Tagged: Wii

Done Playing: Muscle March (WiiWare)

I heard by way of a recent Giant Bombcast that Namco Bandai’s WiiWare release, Muscle March, was originally planned as an arcade game in the 90’s. It would definitely fit the gauntlet of peculiar, colorful and loud arcade machines that lined amusement center walls in Japan. I can see it now; a cabinet shaped like a Protein powder bottle, big vertically oriented monitor, players sliding their arms into a pair of gigantic (and inevitably sweaty) foam muscle arms and posing dramatically as they fired credits into the machine.

That spectacle is exactly what I miss about the arcade and it’s exactly what’s missing in Muscle March. Save your Wii Points for something else because you can get most of the experience by watching the video above. Sure, you’ll miss some of the hilarious settings and background madness (it’s almost Katamari-esque how much visual, physical humor is going on; the music too) but it’s not worth even the five bucks it costs.

Actually playing the game doesn’t make it any more fun either. I expected to be comically striking poses to match the absurd appearance of the game’s hideously muscle bound cast. What I wound up doing was sitting as perfectly still as possible, making the tiniest movements so the game registered one of four specific positions to squeeze my character through the musclehead-shaped wall in front of me. Without even a moderately oversized foam arm in sight there’s just nothing outwardly entertaining about it. Even multiplayer mode requires each person to take turns at preternaturally anticipating what rapidly approaching man-hole they have to match. See, even that last sentence was more fun!

Tiring and uncomfortable, it’s a problem that I’m starting to have with most Wii games. As easily amused as I am by Japanese shenanigans and quirky concepts I’m just tired of Wii motion controls. In a world full of bro-tastic space marines and mythological mashups I love that Muscle March exists outside of Japan. It would just be more enjoyable as the loading screen for a new Ridge Racer than as a standalone game that you have to pay money for.

Done Playing: Rabbids Go Home (Wii)

The worst thing about Rabbids Go Home is that it comes along after four years and countless Rabbid titles that were funny and clever… but mostly no fun to play. It’s a reputation that has tarnished the Rabbids good name and probably didn’t help the sales of this latest, and completely un-minigame-y offering. If you felt burned by the mad bunnies and were happy to watch Rabbids Go Home fizzle out of existance, I implore you to at least queue it up at GameFly and get to it one of these days. You’ll only have to play minigames on three rare occasions through the whole game and the rest of it summons the spirit of Rayman 2 pretty handily.

Throwing all the novelty of the Raving Rabbids games into their shopping cart like so much garbage, you play as a trio of Rabbids careening around a hub world and its connected stages in search of junk to build a pile big enough to reach the moon. The stages are set in mundane human environments (construction site, office building, airport) but the antics are 100% Rabbid craziness and about 70% old school 3D platformer. There’s not a lot of jumping since you’re pushing a shopping cart around the whole time but there’s a ton of precarious (and oftentimes wobbly) platforms, deadly obstacles, Rabbid-seeking enemies, and pick ups.

Oh, the pick ups! Tapping our OCD veins like a mainline of black tar heroin, the game is simply full of junk. Small stuff and big stuff alike litters every corner of the stages and simply had to be picked up before we could move on. It’s the same compulsive urge as collecting studs in a LEGO game or rolling up absolutely everything in Katamari Damacy. Alone it’d be a real challenge as some stuff, for example, can only be reached by shooting a grate to create a bridge, finding a nearby ramp, and maneuvering across a narrow path. With a second player, however, it’s much easier. As Player 1 controls the shopping cart a second player uses a Wii Remote to point and grab the small junk almost anywhere on the screen. It’s pretty much a rip on Super Mario Galaxy’s co-op but it allows players of different ages and skill levels to work together and feel equally useful.

As easy and straightforward as the game’s structure is it does begin to grind about halfway through. There are only a handful of different areas and gameplay styles (races, chases, and pinball-style bumper runs) and they start to repeat pretty quickly with increasing difficulty and complexity. By this point, though, you’ll probably have amassed enough junk to skip to the last stage; a hilarious, sometimes-infuriating, “you’ve gotta be kidding” gauntlet that throws everything in the game at you for one final run to the end.

Our Rabbids felt like family

After the credits there’s not a lot to do outside of hunting down any Presents you might’ve missed unless you’ve got a good imagination. Ubisoft has packed in an astounding character customization tool that lets you apply those Presents to your three starring Rabbids in the form of stickers, accessories and tools to deform and decorate them. You can actually do this at any time between levels and it’s presented through a really creative concept; that your Rabbids are stuck inside the Wii Remote. You’ll find some of the best animations in the game here and, through an installable Wii Channel, can enter your own designer Rabbids in monthly themed contests. Submit, review, and vote on everyone’s creations either through the Wii or on the internet where you can even order a 3D sculpture of your Rabbids! I never expected a thriving community to exist around the Rabbids but was pleasantly surprised by the dozens of truly inspired creations I saw. If we owned the game I could see myself getting into this stuff and loading it up every month just to check in on things. As a rental it kept us painting and dabbling a little longer but we still got it back to Blockbuster in five days.

