This year's Nintendo E3 conference brought confusion, joy and controversy into the already insane world that is gaming. After revealing a brand new console with glorious HD graphics, an extremely innovative controller and a ton of 'hardcore' 3rd party games, Nintendo caused massive controversy in the gaming community with what was previously known as Project Cafe. Forget that though, as Nintendo's Wii successor has a name, and that name is Wii U. Despite controversially showing nothing but the new console's controller and its awesome features at the conference, images of the actual Wii U hardware were fortunately shown off later on. Still, the big reveal of Wii U wasn't the only thing causing a buzz in the world of gaming at E3 2011. Some awesome new reveals regarding the 25th anniversary of The Legend of Zelda were also revealed, as well as a ton of new details and footage of 3DS games that were previously lurking in the shadows (Mario Kart 3DS, Kid Icarus: Uprising) on top of some brand-new games for the glorious 3D handheld. And did I mention that I actually managed to predict some of the announcements spot on? Get in!
The big problem with E3 each year is that it's easy to get lost in the raging sea of announcements, news, trailers and screenshots that emerge from the event. Thankfully, I'm here to help with this year's edition of my two-part E3 review. You've probably noticed that you're reading part one right now; This post will focus completely on Nintendo's E3 conference and all the big announcements, while part two will cover my highlights of the event outside of Nintendo's big show. This year's conference was quite possibly the most controversial yet, but it still delivered massively with some excellent announcements and trailers. So, without further delay let's begin my E3 2011 Review! It's gonna be a good one, enjoy...
The Legend of Zelda 25th Anniversary
Nintendo opened their E3 2011 conference with an explosive blast of Zelda goodness by having a huge orchestra perform a huge five minute long Zelda medley, accompanied by a ton of footage from games old and new in the critically acclaimed series. As the masterful music sent viewers on a wondrous voyage through Zelda's vast history, newer and newer video was shown until finally the music switched to the Skyward Sword theme song, and some sparkling new footage of the highly anticipated game was shown. What a way to show off new footage, and what a brilliant opener to Nintendo's big show. This year is of course the 25th anniversary of The Legend of Zelda, a series which me and countless other gamers across the globe hold very dearly to their hearts. In just a matter of weeks, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D will be released on the 3DS to give us a slice of Zelda on Nintendo's current handheld in the form of what many say is the greatest game of all time, only even better. However, I'm much more excited about the newest installment in the series; the brilliant-looking Skyward Sword. If you watched Nintendo's E3 conference last year, you'll probably remember that they opened up the show with the announcement of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, as well as a run through the game's new MotionPlus mechanics and confirmation that the title will be released in 2011. Well, here we are in 2011, and there's still no sign of the game in the shops. Luckily, Nintendo revealed that Skyward Sword is slated for release around the world in Winter this year at the conference, so we won't have to wait that long.
|These giant bird-like creatures seem to be Skyloft's preferred mode of getting around. Take that public transport!|
What is definitely the most interesting gameplay demo of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is the third and final one. This demonstration reveals Ghirahim's identity as the the king of the earth below Skyloft, and his thoughts on Link's chums up above. Ghirahim as a character is extremely poetic, and very cool, kind of like Zant from Twilight Princess minus the insanity. As the king's emotions change to anger when Link draws his sword, the colour of the room changes to a much darker shade, adding more to his poetic personality. Even though we've only seen him in one cutscene, this guy is already shaping up to be an excellent character, not to mention how epic the boss fight against him looks. It's another one of those multiple phase boss fights seen in so many past Zelda games, but that's about as much resemblance to past titles you'll get in this battle. In the first of two phases, Ghirahim toys with you by warping around the room and coolly grabbing the end of your sword when you try to slice him up. When this happens, you enter a state of intense waggling of the remote in order to free your weapon from the villain's grasp. After getting enough hits in, Ghirahim draws his sword and battles Link in an epic one-on-one sword fight - Nothing more, nothing less. This fight looks like nothing we've ever seen before in a Zelda game, and it's all thanks to the magic of 1:1 motion control. It's going to be a long wait until Winter when we finally get our mitts on The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, but there's luckily going to be a variety of Zelda related stuff as a starter before we move on to the main course.
