Tiny Galaxy

Update: Apparently Tiny Galaxy did get a lot of play testing and feedback, with the developer being made aware of many issues that I brought up in this very review. The problems with the game can be chalked up to a first time developer. Being made a first time developer doesn’t change the quality of a game, so I’ve edited out my (mistaken) belief that developer Arcane Pixel got no proper feedback in the making of this game, and left the rest of the review up.

Contrary to popular belief, I don’t hunt bad games for the sportiness of it. Why would anyone these days? The novelty of saying “this game sucks” fifty-different ways gets old quickly. A bad game is almost never entertaining in the same way a bad movie is. There are exceptions but most really awful games are just painful to try to squeeze any entertainment value out of. I also recognize that there are real people with real feelings behind every bad game. Take Tiny Galaxy for Wii U. Developer Taylor Hajash is a really nice guy. He was one of the developers who gave copies of his game to people who donated to the Epilepsy Foundation on my 26th birthday back in July. Nice guy. Big heart. To know him is to like him. Not the kind of person anyone would want to tell “your game isn’t very good” to.

I get no pleasure at all saying that I could not think of a single game I’ve ever played on a Nintendo platform worse than Tiny Galaxy. This game is atrocious. The idea is you walk along round planets and jump between them to locate three stars that open up an exit. So, maybe like a 2D Mario Galaxy mixed with a Super Meat Boy-like punisher that is full of lots and lots of saws. Sounds fine, I guess. But, Tiny Galaxy fails in nearly every way a game can. It looks ugly. It controls badly. The camera (in a 2D platformer mind you) sometimes can’t keep pace with the action. The camera is slow to switch positions when you jump between planetoids while the controller’s transition is not, and trying to keep track of that is like trying to rub your head and pat your belly at the same time. The camera’s spinning makes the game legitimately nauseating to play. The menus seem to have no visual indication of what levels you’ve finished. The levels are at best bland. At worst they’re infuriating and unfair. There’s no checkpoints so when you die, you have to start the stage over. I couldn’t even bother trying to make it out of the first world of the game. Not for a lack of effort. I put about an hour into this, but my will to subject myself to this became non-existent as my anger grew that this game made it to the marketplace.

Even images from the marketplace infuriate me. Don't put branded pictures on the marketplace page. Put them anywhere else, but on a page that has the game's title, don't cover up anything, even a black blank screen, with branding!

Even images from the marketplace infuriate me. Don’t put branded pictures on the marketplace page. Put them anywhere else, but on a page that has the game’s title, don’t cover up anything, even a black blank screen, with branding!

And finally, Tiny Galaxy costs $5.99 That’s $1 more than even the most expensive Xbox Live Indie Games. That price actually got me a little angrier because I could see a parent confusing this for a child-friendly game and instead it’s a punisher that feels very rushed (which likely wasn’t the case here) and, frankly, very lazy. I mean, how fucking hard is it to make it so a completed stage has a checkmark on the level select screen? Edit: Apparently the developer would have had to start over from scratch to do this. Then start over from scratch I say.  Tiny Galaxy feels unfinished. It should never have been put up for sale in this state, especially at $5.99. Not that any price would be good for Tiny Galaxy. A price really doesn’t make a bad game better. It just makes it cheaper.

There were no bad intentions with Tiny Galaxy, and I find it heartbreaking that Taylor is throwing in the towel. I usually try to be funny and keep it light, but here I just feel very unhappy with this whole mess. Unfortunately, I can’t just not review it. It’s a game that costs real money. More money than many other indies that had a lot more effort put forth. It’s not that Taylor didn’t try hard, but it certainly feels as if corners were cut. Perhaps he expected to hit a home run on his first game. Game development usually doesn’t work this way.

It’s not up to game critics to soften the blow. We only owe developers fairness, and nothing else. If we aren’t completely straight with how we feel about a game, it’s our readers that we screw. I saw this when I played Super Comboman last year. I watched a lot of YouTube videos of people playing it, who clearly hated the game, had NOTHING positive to say about it, used dodgy weasel-words to describe the flaws, and then told people with a straight face that they should go buy it. Who the fuck does that help?

