Connect with us
life-is-strange-Wii U life-is-strange-Wii U

Games

5 Indie Games of 2015 That Should Have Been Released On the Wii U

Published

on

Say what you will about the lack of big games released on the Wii U this year, Nintendo has done a fantastic job in bringing us some of the best indie titles of 2015. Games like Box Boy, The Adventures of Pip, Year Walk, Runbow and Fast Racing NEO to name a few, have more than kept me busy these past twelve months. But of the hundreds of indie titles released in 2015, I really … REALLY … wish these five were available on the Wii U.

****

tembo-the-badass-elephant-walkthrough-640x325
1. Tembo the BadAss Elephant

Developed by Game Freak (also responsible for the Pokemon franchise) — and published by Sega, Tembo quickly comes to mind when thinking about indie games that one would expect to be released on a Nintendo console. Tembo the Badass Elephant is a game that draws on the DNA of Sonic the Hedgehog, and like Sega’s classic 2D platforming franchise, this is a game about speed and momentum. The familiarities don’t end there: Along with the nod to Sonic, there are sections that feel lifted from Rayman, a jump-and-glide mechanic reminiscent of 16-bit classics, and cannons that rocket the titular character across the map much like those found in Donkey Kong Country. There’s even a swinging maneuver that recalls the original Bionic Commando and levels that would fit well in any classic Super NES title. But more importantly, Tembo is just a blast to play! For more on Tembo, be sure to listen to episode 18 of the NXpress podcast.


RocketLeague

2. Rocket League

The concept behind Rocket League is easy to grasp: Players control futuristic monster trucks and supercars in what amounts to a game of soccer, albeit with giant balls to knock into a giant goal. The idea on paper seems ridiculous, but Rocket League is one of the most entertaining multiplayer sports games released this year. You don’t have to be a fan of soccer nor love cars to enjoy this game. The genius of Rocket League’s design is how it introduces a well-known concept and puts a clever spin on it. The game is easy to learn but difficult to master, and more importantly, hard to put down. I’ve already clocked in more hours playing Rocket League than any other game this month. Developer Psyonix has already formed a partnership with Valve, Sony and Microsoft to bring special-themed content to each version of the game. Steam players were awarded Portal-themed vehicles while Sony gamers were given the choice of downloading a couple of Mad Max Fury Road cars, a set of Revenge of the Nerds automobiles and even the DeLorean Time Machine from Back to the Future. Meanwhile, Microsoft got a set of Halo and Gears of War cars that players can download to add to their roster. Now just imagine the possibilities of DLC content should this game ever land on a Nintendo console. I could easily see cars inspired by the likes of the Blue Falcon, the Arwing, Samus Aran’s Gunship and Bowser’s Bad Wagon, to name just a few. Rocket League is one of the biggest surprises of 2015 and truly deserved winning Best Indie Game, and Best Racing Game at the Video Game Awards last week. Now if only Wii U user could play it on their console. For more on Rocket League, be sure to listen to episode 34 of the NXpress podcast.

 

axiom-verge-listing-thumb-01-us-17oct14

3. Axiom Verge

It’s impossible to play Axiom Verge without thinking of Metroid. This is a game that wears its affection for Nintendo’s beloved 8-bit original as well as the 16-bit follow-up, Super Metroid — on its sleeve. This 2D side-scroller includes just about everything that makes Metroid so memorable: a great variety of weapons, unique abilities, a minimalist score and an evocative atmosphere. And while it isn’t quite as good as Metroid, Axiom Verge is a remarkable feat given that it was developed by one man over five years. Not only did creator Tom Happ do all the programming himself, but he also created the art, music, and overall design of each character and level. Much like Shovel Knight, Axiom Verge is a game that borrows the aesthetic of retro games, but, more importantly, it understands what made them work so well. It’s one of the best examples of the Metroidvania genre and it’s a shame it isn’t available on the Wii U.
undertale

4. Undertale

“In this RPG, you control a human who falls underground into the world of monsters. Now you must find your way out… or stay trapped forever.” And so reads the synopsis for Undertale, one of the best and most inspired RPGs in years. Written, designed, and composed by creator Toby Fox, Undertale features traditional role-playing mechanics and casts players in the role of a child as they explore an underground world full of colorful monsters who they can either kill or befriend. Fans of Earthbound will love this strange indie gem — but while it seems to be a game designed for RPG fans first and foremost, Undertale’s personality and it’s great sense of humor gives it universal appeal. This is without a doubt one of the most original games released in 2015. Hopefully, it will make it’s way around to other consoles, specifically the Wii U or 3DS.

 

life-is-strange-Wii U

5. Life Is Strange

If you had the power to rewind time, what would you change? And would it turn out to be a change for the better or worse? This is the basic premise of Life Is Strange, a little game nobody really knew existed when released, and made by a little French studio named DontNod who’s first title, Remember Me was a commercial flop. It didn’t take long however until word got around that this is one of the best point and click games ever made. Released in five episodes throughout the year, Life Is Strange is a game that isn’t really about action, but decisions and much like the interactive dramas made popular by Telltale, Life Is Strange is all about the story. You play as the teenage Maxine Caulfield, an aspiring photographer at boarding school who while exploring her surroundings, finds herself in the middle of a missing person’s case, a double homicide and a catastrophic event that can wipe out her small hometown. Every choice, no matter how big or small, carries weight, causing players to second guess every decision they make. As with any game of this genre, almost the complete value of Life is Strange rests on its narrative, and though it is often plagued by storytelling tropes Life Is Strange is a beautiful, heartbreaking, and surprisingly dark coming of age story with a gorgeous, unique art style, a hip indie rock soundtrack (that includes Mogwai, Bright Eyes and Syd Matters), and a trio of cliffhangers that will leave you at the edge of your seat. Equal parts My So-Called Life, Twin Peaks and Donnie Darko, Life Is Strange sets a new bar in cinematic adventure games and is not to be missed. For more on Life Is Strange, listen to episode 33 of the NXpress podcast.

Some people take my heart, others take my shoes, and some take me home. I write, I blog, I podcast, I edit, and I design websites. Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Goomba Stomp and the NXpress Nintendo Podcast. Former Editor-In-Chief of Sound On Sight, and host of several podcasts including the Game of Thrones and Walking Dead podcasts, as well as the Sound On Sight and Sordid Cinema shows. There is nothing I like more than basketball, travelling, and animals. You can find me online writing about anime, TV, movies, games and so much more.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Advertisement

Games

Most Important Games of the Decade: ‘Dark Souls’

Despite the difficulty and learning curve, gamers are still flocking to the Dark Souls series, and the genre it spawned, in massive numbers.

Published

on

Dark Souls Remastered Review Nintendo Switch

Over the course of the last decade a lot of games have made large and influential impacts on the medium of gaming but few have done so as significantly or triumphantly as Dark Souls

The pseudo-sequel to Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls took the framework of the original title and altered it considerably. Gone were the many individual stages and hub area, replaced by a massive open world that continuously unfolded, via shortcuts and environmental changes, like a massive metroidvania style map. 

Dark Souls also doubled down on nearly every aspect of the original. The lore and world-building were elaborated on considerably, making the land of Lordran feel more lived in and expansive. An entire backstory for the game, one that went back thousands of years, was created and unfolded through small environmental details and item descriptions. 

Dark-Souls-Remastered-Darkroot-Garden

The bosses were bigger, meaner and more challenging, with some of them ranking right up there with the best of all time. Even standard enemies seemed to grow more deadly as the game went on, with many of them actually being bosses you’d faced at an earlier time in the game. Tiny details like this didn’t just make the player feel more powerful, they added to the outright scale of the entire game.

Still, if we’re here to talk about the biggest influence Dark Souls had on the gaming world, we have to talk about the online system. While the abilities to write messages and summon help were available in Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls improved on and enhanced these features to the point where they changed the game considerably. 

The wider player base made the online components work more consistently as well. Rarely were players left standing around for 15-20 minutes waiting to summon or be summoned for a boss fight. There were more messages on the ground to lead (or mislead) players, and the animated spirits of dead players warned of the hundreds of ways you might die while playing through the game. 

Dark Souls

The addictive nature of the game and its rewarding gameplay loop would lead to the establishment of the Souls-like genre. Like with metroidvania, there are few compliments a game can receive that are as rewarding as having an entire genre named for them.

Since 2011, the year of Dark Souls’ release, dozens of Souls-likes have emerged from the ether, each with their own little tweaks on the formula. Salt and Sanctuary went 2D,The Surge added a sci-fi angle, and Nioh went for a feudal Japanese aesthetic, to name just a few. 

Either way, Dark Souls’ influence has been long felt in the gaming industry ever since. Despite the hardcore difficulty and intense learning curve, gamers are still flocking to the series, and the genre it spawned, in massive numbers. For this reason alone, Dark Souls will live on forever in the annals of gaming history. 

Continue Reading

Game Reviews

‘Riverbond’ Review: Colorful Hack’n’Slash Chaos

Published

on

Sometimes a little bit of mindless smashing is just what people play video games for, and if some light sword-swinging, spear-stabbing, laser-shooting giant hand-slapping action that crumbles a destructible world into tiny blocks sounds like a pleasant way to spend a few hours, then Riverbond might just satisfy that urge. Though its short campaign can get a little repetitive by the end, colorful voxel levels and quirky characters generally make this rampaging romp a button-mashing good time, especially if you bring along a few friends.

Riverbond grass

There really isn’t much of a story here outside something about some mystical leaders being imprisoned by a knight, and Riverbond lets players choose from its eight levels in Mega Man fashion, so don’t go in expecting some sort of narrative thread. Instead, each land has its own mini-situation going on, whether that involves eradicating some hostile pig warriors or reading library books or freeing numerous rabbit villagers scattered about, the narrative motivation is pretty light here. That doesn’t mean that these stages don’t each have their various charms, however, as several punnily named NPCs will blurt out humorous bits of dialogue that work well as breezy pit stops between all the cubic carnage.

Developer Cococucumber has also wisely created plenty of visual variety for their fantastical world, as players will find their polygonal hero traversing the lush greenery of grassy plains, the wooden piers of a ship’s dockyard, the surrounding battlements of a medieval castle, and the craggy outcroppings of a snowy mountain, among other locations, each with a distinct theme. Many of the trees or bridges or crates or whatever else happens to be lying around are completely destructible, able to be razed to the ground with enough brute force. Occasionally the physics involved in these crumbling structures helps gain access to jewels or other loot, but this mechanic mostly just their for the visual appeal one gets from cascading blocks; Riverbond isn’t exactly deep in its design.

Riverbond boss

That shallowness also applies to the basic gameplay, which pretty much involves hacking or shooting enemies and environments to pieces, activating whatever task happens to be the main goal for each sub-stage, then moving on or scouring around a bit for treasure before finally arriving at a boss. Though there are plenty of different weapons to find, they generally fall into only a few categories: small swinging implements that allow for quick slashes, large swinging implements that are slow but deal heavier damage, spears that offer quick jabs, or guns that…shoot stuff. There are some variations among these in speed, power, and possible side effects (a gun that fired electricity is somewhat weak, but sticks to opponents and gives off an extra, devastating burst), but once an agreeable weapon is found, there is little reason to give it up outside experimentation.

Still, there is a rhythmic pleasure to be found in games like this when they are done right, and Riverbond mostly comes through with tight controls, hummable tunes, and twisting levels that do a good job of mixing in some verticality to mask the repetitiveness. It’s easy for up to four players to get in on the dungeon-crawling-like pixelated slaughter, and the amount of blocks exploding onscreen can make for some fun and frenzied fireworks, especially when whomping on one of the game’s giant bosses. A plethora of skins for the hero are also discoverable, with at least one or two tucked away in locations both obvious and less so around each sub-stage. These goofy characters exist purely for aesthetic reasons, but those who prefer wiping out legions of enemies dressed as Shovel Knight or a sentient watermelon slice will be able to fulfill that fantasy.

Riverbond bears

By the end, the repetitive fights and quests can make Rivebond feel a little same-y, but the experience wraps up quickly without dragging things out. This may disappoint players looking for a more involved adventure, but those who sometimes find relaxation by going on autopilot — especially with some buddies on the couch — will appreciate how well the block-smashing basics are done here.

Continue Reading

Game Reviews

‘Earthnight’ Review: Hit the Dragon Running

Between its lush visuals and its constantly evolving gameplay, Earthnight never gets old, from the first dragon you slay to the hundredth.

Published

on

Earthnight

In Earthnight, you do one thing: run. There’s not much more to do in this roguelike auto-runner but to dash across the backs of massive dragons to reach their heads and strike them down. This may be an extremely simple gameplay loop, but Earthnight pulls it off with such elegance and style. Between its lush comic book visuals and its constantly evolving gameplay, it creates an experience that never gets old, from the first dragon you slay to the hundredth.

