Friday, January 25, 2013

Glitch City: The End of The End of the World

In the first edition of Glitch City, where I take games and I break them to find the delicious glitches that rest inside; I decided to take a look at a glitch I happened to stumble upon without any prior knowledge of it. There's a way to leave the Destiny Islands portion of End of the World and have Sora walk on sky and water alike! Not only can you take a look at what's behind Destiny Islands but you can also bury Goofy's stupid face in the sand.

Here's how you do it:

  • Beat the game. The glitch is in the Destiny Islands portion of End of the World where you fight the first round of the final boss battles.
  • As soon as Haley Joel Osment says "Is this, is this my island?" run directly behind you and jump onto the wooden shack. Going near the shore (or was it the hidden cove?) will trigger a cutscene.
  • On the wooden shack, go to the far right corner of the roof and start jumping around.
  • Eventually, you should have landed Sora on an invisible platform.
  • Spam the jump button and watch as Sora crab walks to the heavens!
  • Keep jumping until you're above the trees then head towards them. This insures that you will not fall back into the game's boundaries.
  • You are now free to traverse the empty world of Destiny Islands. Not much to do really but mess around behind the island and to see how far away from the island you can get.
It's definitely a neat little trick to do and just proves I played this game too much when I was 10. I mean look at how high I got Donald's magic . . . seriously?

The Games That Will Make 2013 Awesome

Anarchy Reigns
The long awaited sequel to the fantastically bloody Wii title, Mad World, hits consoles and promises to be even more bloody, more violent, more colorful, more multiplayer, and less waggly.

The Cave
While they're finding ways to spend all 3.3 millions dollars on their Kickstarter adventure game, Double Fine teamed up with Sega to release a puzzle/platformer called The Cave.  If it's anything like their previous titles, it should be just as charming and humorous.

Ni No Kuni: The Wrath of the White Witch
I absolutely love anything that Studio Ghibli churns out. So when I heard that they teamed up with Level 5, creators of the Professor Layton series, to make an RPG with an original story AND a definite North American release date, I nearly entered a comatose state just imagining getting my hands on a game that's dedicated to gameplay just as much as telling a great tale.

Fire Emblem: Awakening
The Fire Emblem series enters Nintendo's newest generation with the apparent return of Marth.  Also you'll get to kill undead soldiers as Marth . . . in 3D!

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
While playing Metal Gear Solid 4, I thought how cool it would be to play a fast-paced action game starring cyborg Raiden. Then Hideo Kojima unveiled Metal Gear Solid: Rising that would have you play as Raiden and would bridge together the events of MGS2 and MGS4. Then nothing. And more nothing. Then it was revealed that the game had actually been canceled! But luckily for us, the fine folks at Platinum Games took up the reigns of the development process and thus the oddly named Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance was born.  The game now looks to take the over-the-top hack n' slash route and while its place in MGS canon is still debatable it looks to be a hell of a lot more CRAZY than that dumb DmC reboot.

Rayman Legends
Rayman Origins was a surprise hit for me back in 2011.  Ubisoft made a cooperative multiplayer platformer that is actually enjoyable unlike those hacks at Nintendo with their New Super Mario Bros. games.  The Wii U exclusive not only looks to bring more of that glorious platform but gamepad elements that actually look fun. A lot more than those Nintendo hacks can pull off. PFFT!

Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon
I have no idea why it took Nintendo twelve entire years to make a sequel to this game but they have finally come to their senses and continued the tale of Luigi's real estate escapades. There will also be an odd multiplayer addition which means 4 times the Luigi!

South Park: The Stick of Truth
I find South Park to be a pretty great show so for me hearing that Obsidian is joining forces with Matt Stone and Trey Parker to make an RPG was pretty similar to me finding out about Ni No Kuni except replace beauty and magic with Crab People and Jew jokes. Although the death of THQ and the game's acquisition by Ubisoft hopefully will not disrupt its release.

Pokemon X & Y
Remember back playing Pokemon Red/Blue and thinking to yourself "Wouldn't it would be neat if they made an awesome 3D Pokemon game?"  Well, our childhood dreams have come true with the latest Pokemon generation and it might actually get me to play a Pokemon game since Gold/Silver came out.  I might even be willing to endure all the stupid new Pokemon designs that they've unimaginatively mustered up.

Killer Is Dead
WOAH! It's like it's No More Heroes, mixed with Killer 7, mixed with a little Shadows of the Damned.  Basically, it's everything that defines Suda 51's style wrapped up into one thrilling looking title.

Animal Crossing: New Leaf
When I played Animal Crossing for the Gamecube, I was devoted to that game. I did everything; I collected all the bugs, caught all the fish, paid off my home, designed the coolest shirts, and pitfalled the most annoying neighbors.  I haven't played an Animal Crossing game since then on the count of me not being able to find enough time. So with New Leaf being released on the 3DS, I felt it would allow me to dedicate a ton of time with the game as I could take it anywhere.

Bayonetta 2
With all the butthurt that surrounded Platinum Games' reveal that Bayonetta 2 would be a Wii U exclusive, it's not going to just be about playing a climaxing sequel; it's also going to be fun watching everybody boycotting and hating a game that they can't even play.

Grand Theft Auto V
My favorite GTA game is San Andreas due to the huge map that allowed for maximum exploration, something I enjoy doing more than the actual missions. GTAV brings the game back to Los Santos with Rockstar promising a map bigger than the worlds of GTAIV, San Andreas and Red Dead Redemption combined.

Pikmin 3
How great would it feel to play a Pikmin game with a touch screen, being able to point where your Pikmin will be thrown; RTS style. Thanks to Nintendo, we'll soon be able to realize that feeling.

