Tiny Tina is back as a manipulative game master, Kirby returns with greater sucking power, Shredders will have you on the slopes well into summer.
Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands a gift of mirthful mayhem
If you’ve ever played a Borderlands game before, Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands should be on your must-buy list.
If you haven’t played Borderlands, but enjoy hilarious writing, outstanding acting, and a solid first-person role-playing shooter that is liberal with the loot, you should give Wonderlands a close look.
It’s true that Gearbox took a DLC concept from Borderlands 2 and turned it into its own full-fledged game. 2013’s Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep continued the outstanding storytelling from that game and has since been released as a standalone experience. (If you’ve played Borderlands 2 but not Assault on Dragon Keep, it’s worth playing as a prequel to Wonderlands. If you’ve not played Borderlands 2, you won’t miss anything,)
While all the characters developed by Gearbox in the Borderlands franchise are compelling in their own ways, the pre-teen Tina stands out for her borderline psychotic fascination with explosives. As silly as Borderlands gets, there’s always humanity in the characters, and if you pay attention to the dialogue you can sense the trauma that is at the core of Tina’s behaviour.
Assault on Dragon Keep and Wonderlands also double down on the meta-narrative that Gearbox plays with inn the Borderlands franchise. Tina is a game master for the other NPCs who are playing Bunkers and Badasses, a Dungeons and Dragons analogue. It’s a concept that provides incredible license for the writers and developers at Gearbox to go anywhere their whims take them.
Wonderlands is identical to Borderlands in terms of how the levels are designed, but I did find myself confused when trying to navigate the world. In addition to the fast-travel system and regular gates between areas, there’s an “overworld” that is presented as a tabletop. You can move your characters, which look like tabletop bobblehead miniatures, finding side missions to take on and triggering random attacks.
Both side missions and random attacks load up short arena battles where your characters face down waves of enemies to claim loot and mission items. As much as anything these are for grinding and testing out your new weapons, which, as with all Borderlands games, are plentiful.
But Wonderlands has made a change to the information that is provided when you’re managing your inventory, and I could not figure out the difference between the varous weapon types in the system.
These frustrations aside, Wonderlands was exactly what I wanted it to be. Mostly mindless mayhem with familiar mechanics and truly outstanding writing and acting. Plus, it lets me play local splitscreen with up to three friends. Not enough games these days give me a chance to play with my kids.
Tiny Tina’s Wonderland was developed by Gearbox for 2K and is available now for PS4, PS5, Windows, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S. Rated teen.
Kirby shows his range in the Forgotten Land
The charming pink bubble creature that is Kirby is back, and for the first time ever the cute Kirby is rendered in 3-D.
Kirby and the Forgotten Land, exclusive to Nintendo’s Switch, has you navigating what seems to be an abandoned human world that has been repopulated with monsters.
Kirby has always been able to inhale objects, including enemies, and that ability is even more dramatic here. When Kirby absorbs an enemy, Kirby takes on their abilities.
As you clear the levels you’ll need to search for hidden areas to collect all the secrets and free the Waddle Dee creatures that have been imprisoned by the “Beast Pack”.
At any time a friend can join in and help out thanks to a drop-in co-op mode, and as you progress you’ll reveal challenge areas where you can complete timed activities for rewards.
Kirby and the Forgotten Land is a light, fun platformer with has plenty of replayability that leaves you with a smile.
Kirby and the Forgotten Land was developed by Hal Laboratories for Nintendo and is available now for the Nintendo Switch. Rated everyone aged 10 and up.
Shredders extends snow season into the spring
The spring weather is close – or already here – for those of us in the northern hemisphere which means the skiing and snowboarding season is coming to an end.
With Shredders you can stay on the slopes a bit longer.
Developed by FoamPunch and available for Windows and Xbox Series X/S and part of Xbox Game Pass, this is an open world game where you can ride with friends and with other boarders from around the world.
And what’s best about Shredders is that you don’t have to be a master snowboarder or a master gamer to play. This game was made so that anyone can enjoy the magic thrill that comes from careening down a slope and pulling tricks.
Accompanying you are a host of actual snowboard stars who were brought in to provide that authentic touch but as they aren’t actors, you’ll find yourself cringing at times. Do your best to get past that, though, because Shredders is authentic where it needs to be: in making you feel like you’re a snowboard star in your own right.
Shredders was developed and published by FoamPunch and is available now for Windows and Xbox Series X/S and on Xbox Game Pass. Rated everyone aged 10 and up.