When the Wii U launched, many developers utterly balked at what they perceived was a gimmick to be even worse than the Wiimote. Hardly anyone knew what to think about it, and so a great deal of companies overlooked the capabilities that developing with the Wii U’s Gamepad in mind would offer.
Enter Broken Rules, the independent creators behind the critically acclaimed puzzle platformer title And Yet It Moves. Seeing the potential of the Wii U as a multiplayer juggernaut, they chose to throw their hat over the wall and help launch the console’s online game store (the Nintendo eShop), by creating an intriguing racing title – Chasing Aurora.
Chasing Aurora is a very simple game in concept. Up to five players select one of five humanoid birds to play as, and race through courses to come out on top. Local multiplayer is the main focus of this title, with almost all of the game’s different modes accessible only through competing with other players in person.
The sole single-player option is the Challenge mode, in which the player flies through a looping sequence of gates to stay in flight the longest and earn the highest rankings for each stage. Playing through all of the modes is extremely simplified as well, thanks to the very basic control scheme – use the A button to flap, the Control Stick to move in all directions, and the L/R Trigger buttons to enter a fast dive.
The game itself offers a very unique feel that sets it apart from nearly all other games out there, through its audio and visual aspects. The visual component of the game’s overall style invokes a very tribal feel through the simplified-yet-varied racing tracks and the game’s five uniquely-designed racers. The audio is purely environmental as well, with nothing present but the sounds of flapping wings, rushing water, and swift winds. Combining the two results in a very immersive experience for all players involved. In order to help ensure that the game doesn’t stop feeling fun due to different controller types, it handles the Wii U’s signature asymmetric multiplayer by having control of the Gamepad switch between players after each race. This ensures that all players have the same kind of atmospheric playing experience, and makes each race into a contest of skill instead of worrying about superior/inferior controllers.
As a launch title for the Wii U’s eShop, however, the game is not without flaws. If you are without friends, it is very likely that you will be turned off by this game due to being unable to unlock almost all of the content. Because Chasing Aurora was made and released before Nintendo had fully gotten the hang of implementing online multiplayer for the Wii U, the game doesn’t have that option at all.
Additionally, the requirements for Challenge mode’s unlocks are extremely strict, necessitating that the player quickly figure out all of the possible tricks to do with the simple control scheme. Because of this, the game forces the player to essentially enter a cycle of repetition to earn the highest ranks. Not helping at all is the fact that there is no option to quickly restart on a track, even after completing it. Instead, the player is expected to pause the game, return to the main menu, go back into Challenge mode, and re-select the track they wanted to start over.
All in all, Chasing Aurora was a very interesting launch title for the Wii U, and remains an interesting title in the console’s library. While very limited due to the circumstances of its development period, the game is definitely not without merit, and serves as a nice early experiment with what the Wii U could do. Just remember that you will need friends in real life in order to truly get the most out of this title.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo Wii U code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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