Saturday, 26 June 2010

E3 2010 Review - At the Nintendo Conference [1/2]

What. A. Show. Dare I say it, this year's Nintendo E3 conference is definitely the best show the company has ever put on. Wait, scratch that, this year's Nintendo press conference was the best conference any company has ever put on. The amount of hardcore Nintendo franchises revealed at this year's show was completely mesmerising to say the least, from Zelda to Donkey Kong, Golden Sun to GoldenEye, Kirby to Metroid; it's very hard to believe that all these new games are coming out so soon! For part one of my big E3 review, I'll be talking about all the announcements at Nintendo's conference in the order they were revealed as well as giving each announcement a rating. Then I'll finish by wrapping it all up in one awesome package in the form of a big 2 part feature. Let's get started with Nintendo's first announcement, which was strangely what we expected to be one of the final reveals of the show. yes, it's...

The Legend Of Zelda: Skyward Sword
Nintendo started of their 2010 conference with a brand new Zelda game in the form of Skyward Sword. Dodgy name aside, this new title in the legendary flagship series looks both awesome and cool, thanks to the inclusion of the MotionPlus peripheral.
The first we saw of this new game was a short trailer, showing past characters from past Zelda games moving into a beam of light. Then, a slightly weird animation of Link was shown. At this point I thought, well, this looked pretty dodgy. The animation was kind of stupid and the tiny amount of gameplay shown after that was hard to think about. I felt slightly dissapointed. Then Miyamoto showed up on the big screen holding the same sword and shield he held at E3 2004 when Twilight Princess was announced. He talked about how him and the rest of Nintendo's EAD division went about making a new Wii Zelda game, the answer? Wii MotionPlus. Miyamoto told his translator (who was on stage under the screen) to explain Skyward Sword to the audience. He began by doing very badly at playing Skyward Sword and being beaten up by a Deku Baba. Miyamoto then came through a curtain behind the screen to show Bill how they do it in Hyrule. The more long lived gameplay we saw while Miyamoto played Skyward Sword certainly changed my dissapointment into joy as he showed off the new items in the game. A ray of hope.

The first item they showed off was the trademark sword, opening us up to many new moves thanks to the inclusion of MotionPlus. You can now swing at any angle you want, allowing for more possibilities of combat, rather than just continually pressing a button to defeat enemies. Take the Deku Baba Bill was struggling with when he tried to play the game. It's clever, because the only way to defeat this enemy is by swinging your sword in the direction it's mouth is open. If the monster's mouth is open vertically, you have to cut vertically and so on. Link's sword can also now be charged up by holding it to the skies, which is clearly something to do with the title of the game. Instead of making your sword more powerful, charging up allows you to send a "sword beam" through the air. Think Shinobu's Sonic Sword move from the original No More Heroes and you've got the right idea. Spin attacks return, but this time they are pulled off by swinging both the Wiimote and Nunchuk in the same direction. All in all, these new sword moves seem to work very well. A sword related puzzle was also shown off, which involved a door with an eye on it that needed to be stabbed in order to open the door. Unfortunately, if Link moves too close to the door, the eye shuts and cannot be stabbed. So, you must resort to confusing the eye by moving your sword around in a circle to confuse it. When confused, the eye can be stabbed, opening the door, it's all pretty clever stuff. Link's shield now has more uses too, like shield bashing by jabbing the nunchuk forward.

Before I get into the other items that were shown, I'd like to talk about the interesting new way of preparing your items. In past Zelda games you had to assign items to buttons, then press the button to use that item. Now it's a lot more streamlined as every single item is assigned to the B button. All you do is hold down the B button, then select an item by moving the pointer over it and releasing. The first item Miyamoto picked was the Slingshot, which works the same way as it did in Twilight Princess so there's not much to talk about with that item. Then Miyamoto picked the Bombs, which can now be used in a variety of different ways. There's the standard placing a Bomb on the ground by pressing the A button, but throwing a Bomb over your head is now excecuted by raising the remote above your head and throwing it as you would in real life. Not only can you place and throw Bombs, but you can now drop your hand and roll a Bomb to get it in tight spaces. The Bow also gets new controls for Skyward Sword. With this item you point at the screen to aim, then when you've got the reticule where you want it you can lock it into place by holding the C button on the Nunchuck. While holding C, the Bow works a lot like it does in Wii Sports Resort; You pull back on the Nunchuk, then release C to fire an arrow. Then they showed a brand new item: The Beetle. Link's new bug friend works basically like the plane in the island flyover game from Wii Sports resort. You tilt the remote in the direction you want the Beetle to fly, and if you fly over items like bombs or heart pieces, then the beetle picks them up and returns them to Link. When the Beetle was flown high up in the air, the stunning and beautiful scenery in the game was revealed. I honestly thought "WOW" at that point. Finally, another new item was shown: The Whip. Returning from Link's most recent handheld adventure, Spirit Tracks, the Whip appears for the first time in a home console Zelda game. It works just like a whip in real life really, swing the remote and it will snap in the direction of your swing.

