how obsessed I got with Hyrule Warriors. I’d always been wary of the Dynasty Warriors games because every review I’d read of the games stressed how repetitive the gameplay is, but Hyrule Warriors has so many characters and weapons and adds so many other objectives that you hardly notice it. Levelling up characters, defeating enemies in order to collect materials, and working through the story mode is pretty fun, but completing the adventure mode challenges to unlock new characters, weapons, and costumes is where the game goes from fun to seriously addictive. The Zelda trappings are what tie everything together, and the amount of fanservice is simply fantastic, fulfilling fans long-time fantasies of getting to play as series’ favorites, such as Midna, Ganondorf, Zelda herself, and… Tingle?? A complete surprise to me that it ranks so high on my list of favorite Wii U games, but it’s really that good.

Lucius – I only played the 3DS version of this game – Hyrule Warriors Legends – but bar a slight graphical downgrade, it’s essentially the same experience. And what an experience it is. Fusing the musou gameplay of Dynasty Warriors with the Zelda universe was a stroke of genius, and the generous list of characters to play with, along with a massive Adventure Mode that takes place on the original Legend of Zelda map, rounds off an extremely generous package that shows real love for the fiction. Like all musou games, the gameplay can become a little repetitive, but slicing down armies of soldiers with one swipe of the Master Sword always brings a smile to my face.

2. Pikmin 3

Lucius (review) – My only complaint about this game is that there simply wasn’t enough of it. I burned through the whole thing in a few days, all the time with a joyous grin plastered across my face. The move to HD has been an absolute boon for Pikmin, and the sumptuous environments are worth exploring simply to see the detail that’s been put into them. And the fruit! Surely if there was a prize for Best Looking Fruit in a Video Game, Pikmin 3 would win the contest without problem. Seriously, that fruit is beautiful. I actually remember spinning around a 3D model of an apple for about 15 minutes, just marvelling at its pores. Fruit aside though, this game easily bests the previous two in terms of fun and strategy – it’s just a shame we had to wait nine years for it. Hopefully Pikmin 4 will be a little quicker in coming.

GreilMercs (review) – I’d played and really enjoyed the first Pikmin game and had been pretty bored with the slow pace of Pikmin 2, but I got ensnared by Pikmin 3‘s absolutely perfect progression and found myself finishing the game in a ridiculously few number of sittings. The gameplay isn’t much different from its two predecessors, but this is a case where Nintendo’s level of polish really elevates this game to its lofty position among the Wii U’s library. The Wii U’s GamePad is super handy, and this was one of the few Wii U games where I felt the boost in graphics really improved the overall experience. The multiplayer modes are quite fun also.

1. Splatoon

GreilMercs (review) – The impact of Splatoon can perhaps best be described as doing for shooters what Mario Kart did for racing games: made them fun for everyone. The game is a sublime mix of fresh parts within its core gameplay, including providing multiple objectives  (painting turf vs. splatting enemies) and multiple styles of movement (moving as a kid and shooting with your gun vs. hiding or swimming in the paint as a squid, including up walls). There are tons of modes and weapons, and the neon aesthetics, funky music, memorable new characters, and fun and colorful street style combine with the superbly elegant, “just one more round” gameplay to create a fantastically fun experience. Easily the best new IP from Nintendo that appeared on Wii U, or any Nintendo system for that matter. The only weak link was a somewhat ho-hum single-player campaign, although that may be remedied in the forthcoming sequel on Switch.

Lucius – OK, confession here. Despite owning this game, I’ve only played about half of the single-player mode, and I’ve never tried it online. And yet here it is at number one. Why? Well, for a start, Prof. GreilMercs is VERY EMPHATIC that this is clearly the best game ever released on Wii U, and who am I to disagree with him? For another thing, online shooters are never going to be my cup of tea, but I can easily appreciate just how important and ground-breaking this game is – trust Nintendo to come up with a highly competitive FPS with no blood or violence. It can be done! Plus the Inklings are a simply awesome piece of character design – I have two of them in amiibo form sat staring at me on my desk right now. The single-player game is also wonderfully designed, full of ingenious levels and satisfying mechanics – just the act of shooting your ink gun is a joy. So, like Smash Bros., this game may not be my personal favourite simply because of its genre – but I am very, very glad it exists.

Honourable mentions

We debated for ages about the running order of the top ten. Here are some of the games that got pipped at the post: Tokyo Mirage Sessions FE#, New Super Luigi U, Bayonetta 2, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Project Zero: Maiden of Black Water, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, Little Inferno.

