Since the Nintendo 3DS released in the US on March 27, more than 830,000 units have been sold nationwide. Apparently this number isn’t high enough for the house that built Mario, and so Ninty has plans to drop the 3D-capable handheld from a pricey $249.99 to a much more affordable $169.99 on August 12. To show their appreciation with those early adopters who paid more for the 3DS prior to the price cut, the company will inaugurate 3DS owners into the Nintendo 3DS Ambassador program. If you own a 3DS and connect to the Nintendo eShop at least once before 11:59PM ET on August 11, you’ll automatically be registered into the program. Once you’re in, you’ll soon receive the opportunity to scoop up 20 Virtual Consoles for free! Nintendo explains:
Starting Sept. 1, Nintendo 3DS Ambassadors will be able to download 10 NES Virtual Console games at no charge and before they are available in the Nintendo eShop to the general public. These games, including Super Mario Bros., Donkey Kong Jr., Balloon Fight, Ice Climber and The Legend of Zelda, are slated to become paid downloadable games, but Ambassadors get them early for free. Once the paid versions of the games are posted to the Nintendo eShop later in the year, the updated versions will be available to Ambassadors for download at no cost.
By the end of 2011, Nintendo will provide Ambassadors with 10 Game Boy Advance Virtual Console games. These include games like Yoshi’s Island: Super Mario Advance 3, Mario Kart: Super Circuit, Metroid Fusion, WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgame$ and Mario vs. Donkey Kong. These games will be available exclusively to Ambassadors, and Nintendo currently has no plans to make these 10 games available to the general public on the Nintendo 3DS in the future.
You see that? Sometimes it is worth being an early adopter! In related 3DS news, the new Nintendo Video Service app is now available to download in the eShop. The app automatically delivers short 3D videos from the worlds of music, comedy, animation and Hollywood. Ninty promises exclusive 3D animation and videos from OK Go, Jason DeRulo, Foster the People, CollegeHumor, and Blue Man Group to start. Expect new content to be delivered to your device on a regular basis. To start, the app offers an intro video, two short films (Sunday Jog and Dinosaur Office), and a Captain America movie trailer–all in 3D.
Update: Nintendo confirmed to IGN that the Virtual Console games will not be upgraded to 3D; bummer. However, when the games become available to the general public later in the year some will be upgraded to feature multiplayer simultaneous play at no cost to the consumer; super!
Netflix is officially available on Nintendo latest handheld device, the 3DS. As long as you are signed up with streaming plan (starting at $7.99/month) you can stream content from Netflix directly to the 3D-capable handheld. I know what you’re pondering: does any of the Netflix content take advantage of the 3D capability? At the moment, no. But the press release (pasted after the break) is promising. It hints, “Users will soon have access to an additional library of select movies that can be viewed in 3D without the need for special glasses.” Unfortunately I do not think this future update involves Netflix, however. Back in March Ninty mentioned that a short-form video service was on the way; it is described as a 3D video channel that will act as a gateway to 3D produced content like movie trailers, music videos, and comedy shorts. Perhaps that is what the PR is referring to. But for now, if you’ve got a 3DS go ahead and enjoy Netflix content in classic 2D. The app is now available to download for free in the Nintendo eShop.
It’s Nintendo’s turn to show off their latest and greatest in software and hardware. Hint hint. Onward and downward (and Skyward) we go…
- The presser kicked off in brilliant fashion with a large orchestra playing classic tunes from the Zelda franchise. To celebrate 25th anniversary of The Legend of Zelda, Ninty is making a Zelda game for each of their systems. The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening (1993) is coming to the Nintendo 3DS today as a download in the now accessibleeShop. It’s the first Game Boy Color title to be added to the eShop’s Virtual Console. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D, the remastered N64 classic, ships for the 3DS next weekend; hint movies and Master Quest and Boss Challenge modes included. The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords comes to the DS as a free download in DSiWare in September. And lastly Skyward Sword has been confirmed to ship this holiday season for the Wii. A limited edition gold Wiimote with the Triforce emblem on it will ship alongside the game, MotionPlus tech built-in. Nintendo will hold The Legend of Zelda 25th Anniversary Symphony concerts this year in “each region of the world.” If you can’t attend one, the company is releasing two Zelda music CDs. Those who register Ocarina of Time 3D with Club Nintendo will get “The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time 3D Official Soundtrack” and a CD with recordings from the 25th anniversary concert will ship when Skyward Sword does later this year.
