My top 5 Wii U exclusives (so far)

This article was originally published to Gameluster on April 25th, I have not updated the information from this article to show new developments and new games for the list it remains exactly as originally written. I do plan though to write an updated list towards the end of 2014 with a selection of new games.

It is no secret that the Wii U hasn’t been doing too great in sales unlike Nintendo’s handheld endeavour, but that doesn’t mean the Wii U is a bad console. In fact I would go so far as to say the Wii U is an excellent console, and the standout of the current generation consoles. Nintendo created an excellent control system, but that isn’t all that makes the Wii U so great, it is also the games themselves. I have played many of the games being a day one adopter, and while there are a lot of great multiplatform titles I could include in the following list, for today I want to talk about my top 5 exclusives on the console.

5. Zombi U

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For many years the survival horror genre of games has been going downhill, and classic franchises such as Resident Evil which were once praised for their work in the genre have now lost their touch. So enter Ubisoft’s exclusive on the Wii U, Zombi U re-established what the survival horror genre was all about, which is the fear of going around a corner not knowing what awaits you, remaining low on supplies and utilizing whatever you can scavenge and worrying about what sits in the impending darkness. This exclusive did all that and more by utilizing the very essence of the gamepad, the gamepad allowed for panic as you quickly rummaged through it to find what you needed while the game kept going on the TV, it also allowed the player to detect the locations of Zombies which is even scarier when you hear them moaning and constantly hear many beeps on the gamepad. The game is fun and well worth playing, it was just a shame so many people didn’t give it a shot.

4. Lego City Undercover

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TT Games’ Wii U exclusive Lego experience draws alot from the developer’s previous Lego endeavours, but this time comes out with a fresh story and world to play in. A lot of the experience of Lego City undecover is pretty familiar to anyone who has played a Lego game before, from the combat, to the levels, to many other factors this is very familiar, but for its similarities, Lego City Undercover masterfully pulled itself out and stands unique in the name of Lego. For the original story or even just the stupidity in the comedy is why this game holds a special place as one of my best Wii U exclusives, plus the added bonus is that Lego City Undercover is a game that can be enjoyed by anyone. Mostly I enjoyed it for going around and playing a much more fun version of Grand Theft Auto, and following the well-crafted police drama of a story while just smashing up random peoples cars and all around having fun in Lego City.

3. Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze

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My faith in the Donkey Kong Country series has been steadily declining for years, and Donkey Kong 64 was the last game in the series I truly enjoyed, which is half the reason why it is my favourite game of all time (but that is a story for another opinion piece). However I do feel that Retro Studios was finally ready to give the classic character a true return to greatness, and having the power and capabilities of the Wii U it was no wonder. Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze takes a different approach to other games in its genre, and delivers a much more challenging experience, on top of that it shows plenty of diversity between each level you visit and plenty of detail which is hard not to love. Those, alongside the new additions such as multiple sidekick characters, easily help me to see this game as fun and a must play game on the console even if you are only looking for a challenge.

2. Super Mario 3D World

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It would be almost impossible to make a best of list for the Wii U and not include this wonderful gem of a game. After the more or less same style of Mario game we recieved in New Super Mario Bros. U, Super Mario 3D world shows Nintendo still knows how to make a good Mario game. Sure, I will be the first to admit this wasn’t the experience I was expecting from the Wii U’s first three dimensional Mario game, but it didn’t matter, at every turn Super Mario 3D World evokes interest with the addition or return of ideas. At the centre of this game stands incredible and varying level designs set to challenge you and tell you to have fun, then at another point stands the characters you play as which each provide enough difference in their styles that each player gets to enjoy a somewhat difference experience to the other players and enjoy different luxuries in playstyles.

1. Pikmin 3

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Nintendo’s journey into the world of tiny microorganisms and the adventure to save their planet may not be the best game on the Wii U, but by all respects it has to be my favourite out of all the ones I have played. The game often feels like it wants to make you feel guilty about any mistakes you make and they can happen both easily and completely by accident. The key thing that I feel really makes this game one of my favourites on the Wii U is the fact the game never outstays its welcome. From the moment you start you are greeted with a fun adventure filled with strategy, but as fast as it arrives it is all all over. In some games I would consider this a bad thing but for the course of the story the little actions and adventure are great and keep you interested. One final note it is kind of hard to resist the Pikmin as they are adorable.

Picking these five games was not an easy process and I think it is only going to get harder by the end of the year with so many potentially great games just around the corner, so I might have to look into doing this again when that time comes. Even though they didn’t make it into the list I would like to give an honourable mention to Nintendo Land and The Wonderful 101 as they are both great games. I hope you liked my list and picks and thank you for reading.

