The long-anticipated 8-bit parody Retro City Rampage is finally expected to release this May. Previously announced for release on WiiWare and Xbox Live Arcade, the title has now been confirmed for release on PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, and PC. The PC version, which is available for preorder now on the game’s official website for $14.99, also includes a bonus soundtrack, digital game box and cartridge label to be printed out, a digital manual, and a 20% off coupon for game merchandise via Fan Gamer. The PC version will also be compatible with Steam, as well as contain no DRM.
The well-received WiiWare launch title, LostWinds, will be making its way to iOS and Android later this year from developer Frontier Developments. According to Eurogamer, who had some hands on time with the iPad version of the game, LostWinds controls with a virtual joystick for character movement and wind is generated by swiping the touch screen.
Like its retail games, the Wii’s downloadable titles on WiiWare often get a bad rap. The two line ups are very similar; though there is an overwhelming glut of undesirable titles, a batch of quirky, unique and fun games exist below the surface. To the surprise of some, WiiWare certainly has a number of games worth looking into, some that don’t exist anywhere else. This is not a complete list of the enjoyable games the service has to offer, but here are some of our favorites.
Art Style: Cubello / Nintendo / 600 Points
Until the advent of the PlayStation Move, Cubello could have only existed on the Wii. A mouse would have removed too much of the challenge and a traditional controller would have been too clumsy. Cubello is a first person shooter puzzle game; a mass of colored blocks slowly rotates in the center of the screen as the view closes in. The idea is to use the Wii remote to shoot randomly assigned colored blocks of your own at the mass to not only push it back, but also to have four of the same color touching, which causes them to fall off the mass. Reveal the center cube and win the level. The concept is ingenious and makes perfect use of the Wii’s unique capabilities, and the challenge is perpetually encouraging “just one more time.”-Craig
Bit.Trip Runner / Aksys / 800 Points
Bit.Trip Runner is a side-scrolling platformer with a retro yet modern visual style and unique rhythm-based gameplay. As you run through the stages as Commander Video, you’ll need to react to the various obstacles that get in your way, by jumping, sliding, and kicking. Unlike most platformers, Commander Video automatically runs through the stages without the need to press the D-pad, and because your movement is predetermined, your actions correspond to the beat of the infectious chiptune music. When you collect red plus signs throughout the stages, the music becomes more advanced and complex, adding more melodies and instruments, and your score multiplier increases. There are also gold bars to collect which add to your score and unlock bonus stages if you collect them all. The stages (over 30 in all) get increasingly more difficult and can really test your reflexes (especially if you want all those gold bars), but it starts out simple enough to be accessible for anyone. The combination of fantastic music and visuals, addicting gameplay, and quite a bit of challenge make Bit.Trip Runner one of the best games available on WiiWare. -Chris
Cave Story / Nicalis / 1200 Points
Cave Story is a side-scrolling adventure game akin to Metroid or Castlevania. Players take control of Quote, a silent protagonist who can run, jump, and shoot through the interconnected series of tunnels that make up the world of Cave Story. Players will find a variety of weapon upgrades and a few alternate endings on their journey to help the Mimigas, a race of rabbit people who inhabit the caves. Don’t let the cute, simple sprite graphics fool you — Cave Story features a lengthy adventure that takes you through a rather expansive world. Although Cave Story was originally released as a freeware PC game, the WiiWare version features a new localization, updated graphics and music (as well as an option for the original graphics), and a few new modes such as boss rush. Cave Story is a great adventure well worth your 1200 points. -Chris
Contra ReBirth / Konami / 1000 Points
Contra ReBirth takes all of the run and gun action for which the series is known, throws in a healthy dose of self-parody, and presents itself as an old school 16-bit classic (with effects and sprite counts that would send an actual SNES into a coma). The story is a nonsensical yarn involving time travel and cross-dressing, and the first level sees you fighting a giant centipede while entering the Earth’s atmosphere atop the wreckage of a space station; I’m surprised Konami didn’t center their marketing completely around this fact. The campaign is a little short and enemy bullets can be hard to spot while you and a buddy fill the screen with your own projectiles in co-op mode, but it’s still one of my favorites in the Contra series. -Seth
Fluidity / Nintendo / 1200 Points
I’m not the biggest fan of Wii games that solely rely on motion or waggle controls. Most of the time the controls get in the way and hinders the experience. This isn’t the case with Fluidity. Fluidity is a side scroller but its unique execution sets it apart from other games in the genre. The Wii Remote is used to flick and tilt water through obstacles. Different abilities and forms are unlocked as you progress through the game. The remarkable storybook presentation adds to the uniquiness of the game. Besides the mouth dropping visuals, the level design was something that I was impressed with. The way the levels are designed so that water (and other liquid forms) can flow through them is genius. I quickly realized exploring through the different chapters to be relaxing. There is just something about hearing water sloshing around beautiful environments to find rainbow drops that puts a smile on my face and my mind at ease. As the game progress the difficulty definitely ramps up but it never feels too challenging or cheap. This is one WiiWare title that anyone can play and enjoy to the fullest. -Steph
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King / Square Enix / 1500 Points
When the WiiWare service first launched in early 2008, Wii owners were offered a handful of games, but perhaps the only two worth exploring were LostWinds and My Life as a King. I opted for the latter at first. My Life as a King puts you in the shoes of young royalty tasked with building the kingdom and putting together bands of heroes to gather resources and fight monsters. It’s a sim-lite, similar to Harvest Moon, and less like Final Fantasy and more like sending other characters off to play Final Fantasy. It’s undeniably simple, maybe even bordering on shallow, but the flow of putting together solid parties, erecting new buildings and reaping the benefits is wildly more addictive than is imaginable. The saccharine charm and constant flow of rewards makes it hard to put the controller down. -Craig
Max & the Magic Marker / Press Play / 1000 Points
Max and the Magic Marker is a 2D puzzle platformer that has a lot of similarities to Kirby’s Canvas Curse for the Nintendo DS. You play as a young boy named Max who receives a mysterious marker in the mail. The marker is the main attraction of the game since it requires you to draw. In order to maneuver Max through different levels you will have to use the Wii Remote to draw lines in the environment. The physics in the game are impressive and force you to make wise decisions as to where you use the marker. I enjoyed the simplicity of this game. Although majority of the game is trial and error and the controls can get a little finicky at times, I still couldn’t get enough of it. I even had fun playing around and drawing random items and then dropping them into the game world to see how I could use them. I definitely recommend this to downloadble title to not only fans of puzzle platformers but anyone who enjoys fun games. -Steph
Mega Man 9 / Capcom / 1000 Points
Honestly, I was never a huge fan of the original Mega Man games. My experience with the robot hero started with the X series, and when I finally went back and played through the original Mega Man titles, I was a little underwhelmed. The games definitely weren’t bad (for the most part), and they offered plenty of challenge, but the slower pace had me yearning for a dash and wall jump ability. Still, the series had a few exceptional moments that stuck with me. Mega Man 9, a game built from the ground-up as if it were a brand new NES title, is absolutely jam packed with those exceptional moments. It’s as if Capcom looked at the absolute best instances in the series prior and decided those weren’t good enough. The result is a retro masterpiece that’s tough to learn and even tougher to master thanks to a built-in achievement system. Icing on the already delicious cake comes in the form an absolutely stunning 8-bit soundtrack. -Seth
In this episode of the TV and Lust video game podcast, Craig, Steph and Chris discuss the PSN outage, the Uncharted 3 multiplayer beta, Mega Man Legends 3: Prototype Version on the 3DS eShop and their favorite games on Nintendo’s WiiWare service. The team has been playing Portal 2, Pokemon: Black/White Version, The Simpsons Game and Conduit 2.
Correction: During this podcast, we discuss the inability to install games due to the PSN outage. This is incorrect. Game installs still work during the PSN downtime.
MDK2, one of BioWare’s earliest games, will be available on WiiWare on May 9th. Originally available for PC and Dreamcast, and later the PlayStation 2, MDK2 is a third person shooter/platformer hybrid that combines humor and action. The game follows an armored janitor named Kurt, the goofy scientist Dr. Hawkins and Max, the no nonsense robotic dog as the trio foils an alien invasion.
