You've already heard what we thought of Metroid: Other M, Super Mario Galaxy 2 and Sin and Punishment 2, and we got to play Monster Hunter 3 a few weeks ago, but there's still plenty to tell about the other titles available to play throughout the summit.
One title we made a beeline for was WarioWare: Do It Yourself, the upcoming retail DS title that allows you to create your own bizarre minigames. Showcased on the DSi XL (did we mention it’s huge? Oh, we did), there’s a surprising amount of depth to the minigame creation tools, letting you draw, animate, record sounds and set the win conditions, giving you a pretty broad range of possible games. We saw some user creations including ladybird-poking, bird-scattering and nose-rocketing, so there’s clearly plenty of room for imaginative new games. We didn’t get chance to create our own game as the process is too long for such a setting, but there’s a very in-depth tutorial that introduces the game’s tools to you.
By now you’ve probably read that accompanying the DS game will be a WiiWare download that lets you share and rate your games online. Called the Do It Yourself Showcase, the WiiWare programme connects with the DS to allow uploads and downloads of minigames direct to other users: there’s no Nintendo-controlled central hub here, just peer-to-peer game sharing, which should be great and completely unruly. We asked about the pricing of Showcase and were told it is currently undecided, but we do know that there. We’d hope that WarioWare: DIY will come with a download token for the Showcase, but time will tell on that one.
After the mental minigames we moved across to FlingSmash, a side-scrolling platformer that uses MotionPlus to give total control over your character. Combining classic titles such as Wizball with pinball, you swing the Remote to aim your ball into blocks along the levels, collecting medals, cherries, gold stars and all the usual platforming paraphernalia. It handles very smoothly and you do feel in control of your bouncy ball, with a full range of movement available and some nice physics on the ball itself. In its first stages it feels very simplistic however, and it’ll be interesting to see how the difficulty ramps up to justify this one being a retail disc release – at the moment it’s not too far in advance of some of the titles we’ve seen on WiiWare.
Back to the handheld space, we spent a decent length of time with Photo Dojo, a new one-on-one fighting game for DSiWare that puts you into the combat. When starting you create a new fighter and have to take photos of yourself pulling off the moves – uppercuts, kicks, jumps, the whole lot. You can also record sound effects to shout out during certain moves and taunts, meaning you have almost total control over your fighter in-game. In all honesty, the creation of your fighter is much more fun than the game itself, with thirteen funny poses to pull off; it's even funnier for the person snapping away, of course.
We set about putting the Bald Bouncer (our very own Dazza!) against the Spanish Ogre, with two players sharing the DS – one uses L to attack and the D-Pad to move, the other uses R to fight and the buttons to manoeuvre. Playing on the DSi XL was very comfortable and gave us plenty of space, but it’s easy to see that playing this on a regular DSi might leave things a little cramped. The game itself isn’t enormously skillful – there are special moves but they’re tricky to pull off, so it’s mainly just a kicking contest, but it is chaotic fun and reminiscent of the classic Rock ‘em Sock ‘em Robots for the 21st Century. We certainly had a great time kicking virtual lumps out of Pandora, one of Nintendo's lovely reps, as well as each other, and just as much fun taking pictures and recording phrases to breathe life into the onscreen action. Photo Dojo is an interesting proposition and could be great social fun when it’s released this Spring.
Lastly, but by no means least, we got to sit down with Monster Hunter 3, played as a four-player local game, although Nintendo confirmed there will be no local support in the finished game. There will be free online play for all, but the bad news is that the online mode is region-locked, meaning European and North American gamers cannot hunt together, a real shame considering its sizable potential. That was the only real fly in the Monster Hunter ointment though, the game easily deserving its reputation as one of the Wii's greatest graphical showcases, a performance it matched with some outstanding audio too: beneath each seat was a booming subwoofer than shook when the enormous beasts roared.
Our reactions to the game were very different - whilst Dazza was put off by the lack of introduction by the staff, our resident Monster Hunter expert James quickly set to work taking down the Rathian. In the right hands the game is very impressive, with each player taking different roles for the good of the team: we fought against the underwater boss Lagicrus, with one team member playing Shock Traps whilst the other acted as a decoy to draw the monster's attention. Wii Speak is obviously going to be important for serious players, but even without the microphone you can communicate using simple customisable phrases.
We enquired about the release of a demo disc in Europe and were told the decision had not been made yet, so it remains to be seen if the demo will make it out of North America, although the Wii Speak and Classic Controller Pro bundles will be available in Europe. It may not be to everyone's liking, but if you're after the Wii's first must-have online game in years and are up to a serious challenge, Monster Hunter 3 could well be the game for you. If you haven't already done so, you can check out our Monster Hunter 3 first impressions from a few weeks ago.