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Wednesday, June 3, 2009

(E3) Curb Your Enthusiasm: Nintendo Edition

Nintendo's press conference yesterday made me all kinds of giddy.  As you can see by my previous posts, I was practically ready to call this generation for Nintendo and move on.  However, I thought it would be a good idea to temper this unbridled enthusiasm with some dark truths.  Anyone who doesn't like cynicism should look the other way for a bit.

Metroid: Other M

The new Metroid trailer looks awesome, right?  Did you see where Samus holds down the monster and shoots him in the head?  AWESOME!  Still, a few things are sticking in my craw.

Samus has been slowly moving from internal character to external character.  That's okay.  We learned a little about Adam Malkovich in Fusion, and we know that the Galactic Empire is mad at her.  We get that there's more to the Space Pirates and Mother Brain that we haven't been told yet, and we want to know that.  Here's the thing:  This is a pretty jarring transition from all appearances.  We're learning waaaay more about Samus than we ever have.

We're also running a major risk in introducing new characters.  The key with Metroid games has always been isolation.  You're all alone on an alien planet, and you must get stronger, defeat your enemies, and make it out alive.  If you add in a wisecracking buddy or chatty enemies, it ruins that feeling of solitude.

Now, I'm not saying that Team Ninja is going to ruin that feeling.  They're working pretty closely with R&D1, so they shouldn't.  Still, it's a major concern.

New Super Mario Bros. Wii

Sidescrolling Mario games are awesome, right?  So it stands to reason that four-player Mario would be awesome too, right?

Here's the problem:  New Super Mario Bros. for the DS wasn't made by Nintendo's A-team, and it shows.  The level design was never as clever as it pretended to be.  There were lots of neat ideas, but it wasn't very cohesive as a total.  The bosses were too easy.  The new Koopa Troopa suit was frustrating to use.

It very well could be that this new game is made by Nintendo's A-team.  It certainly seems that way, and we can hope.  Still, these games live and die on their level design, and the DS version didn't give me enough to believe that they can pull something great out of their hat.

Zelda: Spirit Tracks

Zelda games are always great, right?

Well, the last one, Phantom Hourglass, is much-loved.  It's also home to the Temple of the Ocean King, the single worst thing to happen to Zelda games since EVER.  It was like Nintendo forgot everything they ever learned about game design in one brief, blundering moment of stupidity.

Will they repeat the same mistake?  Or will Nintendo learn from their mistakes and continue making excellent games?

Super Mario Galaxy 2

Super Mario Galaxy was the best Mario game since the 16-bit era.  A sequel HAS to be good, right?

Maybe.  Galaxy 2 will hopefully be full of cool new things to do and see.  At least 90% new.  That, right there, is what has me worried.  Do they mean that 90% of the levels are new?  If that's the case, why aren't 100% new?  I don't want to play a rehash of Galaxy's Greatest Hits.  If they reuse levels, they better have a darn good reason for it.

Instead, do they mean that 90% of the gameplay techniques are new?  Okay, that sounds a little better, but Galaxy was brilliant.  Does it really need that much changing?  To put it another way, how much of Galaxy have they changed?  Too much or not enough?

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To be fair, most of this doomsaying probably won't come true, but I'm finding that it's a good idea to temper expectations instead of getting too excited.  I'll be first in line for most of these, but there always needs to be the little voice in the back of your head telling you that the game is going to suck so that it can (hopefully) be quieted.