Gamers return to Disney's land of forgotten cartoons for an action-packed adventure complete with new voice acting, musical numbers, and co-op gameplay in Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two. With the citizens of the Wasteland rebuilding after the events of the first game, earthquakes plaguing the landscape, and a supposedly reformed Mad Doctor promising to help clean up, Oswald calls on Mickey to help restore order. The 3D platforming gameplay once again finds Mickey solving problems and reaching special areas by using his paintbrush to apply either paint or thinner.
Oswald comes along for the ride, serving as a constant AI companion or allowing a second player to drop in or out of the action at any time. He carries a remote control that lets him either fight or befriend other characters, and he can also detach his feet or use his floppy ears to fly short distances. During the course of their adventures Mickey and Oswald will interact with dozens of other characters, including Horace, Big Bad Pete, and Gremlin Gus, and travel to locations like Disney Gulch and the new Rainbow Caverns. And expanding on a mechanic from the first game, the choices players make have lasting consequences that can alter the ultimate outcome of their adventure. ~ Christopher Brown, All Game Guide
Activision's stewardship of North America's most popular brand of racing continues as players join all the real cars, drivers, and teams for full seasons of action in NASCAR The Game: Inside Line. Special challenges use performance data from real racecars to let players re-create actual moments from recent NASCAR history, while Career mode lets them take control of a rookie driver, acquire sponsors, practice, qualify, and race with the hope of eventually becoming the Sprint Cup champion. Multiplayer fans can also head online to join up to 15 friends for extra competition. ~ Christopher Brown, All Game Guide
NBA 2K13 lets basketball fans return to the hardwood for another season of action by offering them classic teams, enhanced modes, and a soundtrack hand-picked by executive producer Jay-Z. The NBA's Greatest mode lets gamers take control of some of the best teams in NBA history, including Michael Jordan's 1996 Chicago Bulls, while the Association mode allows them to experience the challenges of a full season or the drama of a playoff series. All of the rosters reflect the 2012-2013 season, and a special Tutorial mode is available to help Wii gamers master their moves. ~ Christopher Brown, All Game Guide
EA Sports' massively popular soccer sim returns to the pitch for a 20th season of action with five significant gameplay changes, more than 30 real-world leagues, and updated online features. New changes to the A.I. have players breaking down defenses and making runs to open up passing lanes, while more precise dribbling controls give gamers full 360-degree mobility, and first-touch control helps defenders win back possession after errant passes and bad touches. New free kick tools also let Wii gamers adjust their wall defenders or go on dummy runs to confuse the keeper.
The career-based "Be a Pro" mode returns, while the RPG-like "EA Sports Football Club" lets players earn rewards, take on challenges, and level up in a variety of different gameplay modes, keeping track of all relevant stats, and offering up real-world storylines to keep things interesting. ~ Christopher Brown, All Game Guide
Released in conjunction with the three-quel feature film, Madagascar 3: The Video Game puts players in the roles of Alex, Marty, Melman, and Gloria, for zoologically fueled adventure in a circus tour across Europe. Through a series of mini-games, the animals perform publicity stunts at famous landmarks, as well as acts of derring-do under the big top. They'll also need to watch out for animal control officers, who can cut their circus careers short with a quick trip back to Central Park. ~ T.J. Deci, All Game Guide
Players embark on a "Party Adventure" road trip in Mario Party 9. Characters travel the game board in style, together in a single car, and players take turns driving. A new layer of strategy comes into play, as players seek the best spaces for themselves, or try to leave difficult passages for their opponents. A fresh selection of 80 multiplayer mini-games keeps players moving. Some are inspired by previous Mario games and other fan-familiar Nintendo references, but all are designed to be accessible for players at nearly any level of skill and experience.
