Almost two years ago I did a recap of the Yoshi series, but with a second new game just on the horizon I thought I'd better catch up on an entry that was released since then as the release of another game is fast approaching. Yoshi's New Island was released in for 3DS about a year and a half ago, in March of 2014. There wasn't a lot that seemed very unique about it compared to its predecessors, but I was hoping looks would be deceiving and that I would be pleasantly surprised.

Unfortunately, as with the DS iteration, the game cribs way too much from the original, actually even more so than the DS game. This seems to be the general consensus, and I'm glad to see that I'm not the only one disappointed by the stagnation of the series. The game has almost zero surprises and drags on, and as with the other editions, getting 100% in every level is incredibly tedious. I don't mind finding the 3 star coins in the Mario games, but having to scour every nook and cranny of every level to find the 20 red coins and 5 flowers is annoying, and having to not get hit once in order to keep your 30 star points is doubly annoying. It's been a hallmark of the series that it would do well without. The game contains some 2-player minigames, but they seem very basic as equally uninspired.

Aside from that main complaint, the game's not bad, really, it's just dull. That seems to have been par for the course with long-running Nintendo series for a while now (even with the 2D Mario series), especially ones that Nintendo farms out to other developers (in this case, Artoon/Arzest, who were also responsible for the GBA and DS Yoshi platformer games). By all accounts the forthcoming Yoshi's Wooly World looks like it'll succeed in not just breaking the mold, but being the first game in the series since the original to get rave reviews. I'm not really too psyched about revisiting the aesthetics of Kirby's Epic Yarn (a game that I found pleasant but fairly easy and mindless), but Nintendo has promised a good amount of challenge, so I'm keeping my mind open.

Check out the new tricks of these Yoshi's New Island links:
- Official site, includes wallpapers
- Entry at mariowiki.com
- Entry at howlongtobeat.com
- Review at NintendoLife

There are a ton of fantastic puzzle games on DSi (and available through the 3DS's eShop), even outside of the fantastic Art Style series. Snapdots is a game that has appeared on a lot of "best of DSiware" lists, so I bought it a while back and have been playing it off and on since.

The game looks a lot like Picross and seems to get compared to it a lot. Basically you complete puzzles by shooting out blocks, and can use blocks as barriers (that you eventually remove) in order to fill in spaces that you otherwise wouldn't be able to get to. As with my experience with Picross I found that once I figured out how to solve the puzzles they were all pretty much the same. Granted, I got bored before I got deep into the most-difficult sets of puzzles, but for the most part trial and error and not much deep thought saw me through most of the puzzles up to that point and it's hard to imagine the later levels being significantly more interesting.

Although the presentation of Snapdots is cute, from what I remember of Mario's Picross I would put those games over this one. At that time I had said I preferred Picross to Sudoku, but thinking about it now I would probably give Sudoku the edge, as it seems to more actively exercise my brain than these other series. In any case, if you're a huge fan of Picross then this is an obvious buy, but if you're not then you may want to think twice about getting it.

Check out these not-too-sluggish Snapdots links:
- Apparently this game is a sort of remake of a GBA puzzle game by Compile called Guru Logi Champ
- Some footage of the aforementioned Guru Logi Champ, on YouTube
- Review at NintendoLife

Wii was ripe for the resurgence of light-gun on-rail shooters, and The House of the Dead: Overkill came out late in Wii's lifespan. The game was notable for having an M rating and more F-bombs than the average Quentin Tarantino flick, and it had a grindhouse aesthetic and a funky soundtrack, and a mature style that was unique for being so opposite to Wii's otherwise family-friendly image.

As for the game itself, although I had enjoyed playing The House of the Dead 2 and 3, I found this edition to be fairly dull. This iteration doesn't stray much from the formula of the previous games, and lacks the branching paths of 3. The story wasn't as over the top as 2 and 3, and although there was plenty of swearing, there weren't as many awesomely quotable one-liners as the other two games, e.g. "Suffer the way G did!" from HOTD2, and "A security guard? You gotta be kidding me!" from HOTD3.

The game has a scoring system that rewards unbroken streaks of hits, an upgradeable weapons system, and a bevy of achievements to encourage repeated playthroughs. Beating the game unlocks a "Director's Cut" mode, which is a hard mode that also extends each stage with additional content. Although the default game mode is quite easy, increasing the length of the stages in the hard mode feels unnecessary and just makes the stages drag on. The locales and enemy designs are fairly ho-hum, as are the bosses.

