As you may have noticed from our content schedule this week, it’s all about Nintendo. Everybody’s favourite motion-peddling, 3D evangelists held their post-E3 event a little while ago, and outside of our extended takes on Kirby, 3DS, Metroid: Other M, Ghost Trick and NBA Jam, here’s what else caught our roving eye:
Disney Epic Mickey:
Bearing virtually none of the visual calling cards of a Warren Spector game (aside from a general trend towards dark environments), Disney Epic Mickey nevertheless looks set to be branded with his notable hallmark of quality.
Our brief demo showcased all the main facets of Mickey’s new adventure, with a hub world playing host to surprisingly deep adventure elements before catapulting you into stages that utilise more traditional action and platforming skills. The paint and thinner system works well to reveal or conceal platforms and environmental elements, and although puzzles in this early stage were fairly straightforward, the possibilities of building or erasing sections or whole pieces of scenery is an enticing one.
The linking sequences between levels were also encouraging for the Disney aficionado, taking shape as two-dimensional platformers built on classic styles from the company’s illustrious back catalogue. Our representative confirmed the developer has almost complete access to their prized vaults, so expect some hidden aces to be revealed closer to launch.
Think Mario Party with Mii support, and you’ll not be too far away from Nintendo’s latest attempt to corner the over-saturated minigame market for good. As seasoned gamers, it’s easy to get cynical when approaching a title like this, but the pacing and quality quickly swayed us to the contrary.
Played on a giant game board shaped around a mountain, you’ll be rolling dice to advance and then boosting yourself by completing various silly tasks against up to three other people. The games themselves range across the usual gamut of races, puzzles, balancing and arena contests; and each was a joyous diversion and hotly contested.
But perhaps most impressive were the collection of games located outside the main menu, which seem to expand a simple core minigame concept into something with surprising depth. Balancing Mii’s of various rotundness on the masts of a ship to avoid it capsizing for example, became an exercise of co-operative timing and planning, which surprisingly we weren’t entirely lacking.
Goldeneye – Multiplayer:
Cast your incredulity aside for a moment, and Goldeneye’s multiplayer mode shows a lot of promise that fans of the original’s couch-bound elbow-fests might appreciate.
The small deathmatch levels we played in four-player splitscreen could easily have been ripped directly from the classic (cynics could suggest Activision might as well just do that), along with the distinctly familiar feel of automatic weaponry and some none-too-subtle auto-aim. Matches were fast-paced and insistent on funneling players through multiple choke points with ample hiding places, although grenade damage seemed curiously lacking and melee attacks difficult to utilise.
On a more important note though, Oddjob is no longer the pint-size menace he once was; although his insta-kill hat attack is probably a worthy trade.
Donkey Kong Country Returns:
At this stage I should probably confess to completely missing the DKC bandwagon as a young pup, preferring instead to spend my time on the likes of Desert Strike or Cool Spot. Revisiting the original for research I can certainly appreciate that it may have been a masterpiece at the time, but it really doesn’t hold up that well in the harsh light of 2010, and certainly not to the same degree as a Mario or even a Sonic.
This new version however, made me eat my preconceptions with extreme prejudice.
If the overriding theme at any Wii-based event is one of cuddly cooperative play, Donkey Kong Country sat as the prime example for Nintendo’s overriding philosophy. In terms of content it’s shaping up to be a suitable homage to the platforming and stylistic qualities of the SNES titles, but the new level design (specifically tailored for co-op) elevated it to something far more enjoyable.
Sure enough, it bears hallmarks of the occasionally soul-destroying polish and focus-testing expertise of Nintendo’s rehashed first-party titles, but that’s no bad thing in this instance.