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Nintendo Games

Cheap Indie Games Make Wii U a Better Value 109

Posted by samzenpus
from the get-your-game-on dept.
Jon Brodkin writes "The Wii U has been out for two weeks, with most of the attention naturally focusing on the console’s tablet-y GamePad and blockbuster titles such as New Super Mario Bros. U and Assassin’s Creed 3. But $60 games aren’t the only draw on Nintendo’s new system. There are exactly five games on the Nintendo eShop for $20 or less: Nano Assault Neo, Little Inferno, Mighty Switch Force! Hyper Drive Edition, Chasing Aurora, and Trine 2: Director’s Cut. You could call most or all of these indie games, depending on your definition of an independent developer." Read below for the rest of Jon's review.
Nintendo isn’t exactly the first platform you think of for indie titles, and five games (some of which aren’t exclusive to the Wii U) won’t change that. But it’s a good start—let’s take a look at each one.

Nano Assault Neo
Price: $9.99
Developer: Shin’en Multimedia

A follow-up to last year’s Nano Assault for Nintendo 3DS, Nano Assault Neo is a Wii U exclusive that features classic dual-stick shoot-em-up gameplay. You fly a microscopic spaceship around planet-like cells infected with viruses, which of course you must destroy. The music is futuristic and mesmerizing, the landscapes colorful and the action fast-paced. Most of all, it’s fun, and well worth the $9.99 price tag.

There are 16 levels, and difficulty ramps up pretty quickly in the second and third ones. Each level comes to a satisfying conclusion: once you’ve defeated enough viruses, an exit opens, which you must reach within 30 seconds or the whole cell will explode. With both large and small enemies swarming around you, the game is hard but never really feels cheap. Agility is a must, as are the upgraded weapons and defenses you can buy between levels. The local multiplayer mode supports two players working together, and is perfect for taking on the game’s bigger challenges.

Unlike many early Wii U games, Nano Assault Neo makes good use of the touch-screen GamePad. A map on the touch-screen can be rotated to show all the enemies and coins in the level. With regard to multi-player action, the GamePad’s screen allows each player to get his or her own full-screen view. Nano Assault Neo is equally fun in single- and multi-player mode, and a steal at $10.

Little Inferno
Price: $14.99
Developer: Tomorrow Corporation

Little Inferno becomes addictive and fun before you even realize why. There is seemingly almost no point to the game. You put stuff in a fireplace, arrange it a bit, and then set the whole thing on fire.

“Little inferno is not like other games,” a narrator tells you early on. “There are no points. There is no score. You are not being timed. Just make a nice fire.”

You make fire by touching the GamePad screen with the stylus, or by pointing the Wii remote at your television screen. The experience is more fun and intuitive when you’re using a stylus on the smaller screen to control the fireplace. I can’t imagine playing Little Inferno with a PS3 or Xbox 360-style controller. (Little Inferno is also available from Steam for those who prefer mouse-and-keyboard.)

There’s no point in setting fires without stuff to burn, and Little Inferno offers up a variety: credit cards, clocks, spiders, even mini nuclear bombs. Burning stuff nets you coins to buy more stuff, but progressing through the game is only possible by burning items in the right combinations. For example, the “fireworks” combo is found by burning two types of dynamite.

Correctly identifying combos is the game’s only challenge, but the act of making fire can keep you busy. That mini-nuke provides a nice big explosion, and you can burn a school bus full of children and hear their terrifying screams (all in good fun, of course). There’s some semblance of a story, courtesy of letters you receive from a creepy girl with her own fireplace, which eventually force the protagonist to make a life-changing discovery of sorts—but War and Peace this is not.

The game seems aimed more at kids than adults, but it sucked me in for the few short hours it lasted. While you can stretch out the experience by attempting to find all 99 combos, the game’s short length and lack of anything really challenging to do makes it a little hard to recommend even at the low price tag of $14.99.

Mighty Switch Force! Hyper Drive Edition
Price: $9.99
Developer: WayForward

An upgraded port of Mighty Switch Force! for the 3DS, this 2D platformer puts you in the shoes of cyborg police officer Patricia Wagon, a cheerleader-esque protagonist with an annoying voice that you’ll just have to do your best to ignore. Each level requires “Patty Wagon” to catch five escaped criminals and then find an exit. You come equipped with a gun to blast enemies, but the challenge lies in using Wagon’s physics-defying ability to turn solid objects into thin air and vice versa.