Dragons have descended from space and are wreaking havoc upon humanity. No one is powerful enough to take them down – except for the two-player characters, Sydney and Stanley, of course. As the chosen ones to save the human race, they must board a spaceship and drop from the heavens while slaying as many dragons on your way down as they can. For every defeated creature, they’ll be rewarded with water – an extremely precious resource in the wake of the dragon apocalypse. This resource can be exchanged for upgrades that make the next run that much better.

This simple story forms the basis for a similarly basic, yet engaging gameplay loop. Each time you dive from your spaceship, you’ll see an assortment of dragons to land on. Once you make a landing, you’ll dash across its back and avoid the obstacles it throws at you before reaching its head, where you’ll strike the final blow. Earthnight is procedurally generated, so every time you leap down from your home base, there’s a different set of dragons to face, making each run feel unique. There are often special rewards for hunting specific breeds of dragon, so it’s always exciting to see the new set of creatures before you and hunt for the one you need at any given moment.

Earthnight is an acrobatic, dragon-hunting ballet that only becomes more beautifully extravagant with every run.”

Earthnight

Landing on the dragons is only the first step to slaying them. Entire hordes of monsters live on their backs, and in true auto-runner fashion, they’ll rush at you with reckless abandon from the very start. During the game’s first few runs, the onrush of enemies can feel overwhelming. Massive crowds of them will burst forth at once, and it can feel impossible to survive their onslaughts. However, this is where Earthnight begins to truly shine. The more dragons you slay, the more upgrade items become available, which are either given as rewards for slaying specific dragons or can be purchased with the water you’ve gained in each run. Many of these feel essentially vital for progression – some allow you to kill certain enemies just by touching them, whereas others can grant you an additional jump, both of which are much appreciated in the utter chaos of obstacles found on each dragon.

Procedural generation can often result in bland or repetitive level design, but it’s this item progression system that keeps Earthnight from ever feeling dry. It creates a constant sense of improvement: with more items in your arsenal after each new defeated dragon, you’ll be able to descend even further in the next run. This makes every level that much more exciting: with more power under your belt, there are greater possibilities for defeating enemies, stacking up combos, or climbing high above the dragons. It becomes an acrobatic, dragon-hunting ballet that only becomes more beautifully extravagant with every run.

Earthnight

At its very best, Earthnight feels like a rhythm game. With the perfect upgrades for each level, it becomes only natural to bounce off of enemies’ heads and soar through the heavens with an almost musical flow. The vibrant chiptune soundtrack certainly helps with this. Packed full of driving beats and memorable melodies with a mixture of chiptune and modern instrumentation, the music makes it easy to charge forward through whatever each level will throw your way.

That is not to say that Earthnight never feels too chaotic for its own good – rather, there are some points where its flood of enemies and obstacles can feel too random or overwhelming, to the point where it can be hard to keep track of your character or feel as if it’s impossible to avoid enemies. Sometimes the game can’t even keep up with itself, with the performance beginning to chug once enemies crowd the screen too much, at least in the Switch version. However, this is the exception, rather than the rule, and for the most part, simply making good use of its upgrades and reacting quickly to the challenges before you will serve you well in your dragon-slaying quest.

Earthnight

Earthnight is a race that’s worth running time and time again.”

It certainly helps that Earthnight is a visual treat as well. It adopts a striking comic book style, in which nearly every frame of animation is lovingly hand-drawn and loaded with detail. Sometimes these details feel a bit excessive – some characters are almost grotesquely detailed, with the faces of the bobble-headed protagonists sometimes seeming too elaborate for comfort. However, in general, it’s a gorgeous game, with its luscious backdrops of deep space and high sky, along with creative monsters and dragon designs that only get more outlandish and spectacular the farther down you soar.

Earthnight is a competent auto-runner that might not revolutionize its genre, but it makes up for this simplicity by elegantly executing its core gameplay loop so that it constantly changes yet remains endlessly addictive. Its excellent visual and audio presentation helps to make it all the more engrossing, while it strikes the perfect balance between randomized level design and permanent progression thanks to its items and upgrades system. At times it may get too chaotic for its own good, but all told, Earthnight is a race that’s worth running time and time again.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending