Archive for the ‘Previews’ Category

New Super Mario Bros. 2 3DS Preview

July 21, 2012

I played through Nintendo’s New Super Mario Bros. 2 demo twice while I was in the Nintendo Gaming Lounge at the Marriott (once on Friday and once on Sunday). It was incredibly fun, even though it felt really familiar.

New Super Mario Bros. 2 is the third game in the New Super Mario Bros. style (the first being New Super Mario Bros. on the DS and the second being New Super Mario Bros. Wii). Nintendo decided that if they were going to make another game in the New Super Mario Bros. series, they’d need something to change it up…

The big difference between New Super Mario Bros. 2 and it’s predecessors is it’s new focus: collecting coins. New Super Mario Bros. 2 is all about coins and attempting to collect one million of ’em. Of course, collecting a million coins wouldn’t normally be easy, but many, many new ways have been added to the game to make nabbing insane amounts of coins easier. In the three level demo I managed to collect over a thousand without really trying.

Of the many new ways to make coin collecting easier and more interesting, perhaps the most fun addition is the Gold Flower. When Mario collects the Gold Flower he turns into Gold Mario, which allows him to throw fireballs that turn enemies into coins and can turn many brick blocks at once into coins.

The other fantastic thing about New Super Mario Bros. 2 is that it marks the return of Raccoon Mario. Like Super Mario Bros. 3, when Mario collects the Super Leaf he gains ears and a tail which allow him to take to the skys. Flying with Raccoon Mario is (in my opinion) one of gamings most fun experiences. It truly is joyful to once again fly high above Goombas and Koopas and leave them far behind as you soar to the end of Mario stages. Even though the Super Leaf (the power-up that grants you the Raccoon suit or Tanooki suit depending on the game) made a return in Super Mario 3D Land, it was a bit of a let down as you were unable to fly (you could only float slowly downward).

With a 2D platformer, you wouldn’t expect the 3DS’s 3D effect to really jump out at you. While there was nothing in the demo that really made you go “WHOA”, the little bits here and there definitely enhanced it. Mario and the platforms are up front while the background scenery is waaaaaaaay in the back. It made it very pleasurable to view while not seeming gimmicky and not doing many fancy effects that may cause eyestrain over time.

In addition to all these great new features, there are plenty of other new features I didn’t get to try out, such as the two-player mode. The entire New Super Mario Bros. 2 game is playable with a second player (on a second 3DS). The two players can work together to beat the game.

Although it’s hard to complain about a new Mario platformer, one thing bugged me in the 3DS demo. While you can play the game using the d-pad or circle pad, the obvious and most comfortable way to play is with the circle pad (because, if you haven’t played the 3DS, the circle pad sits directly under your thumb while the d-pad is at an odd location below it). Now, as much as I love this flat analog stick for full 3D games (like Super Mario 3D Land and the Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D), it is not the ideal control for a 2D platformer where every jump has to be exact or you crash headlong into a enemy or fall a pit of lava. It could be just me, but I seemed to be rather slippery and inaccurate most of the time I played it. I found I could get it work correctly toward the end of my time with the game, but it still never felt “right”.

Overall I found New Super Mario Bros. 2 to be an incredible addition to the franchise. Even though I found the circle pad a little annoying, it still was one of the most fun 3DS games I’ve played. I can’t wait to play more when it is released both as a physical and digital game August 19th (the same day as the 3DS XL).

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Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon 3DS Preview

July 19, 2012

Like last year at Comic-Con, Nintendo took over part of the Marriott hotel to build the Nintendo gaming lounge. This year though, there were substantially less new games to try. Still, Nintendo’s gaming lounge was totally epic (and not just because I got to meet Charles Martinet there. More on that soon!). I got the chance to play a few new games on the 3DS XL, the best of which (in my opinion) was Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon.

When the original Luigi’s Mansion was released on the Gamecube it was a fan favorite. It was the Gamecube’s best selling launch title and fifth best selling Gamecube game in the US. However, it was criticized for being too short (you could beat in in about 6 hours). Fast forward over a decade and we are seeing the release Mario’s green clad brother return to the staring role with Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon on the 3DS aiming to correct any shortcomings with the original.

When you begin the rather long demo (I felt I was holding up the line at my demo unit forever) the first thing you notice is how fantastic it looks. Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon is one of the most visually appealing 3DS games I’ve played. The shadows and darkness of the games mansion(s) really make the 3D pop. But more impressive than the 3D popping out of the screen is the depth. You feel totally immersed as you stare down hallways and survey the spooky grounds.

