Nintendo eShop Demos for Kirby and Metroid!

It has officially been one year since I got back into Nintendo consoles and bought my 3DS. And in all the +/- 50 weeks since that day, I have generally been underwhelmed by the weekly summaries of the Nintendo eShop updates. Sure, the constant Atlus sales and occasional $2 off a Nintendo title gave little bursts of excitement, and yes, since upgrading to the New 3DS, I’ve been able to enjoy more than a few reboots on the Virtual Console. But the area where it’s been lacking most, in my opinion, is the demos.

Not for nothing, but they left up a non-functioning Legend of Zelda: Triforce Heroes demo for months after the multiplayer aspect of it ceased to work. To me, that’s just sloppy management. It was front and center on the store page for weeks after it ceased basic functionality!

The point being, though, that Nintendo does not like releasing demos of its software. Which is foolish, as demos have been statistically proven to increase game sales. At least, if the buyer is me. I need to know I’ll like the feel of the game, and 5-10 minutes wandering around inside a game is normally all the action I need to part with $40+. That’s right young readers, work hard and you too can have stupid amounts of disposable income for video games. I don’t care if the Nintendo NX is shaped like a giant tortoise, weighs 200 pounds and needs to be played standing up, I’m buying it Day 1. Also, don’t have kids, they are expensive, or so I hear. That way you can play more video games.

Back to brass tax, Nintendo has evidently made it their mission to harness the money-printing capabilities of the 3DS to sell as much first-party titles as humanly possible, because for the first time in recent memory, they’re finally putting out some respectable demos! Those two demos being for Metroid Prime: Federation Force, and Kirby: Planet Robobot. Admittedly, the newest installment in the Kirby series has been out for a while now, relatively speaking.

As I never played Triple Deluxe, I was a bit wary of picking up a platformer – not because I don’t love platformers, but because at full price, I didn’t know if I should wait for a price drop (which probably won’t happen till Christmas, and even then will be 15% off if we’re lucky) for a game that I might be able to 100% in 10 hours. My concern was honestly that the game would be too easy. I remember playing Kirby’s Dream Land on my original Gameboy many moons ago, and that game was pretty damn tough, like most games from that glorious era, but times have changed.

On to the demo – I gotta say, it sold me on it immediately. I loved the snappiness of the controls, and while it’s hard for me to pinpoint exactly, something about them just feels right. There is something insanely satisfying about sucking up an enemy and then blasting it at another. The use of 3D is predictably fantastic. The 3D feature lends itself well, interesting enough, to 2D platformers, as it adds just enough of a third dimension to make the whole game come to life and “pop.” This was most evident in Super Mario 3D Land, and I can see it being a big part of the gameplay in Planet Robobot.

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The demo was very short (one level, really), but I prefer that to a longer demo for these kinds of games. I don’t like spoiling the first few levels in a game if I play on playing it. This will be a definite buy for me, and I’ll be grabbing this one soon. The last time I had remembered picking up a game and immediately wanting more was Metroid Prime. I might have written about this before, but Metroid Prime has what I consider to be the best controls ever, in a video game. Yeah, bold statements there.

Speaking of Metroid Prime, how about Metroid Prime: Federation Force? “The game that nobody wanted!”

It was mildly frustrating when this game was first announced. For anyone with a poor memory span, it was not very well received. Not in the slightest, in fact. And personally I always thought it unfair. Nintendo has the right to reinvent properties, as they did initially with Metroid Prime, but the whole debacle brought me right back to Wind Waker, when everyone complained about the new cel-shading art style that made everyone’s favorite green-tunic’d adventurer look like he came out of a comic book.

As it turned out, eventually it was more accepted by the overall community, yet here we are some 10 years later, experiencing the same thing with the Metroid franchise. Call me a fanboy, but I can appreciate a sleek redesign of a franchise, especially considering the fact that we’re going from a console with a lot of buttons to a small handheld device with not a whole lot of processing power. Capturing the original essence and detail of Metroid Prime in it’s full graphical capacity would prove a little tough if you asked me. I’d say the “shrinkening” down of the characters in Federation Force was more to do with memory management than “because we can.”

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I can applaud the efforts of Nintendo for putting out a separate demo that lets players experience the ebb and flow of the gameplay in an online match mode playing Blast Ball, but I can’t help but wish it included some sort of actual level to let players see some actual gameplay. I did enjoy my 45 minutes or so of Blast Ball, but I will mention that the latency was spiky at times. Firing a charged beam at the ball took a noticeable amount of time to see a reaction. Hopefully this lag is not reflected in the online mode in the final product and was just a bad pairing on the game finder (I was in a game with 3 players with all Japanese toon names).

What I will say on Federation Force is that I had already pre-ordered it, so this demo was very capable of making or breaking it for me. If I truly thought the controls sucked, I was killing the pre-order and moving on. While the demo downloaded, I was getting nervous that I wouldn’t enjoy it, being that I’m a little dry on my 3DS backlog lately. With the gap between now and Yo-Kai Watch 2 and Pokemon Sun/Moon, I was anxious for another fun game to sink my teeth into. I was both surprised and pleasantly happy at the gameplay and the controls, so I’m stoked to report my pre-order still stands. Can’t wait for this one – see you August 19th!

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