The games of November 2012

Franchise frenzy and the Wii U launch barrage – hello, holidays!

November 18

New Super Mario Bros. U

Platform: Wii U
EU: November 30

We're 16 years removed from the last original Super Mario platformer at a system launch, so New Super Mario Bros. U is an even bigger deal than your average, run-of-the-mill, mid-lifespan series release. Or at least it may feel that way. But from the time we've spent with the Wii U's fresh take on the side-scrolling formula, there really is plenty to be excited about. We love the way it recalls legendary SNES classic Super Mario World, the high-definition sheen (finally!) is jaw-dropping in spots, and the multiplayer mode lets you work together – or just troll each other in a remarkable manner. It's Mario. If you're buying a Wii U, chances are you're buying this too. Here's hoping it continues the trend of brilliant Mario launch titles.

Nintendo Land

Platform: Wii U
EU: November 30

Taking the role of Nintendo's "every-game" (see Wii Sports) this console launch is Nintendo Land, a compilation of mini-games that aims to impart the myriad functions of the elaborate Wii U GamePad while looping in scads of beloved characters and franchises. Blending a mix of past tech demos with new activities, Nintendo Land features solo, competitive, and team events, including the sword-swinging (and arrow-firing) The Legend of Zelda: Battle Quest and the shuriken-flinging Takamaru's Ninja Castle. Nintendo Land comes packed in with the premium console bundle, otherwise it's $60 – perhaps an ambitious sum for a mini-game compilation, but it's bound to be a hit all the same.

Madden NFL 13

Platform: Wii U
EU: TBA

Like many of the Wii U launch titles, Madden NFL 13 adds some potentially helpful features on top of the existing experience; but sadly, unlike some of its day-one counterparts, this football sim also sheds a fair bit of content. On the upside, you can use the GamePad to call plays in what seems like a really natural use of the controller, plus you can play the entire game on the controller without the need for a television. Unfortunately, the Wii U version sheds some of the bigger features on other platforms, namely the on-the-fly physics engine, Madden Ultimate Team mode, and online team play. Will a lighter Madden NFL 13 still fly with Wii U buyers?

Mass Effect 3: Special Edition

Platform: Wii U
EU: TBA

One of the year's biggest games will be right there at the Wii U launch with some added content and expected control tweaks in tow. Ported by Australian studio Straight Right, Mass Effect 3: Special Edition bundles in a bunch of the DLC seen on other platforms, including the controversial extended ending, the From Ashes pack, and three multiplayer additions, plus the GamePad is used here to provide overhead maps with enemy and grenade locations and allow you to control squad members. And to ease you into this first entry on Nintendo hardware, you can relive the events of the previous titles via an interactive Dark Horse comic recap.

FIFA 13

Platform: Wii U
EU: November 30

For those encountering FIFA 13 for the first time on the Wii U, we imagine the experience will be quite positive, especially considering our praise of the core play from the other HD releases. And it adds in slick GamePad usage, with the ability to look around the stadium with the controller, shoot the ball, and manage players with ease. But like Madden NFL 13, FIFA's first Wii U appearance comes with notable caveats, namely its lack of recent gameplay improvements – the First Touch system and other tweaks – and the popular FIFA Ultimate Team card-based mode, thanks to the system's still-unsettled online approach. At least it'll look a tiny bit better than on other platforms.

SiNG Party

Platform: Wii U
EU: TBA

We certainly won't dispute that the karaoke video game genre has been done to death, but at least SiNG Party tries to do something slightly different, assuming you're willing to buy in with a healthy dose of enthusiasm. Wielding both a mic and the Wii U GamePad, the vocalist will read the lyrics off the smaller screen while singing along to one of the included licensed songs, occasionally pointing the mic at any nearby friends to sing additional parts displayed on the television. It's not really a skill or score-centric affair – just a slickly presented singing offering that extroverts may get a kick out of.

Just Dance 4

Platform: Wii U
EU: TBA

When you're just dancing along to one of a few dozen licensed hits, the last thing you want to do is look down at a second screen. Just Dance 4 realizes this, so instead of adding a potentially cumbersome element to your grooves, the latest effort from Ubisoft opts to utilize the Wii U GamePad in a separate Puppet Master mode. Essentially, this bonus mode allows a spare non-dancer to torment his/her Wii Remote-wielding friends (up to four) by choosing moves on the fly, creating an unexpected stream of moves meant to embarrass or simply amuse. It's one of those little additions that may well come in handy the next time you've got pals around.

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