Changing the physical nature of objects allows passage through blocked off areas, as well as access to booster mechanisms that fling Wagon from one part of the level to another. If one booster is solid while another is transparent, timing the matter-manipulation correctly allows you to shoot yourself from one booster to another (and then another) until you reach the goal. Combined with the matter-manipulation technique, the boosters can be used to send bomb-carrying enemies to new parts of the level in order to blast away blockages.

The puzzles aren’t difficult to figure out. What’s hard is executing them with the proper timing. The GamePad screen doesn’t offer much in addition to the TV, but the ability to play either screen may come in handy if another member of your household is using the television to watch something soul-sucking. All in all, Mighty Switch Force! is fun, but not a must-have game.

Chasing Aurora
Price: $14.99
Developer: Broken Rules

From the maker of popular indie title And Yet It Moves, Chasing Aurora is an odd game that can’t be properly judged until you’ve played its multi-player mode. Even then, it’s hard to figure out the appeal.

Whether playing by yourself or with friends, you control an origami bird that flies through a paper-like world to the tune of a jazzy guitar riff. In single-player mode, you fly through a racecourse and try to hit a bunch of targets, but that proves too repetitive to keep one’s interest for more than a few minutes. Things get more stimulating in the local multiplayer mode, in which one player controls the GamePad and up to four friends play with Wii remotes (holding them sideways like a traditional Nintendo controller, which isn’t the most comfortable way to play a video game).

The object of the game changes from level of level. In one typical scenario, the players with Wii remotes chase the player with the GamePad. The remote-using players view the TV screen while the GamePad player gets a private view of the racecourse on the handheld. You can flap your wings and perform dive-bombs, but judging the wind’s direction in each course ultimately plays a bigger role in properly controlling your bird.

I couldn’t find anything appealing about the game in single-player mode. I invited friends over to play the multiplayer mode, which has gotten some good reviews, but even that novelty wore thin quickly. The music and graphics are undeniably stylish, but fighting through the wind to chase some birds around just isn’t fun enough to compete with any of the other games on this list. After playing a few rounds of Chasing Aurora, we switched to Nano Assault Neo for a deeper and more exciting time.

Trine 2: Director’s Cut
Price: $19.99
Developer: Frozenbyte

There’s a good chance you’ve already played the year-old Trine 2 on Windows, Mac, Linux, PS3, or Xbox 360, so there isn’t much to say except that it plays perfectly well on the Wii U. The biggest opportunity for FrozenByte to add something specific to the Wii U’s capabilities was the GamePad’s touch screen, of course, but it offers little except an additional method to switch weapons and characters.

The “Director’s Cut” designation denotes exclusive Wii U content in the form of extra levels and a new multiplayer mode called “Magic Mayhem,” which, once the latter’s actually released, will supposedly take advantage of the GamePad’s touch interface. While Trine 2’s pre-existing multiplayer mode made it onto the Wii U, Magic Mayhem wasn’t ready when the game launched and no release date has been announced.

Trine 2 is a fantastic fantasy-themed puzzle platformer and well worth $20 if you’ve never played it. Visuals on the Wii U are lush, and wouldn’t have been possible on the standard-definition Wii. That means waiting was the right decision—but since the game already exists on every major platform, it’s not that much of a differentiator for Nintendo’s new console.

How much indie is enough indie?

Indie games on the Wii U are definitely something that goes into the “pros” column when evaluating whether the console is worth the price tag. But with only a few indie games so far, it’s hard to say how much they tip the scales in favor of buying the system. Over time, we can only hope the catalog will become significantly more robust.
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Cheap Indie Games Make Wii U a Better Value

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  • Uhm... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HerculesMO (693085) on Monday December 03, 2012 @01:12PM (#42171119)

    The XBox marketplace has had stuff like this for some time. I don't see how it's a big boon to Wii U when it's been done before.

    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by gr3yh47 (2023310)
      Because Wii U does it RIGHT by allowing devs to set their own prices and by actually promoting the content and not require some BS yearly subscription to be able to buy/play indie titles... and not forcing you to be connected to the internet to play them... and, well, a bunch of things they are doing right
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Because Wii U does it RIGHT by allowing devs to set their own prices and by actually promoting the content and not require some BS yearly subscription to be able to buy/play indie titles... and not forcing you to be connected to the internet to play them... and, well, a bunch of things they are doing right

        Wrong, misinformed and just plain short sighted.

