Special: Nintendo had a lot of exciting games on the showfloor, so Kyle is here to take you through each in a personal booth tour.
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
Of course, the hottest ticket in Nintendo's E3 booth was The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
. Shown playable in a small room full of game kiosks off of the main floor, Twilight Princess commanded a lot of attention with a wait of more than two-hours to get into the room. The game looks absolutely hot and will be a top seller when it hits shelves this holiday season.
Feeling like a true sequel to The Ocarana of Time
, Twilight Princess is drawing directly from the successful gameplay formula of the first 3D Legend of Zelda title. Ever since the early game trailers, Twilight Princess has shown a much grander scope than any Zelda title ever has. From epic battles to a more detailed game world, everything about Twilight Princess screams at you for attention.
One big change being implemented for The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess is a much more involved combat engine that will allow you to engage enemies from your horses back. While the horseback combat sets the stage for a completely different approach to combat, an as of yet unexplained story element will transform everyone's favorite kind-of-elf hero into a wolf. This transformation will inevitably open up a door to yet another take on combat and a new twist to puzzle solving.
Nintendo had a few titles making repeat appearances at this year's E3. One such title is Geist
. Under development by N-Space for the last two years, Geist is an interesting take on the first-person genre focusing not just on the running-and-gunning of fps's past, but on the ability to possess objects and people. Taking the role of a ghost
changes the pacing of the game and makes for a whole new set of puzzles to be solved.
Given the amount of time that this game has been in development, the graphics of the show-floor build were a disappointment but the unique ability to posses objects, such as telephones and garbage cans, and scare people has come together well and should make for hours of intriguing gameplay. The scaring element isn't just for novelty, though as human targets cannot be possessed until you have terrified them. Of course, being able to scare and possess people aren't the only
benefits to being a ghost. When outside of a host body, your spectral form can pass through chain link fences, through small cracks in the wall, and are invisible to the human eye.
Nintendo Pennant Chase Baseball
Making its first E3 appearance is Nintendo's new baseball franchise, Nintendo Pennant Chase Baseball
. Filling that first-party gap that 2K Games MLB exclusivity contract left open, Pennant Chase has already been hit with delays that put its release in the middle of the baseball season. However, having seen where the game's progress is at today I am not surprised at the delays.
On the upside, Nintendo is doing a few new things with the inaugural edition of Pennant Chase. First off, there is a unique reward mode in the game that allows you to take control of your own ball field, building it up, piece-by-piece, from a sandlot to a major league park. Also included is a nice "quick-game" mode that will allow us busy folks to cram a full game into just a few minutes of gameplay. Finally, and most likely to play into the game's mechanics, is an inventive use of the C-Stick that will allow you to work some spin into your pitches and actually aim your hits.
Pennant Chase has all of the right components in place for a winning title--game modes and fundamentals are there--but it is still very rough around the edges with questionable AI, rough graphics, and unpolished mechanics. There is still high hope for the final release of Nintendo Pennant Chase Baseball but it is important that Nintendo take the opportunity to get the game right and not rush it to shelves before its time.
Pennant Chase was not Nintendo's only baseball game on the E3 floor as Mario and crew become the boys of summer in Mario Baseball
. Filled with trademark Mario Sports staples like outrageous fields, tons of Mushroom Kingdom supporting characters, and fantastically vibrant graphics, Mario Baseball uses the same hit formula from Mario Power Tennis
and Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour
. One great feature that Mario Baseball is already sporting is a very unique look and feel that no other baseball game has the history to compete with. Each of the 50 characters that take the field has their own flair (Donkey Kong doesn't use a bat, he swats the ball with a boxing glove) and some of the outfields prove to be downright treacherous, filled with rolling barrels and fish-filled rivers.
The only faults that could be seen in Mario Baseball while on the show floor was a repetition in the pitching system and an uncomfortable feel to the timing in the batter's box. In general, it was too easy to strike out from both sides of the plate. However, with that small mechanic ironed out Mario Baseball could become another hit multiplayer title on the GameCube.
Super Mario Strikers
Mario's sports endeavors have been excellent arcade representations of best-selling videogame sports. The next sport that Mario will tackle (after August's baseball outing) will be the international favorite, soccer. Super Mario Strikers
is taking the Mushroom Kingdom cast to the football pitch in a game that screams Mario.
From the get-go, the Mario formula is self-evident in Super Mario Strikers. The game is filled with vibrant colors, larger-than-life characters, and over-the-top action, all combined with a gameplay system that is easily accessible to anyone that knows their way around a videogame controller.
Die-hard soccer fans may complain that Super Mario Striker's gameplay is skewed away from the thinking side of the game and towards the physical. However, by making the action so huge
, Nintendo and Next Level Games is giving the game a flavor all its own. In the end, no one should be complaining as the four-player action feels more balanced then any of the other Nintendo sport titles that were on the show floor.