Game critics are obligated to give their personal opinions straight to their readers. If you’re a good critic who cherishes the readers or viewers you have, that sometimes means being a little heartless. Not malicious, and I do admit that when I first started IGC and I had no clue what I was doing, I could be mean. But sometimes, there’s just no nice way to serve your readers while being fair to developers. If I used weasel-words to soften the blow for Taylor, people might walk away from my review under the mistaken impression that I was on the fence about Tiny Galaxy’s quality. I’m not. I tried to find something nice to say about Tiny Galaxy, and I went blank. It didn’t crash, I guess. It didn’t become sentient and crawl out of my TV like that girl in the The Ring and try to eat me or something. That’s literally the best I can say about it. I genuinely can’t imagine anyone enjoying it on any level. Since this review was first published, I’ve had people say “I did like it!” Yea, well some people like to self-mutilate too, but I wouldn’t recommend doing that either.

Taylor: don’t quit. Imagine how awesome a story it will be if you create something spectacular, after Tiny Galaxy. Imagine the inspiration you could serve to developers who have struggled. Besides that, you’re a nice guy. And gaming could use more of those these days.

Tiny GalaxyTiny Galaxy was developed by Arcane Pixel Games
Point of Sale: Nintendo eShop

$5.99 was the Swawp Thing Pixel to the Arcane Pixel in the making of this review.

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Toki Tori and Toki Tori 2+

A few weeks ago, I got a request to review Toki Tori on the PlayStation 3.  “Wait, that game I got way back in 2008 on the Wii?  That’s just now coming to PS3?  Did it get stuck in an elevator?”  But then, it turns out it was the Wii version that was stuck in a time warp, because it was actually a remake of a 2001 Game Boy Color game.  I’m not sure how I missed it.  I played a LOT of Game Boy back then and.. oh.. September of 2001.  You mean right after the Game Boy Advance came out, and right before the Xbox and GameCube released?  Not to mention, you know, 9-11 and shit.  You know, that ranks up there in the shitty timing hall-of-fame with that company that planned to put out Anderson Silva endorsed shin guards next week.

The thing with Toki Tori on the Wii was, I bought it, and I distinctly remember playing it, but I don’t really remember playing a lot of it.  I didn’t hate it or anything.  I just put it down and never got back to it.  I don’t even have my original Wii anymore, so what the hell?  I bought Toki Tori again, this time on the Wii U.  Yea, they requested the PS3 version, but this one was cheaper and I intended to play the sequel while I was at it.  And you know what?  It’s good game.  It really is.  There are some really clever puzzles on display here.  Playing as a newly hatched chick (the bird, not the me) that can’t fly or even jump, you have to collect all the eggs in a stage.  Toki Tori is one of those “plot the correct course” type of puzzlers, where the order in which you collect the eggs is what you most have to solve.

Toki Tori

Toki Tori

Toki Tori isn’t exciting by any means, and you’ll be doing yourself no favors by playing through it all at once.  I probably would have been better off picking up the Game Boy Color original on 3DS, since these types of puzzlers lend themselves to portable gaming better.  But, it plays fine on the Wii U.  The added hook is that you get special items that can bridge gaps, teleport you through walls, or stuff that you can use to fight enemies in a way that clears a path for you to get to the next egg.  Well, that’s actually not much of a hook.  Items?  In a video game?  Fucking hell, next you’ll tell me they’ll add scores to them.

Sorry if this all doesn’t sound enthusiastic enough.  I really liked Toki Tori.  It’s a fairly straight mind-bender.  Probably too difficult for the younger-set that the graphics and theme seem directly aimed at, and there’s minor control issues, like movement being slightly too loose.  But these games don’t lend themselves well to the type of reviews I do here.  It’s borderline baffling that I would attempt to write this up.  It was even more baffling that I intended to make this a 2 in 1 review that discusses the sequel as well.  But, I figured I would have two nearly identical games and thus it would be a slam dunk.