You’re probably wondering why on earth Breath of the Wild isn’t at number one, let alone not even in the top ten. Well, controversially, Professor GM isn’t a massive fan of it, and Lucius hasn’t played it yet, so it was mercilessly chopped from the running early on. We seriously considered a place for Little Inferno in the top ten right up to the end, having both enjoyed it immensely, but finally we decided it was a bit too slight to muscle out the big boys. Lucius also fought for Affordable Space Adventures to have some representation, but it was eventually nuzzled out of the running by Toki Tori 2+.

So what do you agree with on our list? Let us know your own top ten in the comments below!

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Darksiders: Warmastered marks a last hurrah for the Wii U

Look what just arrived in the post!


Sir Gaulian has been banging on about how good Darksiders is for years, so I finally decided to try it for myself. I initially dismissed the game as a bit emo for my tastes – the ‘LOOK AT ME I’M SAD AND ANGRY’ stylings of try-hard sequel Prince of Persia: Warrior Within sprang to mind – but I’m told it’s more like Zelda than anything else, and that pretty much sold it to me.

The fact that THQ Nordic is releasing this remastered edition on Wii U at all is something of a surprise. It comes seven years after the original game and seven months after the release of Warmastered on Xbox One and PS4, not to mention a good five months or so after the announcement that Nintendo has ceased production of the Wii U. It’s likely to be one of the last boxed releases for Nintendo’s retiring console.

But by all accounts, it’s an excellent game to go out on.

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Review: Xenoblade Chronicles X

Let’s get this out of the way first: Xenoblade Chronicles X is big. Really big.

Xenoblade Chronicles on the Wii was a pretty damn massive 100+ hour adventure, but its sequel (of sorts) knocks its predecessor into a cocked hat in terms of scale. At around 50 hours in, there was still an entire continent I hadn’t even set foot on.

Getting to that 50-hour mark, however, took a lot of perseverance. Having played the previous game in the series, I thought I’d be able to slip into the gameplay fairly quickly, but no – X throws a cavalcade of new, complicated systems at you with only the briefest of explanations as to how they work, and I spent the first few hours in a state of utter bamboozlement. At least the fighting system remains broadly similar, so I sort of knew what I was doing when trying to beat things up. But it took me many, many hours to learn the tricks of that arcane system of Arts and Auras on the Wii game – I genuinely don’t know how someone new to the series could possibly hope to work out what the hell was going on in Xenoblade Chronicles X without extensive reading of the manual and online forums.

Speaking of which, you really need to read the in-game manual from (virtual) cover to cover to have any clue as what to do. It’s the first time I can remember actually reading a game manual in a very, very long time – probably since when they used to have exciting cartoon pictures of what the pixelly things on screen were ‘meant’ to look like, and space at the back to note down passwords. The fact I haven’t read a manual in years is a testament to how most modern games have improved by providing thorough tutorials and help, allowing you to play with confidence without the need for written explanations – in this sense, Xenoblade Chronicles X is thoroughly old school.

Just look at all of the info you’re presented with. It took me HOURS to work out what all of it means.

So, it’s not the easiest of games to get into, then. But my word, what rewards it offers to those who can master its complexities.

The story is compelling – it starts off with Earth being destroyed, which, as an opener, surely takes some beating. The survivors take off in various ark ships in search of a new home, but they are followed by the aliens that laid waste to the Earth. One ark ship – New LA – crash lands on a planet called Mira after being attacked, and the game sees you exploring the new planet in an attempt to find the ‘Lifehold’ section of the ship that contains stasis pods in which the residents of New LA are sleeping. But the aliens are also attempting to find the Lifehold in an effort to wipe out the human race, for reasons which remain unclear.

But because its Xenoblade, you’re also trying to gather up jewels to decorate dresses, building a Back-to-the-Future style time machine and putting on firework displays for the potato-like Nopon folk, because what would a JRPG be without oddball subquests?

It’s damn pretty though. I should have mentioned that, it’s an extremely pretty game.

And speaking of quests, my god there’s a lot of them. Xenoblade Chronicles had a ridiculous number of missions along the lines of ‘kill X of these monsters’ and ‘collect X of these things’, and Xenoblade Chronicles X ups the ante even further. I’ve no idea of the total number of quests in the game, but it’s certainly considerably more than the previous one. After playing for over 130 hours and completing the main story, I still have an untold number of missions to complete. You could literally play this game for years – especially as it introduces online multiplayer and ridiculously hard ‘Nemesis’ battles that occur around once a month. (I barely scratched the online components, but there’s a healthy number of people playing it, even a couple of years after the game’s release.)

