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

Yet another downloadable game. :p Dillon’s Rolling Western is a downloadable title for 3DS that I've had for ages. It, along with Sakura Samurai, was one of the first Nintendo-published eShop titles way back in February 2012.

The anthropomorphic animal characters have a very Star Fox like feel, and generally speaking the main rolling mechanics have a very Majora's Mask feel (specifically, the Goron movement in that game). The game also has a Zelda vibe due to its taciturn title character, his grunts, and the chests he opens and the heart pieces he collects. Despite these similarities to other Nintendo series, the game is overall a unique hybrid of adventuring (rolling around and exploring each stage's map), mining, battling, and collecting resources, and selling resources in order to have enough money to set up watchtowers and gun towers.

The game is generally enjoyable and introduces new enemy types and attacks at a steady rate. However, there are two main game mechanics that really bring down the experience. The first is that the battles, which happen in a closed-off three-dimensional arena, are extremely repetitive. Battles make up about a third of the overall experience, and even with the new enemy types and attacks the mechanics just aren't interesting or deep enough. Although the touchscreen controls took a bit of getting used to, before too long I was able to plow through battles pretty much perfectly and the strategies didn't really change as I progressed through the game. And they become especially tedious since the mining mechanics are identical to the battle mechanics.

The second issue is that while the game has a ranking system, each stage basically requires you to complete it at least twice in order to get the highest ranking. The first time you encounter a stage you're given a small, fixed amount of funds to start with, but once you've conquered it you can use as much of your saved-up pool of funds as you want. Drawing from this larger pool seems to be the only way you would have any hope of getting the five-star rank. This seems like a cheap way of extending the length of the game, although I suppose if you view it more as postgame content rather than required to beat the game it's not quite such an annoyance.

The merging of tower defense mechanics with an adventure game feels fairly unique and the game is quite polished (esp. with the character design), but the monotony of the battling made me give up on this about halfway through. It looks like the sequel adds a couple new features, but by most accounts it seems to just be more of the same. I might try to come back to this later, but for now I'm more than happy to set it aside.

Have some Wild West adventures with these Dillon’s Rolling Western links:
- The official site
- Review at NintendoLife
- Guide to 5-starring every stage, at GameFAQs
- Wikia, which covers the original and the sequel
- Entry at howlongtobeat.com

I've had my eye on Gunman Clive, a downloadable title for 3DS, for a while. It got great reviews and it was only $2, and people praised its Mega Man like mechanics. Although I enjoy the Mega Man series, I'm not an uber-fan, so it took Clive's inclusion in the Nindies Humble Bundle to get me to finally download it and give it a try.

The game is amazingly well polished, and enjoyable from its start to its ~45 minute later end (on normal mode with the main character). As expected, the Mega Man influence is very strong, but the game has its own personality and offers a number of surprises as well, in the form of boss fights, weaponry, and stage hazards. The game packs a ton of variety in its short length, and there are two additional characters to play as (the unlockable one was such an awesome surprise I found myself grinning in a way usually reserved for first-party Nintendo titles), an additional hard mode, and target times for every stage.

I was suitably impressed with the game and, in true Humble Bundle success story fashion, immediately bought the sequel. I started it and it looks like more of the same although with a higher difficulty, but I'm still looking forward to finishing it before too long to see what surprises may be on store.

Wild Mega Gunman Clive links:
- The official site
- Review at NintendoLife
- Entry at howlongtobeat.com