In league with other classic Mario-game villains, Bowser has stolen all the "mini-stars" from the sky. The goal is to win them all back, one challenge at a time. Players compete across the board, each trying to collect more stars than the others. They'll need to work together in the game's Boss Battles, where Bowser and the other Mushroom Kingdom baddies can only be defeated through teamwork. Yet even here, the competition is on, as characters who deal out more damage in a boss fight are rewarded with more stars, and delivering the final blow earns a big bonus. ~ T.J. Deci, All Game Guide
Mario and his crew meet Dragon Quest characters for a "greed is good" game of property management, in the North American debut of Fortune Street. Something like a Mushroom Kingdom version of Monopoly, Fortune Street sends players around a virtual game board, to purchase profitable spaces and collect payments from opponents who land on them in the future. Characters can also collect suits, which can be turned in for more money. Up to three players can compete on the same system with a single Wii Remote, and online games are supported over a Wi-Fi connection.
Gamers can play as their own Miis, or as one of more than 20 Square-Enix and Mushroom Kingdom characters, including Stella, Platypunk, and a Slime, as well as Mario, Luigi, and Yoshi. Multiple themed game boards are available, based on memorable levels from past Dragon Quest and Mario games. Various options allow players to set up simple games for beginners, or more sophisticated contests requiring deeper strategies. An in-game stock market allows capitalist contestants to invest their extra funds for a chance at even more cash. ~ T.J. Deci, All Game Guide
Inspired by 2011's computer-animated film, Happy Feet Two features cooperative dance showdowns as well as belly-sliding races across the ice and snow. Penguin nation is facing the threat of extinction, so its members must band together to ensure their species' survival. Part of the game involves recruiting other penguins into the fold, which means winning them over with the power of rhythmic dance.
Players can then use each new penguin's distinctive abilities to stun enemies and progress through the hostile Antarctic setting. Various puzzles must be solved by working cooperatively to manipulate the environment. Los Angeles-based band Ozomatli performs all of the music in the game, which features an eclectic mix of hip-hop, samba, meringue, salsa, funk, and other influences. ~ Scott Alan Marriott, All Game Guide
Nicktoons MLB is an off-the-couch sports game, featuring a diverse lineup of characters from Nickelodeon cartoons playing alongside real-life big league baseball players. In the field, on the mound, and at the plate, Wii gamers use realistically athletic motion controls to engage in exaggerated-action video game baseball. The game's unusual style is balanced on the juxtaposition of animation-inspired silliness and serious sports play. From popular and cult-favorite cartoons, both past and present, Nickelodeon characters in the dugout include SpongeBob, Invader Zim, Fanboy, Chum Chum, Ren, and Stimpy. High profile players from all 30 Major League Baseball teams are also featured, including Miguel Cabrera of the Tigers, Andre Ethier from the Dodgers, and the Yankees' Robinson Cano. Nickelodeon characters appear as they do in their cartoons, but in virtual 3D. The real-life MLB pros are rendered with equal authenticity, and each wears his team uniform. Similarly, the toon-inspired stadiums in the game impose humorous ground rules, and are festooned with inside jokes for fans, while the stylized re-creations of real-world MLB stadiums will be recognizable by ballpark regulars. The Wii version of Nicktoons MLB was developed by High Voltage Software, whose extensive experience creating cartoon-themed games includes Nickelodeon Fit and Nickelodeon Dance. ~ T.J. Deci, All Game Guide
Kids and Family, Strategy & Sim, Action & Adventure
Wii gamers who are feeling a little blue can shake it off by getting down (way down -- three-apples tall, to be exact) with The Smurfs Dance Party. The all-ages Ubisoft dance sim is inspired by the 2011 Sony Pictures feature film, based on the ubiquitously popular cartoon series and toy lines from the 1980s. With motion-sensitive controls, players can dance with Papa Smurf, Smurfette, Brainy, Gutsy, Gargamel, and other characters, to music and choreography in a selection of styles including rock, R&B, pop, and punk. Songs include Smurfy remakes of classics and contemporary hits. The game features more than 20 dance numbers, and as many as four players can move to the music together in the game's "Party" mode. ~ T.J. Deci, All Game Guide