When I first saw the trailer for Hyrule Warriors in a Nintendo Direct, I had no idea what to make of it. It was The Legend of Zelda, my favorite series, mixed with Dynasty Warriors of all things. Not that I have a problem with Dynasty Warriors – the combination just seemed so… random. But I figured, hey, it might be a fun, fanservice-filled waste of time to whet fans’ appetites for the actual Wii U Zelda game. Thankfully, I was a little off on that assumption. It wasn’t just some cash-grabbing combination of two unrelated franchises, but a labor of love that expertly blends the two styles into one fantastic experience
The Wii U has been a real bummer of a console, that’s no secret. Fans keep saying not to write it off just yet — there’s another game coming just around the corner that will be so great, just you wait. They said that game was Super Mario 3D World, a pretty cool Mario game that sometimes felt like a retread of old ideas. The same with Pikmin 3, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze… (Is that actually it? That can’t be all of them.) New Super Luigi U? NES Remix? — Seriously, what else was there? Oh, The Legend of Zelda Wind Waker HD, right, yes, of course. That’s a killer lineup worthy of any console. The point is the Wii U is stagnating. It doesn’t know what it wants to be or what that GamePad is for besides maps and other trinkets that unclutter the TV screen.
I think I’ve figured out the problem I’ve had with the Mario games since Super Mario 3D Land back in 2011: it’s all about the design. Super Mario 3D Land was varied, with the developers tossing out new mechanics left and right that never feel overused, and level designs that were colorful and unique. But then there were those other pesky New Super Mario Bros. games. Those were the ones that felt stale; they lacked creativity and that spark of something special that made games like 3D Land so much fun. Super Mario 3D World continues the philosophy of 3D Land, as well as the philosophy of most modern Nintendo games: it’s varied and quite enjoyable most of the time, but also has the tendency to get stale quickly.
Pikmin hails from a time when Nintendo was, and I don’t mean to sound like I’m the first person to make this argument, more willing to take a risk. The GameCube was out, with its weirdly designed but still marginally industry-standard controller, and they took some gambles on new properties, like Luigi’s Mansion, Animal Crossing, and, yes, Pikmin. People who said Nintendo hadn’t been interesting since they defined 3D games on the N64 just weren’t looking hard enough. Pikmin has always impressed me, from its weirdness to its relative mechanical complexity and sharp visual style.
It deserves better.
I had an odd relationship with NetherRealm’s new fighting game since the time it was announced to the time of its release. The idea of a gritty fighting game starring the DC heroes and villains was interesting. The lack of the developer’s signature ultra-violence was disheartening and it seemed like the game was going to fall to the wayside as Mortal Kombat 9 with a DC skin. After getting the game earlier than expected because of my need for a fightstick, I can gladly report that Injustice: Gods Among Us offers enough fresh hooks and ridiculous moments to set it apart within the fighting genre.