For some reason, I was invited to check out a Nintendo preview event featuring games expected to release later this year. I say “for some reason” because while such invites used to be commonplace back when I was on TV talking about video games, they have predictably dropped off the map ever since I decided to take a different job in the company in an effort to give me more time to work on LFoPD.
Anyway, I was left on one of the lists, apparently, and why not take advantage of the probable error to have the opportunity to spend an afternoon playing some unreleased games and then relay my experience to the glorified readers of Lusipurr.com? I could not think of a reason, so here goes.
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD
Let us leave the best for first. It is a little amazing and a little sad that – hands down – the best-looking Wii U game is an HD version of a GameCube game (yes, including Pikmin 3). It was the first game I went to, and I was not disappointed. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised. In motion and in person, the game is glorious to behold. It looks fantastic. I roamed around Outset Island and the vibrant colours painted the entire village with perfect draw distance. It gave me the sort of gamer excitement I have not had in quite some time. Insofar as the demo, some people’s reservations about the look of the character models is unwarranted, the game simply looks like a widescreen HD version of the charming GameCube title.
Gamers use the gamepad to control Link (thank goodness), and Link’s inventory is available intuitively on the touch screen display. It was an encouraging look into what a brand new Zelda title for the Wii U might feel like. Also, while I did get to try out the new, faster version of the sailing, it was restricted to a small area and therefore I really had no way of knowing how much faster it really was. But then again, I never minded the sailing too much, so the option is just a bonus to me, not a necessity.
Super Mario 3D World
This is exactly what it appeared to be from its reveal at E3. It is a console version of the delightful 3DS title of a similar name. Therefore it appears to be a lot of fun, well-designed, and otherwise completely expected – much like most of the lineup present at the event. The addition of multiplayer feels very similar to Super Mario 3D World‘s 2D counterpart. It is chaotic and the level of fun is highly dependent on the quality of people playing. Players can be helpful or useless or annoying or complete assholes. For example, one stranger I was playing with was playing as Toad, the fastest character. He decided to grab the new (super-awesome, super-cute) Cat Suit which gave him extra speed, and then blasted forward in the level which effectively “bubbled” the rest of us into spectatorhood. That was annoying. Although probably very funny for him.
I played as Peach the whole time so as not to disappoint my readers’ expectations, and it was great to have the different characters control so uniquely. Peach is slow, but floats, Toad is fast as shit, Mario has the classic feel and Luigi controls like he always has, with higher jumps and lower friction. There were no surprises with this game, but it looks to be a blast.
The Legend of Zelda: Link Between Worlds
I have never beaten Link to the Past, LusiMoblins. I have tried, but I have yet to do it. Even with that embarrassing fact, Link Between Worlds felt instantly nostalgic. It looks great – a pleasant mix between modern and retro – and it became instantly apparent that the game truly is interested in remaining in the beloved SNES world. Everything from the sound effects to Link’s shooting sword at full health to items like the wand to Link’s character design confirmed that Nintendo is really trying to make a worthy sequel with this game.
While Link’s new turn-into-a-2D-character ability was cool, what I really enjoyed was the fact that every item and ability appeared to use magic. Even bombs did not have a stockpile, but were instead infinite and used the magic bar. To offset its presumably heavy usage, the bar now auto-regenerates after a short time of not being used. From my short time with the game, the function left a very positive first impression.
After the decent Phantom Hourglass and the delightful Spirit Tracks, the conceit was starting to run dry, so I think Link Between Worlds is the right move for the 3DS. The system is powerful enough to make console-style Zelda games, but going that route is dangerous. Better to make stylistically different entries in the series on the handheld. Plus, while I did not mind the DS touch controls, it definitely is nice to leave the menus to the touch screen and to control Link with a control stick and buttons.
Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze
The thing is, guys, I am sure that Tropical Freeze will be filled with clever, challenging levels just like the Wii title. But the demo aggressively underwhelmed me. As mentioned earlier, despite being built ground up from the Wii U and coming from a capable studio like Retro, it looks closer to an upscaled Wii game especially when compared to the beautiful-looking Wind Waker HD. Also, gameplay was not available with the gamepad at the event. Hopefully it is in game, because shaking the Wiimote for half of Donkey Kong’s moveset does not interest me. It already made me nervous that one of the main selling points for this title is “dynamic camera angles”. Come on. Retro should be doing more with their talent.
Mario & Luigi: Dream Team
I love this series, and it appears to be thankfully unchanged. I was worried after Paper Mario got gimped on the 3DS that the Mario & Luigi series would get the same treatment. It has not. It has a visual facelift in the form of mimicking the Super Nintendo’s Super Mario RPG, but otherwise it appears to have the charming style, addicting battle system, and actual RPG mechanics that the series has always boasted. The brothers’ special moves are still gimmicky use of the system’s capabilities, but they were easily ignored in previous editions and this title appears to be no different. I am very excited although it will be hard to top the hilarious Bowser’s Inside Story, the best and most recent entry in the series. Bring it on.
Yup. It sure is Pikmin alright. What is taking it so long to come out? It is going to be great, to be sure, and it is probably the only Wii U game that I would actually prefer to be using the Wiimote/nunchuck combo over the gamepad, but seriously, what is taking it so long? Also, it looks pretty, but not as pretty as Wind Waker HD. Release this game already.
Aaand, that is it! Those are all the games I played. For your safety, I ignored Wii Party U. Also, Wonderful 101 was there, but it was the same demo I played a year ago. Still, it was awesome then, so it should still be awesome now.