The Nintendo 2DS – Review

The Japanese gaming gods, Nintendo, have recently added a new member to the, already

Nintendo 2DS

Nintendo 2DS – Perfect fit for little hands.

expansive, DS family – their range of handheld gaming gadgets, for Mario on the move.

Joining the ranks of the 3DS and 3DS XL is the Nintendo 2DS.  The 2DS joins six other products in the range, so who’s it for? With a smaller screen, fewer features and an unpopular design that does away with the trademark laptop-style folding action, it may be difficult to see the appeal of the newest model.

However, there’s a solid reason behind each revision, setting sights on the youngest audience. It’s flat, like a dual screen tablet, improving the structural strength in clumsier hands (the hinge was often the first breaking point on a long-serving DS). The glasses-free 3D has been removed to lower costs of manufacture and this is no big loss. Although technically impressive, there are only a handful of games in which the added depth really alters the experience. Nintendo actually warn against under-7s using the feature as it may be damaging to eyes that are still developing.

The whole look and feel of the 2DS is one of kid-friendly robustness that comes in red and white or blue and black. It’s a kind of my-first-Nintendo that can play the entire library of 3DS game cartridges and downloadable apps (albeit without the 3D effects). In fact, the technical specs inside the tough, new exterior are near enough identical to its bigger brothers.

Such compatibility means the 2DS is your cheapest and most accessible gateway to the fantastic back catalogue of DS games. It’s a library bursting with fun games that are often suitable for all ages.  New Super Mario Bros. 2, Pokemon X & Y, and Animal Crossing: New Leaf are a few of our favourites.

Even without the significant price drop, the Nintendo 2DS is the best choice for children under twelve who are desperate to upgrade their gaming from Mum and Dad’s tablet.

The All New LEGO Marvel Super Heroes and an Old Classic Disney Universe

This Christmas, gaming headlines will be dominated by the big new consoles and their big new games. It’s an exciting time for the serious, hardcore gamer but the choice of games on offer is decidedly un-friendly to kids and families, mostly by virtue of taking themselves too seriously. It’s good to know then, that there’s life the old machines yet.

We’ve got two great games to look at, a hot new release and one you might’ve missed, both of which offer hours of adventuring fun on your XBOX 360, PS3 or Wii U (amongst others).

After this year’s Disney Infinity (a contender to the Skylanders’ throne but still unproven), we decided to take a look back at a simpler time. A time before you had to have dozens of (pricey!) plastic toys to play a  game.

Disney Universe in the Video Game Party Wagon

In 2011 saw the quiet release of Disney Universe. Mixing inspiration from games like Little Big Planet, the LEGO series and even Marvel: Ultimate Alliance, with their most popular Disney film franchises, it’s a game squarely aimed at the seven-to-eleven crowd. But that’s not to say it’s just for young lads.

Like the best Disney films, this is one for everyone; girls and boys, Mums and Dads. It’s a good job then that Disney Universe lets four players team up and take on the bad guys together. Adding and removing new players when you’re in the swing of things is tricky and it’s starting show it’s age a little in the looks department but these are minor quibbles. For a little over a tenner in most places, this is a great value package that deserves a second look.

Fast forward to the present day and we’re going hands-on with the latest instalment in the always-popular LEGO game saga, LEGO Marvel Super Heroes.

Lego Marvel Super Heroes in the Game Wagon

Each new addition to the franchise, since its inception in 2005 with LEGO Star Wars: The Video Game, has applied the formula of co-operation, collection and comedy to a huge range of pop-culture icons. From Harry Potter to Lord of the Rings, the emphasis has always been on exploring the subject matter from a little, yellow, plastic perspective.

Marvel Super Heroes changes little here and adds a lot. If you’re a fan of LEGO games or Marvel characters – like Spiderman, Hulk or Thor – you’ll feel completely spoilt by what this game has to offer. Over 100 different super heroes await your control, from the popular to the obscure, each with their own special power and play-style.

