Wii U owners rejoice; the side-scrolling sandbox game Terraria is coming to to your console June 2016. Wii U may be one of the last consoles to get the Terraria treatment, but it certainly isn’t least.
Terraria publisher 505 games announced the long-awaited Wii U Edition of the 2D adventure game through a blog post on their website, which included a spiffy new launch trailer:
In the blog post, 505 Games Retention Manager Justin Reynolds says the Wii U version will feature “intuitive touchscreen controls to allow players easy access to the world of Terraria.” He also revealed Terraria will launch on June 24 in Europe, and June 28 in North America.
Terraria may have launched on most other consoles and smart devices previously, but the Wii U version still has plenty to offer to Terraria players, including:
14 different environments such as eerie dungeons, slippery ice wastes, wild jungles and more
Hundreds of craftable weapons, armor and items
More than 150 enemies ranging from zombies to armies of goblins
Epic boss battles that test players’ combat skills
Vast worlds of exploration that introduce new potions, magic, gear and more
Terraria first surfaced in May 2011 on PC, and broadened its availability to include console, mobile and handheld adaptations.
Q-Games has been delighting gamers for years now with their Pixel Junk line, which has mostly taken traditional genres and given them new life with quirky character designs and graphics and exceptionally refined game play. The line is as diverse as it is creative and their latest, Nom Nom Galaxy, reaches new levels as it creatively merges a slew of genres.
Nom Nom Galaxy is a mix of the open world 2D mining and exploration of Terraria, with tower defense, and business micromanagement. It’s a strange and seemingly counter-intuitive mix of elements that manage to work amazingly well for the most part. Nom Nom is a distinct departure from most of the Pixel Junk games because there is a steep learning curve and the opening tutorial levels are imperative for understanding how the game works. Compared to the more simplistic nature of Pixel Junk Shooter, Monsters, and Eden, Nom Nom Galaxy is a boldly layered move for the developer. The point of Nom Nom is soup. It seems the galaxy is crazy for the stuff. All the bizarre citizens want soup. New soup, different soup, more soup! There’s one major soup manufacturer, which relentlessly and aggressively defends its market share. As the player, you are just starting work with an upstart rival.
Your new robot boss is tough, driven, and doesn’t take well to failure. On the other hand, the planets you’ll be harvesting for soup ingredients can be quite unforgiving as well. On the surface, the game plays just like Terraria with a far bigger emphasis on base building. Or, in this case, soup factory building. Once past the initial tutorial levels, building an office is the first order of business, then soup making machines that meld two ingredients harvested from the planet into delicious soup. Finally, a rocket launcher is needed to send the soup off world.
Past those basic items, there’s a variety of structural and other items to create the ultimate custom soup factory. Corridors, defenses, robot helpers, and more are available to play with. Defenses are key, because once you reach a certain level of market share (100% is the goal), competing soup makers will send in forces to destroy the factory. Should the enemy destroy your office, it’s instant failure.
Building, maintaining, and defending the factory is a major aspect of the game, and requires a lot of juggling. But before you can make soup, you’ll need the ingredients, leading to the mining and gathering aspect of the game. The 2D world is a veritable buffet of goodness, thanks to the default spinning blade, all-purpose mining tool, which will cut through dirt, some rock, creatures, plants, and other obstacles. Once a soupable item is mined, you’ll have to truck it back to a soup creator station and keep the station supplied with ingredients when it runs out. Changing soups up is imperative to maximize profit and there are even soup trends to keep up with. The overall interface and mechanics are more than slightly obscure and hard to master. There’s so much going on during the main missions that things can feel a bit too frantic at times. Robot helpers make things easier by gathering ingredients and sending soup cans to rockets. Yet, they frequently turn out to be highly unreliable. A throwing robot will wait dutifully below a lift tube to throw soup cans up, yet suddenly stop doing its job and instead just ignore everything. Whether this was a glitch or simply the result of some unknown mechanic of the game, it causes a lot of over-working for our poor soup maker.
For those who prefer a more leisurely pace, each main level also includes a sandbox mode that isn’t tied to the overall story mode. This style of play will likely prove more appealing for Terraria and Minecraft fans, because it gives the player time to really explore the giant maps. Since the main missions are so focused on quickly attaining market share, exploration for the sake of exploration goes to the wayside.
There are also leaderboard-tied competitive modes that will change regularly. These events include races, timed destruction and soup making, and frequently support multiplayer. The game supports up to four-players online for both competitive and cooperative soup-related activities and two-player local coop as well.
As usual for Q-Games and Pixel Junk in particular, Nom Nom Galaxy has a very retro, colorful look. The map is made of blocks, has an excellent physics system, and a lot of the cause and effect elements of Shooter. Mining under unstable ground can lead to crushing landslides, water can be drained from one pool to another one with clever tunneling, oxygen pockets will spread, and there are a host of exotic ingredients and soup combinations to discover.
Despite the learning curve, Nom Nom Galaxy still feels very much like a Pixel Junk game. It’s fun, frantic, and creative. While there are some uncharacteristic interface and game play issues for Q-Games, the overall effect is another terrifically original take on a variety of genres.
Rust is, in some senses, a rags-to-riches story. Facepunch Studios’ multiplayer survival simulator starts off by depositing the player on a deserted island, their inventory consisting of nothing more than a rock, two bandages, and a torch. With only these few tools at hand, though, they’re capable of transforming themselves from a naked drifter to a heavily armed warrior with a fortified home. The ability to go from being a vulnerable nobody to a highly successful member of one of Rust‘s many servers is, I think, the game’s main draw. Rust continues to top Steam’s bestsellers list week after week for the simple reason that everyone loves building something out of nothing.
There are plenty of videogame mechanics that take advantage of this fact. Starting up a new character in a role-playing game is exciting because the possibilities of crafting their skills and personality seem limitless. We set out on adventures equipped with a wooden sword and ragged clothes for protection, knowing that by the time the story comes to an end our avatar will be decked out with gleaming armour, broadsword, and a wealth of magic spells. RPGs are built on the idea of rising from humble beginnings to become someone powerful. Every level up provides larger pools of hit points, stronger attack ratings, and opportunities to turn a weak, blank slate of a character into a tough, fully customized one.
This same tendency is found in action and shooting games as well. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare‘s multiplayer, with its levelling systems and unlockable equipment, set a new standard for online modes upon its release. Since then, nearly every developer has seemed to realize that players want a sense of progression from their games of deathmatch or capture the flag. They want to build up their profiles, marking the time they put into the game with fancy equipment, perks, and a number indicating the level they’ve reached. Similarly, Assassin’s Creed II: Brotherhood found a way to keep players invested in its story by offering light city management elements. Since its plots saw protagonist Ezio Auditore da Firenze helping rebuild Rome’s many shops and historical landmarks, it only seems natural that players would be able to see the result of their efforts manifested in visibly restored buildings. The city felt more complete as Ezio took it back from the corrupt officials that served as Brotherhood‘s villains. Players were given a chance to rebuild Rome over much longer than a day.
In this sense, Rust‘s popularity isn’t too surprising. It is a more explicit use of the gameplay systems that players have always responded favourably to. Everyone loves to see their effort reflected with something tangible, whether it’s a high-levelled character, a newly-built tower, or an avatar who progresses from a naked weakling to a powerful presence in a multiplayer world. Rust isn’t the first to explore these kinds of gameplay concerns. After all, titles like Mojang’s Minecraft, Klei Entertainment’s Don’t Starve, and Re-Logic’s Terraria are successful because they’re so skilled at offering ways for their audiences to establish themselves in sandbox environments. Games that provide an enormous amount of freedom can be overwhelming, but when combined with mechanics that allow players to build something to mark their place in the vacuum — either by upgrading their ability set or actually constructing houses and landmarks — it’s possible to ground even the most open of open worlds. Rust, DayZ, and Starbound may be current videogame darlings, but their popularity shouldn’t be too surprising.
Games very much like them will continue to be made for the foreseeable future and, even if demand for survival/building titles does begin to wane, the design principles that inform their mechanics will still be felt in nearly every other genre. Playing games can be a way to pass the time, learn new things, or experience other points of view, but most everyone wants to see the attention given to them reflected in some way.
The indie hit, Terraria, has a sequel in development.
