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No ‘Star Fox Zero’ this year? No Problem! – Part 1: Upcoming Wii U games

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Yes, Nintendo’s holiday season took a hit with the announcement by Shigeru Miyamoto that Star Fox Zero would be delayed until Q1 2016. Obviously losing the long-awaited return of a beloved franchise is a major blow to the company’s fortunes this year, and with the Wii U upcoming release lineup now even thinner, owners are starting to wonder what they’re going to play when they boot up their systems in December.

Luckily, there’s absolutely nothing to complain about. This is more Nintendo’s problem than ours, as even if you’ve snapped up the big 1st party hits like Splatoon or Mario Maker (which we assume), the Wii U not only has some potentially excellent releases both newly arrived and nearing on the horizon, but is also already home to a plethora of great games that almost nobody bought, from unheralded exclusives to possibly overlooked ports. It’s keeping up with all of them that’s the hard part, as we ourselves had to pare the list down quite a bit. These are just some of top picks we recommend taking a look at during the upcoming winter months.

Coming Soon

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Yoshi’s Woolly World

Call us shallow, but with an eye-popping yarn-based art style that could not elicit more dreamy sighs of contentment, this side-scrolling platformer from Good Feel, the developers behind Kirby’s Epic Yarn has our attention for its looks alone. Nintendo says there’s some beast beneath the beautiful façade, however, so hopefully that means a challenging multitude of creative stages and plenty of incentive to go after whatever collectibles are sure to be warmly pocketed away in the fuzzy world. Everyone’s favorite little dino is always a welcome sight, no matter which amiibo costume he’s wearing. Releases October 16th.

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Fatal Frame: Maiden of the Black Water

How it took so long to get this photography-based franchise to the Wii U and its made-for-this gamepad is beyond us, but the horror of ghost hunting is about to arrive, and just in time for Halloween as an eShop digital exclusive only. Wii U owners can test the murky waters by downloading the prologue and first chapter free of charge before deciding on a full purchase. Using the gamepad as a camera, players explore a number of creepy environments, defeating evil spirits by capturing them on film. It sounds weird, but it works, and having that second screen take your eyes off the television opens up numerous possibilities for tense moments and jump scares. Tecmo Koei hopes to deliver fright by bringing the fifth entry of the series to North America on October 22nd.

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Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash

When it comes to Mario sports games, the results have often been hit or miss, but developer Camelot Software has consistently produced quality with their golf and tennis titles. We expect their follow-up to the excellent Mario Golf: World Tour to maintain the same level of polish, depth, and fast action as the company’s other offerings. With a host of power-ups, including a Mega Mushroom that turns a character giant, multiplayer that utilizes the gamepad as a second screen, and hopefully online matches (the 3DS game did, so c’mon), this one has potential to be a good substitute for nights when you’ve had enough Mario Kart 8. Maybe this isn’t one of the highest profile games coming out this winter, but Mario sports titles have always been entertaining in an insane kind of way, and we expect this to be a couch co-op blast when it hits November 20th.

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Xenoblade Chronicles X

Who needs another game this December? With a world five times larger than its acclaimed Wii predecessor and ten times more gorgeous by my official calculations, this JRPG will look to consume every spare hour you have for a good long time. Marooned on a strange planet, the last surviving earthlings set out from their ship-city to explore the various continents while being hunted by the warring alien race that sent them crashing there in the first place. Expect tons of story, lots of breathtaking scenery, and a million side quests to keep track of with your gamepad. Top that off with an engaging combat system, incredible vistas (have I mentioned the visuals?) with giant, lumbering dinosaurs, and mech suits that allow for faster kills and quicker travel, and you can say goodbye to outside life when this arrives on December 4th.

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Typoman

Tim recently got a chance to play this at PAX Prime and walked away impressed. As a HERO (whose form is made up of those letters combined) you must alter your environment by actually changing words in order to progress through a dark land on your way to fight the evil demon king. With its moody atmosphere and clever wordplay puzzles, this is near the top of our indie list. Originally set to release September 16, we’re still hopeful the game will ship this year.

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Freedom Planet

Those looking for a traditional Sonic fix will find satisfaction in this PC port from 2014. Play as one of three characters, each naturally with their own unique abilities, and speedrun your way through beautiful 16-bit levels that evoke a simpler time, when a blue hedgehog that runs fast could actually be a console manufacturer’s mascot.

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Rive

Developed by Two Tribes, the company behind Toki Tori and Swords and Soldiers, this shoot ’em up platformer mixes fast-paced running and gunning with space flight, robot brain hacking, and 360 degrees with which to aim your weapons. Set for a 2015 release.

