• New Super Mario Bros. U: As is the case with most established franchises, this is another game that is instantly familiar once you look at it. The mustached plumber jumps on his enemies, over ledges, between gaps, and wears costumes to gain special abilities. The newer addition, however, is a slightly different take. Boost Rush mode allows players to immediately speed things up for any small section of a level of their choice, which may sound similar to an existing system in the series but actually varies things up by making it so that the more coins you collect, the faster things get. In multiplayer mode, this becomes absolutely maddening because the faster a level goes, the more people want to break alliances, take coins for themselves and thus make the job harder for everyone else. The Wii U gamepad allows a fifth player to join the fray alongside the other four using remotes by giving them the power to create platforms for people to jump on. Sometimes, if they are being just traditional friends, they could just end up causing your death but, on the whole, the rewards for helping are greater because it allows the Wii U player some coins and the power to kill the enemies as well. While it’s not the integration of a completely new player, it does make it so that the console is no longer limited to four players simultaneously.
Publisher: Nintendo; Developer: Nintendo; Genre: Action; Release Date: November 18, 2012; Console: Wii U.
• Ninja Gaiden III: Razor’s Edge:
A port of the existing Ninja Gaiden III to Nintendo’s new peripheral, the most stunning Razor’s Edge is that it is a remarkably unfriendly game for children. The game clearly aims to regain the longtime fans that it lost with the changes it made to the previous iterations of Ninja Gaiden III, the first being the amount of horrendous violence that is back. It only takes several seconds, literally seconds, for the field of battle to become red with all sorts of liquids and limbs around each corner. Combat feels far more realistic, even violently surrealistic (I know that’s not possible, but it really is that over the top) fans will certainly appreciate the wonderful grotesqueness of it all. The game also stars Ayane, the young ninja that has been the main protagonist’s partner ever since the series crossed over with the Dead or Alive franchise. She has smaller weapons but is just as effective and the game is essentially a return to older levels of challenge, where you either move fast or you die. In recent iterations, the challenge came not from enemy competence but enemy numbers and the sheer frustration camera angles caused; this game seems to be completely at home being fast and furious at the same time. The Dead or Alive series, from which Ayane is derived, has seen some controversy for its suggestive portrayal of Ayane, who has historically been cited as underage, and, if early cut scenes are any indication, this game seems to continue that trend.
Publisher: Tecmo Koei America Corp.; Developer: Team Ninja; Genre: Action; Release Date: November 18, 2012; Console: Wii U.
• Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale:
An ode to all Playstation fans, this is the game that essentially combines every major Sony franchise in a fighting free for all (somebody is trying to emulate the success of Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros.) The game utilizes a system wherein someone is essentially required to execute a Level 3 Supermove in order to win the game, which makes all regular attacks and subsequent levels seem simply an ends to a mean. Of course, a skilled player can make your instant knockout attempts useless by dodging the supers and even pull off combos, thus achieving Super Move level quicker and decimating their opponent more effectively. Of course, games like this rarely have the deepest fighting system and this product is all about combining every lovable Sony character in the genre. Of course, lists are available online but many people consider the characters in this a plot element in themselves, so that will not be named here for the sake of avoiding spoilers. The developers have confirmed that it will utilize the Vita to full extent, including the ability to run at complete speed (for weaker systems or handhelds, developers often compromise on the speed of gameplay to keep things flowing smoothly). The game will also be available as a download and is shaping up to be a nice ode to fans of Sony.
Publisher: SCEA; Developer: SuperBot Entertainment; Genre: Action; Release Date: November, 20, 2012; Console: PS3, Vita.
• Far Cry 3:
Details: The third numbered entry into a franchise that made its way alongside the big boys rather effectively, Far Cry 3 once again puts players in the role of a man stranded on an island and forced to fight the series’ ruthless and cunning enemies. The island this time is absolutely huge and people will often find that careful exploration is key to not letting enemies sneak up on you. The game also plays up the role of wild animals, such as tigers getting enraged after being shot or sharks attacking swimmers. The game also differs from its predecessor in that, this time, the player has factions that he works with and it thus takes away from the feeling of being a lone warrior against an open world to some extent. The game seems to enjoy surprising it’s players, with a simple strut down the forest turning into an all-out assault as pirates decide that they want your life. The game island is absolutely huge and incredibly varied, allowing for some open-world exploration. The game offers a variety of weapons, such as guns, arrows, explosives and vehicles including hang gliders and traditional fare such as jeeps. Of course, it would not be a Far Cry game without expanding on scale and, once again, it must be emphasized that the island is incredibly huge and well varied. Luckily, there are no patches of gigantic desert land where you are absolutely defenseless and the packaging on the island is dense, ensuring that each square inch has something that would probably be dangerous.
Publisher: Ubisoft; Developer: Ubisoft Montreal; Genre: Action; Release Date: December 4, 2012; Console: X360, PS3, PC.
• Rayman Legends:
A sequel of the game that has already received several “Platformer of the Year” awards, Rayman Legends is the Wii U alternative to Rayman Origins, the much-praised reboot of everyone’s favorite limbless hero. The biggest change that fans of Origins will notice is the presence of Murphy, a character that is controlled using the Wii U peripheral. The character can be placed anywhere on the screen with a simple swipe on the tablet, can swoop in to pick up enemies and is even required to control certain matters of life and death. For example, one puzzle requires that Rayman will be trapped in a metal ball and it is up to the player with the gamepad to decide where that metal ball goes; the player controlling Rayman is, at that point, completely powerless. At another point, there is a puzzle that involves panels that, if the wrong ones are activated, will lead to Rayman’s death. The catch here is that the player with the Wii U tablet can see which of the switches are deadly on his screen, marked in red; how much do you want to trust your friend? The game also makes it so that players can essentially experience two different things at the same time, such as the Rayman player running in the background while the Murphy player is required to operate a gigantic slingshot. The game, as always, will offer four player cooperative play with Rayman being accompanied by an entire cast of colorful individuals but Murphy will be a fifth addition, making this a game that five friends in the same room may play but, depending on how they help each other out, they may not leave as friends.
Publisher: Ubisoft; Developer: Ubisoft Montpellier; Genre: Action; Release Date: December 4, 2012; Console: Wii U.