To celebrate the 25th anniversary of one of gaming's greatest series', Nintendo happen to be releasing a title on each of their main platforms this year. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D seems to be the one closest to us at the moment, but Game Boy Colour classic Link's Awakening DX already happens to be available through the medium of download via the 3DS's recently released eShop. A brand new reveal was the multiplayer GBA game, Four Swords, which will be available on the admittedly dead DSiWare download service and the eShop very soon. And of course, we'll be seeing Skyward Sword on Wii by the end of the year. Not everything's about games though, as Nintendo are planning to release soundtracks for Ocarina of Time 3D and Skyward Sword in conjunction with the launch of those games. Also on the subject of slightly more musical antics, the excellent orchestra (okay, they slipped up once) we saw at the beginning of the conference are going on tour and playing a wide variety of classic Zelda tunes in the Legend of Zelda 25th Anniversary Orchestrated Tour, which will travel around the world sometime later in the year. Also, by far the most awesome thing Nintendo are releasing to celebrate the 25th anniversary of one of their greatest franchises is a stunning gold Wii Remote Plus (a remote that has MotionPlus built-in) that will be available as a pre-order gift for Skyward Sword. I need a new Wii Remote, and that's definitely the one I'm getting. If this isn't better than porting an old SNES game to Wii for Mario's 25th last year, I seriously don't know what is...
I'm really pumped for Skyward Sword. Nintendo are hoping to make it the greatest Zelda game ever, which is certainly a difficult task. Luckily, we'll find out if it does beat the likes of Ocarina of Time and Twilight Princess towards the end of the year when the game is finally released. Until then, we've got a load of celebratory Zelda-related stuff to keep us calm until the next proper full-on installment is finally released. Now to wrap up this segment on Zelda and move on to a slew of incoming 3DS games...
|Yup, welcome to the world of kart gliding in Mario Kart 3DS. Believe your eyes!|
After Shigeru Miyamoto and his translator Bill Trinen ended their segment on the 25th anniversary of Zelda, Reggie Fils-Aime, the legendary CEO of Nintendo America, took to the stage to show off a whole host of upcoming 3DS games. While we already knew about four of the five first party games that were announced, it's nice to see a proper reveal after waiting about a year to see some games that were previously hiding in the shadows of other titles. Before any proper footage for Nintendo's five games was shown, a very cool series of 3D animations were shown, showcasing Mario Kart 3DS, Starfox 64 3D, Super Mario 3DS, Kid Icarus: Uprising and one other brand-new title I'll get onto later. After the very cool animations were shown, Reggie took to the stage once more and kick-started the stream of trailers and the like for upcoming games, the first of which being Mario Kart 3DS.
I've been a big fan of the Mario Kart series since I first had a go on it in the DS installment many years ago. It's a series which offers addictive gameplay, a challenging single player mode and more recently, some brilliant online multiplayer options. The series' next installment on 3DS is set to offer all of these things, as well as other new features we've never seen in a Mario Kart game before. The trailer Nintendo played on that big screen during the conference showcased the standard Mario Kart folk we know and love racing around tracks old and new. Minus the addition of coins, which haven't been seen on tracks since the original Super Mario Kart on the SNES, this was fairly standard stuff - Until Mario drove off a ramp and sprouted a glider out of his racing machine. That's right, for the first time ever, your kart has the ability to essentially change forms depending on whether it is in the air or at sea. When in glider mode, you have the ability to steer not only left and right, but also up and down. It's almosteen a big fan of the Mario Kart series since I first had a go on it in the DS installment many years ago. It's a series which offers addictive gameplay, a challenging single player mode and more recently, some brilliant online multiplayer options. The series' next installment on 3DS is set to offer all of these things, as well as other new features we've never seen in a Mario Kart game before. The trailer Nintendo played on that big screen during the conference showcased the standard Mario Kart folk we know and love racing around tracks old and new. Minus the addition of coins, which haven't been seen on tracks since the original Super Mario Kart on the SNES, this was fairly standard stuff - Until Mario drove off a ramp and sprouted a glider out of his racing machine. That's right, for the first time ever, your kart has the ability to essentially change forms depending on whether it is in the air or at sea. When in glider mode, you have the ability to steer not only left and right, but also up and down. It's almost as if an extra dimension has been added to the racing, because the physics of your kart completely change when a glider has been attached. There's a lot more where that came from though, as your kart also transforms when it goes underwater. Here, a small propellor pops out of the machine, allowing for yet another change in physics. Another new addition to the franchise is a slightly basic but still exciting kart editor. Here, you can change the main base of the kart and the wheels, as well as another unknown part (I assume it's the glider/propellor design). It's unknown whether this editor is going to be expanded as the game is quite early in development, but it's neat touch. I also mentioned that coins have returned to Mario Kart 3DS, which could mean character-exclusive powerups are also returning.
