Classic Nintendo Franchises Live on with New Tech at E3

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With the line to try Zelda: Spirit Tracks stretching outside and around Nintendo’s monolithic white E3 booth, it was pretty clear the company had a hit on its hands as soon as it attached the magic Z word. Naturally, we had to give it a shot as well.

Like Phantom Hourglass, which touched down in 2007, Spirit Tracks displays a top-down map on the upper DS LCD and a 3D view below. Controlling Link is still done by drawing a path from him with the stylus, only this time around, he’s got company: a knight that can be led around in the same fashion, helping to battle monsters and clear paths – like walking through fire he’s immune to in order to hit a switch on the other side and turn it off. Later levels use a train on tracks, just like the boat in Phantom Hourglass, which carries Link from place to place at whatever speed you set, shooting cannons to clear enemies (and stray cows) along the way.

The New Super Mario Bros. for Wii hardly deviates from the Mario Bros. you know and love from the 90’s at all, but that can hardly be considered a fault. Playing with four players adds a considerable social element to the game, and the fact that you can vault off one another, free each other from the bubbles that you’re trapped in after respawn, and even carry each other around in Yoshi’s mouth makes it a fun, truly cooperative romp – not just four people playing simultaneously and ignoring one another.

Wii MotionPlus, which has been incubating within Nintendo for over a year, is now only a week from hitting store shelves, and we got an early chance to try it out early, along with Wii Sports Resort. The enhanced positioning technology made a clear difference in archery, where the most minute wavering translated to on-screen jitter, just like in real life. It made a respectable tech demo, but we hardly found it among the most exciting games – bicycling, table table tennis and the samurai sword slashing game looked like a lot more fun.

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