The Game Guy


The following review has been updated as of 11/21/14 to include a review of online features in "Super Smash Bros." for Wii U. Online features went live at 12:00 a.m. on 11/21/2014.


Mario jumps on turtles. Donkey Kong collects bananas and plays bongos. Samus hunts space pirates, and Link is a sword-swinging adventurer. What would happen if you threw this ragtag group into a battle arena along with the rest of Nintendo’s deep bench of characters? The result is the “Super Smash Bros.” series; one of the company’s most successful and beloved franchises.

It has been almost seven years since the release of “Super Smash Bros. Brawl” for the Wii. The new “Super Smash Bros.” for Wii U has some serious hype to live up to, and it’s never easy for a game like this one to please its broad audience. It has to wear many different hats. A “Smash Bros.” title has to please the competitive crowd, while being a fun party game for friends. It also has to attract newcomers to the series. There are few games that can pull off this tall task, but “Super Smash Bros.” for Wii U just might be up for the challenge.

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LBPcoverWhat is the defining characteristic of the “LittleBigPlanet” series? Most would say it’s the creativity that the game unlocks, or the ability to let imagination run free. While that’s not wrong, I would argue in favor of its charm. “LittleBigPlanet” has always had an intoxicating charm to its stitchwork worlds and characters that keep an everpresent smile plastered on my face.


The fourth game in the series, “LittleBigPlanet 3,” is no exception. New developers to the series xDEV and Sumo Digital have kept that charm intact while adding some new wrinkles to the story and gameplay. The series’ structure of running, jumping and typical tomfoolery is all there. While I still believe the Vita’s “LittleBigPlanet” is still the best game in the series, “LittleBigPlanet 3” is a close runner up.

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The following review has been updated to include impressions of “Halo: The Master Chief Collection’s” online matchmaking offerings. Find the update at the end of the review.



What comes to mind when you think of “Halo”? It probably depends on which “Halo” game you’re considering. Each core game of the series ruled its own era, and influenced the entire video game medium in different ways.


“Halo: Combat Evolved” proved that it was possible to bring a high level competitive shooter to consoles in a time ruled by PCs. “Halo 2” defined Microsoft’s Xbox Live service as one of the premier gaming services available. “Halo 3” added to that groundwork and helped define the Xbox 360 era.


It’s hard to find another series that was or is as culturally significant as “Halo.” To celebrate its long list of achievements, Microsoft and 343 Industries are releasing an unprecedented compilation of all four games featuring the legendary protagonist, Master Chief, on the Xbox One. Since this is new hardware handling old games, each game received its own facelift for the new generation.

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It happens every year at this time. In a span of three months that make up the holiday season, the video game industry has its biggest and busiest time of year. Publishers try to cram their heavy hitters into release dates between October and December. Unless you have an endless supply of cash lying around, you have to make the tough decision of what games deserve your money.

This year seems like a landmark holiday season with releases with huge titles like “Super Smash Bros.” for Wii U, and “Sunset Overdrive” and “Halo: The Master Chief Collection” for the Xbox One. But it’s easy to forget just how packed every fourth quarter can be. I looked back to 2010 and each year in between to see what major releases hit shelves between October and December. Which year took the biggest toll on your wallet?

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Evolvecover2K’s and Turtle Rock’s “Evolve” Big Alpha arrived last week giving the public its first hands-on look at the team’s upcoming big idea. The arena-style game pits four hunters against one player-controlled monster. The gameplay is basically a boss fight for four players, and a game of cat and mouse as the monster.


Since this is just an alpha that contains early gameplay, everything experienced should be taken with a big grain of salt. Things will be changed and improved. Weapons and classes will be balanced. A lot will happen between now and the game’s February release date. Now that the disclaimer is out of the way, let’s dissect all the action from the “Evolve” alpha.

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The Evil Within boxartThe final release of “The Evil Within” completes the roller coaster ride I’ve had with the title. In a twist more shocking than anything the story could’ve provided, the ride ended on a high peak rather than the expected ghastly drop. My expectation couldn’t have been lower for this game following a PAX East demo that was, without exaggeration, the worst live demo that I have ever witnessed. Everything about “The Evil Within” seemed like it took everything good about modern game world building, threw it out the window and instead replicated a game from the early 2000’s.

Thankfully, “The Evil Within” stands as a chief example that previews and demos are not indicative of the final product. It didn’t have to do much to exceed my expectations, but I wasn’t prepared for “The Evil Within” to be what “Resident Evil” should have been for the past six years. “The Evil Within” is the second coming of “Resident Evil 4.”

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SDReview note: I’m not going to get into the story, mechanics and gameplay in this review. For that information, consult my original review of “Sleeping Dogs,” which can be found here. The review of the “Definitive Edition” will observe the game as a bigger picture.

“Sleeping Dogs” was a sleeper hit of 2012 that took open-world, “Grand Theft Auto”-style gameplay to the streets of Hong Kong. The game borrowed driving and exploration from the popular Rockstar franchise, but free flowing combat and a rich RPG leveling system made it stand out on its own.

Now it receives the “Definitive Edition” treatment like so many other titles have in 2014. This new version contains a few new things to collect and see around Hong Kong, and has updated graphics for the PS4 and Xbox One. But the burning question that looms over any remake also applies to this new “Sleeping Dogs” package. Is it worth buying again?

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(6:36) Now that's officially a wrap. This looks like quite the package, but it makes the 3DS version look quite watered down. Who's going to even want to play the 3DS version once the superior Wii U version is available? 

(6:30) That's a wrap on a ton of information on Smash Bros. for Wii U. This might have been the most informative Nintendo Direct ever. This game looks like it has a ton of content that will make the Wii U a must-buy. One last thing: The koopa arma will be in the cast. Looks like the same lineup that's in Mario Kart. They look like they behave the same way as Bowser Jr. Oh we're not done yet! Mewtwo is back! It's a free download if you have the 3DS version of hte game. Mewtwo won't be available at launch. Coming Spring of 2015. 

(6:29) Stage creatue looks like it's up last. Custom stage building can be made and shared with others. I imagine people will come up with better stages than the original lineup. 

(6:26) Online Mode gets the focus. Get a USB-Ethernet adapter if you don't have a good wifi connection. Two players can play on the same team online. That's terrific and will be used often, I believe. Tournaments can be made online, similar to Mario Kart 8. Gamepad can mirror screen or can show damage taken by players. The Gamepad will also allow users to paint on photos that are taken on the game. People are going to come up with amazing photos with this feature. Voice chat confirmed! You'll be able to talk with friends in the game. There is no voice chat in the matches, only before and after. Bleh. It's just like Mario Kart 8. That's a shame. Make sure all your friends have Skype! 

(6:24) Masterpieces Mode is being shown now. You'll be able to play demos of old games that feature the original characters. This mode was in Brawl, and I'm glad it's returning. There are dozens of classic games that can be played in this mode. Amiibo system is on display now. Amiibo can be scanned, which brings the character to life in the game. Amiibo characters, or Figure Characters, will level up and become stronger based on experience. This will certainly be banned in competitive play. 

(6:20) Any and all Nintendo controllers can be used in this game from the 3DS to the Wiimote. Classic controller and pro controllers are also compatible. GameCube controllers can be used, but we already knew that. Oh nice! There will be a special Smash Bros. GameCube controller coming out. Progress like trophies, costumes and equipment will carry over from the 3DS version once the systems are linked. That's a nice touch. Tons of trophies are being shown now. Wii U will have many more trophies. Final Smash trophies return from previous Smash Bros. All Star mode will unlock Final Smash trophies. Trophy photo mode is going to be in the game. You can arrange the trophies how you like and then snap a picture. People will be able to get pretty creative with this mode. Trophy Rush will be able to be played with multiple people. That's neat. 

