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Swords and Soldiers HD (Wii U eShop) Review

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Two Tribes is certainly no stranger to the Wii U eShop. They have previously released the highly anticipated sequel, Toki Tori 2, and a series of updated, classic Two Tribes games for an unbeatable price. Now, they have remade another classic Two Tribes game for the Wii U eShop, complete with high-res HD graphics and Wii U GamePad integration. This remake is known as Swords and Soldiers HD, a game that originally enjoyed a release on the WiiWare service in June of 2009. I never played the game when it was first released on the Wii, though I’ve spent many hours challenging Swords and Soldiers HD on the Wii U.

Swords and Soldiers HD is a simplified real-time strategy (RTS) game that is presented with a side-scrolling perspective. Players control a team of soldiers based on one of three ethnic groups – Vikings, Aztecs, and Chinese – and must summon troops to carry out battle with the opposing team. While many RTS features appear in Swords and Soldiers HD – mining for gold, summoning troops, and building towers – they are presented with a simplified approach that makes Swords and Soldiers HD easy to learn and play for RTS newbies.

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You will be responsible for only a handful of activities, all of which are easily manipulated with the Wii U GamePad. On the Wii U GamePad, you must touch icons to build troops and towers, summon spells, or to advance through your skill tree. Building troops and upgrading your team comes at the cost of gold, which is gathered by special units, while summoning spells comes at the cost of mana. What differentiates Swords and Soldiers HD from other RTS games is that you have no direct control over your troops. Instead, when they are summoned, they begin advancing toward your opponent and will automatically fight opposing troops when they come across them. Taking direct control away from the player is an interesting choice, but Two Tribes has done a fantastic job of making it work in Swords and Soldiers HD.

Players can also use the Wii Remote if they wish – utilizing the IR pointer to select options on the TV screen – though I preferred the Wii U GamePad. Using the Wii Remote does work just fine, though selecting icons on the Wii U GamePad is much faster, which is especially important during the tougher rounds.

There are a few ways to play Swords and Soldiers including campaign mode, skirmishes, and challenges. The campaign mode consists of three campaigns, with each one based on the three ethnic groups in the game. Skirmishes are single encounters that can be played against the computer, or another player. Lastly, there are three challenges that are unlocked after completing a group’s campaign mode. Of the three, I spent the majority of my time with the campaign modes, though I will commend Two Tribes for including a lot of maps – small, medium, and large – in the skirmish mode, as well as some neat distractions in the game’s challenge modes.

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I thoroughly enjoyed playing through the campaign modes in Swords and Soldiers HD. Each campaign is made up of 10 missions, all of which have similar objectives – such as destroying certain objects, or defending for a set amount of time. While the gameplay is strikingly similar throughout all three campaigns, each group has special units and spells that make each experience feel fresh. For the most part, each mission can easily be conquered, though there were a few that kept me on my toes for up to 30 minutes at a time. Knowing which units and spells to use will be the key to victory in some of those longer, tougher missions.

As its title suggests, Swords and Soldiers has received a wonderful HD upgrade. The game’s world and characters drip with personality and look absolutely gorgeous on my HD TV. While the graphics are fantastic, they can only be fully enjoyed if you’re playing with a Wii Remote. However, the game still looks great on the Wii U GamePad’s screen.

Final Thoughts:
Swords and Soldiers HD is another great Wii U offering from Two Tribes. The game controls beautifully with the Wii U GamePad and there are approximately 3 to 4 hours of gameplay in the game’s campaign mode – many more if you enjoy multiplayer skirmishes. There is currently no online multiplayer or DLC, but the game is a steal at its $2.99 price point on the Wii U eShop.

8.5/10 – Great

Review copy provided by Two Tribes

Super Mario Bros. 3 Review

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Super Mario Bros. 3 Review

Super Mario Bros. 3 is the final Mario game in the NES trilogy and definitely the best. This game takes what made  Super Mario Bros. fun and not only improves it, but also adds elements that can still be found in the series today.

Bowser is back and he’s trying to rule the Mushroom Kingdom once again. Instead of just kidnapping Princess Peach, Bowser instructs his Koopa Kids to steal magic wands from every king in the Mushroom Kingdom. Not only do they steal their magic wands, but they transform the kings into a variety of animals. Now it’s up to Mario and Luigi to save the land… again.

Super Mario Bros. 3 plays a lot like Super Mario Bros; however, this time around, Mario can don a variety of different suits, each with their own power. Mushrooms and Fire Flowers are still present, but it’s the new suits that take center stage. Some of the suits include a Frog Suit that increases swimming ability, and a Super Leaf that transforms Mario into a raccoon, giving him the ability to fly for a limited time. Mario can also find the Hammer Brother Suit, and of course, the magical Tanooki suit.

