BlobCat strongly models itself after one of the best games to hit the Dreamcast and Game Boy Advance, and since there isn't really anything else like it out there, anyone willing to squint their eyes might be able to scratch that ChuChu Rocket! itch a little here. A wide-eyed look shows an overall rough package, though — from functional-if-unremarkable visuals to a lack of CPU opponents in the multiplayer suite, all the way down to bizarre inconsistencies with how menus work. BlobCat is here for you if you need it, but doesn't quite reach the level of the genuine article.
Come for the wonderful presentation, stay for the baddie boppin'. Crossing Souls nails its 1980s aesthetic, no question there — the 'long-lost-cartoon' game is strong here, right down to the artfully placed VHS artifacts in the animated cutscenes playing out across a sweeping adolescent adventure. Nostalgia aside, the story and beat-em-up gameplay please and surprise in a few key ways, but come with a few too many paper cuts to prevent Crossing Souls from breaking through to that next level.
Rhythm Heaven Megamix's stylish assortment of songs and supremely accessible, pick-up-and-play nature make this a great introduction to the series for the uninitiated. But for returning players, whether this compilation nature is appealing or not might depend on your perspective. On one hand, Rhythm Heaven fans have seen – and possibly already mastered – a good portion of these ditties (or at least, a version of them). On the other, each track is still great fun to play, and it's nice to have a "greatest hits" collection of a series that you can bust out at any time. We lean towards the latter perspective, ourselves. If you are looking for some quick-hit and stylish portable fun then you need to take a good, long look at Rhythm Heaven Megamix.
Disney Art Academy is a solid and inviting way to learn the fundamentals of artistic techniques. There's a real attraction in learning how to master these iconic characters – and while this title may primarily appeal to kids, there's certainly a lot to love here for grown-ups ready to supplement their adult colouring books with something that covers earlier steps in the creative process. The tools on offer may not be of the highest fidelity thanks to outdated hardware, but they are intelligently crafted to be more than adequate for exploring creativity or sparking a love of art. That's a net-win in our book.
Nintendo set out to build an experience centered around the GamePad with Star Fox Guard, and the result is a great little experiment — if a wee bit overwhelming. How much you get out of Star Fox Guard will ultimately depend on your tolerance for its particular brand of gameplay. Some may take to the tense onslaught like an Italian plumber to a mushroom, whereas others might play a few rounds and get completely exhausted. There isn't a whole lot of diversity in gameplay here, and in many ways what you see is what you get.What we see is a terrifying game wrapped in a charming coating with lots to do if you're so inclined. The main game is satisfying on its own, and throw in the excellent My Squad online mode and you've got yourself a party. Player beware; you're in for a scare.
Amiibo have only been around for a year, but there are already several examples of how the toys can add value to a game (or vice versa). Unfortunately, Animal Crossing: amiibo Festival does not seem to have learned from them, and brings questionable to downright annoying integration. Were all of amiibo Festival as clever and engrossing as the Desert Island Escape minigame then this package would be the real deal. However, that simply isn't the case. The central board game is slow and plodding, and is tough to recommend to anyone that isn't already a die-hard Animal Crossing fan willing to put up with it. That leaves the minigames, of which seven out of eight aren't compelling enough to continue playing for more than a week.For the money you ultimately get two figurines, three cards and a game package with snippets of fun and charm - it's ultimately up to you whether that's worthy of your cash.
Chibi-Robo! Zip Lash is a fun but ultimately unexciting title, which makes it occupy a weird space in our minds. The whole package is undoubtedly polished and pleasing, and if you're looking for a solid platformer that zigs where a Mario may zag then this is a safe bet for an enjoyable time. But for all the charm and smooth polish, there's little texture here to make the game stand out from others in this genre. Over time, we suspect we won't remember a lot of the finer details — the amiibo for sure, and maybe a stage or two here, but on the whole will struggle to pin down a reason to revisit.So what's the point of Zip Lash, then? Is it to simply experiment with gameplay concepts? There aren't any radical new ideas at play, and it seems odd for this to be a grand experiment — Bionic Commando explored similar concepts back in the NES days. Is it to test whether Chibi-Robo can find success in a new genre? Perhaps — he's been in a few quirky games already, and maybe some think it's time for him to take a swing at the big time. Whatever the problem that Chibi-Robo! Zip Lash is trying to solve, we hope Nintendo can find the answer it seeks. We'll be over here, scratching our heads about it.
Year Walk is an immensely satisfying master class in atmosphere and subtlety, and this "definitive" edition on Wii U is the new best way to have the experience. Playing it is like flipping through a storybook of yore, one passed down through the ages and meant to scare the bejeebus out of children with dire messages and dark illustrations. Fascinating mythology, clever subversions, and a satisfying storyline make Year Walk a must.
BOXBOY! will surely find an audience among those who are deeply in love with the Game Boy's sensibilities, but this writer is finding it increasingly difficult to be nostalgic for a style that never goes away. What's left, then, is a polished puzzler with surprisingly dull tendencies.
Kirby and the Rainbow Curse is perfect for a lazy Sunday afternoon: a pleasant roll through a gorgeous world, with some novel concepts, and one of the most beautiful games the Wii U has yet seen. However charming the game may be, Rainbow Curse is a few strokes from greatness: overly repetitive mechanics, underused ideas, and a failure to integrate its clay theme into gameplay in any meaningful way keep it from reaching the lofty heights to which it potentially could. Well crafted, but not a masterpiece.
Kirby Triple Deluxe is a pleasant package that doesn't push the envelope very far. The Story Mode is an elegant but conservative adventure that trades too greatly in familiarity and simplicity, the same type of neo-nostalgia that Nintendo has seen success with on the Mario side of things: it's sure to scratch that Kirby itch — or create one for new players — but fails to move the franchise forward in any meaningful direction. However, the rest of the package holds its own quite well: Kirby Fighters is a great time-sink sure to provoke new rivalries among friends, and the post-game content offers a second competitive wind to the adventure. Come for the cute platforming, stay for the battle royale.
Ubisoft takes a lot of really big swings with Just Dance 2014 — some, like Autodance and Just Dance TV, hit it out of the park, whereas others, like competing online and a rejiggered Just Sweat mode, are something of a whiff as they can feel lonely and undercooked. Still, if you want to boogie down in your living room, Just Dance 2014 has more than enough moves to keep that slide of yours electric.