Nintendo 3DS Push Continues Into 2017

While the Nintendo Switch is only a little over a month away from its release (don’t forget that if you’re in Toronto, you can play it early this weekend), Nintendo isn’t letting up on their Nintendo 3DS support any time soon.

New3DSXL_Pikachu_boxFor starters, there’s a new variant of the New Nintendo 3DS XL coming out on February 24th. Known as the “Pikachu Yellow Edition New Nintendo 3DS XL,” this lemony-hued device sports a picture of the popular Pokémon Pikachu across its lid, and will be available for #239.99. So if you’re in need of a Nintendo 3DS, this one’s sure to be a hit.

Whether you’ve got a Nintendo 3DS or are in the market for one, there are still plenty of new titles coming down the pipe from Nintendo themselves. Poochy & Yoshi’s Woolly World brings what is quite possibly the best game in the Yoshi series since the original Yoshi’s Island from the Wii U to the 3D handheld, and offers a variety of new features to boot. Playable Poochy, a Craft Yoshi Editor, and even some stop-motion animated videos are there to make this package all the more enticing for those who played the original and holdouts alike. An adorable new Yarn Poochy figure will also be available at launch, and if you’re still not convinced, there’s a demo in the Nintendo eShop on Nintendo 3DS right now.

Other releases include the Nintendo eShop-exclusive Tank Troopers on February 16th, Mario Sports Superstars and an accompanying series of amiibo cards (with one included with the game for a limited time) on March 24th, and the tentatively-titled Pikmin for Nintendo 3DS sometime later this year.

More immediately, Nintendo of Canada has also announced that two new best-sellers are joining the $29.99 Nintendo Selects lineup: The fantastic Kirby Triple Deluxe and Mario & Luigi: Dream Team.

All this, and they didn’t even mention the new Fire Emblem announced last week. So while the Wii U has pretty much all but breathed its last, at least there will still be a bit more first-party love for Nintendo 3DS owners to look forward to throughout 2017.

David Oxford is a freelance writer of many varied interests. If you’re interested in hiring him, please drop him a line at david.oxford (at) nyteworks.net.

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Mario and Yoshi, together again! …sort of.

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Yoshi’s Woolly World for Wii U – Coming October 16th, Yoshi has traded in the crayon look for wool and yarn. Does it finally recapture the spirit that made Yoshi’s Island such a classic? Well, from what I’ve played, it just might! Hopefully I can tell you for sure soon!

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New Super Mario Bros. U + New Super Luigi U Bundle for Wii U – Also coming October 16th: I’ve said a ton about New Super Mario Bros. U, and a fair bit about New Super Luigi U as well. Now both are together in one pack for one price — the best of the New Super Mario Bros. series and the unique DLC are definitely worth looking into.

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Final Fight One for Wii U – According to Cygnus Destroyer’s recent review, this is one of the best versions of Final Fight you’re likely to find. If you’re only familiar with the Super Nintendo Entertainment System version, this one has an extra stage not found there, an extra character in Guy, plus new cutscenes and other extra content, making the battle to rescue Mayor Mike Haggar’s daughter from the Mad Gear gang of Metro City just a bit more intense.

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Momonga Pinball Adventures for Wii U – The momonga village has been razed to the ground, its people missing. Momo was found in the outskirts and healed, and must now face the evil owls who wrought this carnage in a pinball-styled adventure.

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Ninja Strike: Dangerous Dash for Wii U – Choose one of five different ninjas, then run, fly, and slash your way through enemies to retrieve stolen treasures and claim victory!

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Rakoo & Friends for Wii U – Up to five players can help Rakoo find that special someone as he searches through 45 levels of running adventure in this cartoon-styled game.

Crunchyroll for Wii – A WiiWare update? How unusual. This free app allows you to view shows from Japan such as Naruto Shippuden, One Piece, and Sword Art Online. Go premium (there’s a free 14-day trial) to watch the shows ad-free, and see new episodes an hour after they air in Japan.

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SmileBASIC for Nintendo 3DS – Learn BASIC and program your own game with this app!

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The Magic Hammer for Nintendo 3DS – Customize your character in this action role playing game and explore an open world containing towns, boneyards, and more. Team up with a friend in co-op to increase your odds of survival.

Theme Shop on Nintendo 3DS

This week’s new themes are “SEGA Game Gear,” “SEGA Genesis,” and “Chibi-Robo & Friends.”

