Nintendo Unleashed at the MCM Expo in Manchester – Report


The MCM Expo went all northern this weekend, setting up shop in Manchester in what proved to be a brilliant day full of comics, cosplaying and consoles!

Event Queue

Nintendo Unleashed has become an ever-present at MCM Expos and I’m happy to inform they too hauled their stuff up the M1 to give Manchester the chance to get its hands on their games and consoles. So what did Nintendo put into its Manchester-bound expo van? Well there were a variety of titles shown and every one of them playable. There were some that were already out, some recent arrivals and of course imminent releases all covering the 3DS, DS and Wii.

3DS XL – Seeing is believing.

The big draw for Nintendo at this event was the 3DS XL and I had a chance to get my hands on it for the first time which, suffice to say, I was quite excited about! Seeing the 3DS XL in photos or video footage is fine but you do need to hold it in your hands to really get the feel of what it’s like to play.

The first thing you’ll notice is the screens. They are astoundingly big, especially the top screen! When Satoru Shibata revealed during Europe’s Nintendo Direct back in June that the 3DS XL’s upper screen would be 90% larger than the original 3DS’s my mind just could not fathom it! Photos just don’t do it justice. I’m used to playing my 3DS now and I don’t think it has a small screen by any means but the top screen of the 3DS XL dwarfs its predecessor’s! Imagine you spend your whole life watching movies on a 19” television screen and then you get to go and see one at the cinema, that’s how it feels to play the 3DS XL!

One of the reasons I was dubious about the 3DS XL was simply the size of the entire unit. I quite like the size of the original 3DS and I was worried that the console would be too big and take away the element of portability from it. This isn’t really the case though as it sits quite snuggly in your hands. I found the L and R buttons to be easily accessible and the circle pad, D-pad and the A, B, Y and X buttons are all sat just where they should be allowing you to use them without having to strain or anything. Nintendo have done a good job in increasing the screen size without compromising on unit size too much.

I should say however that I spoke to a few people who’d also been giving the 3DS XL a go who said that they felt it was a little too big and some children had issues with the L and R shoulder buttons being a bit uncomfortable for them compared to the original 3DS. If you are unsure, like I was, about the 3DS XL then I urge you to find somewhere where you can give it a go. You really need to have a play with it before you can pass real judgement on it. I was very dubious about it to be honest, but after having a go I can say that I really do like it a lot! Enough to make me to buy one? Possibly not as I am just too attached to that Aqua Blue 3DS of mine and spending money on something I essentially already have doesn’t seem a particularly wise option. If I didn’t have a 3DS however I would have a difficult time choosing between the two; the XL will be more expensive, but it might well be worth it for the larger screens, especially if the battery power is as good as has been reported.

Coins and Conquests.

Nintendo Unleashed Stand

All 3DS and DS games at the conference were playable on the 3DS XL and the biggest attraction of them all was New Super Mario Bros 2 for the 3DS. I played it for a while and I have to say I loved it! It’s Mario, what’s not to love? It’s the simple left-to-right run and jump action we’ve all come to expect from the portly plumber and it’s very similar to the other modern side-scrolling Mario games in terms of gameplay, however this time there is a new element thrown in to the mix. This game is all about collecting as many coins as you possibly can and getting to the end of the level as quickly as possible! The demo featured three levels which I actually found really hard! I’m not sure if they are actually difficult or I’m just a complete rust bucket (probably the latter) but I did not complete the demo which, by the way, frustrated me greatly! I’d be running along at break-neck speeds collecting as many coins as I could only to be thwarted right at the end by a stray cheep-cheep! I really need to get some practice in…

Other 3DS games on show were Kid Icarus and Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, which were actually clever titles for Nintendo to display as they both really helped the 3DS XL show of its capabilities. For example in Kingdom Hearts the 3D is actually breath-taking especially in the opening cut-scene. I’ve not played the actual game but I’ve played the demo version and although the 3D is good on the original 3DS it’s in a different league entirely on the 3DS XL. Perhaps it’s because of its larger screens but there just seems to be more of an impact with the 3D and it seems to have a more natural feel to it.

It wasn’t all about the 3DS though. Beat the Beat: Rhythm Paradise was the only game representing the Wii but the DS was shown more love with a fully playable version of Pokémon Conquest available – a UK first play! Pokémon Conquest is technically a crossover title between Pokémon and Nobunaga’s Ambition, the popular strategic RPG developed by Tecmo Koei. As you may have guessed then, Pokémon Conquest is a turn-based strategy game with Pokémon as your fighters. Each level is essentially a map, you have a selection of Pokémon and you must defeat the enemy’s Pokémon in order to complete the level.

I played through what was basically the tutorial level; in it you must defend your homeland, the Aurora kingdom, from two invaders. You start the map by sending out your Eevee and once you get under-way an ally appears on the map with their Jigglypuff to help you get rid of the offending Tepig and Bidoof. You basically move your Eevee towards the enemies and attack them while your ally controls her Jigglypuff in the same way. Fending off the enemies is a doddle and the attackers retreat with their tails between their legs.

The aim of the game is to unite all the kingdoms in the Ransei Region by taking on the Warlords who command over each one. As you progress you enlist the help of new Pokémon and bond with them over time. This team bonding is essential and will give your team the strength required to conquer all realms in the game! Pokémon Conquest is actually looking very good, it’s not a game that I would have thought of, putting Pokémon and turn-based strategy together, but after playing it for a while it kind of makes perfect sense. Pokémon Conquest could well be another great spin off for the franchise, up there with the likes of Pokémon Snap, Pokémon Mystery Dungeon and a personal favourite of mine, Pokémon Puzzle League.

Overall the Nintendo Unleashed stand was a great showcase for the 3DS XL and its capabilities. It would have been nice to have had the Wii U in the concourse but it was not to be. I suppose it makes sense for Nintendo to push the 3DS XL with its imminent release coming up next weekend but that doesn’t mean I can’t be disappointed at not getting to play with that fabled Wii U Gamepad!

The closest thing to a Wii U title was Darksiders II, THQ’s third person hack and slash adventure game, which was playable on an Xbox 360. I had a look at it but can only really report on its aesthetics. It’s visually impressive and it will be interesting to see how the Wii U version integrates the Wii U Gamepad and what features there’ll be that will be different to the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions. We hopefully won’t have to wait too long for that answer as the game is confirmed as a Wii U launch title.

50 Shades of Cosplay.

Cosplay

Obviously the conference wasn’t just about gaming, there were plenty of other things going on there such as merchandise stores, where Nintendo naturally featured a lot; Artists’ Alley, where all kinds of artists were showcasing some of their brilliant work; a Robot Wars arena compete with battling robots; a ‘meet the cast’ panel which featured actors from the Merlin and Young Dracula TV shows; and of course the age-old tradition of cosplaying!

Manchester really didn’t let itself down in the cosplay department! There were some truly brilliant costumes on show at the event and this really added so much irreplaceable value to the whole day! Naturally gaming cosplays featured heavily and amongst the best were several Links, a few Pikachus, a fully costumed Amaterasu from the Okami series, Donkey Kong, Pidgeot, and I even saw Issun at one point (I hope he met Amaterasu). Needless to say I took my 3DS along for the ride and picked up so many StreetPasses I thought it would combust; that little green light has never flashed so much! It was a little sad to see that my Mii had done a better job at cosplaying than I had though… Next time…

The MCM Expo in Manchester was a huge success and I should say a big thank you to the organisers for making it all possible! I learnt quite a lot from the event: the 3DS XL is an exciting piece of kit that managed to change my opinion of it almost instantly; Pokémon Conquest is a very interesting spin on the Pokémon franchise; and I am very, VERY rusty at Mario side-scrollers!

Event pictures can be found here at our facebook page.

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Comments
2 Responses to “Nintendo Unleashed at the MCM Expo in Manchester – Report”
  1. Hannah says:

    A detailed run-down of all the essential Nintendo news at the event, thanks crumpledpapyrus 😀 Oh gosh, I reeeally want to at least HOLD a 3DS XL, even if I probably won’t be getting one any time soon…

    Like

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