- Nintendo is ready to immensely expand upon the 3DS games lineup by bringing classic Nintendo characters and franchises to the portable system and they are: Mario Kart (with kart hang gliders and underwater race tracks…out this holiday season); Star Fox 64 3D (you can make use of the handheld’s accelerometer and control Fox in the sky by physically turning and moving the system…in multiplayer mode the camera facing you will capture your face and tag it to your spaceship so friends can watch your reactions in real time…out in September); Super Mario (raccoon suit is back!, out “before year is over”); Kid Icarus: Uprising (features 3-on-3 multiplayer combat and augmented reality functionality using the AR Cards to pit (get it?) characters against one another…out later this year); Luigi’s Mansion 2 (it’s not a remaster of the Gamecube classic, it’s a totally new game that includes “several new mansions”); other 3DS titles coming soon: Ace Combat 3D, Tetris, Cave Story 3D; Resident Evil: Mercenaries and Revelations, Driver: Renegade, Pac-Man, Galaga Dimensions, Tekken 3D, Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D.
- President of Nintendo of America ReggieFils-Aime then went on to talk up the recent 3DS software update that brought the eShop and Internet browser to the handheld. Ninty promises that more Game Boy and Game Boy Color classics are on the way. Free Excitebike 3D for everyone for a limited time. Pokedex 3D is available exclusively through the eShop and also comes free. For more on the update, click here!
- Quite arguably the biggest and most exciting news to come out of E3 thus far was Nintendo’s unveil of the Wii successor. It’s called Wii U and it releases next year. “It’s a system for everyone, but it’s tailor made for you.” Instead of focusing on the system itself, though, Nintendo decided to spill most of the details surrounding the brand new controller design. The controller packs a 6.2-inch display and allows gameplay to take place away from the TV. Nintendo set up this example: Say you’re playing a Wii U game in the living room on the big screen TV and someone walks in and watch to watch live TV. You can easily pause your game and transfer the full experience to your controller and continue right from where you left off on the 6.2-inch screen. The bond between you and the TV has been cut. Wii U games get wirelessly beamed to the controller; one’s precise proximity to the console to make this work was not specified. Besides this awesome function, the controller provides endless possibilities for developers. “In single-player games: The new controller can display information on its screen that does not appear on the TV; The information and viewpoint can also change in the new controller based on the orientation of its gyroscope. In multiplayer games: The player using the new controller can have a different experience than those looking at the TV; This will offer a wide variety of competitive and cooperative opportunities.” Oh, the controller can do even more. The front-facing camera can be used to initiate video calls, you can flick content (i.e. pictures and videos) from the controller to your TV screen, and you can run a web browser on it. Make sure you check out this introduction video to get a sense for how it’ll work.
- Next let’s talk hardware specifics. In addition to the 6.2-inch touchscreen display, the controller also has an inward-facing camera, an accelerometer and a gyroscope, a rumble feature, microphone and speakers, a stylus, and the following buttons: two analog Circle Pads, a D-Pad, A/B/X/Y buttons, L/R buttons and ZL/ZR buttons. The Wii U console can be paired to one Wii U controller and four additional Wii Remote or Wii Remote Plus controllers. The system is also backward compatible and can play all Wii games and use all Wii accessories. Though Nintendo’s keeping mum on console specifications, it’s confirmed that full HD 1080p support is there. It will support connections to the TV via HDMI, component, S-video and composite cables. Four USB 2.0 ports and an SD card slot complement the internal flash memory. IBM will provide processor that beats inside. Aesthetically, the console looks like the Wii but with rounder edges. It was show in white. Also, Nintendo has hinted that the Wii U will boast better online capabilities.
- Dig this games lineup: From in-house – Super Smash Bros. is coming to Wii U and 3DS! From third party people – Darksiders 2, Batman: Arkham City, Tekken, Assassin’s Creed, Lego City Stories (coming to 3DS too), Ghost Recon Online, DiRT, Aliens: Colonial Marines, Metro: Last Light, Ninja Gaiden 3: Razer’s Edge…and EA’s bringing Battlefield, Army of Two, and many others to Wii U. Hardcore games are making their way to a Nintendo-made console, at long last. The company’s goal is to provide deeper gameplay and wider appeal with the Wii U, and with the upgraded graphics, better online capabilities, and the unique controller scheme I have full confidence Nintendo will strike a balanced chord with hardcore and casual gamers alike.
