Nintendo at EB Expo 2014 Recap – New 3DS, Splatoon, Smash Bros and more
Yo! EB Expo is back! Friday the 3rd of October marked the start of Sydney’s biggest gaming convention of 2014. This was the third year that EB Games has hosted the expo in Sydney and the last year of their contract to hold it at Sydney Olympic Park. So who knows, maybe it’ll be hosted in your home city next year?
There were a ton of games on display at the expo; all of the major publishers were out in full force trying to flog their upcoming game. Using my incredulous power of focus, I found all the Nintendo related games and made sure I had a try before I got distracted by all the glitz and glamour of the SingStar stage. So let’s start with what everyone clicked on hoping to read about. Let’s talk about the Nintendo booth. This year’s booth was a massive improvement over last year’s. Last year it was a tight squeeze of all the Wii U games, but this year the floor was spread, Wii U consoles harbouring upcoming and newly released games against the borders, with 3DS tables conveniently dotted throughout. The lines for Smash Bros. may have been longer than they were anticipating, at least 20 metres long and blocking two entrances/exits.
There was a major entrance into their miniature Garden of Eden. On your right as you entered you could see the backs of TVs playing Sonic Boom. And if that wasn’t good enough you could swivel your head left and have a gander at the New Nintendo 3DS, coverplates and the New Nintendo 3DS XL.
Absolutely gorgeous pieces of hardware trapped inside a glass box. I wanted to free them. We all did and we will soon. From boxes, at the low price of AU$219.95 or AU$249.95 for the XL on November the 21st.
Smash Bros was Nintendo’s big play this year. Throughout the morning they had dedicated a third of their floor space to the Smash Bros. games on both 3DS and Wii U, as well as a display case for Amiibo.
When it came to the evening session, the popularity of their Smash Bros. for 3DS Tournament (where the overall winner would have a copy of the game mailed to them free) saw the Smash Bros. for Wii U machines pushed up the back due to the massive queues for each game. Armed with a Gamecube controller I got a few matches of the Wii U version in. Major point I want to make is that HD matters for the incredible detail put into this game. Did you know that Unira (Spike Balls) have little masks or something? Fascinating! The game is as good as you’d expect with new comers fun to play and looking fantastic to boot. Smash Bros. for 3DS is available now, and the Wii U version, Amiibo, GameCube controllers and controller adapters will be available before the year’s end.
Next big show stopper for Nintendo was Splatoon. 4-on-4 squid multiplayer mayhem? It works splendidly! I’m not a huge shooter guy, but I dragged my competitive shooter buddy to check it out. On separate teams, our teams won a round each. It’s such a varied mode of playing and it really makes for an interesting and fun game that anyone could pick up and figure out a strategy for. Aiming with both the GamePad’s gyroscope and the R-stick felt essential to getting the most. It was very easy to pick up and play. The traversal and map reminded me of Jet Set Radio and Tony Hawk, while the shooting is very arcade and just a fun pace. It’s shaping up to being exceptionally unique and definitely one to watch. Nintendo of America predicts a release in the first half of 2015.
Captain Toad was next on my agenda. I loved the little puzzles for this guy in the recent Super Mario 3D World game. It was a very interesting use of the GamePad and camera. It made for a good break from the typical platforming component of the game. I however have to argue that after playing the demo is I’m not sure I want a full game like it. I kept forgetting that I had to move the camera as I progressed and missed out on a few goodies that were too far back for me to attempt to obtain. It’ll more than likely grow on you after you play it for a few hours, but in the fight against the lava monster boss I’d often forget to move the camera whilst scaling the cavern, often losing to my poor notion of depth. Captain Toad will be coming to the Australian market in 2015.
Next up we had the Sonic Boom games. I haven’t had a proper crack at a Sonic game in a long while and I don’t think I’ll jump in with these. I think fans will have a ton of fun with the 3DS version, which has fantastic 3D modelling and follows the Sonic formula of gameplay. Not so sure about the Wii U version. I played 2 modes of the Wii U version and I felt that while one of the levels I tried had the speed that Sonic fans loved (but at a big framerate drop), the boss fight against Eggman was something I can’t imagine many people liking. It maintained its framerate, which is a plus, though the graphics reminded me of early PS3 titles. This was the same build as E3 so hopefully it’s all up to scratch by release on Nov 21st.
We were lucky enough to see an upcoming Wii U exclusive indie title on the show floor. Stealth Inc. 2, the sequel to the excellent Stealth Inc. is a puzzle game similar to its predecessor. While the final game will apparently have some Metroidvania elements to it, the demo featured levels similar to the first game, selecting a mission with set puzzles and challenges. Most missions I tried had a little shadow clone helping you once you freed it, helping each other standing on switches to open doors. In areas with security looking out, you would be able to block its vision with smoke. Big round ‘boss’ like challenges make a return as well to throw a timing challenge rather than a puzzle at you. I’m not sure what’s install for the final version but there didn’t seem to be anything I could do with the gamepad other than navigate the pause menu. It’s definitely a game you should try, and will be able to from the 23rd of October when the game hits the Wii U eShop.
A member of the Nintendo staff on hand described this next game as “the most adorable thing ever”. Disney Magical World is a title that’s flying under the radar with so many big titles coming out these next few months. From the couple of minutes I tried, it’s got a huge uphill battle ahead of it. This will sell to the kid with the brand new 2DS, but the game seemed to have some major issues with the framerate, something similar to Harvest Moon: A New Beginning. The missions and progression in the game seem straight forward; I helped Daisy Duck find a particular flower to open her boutique. Controls were simple, and the R-button made your character do a jumping twirl and be fabulous.There’s probably hours that you could sink into it when it releases October 25th.
The same day you can grab a magical game coming out for your Wii U. Well, not really magical, more like sexy witch sex appeal gun heels. I got a hands-on with the Bayonetta 2 demo behind closed curtains like a common pervert. If you’ve played the original Bayonetta you should know what to expect. It’s quite difficult, but that’s where the fun is. It feels right at home when playing with the Wii U’s GamePad controller with intelligent button mapping that. The fast action and enormous battles will make this a classic for the Wii U’s library when it comes out 25th of October.
Along with these Nintendo also had already released titles that you can buy now such as Mario Kart 8, Hyrule Warriors, Lego Movie on 3DS, Skylanders on 3DS as well as many first party 3DS titles.
When it came to 3rd-parties away from the Nintendo booth? Umm… uh… Just Dance, Skylanders, Disney Infinity, Lego Batman. I think that covers it. I also played the PS3 version of Adventure Time: The Secret of the Nameless Kingdom. It’s also coming to 3DS and might be worth a look at if you want a game that’s similar to ‘Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past’.
While Just Dance was public, they were indeed using Wii remotes. Skylanders Trap Team also offered a Wii U version on display.
Outside of the new stuff they also have a retro tent with heaps of Nintendo classics. It had classics such as CD-i and Mario’s Hotel!
It was a good day. But very soon it became an even better day. While trying some of the Nintendo games in the afternoon session I noticed a familiar face amongst those with staff passes. It was Tom Enoki, Nintendo Australia’s new managing director from the first Australian ‘Nintendo Direct’ on the floor, watching over the joyful people at the booth.
Asking him some questions, he was very excited that Australia would be getting the New Nintendo 3DS, though couldn’t reveal the great secret of why we’re getting it first. He confirmed that the New 3DS models sold here would be in English and any EU region language. Good news for our European friends.
Mr Enoki also told us a little more about how long he’s been at Nintendo, just over a year now. He also told us that he’s been playing Super Smash Bros. for 3DS on his Japanese 3DS unit and likes his own Mii brawler the most.
We postulate this is against Iwata’s Mii.
Did you hit up EB Expo 2014 and/or the Nintendo Booth contained within? Share your experiences below!