As promised earlier this fall, the playable demo for Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion was recently added to the Nintendo eShop.
I’ve been looking forward to this one from the moment I saw it during Nintendo’s 3DS presser at E3, and fully expect it to be one of November’s best 3DS releases. I wasted little time in downloading the trial version of Warren Spector’s 3DS platformer, and came away from my experience very impressed.
I’ve gone through the demo a few times now, and have gone from ‘intrigued’ to ‘sold’ – Power of Illusionreally shows a lot of potential. Here are some points that I really enjoyed in the demo version:
1. The art style/graphics.
Power of Illusion is clearly a throwback to the visual style seen in the Sega Genesis era, as you can see from the screenshots on this page. The images and videos of Epic Mickey show how much detail has been put into the 2D sprites and the environments, but seeing it in action – and with the 3D effect turned on – really brings out the gorgeous backgrounds. To say that this is one of the finest-looking 2D games on the 3DS would be an understatement.
2. The old-school platforming.
Again, the gameplay in Power of Illusion is reminiscent of the 16-bit generation, where side-scrollers and 2D platformers dominated the market. One such game was Castle of Illusion, which the 3DS Epic Mickey is based on. With this in mind, the game is very successful at pulling off the feeling of classic side-scrolling games, complete with hop ‘n bop attacks to the heads of certain foes. Others require Mickey’s trusty spin attack. There are collectibles to find all over the place, and exploring every nook and cranny of the stage is fun, thanks to the tried-and-true design. Still, what sets the game apart from other platformers is…
3. The magic brush.
In addition to firing blasts of paint at his foes, Mickey can use a special, magical paintbrush to interact with the environment. This was one of the primary gimmicks in the original Epic Mickey; I never got a chance to play it for myself, but the idea works very well in Power of Illusion. Not only does it set the platforming apart from other games, it adds a level of interactivity with the stages that is pretty nifty. Certain puzzles can only be solved by clicking shaded areas on the bottom screen; using the stylus (or your thumb), you can paint objects into the stage that can cover gaps, spike pits, or other hazards. In addition, you can insert things such as falling blocks that crush your enemies – definitely pretty cool.
I really enjoyed playing the demo version of Power of Illusion; I was already planning on purchasing the game later this month, but now I am fully convinced that the experience will be worthwhile. I won’t spoil everything, but just based on the brief trial, there is quite a large cast of classic Disney characters and locales to see in this game…and that sounds absolutely great to me.
You can check out the demo for yourself by downloading it on the eShop – the file is rougly 800-900 blocks, so be sure your SD card is prepared for it. Stay tuned for a full review of the game on 3DStination.com after it launches near the end of November!
Editor’s Note: Just before the start of each month, I will “look ahead” at the upcoming games that are slated for release; then, taking into account the general level of anticipation and the “buzz” within the media, I will select a handful of titles (two to four) that could be worth checking out when launch day finally comes around. Every month, this column will pinpoint the “cream of the crop”, so to speak – just keep your eyes peeled for the games mentioned here!
For whatever reason, each year it seems the major publishers in the gaming industry are more and more hell-bent on bringing forth an onslaught of blockbusters in a two-week time span. This insane rush of “AAA” titles and unexpected surprises generally comes between the start and middle of November.
To say the least, 2012 isn’t playing by special rules…so I hope your wallet is prepared.
If you’re a console player, big stuff like Halo 4, PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale & the Wii U launch are probably on your mind. If you’re a 3DS owner, this is well and good, because the November release calendar was gutted like a fish over the past few weeks. “AAA” titles such as Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate and Animal Crossing: Jump Out were all set back to “2013″, along with Fire Emblem: Awakening.
There are still some pretty sweet new titles headed to both the eShop and retailers over the next few weeks, and as always, 3DStination would like to focus your attention on the following games as we look ahead at November 2012:
Paper Mario: Sticker Star (11/11)
I hate to sound like a “Daisy Downer” (har har), but Mario Tennis Open and New Super Mario Bros. 2 left me wanting more from my favorite Italian plumber, and I’ve ultimately spent most of the year looking forward to Paper Mario: Sticker Star, hoping for better results. After all, the Paper Mario franchise has always been held to a high standard, and Sticker Star has managed to impress with its apparently brilliant use of the 3D effects and the various gimmicks of the handheld.
I think Sticker Star will prove to be one of the 3DS’s top games of 2012, introducing some of the most clever mechanics seen on the handheld to date. I could be wrong, but if the following footage has anything to prove, Paper Mario will be in top shape when it launches in a few weeks:
Epic Mickey: The Power of Illusion (11/18)
The 3DS installment of Epic Mickey, Power of Illusion, has been another highly-anticipated game since its appearance at this summer’s E3 showcase. Where Paper Mario looks to use the 3D effects of the system to go in new directions with its gameplay, Epic Mickey looks like a throwback to the Genesis era of platformers. Its lush 2D visuals and detailed sprites are just part of the charm; apparently the game design is brutally tough and reminiscent of classic side-scrollers.
