Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze review

 This review was originally published on Gameluster.com on the 11th of March.

Platform: Wii U

Players: One to two

Developer: Retro Studios

Publisher: Nintendo

Score: 9.5

I must be the odd one of the Donkey Kong fan base, while many praised Donkey Kong Country Returns in 2010 on the Wii I found I couldn’t have cared less about it as I didn’t really enjoy it. In fact it has been 15 years since I last really enjoyed a Donkey Kong game and that was Donkey Kong 64. But even with that I still felt compelled to give the ape another shot and I am glad I did as Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze recaptures the magic of the older games while adding to it to create one of the best 2D platformers in a long time.

Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze begins with Donkey Kong and friends Diddy, Dixie and Cranky celebrating Donkey Kong’s birthday. During this little bit everything seems at peace on DK island but as you would expect this peace is short lived as suddenly from across the water comes a new series of arctic animals which are the enemies known as the Snowmads. In the blow of a horn they freeze Donkey Kong’s island and send Donkey Kong and his friends flying across the ocean and they must start their journey back to save their home.

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Level design is key to creating a fun and stable 2D platformer and at all turns Tropical Freeze does this right. Set across 6 islands, each island provides a diverse theme from the other islands and this continues into the very design itself for each level. At no point does any level feel repetitive or like you have been there previously as each level usually adds something new to keep things interesting right up until the end of the game. As you journey across islands levels hold the theme of the African savannah, the traditional jungle, the frozen Donkey Kong island, an island filled with fruit based levels from a fruit factory and even the return of underwater levels. It is a little thing but I was glad to see Donkey Kong able to swim again and so fluently that it makes levels more interesting.

While many of the levels in the game do feel diverse there are definitely a few standouts among the bunch. In one particular level you must ride a mine cart through a sawmill which builds the obstacles out in front of you and halfway through turns into a raft ride, another has you running through a burning savannah requiring that you at times put out fires to proceed, another has you running across a savannah with it dancing to the music and another that literally builds as you go through the level. These may be the standouts for me but each level holds a special place that makes them all fun.

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One of the best additions to the game is the dynamic camera which adds new depth to each level it appears in. It doesn’t appear very often but in a selection of levels it adds a new challenge as well as providing some great views. For the purposes of barrel blasting, rocket barrel riding, and riding mine carts the camera added to each level by providing great opportunity to see the amazing design and also provide new challenges such as changing rails and barrel blasting across locations.

The music in the game is also very good. Retro Studios has gotten hold of Donkey Kong Country music master David Wise to create some beautiful and well done scores behind each level. Most levels have some fantastic music to them which is a joy to listen to and make me want to stop just to listen to each one. Particularly when I came across themes I recognized from the older games which have been brilliantly redone, such as the beautiful Aquatic Ambiance.

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The ability to change supporting characters is one of the best changes Retro has made to the games as we got to see new ways to play and new opportunities for challenge. As usual we got to see Diddy as a supporting character, but we also got to see the return of Dixie and the introduction of Cranky as a playable character. At different points each character has their use but mostly they are used for their additional jumping abilities. Diddy helps to keep you hovering for longer, Dixie adds a form of double jump and Cranky uses his cane like a pogo stick to jump on enemies and little spikes in the ground. Through most of my playthrough I spent my time playing with Dixie as her abilities far surpass Diddy and Cranky’s. In fact I only ever used Diddy if that was my only choice or by accident as I otherwise never actually had a reason to choose him over Dixie.

Retro has hit the perfect difficulty spike for Tropical Freeze continuing from  what Returns did right. The early levels in the game are never overly challenging and are more to teach you how to play, and any deaths are usually just stupid mistakes. Further down the track the levels do start to get challenging, filled with timed jump gaps, tight spots and careful jumps. Even the enemies themselves add to the challenge with new types recurringly added that change up the way you play and even at times being almost unavoidable. Further the levels themselves with the many platforms and the rocket barrel levels provide a decent challenge in timing movements.donkey-kong-tropical-freeze-seal-boss

Likewise, the boss battles in the game are equally challenging. They never get to a point where they are unbeatable or almost impossible but they do put up quite a fight. From beginning to end each boss battle keeps you on your toes as they are often unpredictable and often they are quite hard to hit, requiring adequate timing to launch a throw or jump on a specific part of them. Also it was nice to know that the bosses never repeat themselves and each one is as unique as the last.

