Ace Nintendo Life reporters James and Darren were recently invited to attend a special preview event in London to get hands-on with the 3DS as well as Nintendo's upcoming Wii and DS line-up. We've already posted our impressions of the 3DS and its games, so let's cast our eye to the wider Nintendo landscape.
Again, as with the 3DS, there were no announcements or fresh details here: this was simply a chance to play the games before launch, although again there were disappointing omissions. Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, Sonic Colours and Mario Sports Mix were among the biggest absentees, not available for play despite being loaded onto the demo kiosks (we saw them, we asked, we were denied.) The present line-up was still impressive, however.
Metroid: Other M was one of the big name titles on display, though it appeared to be the same demonstration we played back at February's Media Summit. You can read our Metroid: Other M First Impressions to see what we thought of it when we played it then, and with the game out in North America at the end of next month there's not too much longer to wait until you can judge for yourself.
Kirby's Epic Yarn was next, shown off in single player as well as co-operative mode. Whilst you're waiting to hear if the two-player action will have you in stitches, have a read of Corbie's First Impressions from E3 2010 and remind yourself that this game won the coveted Nintendo Life Best Overall Game of E3 Award.
Donkey Kong Country Returns was another Wii platformer on show, with four levels set up for two-player action. Corbie had a chance to go solo on this one at E3, so check out his First Impressions to tide you over until our co-operative mode thoughts are fully processed. Also: this stand had seats shaped like barrels. Just thought you'd like to know.
New Carnival Games was on display too, the latest in the popular series, with a few minigames available for play. One was a plate-smashing minigame where a reticule scrolled automatically over a row of plates, with an overhand throwing motion for the Remote throwing a ball, the idea obviously being to throw the ball whilst the cursor was over a plate. There was also a simple ghost house game where you fired at targets as they appeared, but both games suffered from sluggish controls and muddy graphics, leaving us to question why it was on display at all when other higher-profile games were available but kept from view.
Another entry in an almost bafflingly popular series is Just Dance 2, the follow-up to Ubi's chart-conquering first title, and as with its predecessor this is one game best observed, not played. The brave N-Europe boys strutted their stuff on the dance floor, showing off the four-player mode, but otherwise this looks like being more of the same grooving gameplay with a new soundtrack: James Brown and Kesha blasted out all day, among other tracks. It doesn't seem to do much new, but those who enjoyed the first game will lap it up.
On the handheld front, we got to grips with plenty of DS titles. Super Scribblenauts was available, showing off its new adjective system, letting you spawn everything from a vicious poodle to a demonic aeroplane. The demonstration stage tasked you with grabbing a copy of the game from the front of a long queue without cutting in line or harming any of the other customers, which put paid to our plans to spawn a dinosaur to devour the people in front. Although the promised D-Pad controls were not present, only controlling the camera in this version, it was still as much fun as its predecessor to concoct new ways of approaching each puzzle, even when you lose.
Around the corner sat Golden Sun: Dark Dawn, the long awaited follow-up to Camelot's much-loved RPG series. With two modes available, one showing off the dungeon puzzles and one throwing you into battle, this was a popular demo throughout the day, and one we'll give full First Impressions of in the very near future.
An early English build of Okamiden was present too, with a short tutorial to help newcomers get to grips with the wolf and brush mechanics. Okami veterans, we jumped right into the game, which showed plenty of the same classic elements but with more reliable touchscreen controls and Zelda: Phantom Hourglass-style puzzles where your two characters could split up to stand on separate switches, for example. Check out Corbie's Okamiden interview from E3 2010 and keep this one on your watchlist for 2011.
Professor Layton and the Unwound Future was present and playable too, with a far greater amount of voice acting in the scene we played: even incidental dialogue was fully voiced in those unmistakable English accents. The cutscenes were as good as ever, so as long as the puzzles maintain the series' devious reputation this could be the best yet: at least until Professor Layton and the Mask of Miracle surfaces on 3DS.
The final game we tackled on DS was Capcom's peculiar puzzler Ghost Trick, developed under the watchful eye of Ace Attorney mastermind Shu Takumi. With a strange graphical style that reminded us of classic 2D adventures Flashback and Another World and a typically quirky sense of humour that included plenty of meta-jokes, there’s truly nothing out there like Ghost Trick. The demo's first puzzle tasks you with saving a girl's life using a combination of a bicycle, a ladder and a wrecking ball, using the stylus to slide your soul from object to object, and each possessed object has a different behaviour or action. Imagine a room escape game with a sense of humour and you’re halfway there, and this is going to be a real love-it or hate-it affair for gamers.
Remember to stay tuned to Nintendo Life over the coming days as we bring you First Impressions of NBA Jam, GoldenEye 007, Epic Mickey and more.