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E3 2011: Nintendo Press Conference Demo Impressions

June 12, 2011 - After Nintendoís E3 press conference, we had the opportunity to go hands-on with some of the 3DSí most anticipated new releases: Mario 3DS, The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time 3DS, Luigiís Mansion 2, Star Fox 64 3DS, and Mario Kart 3DS. Hereís what we think. Well, what I think. I canít speak for everyone. What do you think I am, anyway? Just check out my impressions, you:

Mario 3DS - Itís pretty much what youíd expect from 3D Mario on a portable; itís like Mario Galaxy, only without the spheres and on a smaller scale. I didnít get much time with this one, but what I saw looked good. The life meter, dial, thing is gone, replaced by a concept familiar to Mario fan: when gets hit, he shrinks; when he gets hit again, he dies. The tanooki suit does make a return but damned if I could figure out a way to turn to stone like in Super Mario Bros. 3. Also: Tanooki goombas. I donít want to know what Bowser did to make those monstrosities, but theyíre there.

The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time - Itís pretty much what youíre expecting -- OoT with beefed-up visuals and 3D. Given the option of three areas to check out, I chose the dreaded Water Temple (how could I do otherwise?). All menu navigation is done via the touch screen, which is a dream. This is exactly the way to use the touch screen in Zelda: as a device to simplify its more cumbersome elements. Equipping/un-equipping the steel boots was just a tap of the screen, which already made navigating the Water Temple a delight (and having the map down there at the bottom didnít hurt, either). Aiming in first person was a tad tricky with the 3DSí sort-of-an-analog-stick-but-not-really thing, but that was a mild frustration, at worst.

Luigiís Mansion 2 - I never played Luigiís Mansion, so I canít say much to those of who did. What I can say is this: Iím really looking forward to LM2! Thereís tons of interaction with the environment, as I was sucking up coins, money (apparently Mario-Bros. coins are not money?), sheets, cobwebs, and fiddling around with wind chimes, rocking chairs, and basically anything I could point the vacuum at. My biggest issue was the control: A to aim your flashlight (used to reveal ghosts), R to switch to the vacuum, and Y to aim up. Once you lock in with the A button, you are locked in, buddy -- you have to completely disengage the whole finger-twisting maneuver to re-orient yourself to a new angle. Only the dexterous need apply.

Star Fox 64 3DS - Again, this is exactly what youíd expect of a Star Fox 64 port on the 3DS -- improved visuals, re-recorded voices (using the same classic actors), and the new tilt control. This is a game that compels you to dial that 3D control to max, as you simply wouldnít want to zip through space without that added depth. Didnít get to see the multiplayer, unfortunately.

Mario Kart 3DS - This was the highlight of the demos for me. In fact, this is probably whatís going to get me to buy a 3DS (combined with OoT). Before entering a race, I got to tinker with a very limited selection of parts in vehicle customization. I chose roll-cage chassis (heavy, Iím assuming) and regular wheels, but I could have made a monster truck, a tiny kart, or a standard kart -- or any combination of the three. The only special part on offer was the glider, but more on that in a bit.

Itís still good olí reliable Mario Kart; drifting and snaking to boost speed (though snaking is considerably more difficult than in the past), debilitating opponents with power-ups, short-and-sweet races. One race even sent me driving underwater, which had the added effect of the appropriate (if cartoony) physics to throw a spanner into the Mario-Kart race-works.

But that glider . . . itís that glider that makes all the difference. Think you knew frustration every time a blue shell knock you out of first place? Well, just wait Ďtil that blue shell knocks you out of first place and sends you plummeting straight to the ground (a free-fall is a lot of lost time in Mario Kart) -- it was a tactic I particularly enjoyed. The super-serious need not apply.

The super-short races seem appropriate for the handheld platform and some of the balance tweaks change up the experience, but I couldnít tell if ďrubber-bandingĒ was in effect or not (truthfully, the races might be too short to even notice). I cant wait to see more.

Written By: Christian Higley

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