At last weekend’s PAX Prime 2010, Game Rant’s staff spread out in order to play as many games, and deliver as many impressions, as possible. Somehow, and through no specific planning on my part, I managed to play a ton of Nintendo Wii games.
Maybe it was due to having just played through Metroid: Other M for review. Maybe it was because the lines for Wii titles were shorter than those of other games (though, upon reflection, that really wasn’t the case). Or maybe it was simply because there are a lot of Wii games that I’m looking forward to.
Whatever the reason, now’s the time for me to deliver my impressions to you. So sit back, relax, and take a look at my PAX Prime 2010 Wii Quick Hits.
Donkey Kong Country Returns
Developed by longime Nintendo mainstay Retro Studios (Metroid Prime series), Donkey Kong Country Returns is an update to the fondly remembered Rare titles from the tail end of the Super Nintendo days. Though the game is extremely faithful to its roots, it also includes some influences from the underrated, bongo driven Donkey Kong Jungle Beat, who’s developers went on to craft the Super Mario Galaxy games.
I played through the first stage of the game as Donkey Kong, while a much younger PAX attendee joined me as Diddy Kong. Together, we traveled left to right, and back and forth between two planes of action, as we gathered bananas, searched for the letters to spell K-O-N-G (we never did get that damn ‘G’), and bounced on the heads of our enemies. We blew on dandelions in hope of finding power ups, and shook our Wii Remotes and Nunchucks, as though playing a drum roll on a bongo, in order to make our onscreen characters drop into a roll.
Donkey Kong Country Returns is a great looking game, lush in detail, but clean in execution, with some nice textures. The Nintendo Rep on hand claimed that the game gets pretty hard pretty fast, and I believe him.
Some consider the original Donkey Kong Country games to be classics, but I find them hard to go back to. With Donkey Kong Country Returns, Retro hues closely to the mechanics of the originals, though I think they may ultimately have crafted a superior game.
Kirby’s Epic Yarn
Kirby was the uncontested star of Nintendo’s PAX lineup, and after playing Kirby’s Epic Yarn, it’s easy to understand why.
The conceit is simple: everything in the game world, including Kirby, is made of some kind of string or fabric, and exists on a 2D plane. What is unexpected is how thoroughly and creatively this setting is exploited by the game. Zippers can be undone and strings pulled, which can dramatically change the landscape of the level. Enemies, even bosses, collapse into a mess of yarn when defeated. When ducking “inside” structures, Kirby is visible as a bump in the fabric.
I again played with a second player. The multiple Kirbys can pick up and throw one another, and interaction with the world comes largely in the form of a length of yarn that Kirby can throw, grab items with, and swing on. But then came a section where the two Kirbys became a single, giant, mecha-Kirby, and the game assumed the mechanics of a side-scrolling shooter.
Along the way there were myriad hidden bonuses to discover and enemies to defeat. Charming and whimsical though the presentation is, Kirby’s Epic Yarn is clearly built on a solid foundation of diverse, engaging gameplay. Plus, the game looks seriously fantastic; the cloth and yarn behave believably, and convey a tremendously tactile sense of the game world. If this wasn’t already on the top of your Most Wanted Wii Games list, you need to update that list, and soon.