Today I had the pleasure of attending “The Nintendo Experience” at one of my local Best Buy locations. For those that don’t know, Nintendo sponsored a number of events this Wednesday and today (Saturday) in which you could play Mario Kart 8, Super Mario 3D World, Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze, and The Legend of Zelda Windwaker HD. Lines were insane. Because each game took anywhere from 2-5 minutes a go, and the number of players varied by game, waits ended up being long. In all honesty, Nintendo should have prepped Best Buy with more than their single Wii U Demo Unit. We have four Nintendo Reps in Michigan, and I kind of feel bad for Jessie, my area’s rep, given how he basically had to stand there for over 4 hours with little to no help. That being said, I love the concept of being able to demo the newest Nintendo games, it just really needs to be handled better than it was.
Nintendo did give out some cool swag. Early attendees had their choice between a beautiful “Year of Luigi” coin, a foam Luigi Hat, or a Mario or Luigi Mario Kart checkered flag. The coins were the first to go, followed by the hats. When I left, they still had a ton of flags, so I took one. Mario in particular, since the picture has the anti-grav wheels and that’s neat. While the flags are a novelty, and the hats were made out of a relatively cheap material, the coins are stunning. I’m really happy I get to own one of them.
Mario Kart 8: This is the demo I actually got to play. Mario Kart 8 is basically the gameplay of Mario Kart Wii, combined with the new features of Mario Kart 7, with the added gimmick of the anti-gravity. Given how I loved both Wii and 7, 8 is right up my alley. Jeff took the game pad, so I can’t comment on how responsive the Gamepad controls are, but the motion controls from Wii were identical in 8. The game looks beautiful as well. I’m really impressed.
Super Mario 3D World: While I didn’t get to play, so I can’t comment on the gameplay, this game looked like an advanced version of Super Mario 3D Land for the 3DS. Obviously they forwent the inclusion of two Toads to add Peach as a playable character for the first time in forever. I didn’t get to see the Cat Suit in action unfortunately, but some of the new features like the clear pipes seemed fun and a nice addition to the level design. While I’d love an all new 3D Mario ala Mario Galaxy, this is a nice way to make a quick new game from the 3D Land engine. Really excited for this one.
Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze: Unfortunately the only level I got to see was the one I filmed, which was a mine cart level. I have to say that the graphics look really crisp, definitely a step up from DKC Returns. Since Dixie was nowhere to be found, and I didn’t see a walking level, I can’t comment on gameplay, but it looks like the difficulty from Returns is still present in Tropical Freeze. The level I seen played was pretty difficult for new players, though a DKC vet could probably do it no problem. As a DKC fan and loving Returns, I’m looking forward to playing the game without that obnoxious “shake to roll” gimmick.
The Legend of Zelda Windwaker HD: Just beautiful. Windwaker is my favorite Zelda game. Not only was the game fun, I love the ocean aspects, and I really dig the art style the game took. The new HD cell shading look is crisp, and the colors and textures look better than ever. I wish I didn’t have to wait till October to relive my favorite Zelda. Sailing is vastly improved, as there is now a “boost” feature that makes transportation time much slower. Another improvement I noticed was the inclusion of a song list when using the Windwaker on the Game Pad. The game also features Off-TV Play, which is really awesome for a Zelda game. Like Super Mario 3D World, an all new game would be ideal, but this is a great way to not only get a Zelda game onto the Wii U, but give one of the most (in my opinion) ignored Zelda games a well deserved update.
Overall, I had an absolutely fantastic time chatting it up with other Nintendo fans, and constantly checking my Streetpasses to collect those last few puzzle pieces. The swag given out was cool, and as I said before, the coin is truly an awesome gift. I hope NIntendo does this more in the future, and learns from their mistakes this time around and creates an even more definitive experience next time around. I’d love to see things like these more often in the year, especially after some of the larger NIntendo Direct reveals. Bravo Nintendo, I had a blast.
Here’s some of the free stuff given out at today’s event:
Picture of the Luigi Flag (thanks to Jeff):
Both sides of the Luigi Coin: