Nintendo Presser Highlights

3DS: No reason to bury the lead: the 3DS blew everyone away.  Yes, we got to go hands-on (just with a visual demo).  The 3D sans glasses is real and it works (and it blows your mind).  The face features a slider to adjust the 3D (even down to 2D), and a new “slide pad.”  The top screen is now 3.5 inch widescreen; bottom screen is still a touch panel.  Has three cameras for taking 3D photos and plays 3D movies.  Motion control and gyro control.  Online all the time, downloading new content in the background (and NO SUBSCRIPTION FEES).  Lots of big promises made in the form of both 1st and 3rd party support.  We were teased with Mario Kart, Starfox, Donkey Kong, Zelda, Resident Evil, Batman, Guitar Hero, Saints Row, Madden, Dynasty Warriors, Assassin’s Creed, and (wait for it) Metal Gear Solid: all new, unique experiences for the 3DS.  Developers talked about seeing it as a tool for the future of more than just game development.

Kid Icarus Uprising: Made from the ground-up for the 3DS.  The video showed Pit pulling off a lot of fancy flying and dodging maneuvers that looks impossible to play in 2D.  3rd-person action game.  Total surprise.  Oh yeah, this was “Project Sora.”

Zelda: Skyward Sword: announced and demoed!  Cel-shading over the Twilight Princess/Ocarina look.  Looks like Wind Waker and Twilight Princess had a baby (this is a good thing).  Motion-control heavy, for better or worse (looked like for better).  Remote and Motion Plus control the sword; point up to charge for beam attack, swing both arms for spin attack, attacking is based on direction.  Nunchuck controls shield; raise to block, thrust to shield bash.  Items selected from radial menu in real time and controled with remote; raise to throw bombs or lower to roll them; first person aiming with bow, draw and loose string with the nunchuck; whip to grapple and pull itemd and enemies.  Release date: 2011!

Mario Sports Mix: Mario Volleyball, Hockey and Basketball.  Pretty much what you’ve come to expect from Mario Sports games; teamwork, power-ups, special moves.  Looks like they brought in a Mario Galaxy-esque health dial.  Release date: 2011

Wii Party: Looks like Mario Party with Miis.  Boasts over 30 party games and over 70 mini-games.  Looks like it will feature standard Wii controls, Motion Plus and the Balance Board in various mini and party games.  Release date: Holidays 2010

Golden Sun: Dark Dawn: Finally (people were very excited in the theater).  Biggest thing I took away was the use of magic spells directed with the stylus to interact with objects in the environment.  Release date: Holidays 2010!!
Goldeneye: Maybe I buried the lead, maybe not, but they made a big deal out of this one (and why not?).  Looks like Goldeneye!  And by that, I mean: split-screen multiplayer.  Release date: Holidays 2010!!!

Disney Epic Mickey: Warren Spector demoed the game, focused a lot on a few key points.  1. Digging up the history of Disney; characters, locations and franchises that have been long-since forgotten, making up a part of Mickey’s world called the ‘Wasteland.’  2. The game will b made up of several types of ‘zones’: Quest Zones are hub-areas, where you can get quests, talk to people, buy tools and supplies; Action Zones are where — well — the actio happens (didn’t get to see these but they’ll be on the show floor); Travel Zones are side-scrolling platforming levels that connects the other various zones.  3. Paint (creation) and Thinner (distraction) as two opposing gameplay mechanics that double as a binary morality system.  By creating or destroying, characters will react to you differently and you’ll actually change the world around you.  Using paint brought color to objects and environments while using thinner turned them black and dead.  You can erase characters in the game.  Spector made a big deal about the game adapting to your play style: creation, destruction, or any variation in-between.

Kirby: Epic Yarn: A new direction for Kirby.  It’s a 2D action-platformer with very stylized graphics: the world is made of strings of yarn.  Kirby can transform into various objects (we saw a parachute, car, skateboard, UFO, and giant mecha Kirby) and use a string of yarn to grapple and toss enemies and objects.  Release date: Fall 2011!
Metroid: Other M: Not much we didn’t already expect.  Switches between side-scrolling and 3rd person and still has a first person view mode for shooting and scanning objects.  Release date: August 31!

Donkey Kong Country Returns: Developed by Retro, this was a big surprise and crowd pleaser.  It looks like the DKC you remember: side-crolling, fast-paced.  It plays with having DK jump between the back and foreground and some pretty graphical effects (one level had DK and Diddy silhouetted against a sunset…very pretty).  Looks like Diddy Kong will bring some of his gadgets from Smash Bros. along for the adventure.  Release date: Holiday 2010

My opinion: I’ll be honest, I wasn’t expecting much from Nintendo’s press conference but they turned me into a giddy boy all over again.  They’re coming back at their core fanbase hard bringing back classic characters, some in brand new experiences and some going right back to their roots.  Of course, the casual love isn’t going anywhere, either: Reggie stressed that the Wii is not waning.  To boot, all of these beloved, classic, “hardcore gamer” games look like they can easily appeal to both crowds.  Nintendo isn’t focusing on the casual; they aren’t going back to focusing on the core; they’re doing something completely different, trying to tie the two together and blur the lines beyond recognition.  And it just may work.

Afterthought: And so much so soon!  Nintendo played their cards close and it payed off!  Now I need a paying job…

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