You can play the whole thing alone, or have a sidekick hop in and hop out when you need a helping hand. If we had to nitpick, Gamewagon would love to have seen this expanded to four players to make it a real smash at events. If you’ve tried a LEGO game and wasn’t sold, Marvel Super Heroes probably won’t change your mind. There’s nothing to revolutionary here but there is heaps and heaps to do and you’ll have plenty of fun doing it.

Top 20 Family Friendly Video Games – Weekending 14th December 2013

Lego Marvel Superheroes moves up in Video Game Charts

Courtesy of UKIE Games Charts Weekending 14th December 2013.

FIFA 14 just misses top spot this week by a very small margin! and remains at No 2 in this weeks video game charts.

Warner’s ‘Lego Marvel Superheroes’ moves from No 6 to No 3 and looks like it is finding it’s way into many Xmas stockings. It may also be benefiting from retailer promotions in the approach to Xmas.

Ubisoft climbs another place with ‘Just Dance 2014’ now at  No 6 and is a great title for the girls to have their own strictly themed dance off. No matter what format you have this game has become the standard and gives plenty of options to co-operate or compete.

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Super Mario 3D World 60 Second Review

Super Mario 3D World

Super Mario 3D World is the latest WiiU must-have game, starring the world’s most famous gaming icon – Mario!

Following on from the success of last year’s New Super Mario Bros U, it’s a bright, colourful and wonderfully playable leap forward for a series that spans generations.

With hundreds of levels that take you from familiar green fields, to fantastic new locations like a floating carnival, everything looks better than ever thanks to the extra power of Nintendo’s Wii U console.

Presentation – Visuals, Sound and Theme

The gameplay feels updated too, sitting comfortably between the 2D of classic Mario games, and the full-blown 3D of something like Mario Galaxy or Mario 64. If you’re one of the thousands of gamers who got their introduction to Mario with the Wii, it’s a great way to ease into a deeper game world that you’ll love to explore.

And there’s plenty of exploring to be done. New power ups like the awesome catsuit or mind-boggling, multi-Mario, hidden in every nook and cranny. There’s tons of stickers, stars and coins to collect that it can seem like an impossible task for just one pint-sized plumber.

Multiplayer in the Gamewagon

Lucky then, that Super Mario 3D World supports up to four simultaneous players. You’re all bundled in together, as either Mario, Luigi, Toad or Princess Peach, working together to make it through level after level for imaginative fun.

Summary

So, who would’ve thought, with the bombastic launch of Sony, and Microsoft’s new massive consoles (with their massive price tags), we’d be talking so excitedly about a 30 year old series on a 2 year old machine? Super Mario 3D World is a pure gaming challenge for the hardcore, and the very best family gaming experience for the casual gamer.

Family Friendly Video Game Review – FIFA 14 Multiplayer Fun at It’s Best

FIFA 14 the video game party wagon favourite

EA’s FIFA video game has become a household name over many years now. Every year new editions come out with millions of sales in the first few days. It is not just for the boys  my daughter and her friends are FIFA players and they play every aspect of the title from skill challenges to ultimate team!

But is the latest release all that good?

Well…. Yes it is, we have taken a couple of months of game play to get a good feel on the evolution of the game in it’s current 2014 version. This year’s version does not disappoint. The graphics, and fluid play combined with the latest players creates a polished game with depth and hours of game play.

The continuous stream of updates stop FIFA getting old and means that the game is a joy to play even after months of playing; something many games fail to achieve.

The game play

There is not much more you could hope for in a computer game of football that FIFA 14 does not include. Learning from their previous games in the series EA have made the game play more deliberate and made the game feel more rewarding when a goal is scored. There is a learning curve even if you have played previous releases but the overall feel makes things more realistic.

Player opinion

After speaking with a number of dedicated FIFA 14 players the general thoughts are that the game continues to evolve and it rewards experience and practice. FIFA 14’s Ultimate Team has become a key part of the game, people literally spending more time and money on this part of the game than the game itself.

Overall

In reviews all over the world you will struggle to find a review giving the game lass than four stars. It is simply one of the best video gaming sports titles of all time.

New Super Mario Bros WiiU

Super Mario Bros. USuper Mario Brothers (SMB) has been a title that is now being passed down the generations. This latest outing into Mario’s world of stolen princesses and castles goes back to the basics, 2 dimensional scrolling world exploring at its finest.

SMB has something for everyone, for beginners the controls are intuitive and the levels easy to follow. Any advanced players trying to hit the 100% complete will really find it a challenge to be the best. The difficulty curve manages successfully to train the player and get them through the levels without anyone throwing their controller at the screen in frustration. However, your chosen character WILL die; it is inevitable; unless you have the skill of a ninja plumber and reactions like a praying mantis, it will happen. Dying is not an issue and is a part of the game and the journey.

Pro players be warned; the challenge mode will own you should you feel brave enough to go for the 100% completion, practice makes perfect…but you may need a lot of practice.

Presentation – Visuals, Sound and Theme

The theme to this Mario game is a throwback to the Mario legacy. With the Wii U’s new HD quality, this genre has never looked better and the characters and animations are endearing and wonderful to watch bounce around the screen. The music and sounds are a classic mix of modern and old classics and will undoubtedly haunt your dreams in a friendly fashion, should you play for extended periods of time.

With different worlds offering different sets of enemies, obstacles and mechanics, there is a lot of variety to the side scrolling running and jumping. This mixes up the play with new power-ups that make the game feel fresh and continually entertaining. Mini-games to provide chances at gaining lives and power-ups mix up the story mode and provide another level of variety.

Multiplayer – In the Gamewagon

This game is a constant favourite in our Gamewagons and is almost age irrelevant. It caters for various skill levels and ends up generating a great deal of noise, whether the players succeed or fail. Great fun and a real special addition to the Wii U, this is a popular choice.

The multiplayer is chaotic but in a manageable sense. The kinds of chaos and maniacal play style that will make you laugh and shout. It can be taken seriously with the eye on progression through the story mode. This is difficult to maintain when players can block each other and jump on each other’s heads in a hilarious fashion, this can even lead to secret areas and so is worked into the game.

A must play on the new console and one that kids and adults alike will love. It did not take us long to fall in love with the games style and has kept us entertained for a long time. Using the Wii U pad can aid your team through the levels. Using the touch screen can stun enemies or create platforms for Mario and the gang to make progression easier. However, there are some personalities that also work out they can hinder rather than help and this creates some really fun moments.

Tips and Tricks

Staying alive in Mario can be tough; this section will show you how to get through the game as stress-free as possible.

Stay healthy – More lives can be earned from collecting 100 coins, toad huts and secret boxes scattered through the levels. Keep your eyes peeled. If you manage to hit the top of the end-level flag, you will be awarded a 1-up. This can be done easily using the raccoon flying suit.

Bubble Yourself – When playing with a team it is possible to save yourself from a sticky situation with the A button. This will place you in a bubble so you can whisk yourself back to your teammates. Caution; if you all bubble at once it will count as a wipe and you will have to restart the level from the beginning or the last check point.

Smooth moves – Using your jump correctly is vital in Mario. If you jump three times, whilst sprinting, produces a mega jump that will shoot you into the air. Alternatively, use a team mates head to propel yourself upwards!

Beat the Bosses – The various bosses usually are defeated by jumping on their head. Wait for a safe moment to take this opportunity. Learn their patterns and attacks and they should not prove too hard.

Controls

Direction-pad – Move your character using left and right. Pressing down ducks below overhead threats.

1 – Sprint/Use ability/Hold Yoshi
2 – Jump
A – Bubble yourself in multiplayer

Shaking the controller – Adds a little more air time in your jump or activates your special jumps from power-ups and Yoshis.

This review was created by one of our experienced Game Experience Managers Charlie Osler. To learn more about Charlie and the rest of the team click here.