Minecraft: Story Mode's first episode gives a clear baseline for seeing where the plot is headed, but the questions it leaves are predominantly on a gameplay front — not the sort you want staying with players. Will the point-and-click elements take greater hold over story sequences that currently dominate? Will quick-time events continue to be a predictable response for every point of conflict? Will player actions feel more and more pointless than they already do? On the matter of how enticing the episode is at building interest in the one to follow, Episode 1 does its job...but not expertly. It's very tame in the gameplay department, and players will find it a shallow experience as a direct result of the contrived design choices. It's enough to put the entire project in jeopardy, ultimately making this introduction a fragile start for the five-part series.
Not all of its design choices may be consistently tasteful, but Aviary Attorney tells a good story to the end, paying attention to a lot of the finer details for a cohesive and entertaining whole. Where it does not succeed is in its courtroom happenings. While the game can hold its own, they're not the standout moments they could have been. Further, its narrative could definitely have benefited from further development for a fuller experience. These characters do grow on you and it's clear that much care went into creating a regal-yet-lighthearted atmosphere that players would grow accustomed to. Because of that, it's dissatisfying to have things end sooner than they need to. Its humour and storytelling will be appreciated for their value as individual elements, but these touches don't bring the overall experience to the highs it was creatively meant to achieve with greater support, ultimately making Aviary Attorney a pleasant mystery but a restrained one.
Without factoring in that other versions of Minecraft recently received a big update, Minecraft: Wii U Edition doesn't feel like a definitive experience in its current form. The worst of it is the negligence in connection with the GamePad: what should have been the star incentive for investing in this version, doesn't serve as a strong enough draw. Especially considering that this version is $10 more than other console iterations, it can leave players (experienced or otherwise) feeling shortchanged. Yes, it wasn't without reason, but that reason isn't entirely satisfying to make peace with.
At its core, Pokémon Picross is a clever execution that injects the Picross formula with touches that make puzzle-solving more directed and ultimately more alluring. The Pokémon IP has not been used superficially, which in itself is commendable. But most surprising is that even with the suspect microtransactions, it's not as bad of a money trap as it could have been. What's more, the standard established at the outset is great for its transparency, which, when coupled with measures to ease the player in without feelings of obligation, make for a relatively comfortable entry point. At the same time, it's sad to see that the support systems are so restrained that it dulls a sense of reward, causing microtransactions to overpower the further you get into the experience. Ultimately, reflecting on the game's defined variables and fun, experimental mechanics will work to disarm the future battle against microtransactions, should you decide to continue with it.
From the start, it would have been appropriate to show cautious optimism by reason of track record, and following my time with Adventure Time: Finn & Jake Investigations, cautious optimism is still an appropriate course of action. Investigations doesn't possess fresh ideas, but there are moments that make the experience an enjoyable one. It's just too bad they aren't the majority. While I would advise against spending top dollar, there's an amusing but flawed experience to be had in Investigations that, if nothing else, will provide a few laughs.