Introducing Silver The Hedgehog
Wario's Smooth Moves

E3 Quickie Previews: Wii Edition

Project H.A.M.M.E.R. It's the final day of E3 and I'm still getting my hands on new game demos.  I believe I could spend two weeks here at the show and still not see everything there is to play.  Here's a sample of some of what I've been trying today.

Project H.A.M.M.E.R. (Nintendo Wii): This new franchise from Nintendo puts players in control of a man in the process of turning into a cyborg.  When alien robots attack the planet our yet-unnamed hero grabs a massive hammer and uses it to crush the invaders.  Swing the hammer by swinging the freehand controller, with swings either being a standard swing to smash the pavement or a horizontal spin to whack enemies all around.  The control stick moves the character.  No button pressing is required.  The Nintendo representative running the game demo station told me that I was the first person at E3 to actually finish the demo in the allotted four minutes allowed of gameplay.  Also, the representative told me that the H.A.M.M.E.R. acronym doesn't actually mean anything yet and may never mean something.  Personally, I suggest Human Assisted Mallet Mechanical Emergency Response.

Wii Sports: Tennis (Nintendo Wii): This one's going to be big among casual demos.  Rumor has it that it may even be bundled with the console on launch day.  The tennis game is just one of three Sports titles that will be available on the same disc along with golf and baseball.  In Tennis one need only swing the freehand to swing the tennis racket.  Even serving the ball is accomplished by simulating a vertical toss of the ball and then a swing.  It's a very physical game in that I found myself mini-lunging from side to side to hit the ball. I lost against the CPU by one point and the Nintendo representative said that only one person had been able to beat the demo.  It's fun, but challenging.

Virtual Console (Nintendo Wii): Not something new, but something old.  The Virtual Console download service was on display, but Nintendo cheated the concept a little.  For this demo the old games were stored on the internal flash memory already; no actual downloading occured.  Still, the end result was the same.  Super Mario Bros., Super Mario World, Super Mario 64, Sonic the Hedgehog, and Bonk's Adventure were up for trial along with the traditional controller accessory that actually resembles a Sony Dual Shock controller in terms of button and control stick placement.  It's a very light controller and handles well, although the R button did not work on the unit I tried and the Z button was near the top center of the controller between the L and R buttons.  That button is not easy or comfortable to use at all. There's also a new Home button for main menu access and another button on top of the controller that is unlabeled.  For now its purpose remains a secret.

Super Mario Galaxy (Nintendo Wii): Start saving your pennies, folks.  While it may not be as revolutionary and game-changing as Super Mario 64, Galaxy is shaping up to be plenty of fun.  Instead of placing Mario in familiar 3D levels, he's been dropped on to a small planet. The control stick on the nunchuck accessory moves our hero while the freehand remote's A button makes him jump.  The B button is used for crouching, crawling, and so forth.  The big change is the motion sensor addition.  Shaking the freehand causes Mario to spin in place or activate various elements nearby.  Hold down the B button to lock on or grab distant objects while shaking.  While I did enjoy the demo and plan to tear into the final version when it's released (bad news - Miyamoto said it's not going to be a launch title), I'm disappointed that I have to use the freehand's "omniscent hand" gimmick to activate things for Mario.  I want to physically take Mario to a button and have him push it, not just wave my magic wand and make it happen.  Oh, and you'll love the giant space spider boss.