Attention all Nintendo refugees: it's time to come home. Nintendo's annual E3 Media Briefing had a ton of surprises for both core and casual players, but one of the most shocking reveals was the announcement of four - count 'em - four new Super Mario games. Prepares yourself for not only Mario & Luigi 3 (now subtitled Bowser's Inside Story), but a Wii sequel to New Super Mario Bros., a Yoshified Super Mario Galaxy 2, and a new Mario vs Donkey Kong puzzler for DSiWare. Rejoice!
I don't even know where to begin with this. I was at the media briefing and as these announcements came up and new video and artwork were displayed, I felt endorphins firing in my brain in ways they haven't in far too long. Nintendo knew they had to bring their A-game to E3 this year after last year's ho-hum performance, and I think the company has succeeded. My expectations were low this year, and frankly I'd have been happy with a release date for Bowser's Inside Story and a mere announcement for a new New Super Mario Bros. To actually see both games on store shelves this year is impressive, but then to find out that the sequel to March of the Minis not only exists but releases next week of all things, well, I'm stunned. Pleasantly stunned.
New Super Mario Bros. Wii is a glorious 2D platformer done with 3D visuals as seen in the original New for DS, but now there's a four-player aspect to the game in addition to something in a single-player mode. Something similar to this was originally a part of the DS game (as seen at E3 2005 and, later, locked away in the finished product), and while those multiplayer elements were dropped, I'm glad to see them back here expanded for four players. I tried the demo in the Nintendo booth briefly and I really like what I see. The new power-ups such as the Propeller Suit and the Penguin Suit are nice additions to the franchise, but what I'm really excited about is the return of the Koopalings as boss characters. Yes, it's true. One of the demo levels features Morton Koopa, Jr. Mario, Luigi, and two Toads team up to save the day again, although I'm unsure why we need two Toads to tag along. They almost seem like filler characters. I wonder...
The final big surprise from the Mushroom Kingdom this morning is Super Mario Galaxy 2, something that I knew was in development, but I did not expect to see so much of it today. Riding atop Yoshi is once again a major gameplay component, and while some may criticize the game for being "more of the same" from the original Galaxy, I'm not only fine with that, but genuinely pleased. The original game had so much going for it that all I really wanted in a sequel was just another collection of levels to explore. Adding Yoshi to the mix is welcome, and there are plenty of other new elements to discover as well when the game releases next year.
Nintendo had some other core-focused announcements this morning that I'll comment on in due time, but I wanted to get my initial reaction to the news out there. You have no idea how happy I am right now. My inner fanboy is peeking out, yes, but sometimes that just has to happen. The best video games are the ones that leave me smiling the entire time I play them, and let's just say that I was all-smiles coming out of the briefing yesterday morning.