Once again Nintendo has beat Microsoft and Sony at the E3 press conference wars. Nostalgia is a powerful weapon and Nintendo knows just how to use it to their advantage. The 3DS is about to get a major boost in popularity with Mario, Luigi, Star Fox, and Pit coming to the handheld this year. Zelda’s star is shines brighter than ever 25 years later. And with the introduction of the Wii U gamers get to anticipate an entirely new and innovative way to interact with their video games. Nintendo made clear that the Wii U’s controller was “not designed to be a portable game machine” even though it’s in the shape of one. Surely more details will surface in the coming months. For now, peep the gallery below for a closer look at the super intriguing controller and the Wii U console.
The Nintendo DS Lite just got a tad cheaper. Effective June 5 the DSi predecessor will drop about $30 and sell for a low $99.99. Ninty boasts that “more than 48.9 million systems in the Nintendo DS family have sold in the United States alone.” The new price point will only force that number to increase in time. And if you think that’s impressive, check this: according to Nintendo “thirty-one Mario games have topped sales of more than 1 million units since 1995, more than any other franchise. Through the end of March 2011, more than 262 million games in the core Super Mario series have sold worldwide.” To celebrate Mario’s popularity, the company has hand-picked six Mario-themed DS games to receive new red packaging and they are New Super Mario Bros., Mario Kart DS, Super Mario 64 DS, Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story, Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Mini-Land Mayhem! and Mario Party DS. Unfortunately there is no discount being applied to these games; the new coat of paint is simply there to ”make it easier than ever for consumers to identify these hit titles in stores.” Full PR after the break.
After almost five years on the market, Nintendo has finally decided to drop the price of the Wii from $199.99 to $149.99, effective May 15. In addition, the Wii Sports + Wii Sports Resort bundle will no longer be available. The lower priced Wii, still available in black and white, will come packaged with Mario Kart Wii and matching colored Wiimote (with built-in Wii Remote Plus functionality), nunchuck, and Wii Wheel accessories. The new black Wii Wheel will also be made available for purchase separately for $9.99.
On that same May day, Ninty will launch the new Nintendo Selects collection of Wii games. The companies most popular Wii games such as The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Animal Crossing: City Folk, Mario Super Sluggers, and Wii Sports will sell for a low $19.99.
Gamers, listen here! Today the house that built Mario formally announced the Wii successor. Sure details are sparse, but at least we’ve got confirmation that something new and exciting is on the way, and it’s coming sooner than you might think. In a press statement out of Japan, Nintendo refers to their next-gen console as the “Wii’s Successor System” and they say a “playable model” will be shown off at E3 in early June, followed by a launch in 2012.
What can gamers expect from the next-gen Wii? The only official word to come out of Nintendo (besides the aforementioned press release which is sitting after the break) is provided by company president Satoru Iwata: “We would like to propose a new approach to home video game consoles. It’s difficult to make 3-D images a key feature, because 3-D televisions haven’t obtained wide acceptance yet.” They’ve managed to bring glasses-free 3D to their portable 3DS, but the technology to make the magic work on larger scale just isn’t there yet. So what then might Iwata be referring to when he hints at a “new approach” to video games?
Late last week Kotaku reported that, according to undisclosed sources, the next-gen Wii will utilize an entirely new breed of controller. In addition to housing eight buttons and two analog sticks, the new controller is rumored to also boast a 6.2 inch screen and a camera. They say: “The 6.2-inch screen will receive data wirelessly from the Nintendo console and presents an array of options, from putting the player’s inventory or map on the controller screen, to allowing players to combine it with the controller’s camera to snap photos that could be imported into a game or even turning it into some sort of glorified viewfinder (we’re unclear about whether the camera on the controller points at the player or can be outward-facing; we’ve heard both — maybe it swivels?).” Then they propose: “You could think of the new Nintendo console as turning your living room into a glorified mega-DS…. your TV is the upper-screen; your controller is the lower touchscreen.”