Other than for visual appeal, these suits – particularly Racoon and Tanooki Mario – changed the way levels were designed. Flying allowed the developers to include secret areas in the sky that can only be accessed by using one of the aforementioned flight suits. Flying into the sky for the first time is an incredible feeling and was certainly a game changing experience for the Mario series.

There are 8 worlds in this game including: Grass Land, Desert Land, Water Land, Giant Land, Sky Land, Ice Land, Pipe Land, and Dark Land, home of Bowser himself. Each world is represented by an overworld map, a first, but consistent feature for the series. Players move Mario around the map and choose which level (or Mini Fortress) they want to enter. Also, on the map, players can access an item menu that lets them store and use items found in Mushroom Houses. The overworld map is a fantastic addition to the series and sometimes hold secret areas of their own.

At the end of each world, players will have to conquer the dreaded airship. Airships are intense levels accompanied by heart pounding music and dangerous level design. Getting to the end is a feat in itself, but a battle with one of seven Koopa Kids still waits. These levels are awesome in design, and its theme song is one of the best in the series. Airship levels aren’t the only new level additions in Super Mario Bros. 3 either, also, for the first time, players can venture through many fortress levels.

Fortress levels are castle-like levels that feature many ghostly enemies, some of which make their first appearance in the Mario series. Enemies such as Boos, Thwomps, and Dry Bones instantly come to mind. Also, at the end of each fortress, players will fight Boom Boom. Boom Boom doesn’t offer much of a challenge, but he does serve his role as a mid-world boss quite well.

Super Mario Bros. 3 is one of the best looking NES games, and definitely the best looking game in the NES trilogy. Sprites in general are not only highly detailed and colorful, but also varied. Having such variety creates a feeling that there is much more to discover; in fact, there is quite a bit discover in this game.

Secrets are around every corner in SMB3: one of the most famous secrets of all time are Super Mario Bros. 3′s warp whistles. Warp whistles are located at various hidden spots throughout the game and give players the ability to warp to a world of their choosing. Scouring the game for secrets is quite fun, plus there are plenty others to find, such as secret coin boats and white mushroom houses.

 

5/5 D-Pads: Overall, Super Mario Bros. 3 is an example of game design at its finest. Level design is among the greatest in the series (rivaled only by Super Mario World), as well as having some of the catchiest theme songs. Suits are a lot of fun to use and add some variety to the gameplay. Super Mario Bros. 3 is a classic game and definitely one of my favourite games. Anyone who hasn’t played this game should download it on the Wii U or 3DS Virtual Console as it’s only $4.99.

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze Review

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Retro Studios returns to gamers’ hearts with a sequel to their re-imagining of the Donkey Kong Country series. After spending nearly a decade with the Metroid series, Retro Studios conquered the sidescrolling platformer, but just a few years later, they have perfected it. Move over Rayman, the real king of jungle platforming is back.

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Blok Drop U Review

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Release Date: March 6, 2014 | Price: $1.99
Genre: Puzzle | Platform: Wii U eShop
Publisher and Developer: RCMADIAX

Blok Drop U is the first game developed with Construct 2 and Nintendo Web Framework to be released on the Wii U.  The game was developed by RCMADIAX, a one man team focused on bringing video games exclusively to Nintendo consoles.

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Tappingo Review

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Release Date: February 27, 2014
Platform: Nintendo 3DS eShop
Price: $2.99
Publisher: CIRCLE Ent.
Developer: Goodbye Galaxy Games

Hugo Smits of Goodbye Galaxy Games has long been a supporter of Nintendo’s digital storefronts. He has released many titles on the DSiWare service, but has just released his first Nintendo eShop game, Tappingo, for the Nintendo 3DS.

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Unepic Review – Wii U eShop

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Unepic was released on the Wii U on January 16, 2014 – thanks to publisher EnjoyUp Games – though it has been around for a couple of years on the PC. Unepic was created in Spain by Francisco Téllez de Meneses – amongst a variety of collaborators. It originally took two years of work to create the game, though the Wii U version of the game was built to take advantage of the Wii U’s unique gamepad.

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Super Mario 3D World Review

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Super Mario 3D World Review

Wii U owners have been patiently waiting for system selling software to be released, and while a few enticing titles in Pikmin 3, The Wonderful 101 and The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD have been released, no game could pique the interest of gamers quite like the brand new Super Mario 3D World. Though, even Super Mario 3D World was initially met with major criticisms like not being Super Mario Galaxy 3 or being too much like Super Mario 3D Land. In the end, Super Mario 3D World surpassed most people’s expectations and is rightfully sitting on the thrown as the best Wii U game to date.