(6:17) Stadium Events return for target blast and sandbag. This can be played with 4 players. Multiman Melee can be played with four players, too. That will be fun! Special Orders is another mode that is being introduced. Here you'll face Master Hand and Crazy Hand. They will have special rules and rewards for you. You'll have to complete the battles to get the rewards. These look sort of bizzare. Not sure how these differ from events. Master Core returns from the 3DS version. He should look pretty nifty on the Wii U. Master Fortress is another form of Master Core only in the Wii U version. 

(6:12) Modes are getting the focus now. The classic mode will be different. Paths will be determined by how well you did in the previous match. Difficulty settings are the same as the 3DS. Higher difficulty will give you more coins. This mode can be played with 2 players. Completion will unlock a nice video, like it has in the past. All-Star mode is reversed from the 3DS version. You fight the newer characters first and work your way backwards. You can also play this with 2 players. Event Mode is new. There's a grid of matches that you'll have to get through. You'll have to win in a specific way, like Event Mode has been in the past. Smash Tour mode replaces Smash Run mode. That's nice because I hated Smash Run mode. This is the game board mode that was revealed earlier this week. This mode needs more explanation. 4 players are on a board a la Mario Party. You'll get powerups and items throughout the game. Still not exactly sure how it will all work. You'll face off at the end of the game, but your stock will be determined by how well you did. Pretty confusing. 

(6:10) Item frequency is fact 11. You can set items on and off, plus change how frequently each item is seen. This is a nice touch. I've completly lost count of the fact numbers. They're jumping around like crazy. They're addressing music now. You can pick and choose each song that you like and eliminate the ones you don't like. You can also set how often you'll hear these songs in stages. Songs and stages can be mixed and matched. Unlocking music is determined by finding CDs in the stage. Challenges are similar to the 3DS version, but all challenges are laid out on one screen. 

(6:07) Patelunia Help will give advice for noobs. That was fact 5. Fact 6 is that Metal Face will be in the game. He will come in from the background and cause trouble. He can be KO'd. Ridley is another one of those bosses who will interfere. Think of it like a supercharged assist trophy. That's fact 7. He can become Meta-Ridley. He looks ridiculously awesome to fight with. Fact 8: Battle Coins. Standard time and stock matches are avaialble, but coin battles are coming back! This returns from Melee. Stamina matches return, as well. This is fact 9. I always liked Stamina matchs. Special Matches are fact 10. There are way more variables than there have ever been. 

(6:03) Fact 4: Danger Zones. Stages will have danger zones that will be an instant KO if you hit it with more than 100% damage. Fact 5: Dual-zone hijinks. You will be able to jump into the background in certain stages. Like DK stages will have a background fighting area and a foreground. Fact 6: More stages. The video is running through the available stages. First it's going through the same stages as the 3DS version. Now it's getting into the others. They're flashing so fast that it'll take multiple viewings to get them all. There are a ton, a mix of old and new. Miiverse stage won't be ready when the game releases. Will release post-launch. Miiverse messages will appear in the background. 

(6:00) The stream has officially started. Let's see what these 50 facts will be. A glorious montage of the action has begun. Fact 1: 40 unique characters to start from the beginning. There will be fewer characters to unlock. More will be ready at launch. Face 2: Resolution is better on the Wii U. NO KIDDING. Fact 3: 8-players can play at the same time! Bigger stages will be available, so 8-player smash won't be so ridiculous. A larger version of Battlefield will be one of those stages. 

(5:59) The video stream should be starting any minutes. This feels like an Apple announcement. I'm waiting for the lights to dim.  

(5:54) We are a little less than ten minutes away from the start of the Nintendo Direct. Any last minute bold predictions? The stream will be about 35 minutes, and will feature 50 facts about the game for Wii U. 


Every day inches closer to the release of “Super Smash Bros.” for Wii U. Today’s Nintendo Direct presentation will unveil more juicy details about the brawler to undoubtedly raise hype levels into the stratosphere.


The “Super Smash Bros.” Nintendo Direct begins at 6:00 p.m. EST. If you can’t watch the livestream, bookmark this post as I’ll be following along and keeping track of the event via liveblog. I’ll be posting live announcements and thoughts on the show. See you at 6:00!





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