Retro Studios did miss out on a few opportunities with Tropical Freeze, namely my biggest issue being the use of the Gamepad. If you are playing on the TV then the Gamepad’s screen is completely blank which makes it feel mostly useless. This was actually my preferred controller though, and because this annoyed me I ended up using the option to play solely on the Gamepad, as it gave the controller more meaning though I do wish Retro had found some significant points for the controller.

Multiplayer also fails to really get anywhere often the second player has a character which has its individual abilities at a better standard then the player that is playing as Donkey Kong. Often I found lead to deaths for myself as Donkey Kong because the other player was faster then myself and in other levels the paths would crumble away under my feet because they would get there first or even or the opposite way around. The multiplayer can work but only if the two players can work in sync and when they’re not it is a travesty, but working together and looking out for one another is the key so hopefully you can find a good partner otherwise I would recommend the single player only.

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Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze is a definite stand out in the Wii U’s library and in my eyes a true return to what made the original Donkey Kong Country games so fun. In future I would like to see a Donkey Kong game in the same vein as Donkey Kong 64 but for now this is enough of a tide over that is still fun and reminiscent of the past. If you own a Wii U this game can’t be missed and we must give our thanks to Retro Studios for making this excellent game.

Score breakdown

Gameplay: 10

Presentation: 10

Replayability: 9

Story: 6

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Sledgehammer Games confirms Advanced Warfare not coming to Wii U

After month of will they, won’t they the fate of a Wii U version of Call of Duty Advanced Warfare has been confirmed and might I just say I am not happy with the end result. Sledgehammer games co-founder Micheal Condrey has officially made confirmation that no Wii U version will be made of this entry. This was all said in a quick statement:

no, no WiiU. That was an Activision decision. We are focused on XboxOne, PS4, and PC.

So there we have it the fate has been decided and Wii U players are left disappointed that Activision is showing it’s true colours and not even providing the best console platform for Call of Duty the latest Call of Duty game.I am now annoyed as I have said quite nicely in the past the Wii U provides the best experience for a Call of Duty game and this abandonment might just lose some of the new players who started on the Wii U.

However all hope may not be lost, if another studio can step in and make a Wii U port then we will be in luck, however this close to release the chances are unlikely and now we may as well go into a corner wrap ourselves up and cry like the banana fairy in Donkey Kong 64.

Octodad Dadliest Catch review

Ordinarily how a game controls can be a big decider on whether or not we might find enjoyment in a game, if a game controls badly we fail to find a proper level of enjoyment because we struggle with how we play our game. Having a good control system is key to our enjoyment as we find ourselves being able to properly associate ourselves with a character or play the game that works for us. But what about when a game is a combination of both an excellent control system and an awful one, this is exactly the case that we find with Octodad Dadliest Catch a clever yet frustrating game.

As the name suggests or at least you could at least possibly suggest you are an Octopus who has been living on land posing as a human (which in itself proves just how stupid some of these people are). What is your biggest fear, well it is none other then being discovered and your life being torn apart and as such when your wife tells you that your family is taking a trip to the aquarium obviously you’re less then thrilled and concerned about being discovered. With this being the main premise other early parts of the story see you having to get married and deal with daily life as a family man or shall I say Octopus.

Obviously since you’re an octopus getting around is not easy particularly when you are trying to seem human, so clearly you are not going to have an easy time getting around in fact it is highly challenging. Because of this what would ordinarily be a simple task in real life becomes a struggle and due to this we find a good amount of patience is required. So people lacking patience will probably want to steer clear.

