It feels like parts of this review might read more like a documentary, but much of the significance of EarthBound Beginnings - of Mother - lies in its spirit and the influence of such on subsequent games. EarthBound is absolutely the overall better title available to folks right now, and those who have yet to play either should definitely start with that. If you do enjoy EarthBound, however, then Beginnings is well worth investigating, especially given mod-cons such as save states and rewinding which help take the rough edges off a formative but less refined game. Sticking through its older style of play, with its difficulty and occasional fluctuations in balance, will yield a fine story and a strangely transcendental sense of nostalgia, like a letter of love written to a child who hadn't even been born yet.
Gurumin 3D may be short on epic story and have a few technical blemishes around the edges of its gameplay, but its fun style and a surprising depth in collectibles and replayability make it well worthy of consideration for action-RPG fans. Did we mention there's a pretty sweet drill?
Wind-up Knight 2 is a noble effort with a lovely, whimsical look and tight, reactive gameplay. While it can sink into feelings of repetitiveness at times, there are other moments when stages really click and a grand romp can be had. Fans of runners who don't mind the occasional "gotcha" trap or difficulty spike may very well enjoy this one - most likely in short bursts. Remember: New 3DS only, but if you don't own one the Wii U option is always there.
Unholy Heights is a blend of tower defense and management sim that doesn't over-complicate either element. Although some might wish the gameplay was deeper in certain places, there is a good seasoning of inner complexity that should keep many engaged. Add to that a charming, not-so-evil evil motif and some goofy (if not always the most grammatically correct) flavoured text, and it can be easy to get hooked - if you don't get frustrated by the spiking difficulty curve. This is definitely one for those who like bursts of busywork but don't feel a need to rush to an end. Just don't get too attached to that werewolf you raised up from a pup with free rent only to see him get slaughtered by a Legendary Hero. Oh, Wodog... why must all dogs go to Heaven!?
Rynn's Adventure, whether intentionally or not, hearkens back to the platformers of the '90s PC era. It's quirky, with collectibles aplenty, yet suffers from flaws inherent in sketchier old level designs. Players can expect to have a slow start before gaining any traction, but the game has the potential to grow more enjoyable as the momentum builds. It is difficult to recommend this game against a stable of outright fantastic platformers already available on the Wii U, at various price points on the eShop, but patient players looking for something new might find a satisfying game beneath the lack of polish.
Tumblestone has thought of just about everything to create a fun and rewarding puzzle game experience. It spreads out a smorgasbord of options for one player or more, balancing sit-and-think challenges with drag racing action and spur-of-the-moment accessibility. The whole thing comes wrapped in a pretty package and with a nearly overwhelming amount of extra options. The eShop price for Tumblestone might be on the higher side, and it's a pity there's not much of an online scene at the time of writing, but this is a full game that deserves a place among Tetris Attack, Dr. Mario and other friendly puzzlers that have chiseled out a name for themselves.
Chroma Blast has an engaging "cycle-and-shoot" mechanic that can feel at first like rubbing your head and patting your stomach at the same time. It's still very learnable, however, and not frustrating to make the process of doing so. The power-ups and modifiers are also very welcome. Even so, there's still a certain level of intensity in the encompassing fight that seems to be lacking. It would be exciting to see what developer WizByte Games could add to this formula on a second attempt, and arcade-style score attackers who lean more toward tactics than twitch could certainly do worse than this.
INVANOID has a decent kernel of a concept in its arcade hybridization, but is completely lacking in the sense of immersion either original provided or the imagination to combine these styles into something that feels worth playing. There are better items out there to take up your space.
SPLASHY DUCK has a fun look and competent functionality, making it a solid entry for its type of game, but will likely prove much too simple for many to get hooked for long. It's easy to see younger players being charmed by it, however, and it could be a good way for them to develop coordination skills.
The concept of B3: Game Expo for Bees is imaginative, but it leaves a sting of disappointment. What's there can be amusing while it lasts, but the sum total doesn't really feel like a full game. Developer Famous Gamous definitely shows a healthy spark of creativity and potential, but there's a want for more rooms, more items, more puzzles, and more varied goals and challenges. Still, it's better to want more than less, and it might be worth it to pick this title up sometime on a sale or whim.
Kick & Fennick has an appealing concept to getting around that is backed up with terrific physics. At its best, the game is quite fun in a way that must be felt to believe. Bouts of repetitive level design and a lack of motivating plot can bog it down at times, but fans of Portal-style gameplay can still find a good deal to enjoy.
Without its problems, Escape from Flare Industries would likely feel much too short for some, but still has the potential to be a fine little title for anyone seeking a quick and retro-feeling jaunt. It's pleasant when it works; it's just a shame Splat suffers from more than one frustrating bug. Even with its bright eyes and squishy smile, we can't recommend this to anyone until it's recalled and patched.
Anyone who played the original Midnight should know exactly what they're getting into. It might have been fun to throw an extra idea into play somewhere, but the sequel still provides the same fun-if-not-perfect gameplay of the original. If you enjoyed your first round and ached for more stages, this is a no-brainer. Others who might be interested can freely dive in with either game.
It might seem a bit snobbish to harp so much on Dodge Club Party's style. There's not much wrong with the game itself when it comes to some limited quick and easy party fun, and there are people who may really fall in love with its new breed of retro look (more power to them). It just feels that the creative force behind Dodge Club Party had something more special in the Dot Arcade collection. The spark is still around, too; just take a look at the joyful writing and art in the electronic manual. It's disappointing that it couldn't better be portrayed this time around in the actual game, either with aesthetics or added variety.
Draw 2 Survive actually does appear to have plans for more in its future. The developer is responsive on its Miiverse page, and additional modes such as Local Multiplayer and a single-person Story Mode have been promised as future free additions. As it stands now, however, Draw 2 Survive does not offer much more than the occasional waster of a few minutes' time. What it could provide, however, might make it worth keeping an eye on for when its content crosses the finish line.
Lovely Planet may look cutesy, but its streamlined shooting is built for dedicated speedrunners (you can even watch a speedrun of it via Games Done Quick). Players who live for training, repetition, memory and self-achievement will find a quite solid and refreshingly different-looking shooter here, even if it's not completely perfect. With no story or bonuses or really any other elements to speak of, however, the widespread appeal feels limited. Definitely try the demo first if you can.
There is nothing wrong with bringing an arcade-style feel out to play, and Volcanic Field 2 does have that. Unfortunately, its "spray everywhere" manner of fire makes for a rather chaotic and somewhat unsatisfying experience once it becomes clear you just have to wiggle the right stick at anything that moves. Some variation, choices or surprises could have really helped this title, but there's just nothing in it to make it pop.
When it comes to creating a math-based game that leans toward girls, SMART Adventures Mission Math: Sabotage at the Space Station accomplishes its mission quite decently. The production values could be better and the space station could feel less empty with more activities and interactions, but what's there still feels worthwhile to complete and like it'd be an actual help in school. Throw in a quick yet reasonable story that treats both its target audience and adults respectfully, and you have a child-parent project that might be worth subtracting a bit a money on.
Temple of Yog can provide a satisfying, arcade-like rush for points and glory, and its use of the GamePad is cleverly implemented. It's certainly worth a look for score attackers and has promise of becoming something even more, but those looking for a deeper experience in their dungeon diving might want to approach with caution (or patience) before deciding to sacrifice their money.