Game: Super Scribblenauts
Developer: 5th Cell
Release date: October 2010
The concept of the original Scribblenauts that debuted at E3 2009 really blew my mind. It was a game that allowed you to type whatever you wanted and poof! the object would appear on-screen ready to be interacted with. Due to a number of control issues the game did not successfully execute where it should have. Super Scribblenauts leaps ahead of its predecessor with improved controls, adjectives support, and better levels. The most exciting controls update allows you to manipulate Maxwell’s position (including walking and jumping) on-screen with the D-pad and action buttons; you are no longer forced to use the stylus and touchscreen to make him move. The addition of adjectives greatly increases the number of objects that can be spawned into the world. In the first game you could easily produce a “pogo stick”. In the sequel you now spawn an “angry armed metal pogo stick.” (That’s right–you can assign more than one adjective to an object.) As you can see in the demo above, the angry pogo stick will annoy and bump into you. By adding a “protective metal box” to the environment, it will protect you from the pogo stick. So in other words, objects can enhanced with artificial intelligence by adding an adjective before its name. With the addition of thousands of adjectives, the game now supports over a whopping trillion different objects you can spawn. The only restrictions you have in spawning an object are inappropriate words and the 100 character limit.
With over 120 new puzzle-oriented levels to play through, tighter controls, and the ability to make all kinds of objects with adjectives, Super Scribblenauts will likely fulfill that promise of bringing unique gameplay on a portable platform when it releases later this fall for Nintendo DS.
The Nintendo booth at E3 was filled with Wii, DS, and 3DS software. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword was contained in its own section. Attendees were directed to wait in a specific area to gain some hands-on time with the game demo. A bunch of other first-party titles were playable in their own sections, too, and they include Metroid: Other M, Kirby’s Epic Yarn, Mario Sports Mix, and Wii Party. Other notable titles that were playable at the booth: Donkey Kong Country Returns, Pokemon Wii, Sonic Colors, Epic Mickey, GoldenEye 007, NBA Jam, Just Dance 2, Dragon Quest IX (DS), and Golden Sun: Dark Dawn (DS).
Mario Sports Mix looks and feels just like another Mario sports/party game, so it’s a ton of fun. The game has beach volleyball, basketball, dodgeball, and ice hockey games and each supports up to four players. In volleyball it’s 2-on-2 and you flick the Wii-mote up to serve and hit the ball and the nunchuck to move your player around. Basketball works similarly to Mario Hoops 3-on-3 for DS. After you set up a 2-on-2 game, dribbling is not required; you can pass the ball and flick the Wii-mote up when you’re near the basket to jump and shoot. You can also collect items and use them to trip up opponents. For both these games there’s a special meter that fills up during the course of the sport. Once it’s filled, you can make your character use a special move that’s essentially a free point because they can’t miss it. (Think of it as a gamebreaker from NBA Street.) Though I was unable to play the other sports, I am confident in saying Mario Sports Mix is yet another fun party game starring our favorite plumber. It releases next year.
Wii Party. Simply put, this game plays just like Mario Party, with the main difference being that your Miis star in the gameplay instead of classic Nintendo characters. You’ve got the dice to roll by flicking the Wii-mote up, there’s the game spaces you move across to reach for stars, and obviously the plethora of mini-games to keep things interesting. I played a mini-game that involved balancing a growing stack of presents. Party games support up to four players. In addition to party games, Mario Party also includes pair games (co-op) and house party games (these use the Wii-mote in various ways). The game drops later this year.
Donkey Kong Country Returns brought me waaaaay back to the good ‘ol days, if you know what I mean. Though it’s a brand new side-scrolling platformer made exclusively for Wii and its motion controls, it feels as if you never dropped the SNES controller. Thanks to the classic soundtrack and familiar environments, DKC Returns plays like a true modern DK game. If you’re playing single player, Diddy rides on DK’s back; in multiplayer mode the characters are controlled separately. And get this–if player two is having a hard time getting through the level, Diddy can jump onto DK’s back and go on a ride to the end of the level (all the while shooting peanuts to fend off nearby enemies). Diddy also has a jetpack in this game, allowing him to briefly fly to reach hard to get items (such as collectible stars). Both DK and Diddy share a ground pound attack that can help fight enemies and reveal hidden items in the environment. Sure, the DK experience is different thanks to motion controls but it’s most definitely a new one that I’m really looking forward to playing. DK has finally returned. Coming this holiday.
GoldenEye 007 is being described as a reimagining of the original classic shooter from N64. This time around the game stars Daniel Craig takes over the starring duty from Pierce Brosnan as James Bond. The game features a new single player campaign that follows the GoldenEye story but from a different perspective, Craig’s instead of Brosnan’s. At the booth I played the multiplayer demo. Thanks to an aesthetic facelift, the graphics look polished and the environments are more inviting. The muliplayer modes you’ve come to know and love, such as deathmatch and team deathmatch, are back, as well as character favorites like Odd Job and weapons like the coveted Golden Gun. Multiplayer is expanded with online functionality; you can connect and play with friends over the Internet and there’s an achievement system that involves experience points and unlockable items. I happened to play with a Classic Controller, and I was told other methods of input (with the Wii-mote/nunchuck) are being considered. 007 releases this November.
The next iteration of the Nintendo DSi, the DSi XL, has yet to release in the States and already there’s word of an entirely new DS system. Let’s refer to it as the DS2, shall we? According to the latest rumors, the DS2 will continue the dual-screen tradition, but this time it will allow for gameplay to occupy a single screen or bleed onto the second screen, serving as one giant display. The two screens will be bigger and boast a higher resolution. Unfortunately the letters HD were not included in the mix. Playing off past rumors, the DS2 will contain an accelerometer and an advanced graphics chip, possibly the NVIDIA Tegra 2. Based on the hardware dev kit, the DS2′s graphics are comparable to Gamecube and even the Wii. Lastly many developers have spilled a late 2010 launch window–that’s when they plan on having their DS2 games ready for showtime. And what does that suggest? Nintendo will likely reveal the next significant upgrade to the DS hardware line at this year’s E3 in June. Remember, all of this is unofficial pieces of information being thrown into the rumor mill. But boy doesn’t it sound tasty?