Other Wii 2 rumors to chew on… The new controller will not replace existing Wii-motes, as the system is said to be backwards compatible with all current Wii games. The often labeled Wii HD will be capable of running games at HD resolutions (up to 1080p) and it will be more powerful than current-gen systems (read: Xbox 360, PS3). And finally, the next-gen Wii is internally referred to by its codename “Project Cafe,” so go around saying that to your friends if you want to act all cool like you know everything. Though these rumors are certainly intriguing, let’s all anticipate the E3 reveal where Ninty will formally lay out the specifications, controller scheme(s), and perhaps a launch lineup.
This week at Game Developer Conference 2011 in San Fransisco Nintendo held a brief press conference detailing their latest handheld sensation the Nintendo 3DS. Though it’s already been sold in Japan and the U.S. release is right around the corner (March 27) the company is already detailing the system’s first major software upgrade. First up, Netflix is coming to the 3DS this summer. Users will be able to access their Netflix movies and TV shows on the device and have the option to pause said content and resume it on the big screen via the Wii’s Netflix portal.
In addition, the 3DS will gain a new 3D video channel that will act as a gateway to 3D produced content like movie trailers, music videos, and comedy shorts. The channel will be automatically updated with new 3D content over a wireless connection. Ninty also hinted that 3DS owners will eventually be able to record their own videos in 3D using the devices dual rear-facing cameras.
The house that built Mario went on to further detail the Nintendo eShop, a place where 3DS users can browse and download all kinds of content including DSiWare games, Game Boy and Game Boy Color classics remastered in 3D, and a Virtual Console which will include titles from Sega’s Game Gear and TurboGrafx-16. All of this plus a web browser is expected to make its way to the 3DS via a software update in late May.
Speaking of Mario, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata teased a Super Mario 3DS title by showing a logo for the game; a small grey raccoon tail juts out of “o” in Mario likely hinting at what’s to come (perhaps a long overdue sequel to Super Mario Bros. 3?).
And finally, Nintendo announced a partnership with AT&T that will give 3DS owners free access to 10,000 WiFi hotspots. SpotPass, a 3DS software feature that automatically receives new game content and system updates even while the device in sleep mode or charging, will take advantage of the WiFi access points to do its thing.
The Nintendo 3DS releases March 27 for $249.99. Preorder yours today.
Today Nintendo’s Reggie Fils-Aime took the stage in New York City to discuss the Nintendo 3DS launch details we’ve been waiting for. The 3D-enabled DS handheld will release on March 27 in the US for $249.99. It will come in two color variants: Cosmo Black and Aqua Blue. Ninty promises that over 30 3DS games will be available during the launch window (that is, between the March 27 and the E3 Expo in early June). These include a mix of first and third party games. Though Nintendo did not specify a solid list of launch titles, the press release mentions the following games: Pilotwings Resort, which has players soaring acrobatically over iconic Wuhu Island; nintendogs + cats, a new version of the Nintendo DS classic with a feline enhancement; and Steel Diver, a side-scrolling submarine adventure that gives the illusion that the player is peering into an aquarium. The ones you really want to play like the 3D versions of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Star Fox 64, Mario Kart, Animal Crossing, Paper Mario, plus the return of fan favorite Kid Icarus in Kid Icarus: Uprising are simply “in the works” with no release dates attached just yet. Some third party games mentioned at the event include Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition (Capcom), Madden NFL Football (EA), and LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars (LucasArts), but again no release dates were specified.
So that pretty much does it for launch details. However, in addition to announcing price, release date, and games support, Fils-Aime took time to talk about the 3DS’ hardware and expand upon the some of the pre-installed software. Like its DS predessors, the 3DS packs two screens; the bottom one’s touch-sensitive and the top one’s 3D-enabled (no pesky glasses required). A 3D Depth Slider can be used to manipulate the 3D effect during gameplay; the slider can turn off the 3D effect entirely and all 3DS games can be played in traditional 2D. In addition to the D-Pad, a new Circle Pad provides a full 360 degrees of direction and allows for a higher level of precision during gameplay. The 3DS also packs built-in motion and gyro sensors, so it can react to the motion and tilt of the system. You’ll also find three camera built into this thing; one on the inside (facing you during gameplay) and two on the outside. Combined the latter two can capture 3D pictures and you can view them on the top 3D display. Other hardware notables: the 3DS comes bundled with an adjustable stylus (for use on the bottom touch-sensitive display), a 2GB SD memory card, and a charging cradle.
