The Average Gamer

Hands-on with Splatoon, Yoshi’s Woolly World and More

Wii U Splatoon - Orange vs Blue Squid
Nintendo have a load of games coming for the Wii U in the next 12 months or so. They held a post-E3 event in London where I got hands-on with a bunch of them.

Splatoon – Wii U

If you’ve ever wondered what a Nintendo take on the first-person team shooters would look like, you now have the answer. Splatoon sets two teams of four squid-children against each other on a series of maps. You’ll be competing to cover as much of the floor in your team’s ink as possible.

You can flip between human and squid form, using the latter to refill your ammunition bar and move quickly over your own territory. However, stand on or get hit by the opposing team’s ink and you’ll take damage, eventually exploding into a fishy mess and being sent back to your home base.

Spraying the walls won’t count towards your team’s total but it does mean that you can through and pop out on a wall behind an unsuspecting player. The combat is fast-paced and the map I played had loads of corridors and platforms to travel through or camp on. Shooting enough ink fills up a bar that will let you fire ink grenades to take out opposing squid-children in a single shot, or splatter a huge area of the floor with your team’s ink.

It’s brilliant.

Yoshi’s Woolly World – Wii U

The new Yoshi game was the first game to make me gasp “Holy shit, I need that!” during this year’s E3 announcements. Following on from 2011’s Kirby’s Epic Yarn for the Wii, Yoshi’s world has been given the wool makeover for Wii U and it is absolutely adorable.

Yoshis Woolly World - Chicken CloudsWhere Kirby was all 2D outlines, Yoshi and his opponents are 3D wool creations. You’ll be bouncing around with balls of yarn trailing behind you in place of Yoshi’s usual eggs. It can be 2-player co-op if you want that extra challenge of being eaten by your friend and spat into a piranha plant every few minutes.

The platforming was fairly simple on the three levels I played. You’ll mainly run about, jumping from platform to platform looking for woolly knots to unravel. Eat Shy Guys, poop them out and fire them at other enemies. The final level used fluffy chickens as fuel to spit out long strings of cloud that Yoshi can walk on to cross gaps or reach high platforms. It felt very different from the usual jumping, but if anything, even easier than before.

On both types of level, balls of yarn and baby chickens were readily available from baskets and nests so the challenge lay more in discovering hidden areas than overcoming obstables. The charm of Nintendo’s incredible style and animation should carry everyone through the first few levels, but I hope things become a little more complex as you progress.

Hyrule Warriors – Wii U

This game is Dynasty Warriors with a Zelda theme and I’m not complaining at all about that. All the trappings of a traditional DW game have been given a Zelda twist – instead of smashing boring brown pots for, you’re smashing brightly-painted ones that spew shiny green gems. You’re still juggling keep bosses to win zones and defeating gate guards to prevent more mobs from spawning. Instead of battling with heroes from Chinese history, you’re fighting to reach Princess Zelda or Midna or any one of dozens of characters from the Zelda storylines.

WiiU_HyruleWarriors_scrn01_E3The final game will have many playable characters. In this demo I played as Link, who could slash with his sword, push forwards with his shield or throw huge cartoonish bombs. At the end of the demo, I was faced with a huge King Dodongo. As Ocarina of Time fans would recognise, the way to defeat this boss is to toss bombs in his mouth when he opens it to attack. It’s a great nod to the old game and I’m sure that the rest of Hyrule Warriors will be full of familiar techniques that still need some skill to pull off.

Hyrule Warriors will be great fun for Dynasty Warriors fans. It’ll let Zelda fans see their favourite characters battle it out with much more impressive sequences than you’d ever see in a pure Zelda game. Everybody wins!

Mario Party 10 – Wii U

The new feature for the upcomig Mario Party 10 on Wii U is Bowser Party Mode. This has one player controlling Bowser on the Wii U gamepad while the others control Mario and friends, dodging Bowser’s evil attacks. There were four minigames on display for Bowser:

Mario Party 10 Bowsers Bad BreathBowser’s Painball: Mario and gang are inside a sort of pinball machine, if pinball only had one pin that floated freely around the machine. Basically, Bowser controls the flippers and everybody else tries to dodge the ball by hiding behind the floaty pin thing. It’s not bad.

Bowser’s Wicked Wheel: The Mario crew are trapped in a giant hamster wheel and must run to avoid being burned by a fire bad behind them. Bowser can stop the wheel at any time. If you’re not paying attention, you’d carry on running up the wheel and into another flaming bar in front of you. This is every bit as crap as it sounds.

Bowser’s Bad Breath: Bowser stands at the edge of a platform and blows fireballs that the crew have to dodge. It was kinda fun for a minute or so.

Bowser’s Fire Bar Fury: The Bowser player uses the gamepad gyroscope to roll two fire bars horizontally and vertically across a platform. Mario’s team must jump the bars or be destroyed. This is actually pretty fun as Bowser, because you can fake out the team by rapidly changing direction and cackle maniacally as they jump straight onto your bar.

Of course, there are other mini games that don’t pit Bowser against the rest of the team. Jump from platform to platform, grabbing fruit before the other players reach it, toss more bombs into the mouth of a giant piranha plant than your friends, grab more leaping fish than your friends and so on. Lots to choose from and fortunately, none of them outstay their welcome.

Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate – 3DS

The new Monster Hunter will be coming to 3DS in Europe and North America early in 2015 and includes two new weapons – the Insect Glaive and the Charge Blade. There’s no underwater combat this time – instead, you’ll be able to climb and fight from additional levels on the land.

In one area, I climbed up a pillar and broke through a ceiling of vines to run about on top of it. This should make it easier to reach high vulnerable spots on large monsters.

The insect glaive has two components – a pet bug that can fly towards a monster and bring back essences to provide buffs, and a large two-handed stick. Most of the time you’ll be hitting with the stick as normal, but you can also use it as a sort of pole vault to propel yourself into the air and strike a monster from above. If you position yourself well, you can even land on the monster’s back and ride it for a time. Stay on long enough and you’ll be able to stab it repeatedly with your hunting dagger before you’re thrown off.

MH4U will come with online support for the 3DS. This shouldn’t be noteworthy but thanks to MH3U’s Wii U requirement for online play, it is. Hooray for abandoning that ridiculous idea.

Project Guard – Wii U

This is a prototype rather than a full game, but what I saw was fun and could definitely be the basis for something worth buying. At heart, it’s Tower Defence with enemies coming from all sides, trying to reach the heart of your maze-like base. The difference is that you view the action on a bank of monitors showing the turret’s-eye view of the world and you have to manually shoot down the invaders yourself by jumping from camera to camera.

There’s a top-down map view on the gamepad showing where the attackers are but you’ll only see the invading robots if your cameras are pointed in the right direction. It only takes one invader reaching the heart of the base for you to lose. This makes the game incredibly stressful and really quite fun.