Nintendo eShop Sales (Taken directly from Nintendo’s press release; prices in USD)

Activities

Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer is featuring SpotPass distribution of a new character: Louie, a fan of the Mushroom Kingdom, whose home design whims can net your catalog some new and unique items. He’s available for a limited time only, so don’t hesitate to check the in-game Nintendo 3DS on the second floor of Nook’s Homes and take him on as a client!

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For more information, screens, and videos for each of this week’s releases, click on the corresponding links above.

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As you may have heard earlier today, Nintendo of America has rolled out their release schedule for the remainder of 2015, and is it ever jam-packed with stuff to look forward to. Nintendo of Canada has just followed suit, and that’s naturally where our interests lie — particularly the suggested retail prices you can expect.

“Nintendo has games, amiibo and systems to satisfy all kinds of players, whether they’re looking for back-to-school gifts or getting an early start on their holiday shopping,” Nintendo of Canada’s General Manager and Senior Director Pierre-Paul Trepanier stated in a press release. “No one can match the quality or uniqueness of what Nintendo has to offer for the rest of 2015.”

So, what’s on tap for Wii U?

NOA_PackShot_SSM_2For starters, if you don’t yet have a Wii U, then Walmart has the answer for you come September 11th: The Super Mario Maker Wii U bundle, which comes with the Super Mario Maker game, Idea Book, and the 30th Anniversary Mario “Modern Colour” amiibo. The $329.99 bundle will then be available at other retailers across Canada after October 1st.

For those who already own the Wii U console, the game will also be available on September 11th for $69.99.

Speaking of Mario, a semi-new two-in-one disc containing both New Super Mario Bros. U and New Super Luigi U (click for my respective reviews) will be available at retail on October 16th for $74.99. Previously, the two games were sold separately at retail with both coming together in a special bundle with the Wii U console. Now, if it suits you, you can get both together in one package.

Also on October 16th, Yoshi’s Woolly World launches for $64.99, or you can get it in a bundle with the exclusive green Yarn Yoshi amiibo for $79.99. If you want more Yarn Yoshi amiibo in your life (and who doesn’t?), then the pink and blue versions will be sold at retail individually for $19.99 each, also on October 16th.

A little closer to Halloween will see the release of Koei Tecmo Games co-developed title Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water. This Nintendo eShop exclusive will be priced at $62.49, and beginning October 22nd, players can download and play the prologue and first two chapters for free, with the full version of the game available as downloadable content in the Nintendo eShop or the in-game menu.

WiiU_StarFoxZero_case_RSeveral of Nintendo’s heavier hitters don’t have prices yet, but you’ll find Star Fox Zero in stores on November 20th, Xenoblade Chronicles X on December 4th, and Devil’s Third on December 11th. Animal Crossing: amiibo Festival, its amiibo figures (Isabelle, Digby, K.K., Reese, Cyrus, Tom Nook, Mabel, and Lottie), and Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash are all still saddled with the more nebulous “Holiday 2015” release window.

On the subject of toys, Disney Infinity 3.0 Edition is slated for an August 30th release for $64.99, the special Nintendo amiibo-fied versions of Skylanders SuperChargers with the exclusive Turbo Charge Donkey Kong amiibo/Skylanders toggleable figures will be available for $84.99 on September 20th, and the LEGO Dimensions Starter Pack will make its debut on September 27th for $109.99, with additional LEGO Dimensions Level, Team, and Fun Packs available the same day for $29.99, $24.99, and $14.99, respectively.

On October 20th, things get musical on Wii U as Guitar Hero Live hits the stage for $109.99 and Just Dance 2016 shakes its booty for $49.99.

Indie games get some love as well, with Toronto-based 13AM Games releasing Runbow (complete with its host of fellow indie-gaming guest stars such as Shovel Knight) in the Nintendo eShop for $15.99 on August 27th, with those who downloaded the Nindies@Home demo back in June getting 15 percent off for the first month after launch. Speaking of Shovel Knight, the Nintendo eShop hit is coming to retail in October for $29.99 on both Wii U and Nintendo 3DS.

Speaking of Nintendo 3DS, let’s shift our focus to that now. Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer arrives at retail for $44.99 on September 25th and comes with one complimentary amiibo card, while those who opt to download it from the Nintendo eShop at the same price will instead receive an exclusive Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer HOME Menu Theme. The rest of the 100 Animal Crossing amiibo cards will be released the same day, sold in packs of six for $6.99 per pack. Launching the same day is the long-awaited wireless NFC Reader/Writer accessory for $24.99, or you can get a bundle with the game and one card for $54.99.

The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes arrives on October 23rd for $49.99, with YO-KAI WATCH and Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon arriving on November 6th and 20th, respectively, neither of which being given a price yet.

Skylanders SuperChargers races onto Nintendo 3DS the same day as its Wii U big brother, September 20th, for a price of $79.99. This and the Wii version both include Hammer Slam Bowser and his Sky vehicle, the Clown Cruiser, to get you started with multiplayer racing action both online and off. Meanwhile, Chibi-Robo! Zip Lash will come bundled with a Chibo-Robo amiibo for the price of $49.99 on October 9th.

YWW-amiibo-mega-4Now that we’re back to amiibo, here’s the news on the rest. More Super Smash Bros. amiibo are on the way with Mewtwo and the great Falco Lombardi hitting on November 13th and 20th, respectively, at a price of $15.99 each. The Mii Fighter 3-pack will also hit stores on November 20th for $44.99.

Finally, Yarn Yoshi has skipped straight past Super and gone into full-on Mega with the giant green Mega Yarn Yoshi amiibo. The biggest amiibo to date arrives on October 16th for the equally mega price of $59.99, Mega Yarn Yoshi features the same “Double Yoshi” ability in Yoshi’s Woolly World as his more diminutive counterparts, which allows players to add a second Yoshi to use at any point during a stage. Plus, if you’ve got a favorite Yoshi pattern, that can be saved to the amiibo as well.

It looks like it’s going to be quite a busy (and fun) year for the rest of 2015.

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The day before we left for Otakon, Nintendo held their “Summer Celebration and Media Showcase” for 2015. Those who have been following the site for a whole know that this is basically their smaller-scale Electronic Entertainment Expo showing for Canadian journalists who weren’t able to make it out to the big show in Los Angeles earlier in the summer.

Naturally, you couldn’t keep me away from an event like this. Writing about it until now, maybe (things have come up since; don’t ask), but I’ve been champing at the bit to go over what I got to play. Plus, I got to speak for a bit with Nintendo of Canada’s newest public relations representative, Andrew Collins, who you can meet in our video interview at the end of the column.

Now, without further ado…

Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash

This was admittedly not the first one I had my eye on, but it was the one with the shortest line when we got there, so I figured it was as good a place to start as any.

At this point, there’s admittedly not too much to say about it. The tennis graphics and Mario characters look great in high definition, and it plays well with traditional controls (I don’t know yet if the “New Play Control” style from Mario Power Tennis for Wii will be incorporated, but we can hope). However, the game seems really early on in development, or at least minimal in what it was showing, polished as it was. Only four characters were available — Mario, Bowser, Peach, and Toad — and only one power-up is available: the growth spurt-inducing Mega Mushroom, which allows you to cover a much greater portion of the court.

That said, this small peek is giving me hope that we’ll see a tennis game that has a bit more “Mario” to it than Mario Tennis Open did. While a fine game, it felt too much like tennis featuring Mario characters, rather than a true blending of the two. The incorporation of the Mega Mushroom here gives me hope, however.

Metroid Prime: Blast Ball

Here we come to what might be the most controversial title in Nintendo’s entire E3 lineup. Up front, I’ll say that I really don’t have any ill will towards this game: I remember Metroid Prime Pinball and have heard nothing but good about it, and I also remember going eight years between Super Metroid and the double-whammy of Metroid Prime and Metroid Fusion. This doesn’t worry me at all.

That said, I was really hoping that the four-player cooperative game from Metroid Prime: Federation Force would be available, but all we got was Blast Ball. That said, it was kind of fun. Sort of like a futuristic American Gladiator-styled version of hockey or soccer, wherein teams of three use their weapons (rather than hockey sticks or their feet) to knock the big glowing ball into the opposing goal. Plus, there’s room for some roughhousing against the opposing team.

Overall, it was fun, but left me wanting to take part in the main course.

Chibi-Robo! Zip Lash

Another confession: I’ve never really gotten to play Chibi Robo before. I actually have the Nintendo DS game around here somewhere, picked up at Toys R Us for a song, but never had the chance to dig in.

That said, this is my kind of thing: a platform game with a focus on using a wire of some kind as your main way of getting around. That said, it’s not quite like Bionic Commando Rearmed or Super Castlevania IV in that regard, but feels unique unto itself. Certain common elements come into play, as you use Chibi-Robo’s power cord to pull on blocks and climb over obstacles, but again, it’s not quite the same. Not in a bad way, just a different way.

