By now, you’ve probably gotten yourself all caught up with every bit of E3 2015 news, so I don’t need to go over what happened. If you want to see some of my day one and day two E3 initial impressions, by all means, have at it! Heck, if you’d like to see what I believe to be the real focus of Nintendo’s new theme of “transformation,” by all means, go have a read! For those who just want to get into how the games played at Nintendo’s E3 section, here we go.
Star Fox Zero
Simply put, Star Fox Zero was a ton of fun. It reminded me why I enjoyed the older Star Fox titles back in the day (man, don’t I sound old?), yet, it has some welcome additions which help to break up the gameplay. Firstly, I had no trouble with the gyro controls; it took me about 10 seconds to get used to them, and the Nintendo rep was extremely helpful. I wonder if many of the negative reviews regarding the controls had to do with the specific rep not being as helpful, since I had an acquaintance tell me that after the second time through, he had a better experience with the gyro controls. Either way, I found the controls very smooth, and found myself tilting the GamePad with other demos after I played Star Fox Zero.
The specific level I played was a battle-focused one, and it was great. I began the stage in a battlefield in space, a giant ship filling up the background, while enemies swarmed all around me and my pals. The first thing I noticed was that I wasn’t constantly getting Peppy and/or Falco out of trouble, so that was a huge “plus” I noticed immediately. Next, the controls worked very well along with the TV/GamePad usage. Once I figured it out, I used the TV to get in the general direction of an enemy, would lock on to the target using the left trigger button, and proceeded to use the cockpit view on the GamePad to do some precise shooting. Once I got the hang of this process, the game was incredibly fun.
As far as the land-walker mechanics go, I only got to see others play, since that was a different level than I got to try; though, I did watch a lot of it, since I stood in line for so long. The walker mechanics looked very fun and just about every person I was able to see had a smile on their face when they transformed into the Arwing with newly added chicken legs. At the end of it, the Star Fox Zero demo proved to be very fun, mixing traditional Star Fox with interesting new additions.
Super Mario Maker
Though only being truly interested in the game for the past month or so, I have to say I was legitimately surprised with Super Mario Maker; it easily stole the show, as far as Nintendo’s showing is concerned. There were events held where various people could try it out on the big screen, attempting levels designed for the Nintendo World Championships for all to see via Treehouse Live.
I had a blast making the levels – which was incredibly smooth and user friendly – and trying others’ creations. Every time the player died in a level, it would show you (with red “X’s”) where others had died before. It was all very entertaining, and there is a ton of potential for this title. In addition, the new information revealed during the convention really gave me hope for the game: players can only upload 10 stages at first, but can earn the right to upload more with positive reviews from others; the game will ship with quite a few levels, as long as the player’s Wii U is connected to the internet to download them from the servers; and the levels won’t be able to be uploaded until they are made to be completed (so, no “trolling” levels that cannot be finished).
Super Mario Maker has impressed me, and I cannot wait to get my hands on the title. Oh, and the Mario Maker amiibo looks outstanding, for those of you amiibo-ites reading!
Fast Racing Neo
I found my way into an indie mixer on Wednesday night of the convention, and had the chance to try out Fast Racing Neo by Shin’en. I have to say, the game played very well, it gave a great sense of speed, and required skill. What I enjoyed about the title was that there were no items to use outside of gathering boost orbs (to accumulate for boosts). The game is a pure racing game, and will have local and online multiplayer, and will feature leaderboards.
One other thing to note is how good the game looks. It’s gorgeous. What makes this even more impressive is that I had the chance to talk with one of the members of the Shin’en team, and discovered that the developer studio is made up of only four people. Four people made this game, which looks and plays like a AA or AAA title. I had fun in my short time with the game, even though I was terrible. Keep an eye out for this indie title, which will be exclusive to the Nintendo Wii U eShop.
Yoshi’s Woolly World
Don’t write this game off just because it’s “cutesy.” A colleague and I had the chance to play Yoshi’s Woolly World in two player mode, and decided to try out the hardest level in the demo. I’m happy to announce that Woolly World is actually difficult (especially compared to its spiritual predecessor, Kirby: Epic Yarn). In fact, we didn’t even finish the level – the demo displayed a “Thanks for Playing!” screen to further our shame of incompletion.
