Some Notable Games Still Coming to Wii U (Besides Zelda)

wiiu_iconNow that Star Fox Zero is out and Nintendo’s next console is on the horizon, support for the poor ol’ Wii U seems to be dried up. Sure, Zelda is still getting a Wii U release, but it’s also scheduled for the NX, and aside from downloadable indie games, what else is worth watching for?

As it turns out, there’s still a small handful of games still coming to Wii U that are worth keeping an eye on, and nearly all of them will be available physically. So, if you plan to keep rocking the Wii U into 2017 and want to continue building up your library, here are some recommendations.

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night

bloodstained_artworkKoji Igarashi’s Boodstained: Ritual of the Night is a spiritual successor to the Castlevania games he worked on at Konami, including the classic Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. Bloodstained will follow the tried and true metroidvania-style gameplay, and promises to be his biggest game ever.

While the game is being developed by Inti Creates, the Wii U port is being handled by Armature Studio, who plans to implement exclusive Gamepad and Mii functionality.

The main game is tentatively scheduled for a March 2017 release, with extra content following after.

Also coming to: PS4, Xbox One, Vita, Windows, Mac OS and Linux.

Mighty No. 9

mightyno9_artworkIf you’re among those who has not started feeling animosity towards Keiji Inafune, then Mighty No. 9 could still be the scratch for your Mega Man itch. Bearing more of a resemblance to the Mega Man X series, Mighty No. 9 boasts a high challenge level, full voice acting (with both English and Japanese options), and an online co-op mode.

And if they stick to their release date, you could be blasting robots as soon as June 21, 2016, in North America (June 24 in Europe).

Also coming to: 3DS, PS3, PS4, Vita, Xbox 360, Xbox One,Windows, Mac OS and Linux.

Paper Mario: Color Splash

The latest in the Paper Mario series seems to be taking some cues from Splatoon, as Mario will be restoring color to the land with his magic paint hammer. The lack of RPG elements seen in the classic Paper Mario games has left some fans wary, but hey, it’s a new Mario game for Wii U.

And if Nintendo doesn’t bump the game to the NX, as some are speculating, it should be due out this year.

Exclusive to Wii U.

(YouTube credit: Game Explain)

Shantae: Half-Genie Hero

shantaehalfgeniehero_artworkThe fourth game in WayForward’s Shantae series will also be the first developed specifically for HD platforms. If you’ve never played a Shantae game, they’re a series of “cute” metroidvanias with an off-beat sense of humor. Half-Genie Hero will mark the beginning of a new story arc, making it a good entry point for new fans.

While a physical release has not been confirmed, a recent update from WayForward mentioned they were in talks with several publishers. There also isn’t an exact release date, but development seems to be in its final stages. Cross your fingers for a 2016 release.

Also coming to: PS3, PS4, Vita, Xbox 360, Xbox One and Windows.

Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE

tmsfe_artworkAtlus’s unusual crossover between their Shin Megami Tensei series and Nintendo’s Fire Emblem brings another meaty RPG to the Wii U. Being a more traditional RPG rather than the tactical style of Fire Emblem, it may have difficulty finding its audience, but if your Wii U needs a new RPG after Xenoblade Chronicles X, this is your best bet.

The game features a modern-day Tokyo setting, with the original Japanese voice acting and pop music intact. It’s also just around the corner with a June 24, 2016, release date in both North America and Europe.

Exclusive to Wii U.


yookalaylee_artworkConsisting of many former employees of Rare, particularly from the Nintendo 64 era, developer Playtonic is poised to bring back their distinct brand of 3D mascot collect-a-thon platform games. Taking its cues from the Banjo-Kazooie series, Yooka-Laylee will feature a dual-character gameplay mechanic and plenty of MacGuffins to collect (but in a “meaningful” way, whatever that means).

Look forward to lots of googly eyes and British humor this October.

Also coming to: PS4, Xbox One, Windows, Mac OS and Linux.


Programming Note: Gabriel Knight 2: The Beast Within

In the spirit of the upcoming holiday, I’ll be streaming a little bit of the PC adventure game Gabriel Knight 2: The Beast Within tonight on my Twitch channel at around 7 pm PDT/10 pm EDT.

The Gabriel Knight games are a series of point-and-click adventures created by Jane Jensen. They play out like mystery novels, but with supernatural twists. In the case of The Beast Within, the plot centers around a series of killings apparently done by werewolves. For more info, check out this article at Hardcore Gaming 101.

I’ve chosen to play the second game specifically because it’s an FMV game, and I thought that might be more entertaining to watch, especially since I won’t be doing live commentary.

So get out your popcorn, and join me at 7 pm Pacific/10 pm Eastern for Gabriel Knight 2: The Beast Within!

Also, all future streaming notices will only be posted over at the Lagoon from now on so as to keep things from getting cluttered up over here.

Castlevania: Dracula X screenshot

Castlevania-thon 2014 Begins

Richter Belmont iconIt’s that time of year again, and once more, I will attempt to play as much Castlevania as I can this month. It might be a little more challenging this time, as I have more distractions. Hyrule Warriors just came out, and I expect to be playing that a lot. Plus, there’s some PC games I’m working on. Still, I definitely have some good reasons to play Castlevania, as well. (For example, it’s Castlevania.)

For the past couple of years, I’ve been playing through all of the games I own in order of the official timeline (shoehorning in some of the non-canonical ones). This year, I only have one left: Dawn of Sorrow. Once I complete that, I figured I would start over, except this time, I would play them in order of their release dates. It should be interesting to see how the franchise evolved over the years both in technology and design.

However, as it turns out, Castlevania: Dracula X is being released on the Wii U Virtual Console this week, and I’ve never played it, so I plan on downloading it. I know it’s not considered anywhere near as good as Rondo of Blood (which I already have on the original Wii Virtual Console), but I’m going to get it anyway because I’m a nerd!

Castlevania: Dracula X screenshot

So, the plan is to finish Dawn of Sorrow, then play Dracula X, and then move on to the original NES version of Castlevania, and so on.

I was pretty burned out on Castlevania by the end of last October, but I’m ready for another round! Maybe I can pace myself a little better this year.

Castlevania: Bloodlines & Portrait of Ruin

Castlevania-thon '13Well, my “Castlevania-thon” for this year went pretty well. I’ve managed to play some Castlevania every day this month, and I’ve finished more of them than I initially expected. And now I’ve had my fill of the series, at least until next year. But I’m glad I was able to play through a couple of my favorites, Bloodlines and Portrait of Ruin, so I thought I would talk about those a little bit and why I enjoy them so much.

Bloodlines (known as The New Generation in PAL regions), released in 1994 for the Genesis/Mega Drive, is kind of a black sheep among the classic games in the series. It was the only one released for the Genesis and has yet to be available on any current download service, making it a little less easy to come by. It was also released between Rondo of Blood and Symphony of the Night, two games that were not only tied together narratively, but also evolved the series into a more exploration/RPG style. Bloodlines was a more straightforward arcade-style game, like the original Castlevania, and seen as a step backwards compared even to Super Castlevania IV from 1991.

Castlevania: Bloodlines
Castlevania: Bloodlines

I first played Bloodlines when I rented it around the time it first came out. I don’t remembering being immediately impressed with it. I think I found it to be a little too difficult, but that was to be expected for a Castlevania game. I finally bought it from a bargain bin in the early 2000s, and it was then that I really started to appreciate it for what it was. It didn’t reinvent anything; it just stuck to what it knew, and did it extremely well. It is arguably the most solid and refined game to follow the original formula.

One of my favorite aspects of it is the atmosphere. It’s very dark and foreboding, and maybe that’s partly due to the limited color palette of the Genesis, but it really feels like Castlevania to me more than any other game in the series that I’ve played. The music, composed by Michiru Yamane, matches the atmosphere, combining the more traditional rock music with a baroque style.