I hope this one ends up being a big success when it launches in the middle of November; until then, I look forward to playing the upcoming demo version whenever it finally appears on the Nintendo eShop. Check out the footage below to see how this one looks for yourself:
Scribblenauts Unlimited (11/18)
Over the past month or so I’ve noticed myself becoming more and more intrigued by Scribblenauts Unlimited; I can’t really put my finger on a reason, but I can say that I think it looks gorgeous, and I am hoping to see the controls perform better than the original Scribblenauts on the NDS. That’s my only experience with the series, but there is a pretty good chance that I’ll cave in and check out Unlimited when it launches on the 18th – too bad 3DS owners don’t get a chance to play with the characters from Super Mario Bros. or Legend of Zelda, recently revealed as exclusives for the Wii U version. Bummer! Check out the trailer below to see the game for yourself:
Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed (11/20)
So, this one’s a bit of a bummer: not including Sega’s original confirmation about the 3DS port of Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed, there doesn’t seem to be a single trace of information, any screenshots, gameplay footage (trailers or off-screen) or otherwise…anywhere on the Internet. Believe me, I’ve looked for anything I could find over the past several months – I’m not even really sure why I am so intrigued by this kart racer, but I’ve followed it as closely as I followed Mario Kart 7 in 2011. I admit that I don’t exactly expect Sonic to out-pace MK7, but I would at least hope that Sega could keep up the pace.
With that in mind: I want a solid roster of characters, a nice selection of tracks, local & online multiplayer features, and most importantly…the fewest possible shortcuts in order to make it all happen on the hardware, just as well as the console versions. That might be a lofty expectation, but I really don’t think it’s completely unfair. The 3D effect is a natural fit for the racing genre, so if done well, I really feel like Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed could be optimized on the 3DS, rather than slipping behind as a “lesser port” of the big console version.
For now, I’m looking forward to the demo version that was promised during one of the recent Nintendo Direct broadcasts. Unfortunately, there’s no trailer featuring the 3DS version, so I’ll skip to the last of November’s notable releases:
Crashmo [*eShop] (11/22)
I was definitely charmed by Pushmo, one of the eShop’s earliest games to draw in a lot of positive remarks from a majority of critics. The sequel, Crashmo, looks to expand a great deal on the gameplay from the original: now players can move around in full 3D, combining the push/pull mechanics and 3D effect to solve the dozens (possibly hundreds) of puzzles found in the game.
Crashmo apparently features the same QR-based level editor, so fans of the original Pushmo can get straight to creating their own custom stages and puzzles. Check out the trailer below, and stay tuned for this one to appear on the eShop on the 22nd:
There are a few more games coming out in November; these may not be completely outstanding on paper, but you never know what to expect these days:
-Freakyforms Deluxe: Your Creations Alive! (11/5)
-Pokedex 3D Pro [*eShop] (11/8)
-Ninja Gaiden [*eShop/Virtual Console] (11/8)
-Zelda II: The Adventure of Link [*eShop/Virtual Console] (11/22)
GameStop has revealed a pretty sweet pre-order bonus for anyone who reserves a copy of Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion for the 3DS.
(At least, it’s pretty sweet if you are one of the super-geek types who has no reservations or shame regarding nerd gear, like the Adventure Time dorks wearing those ridiculous Finn hats.)
Anyway, based on the classic Disney character, here is the “Oswald ears hat”, which you can get by pre-ordering Power of Illusion from GameStop:
What do you think? If you’re interested, click here to reserve the game from GameStop.com right now, and you can look forward to both the stylish side-scroller (developed by Warren Spector, reminiscent of 16-bit Genesis/SNES platformers) and the Oswald hat to be released on November 18.
Nintendo revealed a lot of juicy 3DS news this week with its latest “Nintendo Direct” video; one of the hottest bits of news relates to the new game demos that will be available on the Nintendo eShop before the end of 2012.
Although specific dates and details were left out, you can count on “trial versions” of the following titles sometime in the next two months:
Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! Why’d You Steal Our Garbage?
Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion
LEGO Lord of the Rings
Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed
Finally, there will be two different demos for something called “Style Savvy: Trendsetters“. Hrm…probably not my cup o’ tea, but there’s no harm in putting something out there for the ladies.
Note that these are all third-party games; perhaps Nintendo will also release demos for games such as Paper Mario: Sticker Star or Professor Layton & The Miracle Mask?
Again, no specific dates for the demos, but I would guess that they will appear in some sort of organized way…perhaps by the release of the full version? That would mean we should see Adventure Time first, then LEGO LOTR…perhaps the latter two (Epic Mickey & Sonic All-Stars Racing) will arrive sometime closer to November.
