What’s new on Wii U? We find out with up to date news and reviews on the latest Wii U games and accessories

30th November 2017
The Perilous World Of Fan Game Development

The Perilous World Of Fan Game Development

Like many fan games, the development of Super Mario 64 Online started with mutual love for a franchise.

Kaze Emanuar, a prominent ROM hacker based in Argentina, was approached by the streamer and fan-game developer known as MellonSpeedruns, who prefers not to share his real name. A Mario fan since he was five years old, Mellon found the multiplayer offered in titles like Super Mario Galaxy lacking and wanted to create a true multiplayer experience for open-world Mario fans. 

“I tried doing some prototypes in Unity, but [they weren’t] successful,” Mellon says. “After a while, I remembered that the SM64 modding community was strong, and that I could do way more with that game. I then decided to contact Kaze and show him a prototype of an online version of Mario 64 I made with signs.”

(Please visit the site to view this media)

The fan-made creation attracted attention online through videos showing Emanuar and other beta testers playing together. Soon, the game garnered a following and saw a generally positive early build launch. Emanuar, Mellon, and the other fans were eager to keep building on the project. 

Shortly after Super Mario 64 Online’s release, however, Nintendo hit Emanuar with multiple copyright strikes. YouTube videos that linked to instructions on how to access the fan game were taken down, and Patreon closed his crowdfunding page after the company received a copyright claim from the Japanese game publisher.

“I'm dead,” Emanuar wrote in a Twitter post on September 19. “Nintendo just took 20 of my videos and my Patreon down. Nintendo Creator program is not available in my country :(”

Emanuar’s situation is a regular risk of fan-game development, one of the more perilous methods of displaying an appreciation for a specific video game or series. Sometimes spanning years of multiple people’s lives, fan games are regularly lost in an instant due to copyright law violation, many times leaving their creators with nothing to show for their effort in the end. Despite this, fan games continue to be made year after year, with creators knowing full well the penalties they can incur are as major as the benefits the projects can bring.

Fan or Filcher?
While every medium has fan-made creations, fan games require far more time to create, many times shifting what would be the work load of several dozen developers onto a few passionate fans with no direct funding for the project. Mods, which alter or improve a game with fan made codes or additions, are similar in this regard, but are smaller in scale compared to recreating a game from the ground up.

To cut down on this burden, many fans turn to ROM hacks of games available online, which provide the original code and data from a game to be used for the new creation. However, this practice presents several legal issues. Whether hacking an original ROM to modify a game or re-writing a title from scratch, fan games are released independently and without the consent of the original game or series’ creator while retaining its name, characters, designs, or other recognizable features. As such, these projects are frequently deemed a violation of copyright and trademark laws, which puts the creators in danger of legal action on the part of the IP’s owners. In addition, U.S. copyright law requires IP holders to actively move to shut down infringements on their properties or run the risk of losing their ownership. 

Nintendo, the creator of several popular franchises with dedicated fan bases, regularly sees itself in this position. Since August 2016 alone, three high-profile fan games have spawned from properties Nintendo owns: Pokémon Uranium, Another Metroid 2 Remake, and Super Mario 64 Online. Each gained large fan followings and attracted attention from major news outlets.

While Nintendo’s Creator program has allowed for content creators in countries throughout North America, South America, and the Caribbean region to profit from video content related to their games in recent years, fan-made games overstep the limits of the program through the use of their copyrighted assets. This forces Nintendo to file copyright claims in order to hold onto their creation, as was the case with Emanuar’s videos.

We reached out to Nintendo of America for comment, but it did not provide one. However, in a recent statement given to Polygon following the takedown of Emanuar’s YouTube videos and Patreon, the company stated the following:

“Nintendo’s broad library of characters, products, and brands are enjoyed by people around the world, and we appreciate the passion of our fans. But just as Nintendo respects the intellectual property rights of others, we must also protect our own characters, trademarks and other content.”

The consequences of copyright infringement can be far-reaching. While Emanuar says his Patreon’s donations were made independent of Super Mario 64 Online, it was hit with a copyright claim by Nintendo for funding YouTube content, which included access links to the fan game. As such, Patreon took down the page and halted any further donations, forcing Emanuar to start up another page and regain contributors from scratch.