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Lego City Undercover Review

There is a certain tradition that exists with many gaming franchises, often this is terms of a struggle to change or a reliance on something that the franchise has done for so long. In this case I think of the Lego games, since 2005 many of the Lego games created by developer TT games have relied on the use of popular franchises such as Batman, Star Wars and even Harry Potter to drive sales and keep popularity for the franchise. Even if this is the case everything must change eventually and be open to the introduction of new ideas as Lego City Undercover proves.

I use the term open to new ideas but TT games doesn’t always stray from tradition. Many of the ideas that are seen in the game are carried over from many of the developer’s other Lego game projects. The basic combat of Lego City feels very much the same as many of the other games and is very simplistic . Also, studs, which are the currency in Lego games, are far too easy to find and collect this time around.

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Where TT games do stray from tradition is in the world and story of Lego City Undercover. The story reminds me of a pilot episode of a police drama, Lego City is in mayhem and panic with crime literally roaming the streets and lurking around every corner. To make matters worse, Rex Fury, one of the worst criminals to ever hit Lego City has escaped from jail and nobody can find or stop him. Knowing he needs to be caught, the mayor of Lego City calls former officer Chase McCain back to Lego City in the knowledge that he is the only one who can stop him and bring him in.

The story is great and 100% original, it really makes you want to keep going through the game, but it is the game’s characters that add the most amusement. The world of Lego City is filled to the brim with characters to meet, even if only a small selection of them are really major inclusions. The criminals in Lego City are completely stupid, such as a group dressed as clowns pulling tricks to distract the police in order to make their escape. Then you have one of the most amusing characters of the game, Frank Honey, he fails at even the most simple of tasks. This often adds into the comedy that has always existed in the Lego universe, and Frank’s failures add to the laughs that are to be had here, such as when he calls to say the horse he is riding has no head and he tried to feed it an apple but it got angry. But of course in Lego City he is icing on the cake in the comic relief department, as even one-time characters. or even the police never fail to show how stupid or foolish they are, in the best way possible.

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It is often hard to not laugh at many of the jokes made in Lego City Undercover, even as an adult playing this game there are many references made that are better suited to the adult audience and kept me laughing in most occasions. The way some characters say things, the movie references and even some of the physical jokes made are hard not to laugh at. Though some of the jokes made do go a bit too far or are just too stupid but I think these jokes will appeal to the younger audience this game is obviously directed at.

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Lego City is a massive environment to play in and shows a lot of influence from games like Grand Theft Auto, in the basic overworld that is Lego City you are allowed to break many objects in the environment, steal cars claiming police business and the funny part is you don’t get penalized for it. From a kid’s point of view this adds to the appeal of the game knowing you aren’t going to accidently trigger police runs unless they are part of the main story, which does happen on occasion, but it’s never to hard to deal with. Also, Lego City is filled with interesting tidbits to see and an amazing variety in its world that never feels like you are driving down the same street over and over again.

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One of the major differences between Lego City Undercover and past Lego games is that Lego City is a single player only experience which is quite a departure from past games that often relied on having two people playing in order to use different abilities. Here it is a different story, without the option of the second player some of the levels become simple busywork which requires using the different abilities Chase acquires throughout his adventure in quick succession. Through Chase’s journey he gets eight different disguises which provide him with new abilities and skills to use. Throughout Lego City there are plenty of opportunities to use many of these abilities and each acts as part of trying to fully complete the game. During some of the game’s levels you will be required to use these abilities in quick succession, for example you need to use the fireman disguise to put out a fire, then fix an electrical box with the engineer disguise and then become a farmer to grow plants that you can climb.

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One of the real strengths of Lego City is how the Gamepad has been integrated into the experience. A lot of the basic use of the controller is the same as other Wii U games in that it provides a map of Lego City to view, which is okay but often it does go a lot further, even being integrated into the actual gameplay. Little tasks such as scanning areas to hear suspects’ conversations, taking photos of suspects, and even taking phone calls are all masterfully done using the Gamepad, which is essentially Chase’s Police device. Often tasks are done by moving the gamepad around the room as if you are inside the game which is very easy to do and quite enjoyable.

large (1)Whether you are a child or an adult, Lego City Undercover is an interesting and fun game to play, even if only to drive around and smash Lego cars or to go and listen to some of the silly comedy. Personally I am hoping TT games takes note of what they have done with this game and go towards the future making more games as original as Lego City Undercover as this is one of the best games they have made in the Lego brand so far.