Got a Wii U for Christmas? Excellent! Finally finished the installation and system update download? Even better! But there may still be a problem. You may have spent a few hours with NintendoLand (or received the basic model without it), and your aunt, although she means well, bought you Sing Party because, “I remember how you always used to like to sing along with that Hanna VonCyrus television program.”
So, what do you play? The stores are closed, so you can’t return Sing Party or use your gift cards, but you’re not out of luck. Digital downloads are part of the Wii U lifestyle, and there are two excellent games ready for you to download and play tonight: Trine 2: Director’s Cut and Chasing Aurora.
Trine 2: Director’s Cut
Trine 2: Director’s Cut is the Wii U version of an excellent action/puzzle platformer released earlier this year for PC and Mac. This is a fantastic early download for the Wii U because it does a great job of showing off the system’s high def visuals, and it makes good used of the GamePad controller.
In single player mode, you control one of three characters in turn: Pontius the knight, Amadeus the thief, and Zoya the wizard. The knight is the brawler, the thief is an expert with arrows and a grappling hook, and the wizard can conjure boxes and make objects levitate. You can flip between them at will (especially useful when one’s health is getting low) and take advantage of each’s special abilities to overcome the numerous puzzle elements. The beauty of the game design, however, is that most puzzles can be solved with whatever characters you have at hand. So, if you prefer to use the thief, for example, you’ll mostly be able to use her throughout.
The Mac/PC version offered co-op multiplayer for up to three gamers. The Wii U version retains that via online or “couch” mode. And because the game pretty much requires the characters to work together, it’s never a problem having them all onscreen at once. The player with the GamePad, however, will have the easiest time of it. Controlling the wizard’s ability to draw boxes and platforms and aiming the thief’s arrows were simple with the mouse on the computer—not so much with the Wii Remote + Nunchuck. The default on the GamePad are the L/R sticks, but you can also use the touchscreen, which makes control a lot easier.
The highlight of the game, however, are the visuals, and the’re equally lush and colorful on the Wii U. The level design is gorgeous, and it’s almost welcome that you can get through them without too much trouble because the focus on puzzle solving instead of action begs you to take it all in…although there will be quite a bit of fighting involved, of course.
The Wii U version comes with the Goblin Menace expansion and includes an exclusive bonus level—Dwarven Caverns—combining for a total of about 15 to 20 hours of gameplay. Completists, though, will have fun playing through multiple times to acquire all the pickups along the way.
Trine 2: Director’s Cut is a fantastic game that rivals most of the retail shelf competition. Pick this one up and you’ll likely sit on those gift cards for a while.
Site [Trine 2: Director's Cut]
Price: $14.99 (on sale for $7.49 to January 3rd, 2013)
Developer/Publisher: Broken Rules
If you’re looking for something to satisfy the entire family at once, Chasing Aurora is designed specifically for that purpose. Although you can play the game with anywhere from 1 to 5 people, it’s much more fun as you hit the higher numbers.
The gameplay varies, but centers around a basic flight mechanic. You are a bird, and the controls ask you to flap, soar and dive to chase other birds or avoid being captured, depending upon the game and your role in it. Although the flight controls seem simple as at first, they will take some getting used to, especially when you’re trying to avoid cliff walls and the ground, or when you’re battling the wind.
The three game modes—Hide and Seek, Freeze Tag and Chase—don’t differ all that much from one another, each involving some method of hide and seek. This is why they’re more fun with more people…hide and seek is no fun by yourself. The gameplay is much like Mario Chase in NintendoLand…one person has to escape/tag/etc. the others, and this person uses the GamePad. The others have to catch/avoid the GamePad player’s bird while wrestling with keeping everyone on the TV screen, which is sometimes difficult to do.
The graphics of the game are unique and quite sharp, but could’ve looked just fine on the Wii. There’s some nice design here, but you can tell the developers focused mostly on the flight mechanics, which are a lot of fun once you get the hang of them. Considering some of the environments are quite tight, you’ll need to get good prevent yourself from slapping into cliff faces. As such, you’ll want to make sure you’re playing with people at the same skill level or things will get pretty lopsided. The developers combat this by having each player take a turn with the GamePad, which helps to even things out. At the end, the totals are tallied to determine the victor.
Chasing Aurora may not impress immediately like Trine 2 does, but it’s a great game for groups, and it’s one you’ll go back to frequently when gamers are gathering at your place.
Site [Chasing Aurora]