Bill and Miyamoto ended the gameplay session by announcing that Zelda: Skyward Sword will be released next year. This news makes me kind of glad, because the vast majority of other games Nintendo has announced at the conference will be coming out before the end of this year. I better get saving up the pennies! Anyway, after the duo left, an extended trailer of Skyward Sword was shown, revealing most of the forest area we were just shown, along with a boss fight. The trailer ended spectacularly, showing Link skydiving off a cliff. You can watch that trailer here! As for my opnion on Skyward Sword, I'm not quite convinced that this will beat Twilight Princess yet, but we'll see hopefully very soon. Cue the next announcement...
Anticipation Level: 9/10
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Friday, 25 June 2010

Update: Explanation for my recent lack of posts and upcoming stuff

Oh, and for those who are wondering, that picture has absolutely nothing to do with anything. I just needed a cool pic. Yes, it's been a while since you've heard from me properly, so I thought I should explain what's been going on in the form of another update post. I have several reasons for my absence and I hope you are able understand why I've not posted anything in a while. My first reason is because I bought Super Mario Galaxy 2 and have been playing it constantly since it came out. That's pretty self explanatory I guess as it's a masterpiece of a game. Then there's the impact of the E3 conference, I've been spending much more time on the ONM forums because of that very event; But you'll be happy to know I have a 2 part review of Nintendo's E3 conference coming up, with the first part nearly finished (expect that up tomorrow).

Still, the biggest reason for my absence is a project I've been working on. It's an idea that's been in the works for quite a while now, and on Thursday I finally put it to the test. What a response it got! Yes, I'm on about the Gaming Chatcast that I started up as a thread on ONM. A chatcast is basically a text based podcast that me and other members of the ONM forum will be taking part in every two weeks. The first episode will be live here on Saturday 26th from 11AM-12AM. Then it'll be posted right here on blogger in my new Gaming Chatcast archive blog (up soon). Nice little plug for my project there. Be sure to check that out along with the upcoming Blog.

So, what's coming up?
I'm working on a number of posts as we speak, including the big E3 review I mentioned before so you can expect to see both parts of that up before the end of next week. Speaking of E3, I'll also be reviewing what happened outside of the conference, so look forward to that as well. Then there's the Chatcast blog that me and members of the Chatcast will be posting on. That blog will definitely be done tomorrow, and tomorrow morning's discussion will be added. Reviews wise, I've decided to drop the Soul Calibur 2 review for now. I've lost my GC memory card somewhere, and I really don't know how to write the review and make it my best one yet. I've now decided I'm going to do a review of a game I've been playing more recently, Galaxy 2. I know it's an over reviewed game, but I need to do a massive review sometime. Expect that up very soon. I'll also be doing a mini review of Advance Wars: Dark Conflict for the DS. Finally, I picked up the original No More Heroes recently (hence the picture) so I may well be reviewing that.

Anyway, I'm very happy to be posting again. Have a good one!

Monday, 14 June 2010

Feature: My Predictions of E3 2010

With E3 only one day away, I felt I should do a feature on my predictions of this year's show.  For those of you who don't know, E3 (otherwise know as the Electronic Entertainment Expo)
is a gaming event used to host conferences from Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft. Spread across 3 days (one conference each day) E3 is home to all major game related shenanigans, such as brand new consoles and technologies, flagship games and new 3rd party titles. It's pretty much the biggest gaming event of the year. This year's Nintendo conference starts June 15th, followed by Sony's conference on the 16th. You can watch E3 live on, and I should think ONM will be showing it on their site as they did that last year.  Now, onto the feature itself...

There's already a lot of things that set to be announced at this year's conference, and a lot of other things that will most probably be there. Then there's just stuff we know we won't get, but want badly. Still, this year's lineup so far is probably the best I've seen in a while. From the new Nintendo handheld to Zelda Wii and Metroid Other M to Golden Sun DS, many announcements are set to make this the best E3 for a very long time. Which announcement do I expect the most out of? Well, it's a tough call between the next home console Zelda game and Nintendo's new handheld console, but I'll start with the latter. Let's begin...