A Fleeting Frontier
More often than not, fan games are wiped out completely by copyright takedown orders, leaving creators with either bits and pieces of years long endeavors or nothing at all. The most recent example of this is Pokémon Uranium. A highly anticipated, fan-made project nine years in the making, Uranium was started with the intent of carrying the Pokémon series into more mature territory with darker themes like death and nuclear horror. New Pokémon were created for the entry to use alongside fan favorites, and the team hoped to build on the project long after release.

“Pokémon is very much a franchise that revolves around children,” says Cody Spielvogel, the current community manager of Pokémon Uranium. “I think the freedom and the ability to flip the script, and provide something that people don’t expect from the regular franchise, is what draws people to [Uranium].” 

But shortly after release in 2016, the game and its developers were hit fast and hard with takedown orders by Nintendo. Videos and sites with download links to the game received copyright claims or were taken down, and the original development team left Uranium completely to avoid further legal penalties, leaving the project’s fans and supporters with an unfinished dream.

In the year since, Spielvogel and other fans have pieced the project back together, mirroring and altering the game enough to avoid more takedown orders. The current lead developer Unknown Entity, who prefers not to share his real name, reverse engineered some of the game’s code to provide patches for bugs and is currently trying to finish unreleased content with the original developers’ blessing. Though the project could be taken down again at any time, he continues the work largely for the fans.

“I’m really still here because no one else will do this,” he says.

Spielvogel also sticks around because of the fans who continue to support the project and the motivations behind it.

“None of us came into where we are now with the sole intention of hurting Nintendo or affecting sales or bringing malice to the company in any way,” he says. “We did it because we love the franchise and we love that people are taking these creative strides to make a world of their own.” 

Up next, what motivates fan game creators and the benefits their projects can bring them.

8th November 2017
Exploring The Miiverse During Its Final Hours

Exploring The Miiverse During Its Final Hours

The Miiverse is – or perhaps more accurately, was – one of the Wii U's most fascinating oddities. The social network, which later made its way to 3DS, served as a place to post screenshots, make comments, and draw pictures about the games you were playing. It featured both talented, and unapologetically untalented artists, talking and drawing about Nintendo games, and sometimes it got really weird.

Back in August, Nintendo announced the service was shutting down, so we decided to sign in during its final hours and see what the community was up to before the service would go away forever. As a bonus, Jeff Cork, Jeff Marchiafava, Leo Vader, and I all submitted one final post to the Miiverse as a means to help us cope with its unavoidable annihilation.

The art seen above was submitted to the Art Academy Miiverse community by a user named Kewn.

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For more discussion about the less-than-ideal fate of the Wii U (including more discussion about the Miiverse), head here to watch out Wii U-logy episode of the GI Show.

25th October 2017
We Asked Bandai Namco's Dragon Ball Team If Goku Was Ever In Discussion For Super Smash Bros.

We Asked Bandai Namco’s Dragon Ball Team If Goku Was Ever In Discussion For Super Smash Bros.

Bandai Namco developed Super Smash Bros. Wii U and 3DS for Nintendo, and Bandai Namco makes Dragon Ball games. It would stand to reason that if ever there was any discussion about Goku appearing in Super Smash Bros., it would occur between the folks who make Dragon Ball video games for Bandai Namco.

The request for Goku to be in Super Smash Bros. is a familiar one. It has its own entry on knowyourmeme.com and when Nintendo opened the polls for people to submit who they would like to see appear in the game as DLC, Goku was a common refrain. His inclusion was always unlikely. Not only is he not a Nintendo character, he's not a video game character, but that didn't stop us from asking the people who would have potentially been involved in his inclusion if it was ever close to being a thing. Spoiler alert: it probably wasn't.

Game Informer: Bandai Namco worked on Super Smash Brothers. How close did Goku get to becoming a DLC character?

Ryo Mito: Uh, not sure...

Tomoko Hiroki: I mean, it is more Nintendo's call...

Ryo Mito: So, we don't know anything about it. [laughs]

So there was never any kind of request? Never an e-mail sent?

Tomoko Hiroki: We really don’t know [laughs].

Would you want to see Goku as a fighter in Super Smash Bros.?

Masayuki Hirano: We do want to challenge ourselves with various things, but it has to be under the concept that it's for the best of Dragon Ball and the fans.

Afterward, Bandai Namco's PR team added a few more details, in an effort to assure that Mito, Hiroki, and Hirano weren't obscuring some secret truth – they genuinely didn't know. "The thing is that – they don’t know. They really don’t know. It was a Bandai Namco studio [that made Smash Bros.], so it was the same group, but not the same company, so there was really no link."

To be honest, we knew what the answer to the question would be before we asked it, but we wanted to share the response. The dream of Goku in Smash Bros. will continue to live on.

For more from our trip to Bandai Namco and Arc System Works to cover Dragon Ball FighterZ, click the banner below.

22nd September 2017
See How Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga Compares To Its Upcoming Remake

See How Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga Compares To Its Upcoming Remake

Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga released on the Game Boy Advance in 2003. Next month, a remake of the game releases for 3DS so we decided to compare the two versions of the game directly.

With nearly 15 years separating the two games, how do they compare? Also, when everyone was losing their mind over Mario without his shirt on, why didn't anyone point out that he's wearing nothing but a towel in the opening moments of Mario & Luigi?

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For more on Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser's Minions, which comes out October 6, head here.

3rd September 2017
Things Are Stacking Up Nicely For Shovel Knight: King Of Cards

Things Are Stacking Up Nicely For Shovel Knight: King Of Cards

The Shovel Knight saga has expanded so much since the base game's initial launch in 2014. Multiple free updates, as well as additional paid campaigns starring new characters have been added to what has now come to be known as the Treasure Trove, an all-inclusive package that bundles all of the campaigns and updates. Developer Yacht Club Games is gearing up to put a bow on the Treasure Trove with King of Cards, the final campaign to be included in the saga.

King of Cards shifts the focus to King Knight in a prequel story about how he traveled the world to defeat the other kings and become the one true ruler. The game contains around 30 new levels that feature a mix of new locales and familiar backdrops. Much like Plague Knight and Specter Knight before him, King Knight has a distinct move set. King Knight's most basic move is a shoulder bash that deals damage, but also allows him to propel upwards if he rams into a wall. When that happens, he spins rapidly and can deal damage from above or even bounce off of normally hazardous objects.

In addition to the creatures we've seen in past campaigns, King Knight also faces off against new foes along the way. A rat king is is big ball of propeller rats stuck together. Rat kings act more aggressive until you pick them apart one rat at a time to the point that they just become run-of-the-mill propeller rats. There are also bigger versions of iron knights that will attempt to block your progress. To get past these hulking tanks, you need to get a little creative. In the two times we encountered iron knights, we defeated one by shoulder bashing a wall then drilling him with a spin-jump from above, while the second time provided no walls, so we just shoulder bashed him until we sumoed him right into a pit.

The boss fight I witnessed featured King Pridemoor. Yacht Club struggled with how to depict a boss fight with a much smaller and less imposing character like King Pridemoor, so they gave him giant golden armor that pretty much serves as a mech. During the boss fight, Pridemoor summons griffins, jumps and smashes, throws spiked balls, bashes against walls, and even guards against your attacks. As with many games in the genre, learning the boss' pattern is crucial for success.

If you don't feel much like adventuring, King of Cards also included a new card game for players to master. A typical game features a 2x2 or 3x3 grid, with players placing their cards with the hopes of covering up the most gems on the board with their cards. Each card has directional arrows on them, which lets you push an opposing card in that way. This adds a layer of strategy as you try and not only push your opponent's cards off of the table and away from the gems, but also position your cards so that they can remain on the gems until the match is over. The square grids seem challenging enough, but while it isn't finalized, Yacht Club tells me that they've been experimenting with more unique shapes, such as a u-shaped grid. That could certainly add multiple new folds into the mix if the studio can make it fun and not frustrating.

