Hands-On with Nintendo’s E3 Line Ups
Part 2

By Seán O'Sullivan - August 20th, 2014


A few days ago, our intrepid Thumber, Seán O’Sullivan, attended a post E3 Nintendo event chock-full of demos and Nintendo-y goodness. His experience was too much to document in one pass, so we have a second post for you. Enjoy! – ed.

Mario Maker

Release Date: First Half of 2015

Mario Maker is a beautiful execution of a simple idea: make your own classic Super Mario Bros. levels. For the first time, Nintendo has handed over the building blocks to the original Super Mario Bros., and wrapped it up in a touch-interface that makes it a breeze to position elements using the GamePad. The demo featured a simple interface that required no tutorial; simply touch an element that you want from the top bar, paint it into the world on a grid, and use the stretch icons that appear on sizable elements like pipes to increase the length with little fuss. The level can be scrubbed through with the analogue stick, and going from edit to play-test mode is instantaneous.

If you had tried this on an NES, it might have exploded.

It was unclear how close this game is to being a retail product, but it’s clear that the interface is slick, and has received a great deal of attention. One of my favourite features is the ghostly outline of previous play-tests that appears in edit-mode – a simple, intuitive element that makes setting up pixel-precise jumps a breeze. While the physics seemed to be a faithful recreation of the classic NES original, players have the opportunity to pile up levels with more enemies than the NES could handle, and it’s possible to add wings to almost anything, or otherwise make enemies interact with one another and environments in ways that have never been seen before.

Judging by the crowds of spectators that this demo station drew as users quickly bashed out scenarios that would never happen in Nintendo-authored games (whether because or their sadism, or technical limitations), it’s clear that this game will have legs if Nintendo provides adequate community features.

Mario Party 10 – Wii U

Release Date: 2015

The game that scoured the skin from a million palms is back, and now it’s sporting a 5-player mode that casts the GamePad wielding player as Bowser. The demo presented four modes, each taking advantage of the GamePad in different ways. One has the four players running on a tight platform while vertical and horizontally oriented walls of fire move towards them – the flames are controlled by tilting the GamePad along the X and Y axis – the fun comes from faking out the players, jolting the flame bars while the players are trying to time their jumps – so there’s a dose of psychology to go with the reflex testing.

One person gets to be a jerk – and nobody can complain!

Other modes include: players breathing fire as Bowser in first-person perspective on the GamePad while the four players on the TV try to avoid the flames; and a pinball mode that maps the flippers to the left and right GamePad triggers, again, with the four players trying to avoid the spiky balls being flung around in place of pinballs. One of the wackier games had the Bowser player swiping down on the GamePad screen to roll a giant hamster cage – the players inside the cage had to waggle their Wii Remotes at the correct speed to keep pace with the rotation, but not run too far into the electric beam in front, or slow down into the beam behind. Since Bowser can jerk the wheel to a halt with nary a second’s notice, this becomes another exercise in observation, stamina, and psychology.

From scratching the surface of Mario Party 10‘s mini-game selection, I’m feeling optimistic that there will be a good mix of game types that make interesting use of the controller choices, and I can see these GamePad games being a great way to introduce new players to the game who wouldn’t be as familiar with the conventional controls.

Yoshi’s Wooly World

Release Date: First Half of 2015

The standalone Yoshi games have always been rather cutesy, but Yoshi’s Wooly World is a full-blown saccharine overdose. The graphics are striking and wonderfully realized, looking like a stop-motion cartoon made entirely out of wool, felt, and other elements nicked from a family sewing kit.

The fundamentals of controlling Yoshi haven’t changed – he’s got floaty jumps, he can eat enemies to turn them into eggs, and he can use eggs as offensive projectiles to clobber foes who can’t be gobbled up. The game-play unfolds at a relaxing pace, with the player encouraged to explore at their leisure to seek out the five flowers needed to complete each level. Even with the soothing primary colours, upbeat music, and plush presentation, I had some stress introduced into my session in the form of my co-op partner, Scott of Gaming V2.

Eeeeeee! So soft!

We battled over which way we’d explore, squabbled over who got to kill each enemy using the egg-throwing, and once we realized that we could grief one another by eating the friendly Yoshi and spitting him out, our demo session was dominated by a raucous exchange of pleading, promising, and admonishing for broken promises as we were cruel to one another in service of our objectives.

Yoshi’s Wooly World might skew a little young with its lush looks, but I hope that seasoned platformer fans won’t mistake it for a simple child’s game – the few short stages were rammed with imaginative mechanics, devious secrets, and ample opportunities for co-op drama, should you find a worthy partner.

Super Smash Bros. for Wii U

Release Date: Holiday 2014

There’s little doubt that Super Smash Bros. for Wii U is the most anticipated game in Nintendo’s lineup for this year, on any system, and for good reason. Nintendo’s hybrid of fighting and platforming mechanics have attracted a few imitators, but nobody can hold a torch to Nintendo’s cast of characters and the sheer volume of fan service that permeates every aspect – from the stages, to the items within it, to the meta-game of collecting trophies from Nintendo history.

From going many many bouts with this Wii U version, it doesn’t seem that the blueprint has been messed with very much; up to four players enter the arena and proceed to beat the living daylights out of each other to make them more susceptible to knock-backs that throw them clear of the stage, costing them a life, and giving the assailant a point. The same principles that were in place with the Wii version are still in place now: the same basic set of commands apply to all characters, greatly lowering the barrier to entry; but each character plays very differently, and the new additions to the roster only add to the variety on offer.

This is probably going to hurt. A lot.

Playing as Mega Man was quite an adjustment, mostly because his standard attack (which is a quick jab for most characters) fired his mega blaster; but it didn’t take long to work out ways to chain his slide, uppercut, and charge shots into devastating combos. New entrants Little Mac, Rosalina, and Animal Crossing‘s Villager each bring new wrinkles to the combat, further expanding the web of tactics players will need to develop to deal with new scenarios.

The demo for this game had more features than most retail games, but considering that Nintendo has already announced 37(!!) playable characters (with more to come), there is no concern that fans would be left wanting for content. As a major Smash fan, I approached with some trepidation that sweeping balance changes could affect that magic formula that made Smash Bros. so addictive, but the time I spent clobbering strangers was every bit as fun as the legendary throw-downs that I had with my friends years ago on systems past. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U is a guaranteed good time – the only gamers who will need further convincing are those who play it competitively, and judging from how Nintendo has been courting that demographic, this seems like a Smash Bros. that’s being built to last.

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