Moving about in the detailed 3D environment is incredible. The amount of detail that went into creating each of the rooms inside the mansion is astounding. A particularly nice feature I found is when Luigi looked through a window, it would switch to a first person view where you looked around by moving the 3DS. It may not be a new feature for 3DS games, but Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon executes it well.

Of course, like the original, the core gameplay of Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon is capturing ghosts with your Poltergust 5000 vacuum. Without the use of a second analog stick like the Gamecube had, looking around the mansion and capturing ghosts is a different experience. You use the circle pad, buttons, and gyroscope in place of having a second analog stick. The controls aren’t quite as intuitive as they could be, but with practice they are effective. While they are fun and unique, it does make me wish the 3DS had a second circle pad.

Overall, the game is totally excellent. The atmosphere it creates is impressively enthralling. I had a ton of fun with Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon at Comic-Con and I can’t wait to don my green cap again when the game is released later this holiday season.

3DS XL Preview

July 18, 2012

I got the chance to have a lot of hands-on gaming with the 3DS XL at Comic-Con. It definitely has it’s pros and cons compared to the regular 3DS.

PROS:

The screen size is spectacular. In case you haven’t looked at the specs, the screens are 90% larger than those of the 3DS. It’s MUCH more comfortable to look at.

The 3D effect is also greatly improved thanks to the screen size. It enlarges the “sweet spot” so you can look at it more comfortably from more angles.

The new shape and matte finish also make it more comfortable to hold. The new shape helps it sit better in your hands.

The battery life has been extended from about 3-5 to 3.5-6.5 hours for 3DS games and from about 5-8 to 6-10 hours for DS games.

CONS:

The pixels are stretched in order to use up all that new screen space. This gives the screen rather large pixels which is really disappointing. It greatly hurt the visual quality of games I played, even on that really nice screen.

I don’t think you can call it “portable” any more. It’s so large that you might as well be carrying around a small laptop or an iPad.

The lack of a second circle pad confuses many die-hard Nintendo fans. Considering they’ve released the Circle Pad Pro attachment for the 3DS and have announced that they will be bringing one to the 3DS XL anyways, not building it into the oversized handheld when there is certainly enough space is baffling.

OVERALL:

It’s really up to the gamer if they think the 3DS XL is worth it’s $200 price tag and is better than the 3DS which costs $30 less. Personally, I prefer my normal sized system (although I do like the new matte paint jobs), but it really is preference. Do you prefer giant screens that are more pixelated or smaller screens that are more portable? We’ll find out what the general consensus is when the 3DS XL released August 19th (the same day as New Super Mario Bros. 2).

Greetings from Comic-Con 2012!

July 15, 2012

Jam packed days at Comic Con and Legoland. In GEEK heaven! I probably have a couple dozen posts I want to do, but I’m in the midst of too much awesomeness to stop and write about it!

Stay tuned though! I will start posting tons right after Con (assuming I’m not completely passed out on the couch from over geeking out). I’ll be doing posts on new Lego sets and minifigs, how inept Sony is with handling Human Beings, previews for new Nintendo games/products, and a WORLD EXCLUSIVE about something I got straight from the mouth of Mario.

Lego Minifigures Series 6 Sneak Peek

September 10, 2011

This is all over the web. It’s not official, and you have to dig a bit, but, as usual, I am really excited about this new series. This could very well be the best series yet. We have a Genie, the Statue of Liberty, a Wind-up robot, a Leprechaun, a Minotaur, and more. I’m quite excited for this one. In case the image is removed, here is a link to my source, and if that doesn’t work, here is a link to FBTB who has picks of 10 of 16 of the figs.

Star Fox 64 3D Preview

August 13, 2011

I played one complete level of Star Fox 64 3D at Comic-Con. It was really cool, but not quite as impressive as Super Mario 3D Land or Mario Kart 7. It reminded me of a much improved/more exciting version of PilotWings Resort.

One thing I need to say before we get started is that this is the first Starfox game I have ever played (how can I call myself a Nintendo fan!?! Well I suppose I have never played a Metroid game either… What’s wrong with me?!?), so I don’t have a background of love for the series. I am very biased when it comes to Mario, I am one of the biggest super-fans you’ll ever meet, so this preview will be a bit different from my two previous from Comic-Con.

Now on with the preview.