Shovel Knight: King of Cards is shaping up nicely. With new levels, moves, enemies, and even a new card game, King of Cards looks to wrap up the Treasure Trove package in effective and fitting fashion. Shovel Knight: King of Cards launches on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PS3, Wii U, PC, Mac, Linux, 3DS, Vita, and Amazon FireTV in early 2018.

30th June 2017
Here Are The Locations And Clues That Will Lead You To Zelda: Breath Of The Wild's New DLC Content

Here Are The Locations And Clues That Will Lead You To Zelda: Breath Of The Wild’s New DLC Content

We are quite literally just digging into Breath of the Wild's first DLC pack, but if you rushed into the game after updating, you may have missed the clues putting you on the trail of the new content. Here are the hints that point you in the right direction to track down all the Master Trials' new stuff.

Where to find some of the new additions are obvious. Master Mode is a new difficulty setting that can be selected from the title screen. Hero's Path Mode is a setting that can be accessed through the map. The other items and Trial of the Sword, however, require a little exploration.

If you head to the Great Deku Tree in Korok forest, a cutscene will play setting you up for the trial.

To find the Travel Medallion, you must find a book at South Akkala Stable.

A book at the Woodland Stable will get you started on your search for the Korok Mask.

And finally, to find Majora's Mask, Midna's Helment, Tingle's outfit, and the Phantom Armor, you should check out the journal at Outpost Ruins.

16th May 2017
Opinion – Why Breaking Weapons Are Ruining My Zelda Experience

Opinion – Why Breaking Weapons Are Ruining My Zelda Experience

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild came out couple months ago, but I’m only now getting around to playing it (I had other stuff going on in March). The latest installment in the long-running series received nearly universal praise from consumers and critics (including us), and is already one of the front-runners in Game of the Year discussions. That’s great for Nintendo and Zelda fans, but from my time with the game, I’m left wondering if everyone is somehow playing a different version of the game than I am. Because while I agree it is very good in many ways, it has one very bad idea that poisons my enjoyment at almost every turn: breaking weapons.

I’m sure plenty of people have written “that game you love is actually bad” articles in response to the widespread adulation for Breath of the Wild. This isn’t one of those, because I don’t think the game is bad as a whole. However, I think it has a baffling design flaw that makes it difficult to appreciate all of the other clever and ambitious things in Nintendo’s latest vision of Hyrule.

In case you haven’t played Breath of the Wild, here’s how the weapon system works: Every weapon (with one exception) has limited durability, so they eventually break as you use them. Once broken, they are removed from your inventory and cannot be repaired, and this applies to everything from wooden clubs found in Bokoblin camps to elemental greatswords received as rewards for finishing shrines.

Conceptually, that might not seem so bad. The game has a lot of different weapons, and it throws a steady stream of them at you, so you’re not going to be left defenseless in the middle of a major battle. Plus, the system forces players to cycle through a variety of different options, preventing them from leaning too heavily on any one sword, spear, bow, or axe. That’s not inherently a bad thing, but the consequences of this approach in other areas drastically outweigh the minor benefits.

My problem isn’t about a single weapon I like breaking – though I think that happens way too quickly. It’s about how limited durability affects weapons as a category, and then cascades into other areas like combat and exploration. For instance, because players have a constantly shifting inventory, no encounter can be designed with a particular weapon in mind. Players need to be able able to finish any battle with any weapon – or at least a collection of decently powerful (but non-specific) weapons.

That kind of flexibility has worked in similar open-world games, but those other titles usually let you develop a unique play style, and Breath of the Wild doesn’t. You can’t experiment and settle on an approach to fighting that you enjoy (like focusing on swords-and-shields, magic, etc.) because you’re just at the mercy of whatever is handy. Don’t like clunky claymores or weak boomerangs? Too bad, because that’s what you have right now. And since the limited inventory space discourages hoarding, your chances of having a particularly advantageous weapon for any given fight is ridiculously small.

