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
Click read more to continue reading.

Mario Sports Mix, Wii Party and Just Dance 2
I really didn't give a toss about the next three announcements revealed at the conference: Mario Sports Mix, Wii Party and (sigh) Just Dance 2. Thankfully, these were the only bad announcements of this year's conference and the trailers shown took up no time at all, and luckily for me they were all bundled together in one seven minute crapfest. Thank god after that the conference got back to the hardcore audience after that monstrosity. Still, I might as well cover these three games now, and I'll start with Mario Sports Mix.

Mario's been in a lot of sports games over the years, and when Reggie said the plumber is going to "strike back" in a new sports title I suddenly thought of Super Mario Sluggers. Unfortunately, the game Reg was talking about unfortunately wasn't sluggers, instead it was a collection of sports games starring Mushroom Kingdom residents. This year's equivalent of a Wii Sports game, if you will. The various sports on show were exploring new ground for mario, as he blasted balls across nets in volleyball, swung sticks in hockey and slam dunked in basketball. Now the game doesn't look bad at all, but it really doesn't bother me. It'll probably be good, but I won't be getting it. After Mario Sports Mix's announcement, an extremely cheesy trailer showed up for what is essentially Mario Party 9. Yes, I mean Wii Party. While I enjoy Mario party games, this new addition to the "Wii" branded series of games looks a bit rough. It is a Mario Party game, but with Miis and locations around the world as party boards. Then there's the new mini-games included, which will apparently "redefine the party game experience", despite just being rip-offs of mini-games from previous Mario Party titles. Don't care about this one. Finally, the worst of the bunch: Just Dance 2. It's hard to believe why Nintendo included this 3rd party crap in the conference! Just because the original game sold a stupid amount of copies last year, that doesn't mean they should show off a the sequel!! Dance duet modes? Big whoop! Just Sweat mode? WHO GIVES A CRAP!?? This was most certainly the worst part of the conference. I don't care about these three games enough to give each individual one a score, so I'll just go on to the next game. Luckily, the conference doesn't go anywhere near the lowness of Mario Sports Mix, Wii Party or Just Dance 2 from now on.

Golden Sun: Dark Dawn
At last year's Nintendo E3 conference, a brand new Golden Sun game was announced for the DS. This year that very game has been subbed "Dark Dawn". I've never owned a Golden Sun game before, but I have experienced the original on a friend's game boy and I know it's a smash Nintendo franchise and Now the third game has been fully revealed I'll most definitely pick it up. The game itself has been given a visual makeover from what we saw last year, and it's probably for the best. Locales are no longer gloomy, dark villages, but instead much less bland locations for you and your comrades to explore in the game. The graphical style is now very similar to the two Zelda games on DS, as well as Final Fantasy III and IV remakes. Character designs also look pretty different, but that running animation is pretty dodgy.
Anywho, a trailer was shown of the game at the conference, revealing some story details as well as the revamped battle system in action. I'll talk about the latter first. Battle animations were extremely cool in the 2D GBA games, and now that the series has moved into 3D the spells and moves look extremely slick and very well animated. Various spells and summons were shown, including a spectacular Dragon summon. The action spreads across both screens during these summons, and it looks spectacular. During battle, the heroes of the game seem to look a lot more realistic and so do the baddies you'll be thwomping. The actual gameplay of battles seems unchanged, as you pick what you want to do, then commence fighting. Except in 3D.

As for the story of Dark Dawn, not much has been revealed so far, but little snippets were shown during the trailer for the game. Something about the world being reborn, and the Golden Sun going wrong. I guess we'll find out more about that when the game is released. Anyway, like I said before I'll most definitely be picking Golden Sun: Dark Dawn up when it's out. Release Date? Well, it'll be out in America this holiday. I may have to get myself a GBA SP (my DS Lite broke) and play the first two games before I start the DS version though. Here's hoping that Dark Dawn lives up to it's expectations!
Now for another news on another "Golden" game...

Anticipation Level: 8/10

Goldeneye 007 Wii
Yes, that's right, a brand new Goldeneye game is coming exclusive to the Wii, and the best news of all is that it won't be a complete flop. This isn't the first time the N64 classic has made an attempt to break free from it's shackles and get some remakes in there. Goldeneye: Rogue Agent was pretty terrible, and the DS remake even more so. But thankfully, this brand new "re-imagining" of the classic first-person shooter is actual going to be a great spiritual successor according to the various games journalists that have played it. Alas, we'll have to wait till it's out later this year (you heard me!) when the final version is reviewed. Unless it's pushed back a bit, of course. Anyone who's up to date with ONM but hasn't got the latest issue yet, their "secret game reveal" is in fact this game; Goldeneye Wii. While this is a massive reveal, it was at the E3 conference and was actually rumoured the week before, but nevertheless they've played it and apparently it's awesome. Despite being a complete revamp of a 13 year old game, the developers of the new version are doing their best to not only remake the game but also offer a brand new experience structure-wise. For example, there's now certain points in the game where you are given a choice to either blast through a section of a level and shoot everything in sight or go round the side and stealth kill your enemies with either a gun or one of the new physical combat moves.

Speaking of the gameplay, pretty much everything in the N64 original will be included in the Wii version, plus much more. All the weapons will be there, all the characters will be included; Quite simply everything down to the camera zoom across the Dam level at the very start of the game will be in GoldenEye for Wii as we saw in the trailer that was shown at the conference. And what an epic trailer that was! It showed off a lot of the Dam level, along with a brand new snow level that wasn't in the original and some footage of the multiplayer modes. Speaking of Multiplayer, GoldenEye Wii keeps to it's classic roots by including what was arguably the best part of the original. The N64 original's multiplayer is essentially the game that inspired future Multiplayer shooters like Timesplitters and (unfortunately) Call of Duty. While the system has been improved, GoldenEye's multiplayer was what made it shine, and now the Wii version strikes back with full 4 player split-screen, brand new unique game modes, 8 classic characters and full online multiplayer. These aspects will surely get most gamers excited about GoldenEye Wii. There's one rather obvious aspect I haven't talked about yet. That guy in the trailer doesn't look a whole lot like Pierce Brosnan does he? Well no, he doesn't. Why? Because that's Daniel Craig you see in that spy suit. For GoldenEye Wii, the current James Bond will be replacing the late Pierce in the game, probably because they couldn't get GoldenEye's Bond to do voice acting. I have a hunch that Pierce Brosnan will be back for the multiplayer though. Of course, the story would have to be modified to fit the more serious Bond, so it has.

So, will the new GoldenEye game end up a complete flop like past remakes? Or will it become the true successor to the N64 Original? Here's hoping it'll end up great.

Anticipation Level: 8/10

Disney Epic Mickey 
We all know that the creator of Deus Ex has been working on Epic Mickey for a long time now, but as of recently it has been given a visual make-over. Like the first announcement of the day, Epic Mickey and it's new look got showcased in a gameplay session from Warren Specter and some other guy. Before I go on to that though, I'd like to talk about the game's new look. The graphics have now been altered to suit the game's original, moody artwork to make it stand out from the crowd. Before the visuals looked like most old platformers, but now it looks more unique. I prefer this new style as the original visuals looked pretty bland. Anywho, let's get on with the gameplay session we were shown.

The area we were first shown was what Warren and his team call a "quest zone". It's basically a hub where you can talk to characters, find quests, travel and solve various characters problems. They started playing at a cutscene which involved Mickey Mouse and a partner that we don't yet know about talking to Smee. A rather chubby Smee for that matter. You see, in Wasteland, the world you'll be exploring, the enviroment around you is made up of forgotten Disney characters and locations, as well as alternative designs on some characters who originally looked different. In this case, smee is quite a bit larger than his final design. Anywho, this Smee has been kicked out of the pirate crew and replaced with the Smee we know now. Naturally, it's up to Mickey to solve this problem. That's where the "playstyle matters" game engine comes to work. Depending on how you play the game the story will be altered, which esentially gives Epic Mickey infinite replay value. Solving people's problems or simply elimating them is an example of how you can change the game. But how could such an unlikely pain dealer as Mickey Mouse eliminate his foes? He has no weapons, no combat skills, just a paint brush and some thinner.

The Main gameplay concept of Disney Epic Mickey is, as I just mentioned, the Paint mechanic. With the Wii remote in hand, players can choose to spray paint or thin down (in other words delete) practically anything. With the paint tool Mickey has the ability to restore Wasteland to beautiful painted glory, and with the Thinner tool he can delete walls and enemies from wasteland. It's a unique concept that has never really been done before in a video game, so kudos to Warren Specter and his team for coming up with the idea.

Anyway, back to the gameplay session. After exploring "Venture Land" Warren decided to show off another type of area known as a travel zone. Travel Zones are 2D side scrolling areas that take you from one Quest Zone to another. From a Quest Zone you can access an Action Zone. They didn't show any Action Zones on stage, but they mentioned these are the areas that will advance the plot and be inhabited by the forgotten Disney enemies of wasteland. Anyway, back to the Travel Zone. The area they are exploring is based on the cartoon that introduced Mickey Mouse to the world, Steamboat Willy. Now I'm not really a Disney fan at all, but that classic cartoon inspired Travel Zone looked awesome. It's almost as if you were playing the cartoon yourself. According to Warren, there are tons of more Travel Zones based on Disney cartoons spread throughout the game. After running around the Travel Zone, Warren Specter ended his section of the conference. He put on a great show, that's for sure.

Anticipation Level: 9/10

Well guys, that concludes part 1 of my Ninendo E3 conference review. The second half of the conference is arguably even better than the first, so look forward to part 2!

No comments: