Previews: Hands on with Nintendo’s E3 line up, part 2
Super Mario 3D World (Wii U)
Arguably, Nintendo proved that platform games could work in 3D with the release of Super Mario 64 back in 1996. It wasn’t the first 3D platform game, but it was one of the biggest names, and one of the first to handle the move beyond 2D in a way that convinced reviewers and players alike. And it is with this heritage that Super Mario 3D World is presented.
It feels very familiar as a 3D Mario title – running, jumping around and generally exploring the world for coins and secrets; though given the success and popularity of the series changes would be unexpected at best. Instead, the series has gone for progression via additions – the most prominent being Mario’s new outfit, a cat costume. This allows him to swipe at enemies with his claws, climb up scenery, and generally gives you new ways of exploring the environment.
This isn’t the only way of exploring though – the game is displayed on the controller’s screen as well as the TV, allowing you to test the environment for secrets. Hidden blocks may be revealed by touching the screen, and pieces of scenery such as bushes can be examined, possibly revealing bonuses such as hidden coins.
And if all that wasn’t enough, there is of course a four-player option to really add to the chaos…
Mario & Luigi: Dream Team (3DS)
Speaking of chaos, how does a giant Luigi fighting an equally giant robot sound? Or riding a wave of mini-Luigis? Or even making a human skateboard attack on a random monster?
Mario & Luigi: Dream Team [this being the European title; the title in the US is Dream Team Bros] has all of these things, and more. As the latest Mario RPG, you control the brothers as they explore the real world together, and as Mario wanders around Luigi’s dreaming imagination. This leads to some absurdist situations, and probably when analysed could fuel many essays into Luigi’s self-image when compared to Mario’s role as the hero…
(Although in the waking world Luigi can – and at times needs to – hit Mario with hammers. Catharsis for years as a side-kick, I’m sure)
The game’s mixture of JRPG and platforming roots do lead to some strange combinations – the two main buttons control Mario and Luigi separately, meaning some co-ordination need to develop in response to enemy attacks or crossing platforms. The opening section (the main part of the game as it was on display) wasn’t enough to have that start coming naturally, although it was enough to speak to NPCs, fight (rather haphazardly) some generic monsters, and to solve some simple terrain puzzles – including the aforementioned Mario-hammering…
Of course, if you are a fan of the previous Mario & Luigi titles this should all be familiar – and indeed, welcome.
Mario Kart 8 (Wii U)
Anticipation can often be measured by the size of a queue. Sometimes it is a photo opportunity, often it is an open bar, but in this case it was the need for either patience or sharp elbows to get a go on Mario Kart 8, as on arrival it seemed to provide a bee-line for a large number of people looking to get hands on with the game.
As you might expect, it follows in the tried-and-tested footsteps of earlier games – in this case perhaps more than most, as popular modes from previous games are re-added, such as the bikes from Mario Kart Wii and hang gliders from Mario Kart 7. The main addition with 8 is the anti-gravity tracks – while branching tracks may not be anything new, here you may find a fork in the path directing you onto a wall and across the ceiling, driving directly over the heads of drivers following the other path still on the ground.
Is it revolutionary? Not especially. However, it is fun – and if the queue is the evidence it appears to be, it’s not just me holding this opinion.