The Next Nintendo Handheld
Let's start of with what will probably be the biggest part of this year's Nintendo conference: the new handheld confirmed to be revealed. Currently known as the 3DS, this new system isn't just an upgrade of the current line of portable consoles, it's brand new, and it'll have new 3D technology fitted in. While 3D gaming isn't that great, considering the fact you have to wear a pair of stupid glasses, Nintendo manage to fix this problem by making it possible to play 3D games without the need for glasses. How? Well, some Japanese company introduced this feature a year ago on an extremely expensive mobile phone. They allowed Nintendo to use this tech on a new handheld, and the 3DS was born. Of course, the new handheld isn't actually going to be called the 3DS, it'll be called something different and hopefully better.

We've already heard a lot of news on this console since it was first revealed a few months back, such as news that it will be backwards compatible with all DS games as well as the mighty DSiWare which must mean the new handheld will include an SD card slot or the ability to transfer all your DSiWare applications onto the new system. More recent news that you will be able to turn the system's 3D on and off isn't all that exciting, but worth a mention nevertheless. Then there's all the rumours that have popped up all over the internet even before Nintendo announced the system. Some ideas are quite ridiculous, such as the assumption that the new handheld will have "close to PS3/360" graphical power. Personally, I think that's ridiculous, but is it the truth? Only time will tell. A more believable graphics related rumour is that the system will have more or less Gamecube style visuals, which makes much more sense since the DS had N64 graphics. If it at least has GC style visuals and is relatively affordable, I'm definitely in. When will Nintendo's 3D system be available to buy? No idea, but Nintendo have confirmed it will be out before the first quarter of 2011. Also, rumours have suggested it will be out in October this year. A bit soon maybe? As for new 3DS games, the only rumour going around about that is a brand new Animal Crossing game, which will apparently be the launch game for the system. Of course, you can never trust rumours in the end, whether the new console will have gargantuan graphics and an early release date or not is completely unknown. I guess we'll find out soon enough.

Information and rumours aside, what is my opinion on the new handheld? Well, so far it's my second most anticipated announcement of this year's E3 conference that we currently know about. Hopefully the new console won't end up a complete flop like Nintendo's last 3D handheld and hopefully it won't cost a ton either. Will the so called 3DS live up to it's expectations? We'll find out at the show. Now for my most anticipated announcement of this year's conference, which is...

The Next Legend of Zelda Game
Before I start talking about this announcement, let me say that I'm a massive Legend of Zelda fan. In fact, it has always been my favourite series since I was introduced to the gaming world, and the most recent Wii title (Twilight Princess) will always be my favourite game of all time. But now, after more than 3 years of waiting, there's a new contender to challenge that title. Yes, it's the new Zelda Wii game. At last year's E3, there was no sign of the Green hero in the conference. No trailers, no screenshots, no anything. Then, after the conference, Shigeru Miyamoto confirmed the big N were working on a brand new Zelda game for the Wii, but they wanted to keep it a secret for a while and not give anything away except one piece of artwork (above). In a later interview, Nintendo said to note the fact that Link has no weapon in the image. After speculating, the internet came to the conclusion that your partner (in picture) has the ability to transform into a sword.

Since the new Zelda game was first announced we haven't actually heard a lot about it, except it will be giving the series a big overhaul in the structure department (or something like that.) While I'm excited, this could be a life or death decision for Nintendo. Remember what they did with Majora's Mask? While that game has a lot of fans it had nowhere near as much impact as it's predecessor which is probably because of the change of structure. Then again, if they get this right with the new Zelda game, it will make me, and a lot of other fans very, very happy. Then, there's the rumours. A few months back a member of Japanese website 4Chan gave away some info on the new Zelda. This may not sound like much, as you are probably thinking they're just rumours, right? Wrong. In the past the same site has given away many rumours that ended up true, such as the full storylines of Zelda: The Wind Waker, Metal Gear Solid 3 and Kingdom Hearts 2. If what this member says is true about Zelda Wii, then we're in for a treat. I'm not going to give away any of the rumours here, but check this video if you want to see them. Now then, when's the game out? Well, a few months back that guy on the Nintendo Channel (y'know, the guy from "Ninty News") said the game will be sometime this year, but Satoru Iwata says it may be out next year. Still, I don't really care as long as it does come out!

