January 2, 2013 4:00 PM | John Polson
Holiday sales on select indie titles for the Nintendo Wii U will end soon, as the system makes extra virtual space for upcoming games in 2013 and beyond.
Those who have dreaded the initial firmware update have an incentive to do so before January 7 to get deals on Little Inferno (33% off, $9.99, until January 4), Chasing Aurora (50% off, $7.49, until January 3), and Trine 2: Director's Cut (20% off, $15.99, until January 7).
Broken Rules' Chasing Aurora looks sharp with its abstract avian polygons, but I'd only recommend it for local multiplayer racing. The game offers single players a rather minimal time trial/challenge mode, with "laps" that are over in moments. Otherwise, if you have a dedicated group of racers, have at it!
Frozenbyte's Trine 2: Director's Cut stands as a strong single and multiplayer title. The Wii U version includes the Goblin Menace expansion, an exclusive level called the "Dwarven Caverns," and optional GamePad touch play.
My pick out of the three would be Tomorrow Corporation's Little Inferno, a point-and-click, fire-burning simulator that feels very comfortable on an almost-tablet. Fortunately the game doesn't require multi-touch gameplay, because the Wii U GamePad doesn't have that feature. However, dragging and dropping items and starting fires with the stylus were a welcome way to end my days of working with mouse and keyboard.
While not on sale, I'd like to say that WayForward's Mighty Switch Force Hyper Drive Edition (a clever way to tack on the "HD" suffix) is well worth purchasing, especially if you skipped the 3DS version. The HD Edition adds twice the levels. They are essentially remixes of the first 21 levels, but some feel fresh alone, with others more so when paired with Virt dubstep tunes (which sound amazing!).
Along with Shin'en Nano Assault Neo, the eShop is a little lonely until a couple of major indie titles release in the first quarter of 2013. Two Tribes missed its December release for Toki Tori 2, taking extra time to work on Wii U exclusively first. Gaijin Games will release Bit.Trip Runner 2 on Wii U, as well, though not exclusively.
Several indie titles have announced Wii U versions for the future, such as 8-Bit Boy, 1001 Spikes, Cloudberry Kingdom, Two Brothers, Unepic, and Mutant Mudds Deluxe. Generally missing, though, have been innovative and exclusive new IP, save Spin The Bottle. This rather physical game will not require a TV at all, just the GamePad, some Wii Remotes, and limber, uninhibited humans.
Indies may have a bit more freedom on Nintendo's new machine, with flexible pricing on the publisher's eShop. However, it remains to be seen if indies will flock to Wii U or to more open consoles like OUYA, wait for next-gen to arrive from Sony and Microsoft, or aim towards already established platforms.