I look forward to playing more when it comes out. It doesn’t seem like it’ll be too challenging, but just fun to go through — sort of like Kirby Triple Deluxe. I adored that game, so if this is anywhere near as much fun, then we’ll be in for a treat.

Yoshi’s Wooly World

Nadia and I gave this later build of Yoshi’s Woolly World another go, this time with me taking up Player 2 as the red Yoshi (my preference — still hoping for a red Yarn Yoshi amiibo).

From what we got to play, not too much was different from last year, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The combination of new tricks and skills involving the yarn aesthetic with the gameplay of Yoshi’s Island — minus the crying baby, of course, has me feeling like this may just be the first truly worthwhile sequel to Yoshi’s Island. Of course, I’ve thought that before, though in those cases the games ended up trying less to be a successor to the Super Nintendo Entertainment System classic than just trying to be Yoshi’s Island — and typically coming up a bit short.

Super Smash Bros. for Wii U – Ryu

Only in a world where Super Smash Bros. is already a thing is it so easy to get to play as this was. The game has already been out the better part of the year, but Super Smash Bros. for Wii U was on display with everyone available to play. Already familiar with most of the roster and returning characters anyway, I immediately went for the most curious new addition: Ryu from Street Fighter.

What I played of him was… interesting. He really feels like a combination of his Street Fighter self with the Smash Bros. style, and takes a bit of getting used to — more than one match can sufficiently provide, I’m sure. Still, my familiarity with him in his home series helped ensure that I wasn’t easily disposed of, but nor did I win the match — I just avoided getting completely throttled.

Call me intrigued. I definitely want to play as him more, and play against him as well. For the moment, I’ve been holding back as I try to determine what the best option for my budget is with all this new content — buying it piecemeal as I go along, or just saving up and buying the bundles. Decisions, decisions…

Of course, seeing as I like Ken a lot more than Ryu, I’d have gotten him Day 1 had he been an option.

Super Mario Maker

I came back to this one a few times, though unlike last year, I didn’t bother trying to make a level. Oh no, there will be time for that… time I fully intend to take advantage of to craft a masterpiece.

Ahem. That said, I did play a few of the built-in levels included in the demo. One which particularly fascinated me was a stage I had seen someone else try — and fail — to complete. It’s basically simply running straight for the goal and avoiding enemies with only just enough time to succeed. If you’re off by the slightest margin, you die.

I gave it a shot… and failed. This level was a Super Mario World-styled creation, complete with the moving “H” finish line tape at the end. However, unlike the original game, merely crossing the finish line isn’t good enough; you must break the tape, which is a little trickier to pull off.

I stuck to it, and by Goomba, I did it. Took me a couple of tries, but I was apparently the first one to succeed at it that day. Having to repeat the performance, I was able to do it again… eventually. I had more hits than misses, but at least I was still able to pull it off for the small crowd who wanted to see it done.

If I’m not mistaken, Super Mario Maker is the first game on this list to be released, with September 11th marked on the calendar. I, for one, cannot wait.

Star Fox Zero

As eager as I am for Super Mario Maker, there’s no denying which game was the Star of the show. The line was long, and the demo wasn’t any shorter, but the time came to stick it out and ensure that at least one barrel roll would be done at my hands before leaving that day.

And it wasn’t as easy as that! Well, the barrel roll might have been, but Star Fox fans, take note: this is not the Star Fox you grew up with, at least from a control standpoint. The basics are all there, but just about the entire controller shy of the directional stick has been remapped. I think the R trigger is your gun, and A converts your Arwing to robot mode (fun, that). But a lot of functions, such as turning and somersaulting and boosting and slowing down, are now mapped to the right analog stick. It’s not bad once you get used to it, but going in blind can leave you a little disoriented.

In fact, after flying through what was basically a thematic remake of the first level of Star Fox 64, I was still figuring things out. I ended up losing at the final boss of the area when — in all the hype surrounding the game — I’d forgotten one of the new features: using the GamePad screen to aim. Whoops.

All told, it was a blast, and I wish I could have played more (there was a neat space station stage to play as well). It wasn’t especially difficult, at least thanks to my veteran Star Fox experience, but I think they may be toughening things up this time around as well. For instance (and my memory may be off here), but previous installments would allow you to glide along the surface of the planet with no problems, whereas here I seemed to take damage. Maybe that’s just a mechanic to help differentiate the walker mode, but either way, it’s one more reason that this is not just the same old Star Fox.

