I’ve bit into a few games recently that had less distinct tastes from others I’ve found. Not too surprising, really, since not every game is going to get flavor right or even be trying to present a flavor at all. In light of this, I offer up a pot luck. Here’s a blast of quick impressions from games I’ve crunched that didn’t have enough to really crunch about.
Keep in mind this doesn’t mean the games all tasted bad; this doesn’t mean the games didn’t have a taste – these games just don’t qualify as a full meal (kinda like a composgnathus). On with the multi-crunchinating!
Fan-service in Sonic Generations
This game tastes like it falls somewhere between nostalgic fanservice baked up with old (read: not fresh) ingredients. It’s full of remixed levels from previous Sonic games, each presented in 2D and 3D varieties for classic Sonic and modern Sonic. The idea is cool and the nostalgia is great – seeing Chemical Plant Zone remade in 3D is very cool. The remixed tunes are also fantastic! Yet the gameplay and controls didn’t hold up for me. Steering modern Sonic along his high-speed routes felt like steering a barge or a Y-Wing, instead of being a nimble, agile, quick bipedal mammal. The requirement to complete challenge modes in levels is also a big momentum killer, which ultimately prevented me from exploring more of the game’s content. The first boss felt like an older Sonic boss fight and was decently designed. The game had good level design, hearkening back to the beloved Sonics of yore, but lacked the polish or controls to properly enjoy what was available.
This title was developed by Sonic Team and published by Sega; prior to this post I played for about 2 hours on the PlayStation 3.
Shortcomings in Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion
Being drafted from the design ideas and presentation of the classic Castle of Illusion, I was excited for Power of Illusion. Unfortunately, I enjoyed nothing that I bit into. Within my short experience, I encountered a number of design dilemmas that left a bad taste in my mouth:
- Tutorials are presented after the taught action is necessary. The game contains a number of pop-up tutorial panels, seemingly one for each of the game’s mechanics. However, these are presented after the actions are necessary. For instance, a pop-up panel explains how to jump on an enemy to defeat it (which, by the way, is not implemented intuitively, as I’ll explain) after the first enemy is met and must be jumped over. The same goes for super-bouncing and many other mechanics throughout the first level.
- Why do I need to press ‘Jump’ twice for a jump attack? Mickey can jump on enemies to defeat them, à la Super Mario Bros. However, the jump action itself is not enough. Instead, players must press the ‘Jump’ button a second time, while in mid-air, to turn the “jump” into a “pounce” else take damage from the collision. This is unintuitive, an unnecessary obfuscation, and causes many problems with enemy encounters and level design.
- Writing is poor. These are established, recognizable, generally well-known and beloved Disney characters. They each have their own mannerisms and language. This game fails to account for that and the text comes off as overly simplified and poorly explanatory.
- Enemies on every ledge. I played at least two levels in a row which had ever ledge marked with an enemy. Anytime that I needed to jump near the peek of my jump (which requires holding the ‘Jump’ button) to reach a higher platform, an enemy would be waiting on the platform – and I could only attack by double-pressing the ‘Jump’ button (as explained above). This is flat-out annoying.
Beyond these issues, everything played and looked like a rudimentary platformer.
This title was developed by DreamRift and published by Disney Interactive Studios; prior to this post I played for about 2 hours on the Nintendo 3DS.
Variety in Nintendo Land
Nintendo Land is explicitly the “let’s try Wii U” game. It’s a showcase of the Wii U GamePad’s potential; it’s also a showcase of how much fun asymmetric gameplay can really be. Here’s a quick rundown:
- Luigi’s Ghost Mansion: One player snickers to himself while tracking down his friends who are all shouting every time their Wii Remote vibrates.
- Mario Chase: One player runs like a madman while the her friends scream code names to track her down and catch her within the 2-minute time limit.
- Animal Crossing Sweet Day: Players scurry about to scoop up as much candy as possible while their friend mercilessly hunts them down with two watch dogs.
- Team Attractions: Players battle together through a series of challenges in games modeled well after The Legend of Zelda, Metroid, and Pikmin.
- Solo Attractions: This is everything else the GamePad can do. Practice now while developers plan on including some form of these mini-games in future releases.
All in all, the variety keeps this surprisingly fun. It’s not a full-course meal, but more like a package of ice cream to pull out at the next social gathering.
This title was developed and published by Nintendo; prior to this post I played for about 5 hours on the Wii U.
Creativity in Scribblenauts Unlimited
The Scribblenauts IP is built on creativity and sandbox experiences. The puzzles are there not so much for directing the experience but for encouraging more creative thought. It’s very much like a coloring book, in that you take your drawing utensils and create something vibrant, expressive, and fun. These works aren’t judged but simply enjoyed.
This title was developed by 5th Cell and published by WB Games; prior to this post I played for about 1 hour on the Wii U.
This post was originally written and published by me on a former site on December 11, 2012.