The Wonderful 101
The Wii U drought ends with Platinum Games' interesting puzzle/brawler that has you control 101 super heroes that form together to create different objects like a sword or a ladder.  Also the main character looks and sounds an awful lot like Viewtiful Joe, perhaps a throwback to Platinum's original gig as Clover Studios.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Review: ZombiU


Platform: Wii U
Developer: Ubisoft Montepellier
Publisher: Ubisoft
Released: November 18, 2012

Dead Potential

I never thought much about ZombiU prior to the launch of the Wii U.  It just seemed like another generic Zombie "survival/horror" FPS except with fancy Wii U controls.  In fact, I hadn't even bothered to play the game until a month after launch.  At first I thought it was due to me being preoccupied with other Wii U games like New Super Mario Bros. U and Nintendo Land. Looking back now, what kept me hesitant was that I saw a lot of Red Steel, Ubisoft's launch title for the Wii, in the release of ZombiU.

When the Wii launched in 2006, Ubisoft's Red Steel released alongside it with a promise to display how motion controls could be properly used for the budding system. Instead we were shown a mediocre game that emphasized the problems that would overshadow the path of motion controls for the rest of the generation.  Now, with the newest generation beginning, I saw a repeat of Ubisoft's promise with the release of ZombiU, except this time I am surprised to say I am wrong . . . for the most part.

ZombiU does two things right; it showcases how the Wii U gamepad can be used in a creative and efficient manner, and how a survival/horror is meant to played.  When Nintendo first showcased the gamepad, an entire world of possibilities opened up about how it could be used to enhance the gaming experience. This idea ran wild in fans' minds up until the first batch of titles released and it became instantly obvious that developers had no intention of expanding creativity in the industry with the gamepad; rather they opted instead to use the controller as handheld map an options scroller.

Then comes ZombiU; Ubisoft's vow to Nintendo that they can show the consumers how the gamepad can be used properly with ingenuity.  ZombiU succeeds in giving the player a multitude of ways to use the gamepad in order to survive the hoards of zombies waiting around every corner.  If the player wants to check the inventory to equip a weapon or item, the player must turn their focus away from the action on the big screen and onto the gamepad leaving the survivor vulnerable to a zombie attack.  If a player finds a locked door, the player must perform certain actions on the gamepad that, once again, deter the player's view away from the screen. The use of the gamepad emphasizes patience, strategy, and discretion instead of a guns-blazing, leave-no-prisons mindset that so many modern "survival/horror" games rely upon for some reason.

With how well Ubisoft implented the gamepad controls and created a survival/horror game worthy of the genre's name, it's a shame that the overall game is quite mediocre.  Underneath all these creative mechanics, a very plain and run-of-the-mill zombie game lies.  The story is predictable and almost transparent, while the missions follow the same formula of "get from point A to point B and back to point A" throughout the entire game.  If it wasn't for the constant fear of death lingering around every corner and the necessity of using strategic gameplay, ZombiU would have absolutely nothing else going for it.

ZombiU only works because it is a Wii U game but unfortunately the mechanics can only take the game so far.  The core of the game feels so bland and rushed to the point where it becomes a glaring flaw in an otherwise potential and smart title.  If you have a Wii U this is a definite must-have title in the midst of a drought of content especially for someone craving a challenge. If you are wondering whether or not to buy a Wii U to play ZombiU; ZombiU is not a game that can carry the console until the next batch of titles hits the console.  So basically, ZombiU is a must buy merely on the fact that the Wii U has very few first party titles that use the gamepad to a certain extent and when more promising looking titles hit the market ZombiU will be set aside and forgotten.


The clever use of the Wii U gamepad offers the player strategy, depth and immersion lost in many modern survival/horror games.  With this said, the fact that underneath the mechanics lies a soulless zombie cash-in cannot be ignored.

Switching weapons with the touch of a finger feels smooth while controlling the survivors is as responsive as any other FPS on the market.

There are a ton of clever uses of the camera; using the gyroscope and the screen to look for hidden objects, its position on the survivor character while you search through your backpack to give you a view of any creeping zombies coming to ambush you.

The Wii U gamepad mechanics are what give the player the motivation to continue with the game.  The elements of difficulty and survival add to the appeal but the variety of game-breaking bugs and unnecessary loading doors drop the fun factor sharply.  In my playthrough I ran into about five glitches that made me reload a save file and, on one occasion, even create a new save file altogether.

Lasting Appeal:
The game is short and after that there isn't much to do afterwards except try your hand at Survival Mode which has the player go through the game with one survivor and if that survivor dies, the player must restart the game from the beginning.

This is not a pretty game.  With abysmally bland textures and mediocre character models, this game negates Nintendo's initial claim that the Wii U is graphically more powerful than current-gen systems with visuals that seem to come straight out of 2007.

It's a breath of fresh air to see a game dedicate itself to being a true survivor/horror game.  During your missions, you'll find that ammo is scarce, your health runs out fast, and you will find yourself trapped at any moment.  On death, the new survivor must go out and kill the previous survivor's zombie self and retrieve all of their precious weapons and recovery items. Be aware if you die without retrieving these items, they will be lost forever.  ZombiU urges the player to consider their options and plan ahead and even goes as far as to suggest retreating as an appropriate option if the going gets tough.

The piano based score is forgettable as is the voice acting.  It's the little sound effects such as footsteps, a gun blast, rain drops, and zombie moans that take the player for a ride.

While a neat concept, dying and having to start back at the hideout as a new character halts the flow of the game as you backtrack all the way back to where you last died, retrieve your items and finally continue on with the mission.  Sometimes dying during a mission will end it, leaving the next survivor character to reap the rewards and continue on.