Mario in Karts! Mario in Suits! Kid Icarus! We preview Nintendos soon-to-be-released first party titles.

Nintendo’s 2011 Connection Tour has a big emphasis on its newest handheld, the 3DS. We had the chance to experience some of the biggest titles that will probably ever grace the system. Start saving your pennies, and cancel all your holiday plans; it’s going to be a busy summer!

Super Mario 3D Land (3DS)

This is the game everyone expected at launch. The game that would have sold the 3DS like hotcakes. It probably still will, along with Mario Kart 7 (see below). The anticipation for the game went a little crazy when Shigeru Miyamoto described it as a cross between Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario 64. Turns out, it’s exactly that, with a good dose of Super Mario Bros. 3 thrown in for good measure. Super Mario 3D Land brings back time limits and flagpoles and mixes that in with good old-fashioned platforming which features some pretty cool gyroscope usage.

This was the game that made us the giddiest of all that we tried during Nintendo’s industry event, probably because it’s the first all-new game for the 3DS which features Nintendo’s beloved characters. It plays perfectly mixing fan favourites from the good old days, such as the Tanooki Suit, with newer gameplay from the amazing Super Mario Galaxy games.

The 3D used in the levels we tried really added a lot to the experience, maybe more so than any other 3DS game thus far. Some 3DS games are 2D with a simple 3D backdrop, while some have 3D that doesn’t really change much. Super Mario 3D Land includes puzzles that confuse you. Trying to explain it in words is a little hard. Basically, the 3D has allowed the creators to hide what is really going on in some parts of it. You think you’re standing directly under a block, until you jump and realise it’s actually further back. It really does make you think and adds another level to the old 2D formula, where most things are exactly what and where they seem.

Unfortunately the Tanooki Suit doesn’t give you the ability to fly this time around, don’t worry about that, though, as this is going to be one of those Nintendo games that you will keep going back to, just as all Mario platformers have always been. The local release date has just been announced for November 24. Make sure you pick this one up; You won’t be disappointed.

Mario Kart 7 (3DS)

Everyone has a favourite Mario Kart game. A lot of people swear by the original. Others want to relive the Mario Kart 64 multiplayer days forever. Still others believe that Mario Kart DS perfected the formula. Whichever is your favourite, one thing is certain: every single Mario Kart game is a lot of fun. Mario Kart 7 is no exception. It builds on the brilliant DS entry into the series in a number of exciting ways. Obviously the game is playable in 3D, but that’s not the only difference here. In past games, you’ve been able to choose a kart to race in. As you go through the game, more and more karts (and characters) are unlocked.

This time, however, you get to choose your kart frame as well as the tires to go with it. This gives you a whole range of customisation options that haven’t been available in any other games of the series. The tires range in size and allow different handling for your kart on different terrain. For example, Mario Kart 7 allows you to drive underwater on certain tracks. We didn’t have enough time with the game to figure out which tires best suit the underwater environment, but we’re sure that there’s one set that will allow greater speed and easier handling during these particular tracks. You’ll also be able to fit your kart with a hang glider attachment, which allows you to move further through the air after hitting a jump.

This allows you to collect items in mid-air, as well as find secret routes through the tracks. There are also some new items to test out alongside a single player mode which utilises the 3DS gyroscope for movement. There’s going to be a lot of time sunk into this title, that’s for sure. We haven’t even touched on the online multiplayer mode, which will allow 8 players to battle it out, or the StreetPass functionality that will undoubtedly put a new spin on things.

Mario Kart 7 is probably our most wanted 3DS game right now, and the release date is December 2011 worldwide. We’re going to have a lot of wonderful Nintendo games to play during the festive season this year.

Kid Icarus: Uprising (3DS)

Pit’s back! Finally. It only took 20 years, his last appearance being in the Game Boy’s Kid Icarus: Of Myths and Monsters. I’m not including his appearance in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. So what can you expect from this new Kid Icarus adventure? The simplest explanation is that it’s a 3D shooter. It’s fast-paced, action-packed and it’s nothing like the style of the NES or Game Boy games from years ago. In fact, as one of the attendees at Nintendo’s industry event mentioned, parts of it play a lot like the classic arcade game Space Harrier (look that one up if you’re not an old fart like the writer of this article).

The game’s levels are divided into three sections, the first of which has Pit flying through the air, dodging and attacking enemies while advancing toward his destination. In this section, you use the circle pad to move and dodge, L to fire and the stylus to aim. The second part has Pit grounded, attacking enemies while edging toward the end of the level . The controls are the same again here, with the addition of a dash manoeuvre which is as easy as flicking the control pad in the direction you want to go. The third is the boss fight, of course. There are three difficulty settings for the game, and a bunch of different weapons for Pit to use. These include blade, claws, bow, palm, cannon, orbitars and arm.

The gameplay felt smooth and intuitive, but the game has now been delayed until 2012, which means the end product should be even better than what we experienced. There’s definitely be a lot to be excited about even though Kid Icarus: Uprising is so far from release. Keep checking Vooks for updates about the title.