Mario Party 7
Stuffed with more than 80 new mini-games, Mario Party 7
will be out just in time for Christmas. While the general formula will remain the same, MP7 is setting out to give players more, more, more! First and foremost, Mario Party 7 makes room for more players, allowing for eight people to go head-to-head. That's right, eight people. That means that, with a little networking magic you and seven friends can wile the night away. Add that to two new playable characters and more microphone madness than we saw in MP6 and Nintendo might just breathe new life into the Mario Party formula.
Pok?mon XD: Gale of Darkness
isn't just a game craze. It is a bizarre worldwide marketing phenomenon. Regardless of its merits as a card game, movie franchise, or cartoon series, Pok?mon has met with wild success in all of its videogame iterations. Well, those that argue the point that the Game Boy and GBA iterations of the game don't ever do anything new are about to be silenced when Pok?mon XD: Gale of Darkness
hits the GameCube.
Gale of Darkness is the Pok?mon franchise's first foray into true role-playing, allowing you to actually enter the fanciful world of Pok?mon. The game will not stray too
far from the capture-the-monster gameplay of its roots, but it will open into a deep story that revolves around the mystery of Shadow Lugia while you capture and purify Pok?mon. Pok?mon XD is a unique, and much needed, new take on the Pok?mon franchise and should allow it to continue to grow with its fan base.
Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance
While Roy and Marth represented the Fire Emblem
series on the GameCube's Super Smash Bros. Melee
, the series hasn't seen a GameCube release in the United States. However, it was never more than a matter of time before the fantastic turn-based gameplay of the Game Boy Advance titles caught on and prompted Nintendo to bring the franchise to GameCubes across the states.
Those familiar with the series will feel right-at-home with the turn-based strategy that Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance
brings to the table. However, I think that they will be impressed with how flawlessly the series has transitioned to three-dimensions. Path of Radiance is full of new units and an experience system that will allow characters to lean unique skills as they rise through the ranks. Throw in beautiful graphics and cutscenes and you have a masterpiece RPG on your hands.
Of course, Zelda isn't the only new GameCube title revealed at last year's conference that Nintendo was showcasing in their booth. Tagged with the Advance Wars
moniker when last we saw it, Battalion Wars
is a unique cross between 3rd person action and real-time-strategy games. It adopts several 3rd person gaming conventions including the right-trigger fire button, right analog camera control, and a left-trigger lock-on function. However, what will set Battalion Wars apart from the crowd is a combination of a recognizably Nintendo visual style and an easy to execute squad command function. You will also be able to switch between squad members, including vehicles and heavy-weapon soldiers, at will.
Battalion Wars is taking us to the front lines of a seemingly endless war at the end of the 21st century. Armed with bazookas, flame throwers, machine guns, and more, you control the forces of the Western Frontier as they battle the Tundran army and the Xylvanian forces. Vehicles will be aplenty, too as jeeps, tanks, helicopters, airborne gunships, and fighter jets. Whatever your choice of weapons, the action is fierce and the 20 missions will allow you to flex your mind as well as your trigger finger.
Yoot Saito's Odama
Also making an E3 return is Yoot Saito's Odama
. While it is still a bizarrely effective blending of pinball and real-time strategy games, Odama is sporting a few new features from the conference floor. The most noticeable addition is the use of the GameCube microphone to issue commands to your troops. Shouting Charge
, Rush the Gate
, and Send More Men
(among other commands) into the microphone will see a corresponding effect from your onscreen soldiers.
These verbal commands are important considering the next major change, the addition of bell carrying men to the battlefield. The bell is the new focus of the combat as levels are now won by getting the ball through a gate at the far end of the battlefield and lost by letting it pass between your flippers. Also added, though less dramatic than the other changes, is the ability to through food into the arena in an effort to distract your opponent's soldiers.
Odama still plays like the best of the pinball world while the strategy elements are taking shape around the core gameplay. It is interesting to watch the evolution of a game from year to year, especially a game as unique as Odama. The new levels shown off at this year's E3 illustrate the creativity and thought that is going into this game.
New Super Mario Bros.
This is the franchise that can guarantee the success of a Nintendo platform all by itself. Sure, Zelda and Metroid have played their role on the GameCube, but where would the big 'N' be without Super Mario 64
? Super Mario Bros.?
As the first genuinely new 2D Mario title since the SNES, New Super Mario Bros.
is poised to make the DS a must-own system.
While the vibrant graphics and trademark gameplay will make New Super Mario Bros. an instant hit, it has one new feature that, while I predicted it before the Nintendo press conference (as a wish-list joke), was completely unexpected. We are able to take this new adventure to the land of Wi-Fi, connect with a buddy, and play through the levels as both Mario and
Luigi. Regardless of anything else that this DS version of Super Mario will bring us, this will be the feature that we won't be able to stop talking about when the game releases.
Mario & Luigi 2
This sequel to Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga
sends our favorite plumbers on a time-travelling adventure to save the princess. Mario & Luigi 2
puts us in control of both the adult and baby
versions of our heroes as they go traipsing about the Mushroom Kingdom.
