Nintendo Goes Retro: The Mini NES

Mini NES.jpgWe know that Nintendo has a new HD console in the works with the NX, but we don’t know a hell of a lot of details about said console. But this week Nintendo announced a different console, one that’s aimed in a different direction. Coming this November 11, Nintendo is bringing a Mini-NES to us, complete with HDMI video out, a classic NES themed controller and 30 pre-installed classic games. I think this is an excellent way to bring what made Nintendo so special to us older gamers to a younger generation, the kids just starting to play games now who never had the opportunity to play the NES. They’ve never had the joy of getting a cartridge to work after you spend 10 minutes blowing on it and the console; they know the names of the classics but haven’t (most likely) ever had the chance to play the originals. It’s also a fantastic way for us older gamers to reacquaint ourselves with our favorites, especially if you’re like me and gave your original NES away back in junior high and just haven’t been able to find another at the local retro shop since.

A lot of the games that will be part of the new Mini-NES are available already in other forms, mainly on the Virtual Consoles for Nintendos current group of consoles. That doesn’t mean that this is a rehash though – based on what Nintendo has said about the controller being based on the NES one, there’s something very different about playing those classic games on that controller, it’s a special feeling playing the games with the exact controller they were designed for. We don’t really think a lot about that these days, the controllers on the big two consoles are functionally identical, it’s just a few minor design and layout details that differentiate them. The NES controller is such a different feeling and looking controller compared with what we’re used to now – it’s blocky, almost uncomfortable in your hand; it’s incredibly simple in its design, two buttons and a D-pad. It’s actually something I’m really curious to see how the younger generation of players will react to – it’s a weird situation because there are tons of players who are familiar with the controller, but just as many who aren’t.

Mega Man 2 American Box

What they are familiar with, at least more so, are the games the Mini-NES will come with. The list of 30 games hits some of the biggest games that the NES had, including games that started franchises we’re still playing to this day. There are plenty of Nintendo favorites on there, along with a couple other third party gems. The full list includes:

  • Balloon Fight
  • Bubble Bobble
  • Castlevania
  • Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest
  • Donkey Kong
  • Donkey Kong Jr.
  • Double Dragon II: The Revenge
  • Dr. Mario
  • Excitebike
  • Final Fantasy
  • Galaga
  • Ghosts’N Goblins
  • Gradius
  • Ice Climber
  • Kid Icarus
  • Kirby’s Adventure
  • Mario Bros.
  • Mega Man 2
  • Metroid
  • Ninja Gaiden
  • Pac-Man
  • Punch-Out!!
  • StarTropics
  • Super C
  • Super Mario Bros.
  • Super Mario Bros. 2
  • Super Mario Bros. 3
  • TECMO Bowl
  • The Legend of Zelda
  • Zelda II: The Adventure of Link

Just looking at the list there are plenty of games that I’ve already played and beaten time and time again, but keep wanting to play another time. Games like Super Mario Bros 3, Mega Man 2, The Legend of Zelda and Metroid are some of the best NES games of all time. There are a couple deeper cuts in there that younger fans might not have ever played – StarTropics in particular jumps out to me. If you’re a new fan to gaming, or you’ve been playing for a handful of years, this is an incredible collection of games that forms the foundation of modern gaming. If you want to get a history lesson while playing some really amazing games at the same time, this Mini-NES is a must have this November.

E3 2014 – Nintendo Press Conference Impressions

E3 LogoNintendo this year continued their usual tradition of doing things their own way. Instead of renting out a theater and filling press into seats, Nintendo went with a longer version of the usual Nintendo Direct digital events. Of the three main conferences, this one was definitely the shortest, and certainly was 100% Nintendo from start to finish. Just like I did with Xbox and PlayStation, let’s go through Nintendo’s show, top to bottom.

Super Smash Bros.
Nintendo opened with what is probably their most anticipated Wii U title for this year, showing off some new gameplay footage, as well as announcing a new character – the Mii Fighter. I was pretty impressed with the fact that it isn’t just some stock fighter that is skinned with your Mii, there are three templates to choose from for fighting style, plus a number of individual move customization options. That customization extends to the other fighters as well I believe, which will add even more depth to the game. The 3DS version drops October 3, while the Wii U is a Holiday 2014 title.

Tied in with the Smash Bros announcement was the reveal of Amiibo, a Skylanders-esque toy system that allows for the figures to come to life in certain games. What I thought was kinda cool is that the data transfer goes both ways, figure-to-game, and game-to-figure. Also nice is that Mario Kart 8 is compatible with the figures, which will launch later this year.

Yoshis Woolly World

Yoshi’s Woolly World
The first 2015 title Nintendo showed, Yoshi’s Woolly World is the next Nintendo series to get the yarn treatment. It looked a little more in-depth than Kirby’s Epic Yarn did, looking much more akin to a classic Yoshi game. Seeing the game in action, I was struck by just how beautiful the art style looks. And by adding in 2 player, the game should be a great living room game next year.

Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker
Next up was a very short teaser trailer showing off a new 3D platformer starring everyone’s favorite living fungus – Toad. We didn’t get any real info about the game other than a Holiday release date, but based on the gameplay in the trailer, it looks like a 3D puzzle platformer.

The Legend of Zelda
We finally got the announcement of a Wii U Zelda game that we’ve been waiting for, and Nintendo did not disappoint. The footage they showed looked absolutely incredible, striking a visual balance between Wind Waker’s cel shading and the more classic look. The big news I think is that the game is being designed as an open world adventure – which should make the scope bigger than any Zelda game we’ve seen to date. I’m sure we’ll see a lot more, since it’s not coming until 2015, my guess would be Holiday season.

Pokemon Alpha Sapphire

Pokemon Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire
We next got a nice little trailer for the upcoming Ruby/Sapphire remakes, which really served to show off the mega-evolutions of the three starters as well as Groudon and Kyogre. I’m sure we’ll get a bit more info before they release November 21.

Bayonetta 2
One of the Wii U exclusives that isn’t a Nintendo property got a new trailer, showing a bunch of gameplay, as well as an October release date. Following the trailer, they showed a bit of footage with Bayonetta dressed up in Nintendo character costumes, as well as revealing that all copies of Bayonetta 2 will come with the original game as well.

Hyrule Warriors
Next we got a good look at Hyrule Warriors, the Dynasty Warriors/Legend of Zelda mash-up. The actual gameplay looks like pretty standard Dynasty Warriors style combat, with playable Zelda characters. They also announced three new playable characters, aside from Link – Impa, Midna and Zelda. Whether there are further playable characters will remain to be seen, but we have some time since the game doesn’t drop until September 26.

Kirby and the Rainbow Curse
We got a nice teaser trailer for the upcoming Wii U Kirby platformer, which looked like a pretty typical Kirby game – which isn’t a bad thing at all. Again, it’s another 2015 game though, so plenty of time for more to come out.

Xenoblade Chronicles X
Shifting tone a little bit we got a trailer for Xenoblade Chronicles X. The trailer was in Japanese, which makes me wonder if there are even plans to localize the game at this point – it’s another 2015 title. This might be one to keep tabs on if you’re into JRPG’s.

Mario Maker
One of the nice little surprises for me was the trailer for Mario Maker – I think anyone that grew up playing Mario games probably has some stage designs scribbled in notebooks from back in the day somewhere. With Mario Maker, we’ll be able to make those come to life. One nice touch was the ability to switch from the classic 8-bit look to the modern New Super Mario Bros look. Mario Maker comes out in 2015 as well.

The last game they announced during the actual Nintendo Direct was a new IP from Miyamoto’s junior team called Splatoon. My initial opinion changed 100% from the start of the segment to the end. It’s a pretty refreshing take on third person shooters – the goal is to use the ink guns to cover as much territory as possible, while stopping the enemy. But, since it’s a Japanese game, there’s a hard left turn in that each player can transform into a squid to swim through the ink faster and traverse the levels in unique ways. All things considered, I actually think Nintendo might have a really unique winner on their hands with it, but again, we won’t know until next year.

Smash Wii-U

Closing out the event, we got one last trailer for Super Smash Bros revealing a second new character, Palutena from Kid Icarus. I’m not exactly how high the demand was from the fanbase to include her, but her fighting style looked like it could be pretty fun. And one last Smash note, later on in the day Tuesday Nintendo also revealed that Pac-Man is also joining the fight, as well as confirming Mr. Game And Watch is back. The 7 year old version of me was beside myself as I watched Mega Man, Sonic, Pac-Man and Mario duke it out in the footage they showed last night.

The last thing we saw in the actual Nintendo Digital Event was Miyamoto talking to the camera with a blurred game behind him that was pretty easy to figure out that it was a new Star Fox title headed to the Wii U, which was confirmed later on in the day.

All in all, I think Nintendo had a strong show, but to me it seems like they’re really building more for next year, banking this year on Mario Kart, Super Smash Bros and Pokemon to get them through the year. The other big takeaway I had was just how much damage Metroid: Other M did to the Metroid franchise – it’s been four years and still no news on a new game. I think that enough time has passed to get Samus back out there, but we’ll just have to wait and see I guess.