Already Released Indies

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Affordable Space Adventures

Possibly the most creative use of the Wii U’s gamepad makes this indie from Knapnok Games one of the best exclusives available on Nintendo’s eShop, and one of the best downloadable games of the year so far. Piloting a cheap spaceship provided by a shady travel agency with a suspiciously high customer satisfaction rate, the touchscreen displays each mechanical option, from thrusters to landing gear to scanners. Fiddling with each system to lower noise or electrical output is key to avoiding a fiery death courtesy of the planet Spectaculon’s sensitive robot security force. Despite the looming destruction, the game plays as a relaxed puzzler, with generous checkpoints and no penalty for the numerous bullet-ridden explosions that will surely happen. By adding players via co-op, ship functions can be divvied up, and friendships can be tested through teamwork. With Knapnok currently designing DLC levels to extend the vacation a little longer, get acquainted with a great game only possible on the Wii U.

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Runbow

Party games don’t get much more frantic than this, with up to nine players able to run and jump across a medley of obstacles whose solidity is entirely dependent upon contrasting with the ever-changing backdrop color. The first person to reach the end wins, which sounds simple enough until you’re standing on that blue platform that now suddenly matches the background, resulting in your probable death. Several original characters, as well as a host of indie stars, including Shovel Knight, characters from Guacamelee, Clone, CommanderVideo, and many more are available. The guys at our NXpress Nintendo podcast loved it, which is good enough for me.

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Year Walk

Just in time for the season, this creepy IOS game from 2013 has been rebuilt from the ground up for its definitive edition exclusively for the Wii U. Based on Swedish folklore revolving around a spiritual experience designed to stimulate the supernatural in order to see the future, the game presents the player with a series of puzzles along their journey, many of which take advantage of the gamepad’s specific abilities. Haunting visuals require this one to be played alone with the lights off.

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Adventures of Pip

As Ricky said in his review, this may seem like just another nostalgic 2D side-scroller, but with a twist on the damsel-in-distress trope and clever action and puzzles based on the hero’s ability to “evolve” from a single pixel to an 8-bit, and eventually even a 32-bit warrior, gaining new powers like a wall jump or block-smashing sword with each boost in resolution, the game turns into a fantastic tribute to different video game eras gone by. Switching back and forth is key to surviving the various environments as you work your way through the Super Mario World-inspired map, culminating in boss fights that recall those NES classics. Not to be missed for platformer fans.

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Extreme Exorcism

Fans of Towerfall-style gameplay will find another great reason to grab a friend and dive in for some hectic action, this time taking on a haunted mansion (sans Poltergust 3000) and defeating every last ghost within using an assortment of rocket launchers and razor boomerangs, naturally. The trick (and treat) is that after “killing” one of these dead, a ghost in the next stage will mimic the very moves and attacks you used to take its spectral comrade down, providing that extra challenge from beyond the grave. As the stages begin to fill with the mimics of your victims, the title begins to make perfect sense.

Patrick Murphy grew up in the hearty Midwest, where he spent many winter hours watching movies and playing video games while waiting for baseball season to start again. When not thinking of his next Nintendo post or writing screenplays to satisfy his film school training, he’s getting his cinema fix as the Editor of Sordid Cinema, Goomba Stomp's Film and TV section.

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Game Reviews

‘Coffee Talk’ Review: The Best Brew in Town

Coffee Talk is as quaint as your local coffee shop. It’s relatively short, wonderfully sweet, and absolutely committed to the art form of telling a story through a video game screen.

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It’s 9:00pm. The rain just started coming down softly a few minutes ago, and the street outside is reflecting the lights above it. Neon signs shine brightly in the distance, although it’s hard to make out the words. You unlock the doors to the coffee shop and wipe down the counters in order to get them clean for the customers. The rain makes a soft sound as it hits the glass and passerby speed up their walking pace to avoid it. The bells chime as a tall, green orc walks in and sits down at your table in silence. You wonder what their story is…

I wanted to set the tone for this review because of how important atmosphere and audio/visual design is in the world of Coffee Talk. While it’s easy to boil the game down as a visual novel-type experience, it’s honestly so much more than that. A unique cast of characters, incredible user interface, and a mysterious protagonist combine to form the most enjoyable experience I’ve had this year on Switch.

Coffee Talk
Some of the subject matter can be pretty serious in nature…

Coffee Talk is beautiful because of how simple it is. The entire game takes place within a single coffee shop. As the barista, you’re tasked with making drinks for the patrons of the shop as well as making conversations with them. The twist is that earth is populated with creatures like orcs, werewolves, and succubi. The relationship between the various races is handled very well throughout the story, and some interesting parallels are made to the real world.