I wish Rabbids Go Home could’ve been the debut game for the Rayman off-shoot just to spare them the grief of all those underwhelming minigame collections. I hope that our praise (and the praise of many others) is enough to get you to check this game out some day. It was genuinely funny, clever, original, and even packs a great co-op. A bargain bin buy or a rental for sure.

Am I about to get hooked on virtual walking!?

Yes, it looks like a ripoff of Wii Sports Resort’s Wuhu Island. Yes, “120 familiar songs” probably means I’ll hate most of them. Yes, walking in place is about as basic an exercise as you can get. Yes, the video above is just as fluffy, touchy-feeling and unrealistic as that for any Wii game. And yes, for some incomprehensible reason I am intrigued by Walk it Out. Labeled by Konami themselves as a “music” game but with a clear fitness spin (ya know, Liz in that video is a personal trainer afterall) you’d think I would at least be interested in the potential for interpretive dance. Surprising even myself, though, its the promise of exploration and customization that has me *thiiiiiiis* close to spending the commendably reasonable $30.

Walk it Out isn’t actually new, it’s been out in the U.S. since October and the only reason I even noticed it is because a press release told me it will soon ship across Europe as the sigh-inducingly titled Step to the Beat. Such is the reality of Wii releases. Untimeliness and obscurity aside, Walk it Out holds just a little bit of intrigue for me because as you walk in place (using Remote, Balance Board or DDR mat) to the beat of artists like Ne-Yo, Demi Lovato, and Katy Perry you’re rewarded with monetary musical notes. The better your timing and the longer you walk, the more you get. It’s with these monies that you unlock new areas and bring life back to the unashamedly named Rhythm Island. Flower fields, apartment buildings, rainbows and other attractions spring to life as you walk (and spend). Plus there’s minigames and one of them will probably be some stupid experimental spin on DDR.

Am I really going to buy it? Probably not. I walk all day long at work and by the time I get home the idea of more walking isn’t too appealing. Plus it doesn’t look like any store carries it locally and it would take an impulse situation like uncovering the game in a Wal-Mart dump bin to bypass my common sense… still, though… who knows what wonders are out there on Rhythm Island and, and… it’s for fitness right? In the name of personal health I think I’d be remiss if I didn’t buy this game if I ever saw it in a store. Oh come on! Can Red Dead Redemption or Bioshock 2 or even Endless Ocean 2 be out already so I can stop looking longingly at games like this!?! GAH!

Max and the Magic Marker combines platforming with Crayon Physics

It looks like a combination of platforming and Crayon Physics and after I found the game’s homepage and played the Unity-powered demo that’s exactly how I’d describe it. You most definitely do all the platforming and physics doodling yourself and can even pause time to set up simple see-saws as well as complex Rube Goldberg-ian devices.

Max and the Magic Marker hits WiiWare here in the U.S. sometime this quarter and though even the web demo is built really well and tweaked my brain a few times, I’m not sure if I’ll be going in for the full game.  It’s a really successful pairing of the two genres and looks to have that same hand-drawn charm of Scribblenauts, I just don’t know if I’m still interested in puzzling my way through a physics adventure anymore.

Hey Microsoft, You’re Welcome. This one was a Freebie

I saw this 3 years ago! All of it! MWAHAHAH!

When Microsoft announced their plans last week at CES to out-Home Sony with their own virtual space in the form of the Game Room, something stirred deep in the disconnected storage shed in the back of my brain. As Microsoft announced the pricing structure, specifically the Microsoft-Points-for-Credits part, it finally clicked. May 8th, 2007 was the day I posted The Virtual Token; Impossible, Potential, or just Plain Stupid? and put the idea out there into the great subconscious hive mind.

Instead of paying 800 Microsoft or Wii Points, roughly $8-$10, for an old arcade ROM that may only last a half hour, how would you feel about paying two dollars or less for a download and a few credits? Play it once or twice and then when you get squashed decide if it’s worth paying… one Point to continue. Now that’s what I envisioned as a micropayment!

One Point is exactly the wistful, innocent number I’d have picked three years ago, but aside from the pricing of it I think I was pretty spot-on. Like most “big ideas” of mine I end up trailing off into more questions than suggestions by the end but it looks like Microsoft filled in their own answers for Game Room. Ya know what, though, guys? This one’s on me. You can just slide me a lifetime supply of Microsoft Points and we’ll call it even, k?