Wii U

Nov. 27, 2013 | 2:03 p.m.

Review: Nintendo reinvigorates classics in new ‘Mario,’ ‘Zelda’ games

Mario and pals have new cat-like abilities in "Super Mario 3D World." (Nintendo)
This month saw the release of two high-end home video game consoles from Sony and Microsoft. But competitor and long-standing game powerhouse Nintendo has a surprisingly effective countermove: cats. Yes, cats. The Italian caricatures of Mario and Luigi, who may be the closest thing the video game medium has to a Mickey and Minnie when it comes to brand awareness, have returned in the Wii U exclusive “Super Mario 3D World,” now with the ability to morph into feline form. It’s one tweak among many, and it turns out that putting paws on the plumbers more than livens up a trusty formula. Mario and Luigi now chase rabbits, climb trees and attack enemies with claws out, a number of seemingly small design changes that when taken as a whole results in one of the more inventive Mario adventures. Like the […]
Aug. 28, 2013 | 10:44 a.m.

Nintendo slashes Wii U price by $50

Nintendo is launching "Super Mario 3D World" this holiday season. (Nintendo)
Nintendo is hoping a cheaper price and well-known video game characters such as Mario and Zelda will convince shoppers to buy a Wii U this holiday season. The slow-selling system will receive a $50 price cut effective Sept. 20, a discount that comes about two months before the release of new consoles from Microsoft and Sony. What is now known as the “deluxe” edition of the Wii U will soon retail for $299.99, down from its current $349.99. Since its release last holiday season, the deluxe edition of the Wii U has come packaged with a copy of the game “Nintendo Land” as well as a relatively robust 32 gigabytes of storage. Both will be included at the reduced price of $299.99. A more bare-bones version of the Wii U, one without the copy of “Nintendo Land” and just 8 […]
July 31, 2013 | 10:30 a.m.

‘Pikmin 3′ review: Nintendo’s alien world is one of discovery

Nintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto's latest offering is "Pikmin 3." (Nintendo of America)
Nintendo has two key advantages over any of its competitors in the game space. One, its core properties such as “Donkey Kong,” “Super Mario Bros.” and “The Legend of Zelda” are instantly recognizable to gamers and non-gamers alike. Two, all of those brands have all been shaped by Shigeru Miyamoto, a legendary designer who continues to challenge himself and the company he helped build. The prolific gamemaker, who works in some capacity on much of what Nintendo releases, returns this week as general producer of the patient, surreal strategy game “Pikmin 3,” one of the odder, more understated works of his career. Starring doughy astronaut explorers who need the help of workaholic, ant-like extraterrestrials, “Pikmin 3” resurrects a lesser-known Nintendo franchise that hasn’t seen a new game since 2004. It was a surprise when Nintendo revealed that “Pikmin 3,” a […]
June 18, 2013 | 12:36 p.m.

‘The Legend of Zelda’: Nintendo’s Eiji Aonuma plots series’ future

Nintendo’s Eiji Aonuma is seeing two major “The Legend of Zelda” titles through release in 2013 — “The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD” for the WiiU and “The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds” for the 3DS — but with each project nearing completion, his attention is shifting to a project he hopes will completely reimagine the “Zelda” franchise. Though early in development, the first original “Zelda”-branded game for the Wii U is proving to be a creative challenge for Aonuma, the longtime overseer of the franchise. The Wii U, with its touchpad-like controller, offers game mechanics unlike any other system on the market — or coming to the market — and Aonuma intends to use them. “It’s not that anyone is telling me we have to change the formula,” Aonuma said. “I want to change it. I’m kind of getting tired […]
May 17, 2013 | 10:35 a.m.

‘Sonic the Hedgehog:’ New game to be among Nintendo exclusives

"Sonic Lost World" will be a Nintendo exclusive. (Sega of America)
This post has been corrected, as indicated below. “Sonic Lost World,” the latest adventure to feature Sonic the Hedgehog, will be released exclusively to the Wii U and hand-held 3DS consoles, part of a multigame agreement destined to boost Sonic’s presence on Nintendo’s next-generation system, Sega and Nintendo have confirmed. Although a release date has not been set for “Sonic Lost World,” the title is said to be a new action platform game. More information about the game is expected prior to the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles during the week of June 11. Sonic will also topline another new title announced Friday, “Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games,” coming soon to the Wii U. Once intended to give Sega and its Genesis platform an iconic character to rival Nintendo and its famed Super […]
May 15, 2013 | 7:16 a.m.

