Nintendo put on a great show today at Tokyo Big Sight (and they’re doing it again tomorrow!)
Here are some of my thoughts from the event.
First of all, the hall that the event took place in was crowded the entire time. In the morning, attendees had to pick one of three lines to stand in, since there was no way a person could do everything. The lines were for Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Splatoon 2, and Other (I went with Other). To give you an idea of how packed it was, all of the demo timeslots for BotW were filled up less than 30 minutes after the doors opened at 10 a.m. (the event ran until 5 pm). From about 10:30 onward, the only way you might have a chance to play it was to wait in a line and hope that somebody ahead of you canceled. So I checked out Arms instead.
For this demo, I played two best-of-three matches against another attendee. In Arms, each person holds two JoyCons sideways so that your left thumb is on the L/ZL buttons and your right thumb is on the R/ZR buttons. At the beginning of each round you select one “glove” for each fist, and each glove has different properties. One may send out a trio of rockets, while another goes out then comes back like a boomerang. You can punch with each JoyCon individually, or throw them both out for a grab attack. Holding L and flicking your wrists left or right makes your character quickstep to the side. R is jump, and pressing ZL and ZR when your meter is full lets you do a special attack. Holding the JoyCons diagonally (thumbs inward) guards. The controls were pretty basic, but it was fun to pummel the air, in a Wii Punch-Out kind of way. It wasn’t really clear how to move your character around the arena, or if that’s possible. The JoyCons were responsive enough and comfortable to hold. They basically seemed like mini Wiimotes. In this demo, there were 5 characters to pick from and yes, two of them really are named “Spring Man” and “Ribbon Girl”.
Partway through my demo, Nintendo’s rock band had taken the main stage and started playing. “You Will Know Our Names” (from Xenoblade Chronicles) served as fitting battle music for my final Arms round (I won). By the time I was done, Splatoon and Zelda demo timeslots were both filled up, and I didn’t really want to stand in line for three hours to play Dragon Quest Heroes, so I went to the stage area to see the band. They were sick! I heard them play music from Splatoon, Big Blue from F-Zero, and some other songs from the Mario Kart series, while musician closeups and clips of gameplay footage rolled on the screen behind them.
Afterward, Shinya Arino (from Game Center CX) came onstage with Mikako Komatsu, a voice actor who I’m not really familiar with. They played some of the minigames from 1, 2, Switch. First, they competed in who could eat the most sandwiches, then they got a taste of the JoyCon’s HD rumble in a minigame where you shook your JoyCon, represented by a box, to try and determine how many balls were in the box, and finally they had a duel in the quick-draw cowboy game.
There were other minigames I didn’t have a chance to see, like “Copy Dance” and “Milk,” (looked like a guy in a farmer costume milking a virtual cow) but 1, 2, Switch really just seems like a fun little party diversion. It’s a collection of small games that demo the new console’s hardware, like Wii Sports, but unlike Wii Sports, it isn’t a pack-in game, which is baffling to me.
Later on, Koizumi appeared onstage to show off Super Mario Odyssey. He talked about the history of 3D Mario games, and how there are basically two types: ones where you reach the goal and clear courses (Galaxy, 3D World) and ones which are like sandboxes to explore and play in (64/Sunshine). He said Odyssey is going to be sandbox-style, which is good because I’m more fond of those games (though they’re all excellent). Additionally, it looks like a wide variety of movement options from previous games (triple jump, back flip, mid-air dive, etc) are coming back for this one.
Walking around again, I found that PuyoPuyo Tetris had only a 50-minute wait so I got in line for that. This was another 2 player versus-mode demo, and neither I nor the guy I paired up with knew much about the PuyoPuyo side of things, so we ended up just battling in Tetris. We each had one JoyCon and the Switch screen stood in front of us on its kickstand. The buttons took some getting used to; for Player 1, the “d-pad” down button becomes ‘A’, and for Player 2, the X button becomes ‘A’, but we figured it out before too long. I had no problems seeing the screen, but we were sitting at a counter, so we were fairly close to it. I can’t really comment much on the graphical quality (I mean, it’s Tetris) but it looked fine. Holding the JoyCon, it feels like there are a lot of buttons under your fingers, and yet it feels a bit small in both hands (noticeable in the analog sticks, which are shorter and stubbier than I was expecting). However, it’s not bad or uncomfortable at all (at least for 8-minute demo sessions). Buttons felt a little loose and had some give to them, but that may vary between controllers. Overall they felt good, and I unleashed rows of tetronimoes upon my opponent with relative ease once I figured out which buttons did what.
That’s about it as far as my experience goes, I had a lot of fun walking around watching the demos, hearing the music, and feeling the excitement in the air. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to try playing the system in TV mode, with the JoyCons inserted into the grip, or in portable mode, with the JoyCons attached to each side of the tablet screen. Look forward to the stream footage of Day 2 of the event tomorrow, as well as future Switch events worldwide, which Source Gaming will be attending!