So it’s big and intimidating, but Xenoblade Chronicles X is also one of the most rewarding and compelling games I’ve ever played. Getting my own Skell – a sort of giant bipedal mech – at around 5o hours in was one of the most exciting gaming moments I’ve ever experienced. Some have criticised the length of time it takes for the game to give you one of these metal beasts, but I think the waiting just makes the eventual moment all the more satisfying. Having a Skell completely changes the way you perceive the map, and it suddenly lets you confront the huge beasts you’ve been running away from for most of the game. It’s a pivotal moment, but it’s not the only one – there’s an even better part a few tens of hours further on, which I won’t spoil for you here.

You’ve probably realised by now that I’m pretty fond of the game. It’s not without its flaws: intimidating complexity, some naff music, repetitive quests and a morosely unfunny running gag about eating a Nopon ‘friend’ who tags along with you are just some of them. But the amount of things to do is mind-boggling – and it captures the excitement of exploring an unfamiliar alien world better than any game I’ve played before.

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Spiffing Reads: Geralt in Real Life, Trump vs Final Fantasy VII and Bye Bye Wii U

This week on Spiffing Reads, we start with a look at who Geralt is in real life…

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The voice behind The Witcher (Eurogamer)

Even though I’ve never played any of the Witcher games (except the board game), I found this a fascinating read. Partly because it turns out that Geralt lives in Bournemouth. It was also fascinating to read about the divorce between Geralt as perceived by the game-playing public and the actual nature of the voiceover job – just a few days in a sound studio that was quickly forgotten about as the actor moved on to other projects.

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Punching Nazis (Eurogamer)

Last week I featured a well-written article from Mr Biffo about his uncomfortable feelings surrounding the internet celebration of the smack in the face received by neo-Nazi Richard Spencer live on TV. This article by Alexis Kennedy covers the same topic with some excellent, well backed-up points. It turns out that Nazis really WANT to be punched – because it means you’ve given up arguing against their skewed world view.

banner-saga

Love, Loss and the Human Threads of The Banner Saga (Kotaku UK)

This article passed me by last week, but I’m glad I discovered it – it’s another very well written piece by Sam Greer, who wrote an excellent article on Shadow of the Colossus a while back. This time she muses on what makes The Banner Saga so damn good – and after reading it, I’m itching to sample the game for myself.

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20 years after its release, Final Fantasy VII’s Trumpian dystopia has arrived (A.V. Club)

At first glance, this article seems like a very stupid idea – a comparison of the Donald Trump administration with the imaginary world of Final Fantasy VII. But if you ignore that and read on, the author makes some really interesting points and covers some political ramifications of Trump’s presidency that I hadn’t even considered. Splendid stuff.

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Video games don’t love or hate you – they’re just built that way (Eurogamer)

RIP Wii U: Nintendo’s glorious, quirky failure (The Guardian)

And finally, we have a couple of great articles by Keith Stuart. The first pulls back the veil on video games and reveals the simple programming tricks that can fool us into thinking computer opponents in games have some kind of personality. The bit about how AI racers are programmed in Micro Machines is fascinating – it turns out there’s no AI at all.

The second is a bittersweet look back at the Wii U, a machine that no one seemed to understand, yet still had some of the best games released in the past five years. Bye bye Wii U, I for one will miss you.

Sob.


Spiffing Reads is a regular feature where we pick out the best gaming articles of the week. If you’ve read anything interesting, please let us know in the comments.

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Review: Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones

fire-emblem-sacred-stones-cover-art-gbaNintendo’s Virtual Console policy continues to frustrate me. Certain titles are exclusive to the Wii U or 3DS, which makes sense up to a certain point – Wii games wouldn’t really work on a handheld, for example. But why make Game Boy Advance games exclusive to Wii U? Surely the only reason is to drive sales of the ailing console, yet these games would be much better suited to playing on the 3DS. Why can’t GBA games be sold on both consoles? Why not have the option to buy the games once and download them on both platforms, like Sony offers with the PS3/PS4 and Playstation Vita?

