Nintendo is on a nationwide tour with its Mario and friends emblazoned airstream, packed with previews of what’s in store this holiday season for the Wii U, Nintendo 3DS and the newly launched Nintendo 2DS. Discretely tucked away in a Miami parking lot, I had the opportunity to hop aboard for some fun hands-on time with Nintendo’s latest offerings.
First up was the Nintendo 2DS. Just launched this past weekend, the Nintendo 2DS bears many of the features of the Nintendo 3DS, minus the clamshell screen and, as the name implies, minus the 3D effects. For the younger (or tough and rumble) gamer, the 2DS offers a budget entry into Nintendo’s handheld gaming at a $129.99 MSRP. I searched around the device, first trying to spot where the stylus was nestled into (around mid-section). Nintendo’s on-board representative let me know this device represented much of what Nintendo’s philosophy is for this holiday season – budget and fun gaming. The d-pad felt snappier than that of the 3DS. The overall construction of the Nintendo 2DS felt rugged, if somewhat less portable for its almost square form factor versus the more compact rectangular shape of the Nintendo 3DS. I must admit, I was tempted to ask if I could drop the 2DS to put its rugged look to the test, but I couldn’t think of doing it to the snappy and colorful device. I personally wouldn’t give up my 3DS for the 2DS, but after feeling the rugged construction and snappy d-pad and shoulder buttons, I am tempted to take this on long trips in my backpack. Curiously, there is dual 3D camera on the 2DS which allows users to capture 3D pictures and video to later view or share with 3DS gamers. The Nintendo 2DS offers a great, rugged, portable alternative to playing 3DS and DS game cartridges.
(Nintendo 2DS system, $129.99 MSRP, available for purchase here)
Switching over to the Nintendo 3DS to preview a hotly anticipated game for the holiday season, definitely a must-have for gamers (and a title I’ve already pre-ordered long ago!) – The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds. Wow, does this game look excellent on the Nintendo 3DS and play with a smooth-as-butter frame rate. Fans of the SNES Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past are going to love this top-down adventure. The 3D is an embellishment not to be missed, with characters jumping up towards the screen and Link’s wand fire effects blazing up out of the screen. The bow and arrow weapon replenishes using a gauge, giving a bit more free-ranged gameplay. Expect a lot of “a-ha!” moments as the game pushes you to think outside of the previous boundaries of gameplay. Link can go into a flat-sketch mode on walls, opening up new areas to explore and creative ways to get around enemies. Playing The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds reassured me that this was going to be a definite must-have for this holiday season, sure to steal away time from the many other gaming distractions. A must!
(The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds – $39.99 MSRP, available for pre-order here)
On to Nintendo’s Wii U, another Nintendo flagship title was presented – Super Mario 3D World. I must admit, the cat suits and colorful Mario characters already had me sold on this game. This game is overflowing with cuteness, but packed with challenging and exploration-encouraging gameplay. Four-player co-op is encouraged. If you’re the designated Wii U Game Pad player, rubbing the touchscreen helps to reveal secret items. Transparent pipes make Mario and company’s tubular travels more exciting and animated. Now, the cat suits are killer. I loved Toad’s cute cat suit. Claw attacks and scurrying up walls are fun. Even more fun? Scurrying up flagpoles! Cats and Mario characters are a win-win. And Peaches is on fire in this game, packing a punch of fireballs for the first time. The colorful HD graphics, creative levels, smooth animations, challenging gameplay and cast of Mario characters make this game a no-brainer for your collection (or gift-giving). This game will further propel interest in the Wii U system, in which Nintendo is clearly cutting its niche for a colorful platformer console unrivaled by other systems, which leads me to the next title…
(Super Mario 3D World, $59.99 MSRP, available for pre-order here)
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is the latest gem destined for the Wii U. First off, the title is a bit delayed past the holiday season (estimated at February 2014). If anything, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze proves that your Wii U investment will pay off in 2014. This side-scrolling platform looks and plays incredible. From the onset of Donkey Kong’s crash landing, the graphical treatments and animations look outstanding and inviting. You’ve surely heard about Donkey Kong’s amazing new level of furry detail. That’s only part of the updated graphical package. The reflective metal effect on the airplane, water effects (dive into water and swim in this DK game!) and character design and animation is a treat. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is a challenging gameplay experience too, with hidden spots and bonus items strewn throughout. Replay value is encouraged as well – you will miss some items in your first time around barrel-blasting! I’ve been itching for a new Metroid game, but after seeing Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze in action, any gamer will appreciate the heart and craft that has been put into it.
(Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, $59.99 MSRP, available for pre-order here)
Nintendo is sandwiched between some competitive game offerings this holiday season, but following my hands-on with what is around the corner in the months ahead (and recent offerings such as The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD, Rayman Legends, Wonderful 101 and Pikmin 3), the Wii U, Nintendo 3DS and 2DS platforms offer top-notch, boldly colorful and competitive gaming not found elsewhere. In the very minimum, as a gamer or family/friend of a gaming enthusiast, you owe it to yourself to check out the games mentioned here. A solid lineup!