The 3D effects were not as pronounced and obvious as they were in PilotWings Resort, Super Mario 3D Land, or Mario Kart 7, but they were present and helpful. They were not over powering, but instead they were just there. It seems they learned there lesson from the sometimes over powering 3D in PilotWings Resort. They added another dimension allowing you to look “deep into the screen” without bugging your eyes.

Gameplay was very engaging and fun. You fly your Arwing with the circle pad and shoot stuff. Flight games aren’t really my thing, but I still found the game quite fun. Shooting down all the enemy fighters was very fun and worked very well.

Toward the end of the level you run into a giant robot. It took me some time to figure out his weakness, which I suppose is good.


In the level I played, Falco, Slippy, and Peppy were flying with me. They gave actual voiced commentary (which is rare in video games) that was also nicely presented on the bottom screen. They also helped me shoot down enemies, but in return, I had to shoot bogeys that chased them.

Controls handled well. Not amazing, but just good. In my 15 minutes or so playing, I didn’t use the motion control method, I stuck with the standard buttons/circle pad and it seemed to work very well. I found myself pressing the wrong buttons many times, but I’m sure after more play, it would become second nature. Maybe it’s because I’m not used to flight games, or it could be that there is a bit of a learning curve, most likely though it’s a mix of both.

The coolest thing about Star Fox 64 (in my opinion) was the multiplayer mode (which I was not able to try). With a single game cartridge you are able to play with 4 players locally. One of the coolest features is that the 3DS’s inward facing camera takes video of you and displays it above your fighter as you fly, so you can see the reactions of the people you’re battling with when you shoot them down.


Starfox 64 3D seems to be a good game. It has nice 3D, it’s fun, and it has great multiplayer battle capabilities. I may have to pick it up after it’s released on September 9th. (Yes, in case anyone is paying attention, that must mean I gave in and bought a 3DS – more to come on that!)

Mario Kart 7 Preview

August 6, 2011

I played two tracks on Mario Kart 7 during my brief time with it at Comic-Con. I wish I could have played more, but there were so many other games to try. I played the underwater track and the Donkey Kong Country Returns based track (courtesy of Retro Studios involvement in the game). Both were pieces of excellence.

The 3D greatly improved Mario Kart 7. There were many subtle things, and many massive/in your face things. In many cases the subtle things seemed to be better. For one, when I was driving through the course, my little character (I was playing as a Koopa) looked behind his kart at me, and his little  face stuck out of the screen. Not by much, but still very noticeable. There was no blur, just a crisp Koopa face staring at me. Sure there were bigger 3D things (like the blooper ink spraying in your face), but I found all the small things particularly eye catching.

Of course there is depth too. When you look ahead you feel the expanse of the track. It really helped judging distance and added a whole new element to the amazing virtual mushroom kingdom. Main gameplay is set in standard Mario Kart style, but there are a large number of new features (customizable karts, kites on karts, and underwater karts) and one major returning feature that hasn’t been around for a long time (coins that increase your speed the more  you collect). I can’t really talk about the customizable karts because I didn’t get the chance to build my own kart, although I’ve heard it works very well, and the giant kart someone had created before me was quite awesome. Let me go into detail on the other features.

The kites on karts gimmick works really well. For those of you who have no clue what I’m talking about, in Mario Kart 7, when you catch some air after going over a ramp, your kart sprouts a kite that allows you to fly back down to the track. It’s a great change of pace from standard driving and a lot more fun than I thought it’d be.  Also, I can see how you could really shave time off courses by cutting corners with practice.

In Mario Kart 7, when your kart goes underwater, it sprouts a propeller/jet/thing that propels you forward. Underwater you move much slower, which gives you more time to avoid the giant cheep cheeps and clams. The under water level I played had particularly good 3D effects. Bubbles and such were very pronounced.

Coins have been in only 2 of the previous 6 Mario Kart games (Super Mario Kart and Mario Kart: Super Circuit) and not sense the Gameboy Advance. Like I said before, coins in Mario Kart 7 increase your speed. The effect is noticeable, and occasional influential in getting that last bit of speed. I am happy to see them make a comeback.

Next year at con, if Nintendo has a lounge, you’ll find me there for at least a few hours. There was so much competing for my attention, but the two tracks I did play made me want more. The two tracks, the one that was under water and the track based on Donkey Kong Country Returns, were both well designed and very memorable. The underwater track was full of life and had some nice branching paths. The Donkey Kong track used enemies from Donkey Kong Country Returns and was super fun to race on. Other tracks include one where you race on Wuhu Island (from Wii Sports resort, PilotWings Resort, and Wii Fit) and some great “retro” courses including Maple Treeway from Mario Kart Wii (which is one of  my all time favorite tracks) and Luigi’s Mansion from Mario Kart DS.

Everything in Mario Kart 7 seems to offer the complete package. Graphics, gameplay, and many new goodies. I can’t wait to play it more after it is released this December.

Super Mario 3D Land Preview

July 28, 2011

At the end of my Comic-Con adventure, I walked over to the Nintendo gaming lounge at the Marriott to play Nintendo’s newest games before they hit stores. I played quite a few games at the con, but nothing compared to the happiness I got from playing Super Mario 3D Land.

Before I go into details on the game, I need to give some backstory. I am colorblind, wear glasses, and have a stigmatism. I have been unable to see the 3DS’s 3D effects on demo systems at Target and Best Buy or playing on my friend’s. I have been thinking it was something to do with my eyes. I was wrong. In the dim lighting of the gaming lounge I could see the 3D perfectly. I’m assuming that it has something to do with the lighting, but I don’t know for sure. If you have a 3DS, can you let me know if there is a difference between playing in dark areas and light areas? Maybe it’s just the quality of the game. I don’t know. Anyway, the four 3DS games I played at the Nintendo lounge (Super Mario 3D Land, Mario Kart 7, Starfox 64 3D, and Kid Icarus briefly) all had 3D effects that worked flawlessly for me.

Now on to my impressions of Super Mario 3D Land.

There are 2 things you first notice after picking it up, how good the mushroom kingdom looks with all that depth and how slow Mario moves. First let me talk about Mario. As a design choice in this game, Mario moves much slower, strangely that’s ok. You can hold down a button to make him run faster (I ended up holding it down a lot), but you really don’t need to. It works surprisingly well.

Now, for the 3D effect. The world looks clear, crisp, and full of life. The 3D depth and effect looks amazing. I was truly mind blown just how everything looked from the depth into the world to the fireballs and ink that would fly at the screen. Once I even ducked to try to avoid ink hitting me in the face! One of the coolest experiences playing the game is when Mario goes down a warp pipe and you appear in a zoomed out room with a overhead-ish view. You are standing on a platform and there is a block with a large coin on it floating above you and in front of you. Now because you are viewing it from a top down view, that normal block floats a good inch and a half out of the screen in clear, crisp 3D. I was ecstatic. Then when Mario jumps on it! Just amazing.

I played all four levels available (cause that’s just how I am) and every level worked very well. I played through an outdoor grassy level, an underground dungeon-ish sort of level, a level based off of moving platforms, and what looked to be a mid-world airship boss with a mid-world boss character from Super Mario Bros. 3.

There were two items available in the demo: the Tanooki Suit and the Fire FlowerIn all 4 levels you have the option to use your Tanooki once a level. For reasons I can’t figure, the Tanooki suit doesn’t let you fly or turn into a statue like it did in Super Mario Bros. 3. It only let’s you flutter around and swing your tail. Now Nintendo has said that that it would be difficult to be able to fly in a 3D Mario game on a handheld. What no one is pointing out is what nonsense that is. Mario flew in Mario 64 DS just fine, and that was 5 handhelds ago! It makes no sense to me. Then why can’t you turn into a statue! There is no limitations with that! This whole Tanooki suit thing just makes me think that Nintendo is lazy. However, the game plays just fine without either of those abilities. The Tanooki suit is very fun to use and really helps complete levels in Super Mario 3D Land, it just makes me more annoyed than anything that I can’t fly.

Gameplay itself is fantastic. Mario has a full arsenal of moves including a new summersault roll move that came in handy a lot during my demo. The levels I played were well thought out, fun to play, and showcased the 3D effects well. So many great little moments. One of my favorites is when Mario is going to walk through these giant swinging spiked balls that are moving toward and away from you. Just brilliant.

The game is filled with shout outs to past Mario games, from the airship with the mid-world boss from Super Mario Bros. 3, to the way every level ends. Every level that I played ended in Mario jumping on a flagpole for the first time in a 3D mario platformer. I didn’t think this would work well, but surprisingly it worked great. They did it perfectly.

It’s hard to explain just how good Super Mario 3D Land is, and I could go on and on trying to. This game justifies spending the $170 on a 3DS (maybe not $250, but for $170 I see it being worth it). It is the perfect example of a Mario game. A great mix of quality, fun, and a great new gimic. I personally can’t wait to play more when the game comes out this November.