Making drinks is as simple as putting together a combination of three ingredients and hitting the ‘Serve’ button. If a unique drink is made, it will be added to a recipe list that can be referenced on the barista’s cell phone. This is where the awesome user interface comes in, as the phone has a series of apps that can be accessed at any moment in the game. One app houses your recipe list, another acts as a facebook for the characters in the game, one allows you to switch between songs, and the other houses a series of short stories that one of the characters in the game writes as it progresses. It’s one of the coolest parts of the whole experience and helps it stand out from other games in the genre.

Coffee Talk is as quaint as your local coffee shop. It’s relatively short, wonderfully sweet, and absolutely committed to the art form of telling a story through a video game screen.

Coffee Talk cycles between talking with customers and making drinks for them. In the beginning, they will ask for basic beverages that can be brewed on the fly. Later on however, they may ask for a specific type of drink that has a unique title. These drinks often have certain descriptive features that hint at other possibilities in terms of unique dialogue. If the wrong drink is made, you’ll have five chances to trash it and make a new one. If the wrong drink is made, don’t expect the customer to be pleased about it.

The gameplay really is not the focus here though; it’s the characters and their stories that take center stage. An elf with relationship issues, a writer that can’t seem to pin down her next story, and an alien whose sole goal is to mate with an earthling are just a few of the examples of the characters you’ll meet during the story. There are tons of memorable moments throughout Coffee Talk, with every character bringing something unique to the table. The barista develops an interesting relationship with many of these characters as well.

Coffee Talk
Appearances can often be deceiving in this game.

Even though serving the wrong drinks can change some of the dialogue, don’t expect any sort of options or branching paths in terms of the story. It’s not that kind of experience; the story should simply be enjoyed for what it is. I found myself glued to the screen at the end of each of the in-game days, waiting to see what would happen in the morning. The first playthrough also doesn’t answer all of the game’s questions, as the second one is filled with all kinds of surprises that I won’t spoil here.


Coffee Talk is as quaint as your local coffee shop. It’s relatively short, wonderfully sweet, and absolutely committed to the art form of telling a story through a video game screen. It’s an easy recommendation for anyone who loves video games, not just visual novel fans. There are characters in the game that I’ll certainly be thinking about for a long time, especially when the setting brings out the best in them. Don’t pass this one up.

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The Magic of Nintendo: How Mario and Zelda Connect us to Our Inner Child

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Magic of Nintendo

Nintendo is special. Many excellent developers depend upon story or progression systems to entice engagement, but not Nintendo. Nintendo games captivate because of their immediate charm. There is no need for a payoff. The games, themselves, are enough: they elicit feelings, hard to find in adulthood. Through intrepid discovery, playful presentation, and unfiltered whimsy, the best of Nintendo connects gamers to their childlike selves.

The heart of any great Nintendo game is discovery and no encounter encapsulates this better than Breath of the Wild’s Eventide Island. First, finding the island requires genuine gumption. Found far from Hyrule’s shore, the island is only clearly visible from other islands, and even then, it’s only a speck in the distance. Reaching the island requires players to brave the open ocean and head towards something … that could be nothing. Then, upon arriving on the beach, a spirit takes all the player’s gear, including clothes and food. Link, literally, is left in his underwear. From there, players must make clever use of Link’s base skills in order to steal enemy weapons and make traps. The scenario creates a marvelous sense of self-sufficiency brought on by one’s own desire to discover. The player comes to the island purely of their own choosing, tackles the sea, and then overcomes obstacles without the aid of their strongest tools. The game turns players into plucky children who are discovering they can take care of themselves.

The intrepidity of Breath of the Wild and other Nintendo greats mirrors the feelings Shigeru Miyamoto, the father of many Nintendo franchises, experienced as a child. “I can still recall the kind of sensation I had when I was in a small river, and I was searching with my hands beneath a rock, and something hit my finger, and I noticed it was a fish,” Miyamoto told the New Yorker. “That’s something that I just can’t express in words. It’s such an unusual situation.” In sequences like Eventide Island, players don’t just understand what Miyamoto describes, they feel it: Apprehension gives way to exhilaration as the unknown becomes a place of play.

 Nintendo’s intrepid gameplay is often amplified by playful presentation with Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island being the quintessential example. The game’s visuals, defined by pastel colors and simple hand-drawings, appear crayoned by a child while the celestial chimes that punctuate the jubilant soundtrack evoke shooting stars. The overall effect cannot be understated. It takes the surreal and turns it real, allowing players to interact, tangibly, with imagination.