Now you know what's been confirmed and what hasn't, what's my opinion on this announcement? Well, like I said before this is my most anticipated game for a long time, and the announcement I expect Nintendo to give us the most out of. This new title in the Zelda series will be fully revealed at the conference, which means we should expect at least one trailer. Oh yeah, for the lucky, lucky people who get to go to E3, there will be playable demos of the game there too!

Other Announcements and Predictions
Now, I've talked about the two biggest announcements of this year's conference, but what else will be at E3? Well, it's highly probable that we'll see some new 3DS games at the conference, possibly that rumoured Animal Crossing game. What do I want for the system though? In the past, I've thought about portable versions of Wii Sports Resort for the system. Think about it, Wuhu island would be awesome in 3D! Golden Sun 3D would be pretty cool too, as the effects would work well in the battle system. I'd also like to see a 3D Sonic game for the 3DS using the Sonic Unleashed day engine. In fact, anything fast would work very well with Nintendo's new handheld. Take Starfox and F-Zero as an example here. Also, if the system does have Gamecube style graphics, how about portable versions of our favourite Gamecube games, like Super Mario Sunshine, MGS: The Twin Snakes and (wait for it...) Zelda: Twilight Princess? If any of my above predictions come to life on the 3DS, it'd probably be the best handheld ever. At least, if it had some great new games too.

It's quite obvious that we'll most probably see more of Metroid: Other M at this year's conference. alongside Zelda Wii and Super Mario Galaxy 2, this new title in the Metroid series is probably going to be one of the biggest releases of 2010. We don't know a whole lot about the story for this game, but it will be following on from Super Metroid on the SNES. Other M will tell a more emotional story based heavily around Samus, and the full voice acting helps this a lot. Voice acting in the Metroid games was first introduced in Prime 3. It worked very well as every character had voice acting except Samus herself, but this time Nintendo are finally giving Samus a voice, and from what we've heard it suits her a lot. Aside from the more emotional turn, we don't know the actual plot of Other M, but hopefully all will be revealed at the conference.

Surprisingly, I haven't mentioned that game yet. That game is Pikmin 3 for the Wii. Want to know why? That'd be because there's simply nothing that we know about it, except it's a new Pikmin game and it's going to be on the Wii. I would've done a full section on this game if we knew enough about it. Sorry. Nintendo have confirmed it will finally be revealed at this year's conference though, which is very exciting news.

Less exciting but still worth a mention; We'll probably hear more about the next game in the "Wii" branded series of games: Wii Party. Now I'm not all that excited about this game. It's basically the next Mario Party game with more innovative minigames and less exciting characters and locales. It'll probably be at E3. Right, now that's over and done with let's talk about something much more exciting: Golden Sun DS. A sequel to one of the greatest RPG series' ever created, this new Golden Sun game is the first on a console other than the GBA. We heard about this game at last year's conference, and the small amount of fans of this series have been awaiting more news about the DS iteration ever since. Unfortunately, nothing's popped up for a whole year. Hopefully, we'll see more of this new game at this year's E3.

3rd party developers also help to make this year's conference a cracker. The one game that I can't stop thinking about is Super Scribblenauts by 5th Cell. It's basically last year's Scribblenauts game without the dodgy controls and bad level designs. This new "true" version of the original also introduces a new Adjectives system, allowing players to add to items using words like "giant" and "Turquise". Should be good, as long as no new gimmicks and glitches are introduced. Nintendo's past rival will also have 2 new Sonic games on show; Sonic Colours and Sonic 4. I'll start with the latter; Sonic 4 was originally announced as "Project Needlemouse" a while ago, then months later it was confirmed to be a sequel to the classic Sega Mega Drive Sonic games. Sonic 4 will be in downloadable parts, rather than being a full 30 quid game, with the first of these "episodes" being released in the summer alongside Sonic's other new game which I'll talk about in a minute. Anyway, Sonic 4 takes classic 2D gameplay with improved 3D graphics and wraps it together in one nostalgic bundle according to Sega. There were originally some gimmicks in the form of "minecart" and "pinball" stages, but Sega have thankfully removed these which really shows they've been listening to their fans. Sonic Colours for the Wii on the other hand answers my prayers, as that will be made completely out of levels using the Unleashed Daytime engine. Colours actually excites me more than Sonic's blast to the past, but it's all opinion I guess. At the risk of repeating myself by saying we haven't heard a lot about Sonic Colours, I'll move on. Sega have clearly shown a special effort to please their fans with these two games. They'll most definitely be on show at this year's E3.

Well peeps, that's the end of this feature. I'm pretty glad I managed to get this done in time. Yay!
Anywho, see you next time. And enjoy E3!