        Steam has the largest selection of indie games anywhere and its free to use and has frequent sales on games. Sure you need to be online, but thats just to access your account information for security purposes.

        Android phones and tablets have thousands of indie games for free, youre not required to be online unless it is a online game, amazon gives away full free indie games everyday on the amazon android marketplace. Using the google play store only requires yo

        • by gr3yh47 (2023310)
          hey ANONYMOUS COWARD.... XBLIG USED to require gold. sorry i didnt notice the change, whenever it happened. The rest of the stuff you spewed had nothing to do with what i said and didnt address the rest of my points but way to be an incredible dick about it
        • Ps3 and vita [...] have tons of indie games

          According to the Developer License Request Form at scedev.net, developers applying for a license to develop for these platforms must provide proof of income and expenditures, number of employees, location of offices, prior commercial games that have been reviewed by the mainstream gaming press ("Prior development experience [...] game titles, platforms, review scores"), product plans over the next 24 months, and the resume of each key staff member. This is a lot more information and a lot more implied exper

      • Doing it right?

        Xbox has the indie zone which lets anyone with a PC develop games for the Xbox and publish them easily. You can do it for free.

        Wii-U requires an unknown dev kit and Nintendo's permission to publish your game.

        Xbox Indie Zone lets you post free or pay games. You can price your games however you please.

        Wii-U requires an unknown/private agreement with Nintendo to publish your title in their store.

        Xbox lets you download to your console, play offline and buy games with a free silver account. S

        • by gr3yh47 (2023310)
          "Xbox lets you download to your console, play offline and buy games with a free silver account. Sooo... you're full of shit." you can't play indie games offline "Xbox Indie Zone lets you post free or pay games. You can price your games however you please" I've never seen an XBLIG that wasnt $1, $5, or $3
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Because NintenDO what MicrosofDON'T.

      If you need more of an explanation that that, you might as well check yourself into a mental institution.

    • Because Nintendo won't push them to the back in favour for big names in film and TV. Oh and advertising.
    • Re:Uhm... (Score:4, Informative)

      by stephanruby (542433) on Monday December 03, 2012 @02:28PM (#42172065)

      The XBox marketplace has had stuff like this for some time. I don't see how it's a big boon to Wii U when it's been done before.

      And hopefully, the XBox marketplace is cheaper to participate in.

      With the Wii, the last time I checked, it was $20,000 just to participate (assuming they'd accept you as a developer). I don't remember if this was a one-time fee, or a yearly subscription. Either way, seeing the price tag immediately put me off.

      Most likely, these developers probably also had an extra $5,000 to pay a PR person, so they could spin the story enough -- so that they could be featured on Slashdot and other publications.

      With these kinds of prices, no wonder even the non-console iOS and Android games are encroaching on their turf more and more.

      • by tepples (727027)

        no wonder even the non-console iOS and Android games are encroaching on their turf more and more.

        How would, say, a platformer or fighting game work on iOS or Android? No iPhone or iPad model has a built-in gamepad, and only one Android phone that I'm aware of has ever come with a slide-out gamepad. I tried playing a buttons-style game on my Nexus 7 (Android tablet made by ASUS) using a virtual gamepad, but I kept missing the on-screen buttons because a flat sheet of Fit Glass provides no feedback about where my thumbs are relative to the touchable areas. What's the best platform for buttons-style games

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          What's the best platform for buttons-style games from developers who can't quite afford Sony/Nintendo's pound of flesh just yet?

          A d-pad and buttons on a touch screen? Daft. Two gesture areas? Now we're thinking. Either way you need multitouch.

          • by tepples (727027)

            Two gesture areas? Now we're thinking.

            I have a Nexus 7. Would you recommend some free or free-trial games on Google Play Store that show the right way to control a character in a platformer?

            • by drinkypoo (153816)

              I have a Nexus 7. Would you recommend some free or free-trial games on Google Play Store that show the right way to control a character in a platformer?

              Nope. I don't even have a color tablet. But just because it hasn't been done doesn't mean it can't be done

            • I have a Nexus 7. Would you recommend some free or free-trial games on Google Play Store that show the right way to control a character in a platformer?

              I thought the entire point of the Wii was the fact that it didn't just use a d-pad and a joystick, but that it could tell some of the players' physical movements as well.

              In any case, I agree with your basic premise. Not all console games transfer well to the tablet format. Some do, but many do not. And the same goes the other way around as well. Some phone games or tablet games don't transfer well to the console format either.