The Home Menu is where all your apps live. Mii Maker is just what it sounds like and works similarly to how Miis are created on the Wii. The difference here is that the Mii Maker will ask you to take a photo of yourself and the software will try its best to convert your real-life features into a Mii avatar. If the conversion doesn’t sit well with you, manual customization options are available to fiddle with to make things right. You also have the ability to import your Mii avatar from your Wii console by way of SD card transfer. The augmented reality-based game Face Raiders lets you take pictures of your friends and turn them into shooting targets. It’s a simple game that highlights the built-in gyro sensor since it requires you to physically lean and turn to search around for the targets and aim high and low to hit them. AR Games works similarly, but they take advantage of the pack of AR cards that come bundled with the system. All you have to do is place one of the AR cards onto a flat surface, point the outward facing 3DS camera at it, and targets come to life. Animations are superimposed into the scene; so for example if you place a card on your kitchen table the backdrop for the targets will be the kitchen table (that’s augmented reality gaming in a nutshell). The Activity Log tracks both your gameplay activity, much like the Wii Calender does automatically. It notes which games you’ve played and how long you’ve played them, as well as your physical activity, counting every step you take while carrying your Nintendo 3DS. Even when the system’s in sleep mode, it acts as a pedometer and tracks the distances you travel; the more you walk the more Play Coins you will earn. These coins can then be used to purchase in-game bonus content, if the game’s developer decides to support it. The Nintendo eShop offers access to downloadable games. In addition to DSiWare games, Virtual Console games pulled from the Game Boy and Game Boy Color catalogs will be available to download. Game videos, screenshots, demos, and ratings will also be browsable here. Titles can be purchased with either a credit card or prepaid cards. Other software notables: StreetPass Mii Plaza (more on this below), Internet Browser, Camera app (capture and view 3D pictures), Video app (watch 3D content), Sound app (listen to music in MP3 or AAC format from the SD card, plus record and play with sounds using the 3DS’ built-in mic); oh, and the 3DS is backwards compatible with all Nintendo DS games.
Fils-Aime mentioned that the 3DS is Nintendo’s most connected video games console ever made, and he’s not lying. First let’s get this awesome update out of the way: friend codes are no longer specific to each game you buy, there is only one code and it’s attached to your 3DS. Once you swap friend codes with someone, they will remain on your friend list and you can always check their online status no matter what game you’ve got running. Now to some fun new features: StreetPass and SpotPass. StreetPass is capable of exchanging game information with other Nintendo 3DS systems as owners pass one another. An example of StreetPass functionality is the aptly titled StreetPass Mii Plaza. Much like its Wii counterpart, the 3DS’ Mii Plaza will congregate your Mii avatar with all the other 3DS owners you happen to pass by, say, on the street (and your avatar will jump onto the 3DS of the person you pass). In addition to sharing your avatar, other information can be exchanged over StreetPass including maps for games, high scores, and custom character data for different games. This might be obvious but it’s worth pointing out–if you don’t want any information to exchange on the fly (because all this can happen while the 3DS is in sleep mode tucked away in your pocket) you can disable the StreetPass function. Next up is SpotPass and this essentially connects to 3DS up to public or private at-home WiFi hotspots. Once connected, the system can receive new content and updates even when it’s in sleep mode or charging.
Peer in the gallery below to get a closer look at the 3DS hardware, and look after the break to watch the 3DS virtual tour and catch a sneak peek at the software launch lineup. Also, don’t forget to check out my hands-on preview of the 3DS from E3.
You might know him as the six-time Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest champion, but Takeru Kobayashi caught a new kind of attention this month when he agreed to eat as many bananas as he can in one minute to celebrate the release of Donkey Kong Country Returns for Wii. The pre-release (marketing) stunt took place in Toronto and you can watch Kobayashi do his thing in the banana eating challenge video embedded above. It’s on like Donkey Kong! Oh wait–can I say that?
