E3 2003: David Dayton's Report
After waiting one and a half hours, the magical doors flew open and I
into the conference hall, straight towards Nintendo's mystic pavilion.
were the games I encountered. They are presented in the order in which I
managed to get my hands on them.
Mario Kart: Double Dash
After the lackluster screenshots, I wasn't really sure what to expect
this title. Jumping into the relatively short line, I noticed that one
young man was racing as Wario. Wario appears to have his stylish generic
racer coupe car from Warioland 4, and it fits the atmosphere well. No
of Toad, but a cheery Nintendo rep told me that "Toad is not in this
BUT this version is just the e3 version." No confirmation, but at least
sounds a bit more hopeful for our favorite fungi. One good sign was that
the e3 version supports LAN play for 8 GameCubes linked together.
reports stated that the game would only allow 2 GC's to be linked.
Overall, MK:DD seemed quite good. The preview movies and screenshots
don't do the game justice at all. One interesting change is the
introduction of "double" item blocks -- some of these give you two items
(one in reserve), others seem to drop items on the track; in addition,
there seemed to be some loose mushrooms littered through the track that
acted as mini boosts. (I'll look into the items again tomorrow, as I
believe I may be mistaken about some of the item details.) Powerslides
have been altered (I was unable to perform a 'power slide boost', but I
might just be lousy at the game), characters have lots of animation (if
Waluigi grabs a Triple Mushroom, he will juggle them until you use one).
Gas and brakes are controlled with A and B rather than the R and L
triggers, which is slightly annoying. As a final note, the title screen
music is a remix of the SNES Super Mario Kart's title screen music.
Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3
This game looked very nice, and it now contains a somewhat elaborate
sequence showing a Koopa Kid taking control of Grass Land. At the title
screen, you can choose between Super Mario Bros. 3 or Mario Bros. On the
SMB3 title sreen, you have the options of playing 1) Mario Game, 2)
Luigi Game, or 3) Multiplayer. Only the first option was active,
suspect that the Mario & Luigi option is for the eReader support (the
mentioned that eReader cards could be used to add extra aspects/items to
As far as the game goes, it is standard SMB3 with SMAS graphics. There
was no sign of the cape, Chargin' Chucks, veggies, or anything else.
on earlier stories, I'm assuming you unlock various extras by beating the
game and/or using the eReader and another GBA. I tried using Warp
in an attempt to beat the game and check for extras, but the e3 version
won't allow you past world 3. One rumor going around is that you can
play as Luigi (among others) and earn extras by completing certain
objectives in the game -- but please note that there was nothing at e3
confirm or deny such rumors.
As a side note, SMB3 seemed "laggy" to me. It was probably just my
imagination, though. I'm happy to know that it is coming.
While searching for free stuff, a man wearing bell bottoms, an open
leisure jacket, a bright purple wig and sunglasses came up to me and
speaking about himself in the third person. It seems he is a programmer
Wario's software company and worked on the upcoming Wario Ware. He left
his business card.
(Yes, this was stupid. It was also one of the best live ad routines I've
seen in a while now. Stupid, but effective.)
More eReader cards are coming. Of interest are the Game & Watch series,
which appear to be all the games from Game & Watch Gallery 4, but now
available as cards and without the ability to save your high scores. On
good side, they look interesting. The reps said they will be sold in
packs with a mix of classic mode and modern mode games. As a side note,
eReader NES games look very, very good when played on the GBA Player.
Mario Kart Double Dash Celebrity Tournament
Some guy (I was told it was Jamie Kennedy, but I am really out of the
loop on pop culture stuff) introduced this tournament and the players...
1) Tiffany Falwell from American Idol
2) "J.D." from American Idol
3) Haley from Mr. Personality
4) Johnathan Taylor -- random guy from the crowd.
These lucky folks played on big screen projections whilst they raced
through Luigi Circuit. Then, to the sheer and utter amazement of myself,
the random guy from the crowd LOST to the J.D. fellow. How can one lose
video game match against celebs when you are a visitor at e3?
Mario & Luigi RPG
It looks like a cross between the playstyle of Super Mario RPG and the
much better use of the traditional Mario elements found in Paper Mario.
most interesting aspect of the game is that Mario and Luigi must always
treated as a team in the game... this means that A and B serve the same
purpose in the game, but each is dedicated to one plumber. If you want to
have your party hop over a cliff, you must press both A and B together
at the same time, or one them might not make it. The brothers can take
advantage of this by performing special jumps -- one I saw had Mario
a helicopter spin jump across a ravine while Luigi clung to his legs.
In battles, your characters can -theoretically- dodge any attack and
increase the power of any of their attacks by pressing either A or B at
proper moment -- even if it isn't their turn. Also, Magic appears to
been replaced with "Bros." techniques. These require careful tapping of
and B as the Marios go through a gynastics-like attack sequence.
Rumors abound that many of the staff developing this title are ex-Square
folk, some of whom were in the SMRPG team.
Mario & Donkey Kong
"Donkey Kong Plus" is back, but seemingly minus the GC connection this
time. Donkey Kong is strolling down a street one day when he runs into
the "Mario & Friends Co." building. Our favorite rapping ape decides this
simply won't do, and proceeds to terrorize the Mario gang.
As Mario, you must travel through screen after screen of puzzles and
traps, chasing the package-swiping Donkey Kong. Maneuver through the
obstacles in the stage, collecting three scattered packages and rescuing
one of your pals who just happens to have been locked in a bubble by
that rascally ape. Find your friend and carry him/her to the exit door
to complete the stage and move onwards. If you've played the GB Donkey
Kong (not Donkey Kong Land), you know what kind of gameplay to expect,
as this is the same game with new levels and a few other changes. If you
haven't played the original, imagine M&DK as a cross between the arcade
Donkey Kong and Super Mario Bros. 2, mixed with puzzle game elements.
Mario can pluck items and enemies, then hurl them at each other, and he
can even backflip and triple jump (moves which he first debuted in the
original GB Donkey Kong, NOT Super Mario 64).
The biggest change in this game between the last e3 and now is the
graphics. Mario looks like the SSBM Mario model, with many many frames
of clean animation. The levels seem to have a "cute" Mario theme to them
now, as opposed to the rather industrial/urban scheme they had
previously. It is worth noting that Nintendo Software Technologies is
developing this title... and that it seems very good.
Some final random comments: the little old mushroom guy from Super
Mario Sunshine appears on the informaton and instruction screens, there
is a "Mini Mario" powerup that creates a small team of tiny Marios who
follow him around the screen, and the game now has Shy Guys.
After a restful night's sleep, I awoke late and struggled through L.A.
traffic to arrive at the convention center, armed with a small list of "things
I really need to do today". Naturally, I never looked at the list again. Once again, enjoy this list of game impressions, presented in the order
in which I tried out the games.
Logitech Wheel w/ Mario Kart Double Dash
To be blunt, do not use the Logitech Wheel with Mario Kart. It is
lousy. Turns are hard to pull off, power sliding seems nearly impossible,
and the foot pedals are too small for big feet. Then again, I wear
shoes in the 14-15 range, so I could just be an anomoly.
I did discover a few more facts about Double Dash, though. Each racer
in your team can hold one item, but you must have that character in the
back of your kart for them to use or collect items. It seems like you
can no longer "hold" an item behind your kart, but you can now hold two
items at once, and there are "double ? blocks" that will give both of
your characters an item. If you are using a multiple use item and you
get knocked out or off the track, you appear to lose the item. There are
also mushrooms sprinkled over some tracks that act as instant turbo
boosts; I also saw giant banana peels on the track and Chain Chomp items.
For all those wanting Toad, I am sad to report that the racer select
screen appears full at this point, with two rows of eight character
icons each and no visible room for "unlocked" racers to appear. Finally,
it seems that once you choose your two racers, you also have a choice of
cars. I'm not yet sure whether you can choose between either character's
car, or whether each character has a class or range of cars available
to him and you are able to choose any car available to both racers.
Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour
This game is Mario Golf with better graphics and some tweaks. This is
a good thing, of course. The game offers you two courses to start with:
Normal (a rather realistic looking 18 holes), or Mushroom Kingdom (complete
with pipes, Chain Chomps, and more). Not all characters were enabled
for play, although a Koopa Troopa was (complete with Super Mario 64
sound effects) and Bowser Jr. and a Boo were listed in the character
list, although they were greyed out.
One of the best new additions is the ability to "mark" your swing
power bar, which helps you better game when to swing the club. A mark
set on the bar using the L and R buttons, and the estimated travel
distance is shown above it. This takes the guesswork out of hitting. One
problem I noted is that the game seems to set computer controlled
limits at times, limits that traveling power meter will not pass -- so
if you are trying for a very small put, you can no longer leisurely
watch the meter go up and down, but have to frantically tap the A button
during the few seconds the red bar travels the the computer reduced
Taunts are back, but now they are more fun/annoying. A B X Y act as
taunts, and pressing one causes a little icon and text balloon to pop up
on the screen, staying there for a moment or two before fading away.
With a little effort, three players can almost completely fill the screen
with encouraging messages. Sadly, taunts vanish and are disabled once
the player begins to swing.
There appears to currently be no GBA version of the game, and a GBA
connection wasn't mentioned either.
Nintendo Puzzle Collection
Graphics fans will not be happy here. Dr. Mario, Panel de Pon, and
Yoshi's Cookie are all present in this compilation, and all feature four
player modes, but only Yoshi's Cookie has completely redone and snazzy
graphics. Dr. Mario uses the graphics and sound from the N64 game,
looking very pixeled and very ugly this time around. Panel de Pon must
have new graphics, as the SNES game it was based on never had a four
player mode, but it looks like a low resolution, blocky set of graphics
anyway. The gameplay is still present, of course, but the games just don't
look as nice as they could. A large GBA Connection icon on the menu
verifies that you should be able to download versions of all three games
to your GBA, but Nintendo wasn't letting us test out that function.
Mario Party 5
It looks like Mario Party 4, but with new minigames. I tried a few,
and they seem alright. Mario Party 4 seemed to have a ridiculous number
of games based entirely on chance, but most of the MP5 minigames
available seemed to be based on skill. One interesting thing is that
Bowser Jr. seems to be listed as a playable character. Character models
seem quite detailed, with the backgrounds of the minigames ranging from
really low polygon counts and poor textures to midrange levels. Hudson
is developing this game, as it did all the other Mario Party games.
The third and final day of e3 approaches... and once again, I wake up
I really need to find a hotel with a better alarm clock.
Wario World was fully operational, and feeling quite like a mixture
between the first Warioland game and a Double Dragon brawler. I found
myself running, stomping, kicking, and charging through enemies,
into an occasional bonus room where I was able to pick up extra coins.
game looks polished and stylized, but I do hope there are powerups or
morphs available later in the game, as it feels a little "simple" right
now. It's a Treasure developed game, so I do have high hopes for it. The
problem I have with the demo is that it feels too slow paced to really
a good feel for the game at e3.
Fun, weird. You get a minigame, then try to complete it before the
counts off five seconds. Once the five seconds count down (whether you
or complete the task early), it's on to the next minigame... and this
repeats, dashing through a variety of games, until you either complete a
set number of challenges OR fail too many times. I am really looking
forward to this release... and I'd mention more about the game, but I'm
sure you already know everything worth mentioning about it.