Nintendo may not have had the massive press conference at E3 that they usually had, but that doesn’t mean that there weren’t games to talk about. With the 3DS finding its groove and the Wii U approaching its first birthday, Nintendo has a fairly robust lineup heading our way over the next few months. Fans got a chance to check out a few games when Nintendo did their “Bringing E3 To You” Best Buy tour, and I also got the chance to attend a special Nintendo preview event. But this time, I wasn’t going alone…
We ALMOST got away with having Nintendo babysit these three for a couple hours while we got dinner.
That’s right, we unleashed the three boys to REALLY put Nintendo’s upcoming titles through the paces. Not shockingly, a good time was had by all.
Mario Kart 8
Young Gavin has already perfected the art of the photobomb.
Okay, I’m cheating a bit here, we saw Mario Kart 8 at Best Buy, but since it wasn’t on display at the event I figured I’d throw it in here first. It’s far from a finished product (rumours currently have it dropping in April), but what we saw was encouraging. While I liked Mario Kart 7 on the 3DS, I felt it was just more of the same. But watching the boys play over three new tracks, it felt a little more fresh, even though a lot of elements made their return from 7. Perhaps it was the high definition visuals or the ability to drive on walls at certain points that gave it a sense of new-ness, but regardless, it felt that Mario Kart 8 was going to be a solid title that we’ll be anxiously awaiting next year.
Super Mario 3D World
Seriously, Cat Mario is awesome.
Finally, a true, new 3D Mario title for the Wii U. Colour me a little disappointed that Nintendo didn’t go down the Galaxy route, but this new title is looking like a good start. It’s a lot closer to Super Mario 3D Land for the 3DS, which was an outstanding first effort. This one, of course, won’t have 3D visuals, but it’s looking good even without it. We already noticed drop-in co-op (nobody would volunteer to drop out so we couldn’t see if/how that worked, go figure), and, in a nod to my favourite 2D Mario game, Super Mario Bros. 2 (sorry, haters), all the available characters (Mario, Luigi, Toad, Peach) have different abilities. I think this might have been the game that the boys spent the most time with, showing just how timeless Mario platformers can be. Oh, and the new Cat Mario was an instant hit.
Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze
Yes! Extra hit points are back, thank goodness.
While the latest Donkey Kong Country on the 3DS game was fun, there were some limitations involved. Tropical Freeze already looks like it will be a better game since it’ll be on a larger screen, and Diddy Kong actually gets to do stuff now (which is easier to pull off on a home console). Yeah, it looks gorgeous, but that’s pretty much expected now from a DKC game. What we liked was that Diddy could be as involved in the level as you wanted him to be. You could choose to work together, with Diddy providing jetpack lift, or shooting a banana gun to stun enemeies, or Diddy could wander off on his own and you could work separately (with quick catch up if one player lags behind), so this is shaping up to be a great co-op game. Gavin, the three-year-old, was repeatedly telling us how funny it was shooting the banana gun.
Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games
We got to play an early build of this game, with bobsled and skiing on tap. Bobsledding was neat as you could work together with up to three other players to push and control your bobsled down the track, and skiing was very similar with Ski Cross, racing on the same course with three other racers. This will be a good title for winter sports fans seeing their favourite Sonic and Mario characters in action together. I’m looking forward to seeing more with how they handle other popular sports like hockey, figure skating, and curling (we are Canadian after all).
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD
My kids might be bigger Zelda fans than me at this point.
I think a new Zelda fan was born in five-year-old Malcolm. He really seemed to dig the two Zelda titles on display, even with not being familiar with the series. Oh, and Wind Waker HD was a popular demo choice at our particular Best Buy stop. Anyways, the game looks great, and it’s likely the more cartoon-like visuals are behind Malcolm’s gravitation to the title. Both him and Owen enjoyed wandering around with Link, and at some point, I think one of them had Link pick a pig up and put him over his head, which might have been their personal highlight of the day.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
“Can you hit people a your sword? Good, I’m in.”
This one was an interesting little dungeon crawler that was quick to figure out. I wish I’d gotten to see more of Link walking along walls though. Every time I tried it, I couldn’t go too far to really get a feel for that much-publicized game mechanic. I’m sure the main game will be a bit more involved, but the demo at least felt like a nice bite-sized chunk of Zelda, and maybe something I could use to properly introduce Malcolm to the series.
Wii U Party
I don’t think “GamePad Headbutting” will make it into the finished product.
Sadly, there weren’t a lot of people trying out Wii U Party at the event. On the plus side, more time for us! Just know this: the Nintendo-produced Party games tend to get a bum rap, but we’ve enjoyed the heck out of all of them. And Wii U Party looks like it will be more of the same. I’m a little curious as to why Nintendo didn’t go full-fledged Mario Party for this one, but it might just be that Mario Party 9 is still too new for that group to start work on a Wii U title. Regardless, the minigames were fun (even my wife got in on the action), and the new GamePad-only games showed real promise (that’s Owen and me playing one in the above picture). Hopefully there will be more of these in the finished product.
Mario & Luigi: Dream Team
Not the first RPG he’s played in his young life…
On the other end of the spectrum, this one was quite busy and I personally didn’t get a chance to play it, but Malcolm did for a bit. I couldn’t get much out of him except that he liked it (go figure), but we’ll get a much better look closer to release, which is coming up next month.
Pikmin 3 and The Wonderful 101
Yup, Pikmin 3 gets a thumbs up!
These two games are in the class of “Just hurry up and release, please!” We’ve previewed them before, and not much has changed. Owen STILL wants Pikmin 3 in the worst way, and he’ll be finally getting his chance next month. His brothers got in on the action as well with some co-op play (as you can see on the split screen above). As for The Wonderful 101, it’s still a frantic action game, and my wife had an interesting observation when she pointed out how using a gun was very un-Nintendo like. I gave her the rundown of how the gun was really just something made out of all the little super heroes, but it does still point to how different this game is from other games you see on Nintendo consoles. I REALLY like the concept, and I’ve had nothing but fun in my previews, so I will be very interested to see how the general public takes to it.