PAX 2009: This Guy Likes Wii Ware

by Kevin on

So, PAX 2009 has arrived, and I’ve been on the hunt for titles that are new to this show versus what I played at E3. I managed to stumble across a few upcoming Wii-ware games, and since I am a self-appointed Champion of Wii Ware, I thought I’d share. This sharing will occur on the other side of a jump, a jump you will make…now.

The first title that I played was one of the PAX 10, a series of independent games for a variety of platforms. The game, called “Liight,” and developed by Studio Walljump, is a clever (although not unique) puzzle game involving rotating colored lights and gems. Your job is to drop these colored li(i?)ghts onto a set of tiles, rotating them (naturally, using the remote) so that they create colored areas that cover the corresponding colored gems. So, the board might have a blue gem, a red gem, and a purple gem, and you should drop in a blue light to cover the blue gem, a red light to shine on the red gem, and then position them so that the red and blue lights converge (making purple light) over the purple gem. Look at how many sentences I am using to describe a very simple game! I am a VIDEO GAME JOURNALIST. The game is implemented well, as I was able to pick up and solve a set of challenges without much fuss. The display shows overlapping circles which indicate the colors you are going to make (RED + GREEN, in the Liight universe, create YELLOW) with the various lights. Besides the puzzle mode, you can create your own puzzles with a very simple and robust editor and share them with your Wii Friends, and there’s a really fun infinite mode where gems are constantly dropped onto the game board, and you move around your lights to remove them from the board, chaining combos, etc. The aspect of the game that I was not able to really experiment with on the loud show floor was the fact that this is also a music game – as you shine the correct colored lights onto the various gems, you create beats and songs. In the infinite mode, this is key to chaining combos. Bottom Line: Do you like puzzlin’? lights? colors? music? Here, have some.

I went over to Nintendo’s tiny booth, and while I was initially kicked out for Jumping Ye Olde Gun and playing a DS Scribblenauts demo before I was specifically allowed, I got back in and spent about forty five minutes with the Wii Ware offerings. I started with Bit.Trip Void, the third entry into the Bit.Trip series (astute readers may remember my review of Bit.Trip Beat). I played Bit.Trip Core, but it was far too difficult for my mortal human brain to comprehend, so I was initially wary of Void, but I am going to buy this game as soon as it hits this fall. As. soon. as. it. hits. Void is essentially Ikaruga without the color changing or the shooting. Your job is to navigate your ship (which starts as a small 8 bit circle), using the nunchuck joystick, to collect black pixels as they stream across the screen. You must avoid the white bits. As you collect black bits, you grow in size, until you take up most of the screen. If you feel you might be too large, and this might get you in trouble with not getting hit, you can press A to revert to a small size, thus “saving your combo,” but garnering you less points. The game is really fantastically simple, and incredibly, stupidly addictive. I played for about thirty minutes before I realized it, a stupid grin on my face, and I couldn’t even hear the music, which is one of the more important aspects of the Bit.Trip series. It’s very well realized, and the challenge ramps really well, which is weird for the series, which features cliff-face-style difficulty ramps. Multiplayer is offered, with up to four little ships flying around the screen, and I don’t know if I can recommend it enough.

I played about five minutes of Contra Rebirth. This was enough time to confirm that’s it’s Contra, and it’s difficult, and you shoot seemingly oblivious enemies who run around and occasionally shoot at you. I need to have more time with the game to deliver a really substantive opinion, but if you like old-school side scrolling shooters, this is one?

Finally, I played another five minutes of a very strange little title called “Pokémon Rumble,” which is a kind of 3/4ths top-down beat-em-up with Pokémon? You play as a pokemon, and you beat up other pokemon, and then you collect them and can swap out from one to the other. It features co-operative play, and I assume that the other players also beat up the various pokemon. Here’s a trailer if this sounds remotely interesting to you.