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In one of the first levels you are tasked with doing a series of house chores and activities and these quickly prove to be harder than we would have originally thought.  There are countless obstacles to maneuver around and the clumsy control system just makes things even more difficult, though that is not to say it is bad, on the contrary in these points the control system is brilliant in showing us exactly how this character would move around if it was real. We struggle to grab milk out of the fridge and then pour it into a bowl, we have a hard time mowing the lawn as the system controls and moving Octodad around is a struggle and getting him to go the way you want is not always an easy task constantly requiring heavy thought and concentration in order to succeed.

Most of the levels in Octodad are simple chores of life and activities that can take place in our own life, where the game starts you out getting married and struggling around the chapel to find your clothes, you are then facing down family chores as I previously mentioned. Then as well as this visiting an aquarium and not being noticed as a aquatic creatures and of course doing your families shopping is quite a chore requiring the use of your abilities as it can be called to get some of the items. Through each level it was hard not to have fun even if I was frustrated by my attempts to get to higher places and take my time to get to the right point.

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Of course as fun as the game is and enjoyable as the control system was it does struggle to be enjoyable in small parts, namely throughout boss sections. These come down as small sections revolving a chef who is trying to cook Octodad and as such he is always trying to stop him in a wide variety of ways. These boss sections while interesting in theory often require you to run away from the chef and because of how awkward it already is to control Octodad it is a struggle when trying to beat these sections and at no point was I ever having fun during these points I was frustrated by how hard the system was in trying to avoid obstacles while moving quickly.

To put it simply Octodad is a challenging game but this character’s own style is what leads to some really fun gameplay on top of relying on solving your own body control issues there are also a series of puzzles to solve and complete. There aren’t many but there are points where you have to use Octodad’s contortion type abilities to get into small gaps to get to your objective. Of course in these moments where you must try to grab something or get through small spaces are where some of the games biggest struggles are. There are many points where I have found myself all tangled up and struggling to even move anywhere at all but finding my way out of these accidentally self caused situations was always satisfying because of the control struggles.

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The best version of this game is definitely the Playstation 4 version. The controller matches the required skills perfectly and balancing each of Octodad’s limbs works incredibly well with each button having a specific use. The R2 and L2 buttons each control a leg and tied to how you choose to move the joystick is exactly how you get around. Now you can choose to take the gentle approach and just do small steps at a time but this gets annoying fast and full enjoyment is truly given when you are struggling to get to where you are heading to. Likewise it is also a struggle to grab things as maneuvering the joysticks in sequence with your arm to get to what you want, simple enough to say the control scheme presented on the Playstation 4 and the joysticks do at least deal with some of the games potential issues and frustrations and dealing with trying to achieve whatever objectives come your way is challenging with ensuring correct positioning but that is part of the fun.

Octodad is that game that hits the perfect spot between hating and loving the controls as essentially we are not meant to love or hate them, it is part of the game and what makes the game to be played. Octodad Dadliest Catch is a cheap download and a great game that I highly recommend giving a go to if you ever get a chance. Sure the controls are going to annoy you but a great game is a great game and it is hard to deny just how much fun Octodad is. It is possible to beat Octodad in a couple of hours but there are plenty of options for replaying levels and they are well worth it and really fun. If possible I would be very interested in seeing a follow up and seeing more challenges and obstacles to face

Super Smash Brothers Picture of the day 8/19/14 Zero Suit Samus alternate costume

You know what I think Sakurai is trying to get quite a bit of male attention in Super Smash Brothers for the Wii U and 3DS as today’s picture is quite well suggesting. While strictly Sakurai is explaining that Smash Brothers will feature some alternate costumes for Zero Suit Samus I can’t help but have my own thoughts turn towards what many males will be thinking, trust me I have read enough random game articles to know primarily that people believe that Zero Suit Samus is one of the most attractive Video Game characters constantly insinuated by the nice personality references made about the character. So here is Sakurai’s latest picture of the day for you to see and I am certain if you are a male stare at.

