Nintendo at EGX 2018 – Hands On With Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Pokémon: Let’s Go, and More

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Review

It’s fair to say that this year Nintendo UK were in full force at EGX. The biggest gaming event in the UK each year, EGX is held at the Birmingham NEC over four days to literally thousands of gamers that seem to travel to from all corners of the UK. For some it’s a fair old journey to make, but arguably the only opportunity to get your hands on games before they are released. Nintendo were there with this year’s biggest forthcoming releases to check out, plus a huge screen and stage on which they hosted a number of live demo’s and tournaments.

This time last year it was all about Super Mario Odyssey at EGX 2017, but this year the focus was split evenly between Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Pokémon: Let’s Go, Eevee! and Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! Both titles were available to play on a number of consoles, both of which demanded wait times of over an hour to get your hands on them. Smash was available to play for two rounds of four player solo fights, whilst Pokémon let you check out a small forest area, catch a few Pokémon using the Pokéball controller and battle a couple of basic level trainers.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate was really the highlight for me. Watching it on stage was a great fun experience; drawing in the crowds as it did each time they featured a tournament and then getting the opportunity to play it to try out some new characters myself. Looking beautiful as it does in full HD resolution, the general presentation of the game, from the character select screen to the loading screen, fight, weapon effects – everything looks really polished. I played as Inkling; shooting ink, launching into squid form and using the roller to shoot from side to side of platforms, sometimes uncontrollably I’m afraid (think Wario’s bike move) – it was great fun. Especially as I was able to play with one of the nice Smash branded new Gamecube controllers, with their quirky button layout – definitely the way to play compared to the other times I used the pro-controller. I played as Ridley, Pokémon Trainer and Snake too – seeing these returning fighters back again felt like heroes returning – especially the fan support for Ice Climbers on the big screen. Smash is a real draw for crowds, and it felt like they had the biggest show of the whole event at some moments.

Pokémon: Let’s Go, was a bit of a disappointment I have to say. A really long wait time of nearly 2 hours didn’t help – by the time I got to play I had watched many others go through the exact same process of capturing the same creatures, battling the same trainers and walking around the same area. Only showcasing low level monsters didn’t really the sell game, although it made a nice change to simply be able to try and capture each monster you encounter, a la Pokémon Go!, rather than needing to battle each one before you could attempt a capture. And, I do want to point out how impressed I was with the Pokéball controller – it certainly added something extra to the whole thing, using natural throwing motions to ‘throw’ the ball, with a built in speaker and really effective HD rumble effects. Nintendo did fortunately show some additional footage on the big screen; including an exciting look at monsters captured and transferred across from Pokémon GO! available from ‘GO Park’ (an HD glossy Moltres or Kangaskhan anyone!?) as well as the ability to ride an Onix through a city area. The crowds seemed really engrossed.

Another highlight from Nintendo included some time with Super Mario Party. Launching very soon on Switch, the demo included 5 games to try out, and this game too had a fairly long wait time. Games showed off single joy-con motion controls; where you were required to rotate the controller in your hand in order for your on-screen character to cycle on a little bike or you had to hold it like a frying pan and flip over a piece of meat to cook it on all four sides before your competitors. Both worked well, with HD rumble to boot. We were also asked to run away from ghosts or avoid a bunch of Chargin’ Chucks using just the joystick, and then to tilt the joy-con forward and then to the left or right to ride a barrel to the finish line. All games were fun to play, and certainly did a good job of showcasing a range of different game and control types, but I thought each one was over far too quickly. I’m keen to see more, with over 80 new games promised.

During my time at the show I also had a chance to play Starlink: Battle for Atlas – the forthcoming release from Ubisoft that looks like it’s going to make great use of the Star Fox license. Not being able to use the Arwing model meant I couldn’t play as Fox (at least I think that was the reason) and I didn’t really understand the control scheme described I must say. Flying low to the ground and crashing into rocks wasn’t a fun experience, but it did look real nice and the demo I saw others playing looked like it featured some interesting large creature battles. Definitely one to keep an eye on.

Finally, on the Sega stand, I was able to have a few races on the new Team Sonic Racing. It wasn’t on Switch to be fair, and it did look particularly shiny and run particularly well, but generally the team mechanic, where you work with your two team mates in each race, is a neat idea. The ability to share weapons and generate boost by racing in your team mates racing lines added an additional level of strategy to the game play and overall it seemed pretty fast too. Again, a third party title that I’ll be keeping an eye on, but not one to rival Mario Kart 8 Deluxe for sheer quality, gameplay and track variety I don’t expect.

This years EGX was a great show, and one that I’m confident did a great job of showcasing Nintendo’s hybrid console to existing and potential consumers. With a range of hit titles available to play, including Mario Kart 8, Splatoon 2, the full range of Labo kits, a bunch of Nindies, and even a console each for Super Mario Odyssey, Breath of the Wild, Minecraft and more, as well as the above mentioned brand new titles, there was loads to see and do and plenty to keep people on their stand for a decent amount of time. The live stage and big screen and the live streaming Splatoon 2 tournaments, amongst others, were expertly put together by a really experienced team and also really helped to create a buzz around their console and games.

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