Hands-On: Nintendo’s new Projects (Guard/Giant Robot) & what we made of Mario Maker


Mario Maker

Adam:

I’m not generally the kind of person to enjoy level editors and the like, but Mario Maker’s tools were so easy to use (and its components so familiar) that I was able to put together a portion of a level within seconds. Thanks to twenty years of Mario games, it’s an incredibly intuitive toolset: You already know what each block, platform, and enemy does, and it’s as simple as sliding or shaking the elements with the stylus to adjust them as you please.

The only real problem I can foresee is how very limited it appears. I wasn’t able to lead pipes down to any underground areas and I only had a limited amount of room to build a level around, though it’s unclear if that’s a limit of this demo in particular or the eventual full game.

Seán:

I feel a little like a whinging old man when I say this but I’m really not sure who would actually buy this. As a tool it comes across as reasonably easy to use, and you can make some interesting or some very silly things a la LittleBigPlanet. In its current state it seemed a little basic and, even if it was fully fledged, I’d imagine most of the top levels would just be levels created from previous 2D/2.5D Mario titles. But then again, Whinging, Old, Man.

I can see the appeal but unless the price is relatively low or it comes attached to something with more clout – such as another 2.5D Mario game – then I can’t see it getting much of a fan base. I do love Mario games but it feels a little out of place, mainly because I’ve come to know Nintendo as a company based around handcrafting games as fun experiences rather than tools.

Project Guard

Adam:

I loved the idea of this when I saw Miyamoto’s inventive use of CCTV in a videogame, and I’m happy to report that it plays fantastically. The TV screen shows a layout of 12 smaller screens bordering your selected screen, each at a position in your facility where invading enemies will either enter or pass through. It’s the player’s job to switch between these screens with the gamepad and shoot.

While Easy and Normal were a little too simple, cranking the demo up to Hard produced a frantic challenge that was a ton of fun to play. There was plenty of variety in terms of enemy, too. Robot chickens would occasionally come along and pluck my cameras away from my control, and tanks would show up that went into a defensive state with each shot that caused me to come back to them periodically rather than wail on them until they blew up.

Seán:

I really enjoyed Project Guard. It’s a very interesting concept, that plays to the Gamepad’s strengths brilliantly. Having to keep an eye on both screens and using it to update your awareness of the map is fantastic fun. It also has a little humour thrown in amid the robot smashing.

It seems relatively simple at first, so long as you have your cameras set up effectively. Once those first waves come in you quickly take them out, snapping between cameras and easily cruising through the difficulty. But once the higher level enemies come in, that’s when things get really good, as Adam says. There are bird-like robots that take out your cameras, and tanks as well.

There is another – a robot that is undetectable on your main map. The advantage you once had showing the entirety of the world at just a glance is worthless for these. You have to flick through the cameras to spot them before it’s too late. It means that you have to be constantly reassessing the situation and it’s what makes it so fun.

I really hope that this makes it to retail in a more substantial way though. As a fun little thing it’s great, but I already want to see more of it. Perhaps something like this could be fleshed out in a Nintendoland 2?

Project Giant Robot

Adam:

This surprised me the most. Though the game does look clunky from a viewer’s perspective, it’s actually remarkably responsive and easy to control your giant robot; I assumed the game would be more of a battle against cumbersome controls, but that was absolutely not the case. The right bumper made my robot walk forward, while pushing either stick forward held the corresponding arm out, and I had to use this to knock over the opposing robot or send it out of the square we fought in, and it was a ton of goofy fun!

I also made my robot before each fight, and I have to confess to just making the most ridiculous thing possible: Its head was a knee, and its knee was an engine. I’m not sure what its foot was. Fortunately the robot operated just as well, so it doesn’t appear that your creativity will at all hinder your performance.

Seán:

I’m not really sure what to make of this. It seemed alright, but I think it really depends on if the customisation is improved. The choices for your body parts were the same for every section of the body, letting you use heads as arms, arms as torsos, etc. It didn’t leave as much as an impression on me as Project Guard.

As a proof of concept it seems fine but I’m not sure whether it’d be much better if fleshed out. The combat was interesting, with you wobbling around as you knock things down with your arms like a monster with plaster casts on its arms would. I just ended up using really long spike arms, grabbing the enemies, and wrestling them left and right until they lost balance. It worked really well until the end of the third level, where I beat a monster then a building came alive and knocked me down.

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Written by Sean P

I enjoy playing games and I enjoy writing things, so I decided to combine the two. I do bits here and there and have a twitter that mainly just announces things I’ve done as my life revolves around very little that is truly interesting.

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