Wrong.

Toki Tori 2+ (I have no idea what the plus is about) has similar movement mechanics, in that you can’t jump and can only climb up small hills, but that’s where the similarities end.  This is more of a traditional platformer mixed with a puzzler.  There’s a world map (one that is largely confusing to navigate) that connects all the stages together in an almost Metroidvania like way.  There’s no special powers to accumulate and use.  Here, the chick can either do a butt stomp or a chirp.  Puzzles are solved by interacting with various animals, chirping to attract them and butt-stomping to repel them.  It’s a radical departure from the original and it took some massive balls to take the franchise this direction.  I appreciate that.  You get a lengthy quest and some pretty ingenious puzzles.

Toki Tori 2+

Toki Tori 2+

But, I do have a few bones to pick.  Some of the puzzles take too long to set up, like maneuvering a grub past a series of obstacles so that it can be eaten by a frog and regurgitated into a bubble.  However, if the frog eats the grub too soon, or if you fuck up and make the frog spit it the wrong way, you have to restart and go through it again.  The rewind function of the original Toki Tori would have been greatly welcomed here, but it’s nowhere to be found.  Also, restarting isn’t done the way anyone sane would have implemented it: by pausing the game and pressing “go back to last checkpoint.”  Oh no, you have to play a series of notes in a specific order, like Zelda or something.  Here’s the problem with that: sometimes while trying to chirp to call attention of something, I would accidentally play the notes that send you back to the last checkpoint.  I don’t know if it that’s on my incredible stupidity, or on the game’s design, but I talked with other people that had this same problem.  It’s a totally unnecessary, artsy play-mechanic that seems to function only to cause problems.

I also have to be perfectly honest about something: I couldn’t finish Toki Tori 2 due to my epilepsy, when one of the final stages took place in a strobey rave-type atmosphere.  However, I did put around six hours into it, and I was satisfied with those six hours.  I’m disappointment that I couldn’t complete it, sure, and I really wish developers would get on the ball with making those flashy special effects optional.  But what I did get to play will go down as one of the biggest surprises of the year for me.  A major departure from the play-style the game had set up in the previous installment, and one for the better.  I kind of wish they had shit-canned the map thing altogether and just had it play out in one linear path, but otherwise, I’m really happy with Toki Tori 2+.  I expected nothing besides more of the same puzzles and generic levels and instead found something that felt, gasp, like a sequel.  Maybe I enjoyed it more because I just came off Peggle 2, which does that thing modern sequels do.  Which is, you know, being the same game as before, only with half the content of the original.  Two Tribes could have totally phoned it in too, but they didn’t.  Sadly, their reward will probably be selling 2% of what Peggle 2 does.  There is no justice.

Toki Tori logoToki Tori and Toki Tori 2+ were developed by Two Tribes

Seal of Approval Large$1.99 (Toki Tori, normally $3.99 I think) and $7.49 (Toki Tori 2+ normally $14.99) are just happy this series wasn’t sent off to be culled in the making of this review.

Toki Tori 2 logoToki Tori and Toki Tori 2 are Chick-Approved (fittingly enough) and ranked on the Indie Gamer Chick Leaderboard

NES Remix

No, it’s not an indie.  But, I’m not exactly known as someone with a particular fondness for NES “classics” that grew stale before I was even born.  When Nintendo surprised everyone Wednesday by debuting NES Remix and announcing it was out right now, it was bizarre.  Almost as if they had no confidence in it.  But, it looked vaguely like the 9-Volt stages in Wario Ware, which is pretty much my favorite game ever.  And my Wii U was starting to get dusty again after I finished Super Mario 3D World.  So, $15 later, I was going to see what this game Nintendo was so nervous about hyping for more than a few minutes was all about.

