Welcome to Nintendojo’s first ever Hardcore-o-meter editorial. For our first Hardcore-o-meter, I’ll go over Nintendo’s press conference and the games they showed off. Were they primarily casual, mainly hardcore or a good mix of both? I will try and answer that question as well as throw in where the 3DS sits on the hardcore-o-meter. Now, there were plenty of other games to talk about, but sticking to what Nintendo showed off on-stage will take up enough of your time as it is. So, let’s get to it!
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
Are there any Zelda games that aren’t completely hardcore? I mean, some would argue that Wind Waker and the DS Zelda games look somewhat soft and childish, but they certainly don’t play that way. I guess the same thing may come up in close-minded gamers with the newest Zelda for Wii., what with its impressionist art style. But, since when has an imaginative art style made a game less hardcore? However, the gameplay speaks the truth. Where else can you actually sword fight with 1:1 (or close to) controls and fight enemies that react so that you have to actually use your sword and shield fighting skills to their fullest? No, sorry Red Steel 2, you don’t have quite the same mechanics. Just one look at the scorpion boss, how it reacts to sword swings and the elimination of the “three times your out” routine is enough to break the hardcore-o-meter. This makes Skyward Sword extremely hardcore.
Donkey Kong Country Returns
Wow, Donkey Kong is returning to the country that made him a huge star of the SNES era as well as platforming in general. Donkey Kong was king of the hardcore games in his original battles with Jumpman (now Mario), but then he returned as a hero and protagonist (and a captured Kong) in a completely different type of game series known as Donkey Kong Country and its two sequels. These games were the high point in 16-bit graphics with it’s CGI-created sprites. They were also full of secrets, amazing enemies and hard-to-master levels. Even though Donkey Kong is not going full 3D like in Donkey Kong 64, a sidescrolling 2.5D game should never detract from a game being hardcore. This game is officially a fully and completely hardcore game.
Kirby’s Epic Yarn
This one may cool off the hardcore-o-meter a bit, but don’t let that take away from the fact that if you are a hardcore gamer, this game is still for you. As I previously mentioned with Skyward Sword, graphics and especially imaginative art styles should never distract from a game being hardcore, but this one pushes the limits. Don’t get me wrong, this is a must-have game for me, but the never-before-seen gameplay mechanics and cute art style will knock down the hardcore-o-meter a bit. The fact that it’s based around yarn and the gameplay specifically revolves around the player pulling yarn string to move forward through levels is a bit… well, girly. However, girl gamers need love, too, and the idea is such a great change from the norm that it makes itself cool by being intriguing. What keeps the hardcore-o-meter this high? The fact that it’s Kirby and there will probably be tons of tough bosses (I mean how do you defeat a boss with yarn?) and secrets galore. Very hardcore.
Mario Sports Mix
I love sports, but I believe a lot of casual players do too. Heck, even the Madden series has some casual options and game modes. Mario Sports Mix is definitely catered to all gamers. It has a great mix of sports and power ups, all in one package that will make it stand out to the hardcore crowd, but the ease of play and lack of depth will keep it at the ‘good mix’ slot on the hardcore-o-meter.
Nintendo has once again added a game under the Wii product title, this time with Wii Party. The game is most definitely casual, as all Wii product games are. However, this doesn’t make the game any less of a game or less appealing to myself and other hardcore gamers. It’s a great game to get your family or non-gaming significant other into gaming. Again, a completely and extremely casual game.
Mickey has always been a casual type of guy, err mouse, but that didn’t stop him from starring in SNES games in the 90s which turned out to be pretty fun and somewhat difficult games, even for the hardcore gamers. The Kingdom Hearts series also showed that Mickey could be more than casual. But, what about Epic Mickey? Does it live up to those games? I believe, most definitely. Having not played it yet, I cannot say that it will have the challenge of past Mickey titles, but with the ability to choose how to fight and get through levels, I would definitely rate it high on the hardcore-o-meter. The game is also incorporating a game mechanic never seen before using paint and thinner. Not quite a completely hardcore game, but definitely more so than just having a good mix. Very hardcore it is.
Golden Sun: Dark Dawn
At first glance, the Golden Sun series may look to gamers who have never played the series to be less than hardcore. With its bright colors and happy character art, it may seem like it’s a casual type RPG. Again, never judge a book by its cover. The graphics actually become dark, especially in this game under certain circumstances and when the story hits the “bad-guy-challenges-the-heroes” routine. I mean, if Final Fantasy XIII is considered hardcore, Dark Dawn definitely should be as well with its engrossing storyline and deep RPG elements. There is no doubt in my mind that this is a completely hardcore game.
Metroid: Other M
If bright colors, soft voices and happy-go-lucky music are things in other hardcore games which you consider casual, then you are in luck. There should be no way that you consider Metroid: Other M to be casual, or any Metroid game for that matter. The SNES title Super Metroid was considered on of the darkest and best platformers of the ’90s, and is till considered to be the best Metroid title today. This is a great thing if you were one of the gamers who decided that the Metroid Prime series strayed too far from its roots and never played them because Other M is said to get back to those roots, with just a touch of the Prime series in place. Dark music, SNES-style gameplay, voice acting and one of the most hardcore development teams in Team Ninja co-developing the game should please all hardcore gamers, and not only Metroid fans. Completely, freakin’ hardcore.
This one is a given. I don’t know how many of you reading this have played the original, but let me tell you that without this game, it’s hard to see where first person shooters would be on consoles. This game caused many school grades to drop at least one letter grade on average for months if not a year or two. To see it remade is like a godsend. It’s unheard of and we’ll just have to wait and see if it can live up to the original’s historic nature. No doubt, completely hardcore.
This one I decided to throw in just for fun. A lot of people called the original DS and its many versions weak and toy-like at first (many still do), but I am willing to bet that this isn’t the same reaction for the new and improved 3DS. In fact, I am willing to bet the 3D skills of this sweet handheld alone is enough to win over some Sony and Microsoft fanboys. Looking at the feature-set as a whole, however, is like looking at a whole case of hardcore. Movie support (in 3D as well), 3D photos, a graphical engine that may surpass Wii (on a handheld mind you), an upper widescreen and finally a 3D control slider. The only other thing to make 3DS more hardcore would be some super, glossy, metallic finish… oh yeah, it has that too. We’ll just have to wait and see if it launches with those hardcore colors and finishes. Definitely a hardcore gamer’s handheld.
Well, that’s my classification of this year’s Nintendo showing at E3. Do you think otherwise? Let us know in the coments below, in the forums, through Twitter or on Facebook.