In an interview with Rock.Paper.Shotgun, Andrew Spinks, the developer behind Terraria, says ““I’m super excited about starting Terraria 2. It’s a ways out, but it’s gonna have a lot in common with the original. It’s gonna be quite different as well. I really want to expand on the whole Terraria universe.”
Spinks went on to say that he hopes that “in Terraria 2, I really want to have infinite worlds. You can travel anywhere.
He also talked about the notion of moving on from one game to another, saying “It’s a tricky question, though. When do you stop working on one game and start working on something new? I honestly have no idea. Right now, I’m having a lot of fun with it. Everyone on my team is really enjoying working on Terraria 1. But I have looked into maybe hiring another small team to continue updates while I move onto Terraria 2. So that’s also an option.”
Terraria is an action-adventure game, in the same vein as Metroid or Minecraft due to its focus on exploration.
The game also received a free patch this week, adding over 700 new additions this game, including 500 new items and three new bosses.
Minecraft launched a thousand “me too” copycats after its inception — many of which offer the same experience with slight tweaks, and others still that attempt a unique overhaul in every way. Terraria falls into the latter camp, taking obvious inspiration from Notch’s sandbox powerhouse and putting a unique side-scrolling spin on the formula. It evokes quite a few genres and it’s an exciting alternative to those who feel as though they may need to explore a world beyond Minecraft’s limits, both in terms of action and aesthetics. In many ways it’s very similar, but it does hold its own as an interesting counterpart as well. It’s unfortunate it needs a little more time in the oven, though.
Like Minecraft, Terraria‘s finally made its way to the Xbox Live Arcade for those hankering for a heaping helping of sandbox play. Immediately you’re thrust into a menacing, unforgiving and randomly generated 2-D world, rife with dangers and enemies. There’s a very brief and simple tutorial you can choose to partake in via the NPC that roams the newly-created world, but for the most part you’ll learn more by trial and error or by researching what can be done online with the many resources at your disposal. You’ll want to immediately start mining, collecting said resources, and get to work without sifting through the tutorial, anyway — that’s what this kind of building environment breeds: the urge to create.
Mining is a bit of a strange endeavor in Terraria, however. Forget mindless digging straight ahead — that simply doesn’t feel “right.” Instead, you need to aim for the block you want to dig on next. This is admittedly a much slower process and requires more of a general idea for what you want to build. And build you shall. You need to think about building a habitat for yourself for when night arrives and stock up on the materials that will keep you alive. You can mine ores and precious minerals, as well as randomly located money, potions, arrows, and various other pieces of equipment to aid you on your journey. Every so often you’ll even uncover a treasure chest rife with special RPG-esque items that inspire even more exploring and excavation.
Of course, this couldn’t exactly be a treacherous quest without enemies standing in your way, and Terraria‘s rife with them, including the quintessential slime monsters as seen in a glut of role-playing games. The combination of searching for new items and slaying monsters is an engaging one, and it gives you a real sense of progression. Attaining new gear, relics, treasure, and other special items is rewarding and that’s where Minecraft and Terraria differ so greatly.
Terraria is more of a traditional adventure game/Metroidvania in that messing about with the landscape and being creative isn’t really going to get you very far. Though you can build and customize a home and other landmarks, you rarely need to go there or utilize it as anything other than a temporary shelter or space for all your items. The heart of the game can be found in its myriad adventuring exploits, which it does extremely well. It’s a differently flavored treat, but one that can very easily cater to a different audience.
Where the few problems do lie are within the game’s translation from PC to Xbox Live Arcade. Control issues as previously mentioned — the Xbox 360 controller simply isn’t as accurate as a mouse, and the screen orientation is such that aiming with the analog stuck becomes quite painstaking. You can select instead to use a cursor-like input, but when it gets down to it, the Xbox control scheme never feels much more than inconvenient. So great content aside, simple problems such as these (and a wonky multiplayer experience) keep it from reaching the heights like the original PC version did.
Terraria ‘s excursion to the Xbox Live Arcade is a welcome one, but it’s certainly not without its own set of issues. There’s a great experience to be found here amidst all the frustrating controls and spotty multiplayer, but as of right now it simply isn’t as polished as it could be. Perhaps after a few updates and considerable revamping it will reach the heights of “must buy” status like Minecraft‘s Xbox 360 port.