NES Remix is made up of micro-sections of sixteen early first-party NES games, most of which are no fucking good today and probably wouldn’t have been all that fun even back in the day.  Look, I appreciate the historical significance of the original Donkey Kong, Super Mario, and Legend of Zelda.  But the same franchises have been done better so many times since the 80s.  To pretend otherwise seems kind of crazy.  Meanwhile, the majority of the games in NES Remix really just aren’t any good at all.  Baseball, Pinball, Tennis, Urban Champion, and Golf should be locked in a box and thrown in the middle of the ocean.  And Ice Climber?  I swear to God, I think it might legitimately be the worst game Nintendo ever made.  Not only does it control like it was designed by someone who hates video games, but it also has a tendency to have players fall through the platforms because you’re “too close to the edge.”  Even though you’re more than a full character-length on the platform.  If there’s a worst first-party game Nintendo has ever put out, I haven’t played it.

Funny enough, it's actually easier to do the bouncy-turtles shell-lives trick in Super Mario 3D World.

Funny enough, it’s actually easier to do the bouncy-turtles shell-lives trick in Super Mario 3D World.

So, a collection of sixteen games that I either hate or am totally indifferent too?  Games which have not been blessed with the gift of graceful aging?  Games which I would never pay the price for off Nintendo’s Virtual Console if they were sold alone?  Obviously, we’re talking a real game of the year contender, right?

Well, actually.. yeah.

NES Remix utterly owned me.  I got it Wednesday morning, and I played it so much that I ran out the battery on my Wii U pad three times in a single day.  Never mind how pitiful it is that a console could have the battery run out that much in a single day.  I also will try not to focus too much on how there is absolutely no reason why NES Remix has to be exclusive to the Wii U, or that Nintendo unquestionably lost out in millions in revenue this week alone by not having a 3DS version launch alongside it.  Okay, so that’s a lie.  It’s kind of the elephant in the room and it requires scrutiny.  Nintendo fanboys are saying it’s because Wii U needs exclusive software to justify owning it.  That’s a fucking cop-out excuse if I’ve ever heard one.  NES Remix is the perfect portable game.  Pick-up-and-play mechanics, small goals, a large variety of gameplay styles, and no consequences if you think you have time to kill, turn on your device, then suddenly become busy and have to turn it off.  Tethering this diamond to the Wii U would be like hiring Michael Jordan to be on your golf team.  I’m sure he’s a damn fine golfer, probably better than your average schmo, but wouldn’t he better suited on your basketball team?  And NES Remix would be better suited on the 3DS.  It just would be.

But, the decision was made, and NES Remix is slumming it on the wrong console.  Fine.  It doesn’t change the quality of the game at all.  NES Remix is, as of this moment, the best digital-exclusive Nintendo has ever produced.  Like Wario Ware, Nintendo has taken gameplay, stripped out most of the bullshit, then weaponized what was left into the most potently addictive micro-gaming chunks seen since, well, the original Wario Ware.  This is gaming in its purest form.  Scoring and/or speed based, no frills, white-knuckle gaming.  And I love it.

Sorry to disappoint white supremacists , but the game is called "Clu-Clu Land". With a "C". Just go back to playing Uncharted.

Sorry to disappoint white supremacists , but the game is called “Clu-Clu Land”. With a “C”. Just go back to playing Uncharted.

The NES games are divided into sections by game, which have anywhere between seven to over twenty levels per game, though I don’t believe every game has its own unique stage selection.  Baseball, Tennis, Urban Champion, and Donkey Kong 3 seem to have drawn the short straw and don’t have their own sections, and that’s just fine with me.  There’s also fifty “remix” stages that do something wacky with the gameplay or graphics, plus twenty-five “bonus stages” that seem more like deleted scenes, cut from the game for a reason.  Each stage is scored on a scale from one-star to three-stars, plus if you do really good, a meaningless rainbow star thing appears that doesn’t seem to unlock anything.

