Ghost Slayer (WiiWare)
This game seemed a bit dodgy at first: sword fighting with ghosts? In fact the only reason I bought it was because I thought I was going to review it for Nintendo Life, but that turned out not to be the case. That wasn’t a big deal because it’s actually a decent little game; certainly as much fun as the fencing games in Wii Sports Resort. The artwork is nice, with a main character that looks like he just walked out of the deserts of Outer Mongolia and creepy ghosts in a spooky forest.
The controls work well with good use of Wii Motion Plus. I also played without it and the developer’s solution seemed a decent one. You hold B and tilt the remote to parry blows with and without Motion Plus, but if you’re sans the peripheral you also use B to set the angle of your blade for attacking (just release the button and your blade will stay angled), rather than the game attempting to read the direction of your swing. Whilst it might seem somewhat clumsy, in fact the results are good because you don’t get any false direction reading and I had no problem playing the game either way – though I preferred the nearly button-free Motion Plus play.
There’s a number of levels and difficulties to work through with best score/times saved for future score beating and more swords to unlock, each with their own unique special attacks. If you like sword fighting games this isn’t a bad one for only 600 Points, though as of this writing it’s only available in North America.
Wii Sports Resort
I’m surprised I haven’t written anything up on this previously as I’ve had it for several months now. I was originally uninterested, then I got sucked in by the hype and then other games came up and I read reviews and lost interest again. Around Xmas time I found myself with GAME credit and nothing to spend it on and the GAME on Sauchiehall Street happened to have a like-new copy – complete with box – for less than the online price, so I decided to punt. Other than it turning out to have been owned by a smoker (thus requiring me to ditch the silicone jacket and buy a new one on Ebay after failing to purge the stench of tobacco), I found myself pleasantly surprised.
The Motion Plus peripheral works great, though as many have noted elsewhere on the internet it’s not needed for most Wii games and isn’t really fixing something that was broken. Playing games that utilise it is quite a lot of fun, with fencing, table tennis, bowling and plane flying being worth the price of admission alone.
The overall Wuhu Island theme works great and makes playing Wii Fit Plus even more fun since you can see the Island from different angles in both titles. There’s a lot of variety on offer and whilst not all events are that successful, so many work well that it would be foolish to think that Wii Sports is the end-all-be-all of sports gaming on the Wii. Nintendo have really set the bar with this collection – nicely done!
Red Steel 2
I have no knowledge or experience of the first Red Steel game beyond thinking the original ads were funny in my pre-Wii-owning days. A guy sitting on his sofa pretending to swing a sword followed by the tagline: “Only on Wii” which made me think “Only ennui” – seriously, was that irony intentional? Who were the marketers that came up with that?
Fast-forward four years later and we have a “sequel” which has nothing to do with the first game and is the first 3rd-party game that requires Wii Motion Plus – even going so far as to have a pack-in version bundled with it (that’s the version I bought just so I could have two Motion Plus attachments). Needless to say it’s a gamble for Ubisoft, but one that seems to have paid off.
The controls are excellent, using both the direction and force measurement aspects of the Motion Plus attachment to good effect. I really enjoy doing big sweeping sword movements for maximum impact – so much so that I try to limit my play time just to ensure I’m not straining my arm overmuch! Shooting your gun is also well-implemented, with a simple aiming of the remote and press of the B button to fire. Honestly I don’t even think I could play a game like this with a mouse and keyboard any more, much less use a joypad after getting used to the intuitive and natural Wii controls that nicely mimic holding a firearm.
Of course a game isn’t the sum of its controls and thankfully from end-to-end Ubisoft have delivered an experience that really does live up to the hype. The game world is gorgeous with excellent use of animation and lots of little details to take in. The cell-shaded look gives it all a nice anime feel and the character facial animation combined with first-rate voice acting in cut scenes roots you firmly in the game world.
Whilst some might think the game is a bit on the short side at around the ten hour mark, the fast-paced mix of exploration and combat with swordsmen and ninjas of various stripes using fantastic over-the-top special attacks invites multiple replays on its own. I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: a great 10-15 hour game is far better than a good 25 hour+ game which is needlessly padded out. It’s not the duration, but the quality of the entertainment folks!
I’d love to see any kind of follow-up set in Caldera and the Red West, whether another first-person action game, an RPG, whatever – if Ubisoft can put the same amount of care and attention into other projects like this then I’ll be first in the queue to slap down my hard-earned. This game really cements Ubisoft’s reputation on the Wii for me – good show fellas!