‘Scribblenauts Unmasked’ makes a game of DC Comics history

Batman villains from the upcoming, DC Comics-inspired Scribblenauts adventure. (5th Cell / Warner Bros. Interactive)
Video gamers will soon have the opportunity to create their own superheroes for the DC Comics universe. Or turn Batman into a zombie. Or suggest Superman wear a pink cape and ride a unicorn. But don’t try to give Batman a gun. Some things will never change. This fall 5th Cell and Warner Bros. Interactive will release “Scribblenauts Unmasked: A DC Comics Adventure” for the Wii U, 3DS and PC. The latest in the Scribblenauts franchise looks to be an expansive, puzzle-based adventure that makes use of the heroes, villains and locations made famous by the worlds featured in the 75-plus years of DC Comics. And some of the not so famous, too. “For the first time in any game we have all the DC Comics characters,” said Caleb Arseneaux, a 5th Cell producer. “The entire roster — characters who appeared in […]
Feb. 14, 2013 | 1:35 p.m.

Nintendo announces ‘Year of Luigi’ with new 3DS, Wii U titles

Nintendo President Satoru Iwata announces the "Year of Luigi." Courtesy of Nintendo.
Nintendo declared 2013 to be the “Year of Luigi” on Thursday, putting Mario’s perpetual sidekick in the spotlight with several new game announcements. Addressing Nintendo fans by way of one of the company’s “Nintendo Direct” addresses, President Satoru Iwata donned a Luigi hat of his own, applauding the nearly 30-year-old character’s patience sitting in Mario’s shadow. “Luigi has appeared in many games since then, but most of them in a supporting role. And even though he has appeared in so many games, he is still timid after all of these years,” Iwata said, keying off more details about the upcoming 3DS game “Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon.” Set for release March 24, “Dark Moon” is the sequel to the original “Luigi’s Mansion,” which debuted alongside the GameCube in 2001. Nintendo mastermind Shigeru Miyamoto, in his first Nintendo Direct appearance, touted the […]
Jan. 23, 2013 | 1:06 p.m.

Nintendo vows to rethink its approach to the ‘Zelda’ series

A look at the Wii U edition of 'The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker." (Nintendo of America)
Nintendo’s Wii U launched in November with a new entry in the “Super Mario Bros.” series, but missing in action were some of the game makers’ top-flight brands, namely “Mario Kart” and its “Legend of Zelda” franchise. Nintendo is quiet no more on its plans for each series, and in announcing today Wii U editions for each, the company pledged that it would completely “rethink the conventions of ‘Zelda.’” What, exactly, does that mean for the series, which recently completed a 25th anniversary celebration? Nintendo offered a few hints, as producer Eiji Aonuma promised a game that would include some form of multiplayer option as well as more of an open-world design. “I’m referring,” Aonuma said in the latest installment of Nintendo Direct, “to things such as the player is supposed to complete the dungeons in a certain order. That you […]
Dec. 14, 2012 | 9:00 a.m.

The year in video games: Indie titles hint at gaming possibilities

2. “Botanicula” (PC). Like a window into the world’s most fanciful garden, “Botanicula” provides hours of pastoral eye candy. Players click and listen — audio cues provide most of the clues — as they guide a band of plants and critters through musical topography. The environment provides countless surprises. Click a plant, and an adorable insect orchestra appears. It’s the puzzle game as relaxant. (Amanita Design)
Pick almost any year since 2005 in cinema, and it can pretty safely be labeled the year of the superhero. In much the same way, video games have been celebrating the year of the first-person shooter genre for at least half a decade. Despite the glut, not many of those gaming titles can make you cry, but “The Unfinished Swan” just might. The latter is from the perspective of a 9-year-old boy, one who just lost his mother and wants to make his father proud. His weapon? A magic paintbrush. It’s a moving narrative that is just one small part of a shifting conversation on the gaming landscape. Ever since Nintendo’s 2006 console the Wii and the explosion of the mobile and tablet gaming sector penetrated the market, the race has changed. Titles such as Telltale’s “The Walking Dead,” Thatgamecompany’s […]
Dec. 08, 2012 | 10:00 a.m.

Video Game Awards: Telltale’s ‘Walking Dead,’ ‘Journey’ win big

Telltale's "The Walking Dead," a five-part episodic game, was named game of the year at the 10th edition of Spike TV's "Video Game Awards." (Telltale Games)
Attendees and home viewers of the 10th edition of Spike TV’s Video Game Awards were treated to trailer after trailer for games that showcased new ways to shoot things, new places to shoot things and the post-traumatic effects of having shot lots of things. Yet despite the emphasis on blockbuster games that have yet to be released, this year’s Video Game Awards were ultimately a celebration of the little games that could. “The Walking Dead,” a serial title inspired by the Robert Kirkman comics, was named game of the year, upsetting a host of action/suspense titles such as “Assassin’s Creed 3,” “Mass Effect 3″  and “Dishonored.” Its publisher, the Bay Area’s independent Telltale Games, was declared studio of the year. Meanwhile, L.A.’s own Thatgamecompany received three trophies for its meditative, abstract game of exploration “Journey,” including best independent game and best PS3 game. […]
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