The end result is this: Combat feels bland, designed to ensure that all roads lead to victory, regardless of players’ gear or skills. Even the battles against the incarnations of Ganon feel disappointingly similar. My power in combat is completely dependent on what random assortment of tools I’m carrying, not on any skills I’m improving as a player. And despite a broad array of different weapons, they all feel equally disposable.

My arsenal feels largely meaningless, and this issue bleeds into Breath of the Wild’s core activities. Link’s progression is tied to completing short, puzzle-oriented sequences called shrines. After you finish four of them, you can choose to increase your max life or stamina. Though that bump is the ultimate payoff for shrines, they also have treasure chests that contain armor, items, and weapons. At first, I was excited to figure out how to reach these chests (they often involve additional challenges) and get the goodies within. After spending about 40 hours with the game now, I rarely bother anymore.

Think back to previous Zelda games – remember the anticipation when you opened a chest in a dungeon, waiting to see what cool new item was waiting inside? That sensation is completely absent in Breath of the Wild, because the game trains you to stop caring about what you find in shrine chests. Most of the time, it’s just another weapon that isn’t much different from the weapons you already have. Plus, you probably don’t have the inventory space to carry it, and if you make the space, it’ll just break soon anyway.

Even worse, that feeling extends to the rewards you get for even greater accomplishments. I’ve finished two of the four Divine Beasts, and at the end of each questline, I’ve been told to open a treasure chest to claim some great reward – weapons wielded by legendary champions that served them well in many battles. Of course, these once-sturdy weapons degrade and break in Link’s hands, so my options are either to A. use them and lose them, or B. save them and get no benefit at all (and, in rare cases, C. go through an expensive and complicated process that is more hassle than it’s worth to forge replacements). Rewards that feel temporary or useless are bad rewards, so these treasures meant to mark your greatest accomplishments in Breath of the Wild are huge disappointments – a problem that would be fixed completely if they didn’t break.

I love the shrine puzzles in Breath of the Wild. The process of exploring Hyrule’s peaks and valleys can be exhilarating. Divine Beasts are well-designed and fun to figure out. Plus, Nintendo deserves a lot of credit for taking risks and switching up the Zelda formula with this installment. But not everything that’s different is better, and Nintendo shouldn’t get a pass for “trying something new” when that new thing is not fun.

Whether you’re tackling Divine Beasts, solving shrines, or fighting monsters, the concept of breakable weapons causes mild pain and annoyance, like a thorn sticking out of every major system. At best, the most common responses I hear to the idea are expressions of lukewarm tolerance, like “I guess it didn’t bother me that much,” or “I didn’t like it at first, but I learned to work around it.” Few people seem to actively like the breaking weapons, regardless of their affection for the experience as a whole. And to be clear, that affection is understandable; The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a good game, but it could have been so much better by rethinking this mechanic, and I hope the game’s success doesn’t blind Nintendo to that fact moving forward.

27th April 2017
The Top 10 Games On Wii U

The Top 10 Games On Wii U

Since its debut in 2012, the Nintendo Wii U has seen both rough seas and smooth sailing. From the third-party developer exodus that occurred shortly after the system hit the market to the outstanding releases that only Nintendo can deliver, the waters of the Wii U can be tricky to navigate.

Whether you’re just now grabbing Nintendo’s most recent home console or you’re just looking to expand your existing library, this continually changing list represents the games you should play on your Wii U.

Here are Game Informer’s current picks for the Top 10 games on Wii U.

10. Axiom Verge
"I heartily applaud Tom Happ’s first solo effort. It’s incredible that he was able to nail every component of game creation in one package. I’ll wait as long as it takes for him to build a follow-up. When everything works this well, why let someone else get in there and screw it up?" – Joe Juba

To read the full review and learn more, click here.

9. Splatoon
“Splatoon has all the trappings of something fans have wanted from Nintendo for a long time: a unique IP that shows Nintendo can still dream up new experiences. As entertaining as it is fast-paced, Splatoon is a strong addition to the Wii U lineup.” – Brian Shea

To read the full review and learn more, click here (though the game has gotten significantly better with updates).

