Nintendo Game Seminar 2014: An Overview

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Another four games you probably haven’t played.

You may remember almost a year ago when I covered four games from the 2013 Nintendo Game Seminar, an event for Japanese university students. The event ran from August last year until March of this year. Another four games were published in late June for free on the Japanese Wii U eShop. What follows is a brief overview of each title. As with last year, I’ve translated the names as best I can. Three of them were pretty straightforward but the last one title I’m not happy with and I’d probably title it less literally if I was localising the game: something which I repeat below, should absolutely happen.

アルクラッシュWalk Rush

Do you know Trials? This is essentially an arty version of Trials with a dinosaur skeleton instead of a motorbike. Walk Rush is the most visually and auditorily striking of the four with a charming art style and beautiful soundtrack. The gameplay is restricted to the analogue sticks, both of which control a single leg. The gyro of the gamepad is used to balance the dinosaur as he walks uphill, downhill, jumps swims and is blown through levels.

Walk Rush starts out very simply and the gameplay is taught through limited instructions but mostly through experience. The challenge picks up quite significantly towards the end which tests everything learned. If your fossil falls or gets destroyed you lose a star and can try again. If all stars are lost then it is game over. Stars can be collected throughout the game though and the entire game takes no more than 10 minutes to complete. I wasn’t impressed at first but the game grew on me and I found the ending rewarding.

ミチコジャンプ Michiko Jump!

\nThe synopsis is that a little girl named Michiko wants a big star and her sensible father tells her to get it herself; using a see-saw to launch her on her quest. The mechanics are just as simple as you use timed button pushes to jump from object to object and then the gyro in the Gamepad to steer between each one. There are also many stars to collect along the way as a form of scoring and to grant you extra tries.

Much like Walk Rush, most of the game is very easy but in that time you are learning the controls for the latter part of the game organically. The challenge comes right towards the end which tests your competency and makes for a very satisfying and intense finish. This is definitely one I\’ll be coming back to.

ドキドキ手紙リレー Dokidoki Note Relay

If you don’t already know from the history of Super Mario Bros. 2, “dokidoki” is an onomatopoeia for heartbeat and as this is generally well known with gamers, I left it in the translation.

All the games have limited motion controls but in Dokidoki Note Relay they are essential. – something I generally don’t like. Once I’d gotten used to the controls however, the concept and execution won me over. You use the gamepad to pass the note. Looking down, you can see the note on the desk and pick it up. Then you can turn the gamepad right or left and thrust it into a waiting hand. You can also pass forward or put the gamepad behind your bad like you are passing a note. All the while, you must pay attention to the teacher up the front and make sure they don’t see. If you are caught three times then the teacher gets angry and it is game over.

There are a variety of scenarios. Such as an art class where you have to stick pieces of paper to the teachers back without being caught. Another in music class where you must pass the paper but also make sure it isn\’t to a student who has to stand and sing. This one is particularly cool as it adds a rhythm aspect to the timing of each pass. This is easily the funniest of the bunch and as I’ve worked in Japanese public schools, I could very much relate to the concept.

ジカンサタンサ Timing Probe

This is probably the least interesting of the bunch. You must guide a penguin to collect pearls in a series of stages. The difference is that the probe on his head is what you use to direct him. Once you start in that direction a ghost appears showing you the way and slowly fades. How long you hold down the button is how long he walks but the hard part is judging difference. For each move you lose a fish and the less fish you use, the higher your score. You must collect enough pearls to transfer to the next area.

I confess to liking this one the least though I did at least appreciate the concept. There is more to extend this including an extra difficulty level and getting the highest rating for each stage would take a bit more time. The motion controls for steering where the penguin moves I found irritating and would have much preferred to use analogue over the gyro.

As with last years selections, the concepts are quite limited but all four are worth playing on their own and would make for entertaining releases if expanded upon. Once again, I want to reiterate as I did last year, that these games should be made available in other regions. They are worth paying a small sum at least and it would be nice and I’d love people everywhere to see what could be the next generation of Japanese designers are doing.

August, 2015

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