What’s especially irritating is that Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones was previously made available on the 3DS as part of the 3DS Ambassadors programme for early adopters of the console. Yet five years down the line, these games have still yet to be made available to ‘regular’ punters. Come on Nintendo, open up the vaults to everyone, regardless of which console they own – there’s pure gold to be had in those game coffers.

And Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones really is pure gold. I remember at the time of its release, it was criticised as essentially being a reskin of the previous title in the series, which was simply called Fire Emblem in the west. Even though the latter was the seventh game in the turn-based strategy RPG series, it was the first to be localised for western audiences, and it was an absolute cracker. I reminisced about it for 1o1 Video Games That Made My Life Slightly Better a few years ago, particularly about its unforgiving permadeath mechanic, which ended up leaving me with the thousand-yard-stare of a war general who’s seen to much. So many purple-haired youngsters sent to their deaths…

Good old Seth, what a powerhouse that man is.

Good old Seth, what a powerhouse that man is.

Actually, I never quite managed to see that game to its end – by the later levels, I’d lost so many characters that it was becoming impossible to get through the stages with my weakened band of war heroes. Sacred Stones on Wii U, on the other hand, benefits from the ‘Restore Point’ mechanic that’s added to all Virtual Console games – which essentially lets you save at any point. I’m not ashamed to admit that I abused this mechanic to the full, so by the end I still had a full crew of warriors (until the brutal final battle, that is).

I’m still a little conflicted about this: by carefully saving regularly and replaying sections if a character died, I was able to see the inter-character relationships develop across the game. But it also felt a little like cheating, and it meant I never quite experienced the highs and lows of seeing a favourite character just about scrape through to fight another day, or see a dutifully raised knight perish suddenly thanks to a silly mistake or unexpected ambush. Still, at least I finished the damn thing.

Ah, Dozla - so playful with that axe!

Ah, Dozla – so playful with that axe!

It’s clear that Intelligent Systems realised that people love seeing characters bloom and get to know each other, hence why this mechanic is hugely beefed up in the most recent games, Fire Emblem: Awakening and Fire Emblem: Fates. They also saw the good sense to add mid-level save points.

Sacred Stones isn’t quite as good as series pinnacle Awakening, but for my money the story is much better than its prequel, Fire Emblem. The pixellated graphics also have a wonderful charm to them – in many ways I prefer them to the more beefed up graphics of later entries in the series. Having said that, they look utterly shit on the big TV screen, as pixels become the size of fists and lose all their charm – I played the game using the gamepad screen instead, on which the graphics seemed much more at home.

Finishingo Sacred Stones has left me hankering for more Fire Emblem, although thankfully I still have the DS title Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon waiting in the wings. Although again, it’s on the Wii U and not the 3DS, its natural home. Why, Nintendo, why?

Franz starts off as a bit of a weed, so it's satisfying to see him grow up into an armoured death dealer.

Franz starts off as a bit of a weed, so it’s satisfying to see him grow up into an armoured death dealer.

Hopefully all this Virtual Console nonsense will be sorted out the the Nintendo Switch, so finally we can have all of our Nintendo games in one place, as well as the option to play them at home or on the go. And while I think about it, I would love to see the big N localise the initial six games in the Fire Emblem series, which still haven’t made it to the west. Go on, Nintendo, you know you want to.

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Spiffing Reads: Devil’s Third and Bye-Bye Wii U

This week on Spiffing Reads, it’s (almost) all about the Wii U, long may it rest in peace.

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The ups, downs and future of Tomonobu Itagaki’s Devil’s Third (Polygon)

Devil’s Third came out on the Wii U last year to less than glowing reviews. It’s torturous development history over 8 years and across numerous publishers makes for a fascinating story. It may not have turned out to be the best game in the world, but you have to admire Tomonobu Itagaki’s tenaciousness in getting the damn thing finished.


Farewell Then: Wii Barely Knew U (Kotaku UK)

Production of the Wii U is coming to an end, after the machine failed to live up to sales expectations and struggled to find an audience. Still, it’s well loved in my house, where it gets used daily for Netflix, iPlayer and occasional bouts of Bayonetta 2.

Housing Ladder arcade game has players dodging buy-to-let investors (The Guardian)

Before there were video game arcades, there were arcades packed with electro-mechanical machines. Now this artist is making electro-mechanical machines that carry statements about 21st-century living.


Spiffing Reads is a regular feature where we pick out the best gaming articles of the week. If you’ve read anything interesting, please let us know in the comments.

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