A few weeks ago Joe(blow) Accorsi, the esteemed Chris Hudak and Blake Morse, had the opportunity to attend the Nintendo Games Summit in lovely downtown San Francisco. We had a chance to check out a veritable smorgasbord of upcoming games both for the Wii and DS. Unlike most game events, it was a lot less hectic and bump-and-shove. Everyone was bright and cheerful and eager to show off their latest digital offerings.
But you don’t care about how much fun we had, do you? You want to know how much fun you are going to have with these upcoming titles. Well, strap yourself in folks, because here comes a look at what’s new from everyone’s favorite plumber-loving game systems.
Samba De Amigo (Wii)
Today, everyone talks about Rock Band and Guitar Hero and how great they are. But many people forget that there was another rhythm game that let you live out your rock star fantasies before them; that is, if those rock fantasies involved being a Sombrero-Wearing Mariachi Monkey. I am, of course, talking about the fiery, Latin-rhythm-oriented, maracas-shaking free-for-all that is Samba De Amigo, a cult hit back in the days of the Sega Dreamcast. It was quirky and addictive, in a manner which was as of yet unseen. Now Gearbox readies itself to drop this game on the Wii.
While still in its early stages, the game is shaping up fairly well. Using a couple of Wii-motes or a Wii-mote and nunchuck, instead of the specifically designed maraca controllers makes perfect sense, and this is exactly the type of game that motion-sensing was made for. Keep your eyes peeled for it this spring, and be ready to shake what your mama gave you (there is no wrong way of misreading that). – Blake_Morse
Guitar Hero On Tour (DS)
It sounds like a cruel, teasing joke on the gaming masses, doesn’t it? But, no, rest assured–On Tour sports a peripheral controller-grip that jacks into your DS, providing the tiny equivalent of the colored fret-board on the larger-console iterations of Guitar Hero. You even get a "guitar pick" stylus to literally strum the virtual guitar strings on the touch-sensitive screen.
Mechanically, the gameplay is pretty much what you’d expect, but this version also offers a wireless Guitar Duel mode that features "battle item" power-ups unique to the DS, as well as some clever functionality. One battle item sets your opponent's guitar on fire, requiring him to put out the flames by blowing on the DS microphone. Another one temporarily blocks his screen with the posters and T-shirts proffered by clamoring ‘fans’—sign them quickly (by scrawling your signature with the DS stylus/pick) to get them out of the way as quickly as possible! All this, and the most diverse set-list of any Guitar Hero game to date? Hell yes! Guitar Hero On Tour will be available this summer. – Chris_Hudak
Mario Kart Wii (Wii)
Ever since the good old days of the Super Nintendo, Mario Kart has been a fan favorite and this newest addition to the famous franchise is no disappointment. Using the new Wii-Wheel peripheral to steer around your go-kart or the newly added bikes is just as much fun as it was when we didn’t have motion controls and had to walk uphill, both ways, naked, in the snow, to school.
New levels and vehicles aren’t the only good news, there’s also a ton of classic courses thrown in for all us old-timers out there. – Blake_Morse
Wii Fit (Wii)
If people start really taking all this business of balance-board aerobics, body-mass checks and other healthful forays into game-space seriously, we might have to ease up on the out-of-shape gamer-dweeb jokes. The Wii Fit Balance Board is an ingenious and surprisingly sturdy input device that gives players control in four main categories of games and activities–Strength Training, Yoga, Aerobics and Balance.
It’s neither as lame nor as easy as it appears, when you’re watching it from the relative comfort of a nearby bag of potato chips. Activities include simulated hula-hooping, virtual skiing/snowboarding, and the tip-the-game-world scheme that puts you in command of a game-space version of the real-world game Labyrinth. And just about anything a cute girl does with the balance board looks awesome (bonus awesomeness: there’s a penguin-based belly-slide game; how can you go wrong?). It smarts to admit it, but the Nintendo marketing-wonk hype is more true than not: This may well be the game that [shudder] brings the whole family together for a more healthful experience. – Chris_Hudak
Space Invaders Extreme (DS)
The label "extreme" gets passed around a lot these days (usually with a capital “X” or three in place of an “e”) and most things given said label are not deserving of such a title. But on the new Space Invaders Extreme for the DS, this does not seem the case. This is an eye-popping extravaganza that makes you feel like you're watching a seizure inducing intro to a brightly colored anime. It takes the cult classic and upgrades it for the 21st century, adding new swarms of enemies, including bosses and new weapons to blow them up with. Short little musical phrases echo with each hit as wild backgrounds scroll rapidly behind you. You may want to let this game abduct you. But watch out, it might try to probe you in the wrong places. – Blake_Morse
The concept of Pop is simple: Pop bubbles to increase your time and score. That’s it. Nothing more, nothing less. So why is it so much fun to play?
Well, first off it’s a pretty casual and soothing experience. This is not meant to be an intense whirlwind of action, just a laid-back romp through a world of bubbles. Up to four people can play and anyone is free to hop in or out at any time.
A few power-ups are thrown in for good measure, such as giving your opponents electro-static so they can’t pop anything or blacking out the entire screen except for a spotlight that follows you around. Another nice touch is a mode where combos, instead of being based on the number of same-color bubbles you pop, are based on the number of same-shape bubbles. It might not seem like much, but it's great to see a game that pays attention to people who are color-blind.
If you’re looking for a casual game that’s not horribly time-consuming, give Pop a try when it finally hits Wii-Ware. – Blake_Morse
Strong Bad’s Cool Game for Attractive People
Let’s face it. If you’ve been on the internet enough, odds are you’ve heard of homestarrunner.com. Perhaps you’ve even frequented the site. It's pretty damn funny most of the time, especially the Strong Bad emails, and the game is no exception. It takes the humor of the web series and turns it into an adventure game that is not too far from TellTale’s Sam and Max series. Mini-games like Trogdor abound as you attempt to solve the episodic mysteries of the Strong Bad universe. If you like cool games and are undeniably attractive keep a look out for this on Wii-Ware. – Blake_Morse
World of Goo (Linux, Mac, PC, Wii)
We saw this game first on the relatively lonely end of the GDC show floor, stuck somewhere within the “indie games” coagulation…and now here it is, making its American Idol run for fame on Nintendo’s cute white console. It's a “physics-based puzzle/construction game” where players build gloppy, gooey, sticky structures of Goo, with the goal of reaching up to a pipe that will suck up said Goo.
Since the structures you’re building are made of this sticky glop, the idea is to somehow strike a balance between how many ‘points’ you consume in the construction process and the physical stability of the gooey lattice-works you slap together. Sparse in visuals and control, and difficult to describe but easy to grasp, World of Goo evokes a physical simplicity that's just right, a sort of Worms-without-combat, a sort of Lemmings-without-pathfinding. Probably not a drinking game, but possibly a ‘smoking’ game, if you follow. – Chris_Hudak
Major League Eating: The Game
After a full day of checking out what Nintendo had to offer, there was one event left. Major League Eater Tim “Eater X” Janus was going to set a record for "Most Sushi Eaten in 6 Minutes" (which was 141, apparently), and we were going to check out Mastiff’s new game based on the M.L.E. I had the opportunity to play the game with X himself and subsequently got my ass handed to me twice in a row.
You play as one of several real-life competitive eaters, each with their own specialty. One could be better at stuffing down burgers, another at gorging hot dogs. Not surprisingly, the whole point is to eat more than your opponent. With a gesture of the Wii-mote, you throw food down your character’s gullet. There’s a mouth meter above you with a moving column that fills up with food as you eat. Make sure there’s food in your row before you chomp, though, or you’ll bite your tongue and loose some feedin’ time.
You have one more meter to keep an eye on as well, a stomach that fills up with bile as you digest. If it gets too full, you blow chunks everywhere and lose, so you must make sure to suppress the urge to vomit by shaking the Wii-mote back and forth in a style similar to a technique used by professional eaters.
Like Pop, some power-ups are thrown in here and there as well, such as a toxic burp that stuns your opponent and (perhaps) some fire breath. The concept itself is extremely quirky and, much like the M.L.E., piques a curiosity that makes you want to see it for yourself. Look for Major League Eating: The Game to hit WiiWare later this year. – Blake_Morse