There wasn't much I found really memorable about the game in general, aside from its better-than-average, funky soundtrack and one particular, disturbingly hilarious moment in the epilogue. The game did remind me that I should go back and play more of HOTD2, which is the most difficult of the three by far.

Shoot down these The House of the Dead: Overkill links:
- Somewhat surprisingly, Kotaku included it on their 12 best games on Wii list
- FAQ at GameFAQs, includes a run-down of the achievements

 

I've played the first two Wii Fit games, and I had been surprised at how much I enjoyed the second game, Wii Fit Plus. That game expanded on the core concept by adding mini-games that focused on the combination of the Wii remote with the balance board. Despite a number of features, the Wii U follow-up, Wii Fit U proved to be as uncreative as its title and the least satisfying of the three.

Wii Fit U is enjoyable enough for newcomers, but as someone who plays mostly for the mini-games, the additions here were pretty humdrum. There are some new mini-games that use the GamePad, but not in any mind-blowing way. There are a slew of new activities based around dancing, but those are all fairly basic and not much fun, and they require two Wii remote plus controllers. Strapping both of them on always makes me feel a bit like the Terminator. :p The biggest annoyance comes from switching between activities which requires you to juggle Wii remotes and the GamePad, and ends up feeling overly fiddly. It would've been helpful for the game to give you an option to automatically reorder your workout to minimize the number of peripherals you have to switch between. The first two games only ever made you use one Wii remote and feel much more streamlined in comparison.

One of the other new features centers around the new "fit meter". Nintendo had a good promotion going when the game launched that I jumped on, where you could get a free download of the game by buying a fit meter. As probably one of the few people who actually bought and played Personal Trainer: Walking, the novelty of the fit meter was somewhat lost on me. The way Wii Fit U tracks your step progress is similar, although it includes an altimeter and so it also has the ability to track the distance you've climbed. My regular IRL environment isn't hilly at all, so making progress on that side is a lot harder, but I've been wearing my fit meter religiously since I got it a year and a half ago so I guess that's saying something. (Also, it survived being dropped into the toilet (not to mention, dropped on the floor numerous times), so kudos to Nintendo for creating a sturdy product!)

The camera in the GamePad can also be used as a mirror to help you correct your form in the various exercises, which is mildly useful, and also provides a screen for off-TV play. The off-TV features are so limited that I ended up not having much use for them, though. The Miiverse features are also fairly humdrum. You can join virtual communities in the form of "gyms" and compare your recent high scores to others, but there's really not much to it (incidentally, I joined the gym of the popular Nintendo news site gonintendo.com (ID: 8552-2399-0285), but there have been very few fellow Wii Fit U players in that group).

It's somewhat disappointing that they cut out so many games from the previous iteration for no obvious reason. There are some nice "extra" modes of several familiar exercises, such as the soccer heading game, and some cute unlockable outfits. All in all, though, this was an inevitable and good-but-not-great addition to the series.

Juggle these Wii Fit U links:
- Official site
- Awesome parody video that pokes fun at the strained E3 trailer
- List of unlockables
- Amusing comparison to the Pokewalker, on Reddit
- Review at NintendoLife
- Entry at Wikipedia

I was surprised at how polished and consistently enjoyable the 3DS downloadable title Gunman Clive was, even more so considering it was only $2. Even though I'd just played Dillon’s Rolling Western, another game set in the Wild, Wild West, I wanted to see what the sequel to Gunman Clive had to offer. Before I knew it, I had beaten the game's main mode (Clive on normal difficulty).

The game is very similar to the first game, and I can't say I enjoyed the main new mechanics, namely, some 3D "behind-the-back view" levels featuring horse riding and flying. In general, as often happens with sequels, it felt like most levels just added a minor evolution to things already seen in the first game, without really leaping forward very much at all. The experience is equally polished, but the original succeeded so well because everything was new: here I found that everything felt just a little too familiar and safe.

Still, it's hard to complain when the overall experience is so tight. There are some standout moments, namely a level involving riding a panda and the final boss fight, but years from now when I think back to the Gunman Clive games I'll be remembering a lot about my experience with the original and not much about the sequel.

Run, gun, and dinosaur bash through these Gunman Clive 2 links:
- The official site. Pretty much just has a trailer.
- Review at NintendoLife
- Entry at howlongtobeat.com