I know this is going up a little bit late, but I’d like to share some of my impressions about Nintendo’s 3DS Showcase at this year’s E3 event in Los Angeles. A little bit of time has passed, and now that the dust has started to settle, it is a perfect time to take a moment to reflect on some of the announcements that stood out the most to me. These are just some very quick impressions and comments, but feel free to leave some feedback, and tell me what you think about the following 3DS games from E3 2012:
Fire Emblem: Awakening The 3DS installment of the popular strategy-RPG franchise is finally coming to America; unfortunately Nintendo waited until after E3 to say anything about it. There were gamers who wanted to see “new” 3DS games that Nintendo promised at this year’s E3, and Fire Emblem: Awakening would have been really nice to see. For now, I’m still in the dark about most of the details regarding the game – all I can see is that the graphics look fantastic, and should really shine with the 3D effects. Will we see multiplayer features or StreetPass functions?
Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon Nintendo revealed some details about the sequel to the Gamecube cult classic, Luigi’s Mansion – first, the official subtitle, “Dark Moon”. There was some gameplay footage shown during the 3DS Showcase, all of which looked amazing – I was particularly intrigued to hear that Luigi’s ghost-hunting exploits will now include multiple mansions, with more of a mission-based game design. I can’t wait to see how this one uses the 3DS to give Luigi the proper game he’s always deserved – Nintendo confirmed a holiday 2012 release during its E3 press conference.
Scribblenauts Unlimited I was never the biggest Scribblenauts fan, but I thought the concept was interesting – Super Scribblenauts improved on the ideas, and now it appears that Scribblenauts Ultimate has taken Max’s adventure and transformed it into something even bigger. It will be interesting to see if the 3DS and Wii U versions of Scribblenauts Ultimate have any sort of special connectivity – the console version was also announced for simultaneous release later this year.
Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion I never played the original Epic Mickey, or even Castle of Illusion, the Sega Genesis game that this 3DS title is based on. Regardless, Nintendo brought out Warren Spector during the 3DS Showcase, and that was a big deal: the legendary gaming icon broke down a lot of details about the 2D side-scroller, explaining how it sets itself apart from Epic Mickey 2: Power of Two. Both Power of Illusion and Power of Two are set for a November launch.
Paper Mario: Sticker Star If there is one game that looks like it should use the 3D effects of the handheld very well, it’s the forthcoming installment of Paper Mario – which was officially dubbed “Sticker Star” during Nintendo’s E3 press conference. The sticker concept was later explained during the 3DS Showcase. Basically, players acquire a variety of stickers throughout the game; some can be used for special attacks in battle, and some can be used to trigger events that transform the environments, which look like cardboard cut-outs. Paper Mario: Sticker Star was also confirmed for a holiday 2012 release, though Nintendo provided no further specifics.
Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance is very close to its North American release date (July 31), but seeing the trailer at E3 made the wait even more excruciating. There wasn’t much information that you would consider “new”, but nonetheless this Square-Enix action/RPG will inevitably go down as one of the biggest 3DS releases in 2012.
New Super Mario Bros. 2 Before E3, I really didn’t care much about New Super Mario Bros. 2 – I had already accepted that I will probably end up buying it, but only because it felt more like an obligation, and because Mario games so rarely disappoint. Still, there was something missing, and I wanted to know more about the game. After the 3DS Showcase, things changed: Nintendo detailed the new features of the upcoming side-scroller, including the incredibly competitive Coin Rush mode (compatible with StreetPass!) and the co-op features (local only, but hopefully we’ll see Download Play). There was a trailer released on eShop after the E3 Showcase, and it gave me a better glimpse of the game – the graphics look nice, and I’m suddenly a lot more excited for the August 19 release. The only question that remains – should I purchase a retail copy, or download the game on the eShop?
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate If there is any third-party franchise that has consistently impressed on Nintendo handhelds, it is Castlevania. Konami’s classic series enjoyed some great installments on the Game Boy Advance and the original DS; it was only a matter of time before the first 3DS entry was revealed. This actually happened just a few days before E3, but Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate, the sequel to 2010′s Lords of Shadow, was formally announced and thoroughly demoed during the 3DS Showcase. I was thrilled to see some gameplay footage; the combination of 2D platforming and the 3D combat from Lords of Shadow looked like a great mix. I was impressed by the quality of the graphics, which use a cel-shading technique along with the art direction from its predecessor. I liked Lords of Shadow quite a bit, and though I’d still like to see a “traditional” Castlevania at some point, I ended up being more excited about this one than any of the first-party 3DS games that were featured during the Showcase.
I will be putting up more substantial posts about all of these games soon, so check 3DStination over the weekend for more details and in-depth analysis as well as opinions about these upcoming Nintendo 3DS games.