Unexpected surprises. Mostly, these are bad: that extra bill you weren’t expecting, that deadline that you didn’t know about, visits from distant relatives. Sometime however, you are lucky enough to get a welcome surprise. I’m happy to say that I had such an experience in the form of a little gaming gem called Hidden in Plain Sight, a wonderful game which is available to download on Xbox live for about 70 pence. The game is also very hard to describe. There are 5 game modes in total; Ninja Party, Catch a Thief, Death Race, Knights Vs. Assassins and Assassins. The game is both incredibly simple and absurdly complex at the same time. Take Death Race (my personal favourite) as an example. Four friends are put in a starting line-up with many other NPC’s. The aim is to make it across the room first without being shot by any of the other players who each have one shot in their sniper rifle. Sounds simple. The catch is that no player starts knowing which character they are. You have to figure it out without giving away that you are a human player. If you are too obvious you will get shot and be taken out of the race. However, you also can’t dawdle. If you don’t make reasonably swift progress someone else will cross the finishing line first and you will lose. Having only one shot means that you have to be so careful to make sure that you take out a human player to give yourself a lesser chance of being shot or beaten to the line. All characters have the same top speed to if someone else is ahead of you and no-one has a shot left you are doomed. You have to simultaneously figure out who you are, who else is a human player, try to remain inconspicuous but still race and shoot other players. The complexity of the game is amazing, but because each game lasts for less than 2 minutes it still feels like frantic multi-player action. All of the game modes focus on tactics, misdirection, stealth and observance to a certain degree. This game, with four people playing, is so entertaining that hours will literally fly by as you explore all of the different game modes and is guaranteed to have people jumping around in their seats and screaming as they get shot/stabbed by a knight, punched by a ninja just millimetres away from victory. This is definitely one of those games which turns out to be an unexpectedly amazing multi-player experience and is all the better for being such a surprise. I know I haven’t done the game justice in my description, therefore I urge everyone to go and download this game. It’s less than a pound and I guarantee that you won’t regret it. This is definitely one of the best indie arcade games to have been released in a long time. So invite three friends over, download the game, and watch how your entire evening is swallowed up by this absolute gem of a game.
It is probably fair to say that the achievements of the Wii U so far have been dismal. This may or may not be down to the name (naming a console with a word which relates to a bodily function was always going to be risqué.) Irrespectively, the impact of the console has been less than Nintendo’s most pessimistic expectations and has sold slowly across all regions. On the customer end of things, the WiiU concept has left man gamers confused, with many still thinking that the WiiU is merely an add-on to the older Wii. This is yet another spectacular fumble from the brains behind Nintendo’s marketing strategies. Despite this, there has never been a better time to invest in this console. Nintendo have stated that from September 20th there will be a $50 price cut for the deluxe version of the console bringing the price down to $299. This brings the price down to a very reasonable level. The WiiU also has several advantages over the other next gen consoles. The quality of the Nintendo franchises and the new and future game releases remain a huge plus point in the WiiU’s favour. Titles such as Pikmin 3, Super Mario 3D world, Mario Kart 8, Bayonetta 2 and Super Smash Brothers are all reasons to buy this console in and of themselves. The imminent release of The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD will also allow those who missed the game first time around to have the opportunity to play this astounding title. The game line-up for this console is really starting to pick up now after a poor start. For once, however, it will not only be first party titles which will be the consoles must have games. Third party and Indie titles are another draw to this system. Nintendo have taken steps to ensure that it is easier than ever to develop indie titles for the system by making their hardware simple for developers to work with. They have also made sure that small developers have equal space and visibility on Nintendo’s eShop, making developing games for this system a lot more lucrative which will all contribute to ever more numerous high quality titles being released for the system. In addition to new games, old games are another reason to invest in a WiiU. The Virtual Console on the WiiU contains a large number of retro games to be purchased and downloaded directly to the WiiU home page, allowing gamers easy access to retro gaming experiences without having to have multiple consoles. Nintendo’s inclusion of backwards compatibility is as welcome as ever. The Miiverse feature on the WiiU is now being expanded to the 3DS and mobile devices allowing for greater connectivity with more and more gamers and the possibility for using the system link to unlock more features in titles which appear on both systems. Of course, if you want a console that is also a media centre featuring TV capabilities and Netflix then the WiiU is not going to be the choice for you. The Xbox1 or the PS4 will be better suited to your needs. This will also be the case if you want hyper-realism in your video games. However, these additions come at a price, almost $500 if current release prices stay as they are. There is something to be said for a console that was designed purely to play games on, and the WiiU offers exactly that.