8. Bayonetta 2
“Creating a sequel to an already-polished game is a challenge, but Platinum Games’ approach ultimately succeeds. Bayonetta 2 is rooted in its past while taking steps (but not strides) toward the future. Though I was disappointed by some of the familiarity, I was usually having too much fun to care.” – Joe Juba

To read the full review and learn more, click here.

7. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD
“Every change Nintendo has made to this game is smart and serves a purpose, and I envy anyone that gets to experience The Wind Waker for the first time via this remake. It takes everything that made the original a classic and greatly improves on its visuals and quality of play. If you’re a fan of classic remakes, you can’t ask for much more.” – Dan Ryckert

To read the full review and learn more, click here.

6. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
“Even though there are fewer total levels this time around, the individual stages are longer than an average level from the previous game. In the end, I’d rather have a slightly smaller collection of Retro Studios’ best levels than one bloated up with lesser-quality stages in order to hit an arbitrary number. That finely cultivated assortment is exactly what you get with Tropical Freeze.” – Bryan Vore

To read the full review and learn more, click here.

On the next page: Our top 5 games for Wii U. 

31st March 2017
The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild’s Best Sidequests And Bonus Content

The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild’s Best Sidequests And Bonus Content

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a big game with lots to do outside of its main quests. Maybe you’ve fought Ganon and are looking for more to do in the world, or maybe you’re looking for every excuse you can to put off the final confrontation. Whatever the case may be, here are a handful of bonus missions, shrines, and quests worth pursuing that you won’t find on your Main Quests lists.

Below you will find a list of spoiler-free suggestions for a number of side activities that are worth doing. On page two, you will find more detailed, spoiler-filled descriptions of these activities, their rewards, and why we think they’re worth pursuing. If you click the hyper-linked headline of the tip, it will take you directly to its entry on page two.

1. Do all of Gerudo’s sidequests
Make sure to talk to everyone in the town, starting with its leader, and do whatever they ask. The rewards are worthwhile.

2. Do all of Kakariko’s sidequests
Kakariko’s sidequests don’t offer much in terms of physical reward, but doing all Kakariko has to offer delivers on one of its most interesting storylines.

3. Do the maze shrines
There are three in Hyrule, and you can find them by looking at the map.

4. Get the climbing equipment
Hopefully you’ve got some of the pieces already, but if you click to page two you can find out how to get the full set.

5. Get the horse everyone is talking about
There is someone south of Lake Tower who should be able to get you started.

6. Get the other horse everyone is talking about
Outskirt Stable just southwest of central Hyrule will give you the lead you need to start this sidequest.

7. Eavesdrop at the Gerudo bar
You might hear a valuable secret.

8. Bring the woman in Gerudo some flint
I mentioned this in my spoiler-free starter guide, and I stand by that recommendation. Find the woman that needs flint in Gerudo and give it to her.

9. Help out the guy in front of Gerudo
He’s not technically part of Gerudo since he is right outside the front gate, so it won’t add to your total in terms of completing all of Gerudo’s side missions, but it’s a good idea to do everything he asks of you.

10. The southeast island
It may take an extra stamina potion to fly out there (you can also take a raft), but it’s worth exploring the island off the southeast coast.

11. Check out all the houses in Hateno
I hear Hateno village has some beautiful properties.

12. Help the town
I hear the beautiful properties in Hateno village have some people nearby that are worth talking to.

13. Find the guy that loves monsters
A guard patrolling the East Akkala Stable has an assignment that will get you started with this task.

14. Explore Hyrule Castle
Whether you have fought Ganon or not, you can explore Hyrule Castle, and I recommend you do.

15. Find the prison in Hyrule Castle
Piggybacking off the previous tip, make sure you look for the prison area of the castle, specifically.

16. The fifth fairy
If you found all the Great Fairies, know that there is another… odd one. Explore near Highland Stable to start on this path.

17. Look up
There are a couple of things up there worth spotting. Head towards Mount Lanayru if you’re not sure what I am talking about.

18. Do all the shrines
There are a lot and many are hard to find, but I really like the reward for doing them all.

Next: More detailed spoiler-filled information on each quest and its reward.