At this year’s E3, Nintendo was showing off some of the games we’ve been waiting to see since the last E3. Among them Wii titles shown to us were Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, Super Mario Galaxy, Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicle, Mario Strikers Charged, and Wii Fit. For the Nintendo DS they showed Brain Age 2: More Training in Minutes a Day, The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, and Flash Focus: Vision Training in Minutes a Day. There was also a Medal of Honor game that utilized the Wii Zapper peripheral that we did not get a chance to play.
First up was Wii Fit. This was the biggest surprise for me. When someone described the Wii Balance Board that Nintendo was planning on making games for I immediately remembered the Power Pad of days long gone. This however, was something far sturdier and resembled more of one of those fitness steps, although what they showed us was in prototype form and could potentially change when finally released, and even the final name could change. The Wii Balance Board was extremely sensitive and as far as I could tell extremely accurate. It runs off of four AA batteries and is a nice white with blue LED to match the Wii. It also shuts off automatically after minutes of not being used or when another game is turned on that doesn’t utilize the Balance Board.
In a soccer minigame you shift your weight from one side to the other to make your on screen Mii block balls being kicked. Shift to the left and your character shifts to the left, shift to the right he or she will shift as well, but you need to watch out for things like cleats or panda heads, those things will deduct points. The downhill ski jump minigame was also very cool, in it you lean your weight forward like a skier, then as you hit the ramp you make a movement like pushing off to get height and jump off and then lean forward to get extra distance and as you come down you will center your weight to avoid tumbling. It all worked so flawlessly that it’s a wonder why we haven’t been playing games like this for years. The other minigame that was available (the Nintendo representative who showed us the game said there would be something along the lines of 20 minigames included) was a puzzle type game. In it your weight shifted a board that had marbles sitting on top, your goal was to manipulate the marbles to drop them in a hole or holes and the game progressively got more difficult as you progressed dropping more marbles, more complex boards, and more holes. Some of the other minigames include some Yoga stretches that will monitor your progress over time, of which we tried one that tests your ability to balance on one leg while stretching the other one. My cat-like balance earned me what the representative said was probably the highest score he had seen in the three days of showing the game off.
The Wii Balance Board ended up being a nice breath of fresh air and after getting some time to play with it I began to think of all the possibilities like combining the Balance Board with the Wii Remote to play something like skateboarding, snowboarding, or a surfing game. Maybe combine two for a Dance Dance Revolution type game? All sorts of ideas ran through my head, and of course undoubtedly have already been thought of by some genius at Nintendo. Either way, the concept of simple games that nearly anyone can relate to was genius in and of itself. You don’t need skill to shift your weight and block soccer balls, you don’t need to be a world class athlete to get a successful ski jump, and you don’t need to have cat-like balance to do some yoga stretches. You only need to stand on the board and shift your weight accordingly; just about anyone can do this.
Next up we saw Metroid Prime 3: Corruption. Now, I had seen and played this last year at E3, but this year it looks like it’s undergone a lot of changes. Granted the art style and many of the gameplay elements have remained the same as the previous Metroid Prime games, the level design looks to be different and has some more open spaces and they look as though they’ve tried to add a little fun with it. Anyone who has played any of the previous Metroid Prime games knows what to expect, a first person shooter/adventure game. The Wii remote adds some new twists to the Metroid universe as the remote aims your gun, the nunchuk steers Samus around and functions for other things later on. The morph ball action has changed a little as well, you no longer need to set a bomb to get up to a higher ledge, you can “flip” your Wii Remote using an upwards gesture and get Samus in morph ball to jump. You can still use bombs, and you probably will need them later on to get to some more difficult ledges, but this seems like a move for new players to instantly access the Metroid Prime universe without easily getting frustrated. The accuracy that the Wii Remote provides Samus along with the newly added features makes Metroid Prime 3: Corruption easily one of the more anticipated games of the year. And even after about 20 minutes of playing, I wanted more. Oh, and Metroid Prime 3 won’t use the Wii Zapper attachment because you need the nunchuk to be free and perform moves like opening doors among other things, otherwise it might have been perfect for this game. Lastly, for those holding out the hopes that the nearly year long delay was for the addition of multiplayer modes, allow me to dash them against the jagged cliffs of reality as I tell you there will be no multiplayer modes of any sort in MP3, however, that won’t rule out a future edition of Metroid Prime Hunters on the Wii with potentially full online play.
After finishing with that game we got to see some Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicle action. This game does use the Wii Zapper and was almost what you would expect from a game that does, or at least from the first set of games that does. This is not your typical Resident Evil game, much to the dismay of many. This is an on-rails shooter. You will use the nunchuk to look around and the Remote will provide your target. The trigger underneath shoots, and in order to reload you make the full gesture of pumping a shotgun. That is to say bring the front of the Zapper into the air and pull downwards with your back arm. Do it half-heartedly and you may not get a reload. Put effort into it and you’ll get a reload every time. It totally beats just pushing a button to reload and makes you feel like you’re more involved in the game. The game itself looks great, although, from the level we saw maybe not as good as Resident Evil 4, but maybe that comes later on in the game. I only hope that the game can and will end up providing a lot of replay as most games of this variety don’t tend to because they’re traditionally released in arcades and are intended to be shorter experiences. The Wii Zapper worked flawlessly and it was a cinch to pull off head-shots on zombies within seconds of adjusting to the new controller. The precision of it can only mean that we will surely be seeing a lot of games like this in the future.
Quite possibly the most anticipated Wii game was what we saw next, Super Mario Galaxy. Again, this is one game that I saw at last year’s E3, but they’ve added a lot of goods for its fall release and judging from the three distinct worlds that I was able to play it’s very close to being ready. Getting used to the controls of Mario will take a little getting used to, but it doesn’t feel as unnatural as Super Mario Sunshine. Super Mario Galaxy has you running from one planet to the next doing Mario-like things, such as collecting coins, stomping Goombas and Piranha Plants and the like, oh and collecting stars. What’s a Mario game without stars to collect? Running and jumping on each planet is the same as it would be on a flat surface and it’s essentially classic Mario on a curved surface, so Mario fans shouldn’t be put off by the new control mechanisms. If you don’t like that, there are at least some more traditional levels similar to Super Mario 64. The levels we were shown featured a new look for our beloved overall clad hero, Bee Mario. Bee Mario puts on a Bumblebee suit and gets to hover for a brief amount of time provided that he doesn’t get wet. This feels very similar to the water propulsion unit that was used in Mario Sunshine, but (hopefully) without the camera issues. Overall, the game looks beautiful and despite all the rumblings of the Wii being underpowered in comparison to the other consoles, you’d never really know after seeing this game in action. Now, if only they’d include something similar to those delightful minigames in New Super Mario Bros. or Super Mario 64 DS.
Mario Strikers Charged was what we saw next and it looked very similar to Mario Strikers for the GameCube, but with Wii specific controls included. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to see the online features. We mainly played through some of the tutorial modes trying to get a feel for the controls and the game in general. One of the cooler features I noted was blocking a special move kick. If you’re the goalie, you will see hands on screen and you’ve got to block balls by moving your remote and nunchuk to the appropriate position on the screen. At least they’ve tried to come up with innovative ways to use the motion sensing controller. This could be a really fun party game with friends.
Unfortunately, at this point we ran out of time and were not able to see or play any of the Nintendo DS games, but Brain Age 2: More Training in Minutes a Day promises to give you more of what you enjoyed from the first Brain Age game. Flash Focus: Vision Training in Minutes a Day promises to do for your sight, what Brain Age does for your brain. The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass is the one game that we did not have time to play which we would have loved to, however, it’s a sequel to the Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker and uses the same art style. Needless to say it looks awesome. It is entirely stylus controlled and features some interesting multiplayer modes which are a sort of hybrid of Pac-Man and the old Atari game, Combat. The game looks pretty and like many other Zelda games is almost assuredly going to be great and an instant classic.
All in all Nintendo never ceases to impress and although we didn’t get to see Super Smash Bros. Brawl or the newly announced Mario Kart Wii, we were impressed by their upcoming lineup of games and, I, for one can’t wait to get my hands on all of these games and get a hold of the “second generation” of Wii games. The potential of the Wii seems to be increasing with the additions of the Wii Zapper and the Wii Balance Board. Let’s hope that third party developers take note and begin to get to work on some truly innovative games for eager Wii owners.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was originally intended to be released back in July, but because of the website redesign process it was pushed back until now. The content should still be relevant, but we know that some of it might seem a little dated and we appologize for that.
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