The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes

It’s The Legend of Zelda, and you know what? It really is rad.

I wasn’t expecting too much here that I hadn’t experienced before with The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Anniversary Edition and Four Swords Adventures (solo, that one), but I was pleasantly surprised at how much fun I had with it. I always enjoyed those previous four-player games, though I didn’t really get to play them with any more than one other player, so the loss of one count here didn’t really phase me. My wife, Nadia, took up a second Nintendo 3DS while Ian Flynn hopped on a third, and we chose unique outfits and got down to business.

Besides the stat-boosting outfits, the big difference maker is the whole totem pole mechanic. It doesn’t look like much in the videos, but in practice, it’s fun as you all have to work together — and occasionally swallow your pride if you end up stuck in the middle during a fight that requires a three-Link stack. Plus, you’re all sharing the same set of hearts this time, so watching out for one-another is more essential than ever.

Thankfully, with the wireless capabilities of the Nintendo 3DS (and freakin’ online), maybe I’ll finally get to experience one of these games the way they were meant to be experienced.

Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam

Sadly, my time here was all too brief.

Well, not too brief, I suppose. I got to partake in the Toad hunt which teaches you different tricks that Mario, Luigi, and Paper Mario can do, and I got to engage in a boss battle against Peter Piranha as well. Fun stuff, but fairly typical for Mario & Luigi fare — which is of course already excellent.

Where I had to put things down was during the most unique part, the Papercraft Mario segment. Here, you have to tap the screen to a beat to charge up your army of Toads who will carry your folded Mariozord around the battlefield, charging into other foes and squashing them. Unfortunately, a leaky faucet has more rhythm than I do, so I never got past the charging stage. I’m certain I can do it in time, but time is not a luxury I had at that moment as I tried to squeeze in what I could between interviewing Mr. Collins and being shooed out the door.

On the bright side? At least the mechanics seem more solid than Paper Mario: Sticker Star, and it looks like the fun and personality may be back, too! With the team behind Mario & Luigi at the helm, I’m sure the Paper Mario crew are in good hands.

Yo Kai Watch

This was the one game I didn’t get to play. Well, this and Splatoon, but since I’ve already played and reviewed the latter, it was a deliberate choice.

Chat with Andrew Collins

Towards the end of the event, I had the opportunity to meet Mr. Andrew Collins, who is now serving the role previously filled by Mr. Matt Ryan at Nintendo of Canada. We talked about a variety of things, most of which involve the games which were on display at the event. Even though things were wrapping up, there was still a lot of noise pollution going on, so my apologies if everything doesn’t come through clearly. With that in mind, here are some highlights:

  • One needs to Metroid Prime: Blast Ball to truly appreciate it.
  • Adds that just because Metroid Prime: Federation Force is coming out next year, that doesn’t mean it’s the only version of Metroid they’re working on; likens it to the different branches of the Mario franchise, which had three very different games available on the show floor.
  • With The Legend of Zelda for Wii U delayed, rather than fill its void with another big heavy-hitter title, they’re focusing on releasing more of a variety of other titles.
  • The Yarn Yoshi amiibo bundle for Yoshi’s Woolly World is coming out in North America.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes will feature a single-player mode (involving the “rental” of two paper doll characters), but they’re keeping hush on most of the details for now.
  • Yo Kai Watch is a phenomenon in Japan; explains its concept of spirits found in everyday life. “Nice and family-oriented.”
  • The Yo Kai Watch TV show is coming over as well; details of Canadian airing are yet to be revealed.

And that’s it for this year’s event! Overall, I came away quite pleased with what was on display, and look forward to trying more of each of these titles in the future.

There will no doubt be more information and events to come as we progress through the year and into the holiday season, and I’ll bring you the latest News from the North as it happens!

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Nintendo recently (well, sort of– long story) held an event for local Canadian outlets to try out some of the new and upcoming games which were shown off earlier this summer at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles. As always, Mario’s Hat was there, and while I didn’t get to try out everything on offer, I did get to sample some of the juicier bits enough to provide some impressions.

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Super Smash Bros. for Wii U

Naturally, this was the big one for people to gravitate to, with two dedicated stations for playing it (the next-closest thing was three stations on which a number of demos were loaded). Better still, this opportunity presented an option not available at Best Buy: GameCube controllers, courtesy of the recently-announced adapter. The controllers themselves had seen better days, but they still did the job, as they felt more natural than my previous effort with the Wii U GamePad.

Also beneficial was the opportunity to go more than one round. The game feels closer to a midway point between Super Smash Bros. Melee and Brawl in terms of speed and competitiveness, and Mega Man is definitely going to take some getting used to. Despite the feeling that he’d fit me like a glove after watching him in videos, it’s proving to be a tight glove; he fits, but I still need more time to break him in, as some of his moves feel a bit more nuanced than I was expecting, mostly as a matter of timing.

Having heard how well he performed at the San Diego Comic-Con’s tournament, I gave Bowser a try next, and he seemed very, very slow to me; not as much in his basic movements, but more in his ability to perform special moves. But then, I’ve never been a big Bowser player, so that probably doesn’t help matters much.

I also tried Little Mac, but much like Mega Man, I think I’m going to need to spend more time with him before I really feel comfortable using him. I’m not sure if it’s me, or just a pattern among new challengers.

Finally, I went to my mainstay: Mario. Aside from having to deal with F.L.U.D.D. again (I’m eager to see what customization can do for me there), it was like coming home again. Much as I was eager to try new characters, I should probably have gone straight to Mario in order to form an opinion. Once we clicked again, things went a bit better for us. I didn’t always win, but I did feel like things were where they needed to be, and they felt good.

Some of the stages were pretty good, too. My favorite so far has to be the Punch-Out!! stage, though Dr. Wily’s castle, the Battlefield, the Fire Emblem arena, and others have felt pretty solid.

With a game containing as much content as this one, and with as little as what was available to us here, it’s hard to form a very complete opinion overall. Still, I have a very good feeling about this one. I don’t know if it will please the hardcore Melee fans, but whereas the Best Buy experience left me uncertain, I now fully and eagerly anticipate good times ahead.

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Hyrule Warriors

Have you ever played a game from The Legend of Zelda series, gotten a brand-new powered-up sword, and just wanted swathes of enemies to come after you all at once so you could simply tear them down with one mighty, enormous sword swing? It’s a feeling I’ve had all too often, and one that often feels like it goes unfulfilled.

Not so in Hyrule Warriors. Though no new sword power-up was required, it nonetheless provided that most desired sensation as I tore through huge platoons of enemy Bokoblins, sending them flying and falling left and right.

The demo gave a good sense of what to expect from the gameplay, offering three playable characters to choose from (Link, Zelda, and Midna), and one battlefield to run around on. Several objectives come up on the field, as you try to secure keeps and obtain items, such as the bombs which are hidden in a nearby cave (and which anyone seems to be able to use, throwing a volley with each press of the button). I only got to use Link and Midna, and while Link is great for cutting through enemies, Midna just manages to plow through them in the most joyful of ways. The end result is by and large the same, but the joys of getting there tend to differ.

It’s no secret that the ever-increasing focus on puzzles in Zelda have left me weary, and that I much prefer the action-oriented aspects of the series. Fortunately, Hyrule Warriors looks to be delivering on that in a big way (while still retaining some exploration and discovery elements) when it comes out at the end of September. At the moment, I think it’s the game on this list I’m most looking forward to– at least, that isn’t named “Super Smash Bros.,” and even that’s iffy at the moment.

All this, and I’ve yet to even touch the multiplayer.

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Bayonetta 1 and 2

I’ve never played Bayonetta. Not for any particular reason (not outside of “time” and “money,” anyway), it just never happened. So when I got to the carefully-positioned kiosk set away from all the others to have a look-see, I was presented with the question: “Bayonetta 1 or 2?”

I asked the difference, and was informed that the first game had a greater emphasis on exploration, whereas the sequel focused more on action. Well heck, I was on a loosely-defined sense of a schedule, so I decided to go for quick-n-satisfying action and leave exploration for when I could sit down with it.

That said, Bayonetta 2 is just so crazy and off the wall… I loved it. I can’t even begin to describe all the craziness here, though one recurring moment that sticks out in my mind is when I’d fight a foe, a meat grinder (or something) would pop up out of the ground, and as they tried to resist the pull of its conveyor belt, I’d kick them in– blood and bits strewn everywhere, though I’m not sure I’d describe it as exceptionally detailed gore, either.

Not for kids or the faint of heart, but very over the top, fluid, and fun. My kind of game, and it kind of reminds me of some of my favorite elements from Mortal Kombat, too.

