12/14/2012

Rayman is better than Mario. And so is Sonic?

Finally, the Wii U shop had some new content this week, namely 2 big demos. One of the launch title Sonic All-Stars Racing Transformed and one for the not horribly far off Rayman Legends (due out in February).

I just finished New Super Mario Bros. U the other night, it's a great game, easily the best 2D Mario since the 16-bit days and showed a lot of great level design. Admittedly one thing it did not really do well was make much use of gamepad functionality until the last couple of levels, where you used it for things like guiding a rising platform to keep ahead of a lava surge. It was just a little taste of some potential.

So the Rayman demo comes out and is doing frankly what Mario should have, showing better use of the gamepad in just a couple of levels. Using the gamepad to distract enemies, move platforms, cut ropes and more goes far above and beyond simply placing platforms like you would do in NSMBU. The graphics are gorgeous, arguably the best shown on the Wii U to date, while Mario was a nice shiny HD upgrade, for the most part it hardly blew you away. And while the levels in Mario are great classic design with a little innovation mixed in here and there, every level in the Legends demo showed a huge amount of creativity. If these are the kind of exclusive titles the Wii U gets on a regular basis, I don't think it'll have any issues competing with the next Xbox or PS3.

Now, I talked a little bit about Sonic All-Stars Racing Transformed in my post about a week with the Wii U, but no with the demo out, I can expand upon it a little more. The Kart racing genre has been pretty much dominated by Mario Kart since the SNES days. Kart racers rarely are any serious contender and I think it's made the developers of this once seminal racing series a little lazy. You'd be hard-pressed to say both Mario Kart Wii & Mario Kart 7 lived up to the high bar set by previous entries. So along comes Sonic racing, and it really ups the ante. The levels have great design based around classic Sega franchises like Golden Axe and Panzer Dragoon. You gain experience. And on top of that, it features racers from many Sega franchises, not just Sonic. I think one way to revitalize the Mario Kart formula would certainly be to have it more in the mold of Smash Bros where it encompasses many Nintendo franchises, not just Mario. For now, I doubt any fans of fun racing titles would be disappointed with this game.

And finally moving on from video games, the last huge nerd movie of the year, The Hobbit, is in theatres this weekend. I'm sure based on the LOTR trilogy alone it'll be huge, and the reviews are mostly positive even if they tend to bash the frame rate and length. I unfortunately most likely will not have time to see it this weekend but I'll be sure to post a review when I see it which will hopefully be in the coming week sometime.

That is all for today, but I should have another post up tomorrow or Sunday. Until then, here's your TRAILER OF THE WEEK: Oblivion


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