Black Friday is right around the corner, and Nintendo know how to celebrate. Starting November 26 you can pick up the Nintendo DSi in two brand new colors, orange and green! The new colorful DSis will come bundled with a copy of Mario Party DS. $149.99 is the price. These new systems join the limited-edition red Nintendo DSi XL bundle and red Wii bundle in honoring the 25th anniversary of the Super Mario Bros. game on the NES. Mario Party? Really? Well, at least the new colors pop. Look after the break to see the packaging for Mr. Green.
College student plays way too much Mario 64. He goes for a stroll outside and the world around him begins to transform. Go.
My only complaint? It ends far too quickly.
In honor of the upcoming Nov. 21 launch of Donkey Kong Country Returns for the Wii console, Nintendo has filed a request with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to trademark the pop-culture phrase “It’s on like Donkey Kong.” For those unfamiliar with the term, “It’s on like Donkey Kong” is an old, popular Nintendo phrase that has a number of possible interpretations depending on how it’s used. In addition to Nintendo’s use, it has been used in popular music, television and film over the years, pointing to Donkey Kong’s status as an enduring pop-culture icon and video game superstar.
I just had to copy that snippet from Ninty’s official press release regarding this hilarious bit of news. Can you believe it? In just a matter of time the house that built Mario will own the famous phrase “It’s on like Donkey Kong.” Ridiculous or not so much? Sound off in the comments below.
Update (11/15): Colbert got wind of the news.
We knew it was coming, but Nintendo has made it official. The Wii Remote Plus (or the newly designed Wii-mote with the MotionPlus accessory built inside) is coming to U.S. Wii players for an exciting low price of $39.99. Ninty confirms the Wii Remote Plus will become the new standard Wii-mote to come stuffed inside all Wii packages and bundles when it releases November 7. It will come in the following tints: white, pink, blue, and black.
To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the original Super Mario Bros. game, Nintendo decided to deck out the Wii in a red coat of paint for Japanese gamers. Today I am happy to announce that the company who invented Mario is bringing the celebratory console to the States. In addition to the red Wii console, the limited edition bundle includes a red Wii Remote Plus and matching Nunchuck, Wii Sports, and a copy of New Super Mario Bros. Wii. The bundle costs $199.99 and ships November 7.
But the fun doesn’t stop there! A special-edition Nintendo DSi XL bundle lands November 7, too. The red DSi XL features three iconic Super Mario Bros.-themed graphics and comes bundled with a copy of Mario Kart DS and preloaded with Brain Age games and a Photo Clock. It’s priced at 179.99.
Let’s hear it for the most iconic video game characher ever–happy birthday Mario!
On September 13, 1985 the most beloved video game character, and our favorite little plumber, was born. Super Mario Bros. was released in Japan and, well, the rest is history. Relive the magic and mayhem in the heavily nostalgic retrospective video above.
On September 12, Nintendo will drop the prices of their two DSi handhelds by $20. The DSi will be $149.99 and DSi XL will be $169.99. The DS Lite model will remain at $129.99. Says Nintendo’s Cammie Dunaway: “We know shoppers want to get the maximum value out of every dollar they spend. Our new Nintendo DSi prices make it easier than ever for consumers to access the tremendous variety of games, applications and social tools on the Nintendo DSi and Nintendo DSi XL systems.” The press release announcing the price drop also shared this tremendous stat: According to the NDP Group, “through the end of July, total Nintendo DS family hardware sales are more than 42.3 million in the United States alone.” Wowzers. With the DSi lineup at a lower entry price and the 3DS readying for a launch (a release date is expected to be named soon), there really is no stopping the killer incentive to purchase a Nintendo handheld.
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.
After a flurry of rumors Nintendo finally revealed its next handheld to the world with the 3DS. Its overall design does not depart from its predecessor the DSi. There are two screens; the top is 3D-capable (widescreen 3.5 inches), the bottom is touch-sensitive. No glasses required! Button and camera positioning remains almost the same. New additions include a home button, a Slide Pad (it’s an analog nub), a 3D Depth Slider that allows you to control the 3D effect from 100% to totally off, and a third camera positioned next to the one on the front allowing for 3D picture-taking. It also packs an accelerometer and gyroscope. All in all the 3D effect was quite pleasing and added a new sense of depth to the demonstrations and trailers. It definitely takes a couple minutes to adjust your eyes to the screen but once that’s done the depth perception becomes a welcome addition to gameplay. Your initial reaction will be “woah, this is neat.” It’s worthy to note that there is a 3D boundary when you’re holding the device in your hands. If you tilt the 3DS ever so slightly or try to have someone else watch what you’re doing from a slight angle the 3D effect gets completely distorted and essentially disappears. As for the analog nub, it feels and works similar to the PSP’s nub and will likely make for some new interesting control schemes for 3DS titles.
Speaking of games, the 3DS section of the Nintendo booth did include a couple playable games but they were extremely barebones and there only to give people a glimpse into the 3D effect. Samurai Warriors 3D had me fighting off an incoming army of ninjas. Thought the 3D effect was there, the gameplay was rather stale and did not make for such a great experience. On the other hand, StarFox 3D brought a sense of nostalgia over me and I quickly became immersed in the playable demo as I took flight in the skies and shot lasers at enemy planes. A vast amount of 3DS handhelds were loaded with 3D environments that you could only explore by manipulating the camera angle with the nub. Resident Evil Revelations cutscenes look fantastic in stereoscopic vision. All in all, the 3DS is an impressive piece of hardware and I’m excited to see how Nintendo continues to build on the platform as we near its release in 2011. 3D is starting to become a trend in the movie industry and now in video games thanks to the PS3 and 3DS. It’ll be interesting to watch the competing companies vie for the top spot with one bridging the gap between 2D and 3D gaming with glasses and the other doing it without them.
Game: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
Release date: 2011
In terms of control, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is a stellar improvement over the last Zelda game for Wii that was ported from GameCube, Twilight Princess. The game requires the Wii MotionPlus add-on and true 1:1 motion is the result. Though the short demo at E3 did not share details about the plot of the game it did help introduce how you will control Link for the better part of the game. The Wii-mote is your sword and the nunchuck acts as the shield. At all time you’re constantly whipping out your sword and shield to fight off enemies. To bring them to the forefront it’s as simple as a quick forward moving shake of the controllers. Most of the enemies came in the form of plants and the game makes it super easy to figure out how to kill them. Plants open their mouths horizontally and vertically; so if a plant opens its mouth vertically you take out your sword and slice vertically to kill it. Slice and dice is the name of the game here. After learning how to kill the plants with your handy-dandy sword you quickly learn that you have a bunch more weapons at your disposal. Hit a button on the Wii-mote and a menu pops up enabling you to select from weapons like a slingshot, bow-and-arrow, and a whip. Many of the weapons, namely the sword and bow-and-arrow, work exactly like they do in Wii Sports Resort. It’s pretty clear that Nintendo ported these 1:1 actions from that game to this one. But that’s not an issue, really; I always enjoyed Swordsplay anyway. Link can also throw bombs into the middle of growing baddies and boom they go. With the aid of a map I was able to find my way through the plants and to a door with a wandering eye. I was instructed to spin the Wii-mote (my sword) in a clockwise circular motion to confuse the eye to enter the door. The demo concluded with an oversized scorpion boss. To kill it the game hinted at slicing your sword at its pinchers. I had very low health and ran out of potions so I died before I could kill the big baddie.
All in all Skyward Sword is definitely turning out to be a solid Wii title. Before this year’s Nintendo press conference all we had was a teaser poster and now there’s a trailer and playable demo. As a long-time Zelda fan there’s not much I can complain about. The precise motion controls are a welcome addition to the franchise and a more cartoonish-looking Link and environment make the game feel less like Twilight Princess and more like uber-successful titles Ocarina of Time (my personal favorite) and Wind Waker. There’s no cell shading here, but the graphics feel more friendly and colorful when compared to Link’s last outing.
Nintendo’s E3 press conference took place at the Nokia Live theatre. Are you a fan of classic Ninty titles like Zelda, Donkey Kong, and…Kid Icarus!? Well read on then.
2010 is ‘year of the remake’ for Nintendo. The show started off with a bang with the reveal of the next Zelda game called The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. In it, the Wii-mote and nunchuck control Link’s sword and shield, respectively. To take out the sword and use it to attack enemies, simply shake the Wii-mote. The controls are described as being 1:1 thanks to the Wii MotionPlus add-on. Link will have many weapons at his disposal, including a slingshot, bow-and-arrow, and a whip. Though the demonstration headed by Bill Trinen and Shigeru Miyamoto fell victim to some glitches by “some technical difficulties”, the new Zelda game looked quite good. It releases for Wii next year.