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Cubit: The Hardcore Platformer Robot Review

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Cubit: The Hardcore Platformer Robot Review

Runner games have become increasingly popular over the past few years thanks mostly to their easy to learn, pick-up-and-play gameplay. Enter Cubit: The Hardcore Platformer Robot from Coder Child, yet another runner-style game that can be purchased on the Nintendo 3DS eShop. How does Cubit: The Hardcore Platformer Robot measure up to other runner games?

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Wii U – Kung Fu Rabbit Review

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Kung Fu Rabbit Review

Kung Fu Rabbit was released on the Wii U via the Nintendo eShop on May 2, 2013. It was developed by Bulkypix but was first released on the Apple Store in 2012. The game was recently on sale on the Nintendo eShop so I decided to pick it up, making it my first Wii U eShop game.

Kung Fu Rabbit tells a simple story of an Ultimate Evil that has kidnapped all your baby rabbit disciples. Of course, it’s up to you, the Kung Fu Rabbit, to rescue your disciples. This story is hardly complex and won’t do much for the older gamer, but young kids will likely be drawn into its wealth of charm, including some adorable comic-like cut-scenes.

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New Super Mario Bros. U Review

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New Super Mario Bros. U Review

Released on November 18, 2012, New Super Mario Bros. U was a launch game for Nintendo’s Wii U console. New Super Mario Bros. U is the fourth game in the New Super Mario Bros. series, which first saw life on the Nintendo DS back in 2006. Like all the New Super Mario Bros. games before it, New Super Mario Bros. U recycles the revamped, platforming gameplay and presentation that was first introduced in the original New Super Mario Bros. However, despite its familiar feel, New Super Mario Bros. U manages to jump much higher than its predecessors.

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Wii U Deluxe Edition Review

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Wii U Deluxe Edition Review

Wii U Deluxe Set

I’ve finally purchased a Wii U console after it spent nearly a year on the market. What convinced me to buy a Wii U? Well, the first factor was the Wii U price drop. Consumers can now buy the Wii U Deluxe Edition for $299.99, which is $50 less than it was last year. However, price wasn’t the only factor in my decision. I truly believe I needed a Wii U so I can review games for MiniFortress.com and keep the website relevant. Lastly, the lineup of incoming Wii U games seems incredible and I don’t want to miss those games. With that being said, what do I think of Nintendo’s new console? Read more

10-in-1 Arcade Collection Review (Nintendo 3DS eShop)

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10-in-1 Arcade Collection Review

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I need to admit something: I’m a sucker for video game compilations. Whether that compilation consists of newer video games (Metroid Prime Trilogy) or of classic games (Mega Man Anniversary Collection), I just can’t resist the value of owning multiple games for a decent price. Therefore, I was instantly interested when I discovered 10-in-1 Arcade Collection from Gamelion Studios.

10-in-1 Arcade Collection is a video game compilation which includes 10 games based on classic arcade games. At first glance, updating classic arcade games with fancier visuals and new ideas might seem like a great idea, but sometimes the classics shouldn’t be touched.

The most attractive thing about 10-in-1 Arcade Collection is that you get 10 games for $3.09. However, not every game in this collection is of equal quality. Games range from poor to good, but the package as a whole feels uneven.

10-in-1-arcade-collection-ss1One thing I noticed about the games from 10-in-1 Arcade Collection is that they all consist of 20 levels and are extremely easy to control. Some games will continue after level 20, though you will begin at the first level, even though the game recognizes it as level 21. As for the controls, you’ll only ever need to use one or two buttons in conjunction with the D-Pad/Slide Pad, making it easy to pick up and play.

The first standout game is Black Nightmares, which is obviously influenced by Space Invaders. In Black Nightmares, you play as a character attacked by waves of nightmare armies. You have the ability to shoot energy balls, and if the action gets too hectic, you can hide behind barriers and let them absorb the enemies’ attacks. Useful power-ups may also fall after you destroy an enemy, often giving you an enormous advantage.

Another standout game from this compilation is called Tangled Space, a game that is nearly identical to Asteroids. Like Asteroids, the screen wraps around vertically and horizontally, and you must shoot and destroy asteroids. Like Black Nightmares, Tangled Space also gives you access to power-ups, one of which makes you immune to damage.

Without going into too much detail, here are some details on other 10-in-1 Arcade Collection games that I enjoyed.

Gem Breaker – a challenging brick breaking game inspired by retro classics like Breakout – is a neat, albeit short, brick breaking game.