              If you're on a Nexus 7, you shouldn't focus on platformer games so much, and inst

              • by tepples (727027)

                If you're on a Nexus 7, you shouldn't focus on platformer games so much, and instead try games like

                "Widen out. Stop liking the genre you like, and start liking other genres." I already did that once (from block puzzles to platformers) when one company decided to go apedung on fan works. But consider the developer's side: once someone has developed a platformer game for the PC, to which platform should he port it to release it?

                Words with Friends

                Isn't that only for Facebook members? By the time Facebook came out, I had already graduated and lost my .edu.

  • How about a new sequel to Rez?

    I know there is an HD version on one of the other consoles, but it's not enought of a reason to buy one of the sony or MS monstrosities.

  • Is there a homebrew channel on the Wii U yet?

    • Did the homebrew channel on the Wii result in any exclusive content that provided enjoyment for more than an hour or two? What were the stand out original games on the Wii homebrew channel? Not trying to troll. List out the achievements of Homebrew on the Wii below.
      • by Nushio (951488)

        WiiMC is the one reason I keep the homebrew channel installed in my Wii. Well, that and the NES/SNES/GBA Emulators. :P

        • by synapse7 (1075571)
          I also use WiiMC to play media from a samba server as well as gives it the ability to play DVD discs.

          I wonder if the Wii U can play media from a samba server.
      • I will start with one. A homebrew channel provides hours of enjoyments for those who love to create things. It is a enjoyable in itself. Like a Paint on Windows or Garage Band on a Mac. The output is not always important. The journey can provide joy.
      • by Hatta (162192)

        Why does it matter? Nothing was ever accomplished by climbing Mt. Everest, yet few people questioned the worthiness of Hillary's expedition. Why hack the Wii U? Because it's there.

      • There was quite a fun Tower Defence game on it which I burned quite a few hours on.

        The pity is its difficult to spend an awful lot of time working on a good game for homebrew when a tiny percentage of consoles can ever play it.

      • What were the stand out original games on the Wii homebrew channel?

        Streemerz [fauxgame.com] by Faux Game Company and Mr. Podunkian, for one. True, it's a port of a Flash game to NES that runs in FCE Ultra GX, but it's still one of the most fun games that can be run in the homebrew environment.

    • by Nyder (754090)

      Is there a homebrew channel on the Wii U yet?

      Yes and no.

      You can get the homebrew channel installed, but it's in Wii mode, not Wii U mode.

      So yes, you can play the emulators and programs made for the Wii, in Wii mode. Not sure what that allows in usage of Wii U stuff, as I don't own a Wii U. (yet, hopefully by next xmas).

      http://wiiuhacks.com/wii-u-running-homebrew-channel/ [wiiuhacks.com]

  • by i kan reed (749298) on Monday December 03, 2012 @01:41PM (#42171465) Homepage Journal

    That's nice for those developers, but as a programmer myself, I want to be able to write code for the machine. Where does one get the tools for that without paying a fortune for a developer's kit?

    • by Alzheimers (467217) on Monday December 03, 2012 @01:56PM (#42171671)

      This. Until it's as easy as downloading XNA, I don't want to hear about how "Indie Friendly" the Wii-U is.

      Sorry, Unity doesn't count. That's like saying I can program in Linux because I know Flash and Flash runs Everywhere, right?

      • I already code in XNA for fun. It's not a bad framework, but I thought given the subject and summary that something similar might be available for the Wii U, but it sounds like it's nonsense.

        • Same here. [youtube.com]

          I saw XNA as a great opportunity to teach myself C# and have some fun in the process, and I'm still working on a pet project that's probably too ambitious for it's own good.

          I would certainly love to take a hobbyist's journey through coding some Pong or Breakout clones with the Wii U hardware, and possibly go even further, but not if the barrier to entry is too high.

    • by Nyder (754090)

      That's nice for those developers, but as a programmer myself, I want to be able to write code for the machine. Where does one get the tools for that without paying a fortune for a developer's kit?

      Well, currently anything you make for the Wii will run on the Wii U in Wii mode. Since the Wii and the Wii U use the same cpu instruction set, upgrading your code for Wii U mode when it becomes hacked will probably be relatively easy, much like some of the homebrew (emulators mostly) have gamecube & wii versions.

      So you can start programming for the Wii to get your practice in, and hopefully in a few months the Wii U mode will be hacked.

      You can google the software you need for it. But wiibrew.org is

  • There've always been some pretty cool games on the Wii Shop Channel (along w/ shovelware like SPOGS Racing).