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Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker

Aside from how any slight movement of the Wii U GamePad would adjust the camera, the Captain Toad levels in Super Mario 3D World were some of my favorite parts of the game, providing a fun mini-game-esque diversion from the main quest which still benefited you greatly if you were to succeed. The big question, however, is “can this work as a full-price retail game?”

The jury is still out on that one, though from what I could tell, the camera didn’t seem as sensitive to movement here, so that’s a plus. In any case, the puzzles herein seemed to have a greater level of depth as opposed to those seen in the full 3D Mario adventure. The more I see of it, though, and having played it in person, I’m really looking forward to the final game. It feels like at the right price, it might not win “Game of the Year,” but could nonetheless be a potential sleeper hit for Nintendo.

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Yoshi’s Woolly World

While Yoshi’s New Island was not by any means a poor game, it did feel a bit lacking– particularly as a fan of the original Yoshi’s Island, which the New installment did excruciatingly little to break away from. Simply put, it was like Yoshi’s Island‘s equivalent of Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels in terms of series progression (though clearly not in difficulty).

But from what I got to play, the spark I felt was lacking in Yoshi’s New Island felt like it was present in Yoshi’s Wooly World. It’s too soon to say for sure, but adding some of the ideas and aesthetic appeal from Kirby’s Epic Yarn to Yoshi’s world felt like it was the right progression for both. Included in that is the option for two-player action, which I engaged in with my wife, and which we both enjoyed.

Yoshi’s Story aside, it seems like follow-ups have tried to be like the original, and it’s worked to their detriment. Yoshi’s Wooly World, on the other hand, seems to break away from Yoshi’s Island‘s most iconic feature– the visual style and aesthetic– and grows from there. Hopefully it will end up proving to be the true sequel we’ve waited so long for.

Oh, and there’s no Baby Mario– that’s a big plus right there.

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Mario Maker

Below, you’re going to notice that I didn’t get to play several games at the event for different reasons, mostly being a matter of priority versus time, but also because some of them didn’t quite feel right to me in the hustle-n-bustle environment they were in.

I thought Mario Maker would be one of those games I’d rather just sit down with and just play around with until I hit my stride, but to my surprise, just watching others play it made me want to play it. Seeing how others were setting up blocks, enemies, and obstacles got the wheels turning in my own head, formulating my own ideas I just had to try myself.

That’s a surprising part of the appeal of Mario Maker, it turns out– it can draw a bit of a crowd, and spectators are all likely to have their own ideas of what should be in the game, or will wonder just what cockamamie design you’re trying to implement. And doing so is fun, too, be it as a spectator or as you’re designing the level yourself. The interface is rather simple, and you can perform on-the-fly testing as often as you need before turning your creation loose.

It’s like art meets game design, and just feels a lot more fun than your run-of-the-mill level editors that you find in other games. Level editors have been in Nintendo games for years, dating back to the likes of Excitebike and Wrecking Crew, but I can’t remember a time when they’ve felt as fun as this. Heck, one would think a Mega Man fan such as myself would leap at the opportunity to create my own levels in Capcom’s 2006 game Mega Man Powered Up for the PlayStation Portable, but I don’t think I ever got around to designing a single board. But I can’t wait to get more time with Mario Maker.

By the sound of things, we’ve only seen the tip of what the full game will offer in terms of design options, too. Early 2015 can’t get here quickly enough.

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Kirby and the Rainbow Curse

Much to my regret, chagrin, and other words indicating displeasure, I never got to play the highly-regarded Nintendo DS title Kirby’s Canvas Curse, one of the earlier, more innovative, and apparently best titles in the system’s early days. Fortunately, luck has smiled upon me as a sequel has been announced for the Wii U.

From what I can gather, this title plays much the same as its predecessor, though it trades out the earlier game’s paint-like aesthetic for one made to resemble colored clay. Using the stylus, you control Kirby (who is stuck in a ball form) and draw ropes, ramps, loops, and more for him to follow to reach new places and get past his foes.

Playing it, I can see where the reputation of the original came from, and I look forward to playing more in 2015.

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Mario vs. Donkey Kong

I didn’t get to play this one due to a lack of time/the overall busyness of the event. That said, it’s yet another in the Lemmings-style of Mario vs. Donkey Kong, rather than my preference, the Donkey Kong ’94-style that launched the series. That said, it certainly looked really nice on a high-definition television, and watching some people play did make me want to snatch the GamePad away and say “no, like this!”, so maybe I should give it another go when it comes out.

