Let’s face it, with fall quickly approaching, there’s more than our fair share of Nintendo games being released. Whether it be The Legend of Zelda: The Skyward Sword, Starfox 64 3D, Kirby Wii or Kid Icarus: Uprising, there’s certainly something for everyone!
On July 21st, Nintendo of Canada held an event in Toronto showcasing these E3 2011 titles. Sure, the Wii U was not available for review, but the slew of titles that were available are sure to whet any gamer’s appetite. If there is one thing that Nintendo does well, it’s harnessing nostalgia from old titles and packing them into the new.
Listed below are a few of the best Wii and 3DS titles being released this fall:
The Legend of Zelda: The Skyward Sword (Wii)
Well this one was a given. It’s hard not to anticipate another chapter in such a beloved series. While the motion-control-centric game-play initially made me a little nervous, this game has proven itself to be another fascinating addition in the series’ lore.
Now that’s just insulting…
There were three trial sessions available for this demo: the Bird Racing mini-game, a Dungeon stage and a Boss Battle. Most notable were the latter two, which centered around the series’ trademark puzzle solving and action/exploration elements. These features are the endearing qualities that make playing every Zelda game surprisingly fulfilling and familiar; this iteration is no exception. Here’s a quick rundown of each trial session:
Bird Racing Mini-Game – I had high hopes for this one, but the overlapping motion controls makes this mini-game a lot harder than it needs to be. Town elders announce the start of the Bird Rider’s ceremony, explaining to Link that the first to catch one of the golden birds and snatch the Bird Statue from their talons will be crowned winner. Basically, this is a game of chase. Sounds easy enough, right? Not exactly.
While steering your bird with the Wii-mote you must also flap its wings in order to gain speed and, ultimately, reach your target. The problem with this is that by flapping the bird’s wings, done so by literally fanning the screen with the Wiimote, you lose your steering capability and everything goes all out of whack. It was surprising how many times I would steer seamlessly to my target and then attempt to gain a little more speed, but lose my sense of direction in the process.
Because of these questionable controls, I never ended up catching my target and was really frustrated. Hopefully Nintendo tweaks the controls (perhaps assigning the speedups to a button rather than motion controls) but we’ll just have to wait and see!
Nintendo was going to include a make-up mini-game in Skyward Sword. Then this happened…
Dungeon Stage – The dungeon demo had to be the most engrossing yet. As mentioned, this stage was full of action, puzzles and tons of exploration; any fan of the series will find themselves at home with this demo.
We got to experiment with a new item: a mechanical flying beetle meant to reach switches too far for Link to reach on his own. It is controlled using the Wii-mote and after a bit of trial and error, gets progressively easier to maneuver. The beetle seems like an item that is going to be an extremely helpful tool throughout the game, and is sure to unlock lots and lots of our beloved Zelda secrets.
Probably one of the biggest surprises in playing through this dungeon was its non-linearity. There were very few camera hints, which could make exploring the dungeon to the fullest a very rewarding experience. Not relying on the game for answers would induce an interesting sort of self-fulfillment. Of course, this could have been because this was just a demo; that being said, I wouldn’t mind if the game actually played in such a way. It just made the experience that much more immersive.
Boss Battle – This battle involves the extremely creepy blond Ghirahim channeling his inner Leeloo (from the Fifth Element, albeit less exposed). The boss battle against Ghirahim takes place in a few different stages in which he stalks and taunts you into swinging your sword, teleports around the room, shoots focused projectiles from thin air and unleashes a devastating focused lunge. Each of these modes of attack requires Link to find Ghirahim’s weak points and dodge incoming attacks. This is fairly typical for a boss battle, but the fact that everything is motion-based makes this experience all the more interesting and more demanding than previous Zelda titles.
Rumour has it that in the next Legend of Zelda, Link will be able to find a mystic fire extinguisher.
Kirby, Nintendo’s pink vacuum ball, is the star of a new Wii title sure to rekindle old memories from the Kirby series. Unlike the stylize innovation of Kirby’s Epic Yarn, Kirby Wii aims more for a traditional platformer, more along the lines of Kirby’s Adventure for the Nintendo or Kirby Super Star for the Super Nintendo.
As usual, Kirby Wii plays out like your typical Kirby platformer: eat enemies in order to gain powers, float and break obstacles. The game consists of two levels, each filled with classic Kirby enemies and even a few new powers. The game’s best feature has to be the four-player co-op, a first for the Kirby series. Unlike New Super Mario Bros. Wii, this version of co-op is far less frustrating and extremely fun to be a part of. Kirby may have strayed back to its rootes but it does so in the best way possible.
Kirby goes back to basics: times four!
Kid Icarus: Uprising (3DS)
The revitalization of Kid Icarus is nothing like the original, and that’s saying a lot. The original Nintendo game was lackluster and its cruel level designs made for an underwhelming and agonizing experience for many; however, Kid Icarus: Uprising for the 3DS is anything but! While this new installment in the series is difficult, its rail-shooter game-play is intuitive and easy-to-use, even if action is non-stop.
Did I mention how beautiful the game is? Whether you’re playing with or without the 3D capability, this game is total eye candy. Both screens are properly distributed as well and there is never too much happening on either. It certainly keeps your eyes occupied with both combat and story, but it’s done in such a way as to ensure that the experience is never overwhelming; a perfect balance.
Though awkward at first, the controls are actually simple once you get past the learning curve. You use your left thumb on the D-pad, your left trigger finger to shoot with left bumper and aiming is done with the stylus. These controls will definitely take a bit of practice (it took me roughly five minutes to get the hang of them), but once you do, the experience becomes a lot more positive. This was a surprisingly fun title and one definitely worth checking out.
This looks pretty damned awesome.
Mario Kart 3DS
That’s right, another Mario Kart game; Nintendo has (once again) shrunk the racer into a handheld. Mario Kart 3DS is proving itself to be another worthy addition in the multi-player series with far less repetition than you would expect. While a lot of aspects of the game remain the same (iconic power-ups, a decent roster of characters, Mario-themed tracks), there are a few significant additions in this new installment: customizable karts, gliding and underwater racing.
Customizing your kart seems like natural fit in the Mario Kart series, especially with different stage terrains and the inclusion of gliding. While there wasn’t much to customize in the demo of the game, I can’t imagine how many different gliders, wheels and karts players will be able to mix and match; the possibilities are endless.
The aerial and underwater additions for each track offer even more challenges and obstacles to overcome, allowing players to navigate using entirely new methods of control. It’s clear to see that Mario Kart 3DS is branching out in new and interesting ways.
Cross your fingers for a Donkey Kong monster truck rally mini-game!
Nintendo’s E3 2011 Fall Preview was a blast. While I limited my choices to what I considered the best of the best, there were tons more Wii and 3DS titles worth checking out this fall. Nintendo’s fall lineup is definitely going to contribute to a great season in video games and I can hardly wait to see what else is in store for gamers. So, with that said, lets enjoy the summer heat while it’s here, but when fall rolls around: get ready for some amazing games Nintendo has in store!