|The new underwater sections are set to alter the game's physics even further. Not sure how they can breathe though.|
Starfox 64 3D
And so, we arrive at Starfox. This critically acclaimed series hasn't seen the light of day on a Nintendo console since some fairly shoddy Gamecube and DS games that were released many years ago, and despite the fact that Starfox 64 3D is at heart a remake, it still looks excellent. Lylat Wars for the Nintendo 64 was an awesome game in the eyes of many fans, as it expanded on the original game's starfighter-flying, comrade-protecting mechanics that made the original SNES game a hit. To this day, Lylat Wars is considered to be one of the N64's greatest classics and is undeniably the best game in the series. It's only fitting then, what with the large line-up of classic Nintendo games returning to the 3DS, that Lylat Wars returns to the spotlight with the 3DS remake known in America as Starfox 64 3D. A trailer wasn't shown at the conference (again, that arose after Nintendo's big show) but some footage of the game was shown while Reggie talked us through what's new in this remake. The first of these new additions is the method in which you control Fox McCloud's ship, the Arwing. The traditional analogue control is still in there, but there's also the option to control the game with motion controls thanks to the 3DS's capabilities. You can swoop and dive your ship simply by tilting the system up and down, and strafe from side-to-side by simply turning your 3DS from side-to-side. This is definitely a nice addition, but you'll have to lose the 3D effects to play in this mode - A real shame that can't be avoided. Still, if you want to gawp at amazing space battles in full 3D, the option to control the game with just the circle pad and buttons is still in Starfox 64 3D.
The original Lylat Wars included a multplayer battle mode in which up to four players could engage in dogfights against each other. This mode is returning in the 3DS remake, and it's looking better than ever. It's unknown whether you'll be able to take the fight online but local battles are in there, complete with some fantastic and unique features that weren't possible to implement into the original game. The greatest addition is of course the much-improved graphics and the lack of a split-screen toning them down, which will definitely eliminate the frame-rate issues that occured in the original N64 game, not to mention how you'll have one screen to yourself. Also new is a function that makes use of the Nintendo 3DS's inwards-facing camera. Using the lens, the 3DS will record your reactions to battles in real-time on the bottom screen of each 3DS playing the game, which could potentially be pretty hilarious. Whether players are celebrating their victories or putting on an angry face when their Arwing is shot down, it will all appear on-screen for all to see. The battle mode in Starfox 64 3D can also be played with other people who don't have a copy of the game, which is definitely a plus considering that the game will most likely not include the option to play online. Overall, the battle mode sounds like a fine addition to the already great gameplay of the single-player blast fest.
Starfox 64 3D (or Lylat Wars 3D as it'll probably be re-named for the European release) looks to be the perfect game to introduce me to the series, what with it being a much-enhanced version of the best game of the lot. The single player mode has been completely un-altered, and the previously rather boring multiplayer options have been made much more enjoyable. With that summing up this remake, what could possibly go wrong? At the end of this segment, Reggie announced that the game will be hit U.S shelves this September. Hopefully we won't have to wait much longer for it to be released here in the UK. Now, moving on to one of the conference's biggest reveals, and the game we've all been pumped for since it was announced earlier this year. Why, it's none other than...
Super Mario 3D
The full reveal of Mario's first full-on 3D handheld title was easily one of the most exciting parts of the conference, right up there with Nintendo's next console. Many gamers have been patiently (or not) waiting for E3 so we can finally see the new game in in action, and the long wait has definitely been worth it. For those who don't know, Satoru Iwata, the man who happens to be in charge of Nintendo, revealed a new 3D game in what is quite possibly the most popular series of all time back at the Game Developers' Conference some months ago, leaving nothing but four screenshots for fans to drool and speculate over. Well, now a trailer has been shown it's clear that Super Mario 3D is very different from what we thought it would be. Many gamers speculated that the new title would be a 'best of' collection of past Mario levels, which is certainly close, but not really that close. No, Super Mario 3D is essentially a 3D polygonic version of the past 2D games we know and love. And if that doesn't make sense, think of it like this: Super Mario 3D is a 3D Mario game that implements elements from the 2D incarnations, rather than sticking to the Sunshine or Galaxy formula. It looks different from anything we've seen before, and it looks awesome.
More than half of this post was accidently deleted all thanks to Blogger, and I couldn't find the time and motivation to finish it. Luckily this was one of Nintendo's admittedly poorer conferences, but I'm still very annoyed that it never got finished. I'll be sure to back my stuff up whenever I do a huge post like this again!