Skyward Sword! Kirby! We preview Nintendos soon-to-be-released first-party titles

Nintendo’s Connection Tour is back for 2011. In fact, it kicked off in Melbourne last Saturday and will continue nationwide until about the middle of October. We made it to Westfield Southland on Sunday just passed, as I’m sure many Vooks readers did too. Judging by the line of people waiting to play, this year’s series of events will be as popular as ever. We didn’t actually play anything on Sunday, but we were there to check things out as a follow-up to another glorious industry event at Nintendo’s Melbourne headquarters.

Our recent invitation by Product Representative Jamie Wilson was accepted immediately. The list of games available to play sold us before we even got a third of the way down the list. Most of these games will be playable throughout the Nintendo Connection Tour.

Check out the games we experienced below, and get ready for a stellar end to the year from Nintendo. These games can’t come soon enough!

Kirby’s Return to Dream Land (Wii)

The eleventh Kirby platformer is being released in 2011. Conspiracy? Probably. It’s a hell of a lot of fun, though. You probably know the basics of how it works: Kirby can inhale enemies and copy their abilities to help him advance through the game world. The difference this time is that the game supports co-operative multiplayer for up to 4 players, à la New Super Mario Bros. Wii.

Grab a spare Wii Remote and jump in and out of your friend’s game whenever you feel like it. You have the choice of playing as multiple Kirbys, or you can choose to play as Meta Knight, King Dedede or Waddle Dee. Each character has their own set of abilities, while Kirby alone has the ability to inhale the other characters and fire them at enemies. Playable characters can also ride each other, which definitely made for some hilarious multiplayer moments. It also means you can take a toilet break without having to pause.

At least, that’s what I attempted to do during my time with the game. Unfortunately, gamers tend to be a bit cheeky, so it’s probably safer to drop out of the game for a while. The Japanese and North American release dates for Kirby’s Return to Dream Land are in late October, while the European release is slated for December. There’s a decent chance we’ll also have it before Christmas, just in time for some refreshing summer multiplayer goodness.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Wii)

This is the big one. The Wii’s swan song. The prequel to the classic Ocarina of Time. If you’re even among the most casual of Nintendo fans, you’ll be picking this up on release day (confirmed today as November 24). Nintendo Australia gave us access to the same three demos of the game which were playable at E3 this year – a dungeon, a boss battle and a flying tutorial. If you played Twilight Princess on the Wii, you’ll know almost what to expect. The big difference this time is the great usage of the Wii Motion Plus.

We loaded the flying demo first, as it seemed to be the newest and most different feature of Skyward Sword. The demo was part tutorial, showing how to control the bird Link is riding. The object of the demo was to out-manoeuvre the other birds and be the first to catch the bird flying in front. To be honest, the flying demo wasn’t very exciting, but it also isn’t what the game will have you doing for the most part (it’s all dungeons and running around the overworld with these games!). Funnily enough, the layout of the sky area reminded us of playing Star Fox 64 3D and controlling the ship using the 3DS gyroscope. You know, tilt the Wii Remote left and right and up and down, just as you would the 3DS. There were boulders to avoid and everything. It was definitely a good glimpse into the flight mechanics of the game, and they were definitely refined and work amazingly well.

The next and last Skyward Sword demo we got to try was the dungeon demo. Unfortunately, there was a room full of us and a time limit for each demo, so we didn’t get to try out the boss battle. Our main goal was to test out the new sword mechanics. Twilight Princess was a ported GameCube game, so while the Wii Remote was used as a sword, there were only so many ways that you could attack your enemies. Thankfully, this has changed. In fact, Skyward Sword has the most accurate sword mechanics we’ve ever experienced in a video game. Slice in any direction. Stab at your enemies. Hold your Wii Remote vertically to defend yourself.

As we mentioned earlier, we had limited time with this title, so we basically ran around the dungeon attacking fallen spiders. The coolest thing about fighting these spiders is that their weak point was on their belly. The only way to kill them, therefore, was to perform a flicking motion with the Wii Remote – you’d have to lower your sword below them, and flick it up quickly to turn them over onto their backs. From there, Link would be able to perform the coolest spider belly stab you’ve ever seen. The Motion Plus controls really add a lot to this title. We’re pretty sure we have a classic on our hands.

Kirby Mass Attack (DS)

The cover for Kirby Mass Attack says it all. You don’t control just one Kirby, you control up to ten. At the same time. Seriously. As the story goes, the evil wizard Necrodius is at fault. It really is just the one Kirby, but he’s been cursed and split into ten pieces. And this is where the fun starts. The game is stylus based, and controls most like Kirby: Canvas Curse than probably any other Kirby game. Tap the screen anywhere to create a star, which creates a path for the ten Kirbys to follow. Drag the star along and the Kirbys will follow, and in some cases cling onto it.

Tapping enemies and obstacles will send forward all ten pieces of Kirby, who attack all at once. You can also use any number of Kirbys as projectiles with a simple stylus flick. The game also features bonuses and mini-games, just as most Kirby games do. One thing we love about the Kirby series is that it always manages to reinvent itself. We played two new Kirby games during this industry event, both of them reinventions of the Kirby formula. And both of them were a lot of fun. The series doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon.