Ever heard of or been to Nintendo World? I was fortunate enough to be able to take a magical trip there last week on the second day of E3 2013. I explored the store, bought some souvenirs, received many StreetPasses, played some games that are currently in development, and imitated Link from The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword.
Thou must thrust thy sword skyward. Also, thou must make sure that people don’t linger in the background.
The store has two floors, with the first floor primarily being devoted to software and the Pokémon Center. Nintendo World actually used to just be the Pokémon Center, but it become its own section within Nintendo World. Regardless of the merge, the selection was anything but disappointing: there were cards, figurines, and, of course, a plethora of plush toys. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much Poké Paraphernalia in one place!
How’s my Skitty impression?
The second floor was like a mini-museum. Judging by some other photos I’ve seen, Nintendo World may change their displays every now and then. Currently, the largest one chronicles various consoles, games, and paraphernalia spanning across several generations.
Aside from the inclusion of successful and well-known systems, Nintendo was not shy about displaying some of the more controversial relics of their past, such as the failed Virtual Boy console and items relating to 1993′s infamous Super Mario Bros. live-action film. I believe that acknowledging both successes and failures is crucial to staying alive and healthy, so kudos to Nintendo World!
From Nintendo’s hanafuda days in the late 1800s to 2012′s Wii U, the display was a sight to behold. Above is a mere sample of what Nintendo World is currently showcasing.
The majority of the merchandise on the second floor was dedicated to the Mario and Zelda series. I got myself a Nintendo World mug and a Mario drawstring bag, both of which are decorative and practical! Some of the most expensive merchandise, such as the statues of Samus’ gunship and Twilight Princess’ version of Ganondorf were available and, uh, expensive.
Even Mario’s cheerful, smiling visage can’t take the pain away from spending $480.
Next, I’d like to give a brief overview of the games I got to preview. The games that were being demoed were Super Mario 3D World, Pikmin 3, Mario Kart 8, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, and The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD. I played the first three, and I can say with confidence that they are shaping up to be excellent additions to the Wii U library. I hope to try out the latter two in the near future.
Super Mario 3D World comes off as a spiritual successor to 2011′s Super Mario 3D Land for the 3DS, though there also seems to be some Super Mario Galaxy, New Super Mario Bros. Wii, New Super Mario Bros. U, and Super Mario Bros. 2 thrown in for good measure.
I had three co-op partners, and we all played through through World 1-1 and a boss fight stage. For World 1-1, I played as Peach. For the boss battle, I played as Luigi. Akin to Super Mario Bros. 2, each character has their own trait or ability; Luigi has the highest jump, Toad is the fastest runner, Peach is able to float, and Mario is the all-around character with no outstanding abilities and no major drawbacks. Although I love the idea of choosing between four different characters, I’m already gravitating toward Peach. Her absence (in playable form) in the New Super Mario Bros. games for the Wii and Wii U were disappointing, so I was ecstatic to find out that she was making her triumphant return, and she is incredibly fun to play as in a 3D platformer.
Also, Super Mario 3D World introduced a cool new power-up: the Cat Suit! When Mario, Luigi, Toad, and Peach don the domesticated feline costumes, they are granted the ability to climb on vertical surfaces, pounce on enemies, and run on all fours. I can see it being used for a lot of interesting puzzles and environmental obstacles.
Pikmin 3, like its GameCube predecessor, has both co-op and competitive modes. First, my co-op partner and I tried the Mission mode, which required us to work together as a team to gather treasure before the timer ran out. Since I had only played Pikmin and Pikmin 2 for the GameCube and not the Wii “New Play Control!” version, I had to learn the Wii Remote controls as I played. I managed to adapt quickly, and I found the motion controls smooth, accurate, and superior to the traditional control setup of the first two. The game even allows players to lock onto treasure or a particular enemy, which reduces any potential frustration. It’s motion control done right.
I hadn’t known about a competitive mode called “Bingo Battle” before the demo attendee mentioned it, and other than the first word hinting at it being Bingo-themed, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. As it turns out, players compete against each other to fill out a row of a card. However, while regular Bingo has letter-number combinations, Bingo Battle has cards depicting images of various treasures and enemies. Players must take these treasures and enemies back to their team’s ship, with the idea being to prioritize the ones that would build a link within a row. The first player to fill out a horizontal, vertical, or diagonal row wins the battle.
After a long war against my challenger, I managed to claim victory. It was a very intense battle, but my strategy and strong troops managed to overcome the opposing team. It was then that I knew that I was enamored with Pikmin 3‘s Bingo Battle. It was one of the main highlights of my demoing experience, and I can see myself continuing to play this twisted version of Bingo as a senior.
Mario Kart 8 is the eighth installment in the bestselling Mario Kart series, which may lead some to believe that it’s simply more of the same. While it certainly has the feeling of the previous games, it introduces a major new gameplay element for the series: anti-gravity vehicles. Players can now drive on walls and ceilings, which will undoubtedly give us some fantastic new course designs (and maybe even some old ones that are reworked with the new anti-grav mechanics). And for those of you who may be wondering, yes, you can choose between motion and traditional controls on the Wii U GamePad. Just keep that old Wii Wheel handy if you plan to use the Mario Kart Wii-style controls with the Wii Remote.
While it’s still too early to judge an entire game based on four courses in a two-player grand prix race, the game didn’t seem to rely as much on item luck. I don’t recall seeing a single Blue Shell, which means that skilled players won’t be punished when they manage to stay in first place. In fact, the items that I got to use were meant to protect oneself (by holding an item behind one’s kart) or trip up another player (by aiming and throwing in front of one’s kart). It was a fair, clean race (well, as fair and clean as it can get in Mario Kart, anyway).
If you’re a Nintendo fan and ever find yourself in New York, I highly suggest treating yourself to a visit to Nintendo World. It’s one of the best places for gamers to go to in the city that never sleeps.
Credit for the photos goes to Omar “BigNTasty” Radwan, who will likely become my biggest rival in Mario Kart 8.