In addition to the difficulty and superb platforming, the game looks absolutely beautiful. The yarn style is great, and the attention to detail is what gives this game so much personality. When Yoshi begins running, his little legs unravel, then re-form into wheels. When the extended jump is performed, those same legs unravel, then re-form into helicopter blades to give that little extra push. When a Shy Guy is grabbed with Yoshi’s tongue, they unravel as he eats them, then are formed into little yarn eggs to be thrown. There is so much character in Woolly World, it’s almost too much cuteness.
Rodea the Sky Soldier
This is a title that first appeared on the Wii, and is now being ported over to the Wii U and 3DS. This is a fun title that pays homage to 3D platformers back in the mid, to late 90s. The protagonist can fly in spurts, and navigates various clusters of land, uncovering hidden items, paths, and taking out enemies. At first, the controls were a little difficult to get the hang of, but after about 10-15 minutes, I began to really enjoy the game. To fly, the player presses “A,” then “A” again to aim the protagonist in the desired direction. Once picked, the character begins flying to the destination. To change course, the player simply presses “A” again and redirects the protagonist. The difficulty lies in how long the player can fly; there is a “flight bar” that depletes the longer the character is flying, and once it runs out (if the player hasn’t made it to the ground to regenerate the bar), the character will drop straight down.
Rodea the Sky Soldier was rather fun, and is slated to arrive sometime later this year, so keep an eye out for this one.
Tri Force Heroes
This was one of the bigger surprises from the Digital Event, and I was rather interested in the title, due to its similarities to The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures. The line was always extremely long for this one (and incredibly miserable), as many wanted to try out the teamwork mechanics added into the game.
Once I got my hands on it, I played with two others (complete strangers) and took on the Forest Level. Each demo level had a few different rooms with puzzles that the three players cooperatively navigated, then ended with a boss battle; ours was a giant Chu-Chu. Though the controls were sufficient enough, and the idea has potential, I was rather underwhelmed by the game. Was it bad? No; it was alright. But, “alright” for a Zelda title is sub-par to the series’ standards.
What’s more, the online cooperative gameplay seems… well, not incredibly good. But, it’s due to the nature of the game. There won’t be two-player co-op mode (must have three players), if someone quits, the “Game Over” screen appears (though data is saved) and the player cannot advance until two other players are found. There will be a single player mode, so I’ll have to reserve judgment until the final copy is shipped out. However, I was not very impressed with Tri Force Heroes, and it doesn’t feel like a good “hold-me-over” until Zelda Wii U is released next year.
Metroid: Blast Ball
This was the most disappointing aspect of the Nintendo section at E3, for me, at least. Blast Ball is only a mini-game in the actual game being released (named Metroid Prime: Federation Force). The controls were fine, the graphics were decent, and the 3D usage was sufficient. My problem? It just wasn’t that fun. Teams of three would shoot a “blast ball” into the opponents goal, with the first to reach three points being crowned the winner.
Honestly, if Nintendo had taken out the name “Metroid Prime,” or if actual gameplay had been shown from the campaign mode (instead of a mini-game), this might’ve been a better showing. However, as it was, this was not a very fun demo; it not only took away any anticipation for the title, but gave a negative perspective on it. Again, I’ll have to wait until the full version is released to give proper justice to the title, but the demo was not very good at all.
Skylanders: SuperChargers (Nintendo-specific content)
This title surprised me. The game looks very good, and the Bowser/Donkey Kong additions to the roster are great. It was awesome playing as Giga-Bowser, with flaming eyes and hands to instill fear into the enemies. It played very nicely, and was a fun 3D platformer that had vehicle sections to break up the gameplay a bit. I think this is a great collaboration for Nintendo, as far as sales and brand saturation are concerned, and the game was actually fun to play!
Chibi-Robo! Zip Lash
I had the chance to play Chibi Robo! Zip Lash while waiting in the media line for Star Fox Zero. And you know what? It was tons of fun. Plus, the protagonist is rather adorable; a little robot using his power cord as a weapon and means to get to otherwise unreachable areas. The 3D was used very well, the game looked nice, and it had tight controls. I have never played a Chibi Robo game before, so this might be my first one. For you 3DS owners, this is shaping up to be a fun little title with loads of charm.
There were some other titles I didn’t get a chance to play, such as Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash, but these were the notable games I had a chance to try out. Overall, I enjoyed my time with Nintendo, despite the Digital Event being so lackluster. I’m really looking forward to Super Mario Maker, Star Fox Zero, Yoshi’s Woolly World, and Fast Racing Neo. It’s going to be a long wait until October, when the first of this group of games releases!