Saturday, 19 June 2010

E3 2010: Nintendo Keynote Impressions

Due to circumstances beyond our control at Just Stuff & Nonsense we weren't able to attend E3 this year, however thanks to the wonders of the internet it has been possible to watching the keynotes live online. Here are my impressions of the Nintendo conference. A little disclaimer before I start; I won't be previewing games such as Wii Party or Just Dance 2, this is not out of laziness, while they are an essentially the backbone to the Wii's sales and will probably gross more than the rest of the games on this list combined, they were so overshadowed by the quality of everything else on display they are barely worth mentioning. Apologies then, if you came to this post looking for these games to be previewed.

The Legend Of Zelda: Skyward Sword
Everyone knew that a Zelda game would be announced this year, the simple teaser image from last years E3 provided many with 365 days of entertainment meticuously analysing it for information, after about 200 days the internets top scholars came to their first major break through: the game would feature Link, and there was a 90% chance we could be playable. The problem with Twilight Princess was that (as with many early Wii games) it was very clearly a gamecube game with the button presses mapped rather hastily to random flailing, for a game that revolves fairly heavily on swordplay it seemed rather daft that swinging your arm in a sweeping arc garnered the same effect as tapping the controller gently against your palm. Miyamoto thought the same, his giant visage across the screen told us as much, he continued to explain that he implemented Motion Plus support into the game in a way that recreates using a sword and shield, it all sounded pretty good and the way he looked down on his on stage minion was pretty funny. Eventually he gave up trying to explain it to him and then cut through the screen and took control of the demo, things have indeed changed pretty dramatically in regards to the controls, everything in the game is controlled with one of four buttons and a corresponding realistic motion. It sounds fantastic in concept, and it probably will be in practice, sadly the demo was less than inspiring due to the controls looking laggy or unresponsive and an impromptu seemingly uncontrollable pirouette demonstration from Link, they laughed it off and blamed it on interference but it was a pretty rocky start for the Keynote. One area where the game didn't disappoint at all was in the visual department, the art style is somewhere between Wind Waker and Twilight Princess, the colours are rich and bold with everything looking like it has been hand painted, but the character models are edging on the side of realism. Enemies look to be designed to encourage experimentation with the new control methods, for example there was a 'piranha plat' style enemy that had a mouth split in two directions, to do any damage Link had to slash in the direction the mouth was open, there was also a door with an eyeball for a lock, the eye tracked the tip of the sword, my immediate reaction was "poke the eye with the sword" the correct (and far more clever) solution to the puzzle was to move the tip of the sword in a circle to make the eye spin uncontrollably, releasing it's grip on the door. Holding the sword in the air charges it with sunlight, allowing it be charged up with power. Every item in the game appeared to make sensible use of the motion controls, throwing a bomb with an other head throw, swinging the controller to swing the whip and the archery looks a lot like the way we all thought it was going to work in Twilight Princess. After the gameplay demonstration had somewhat unsuccessfully drawn to a close a trailer we shown for the game, it looked absolutely brilliant, and concluded with a cliffhanger... well.... a cliff tumble. Despite the issues that plagued the demonstration version of the game I still have exceptionally high hopes for Skyward Sword when it is released next year.

Golden Sun: Dark Dawn
Last E3 we were treated to the promise of a new Golden Sun game, and then everything went suspiciously quiet. Finally after a year of wondering we we had dreamed the announcement we got to see some footage of the game in action, and it looked like, well it looked like a Golden Sun game on the DS. Needless to say that's a good thing, the graphics look as strong as the little handheld can produce with its modest processing power, with some rather delightful locations on display, and impressive character design. Gameplay looks to be turn based and the touch screen's input looks to be reserved for casting spells and solving puzzles. Unfortunately it was just a trailer that was being shown which makes it a little harder to get a feel of how the final product will hold up, thankfully it's out this holiday season so we won't have to find out just how awesome it is.

GoldenEye is a particularly tough sell for me, thanks to the now canned remake that was originally coming to XBLA and PSN until Nintendo decided to block game from being released, it was always going to be a difficult to accomplish thanks to the absolute mess of rights that surrounds the legendary N64 game, but to see it so close and then have it yanked away forever was as traumatic as a memory about videogame's release can be. My mind was set firmly to cynical when the video of a 'real focus group' started and a bunch of guys who seemed as passionate about games as we are here at JustSandNGoldenEye made them start whooping and hollering like overpaid Criss Angel stooges that the entire thing felt insanely staged. Thankfully a video of the game started swiftly after this and I had to check my cynicism at the door, the game looked really quite good, yes it's Daniel Craig and not Pierce Brosnan, yes the plot and locations look like they've been changed, but I'm a bigger sucker for 007 than the hundred of women he's seduced over the years, and when the theme song hit and a modern recreation of the action I remember so fondly began I was certainly excited. The graphics are pretty good, they're certainly not going to win any awards for pushing the Wii to it's limits but they are functional enough, to be honest it's really the looks that people will be thinking about in this game, nor the alternative reality take on the singleplayer story mode. The meat of GoldenEye is in the multiplayer modes, and the trailer promised four player splitscreen, as well as online madness, 16 essential modes are making a return so expect to be playing Paintball, Melee and You Only Live Twice all over again. Once the trailer had faded out to riotous applause we were told that we would be playing it this Christmas.

Epic Mickey
I've already ranted about my love for Deus Ex so it shouldn't come as a surprise that I'm pretty excited about Epic Mickey given that Warren Spector is involved so heavily in it. Characteristically for a game that has Spector's influence all over it is hard to accurately define Epic Mickey, the demo opened with Mickey wandering around an environment described as Wasteland a world for forgotten characters, he approached an NPC and the option to engage in conversation popped up, at this point it looked like a third person RPG. Later in the demo Mickey is jumping around tree branches and the game looked like it was a third person RPG platformer. Even later still and Mickey was using paint and thinner to solve small puzzles, so it was now a third person RPG platformer puzzler, which was all well and good until he entered a 'travel' section of the game it it turned into a traditional 2D side scroller. The beauty of the game is how many different approaches it offers to the player, Spector speculated (sorry) that each player will craft their own play style, one of the key gameplay mechanics is built around this concept; Paint and Thinner. I'm sorry if I'm the one to break this to you, Mickey Mouse's world is not real it is in fact painted, in the game this is acknowledged and Mickey has the ability to add to the world with Paint or take away from it with Thinner, for example you could solve a characters problem with Paint or could just erase them existence with Thinner. Warren explained that there are three types of zone in the game; Quest, Action and Travel, it was a 'travel' zone they were about to demonstrate, Mickey walked over to an old-fashioned projector and jumped into the screen, he was transported to a Steamboat Willy inspired stage which look absolutely fantastic, it genuinely captured the atmosphere and visual style of that cartoon and in a clever touch when Mickey jumped too high it was possible to see the edge of the film scrolling along the top of the screen. The graphics are fairly good in general, my main criticism being the slightly bland textures, but when the game jumped into the brilliant cut out paper conversation mode, or the stylistically impeccable Steamboat Willy stage I was so blown away I  could easily forgive a few small shortcomings. No release date was given but whenever it is it can't come soon enough.

Kirby: Epic Yarn
A brand new Kirby game where the titular character is made of string and can no longer swallow enemies? It looked really interesting, rather than just using the textile backgrounds as a quick re-skin and throwing the game out the door it looks like a lot of thought has gone into how the move to material will effect Dream World. Areas of the background can be unzipped to reveal new locations, if Kirby goes behind a sheet of cloth there is little bump in it that moves along to indicate where he is, if a gap is too big to cross Kirby can 'scrunch up' the background bringing everything closer together. Its a charming idea and one that looks like it will be a lot of fun to play, especially given the trailer indicated there would be co-operative modes. It is games like this where the Wii can really shine graphically, the colours are bright and vibrant, the textures look realistic but don't have to be super high quality thanks to the cartoony nature of things, it looks awesome. The ability steal skill Kirby usually possess looks like it is present but doesn't seem to be activated by swallowing a foe anymore, instead it looks like Kirby isn't completely tied together and can use his lose ends of string as a lasso to activate switches, swing around the environment and ensnare enemies. As with Golden Sun it is a shame that it was only a video on display, but as with GS it isn't long until the game is released; it'll be available this Fall.

Metroid: Other M and Dragon Quest IX
Both of these games are out in the very near future, information is available pretty readily on both of these titles and their section of the show was more to increase interest for their releases.

Donkey Kong Country Returns
A brand new Donkey Kong game is coming out this holiday season, and it's being produced by Retro Studios who produced all of the fantastic Metroid Prime trilogy. The trailer was a teaser of some classic Donkey Knong action, it's a side scroller and looks like it will be very similar to the Super Nintendo DK games as far as actual gameplay is concerned. The graphics are very solid particularly in regards to level design, it's not looking mind blowing just yet, although the sunset level with silhouetted characters is a nice touch. The character movements and weight behind them look like they've been lovingly lifted from the original titles, and there seem to be lots of classic elements included such as the barbells blasting the cheeky monkeys around and a mine cart section as well. The obvious thought is that Rare are now Microsoft owned, so there won't be any input from them on the title, but judging from the very brief trailer it certainly does look like Retro are big enough fans of the originals to pull of the ultimate homage.

That bought a close to the current gen presentation of games, but there was one major announcement left for Nintendo to make; the 3DS. For the sake of readability all information about the 3DS will be posted separately.

Don't forget to check out our coverage of the Microsoft and EA Keynotes. We will of course be covering the Sony conference as well, and keep checking back for all the most interesting news from E3 throughout the week.

No comments:

Post a Comment