The remix stages are treated like the meat of the game, but really, I enjoyed all the non-psychedelic challenges presented here.  Stuff like trying to catch 1-up mushrooms in Super Mario, or fighting bosses in Legend of Zelda, one ten-second stage at a time, was hugely satisfying.  It even managed to make games like Golf and Balloon Fight more than enjoyable, something I never imagined was possible.  I knocked out most of those before I ever started on the Remix stages, which were often pretty cool too.  You might have to play a full stage in Super Mario where the game auto-runs for you.  As it turns out, Super Mario makes a great auto-runner.  Who would have thunk it?  Other challenges might be related to the presentation, like having the camera pull back, showing multiple, progressively smaller screens.  When I played these stages, I would then look away from the Wii U pad, where my room now seemed to be pulling back and shrinking.  It was trippy.  And awesome.

Not all the remix stages were well conceived.  A couple of them involve you playing Donkey Kong using Link.  No, you can’t use your sword for some fucking stupid reason.  Also, you can’t jump.  Ever tried to beat the first stage in Donkey Kong without jumping?  It’s way tougher than it sounds.  You’re basically left up to the whims of fate, hoping against hope that the barrels don’t go down the ladders you’re about to cross, since you have no way of defending yourself or otherwise avoiding them.  My gut instinct tells me they originally planned to let you use the sword for these sections (since it makes no fucking sense to have Link in Donkey Kong and not be able to swing your sword) but they couldn’t do it right (it’s really just a ROM hack, with Link painted over Mario), so they just left it the way it was.  Of course, the whole ROM hack theory doesn’t explain why you can’t jump.  Other ill-thought-out stages include Pinball (a crap game on its own, like most of the games in this collection) where the flippers are invisible, an Ice Climber stage where the only hook is the graphics become Game Boy-like (and this one screws up sometimes by having the mono-Gameboy sound be present during the NES part, and vice versa), or fighting “imposters” in Balloon fight that are the exact same enemies you already take on, re-skinned to look like you.  Really, some of them are just plain lazy.  But this is the same company that has put out roughly fifty-billion ports of the 75% complete NES version of Donkey Kong.  I’m almost convinced that Nintendo is the Japanese word for half-assed.

The biggest problem with NES Remix is these are the exact same games that they’ve always been, only broken down into microscopic chunks.  Although this makes some of the games more palatable, all their original control flaws are still present.  I mentioned Ice Climber above, which is probably Nintendo’s most broken controlling game.  But actually, the original Mario Bros. is nearly as crippled.  The jumping physics are horrible, requiring you to build up momentum to make a jump.  Only sometimes this doesn’t seem to work.  Plus, landing on a platform above you requires you to land perfectly flush on it.  If a micro-pixel isn’t on, you fall through the platform.  In games scored entirely around timing, shit like this is fucking maddening.  Additionally, Baseball, Tennis, and especially Clu Clu Land (my buddy Cyril’s choice for Nintendo’s worst first-party game) control the same as they always have: like shit.

One of the Zelda stages (not the one pictured) required me to use the candle to burn a tree down and reveal a hidden staircase. As God as my witness, I burned every God damned tree on the screen at least three times each and the staircase never appeared. I restarted the stage and the next time the very first tree I torched revealed the staircase. I'm not sure if it was a glitch or not. I never bothered to replay it after that. I had already ripped out enough of my hair by that point that my scalp was bleeding.

One of the Zelda stages (not the one pictured) required me to use the candle to burn a tree down and reveal a hidden staircase. As God as my witness, I burned every God damned tree on the screen at least three times each and the staircase never appeared. I restarted the stage and the next time the very first tree I torched revealed the staircase. I’m not sure if it was a glitch or not. I never bothered to replay it after that. I had already ripped out enough of my hair by that point that my scalp was bleeding.

Another issue, which is kind of minor, is that the difficulty of each challenge, in terms of what will give you a three-star rating and what won’t, varies wildly.  In one of the Super Mario levels that is divided into three sub-stages, the object is to enter a warp pipe.  The target time for three stars was 30 seconds.  Getting this required near-perfect runs.  I twice finished at 30.1 seconds because I had trouble lining up in the under-water pipe or something.  Eventually, I did get the three-star rating I had coveted, clocking in at 29.6.  No rainbow stars though, and I’ll be damned if I can guess where I could possibly make up the time for it.  Edit: Oh my God, I am such a fucking idiot.  I thought I had attempted to enter all the pipes in the second stage. It turns out there was a much, much closer pipe I could have entered than the one I was going into.  I just finished in 24 seconds and rainbowed.  I suck But then I would play multiple other stages where I could die three or four times and still score three-stars with rainbows even though my performance could best be summed up as “pitiful.”  There was no consistency from one stage to the next, and it takes the oomph out of the sense of accomplishment I sometimes felt.

Despite those issues, NES Remix is honest-to-God my new favorite Wii U game.  Certainly Nintendo’s best digital-exclusive in their history.  I was utterly hooked for three solid days on it.  It even did the impossible and made Urban Champion fun for like five seconds, which by my count, is three seconds longer than Wario Ware accomplished.  Although I have no fucking clu-clu why this is exclusive to Wii U, this is a must own.  At least, I think it is.  Opinions are hugely divided here.  One trend I’ve noticed: older gamers that played the originals to death in the 80s seem to like this a lot less than myself and younger gamers have.  I’m guessing if you’ve played the original Super Mario Bros. once a week for the last thirty years, you probably would be bored by some of the “challenges” here, like playing level 3-3 with all the platforms invisible.  See though, I don’t have every nuisance of these games committed to memory, and probably for that reason, this could very well end up being my Game of the Year.  So a word of advice to the younger Nintendo fanboys out there: don’t schedule a monthly play-through of New Super Mario Bros. or Pikmin 3, or else when Wii U Remix comes out in 2043 for the Nintendo Wii UeuPrince logo.svgmI3, you’ll be sorry.

NES Remix LogoNES Remix was developed by Nintendo

Seal of Approval Large$14.99 said “the game just fucking came out, so stop talking about sequels already you annoying fucking fanboys” in the making of this review.

NES Remix is Chick-Approved, but not remotely Leaderboard eligible (non-Indie)

Mutant Mudds Deluxe

Warning: anyone born before 1987 will hate me for this review.  That’s because Mutant Mudds Deluxe seems to bask in the rule that anything retro is good simply because it’s retro.  I don’t subscribe to that theory myself.  I happen to like neo-retro stuff.  Look at my top ten.  They’ll all cut from that same old-school cloth.  But those games all have fun hooks and entertaining gameplay.  Mutant Mudds looks the part.  In fact, it’s one of the best looking games I’ve seen done in this style since starting this blog.  I just wish the actual game matched its beautiful graphics.  It doesn’t.  It’s one of the dullest platformers I’ve come across.

Can't stress this enough: Mutant Mudds looks like it will be really fun.  But instead, it settled for "playable."

Can’t stress this enough: Mutant Mudds looks like it will be really fun. But instead, it settled for “playable.”

You’re a dude with a gun.  There are coin-things to collect and enemies to shoot.  Instead of a double-jump, you can float briefly.  The big hook is the ability to bounce off specially marked springboards that send you into the foreground or background.  Neat idea, but it seemed like something that would be better tailored for the Nintendo 3DS, which this is actually available for as well.  Also, I tweeted that the idea seemed original, but apparently it was lifted from Virtual Boy Wario Land or so my readers say.  I wouldn’t know.  I was six years old when that piece of shit game machine was released and my parents wouldn’t even let me try the store’s kiosk out of fear for my eyeballs.  And this is before I had epilepsy, mind you.  But I’m going off topic.

Mutant Mudds mostly controls fine.  Mostly.  The only times I had problems were when the game over-used disappearing/reappearing platforms.  I’ve never been a fan of those.  The weird thing is, most retro gamers I know don’t seem to be either.  They seem to be one of the prime reasons why Mega Man 2 is more beloved than the original.  In Mutant Mudds, the jumping is a bit stiff when you don’t use the Princess Peach like floating, and thus the physics don’t lend themselves well to platforms that appear and disappear quickly.  Using the floating doesn’t help much either, because it screws the timing up.  Deactivating the floating requires another press of the button, but it forces you to get stabby with the controls.  It wasn’t until a couple of hours in that I had collected enough coins to buy the extended floaty hover jump thing.  This did almost completely solve my problems with the disappearing shit.  But, by this point I had spent hours getting frustrated by them, because they’re way over-used.  It’s never so bad that it reaches hair-ripping aggravation, but it does serve to slow things down and damper what is already a pretty snore-inducing experience.

Mutant Mudds seems to hit all the platforming clichés.  There's fire.  There's ice.  There's clouds.  Actually, I never ran into an underwater level, but there were still four doors locked when I finally got bored and said "there's no hope this is going to get better."

Mutant Mudds seems to hit all the platforming clichés. There’s fire. There’s ice. There’s clouds. Actually, I never ran into an underwater level, so maybe the game didn’t quite hit a blackout on its platforming cliché bingo card.

When it comes to aesthetics, Mutant Mudd is nearly flawless.  Beautiful graphics, era-appropriate sounds and music.  It’s an extraordinarily well-produced game.  But once you get into the things that make a game fun, it just comes up empty.  Level design is very basic.  Enemies are generic and fighting them is repetitive and boring.  And that’s the prime fault of this game.  It’s visually pleasing, but unambitious.  Well produced, but safe and samey.  I’ve played games like this before.  I want to play something wild and new, but Mutant Mudds is content to stay firmly grounded in tradition.  After finishing all the basic rooms and a couple of the “mirrored” levels that are more like punisher versions of the originals, I found out I couldn’t play on until I had found X amount of hidden trinkets and doors.  Um, nah.  I’m good.  After a couple of hours, I hadn’t really had any fun at all.  I was hopeful after seeing the dimensional hook, but I was still waiting for the game to do something cool and it never came.  I’m guessing older gamers will be satisfied enough just because Mutant Mudds is a really great homage to generic “me-too” platformers from back in the day.  For me, playing through this was no less tiresome than sitting through any average 80s movie or television series where I just can’t get how you children of the Reagan era could accept this as entertainment.  Hey, don’t look at me like that, and don’t say my generation has no taste.  We’re not the ones who made David Hasselhoff a star.  That was you guys.

Mutant Mudds logoMutant Mudds Deluxe was developed by Renegade Kid

$9.99 suggests that if you must buy Mutant Mudds, you should probably get it for 3DS instead since it’s more suited for a 3D screen, plus it would have been nice to not be tethered to a TV for no reason while playing this in the making of this review.

Bit.Trip Presents Runner 2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien

First off, I have to ask what is up with that name?  Or Wii U eShop names in general it would seem.  When I picked up Bit.Trip Runner 2, I also picked up a title on sale called “Mighty Switch Force! Hyper Drive Edition.”  If one didn’t know better, they would think the eShop was compensating for a lack of girth.  The Wii U has only been out for a little while, but it the gap between releases that have looked like something I would want to play has been demoralizing.  And no, I wasn’t interested in The Cave.  Thank God for my lack of interest.  I didn’t buy it on Wii U and now I get it free this month on PlayStation Plus.  Life is sweet.  Probably would have been sweeter if I had held out for the PSN version of Bit.Trip 2 and gotten the 20% discount.

In case you haven’t noticed, I’m stalling my announcement that I haven’t actually played any games in the Bit.Trip series.  Yea, yea, I know.  What can I say?  They’re billed as “rhythm games.”  Not exactly my favorite genre.  The whole Caribbean Beats thing seems to have skipped a generation.  Possibly two generations if my parents are any indication.  I’m honestly not sure if what they do is considered dancing or some new form of mixed martial arts where the object is to break your opponent’s foot.  As it turns out, you don’t really need have a song in your heart to enjoy Bit.Trip Runner 2.  Weird that they would market it that way.  You would think they wouldn’t want to turn off people who couldn’t possible give a shit less about rhythm games.