Mario & Luigi 2 will take full advantage of the dual screens on the DS by using the top screen to keep tabs on unused characters, study game maps, and perform super combos using both characters.
Mario Kart DS
Some might argue that Mario Kart DS
reason to pick up a Nintendo DS. It is going to bring back the r-trigger power sliding of the SNES & N64 iterations of the series. It is going to pull together 30 tracks from across all
of Mario Kart titles of the past. It is going to allow for eight player head-to-head racing via Wi-Fi connection. That's eight people from around the world
via the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection.
In addition to taking full advantage of Wi-Fi connectivity, Mario Kart DS incorporates both of the dual screens on the DS. While the upper screen contains the racing action, the lower screen displays a map of the course from any of several vantage points. Though the dual screen feature and slew of classic tracks is cool, I have to admit it, they had me at Wi-Fi.
Advance Wars: Dual Strike
Turn based strategy is rearing its head on the Nintendo DS with a dual screen version of the portable franchise, Advance Wars
. Advance Wars: Dual Strike
will pit us against the Black Hole Army's invading forces. Dual Strike is full of new Commanding Officers combat multiplayer for up to eight players using the local area connection. What's even better is that all eight can play off of one game card by taking advantage of DS download play.
What is unique about the DS version of Advance Wars is that DS battles will carry across both screens. The two screens will allow you to command fighters and ground units in the same battle or units in two separate battles. There is also a new combat mode that will shift the focus from large scale turn based battles to single-unit real-time action.
After the crazy success that the game has found in Japan, it was almost inevitable that Nintendo would bring Nintendogs
to the United States. As a title that really doesn't fit into a game genre, Nintendogs has the potential of being a breakout title, who's appeal no one can really explain.
At its most basic, Nintendogs is a puppy raising simulation that takes advantage of all three of the DS' unique features; The touchscreen, the microphone, and the Wi-Fi connection. The touchscreen allows you to directly interact with your puppy by rubbing his (or her) tummy or by giving them a bath. You can also use the touchscreen to play with your puppy and throw toys for them. Moving to the microphone, you can issue obedience commands to your puppy, customizing them to your liking. With the Wi-Fi connection you can interact with other Nintendog owners and let your puppies play together.
With unique gameplay mechanics that no other system can match, Nintendogs has the potential to be a breakout title with the mass appeal of The Sims
or Animal Crossing
It could be argued that Electroplankton
isn't really a videogame. Games are supposed to have a point, supposed to have a goal. Electroplankton has neither. What Electroplankton does
provide is a tool, a veritable artist's palette of sound that will allow you to make your own grooves and beats.
At Nintendo's media briefing we were treated to a sampling of what Electroplankton is capable of when in the hands of a master. As David Hollands, a DJ of international fame, took control of his two copies of Electroplankton he set the room on fire with hopping beats and electronic sounds. I could easily see someone release a CD of Electroplankton generated music. We know what a pro can do with Electroplankton, the question is whether this tool will be accepted by the masses.
It seems as if all puzzle games strive to be the next Tetris
. Some games come close to capturing that limitless magic and Meteos
has a glimmer of that magic in its eye. Meteos keeps things simple as the goal is to launch all of your blocks off of the screen.
How do you launch the blocks of Meteos off of the screen? By creating a horizontal row of three matching blocks you ignite a rocket that launches a column of blocks into the air. If the blocks are too heavy for the rocket to lift them off of the screen, you can create another row of three to launch off of the column in mid air. The touchscreen is your tool to sort the blocks into matching lines and from there you can keep launching the falling blocks forever.
Metroid Prime Pinball
While game players are still salivating over Metroid Prime Hunters
, Nintendo is hard at work on a spin-off title, Metroid Prime Pinball
. It will have you using Samus as a steel ball of death, sending her careening up ramps, into giant boss characters, and across both game screens.
Metroid Prime Pinball has sci-fi themed tables that draw their inspiration directly from the other Metroid Prime titles. You can even use the touchscreen to "bump" the table and special modes like Clone Machine Multiball and the Wall-Jump Challenge will keep the pinball action from becoming monotonous.
Game Boy Micro Hardware
While there was no sign of the upcoming Revolution (no big surprise)in their E3 booth, Nintendo did show off one new piece of hardware, the Game Boy Micro
. Just as Nintendo evolved the original Game Boy to the GB Pocket and again to the GB Color, so are they evolving the GBA technology again. The Game Boy Micro is the smallest Game Boy ever, measuring just four inches wide, two inches tall, and less than an inch deep. This is the same functional hardware as the GBA SP, just squeezed into a much smaller package. The two-inch backlit screen will have an adjustable brightness level to accommodate any lighting situation and is, in Nintendo's words, ?the best Game Boy screen ever.? The Micro is also going to share one feature with Microsoft's new Xbox; a removable faceplate. It is, by far, the sleekest piece of hardware that Nintendo has ever produced.