This week, I got to go to a Nintendo press event to preview some of Nintendo's upcoming games. I went with Dan Hopper of A Week of Kindness and BestWeekEver.tv.
TALKING POINT: What's Mario Galaxy like?
Jeff: After only a few minutes, it was obvious that Mario Galaxy is already a classic game three months before it comes out. Look for this thing to bring world peace, like at the end of Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey. It looks completely new, but it's unmistakably a Mario game.
Jeff: The planets were interesting. The whole game takes place on spheres of various sizes. It's not nearly as nauseating as it sounds, though Toad puked.
Dan: Toad always pukes.
Jeff: The game has an odd control scheme. You control Mario with a joystick, while the remote controls an on-screen cursor you use to throw stars. It's not like Mario is throwing the stars, it's like you are throwing them from your living room. This is the first Mario game to break the fourth wall.
Dan: The pat-your-belly-while-scratching-your-head controls felt surprisingly natural. The game never explains the controls very throughly, because they don't need to. It just works. Another new feature: a friend can play along with the second controller to shoot enemies, or mess with Mario.
Jeff: It's like one-and-a-half players. It's comparable to how you can take the second controller in Duck Hunt and control the ducks. Technically you are controlling something on the screen, but you're not really playing. Dan: Mario Galaxy is definitely one of those "uh oh, I think I'm going to have to buy this system now" kind of games, which is something Bonk was never able to accomplish.
TALKING POINT: What the hell is a Wii balance board?
Jeff: I've now stood on one now, so I think I can explain it a little better. It's a hunk of plastic that sits on the floor, reads subtle shifts in your balance and measures your body mass index (a fancy word for weight). It comes with a bunch of mini-games that take advantage of this.
Jeff: I admit my area of expertise is Kid Icarus and not exercise, but it seems like balancing could help strengthen
stuff. I thought the whole thing was pretty neat. In the past I've criticized the Wii as being a casual toy for people who can't name all eight Street Fighter characters, but if Nintendo keeps coming up with stuff like this I'm not sure it matters.
Dan: After some basic games that aren't fun beyond "check this out, friend who's never seen this," I think Nintendo's about to go on a roll with Wii versions of all their greatest hits.
Jeff: I didn't really get what the whole thing was about until I saw the yoga mini-games. You have to stand on one foot and assume a pose. When you're done, you'll see a chart showing exactly how your foot trembled.
Dan: It's the equivalent of a video game breathalyzer, even more so than dying on the first level of Bubble Bobble.
Jeff: The Wii Balance Board was fun, but I can't recommend buying one until they announce how much it costs. If it costs Guitar Hero or less and you miss how silly it felt when you first got a Wii, I say go for it.
TALKING POINT: What else was there?
Jeff: The hype was all Mario and balance board, but I was equally impressed with Metroid Prime 3. Nintendo didn't release any Metroid games for nearly a decade, but now there have been three great ones in five years.
Jeff: Zelda DS didn't immediately hook me. The pen control scheme didn't seem natural. It's hard to judge a Zelda game on just a few minutes, but I'm going to give this one a 6.8.
Dan: What member of the Nintendo franchise are you looking forward to seeing in Wii form?
Jeff: How about a new Mario Brothers 2 with a vaguely Arabian theme and pulling things out of the ground. Now that's a good work out.
Dan: How about a World Class Track Meet that's not the easiest thing in the world to cheat at?
Jeff: It's about time someone continued the saga of Hogan's Alley. What's Hogan up to now?
Dan: How about a Ghosts N' Goblins game that's completely unbeatable and not fun