Puzzle fans will be happy to learn that there are two decent games for them in this compilation. First up is Ghost Cage, a game that draws inspiration from Tetris, Columns, and Dr. Mario. Ghost Cage is quite challenging right from the beginning, but because of its accessible and addictive nature, it will likely appeal to a large number of people. Box Logic is the other puzzle game that I enjoyed. The objective in Box Logic is to push boxes around until you slide them into their designated slots.

Lastly, I also enjoyed a game called Perfect Landing. The goal in Perfect Landing is to safely guide a spaceship to the landing pad whilst avoiding enemies.

The last four games are noticeably lower in quality including two that are downright poor. The most palatable of the four is Special Delivery, a generic runner-type game that is interesting enough to complete at least once. Ninja Monkey, while it starts out OK, it becomes unbearable as soon as the third level. In Ninja Monkey, you play as a Monkey that must throw shurikens at demons flying through the sky. These demons quickly become difficult to defeat and overwhelm you with enemies quickly.

10-in-1-arcade-collection-ss2Then there is Saucer Room, perhaps one of the most boring games I’ve ever played. Your goal is to control a snake-like chain of flying saucers to collect items to disable a force field. The control is horrendous and the game feels like it’s running in slow motion. Finally, the last game is Devil Maze, a game that looks like it was made by a novice student of a video game development program. The goal of this game is to collect every star on the board without running into the devils.

10-in-1 Arcade Collection has a nice overall presentation that consists of clean visuals and colorful, retro-inspired graphics. However, there are games that could use some work, including the Saucer Room and Devil Maze games. Also, 10-in-1 Arcade Collection does sport some fine looking 3D effects, which is an especially nice touch for the better games in the packages. I’ve had some good to say about the games, but I wasn’t fond of the game’s generic soundtrack. It’s hard for me to explain, but it has a sound that I’ve found off-putting since the NES era.

Final Thoughts:

Void of real feelings of nostalgia, 10-in-1 Arcade Collection doesn’t quite measure up to the games it takes inspiration from. There are a few good games here, but don’t expect to find masterpiece material amongst the compilation. It’s low price of $3.09 somewhat lessens the sense of buyer’s regret, but I can’t wholeheartedly recommend this game to anyone.

5/10 – Average

Purchased on the Nintendo eShop

Wakedas Review (Nintendo 3DS eShop)

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Wakedas Review

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Puzzle games and handheld devices go hand in hand, so it’s no surprise to see Circle Entertainment bring Wakedas to the Nintendo 3DS. Developed by FK Digital – the developer of Witch & Hero – Wakedas (pronounced Wa-Ke-Da-Su) means let’s separate it. Combining the meaning of both “WAKE”, which stands for a separation of some sort in Japan, and “DAS,” an auxiliary word often used with cube games, you get the color separation puzzle game known as Wakedas.

wakedas-nintendo-3ds-eshopWakedas is an easy to learn puzzle game that challenges the player to separate and match colors on a grid-like board. The concept can be compared to that of solving a Rubik’s Cube. There are 300 puzzles in the game, separated into three levels; 100 3×3 puzzles, 100 4×4 puzzles, and 100 5×5 puzzles.

To solve a Wakedas puzzle, players must make sure that each color is separated and placed beside a matching color. Each puzzle is separated into blocks and always has at least two colors, though more colors are introduced as you play. To match these colors, players must slide portions of the grid, horizontally and/or vertically, using a simple swipe of the stylus. In fact, the game is played exclusively on the touchscreen.

Wakedas starts off easy, but gradually increases as you work your way toward the 300th puzzle. To keep things interesting – and definitely challenging – new types of blocks are introduced. You’ll encounter blocks that are separated into different colored triangles, blocks that are locked and cannot be moved, as well as blocks that rotate as you slide the puzzle. These additional elements keep Wakedas fresh and fun throughout the entirety of your experience.

As I mentioned above, Wakedas gameplay takes place entirely on the touchscreen, but there are images displayed on the 3D screen, as well. These images add a little extra to the presentation, but add nothing to the actual gameplay. Plus, despite being displayed on the 3D screen, the 3D effect is disabled entirely. The visuals on the touchscreen are simple, but colorful and effective for a puzzle game. Tying the entire package together is a soothing soundtrack that encourages mental clarity.

Final Thoughts:

Wakedas is a challenging, but fun puzzle game that I believe fans of puzzle games will enjoy. The amount of time you put into the game is dependent upon how long it takes you to solve each individual puzzle. In my experience, most puzzles took me around a minute to solve, but there are plenty that take much longer. For just $2.99 on the Nintendo 3DS eShop, it’s hard to ignore the value that Wakedas gives to gamers.

8.5/10 – Great

Review copy provided by Circle Entertainment

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