Castlevania: Bloodlines
Castlevania: Bloodlines

The game was also the first attempt at tying the series in with Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula. The connection is tenuous, but it begins a short era in the time line in which the Belmonts were unable to wield the Vampire Killer whip, and passed it to the Morris family for safe keeping. As such, the main hero is John Morris, the son of Quincy Morris from the novel.

And that brings us to Portrait of Ruin, released on the Nintendo DS in 2007 for the 20th anniversary of the series. When I first heard it would be a follow-up to Bloodlines, I got really excited for it. It’s not really a direct sequel, but it does continue following the Morris family’s possession of the whip, with the main character being John’s son Jonathan. The game is structured in the “Metroidvania” style that most Castlevania games at the time followed.

Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin
Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin

At first, it doesn’t seem like there’s much of a connection between Portrait of Ruin and Bloodlines besides some brief story allusions and only one remixed music track. But there are some subtle thematic details that hardcore fans might notice. Bloodlines takes place during Word War I, while Portrait is set during World War II. In both games, the initial main villain isn’t Dracula, but another vampire trying to harness his power. Also, both games have two main playable characters: a whip-wielding Morris and his childhood friend. There are other little details as well, like the way certain items work.

But perhaps my favorite is the way both John and Jonathan use their whips. The Belmonts always whipped using their “forehand,” with their back turned to the screen. But both Morris’s whip with their “backhand,” facing the screen. It’s a minor cosmetic detail, but it connects father and son. It’s little nuances like that that producer Koji “IGA” Igarashi and his team were known for adding to their Castlevania games, and they enrich the experience more than you would think.

Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin
Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin

I suppose I enjoy Portrait of Ruin partly for its association with Bloodlines, but it’s still my favorite of all the “Metroidvania” Castlevania games to appear on the Nintendo DS and Game Boy Advance. Like Bloodlines, it doesn’t reinvent anything, it just overall does everything really well and is always satisfying to play. Sometimes, that’s all it takes. Bloodlines and Portrait of Ruin make up an interesting part of the Castlevania narrative, and are both excellent games that are worth checking out.

Castlevania-thon ’13

Castlevania-thon '13Special update here just to talk about a new tradition I seem to have, and that’s my annual “Castlevania-thon.” For the month of October, leading up to Halloween, I play a bunch of Castlevania games, usually in order of the official time line (with any “non-canonical” games wedged in where I see fit). I don’t actually stream them online or anything (although I would if I had the right equipment), it’s just for my personal enjoyment.

It’s funny, because it’s a tradition that just kind of emerged on its own. If you’re a gamer (and if you’re reading my blog, it’s likely you are), then every Halloween, you probably pull out some horror games, like Silent Hill or Resident Evil, or at least horror-themed games, like Castlevania or Ghosts ‘N Goblins. Well, that’s what I do, and I always gravitated towards Castlevania since it’s one of my favorite series. So, a couple of years ago, I thought, “why not just play Castlevania games all month long?”

Super Castlevania IV
Super Castlevania IV

Last year was the first time I tried to formalize it, and I set out to finish as many games in the series as I could in one month. I started with Dracula’s Curse, and worked my way up the official time line with the games that I own. I enjoyed it so much that I’ve been looking forward to doing it again this year pretty much ever since I finished last year!

And so, with today being the first of October, I’m kicking off Castlevania-thon ’13! (Perfect year, eh?) Since I wasn’t able to play Super Castlevania IV last year, I’ll be starting with that. And then I’ll pick up where I left off with Rondo of Blood, so I’ve got two of the best games right off the bat.

Rondo of Blood
Dracula X: Rondo of Blood

I also plan on writing some Castlevania-themed articles for the blog, just as I have for the past couple of years, so please look forward to that!

If you have any Halloween gaming traditions, I’d love to hear about them! Please post a comment below!