Super Mario Odyssey Wooden Kingdom

Even if one removes the presentation and gameplay from Nintendo’s masterpieces, an unabashed creativity remains that bucks norm and convention. The arbiter is fun; reason and logic have no say. For instance, Super Mario Odyssey’s Wooded Kingdom, takes place in a post-apocalyptic setting akin to Nier Automata. Players explore the metal remnants of a civilization that has become a lush home to robotic beings. However, unlike Nier, the dark undertones of the past have no bearing on the game or those who inhabit its universe. The post-apocalyptic setting is just a fun backdrop. It’s as though a bunch of children got together, began playing with toys, and one of the kids brought along his sibling’s adult action figures. There is no attention paid to the context, only unfiltered imagination.

When they’re at their best the creators at Nintendo invite gamers to come and play, like a parent arranging a play date. Pulled along by joyful gameplay that expands in unforeseen ways, players desire to play for the sake of play. It’s a halcyon state of being: No messy thoughts or contradiction, just joy.

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‘Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind’: An Utterly Shameless Cash Grab

Coming in at a $40 price point (!!!) Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind offers an 80% recycled campaign, a boss rush mode, and some other trash.

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Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind

In the 15 year long history of DLC, we have seen some really shameless displays. The notorious horse armor incident of 2006 and a notable day one DLC for the ending game of a trilogy notwithstanding, few companies have had the utter audacity to offer so little content for such a high price point. Enter Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind.

Coming in at a $40 price point (!!!) Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind offers an 80% recycled campaign, a boss rush mode, and some social media nonsense for people who really hate themselves. That’s really it, that’s what you get. Honestly, Square-Enix should be utterly embarrassed by this DLC.

It’s been one year: 365 days, 8760 hours, 525600 minutes, or 31556952 seconds, since the release of Kingdom Hearts III. Let that sink in as you begin the meat of Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind. Think of it as the extended version of a movie you really like… you know, the kind where they add 4 minutes to the 120 minute runtime.

Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind

Yes, Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind, really is that cynical. I’m not kidding when I tell you that the game literally starts with an exact cut scene from the base game, and a cut scene that happens to be available from the theater mode of the main game that you’ve already bought if you’re playing this DLC. Yes, the introduction to this new content is… content you’ve already seen.

In fact, that’s kind of the sticking point here: most of what you get for your hard-earned cash is footage you’ve already seen, and battles you’ve already fought, and story you’ve already experienced, just with slight alterations for context. Remember back in the 2000s, when we were super obsessed with prequels? This is like that, except even more egregious.

Generally I’m not so unforgiving as to call a company out for a forthright cash grab, but that’s absolutely what Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind is. There’s just no other way to put it. You might find someone in the marketing department for Square-Enix who would disagree, but being a company that has faced just these sort of allegations for their last two major releases, Square-Enix either doesn’t read the news, or doesn’t care what people think of their products.

Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind

Square-Enix was roundly accused of shipping unfinished products in the case of both Final Fantasy XV and Kingdom Hearts III — their two most high profile releases of the last decade. I personally gave mostly positive reviews of both games for this very website but if you want ammo to suggest that this company is deliberately trading on the nostalgia and passion of its fan base in order to make financial headway, there are few examples you could draw from that are as obvious as this DLC.

Look, maybe you’re a really big Kingdom Hearts fan. Maybe you just really wanted to know what the context was for that cliffhanger ending in Kingdom Hearts III. Maybe you just don’t do much research before you buy something. Or maybe… you just really trust this company for some reason.

Hey, I’m not judging… hell, I bought this DLC for $40 same as anyone else. I oughta be honest that I’m not reviewing Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind as some holier than thou critic, talking down to you from my position of privilege. No, I’m an angry consumer in this particular case. I’m a person who spent enough to replace a flat tire on my car, or buy my family dinner, on a game that is clearly playing off of my love for a franchise, and using it to bilk me out of money in a method that is so clear, and so concise, that those involved in the entire endeavor should be totally embarrassed for their part in the creation, marketing, pricing, and distribution of this expansion.

Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind

Yes, fans had their complaints about Kingdom Hearts III. “Where are the hardcore boss battles? Where are the Final Fantasy characters? Where are the secret areas? Where are the hidden plot developments?” Still, to address these particular complaints by hammering a few minutes or seconds here and there into already existing content is truly like spitting in the faces of the people who have built the house you’re living in.

I haven’t sat in the board rooms at Square-Enix and I haven’t been in email chains about the planning of projects at their company but what I can say is that there is something rotten in Denmark if this is what passes for a satisfying piece of content for the wildly devoted fans of a hugely popular franchise in 2020. Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind is literally, truthfully, and succinctly, the worst piece of DLC I’ve ever purchased.

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