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Games are rated relative to other games for the same system.

Wii U Reviews T-Z

Wii Sports Club
Grade: B-
Publisher: Nintendo (2013)
Posted: 2017/4/4

screenshotWii Sports Club is basically a high-definition version of Wii Sports (Wii, 2006). People loved the original game but I think they were looking for a little more from this sequel. The bar tends to be a little higher after seven years or so. Wii Sports Club offers the same five sports: tennis, bowling, golf, baseball, and boxing.

Tennis is every bit as fun as I remember. It's a joy to whack the ball with a swinging motion and the controls are refined enough that you can aim shots down the line. Switching between your forehand and backhand is key. Next up is bowling and I don't think I have to tell you how awesome it is to knock down a rack of 100 pins! These two sports alone probably justify the entire game.

Golf is where the formula goes astray. You set the control pad at your feet where it displays a ball on a tee. I'm not sure if this affects the gameplay at all or is just for effect. Setting up for the swing feels overly complicated, and do we really need an instant replay after every shot? Three 18-hole courses are available.

Baseball is where Wii Sports Club stumbles badly. Swinging the Wiimote as a bat feels comfortable but playing defense is another story. Apparently Nintendo was shying away from the idea of players making a throwing motion towards the TV (understandable). Instead you hold up the control pad to "aim" your pitch and press buttons to deliver the ball. Not very satisfying. When a fly ball is hit you position the control pad above you head, keeping the ball in view to catch it. It's not particularly challenging and boring once the novelty wears off.

Boxing rounds out the list of events, and this is one sport that never quite lived up to its promise. Your punches have impact but the controls feel unwieldy and out-of-sync. Mini-games available for each event and I like the relaxing music that plays over the menus. The high definition graphics look sharp but are lacking in detail, making this feel like an unnecessary upgrade. Wii Sports Club never attracted much fanfare and as a result it's one of the more rare Wii U titles. © Copyright 2017 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: bowling
Our high score: DK 1469
1 to 4 players 

The Wonderful 101
Grade: C-
Publisher: Nintendo (2013)
Posted: 2013/11/24
Rating: Teen (alcohol reference, animated blood, fantasy violence, suggestive themes)

screenshotWonderful 101 is one of those Nintendo originals you really want to love, but the game seems to fight you every step of the way. Playing a comical superhero who resembles Viewtiful Joe (GameCube, 2003), you lead a mob of superheroes to protect the world from invading robots from space.

First create an army of heroes by transforming normal civilians walking the streets. Once you round them up (ala Pikmin) you can transform the group into huge weapons like a red fist, sword, or even a gun. You then tap buttons to unleash carnage on a grand scale. After taking a hit your heroes scatter, forcing you to gather them up and repeat the process.

As you forge through war-torn city streets you'll solve occasional puzzles (like turning giant gears) and form human ladders to climb obstacles. The graphics are pretty spectacular - like a world of giant toys. I like how entering indoor areas switches the action to the control pad, giving the game a Wii U flair.

The characters are rendered with humor and personality, and the villain "Geathjerk" has pretty much the best name ever. The dialogue has its share of funny lines but tends to be far too wordy for its own good. What's more hilarious is the heroic anthem sung by a booming male chorus featuring some brilliantly dumb lyrics.

It's a shame Wonderful 101's charm is undermined by problematic (and often maddening) gameplay. The high overhead view makes it hard to tell where to go and invisible walls abound. During battles your character can get lost in the fray, and it's hard to tell what the [expletive] is going on. Fighting large armored robots can grow tiresome, especially when they lash out at you like heat-seeking missiles.

The pathetic vibration feature of the control pad is annoying. Worst of all, the controls require you draw patterns to materialize weapons. Not only is this mechanic clumsy and inexact, but confusing messages on the screen exacerbate the situation. Wonderful 101 is brimming with style and humor, but it's not enough to save the game, much less the planet. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

Yoshi's Wooly World
Grade: B-
Publisher: Nintendo (2015)
Posted: 2016/1/23
Rating: Everyone

screenshotThe origin of this game can be traced all the way back to Yoshi's Island: Super Mario World 2 (SNES, 1995). Each game in the series has been distinguished by artistic graphics, low difficulty, and sugar-sweet, kid-friendly gameplay.

In Yoshi's Wooly World everything (including the characters) is constructed of yarn, cloth, denim, leather, and other soft materials. Doors are zippers, clouds are cotton, and Yoshi himself is knitted with yarn. These amazing visuals are probably a lot more impressive to those who haven't seen Kirby's Epic Yarn (Wii, 2010). The controls are soft too, with forgiving collision detection and Yoshi's ability to get an extra boost while jumping. Yarn balls tossed with a simple aim meter let you tie up enemies, clear away obstacles, and fill in empty platforms. Yoshi can use his tongue to pull loose threads and reveal new areas.

The stages take you through forests, pyramids, and candy lands, all of which look like they were knitted by someone's grandmother. In special stages Yoshi morphs into various forms, letting him dig through dirt, race as a motorcycle, and go on a rampage as giant Mega Yoshi (my favorite). Gems you collect let you purchase a badge before each stage, giving you special abilities like immunity to fire or falls. The gameplay borrows elements from every other Nintendo platformer, yet you'll find plenty of original ideas, like the ability to throw bird chicks to create cloud walkwalks. Unleashing a yarn "boulder" and watching it clear all obstacles in your path is always satisfying.

The musical score covers all genres from soothing piano to grinding guitar to country jangle. Aside from the happy-go-lucky whistling, I found the music to be outstanding. Each stage can be played solo or coop. On the surface Yoshi's Wooly World seems nearly flawless, yet it struggled to hold my attention. Why? First, I feel like there's too junk to collect. Gems, yarn, flowers, stamps... enough already! The health system is needlessly confusing and I frankly still don't understand it. Some of the stages are annoyingly maze-like. Enemies can appear out of nowhere and platforms can collapse unexpectedly. A stage or two per night was enough for me. Yoshi's Wooly World is thoroughly charming and often brilliant, yet its whole feels less than the sum of its parts. © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.

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1 or 2 players 

Zombi U
Grade: B
Publisher: Ubisoft (2012)
Posted: 2013/1/5
Rating: Mature 17+ (blood and gore, intense violence, strong language)

screenshotI've learned to be skeptical of third-party launch titles, but Zombi U is high in quality and genuinely scary. You view the action from a first-person perspective and the slow, deliberate pace allows suspense to properly build (Capcom should take note). I'm tempted to say Zombi U puts the "horror" back into "survival horror", but come to think of it, it puts the survival back in too!

The game creates a sense of isolation and desperation, and you'll need to be resourceful to stay alive. You begin in a "safe house" in a London subway, gradually exploring your surrounding areas before eventually winding up in Buckingham Palace. The dark, post-apocalyptic streets and underground passages will make you paranoid. You never know what's lurking in the shadows, and the sound of knocks, screeches, and moans are downright alarming.

The zombies amble around in a slow, old-school way, but they can lunge quickly. The game has a flair for the dramatic, so that lifeless body you walk past might spring to life, making you jump out of your seat. The combat is gory and intense as you bash a zombie's head with a cricket bat until there's nothing left. Zombi U is heavy on exploration and looting is just as fun as it is in real life (very!). You can close doors behind you and even barricade them shut. The idea of continuity between lives is brilliant, but the frequent reloading and retracing of steps can be time consuming.

The GamePad is utilized in a number of ways. It's your map by default and a radar button indicates locations of nearby zombies. Your guide talks through the controller's speaker, offering guidance and some funny one-liners. The pad also functions as a scanner that you hold up and move around with your arms. Zombi U does an admirable job of leveraging the pad, but occasionally it's hard to tell what you're supposed to be looking at - the TV or the pad.

The multiplayer mode is pretty worthless but the single-player campaign is riveting. Zombi U is so intense that I could almost forgive a nasty lock-up incident and the fact that the game asks for your consent to having Ubisoft collecting your play data. [Expletive] no, but thanks for asking. Nice game, by the way. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.

1 to 5 players 

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Screen shots courtesy of IGN.com, YouTube, Moby Games