Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of meeting with some lovely folks from Nintendo, where I got to play some of the Wii U and 3DS games releasing this fall. I knew a lot about these games going in, but I left excited, waiting to play these games again in the coming months. I also held a 2DS very briefly and can say that it’s slightly less silly looking in person, and seems like a great option for kids.
But let’s get to the games! (Sidenote: I’ll toss all the release dates at the bottom so you don’t have to dig.)
My first choice was to check out The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, the spiritual successor to my all-time favorite Zelda game, A Link to the Past. It takes place in the same universe as its predecessor and fans will recognize that right away. Everything from the visuals to the audio feels like reimagined versions of their predecessors, rather than just clones. Once I hop in the game, the overworld music kicks in and I immediately feel like I’m ten years old again, sitting on my feet in front of the TV (you know the position I’m talking about). As I move Link around the world, the first thing I notice is the smooth 360 degree movement using the circle pad. It sounds obvious, but it caught me off-guard playing a top-down Zelda with full movement. I love it. This alone improves the feel of the swordplay and use of equipment; everything feels more fluid. The graphics and 3D are both gorgeous, with a lot of really nice effects from things a simple as slicing up grass, to the fiery explosion from the Fire Rod that I found in my inventory.
The standout new feature is Link being able to turn into a drawing on the wall, allowing him to shimmy across from ledge to ledge where the floor drops out. I thought this would be too gimmicky, but it actually makes for some interesting platforming, though not in the traditional jumping sense. There were points where I had to change quickly to avoid falling from moving platforms. I’m really looking forward to this one, it feels both classic and fresh. Well, as fresh as another Zelda can feel, though you won’t find me complaining.
And with more Zelda comes more Mario. This one is for Wii U and it’s called Super Mario Bros. 3: D’s Land! Wait, no it’s Super Mario 3 and The D. Hold on, let me check my notes…It’s called Super Mario 3D World! These titles are getting confusing. Wait, is this a 3DS game? It must be with the 3D in the title. NOPE, it’s a Wii U game. So why not Super Mario U World? Moving on…
Yet another upcoming release by Nintendo that I’m actually looking forward to after feeling like some of the recent Mario games haven’t quite met my expectations. This is more of a mashup of New Super Mario Bros. and the Super Mario Galaxy series. Mario is back with full 3D movement, but is the first of this style to feature four player co-op. Play as Mario, Luigi, Peach, or Toad; each character controls slightly differently, a la Super Mario Bros. 2. While I didn’t get a chance to play multiplayer, the single player was enough to get me excited.
Everyone’s favorite moves are still there, including the long jump, triple jump, and that side-flip jump thing. Controlling Mario is as smooth as ever, and he’s got some new powerups this time. Nintendo had already revealed the Cat Suit, allowing him to swipe at enemies, climb walls, and perform an attacking dash in the air. But I also had a chance to play with the newly revealed Double Cherry powerup. Pick up this shiny treat to add a clone of Mario on screen, which is controlled in sync with your main character. The clone disappears in one hit, but I kept him alive and picked up a couple more Double Cherries and a Fire Flower. Four Marios running around all shooting fireballs at once is exactly as fun as it sounds.
There were a couple secrets that seemed impossible to reach without at least one clone (or maybe just another player), so I’m sure that will come into play a lot within the levels. I’d imagine this is only more fun with multiple players, so I’m looking forward to stomping Goombas with some friends when this November.
Yelled at your friends recently? You will be able to soon, when Mario Party: Island Tour releases! I don’t know about you, but these games always end in some miraculous victory by the guy who was totally supposed to lose. This one can be played via Download Play, so buy one copy and play with a group if you like. While it doesn’t seem to stray from the original Mario Party blueprint too much, Island Tour does make use of the 3DS’ motion, camera, and microphone. One minigame in particular has players try to imitate various Nintendo characters to their best ability. This had everyone in the room laughing, but was a little awkward because the game had both me and the other player attempting at the same time and the not-so-high-tech microphone on our 3DS’ were picking up a lot of noise. Another minigame had us aiming a bow with motion controls to shoot targets for points. Nothing mind blowing, really, but Mario Party on the 3DS seems like a no-brainer, and the Download Play functionality is a plus.
After some chit chat with the Nintendo folks, I moved to another room to join SEGA and play a bit of Sonic Lost World. Now, I did play a bit of Sonic Colors but I have never been great at these games, something about the momentum never felt right to me. In Sonic’s new adventure, he controls similarly but with some updates that might pull in a new crowd. Now you can hold ZR on the gamepad to make Sonic sprint, but the standard speed running and Spin Dash are still there too. There are also some parkour elements, meaning Sonic can vault over obstacles and grab onto ledges. It does feel a bit different, but I still felt like I was sort of clunking around from point to point. Again, I’m not so great at these games in particular!
What stood out the most to me is the level design, which is reminiscent of Super Mario Galaxy but with a more cylindrical shape, at least on the couple stages I saw. There’s always a sense of fast movement in a forward direction; this design lends itself nicely to this series in particular, as a sense of speed is vital when stepping into Sonic’s red sneakers. Additionally, each stage has multiple paths that require multiple playthroughs for the sake of full completion. The SEGA rep made sure to mention that fans will notice some throwback hints in the story, so all you hedgehog nerds can get excited.
The trend for the fall lineup seems to be rethought versions of classic tried and true formats, and most of it got me really excited for the future of Nintendo. That’s not to say that they haven’t already done the whole rehashing old games thing, but something about these upcoming titles feel more inspired, and less recycled. I’m not sure that it’s going to make people run out the door to buy a Wii U, but I’m starting feel less silly for picking one up in the first place. As for 3DS, there’s already an amazing catalog to explore, with the lineup only getting stronger this fall.
Release dates for the full Nintendo fall lineup are as follows:
- Nintendo 2DS: October 12
- Pokémon X/Y (3DS): October 12
- Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney (3DS): October 24
- The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (3DS): November 22
- Mario Party: Island Tour (3DS): November 22
- Super Mario 3D World (Wii U): November 22
- Wii Fit U (Wii U): December 13