    I'm still not seeing anything which I can use to justify _my_ purchase of a Wii U --- nothing yet like my favourite games:

    - Red Steel 2
    - Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
    - Xenoblade Chronicles
    - The Last Story

    I want a full-fledged RPG w/ an expansive world which allows for exploration (I'd be willing to pay for expansions as DLC) and which uses motion controls as well as Sk

    • I'm still not seeing anything

      "Still"? As in, since the launch of the Wii U?

  • by tuppe666 (904118) on Monday December 03, 2012 @02:04PM (#42171803)

    I don't want cheap. I want good value. I don't but cheap at any price! A quick look through the games I would argue that they are not what I would call cheap or particularly good value. They are great games...but the prices need to drop before this thinly veiled advertising has some credence.

  • by Requiem18th (742389) on Monday December 03, 2012 @02:05PM (#42171813)

    It's not the games, it's the company. What good is it that I can play indie games if I have to play them on a console that is the very definition of proprietary? That's why I'm getting an Ouya.

    • It's not the games, it's the company. What good is it that I can play indie games if I have to play them on a console that is the very definition of proprietary? That's why I'm getting an Ouya.

      Its yet to e determined if Ouya will be around long enough and make money. What good is "Open" if there's not enough people to build a market share with it so they company can be profitable and after all it all about profit. I'm pretty sure the average joe/jane don't care as long as the system has content they can consume.

    • by ikaruga (2725453)
      Do you even need an Ouya. Just get an old Tegra 3 tablet and plug it in the TV.
      • This, too. And no, I don't care about the average joe noted above. The average joe didn't care about linux, doesn't care about programming languages, and if he is american, probably doesn't care about i18n, by passing opressive regimes, or any sort of customization or innovation. In short, I'm not related to this "average joe".

  • by im_thatoneguy (819432) on Monday December 03, 2012 @02:20PM (#42172005)

    5 whole games! This will really set the Wii-U apart from the Xbox Indie Marketplace, Sony Store, App Store and Google Play!

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      5 whole games! This will really set the Wii-U apart from the Xbox Indie Marketplace, Sony Store, App Store and Google Play!

      at pricing 9.99$ to 19.99$.

      REAL FUCKING CHEAP. and anyways - all of these companies apparently have some kind of relationship with Nintendo(more than here's a hundred bucks so publish our stuff on your store) so strictly speaking none of them are even independent in the usual console/phone sense and more aptly speaking none of the titles can even be truly indie since part of the money goes to Nintendo and Nintendo chooses what gets through so what the fuck.

      seriously why the fuck are these articles getting p

  • by Myrv (305480) on Monday December 03, 2012 @03:52PM (#42172815)

    Just like the Wii, the Wii U locks all downloadable content to the console, not the account. So if your console breaks, is lost, or stolen have fun re-buying all that content. You also can't use your network ID on another console. Want to play that game you bought on your friends machine? Tough, not possible.

    This is the main reason I refuse to buy any more Nintendo consoles. It's also the number one reason I regret buying my Wii as well. In my mind, until they fix this, online content actually reduces the value of a Nintendo console.

    • You didn't "buy" the game in the same way that one buys a banana. You licensed it with a specific set of terms and conditions that you agreed to at the time of license. If you don't like those conditions, then don't press (or you shouldnt have pressed) the "buy now" button. You're more than welcome to com plan about it and tell others that you feel that the value proposition offered to you by Wii U is in your opinion lacking, but what is not right is to poison the conversation by throwing in words that b

  • A lot of these so called "indie" developers aren't all that indie. They've often been doing GBC/GBA/DS development or BREW/J2ME dev for pre iOS/Android phones for years. These are established successful businesses, using "indie" as a marketing gimmick for "street cred"

  • These games don't use the Wii-U hardware features, and are probably cheaper on PC.
  • Did anybody check if old Wii games (eg.Zelda twilight princess), have better resolution on Wii U?

    It's just vector graphics so theoretically it should be able to display the same stuff on 1080p instead of 576i resolution.
  • Just because they are cheap, that doesn't mean they are indie. All the games in this article are made by self-publishing registered companies. Saying they're indie it's like saying Nintendo is indie just because it also a company that self-publishes. An indie developer is literally independent of everything. Just a few enthusiasts that make games on their free time and release on services like Steam, Xbox Indies, Playstation Mobile or even iOS Appstore and Google Play, or do like Zun(creator of the Touhou s

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