These next few games aren’t necessarily “classics” but they were announced so here you go: NBA Jam from EA and Mario Sports Mix. The Mario game includes sports like beach volleyball, basketball, dodgeball, and ice hockey. It’s due out sometime in 2011. Next up, Wii Party! It’s another Mii-based game that follows in the Wii Sports, Wii Play, and Wii Sports Resort genre. It’s basically a bunch of mini-games you can place your Miis into. Then there’s Dance Party 2 and it packs 40 new tracks and allows up to 8 players to get their groove on together. It comes out sometime this year. Then things started to bit crazy after Golden Sun: Dark Dawn for DS was announced, which releases this holiday season.
A revamped GoldenEye 007 is coming this holiday exclusively to Wii. It stars Daniel Craig this time and features eight characters…yes, including Oddjob. Next it’s Epic Mickey from Disney. The game is set in a 3D world but there are 2D animated cut scenes abound. Mickey wields a few tools, namely a paint brush and paint thinner, that expose or remove object from the game. You are given a choice to find your way around obstacles by either painting around them or using paint thinner and in effect destroying bits of the world. A side-scrolling Steamboat Willie level is included! Next another “epic” game was announced, and this one stars not a mouse but a pink puffball; it’s Kirby’s Epic Yarn! This sidescrolling platformer drops this fall. Dragon Quest IX for DS, which supports up to four player local multiplayer action, lands in stores July 11. A new trailer for Metroid: Other M reveals an August 31 release date. Retro Studios, the developer behind Other M, is making another exciting game for Wii and it’s called Donkey Kong Country Returns! This new side-scrolling platformer, complete with the soundtrack you know and love, plays very much like the original titles from the SNES and it comes out this holiday season.
In just two days the Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo press conferences will be over and “the big three” will be showing off their latest innovations in hardware and games on the show floor at their respective booths at E3. Let’s dive into each company’s plans and dissect what they have in store for us.
Xbox 360: You can expect massive titles like Halo: Reach, Gears of War 3, and Fable III to be demoed in real-time and hyped up during the Microsoft press conference. But the buzz around Microsoft this year surrounds their gaming without controllers initiative codenamed Project Natal. With a pre-E3 event called “Project Natal for Xbox 360 Experience imagined by Cirque du Soleil” you can expect the motion-capture accessory to dominate Microsoft’s offerings throughout the week. With Natal Microsoft is first and foremost targeting the casual gamer, looking to expand to the same market Nintendo captured with the Wii. Natal’s initial launch lineup will be announced and this first batch of games will likely take advantage of Natal in simplistic ways. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Richochet and Paint Party games that were previewed last year end up shipping with it. And there’s always little Milo who may certainly star in his own game. If you’re the hardcore type, it would be remiss for Microsoft to ignore you after all these years of support. I’ve seen video of Burnout Paradise being used with Natal and Fable III lead designer Peter Molyneux stated in an interview that the next Fable will incorporate Natal functionality. Whatever the launch lineup may be, I would hope Microsoft has at least a dozen casual games to entice new gamers to their console and a sprinkle of hardcore experiences to satisfy their longtime users. Also, I wouldn’t be surprised if a new version of the Xbox 360 dashboard took advantage of Natal with a gesture-based UI. As of now we know Natal is expected to launch this holiday season; the press conference should make things more clear with not only a definitive release date and a price (fingers-crossed under $100), but also a final name for the hardware (although “Natal” has grown on me over the months).
Enough Natal. Let’s talk games. I’ve already hit on the big sequel exclusives like Bungie’s Halo: Reach, Epic’s Gears of War 3, and Microsoft Game Studios’ Fable III. First person shoot XCOM from 2K Games looks fantastic (also available on PC), Capcom’s Dead Rising: Case Zero brings another compelling zombie shooter, and Microsoft Game Studios’ Avatar-based racing game Joy Ride will likely use Natal in more ways than one. And you can’t forget about the next Assassin’s Creed game from Ubisoft subtitled Brotherhood.
Read on for PS3 and Wii/DS discussion, plus more about third-party games and some “bizarre predictions”! (Click here for more…)