MDK2 will go for 1000 points, or $10 in real money.
Originally based on a Flash game, Super Meat Boy is a downloadable game from developer Team Meat. Everything about the long-delayed platformer oozes retro style, from the sprite-based graphics to the incredibly challenging difficulty level, and especially some great old-school references.
Super Meat Boy’s story is comparable to Super Mario Bros. That is to say, it’s not overly deep. Bandage Girl (a girl made of bandages) has been kidnapped by Dr. Fetus (a fetus wearing a tuxedo, top hat and monocle), and her boyfriend Meat Boy (a boy without skin) is out to rescue her. If I may say so, this is the most brilliant scenario I’ve ever seen in a video game. Bandage Girl waits at the end of each stage, but when Meat Boy reaches her, she is snatched away yet again, and you must continue on. The story is told through cut scenes that bookend each world, as well as each boss fight, but really, you know as much as you need to from this paragraph.
The meat of the game is the incredibly challenging gameplay. (Yes, that pun was absolutely necessary.) Meat Boy must avoid buzz saws, lasers, missiles and other obstacles while jumping huge gaps, running through tiny tunnels, and kicking off of walls (or all of the above at the same time). As a result, the game requires a high degree of precision. The controls are a little loose at first, but the game starts off simple, giving you plenty of time to get used to the controls and the physics.
Meat Boy? Or Game Boy?
Super Meat Boy contains six worlds. With the exception of the final one, each has twenty main levels and a boss fight. Additionally, they also contain twenty Dark World levels, which are much more challenging versions of the regular levels. In each level you can get an A+ ranking and be ranked on online leaderboards based on how quickly you complete them. Throughout the forty levels are hidden warp zones which take you to hidden retro-styled levels, or to levels inspired by other indie games (which range from popular to obscure) where you can unlock characters from those games. There are also bandages to collect throughout these levels, which unlock more hidden characters.
When you complete a level, you’re treated to a replay of your run through the level. However, rather than show a simple replay of your successful run, it shows all of your failed attempts as well, simultaneously. Seeing dozens of Meat Boys running through the level together is pretty amusing, and it can blow you away seeing how many attempts it took to complete a level.
Many of the hidden warp zone levels are throwbacks to the 8-bit era. Each one features its own pixelated title screen, which are well worth discovering for that alone. Some are even designed to look like a GameBoy game, cropping the screen and displaying monochromatically. In keeping with their 8-bit inspiration, these areas’ visuals take a hit and look more like 8-bit games. Also, unlike the rest of the game, they limit you to three lives. However, each warp zone area consists of only three very short stages, and the number of lives you have resets as you beat each one; for example, if you die twice in the first stage, you’ll still have three lives when you start the second. Once you unlock an area, it appears on your map and you can try again from the first stage if a game over occurs, so it’s never bothersome.
Replays show you all your failed attempts simultaneously.
The game is very challenging, though not frustratingly so. With the exception of the warp zone levels, there are no game overs. In fact, there’s almost no pause in between a death and trying again. As a result, I often felt compelled to retry again and again until I was able to overcome a challenge — something I wouldn’t normally do in an NES game. While I will freely admit I wasted a lot of lives (over 2,100 by the time I beat the game — yes, 2,100), being able to continue instantly made it much less frustrating than it could have been. If you find something too challenging, you’re not required to beat every single level in each world to unlock the boss. As a result, if there’s one you can’t beat, you can skip it — levels can be played in any order. Also know that while you’ll probably die a few times in the main levels, beating the game is far from impossible. The real challenge lies in the optional Dark World stages and warp zone areas.
Super Meat Boy is a great old-school throwback. It has some great sprite-based visuals, quite a bit of challenge, and a bunch of references to popular NES games like Super Mario Bros. and Ninja Gaiden. With forty levels in each world, hidden warp zones, bandages to collect, characters to unlock, and online leaderboards, there is a whole lot of content to be had. If you’re looking for a challenge, check out Super Meat Boy. You won’t be disappointed.
Super Meat Boy was reviewed using the Xbox Live Arcade version.