Don't worry, a little Lyclear will take care of that.

Don’t worry, a little Lyclear will take care of that.

The idea is you’re Commander Video, a dude running in a straight line, collecting gold bars and avoiding enemies.  All stages have a set musical beat, but I typically played Runner 2 muted and I still had a pretty good time with it.  Relying completely on visual cues, I was still able to play the fairly well.  It helps that the controls are responsive and the graphics are mostly clear.  There are some times that enemies seem to bleed into the background.  Playing on a big screen doesn’t help, either.  Having your television on is completely unnecessary.  It’s yet another Wii U game that tethers you to your living room for no fucking reason at all.  If only Nintendo had put out a cheaper, more portable gaming console with a similar button layout.  I know, keep dreaming the dream, Catherine.

Every single complaint I have about Bit.Trip is tied to how shitty the Wii U Game Pad is.  I know Nintendo fanboys are still trying to convince themselves that something good might come from this mess, but come on guys.  This console is an unmitigated piece of shit.  I’ll ignore how slow it is, or how menus have load times, or how fucking cumbersome the controller is.  Why is the button layout for Bit.Trip 2 so random?  B is the jump button.  That’s just weird.  And it gets annoying too.  Everyone always reaches for the jump button to navigate menus.  Of course, B is typically “exit menu.”  Bit.Trip runner chose not to be different here.  Thus, after beating a level, I would inevitably push the wrong button and exit out of the level select screen.  A quick survey of people who bought this confirms that EVERYONE did it at least a few times.  Perhaps this is some social experiment where the guys at Gaijin Games are trying to make the entire gaming populace act like morons.  Too late guys!  Microsoft already did that.  They called it Xbox Live.

Seriously though, the layout is just not comfortable early on.  You do get used to it, I suppose.  Of course, they say people who get their arms blown off get used to that eventually too.  It doesn’t mean I’m going to play chicken with a live grenade.  Ignoring all that bullshit, the levels are well designed and the difficulty seems pretty well paced.  Bit.Trip 2 gives you a lot of different moves to memorize and perform.  I figured it would be too much to juggle.  It’s not.  In fact, I was so successful at adapting that I would sometimes, rarely, finish a stage on my first try without dying.  Not a huge accomplishment for most, granted.  For me?  I felt world conqueringly amazing.

Then I would press the wrong button and exit the stage select screen.  Those moments never last.

I thought this was a screenshot of Adventure Island when I first saw it.  No joke.

I thought this was a screenshot of Adventure Island when I first saw it. No joke.

So yea, I recommend Bit.Trip Runner 2.  It’s fun, and it’s as good an excuse as any to prevent dust from collecting on your shiny new Nintendo console.  My biggest complaint about Bit.Trip is that Wii U is the wrong machine for it.  I never wanted to play more than thirty minutes of Bit.Trip at a time before walking away.  Not in a bad way.  I just noticed after extended play-sessions that the amount of fucking up I was doing would climb dramatically.  I finished it in short bursts and enjoyed the game much more thoroughly.  I even tried to replay some of the levels to get perfect scores.  Games like this are perfectly tailored for portable devices.  There’s really no reason why I should have been shackled to a fifteen-foot radius around my television set.  The 3DS is right fucking there, and Bit.Trip doesn’t seem so graphically intensive that it just had to be done on a state of the art console like the Wii U.  And no, I couldn’t type the end of that last sentence with a straight face.

Bit Trip logoIGC_ApprovedBit.Trip Presents Runner 2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien was developed by Gaijin Games

$14.99 is proud of Gaijin Games for resisting the urge to have a stage set to the tune of the theme from Chariots of Fire in the making of this review.

Bit.Trip Runner 2 is Chick Approved.  Stay tuned tomorrow for my review of the off-brand, generic XBLIG version, Voxel Runner.

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