Pic of the day. Looking at the number of days we have left for development, it would be an impossible task to create this… That’s what I told my staff. But thanks to the determination of her female designer, these Zero Suit outfits got completed in time. From the ending of Metroid: Zero Mission, here’s Samus in shorts!

See do you see what I am talking about. I know this costume decision is strictly because of a Metroid game reference but still it is an interesting costume choice that I didn’t see coming particularly from Nintendo. I now wonder what is next?

Ubisoft says Nintendo players don’t buy Assassins Creed games

Prior to the Wii U my interest in the Assassins Creed franchise was basically nonexistent, I found them boring and not of interest. However when I finally played Assassins Creed 4 earlier this year on my Wii U, I was in heaven the game was a perfect fit for the Wii U providing a map on my screen and a mostly great game. Following this I was hoping for the next Assassins Creed game to hit the Wii U but as it seems my hopes are broken and basically are never going to be repaired with Ubisoft now telling us that Assassins Creed is not coming to the Wii U at all because Nintendo players have no interest. This is basically why we won’t be seeing either of this years releases.

While speaking with Game Informer at Gamescom last week, Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot explained:

“It’s very simple. What we see is that Nintendo customers don’t buy Assassin’s Creed. Last year, we sold in very small numbers.”

Guillemot also spoke about Ubisoft’s shift in focus on Wii U:

“What we see is that they are very interested in Just Dance, very interested by other kinds of games. So what we are trying to do is to focus more on the types of games they are interested in.”

And what of Watch Dogs, which has long been planned for Nintendo’s console? Fortunately, Guillemot once again confirmed that it’s still in the pipeline:

“[Watch Dogs] is coming to Wii U. It will be the only mature game we publish on it.”

It really is a shame that Ubisoft has no intention for Assassins Creed on the Wii U, I bought both games and played them and similar to my thoughts on Call of Duty I believe Assassins Creed has its best place on the Wii U and by not giving Nintendo players Assassins Creed Ubisoft are once again isolating Nintendo fans with the franchise. Maybe part of the problem is that Nintendo players have never had a reason to buy Assassins Creed and some only want to play on a certain platform. My recommendation for Ubisoft is that they maybe make an exclusive Assassins Creed to fully test the waters and if it fails then sure take it away from us. So Nintendo it is up to you maybe you need to talk to Ubisoft and organize an exclusive or even another Assassins Creed.

Toy Box Starter Pack announced for Disney Infinity 2.0

Disney Infinity 2.0 is set to be big we already know that with some of the worlds biggest characters stepping out into figurines ready to jump into a videogame that might actually be fun. When Disney Infinity launched last year I believe it was the toybox mode that stood out above all else that people wanted to get their hands on and make their own own world instead of the more scripted playsets. Disney Interactive has now announced that Disney Infinity 2.0 toy box adventure pack is coming and is set for release this November. Even though the game won’t include any of the games playsets this version of the game will still remain 100% compatible with all of the 2.0 playsets.

By purchasing the Toy Box Starter Pack, consumers can experience the most popular mode of Disney Infinity, unlock Disney-themed content, and buy additional figures and Play Sets separately.

The Disney Infinity: Toy Box Starter Pack will include the following:

  • The Disney Infinity (2.0 Edition) video game – The Disney Infinity: Toy Box Starter Pack and Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes Starter Pack both include the same video game disc
  • Disney Infinity (2.0 Edition) base
  • (2) Disney Originals Figures (Merida and Stitch)
  • (2) Disney Originals “Toy Box Game Discs” – Stitch’s Tropical Rescue and Brave Forest Siege
  • (1) Web code card
  • (1) poster

Disney Infinity: Toy Box Starter Pack (2.0 Edition) will be available on November 4 for $59.99.

Source: Disney Interactive PR

The Legend of Zelda Majora’s Mask review

Platform: Nintendo 64, Wii Virtual Console

Year: 2000

Developer: Nintendo

Publisher: Nintendo

Score: 9

The Legend of Zelda Majora’s Mask is one of the most highly regarded entries in the Zelda franchise, highly regarded by the many fans of the game for the ideas that it provided and the interesting story elements. In a sense another source of Majora’s Masks popularity in the present day is perhaps somewhat similar to that of how the fanbase views many of the games in the franchise, while initially the game provides hate upon release because of its ideas or even length, it grows with the ages just like what has happened with Wind Waker and will inevitably happen with Skyward Sword. In my own view Majora’s Mask has not changed and remains the same brilliant game it started as upon original release.

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Majora’s Mask follows on from where Ocarina of Time let us off. The games opening sees Link on a journey through the Lost Woods trying to find a friend, presumably Navi who parted ways with our hero at the end of his previous journey. During this time Link encounters the Skull Kid who steals his horse and Link gives chase somehow winding up in another world. In this world known as Termina the world faces an imminent danger of a falling moon and Link has to save it, the only problem is that Link has been transformed into a Deku Scrub and must find a way to return to being human before it is to late.

Majora’s Mask is a very different game to many of the franchises other entries and at no point does this  appear to be a bad thing, while many other Zelda games have put a focus on exploring every little inch of the games world Majora’s Mask does not have that focus. Right from the get go you are immediately focused on your goal of the time attempting to complete a certain objective within a small space of time. This mainly comes from Majora’s Masks interesting time mechanic, while other Zelda games have literally allowed hours of freedom to explore Majora’s Mask provides you with three days to achieve your goal and save the world.

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What makes this interesting is that you have only these three days to try to complete dungeons and bring order back to all of Termina. The problem with this however is that it is impossible to complete the game on the three day parameter, but this is where the time mechanic from Ocarina of Time comes in allowing you to return back to the dawn of the first day in order to have the three days to achieve your goal. This idea is where the game truly gets to become both interesting and frustrating, frustrating because of all your progress being erased essentially but interesting because of what it allows for.

For those concerned dungeon completion still remains and so you can continue onto the next area the only frustrating part is just how pushed you are to get through the dungeon as well as how to get into the dungeon. Interestingly while I may have said Majoras Mask is more focused by its time mechanic it does sort of allow a sense of freedom in how you approach your days. It becomes your choice if you want to attempt to get into the next dungeon on that day, want to start completing the objectives that can’t be removed by rewinding time or just hang around Clock Town. What you do with these three days is truly up to you and in some cases even spending a day doing reconnaissance on an area to get the best results on a future day is a great use of time, I recall spending many days exploring areas to get more information on that area as well as spending my time waiting for specific times to complete side objectives.

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This was one of the great things about Majora’s Masks world it deals with a lot of my issues with the Zelda franchise or games in general. I have often complained about how the characters in some of these games feel lifeless or that I may as well be constantly walking through a barren city, Majora’s Mask fixes this issue thanks to its time idea that gives each character a personality and a set criteria of what they are doing through each day. They each have a point and are actually interesting to follow the story of throughout the cycle and the game accepts that and even in a sense promotes it with its other big idea of masks.

Scattered throughout Majora’s Mask are a series of different masks each containing there own set of shall we see less then helpful abilities, not to  be critical but most of the masks have no actual point or even a purpose in the game itself apart from at the very end. Sure I will admit I did have some fun playing with a small selection of them from time to time mostly while I was spending five minutes remembering what I was doing or going to do on that cycle.

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Not all the masks are essentially useless as throughout the game you acquire three masks that play a critical part in the story and help you to make your way through the game.  These masks bestow upon you special powers that allow you to go through areas otherwise inaccessible by regular Link, the Deku Scrub has the ability to jump high and hover by using flowers, the Goron is powerful and can plow through incoming hazards, and finally the Zora allows you to swim to great depths and stay underwater. Each transformation is a key part of a certain dungeon in the game and becomes a key part of making it through the game, as well as offering different types of characters to allow further developed puzzle solving regarding each characters separate abilities as well as each being fun and highly enjoyable in their own way.

To date Majora’s Mask is one of the best Zelda games to date and features some of the best ideas that the franchise has ever known. still for how great Majora’s Mask is the notable issues remain such as how pointless most of the games masks are. But even with this Majora’s Mask is fun and if any Zelda game is worth playing it is definitely this one. The only thing left to say is that Nintendo needs to stop teasing us with references to this game and just do the remake now to satisfy myself, the fans and newcomers with an updated game. The main thing I find interesting though is that the game had only a year in development and the game is incredible considering that it was made in a year.

Rumour: Nintendo Remastered Classic coming next year

Remastering big games is a big thing at the moment giving players a chance to replay some of their favourite experiences from over the years, on top of this it also gives new players their chance to experience the classic. According to a new rumour we are set to see a new remastered game from a past generation delivered by Nintendo next year, this rumour actually has quite a likeness to be true given the reporters past history if what they were right about this year. This is what the guy had to say

“It’s perfect to fill gaps in the line-up,” and “You’re gonna love it, but it’s a Remaster,” . This is apparently a source that has been correct in his predictions of other Nintendo titles in the past, NeoGAF credits him on predictions about Devil’s Third for Wii U as well as Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire.

Heres hoping that this person is correct and that a remastered classic is in the works to come to hopefully the Wii U or maybe the 3DS. Going through it my head is filled with possibilities and at the current moment the most likely candidate is Majora’s Mask and if not that a Wii or Gamecube game otherwise seem most likely as upping them to a HD game if much easier. Personally though I am really hoping this is true and it is a Nintendo 64 game as there a great library of games that I would really like to play again or for the first time, but mostly it is Donkey Kong 64 that I most hope for as that is one of the best games ever made.

Sony wants to be cautious about releasing too many HD remasters

These days there seems to be a number of people calling for HD remasters of their favourite games with the recent announcement of Resident Evil remastered on top of other potential games in the future but Playstation Europe boss Jim Ryan has his own thoughts on HD remasters which he has said as:

“One of the things we’ve seen this time around is that people have transitioned from a competitor platform last generation to PlayStation 4 this time around, and to allow those people to be able to experience a game like The Last Of Us, which they weren’t able to last time because they were playing something else, that’s just common sense.

“But I think it’s got to be looked at very holistically, you can’t have too many of these things otherwise next-gen just looks like rehashed last-gen and we certainly don’t want that.

“I think the balance is just about right but you know, there are other games that could be looked at, but there’ll come a point where next gen will have moved on and rehashing old-gen will have passed its sell-by date.”

I think this isn’t a bad thing as people might get sick of seeing old games remade almost constantly and perhaps while doing HD remasterings from time to time to provide the experience of a game to those who missed it they should constantly try to build on new experiences and between maybe two or three times a year create an old game to keep fans happy.

Pokemon Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire – Mega Audino screenshots, official announcement

Just the other day we received a sort of confirmation in regards to a small selection of mega evolutions in this case being Mega Slowbro and Mega Audino. This was found through the Korean Pokemon website but we had no idea about when the Pokemon would receive an official announcement, well as it appears Gamecon was that time but not for Mega Slowbro but instead Mega Audino and an official announcement has been released:

Today The Pokémon Company International showcased the Mega-Evolved form of Audino in a new trailer made especially for the crowds at gamescom, taking place this week in Cologne, Germany.

Audino was not known to evolve from or to any other form, so this is an interesting twist in the mysterious story of Mega Evolution.

Before Mega Evolving, Audino is known to use the feelers on its ears to tell how others are feeling or when a Pokémon Egg might hatch. It may have either the Healer Ability or the Regenerator Ability. After Mega Evolving, Mega Audino adds Fairy type to its Normal type, automatically gaining all the advantages of Fairy type. Mega Audino always has the Healer Ability.

Thanks to its improved Defense and Special Defense stats, Mega Audino can be a great support in Double Battles. It emits a powerful, soothing pulse from its body that reduces hostility in others and calms any opponent within range. Pokémon should avoid contact with Mega Audino’s new secondary feelers lest they fall into a deep sleep and become easy prey to an opponent’s attacks!