Project Guard & Project Giant Robot

Unfortunately, though these two were there, I didn’t have time to try them out. Admittedly, they were kind of low on my list, perhaps due to the hints that they’re both part of the upcoming new Star Fox title that are not yet fully formed. Still, people seemed to be enjoying them, and I do wish I’d gotten to try them. Alas, it was not to be… this time.

Art Academy

Another game that was on hand, but I didn’t really get to try, as the environment didn’t really feel right for it (some games feel more like something I’d rather sit down with for a while, rather than form impressions in a really busy environment). Also, no time– maybe if there was more. Still, I’d love to give it a go when it comes out on October 24th, 2014.

Nintendo 3DS

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Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS

Okay, I’m going to be up front about this: I don’t like this one as much as the Wii U version. In fact, so far, I don’t think anyone I know has.

That isn’t to say it’s bad, however; I did enjoy my second time with the game since playing it at Best Buy back in June, and I even got to play a regular match this time. Really, I believe it all comes down to one simple thing that could very well make or break this experience.

Control customization.

In a game like this, a certain sense of immersion is key. You can’t stop to think about how you’re going to do what you need to do, you have to be able to do it instinctively, reflexively at a moment’s notice. I simply was not feeling that here.

It’s a very simple thing, one which can make or break a game, but one not afforded in the demo version that I was able to tell. The way the face buttons are mapped in this demo was counter-intuitive to me, or at least to my familiarity with the GameCube controls. I was able to adjust to them somewhat, but it took a more concentrated effort, and in the heat of a battle, it’s easy enough to lose yourself as well, which can wreck things.

I can’t say for certain, but if the final version allows me to remap the buttons, I think I’ll like the game a whole lot more. As it is, I saw the game again at a separate, more recent event, and ultimately passed it over for the Wii U version (and for Hyrule Warriors).

Fortunately, director Masahiro Sakurai is one of the best in the business– especially at Nintendo– for allowing various options and customization in his games, including Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Heck, that we’re even getting the option to use GameCube controllers in the Wii U version feels like a testament to that. So I do have confidence (and fingers crossed) that he will allow us to choose what feels right for us and go from there.

Until that point, though, I have a certain reluctance about this one. I’m sure it will be good, but will it be great?

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Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney

I skipped on this one for two main reasons: 1) The frantic environment of the event isn’t really the type I like to play such games in, and 2) It was coming out so soon, anyway, that I figured it would be better to focus on other things at the show while I had time. In fact, I have my review copy now, so there you go.

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Fantasy Life

I didn’t really get a chance to give this a go, but it looks interesting. Another title I’d rather sit down with and get to know more personally, rather than meet-and-greet amidst talking to people and such.

Pokémon Art Academy

Okay, I know I said I wasn’t in the mood to do this there, but the Nintendo 3DS unit housing this demo was open while I was waiting for a shot at Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS. I gave it a shot, though I didn’t draw any Pokemon— instead, I drew a Goomba, to the amusement of some others around. Not bad, but I’d need to spend more time with it, even though the primary function seems to be teaching one how to draw Pokemon.

—–

During the event, I had the opportunity to speak with Matt Ryan of Nintendo of Canada, who noted that Super Smash Bros. “will be our biggest launch this holiday,” including the October 3rd release of the Nintendo 3DS game, and that the amiibo figures would be arriving day-and-date with the as-yet unspecified release date of the Wii U version. He also pointed out that another title that was absent from the show, Pokémon Omega Ruby and Pokémon Alpha Saphire, is also expected to do quite well in November, especially with the “more serious” Pokémon fan.

On a more personal level, Ryan notes that he is really looking forward to Hyrule Warriors. “Ever since I first saw that game, the graphics looked amazing. The gameplay and the physics of it all play really well.”

“While I haven’t played a lot of Dynasty Warriors, I have played, and it’s fun and I love that over-the-top action, like taking out the hordes of enemies. Splicing in The Legend of Zelda‘s look and feel, and the realm of Hyrule and the characters like Link and Zelda– it’s awesome. It’s one of the best-looking games I’ve seen on the Wii U.”

—–

Though I didn’t get to play everything, I came away with an overall positive feeling about (and from) the games Nintendo showed off at their post-E3 event. Some I need to spend more time with, and Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS does give me pause, but it’s an overall strong lineup going into the holidays and beyond, and I can’t wait to experience more of it.

A huge thanks to the folks at Nintendo of Canada for having us to the event, and for taking the time to speak with us!