SDCC: Hands-On With Nintendo's "Super Smash Bros.," "Hyrule Warriors" & "Bayonetta 2"

Sat, August 2nd, 2014 at 10:58am PDT

Video Games
Steve Sunu, Staff Writer/Reviews Editor
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Nintendo brought some special games to Comic-Con International 2014 in its Nintendo Gameplay Lounge, and CBR News was lucky enough to go hands-on for many of them. While there were many fun and interesting games on display, the two with new content since E3 -- "Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Warriors" and "Bayonetta 2" -- were the publisher's focus for the special Comic-Con press event, but CBR also had the chance to check out the E3 build of the highly anticipated "Super Smash Bros. Wii U."

SUPER SMASH BROS. WII U

Nintendo's playable build of "Super Smash Bros. Wii U" -- also showcased at E3 2014 -- was on hand for both press and attendees to play, and while it may be a partial build, it's still incredibly impressive. The game has progressed much further than "Super Smash Bros. Brawl" and in many ways, goes back to the gameplay standard found in "Super Smash Bros. Melee." The controls for each character showcased feel precise and tight, especially when using the ever-popular Gamecube controller. The demo had many old favorite characters, who have all received hi-def upgrades and very minor balancing tweaks to their move sets. However, the most exciting aspect of the Wii U build was the inclusion of some new characters heading to battle for the first time.

Out of a group of new fighters including Mega Man, Little Mac and Rosalina, Pokemon Greninja was easily the stand-out character. Incredibly fast, Greninja's up-Smash and side-Smash were incredibly effective, making his special abilities almost unnecessary. The animations for the water Pokemon were especially impressive and fluid, and at no point did it feel as though the character was beyond control. Impressively, the same could be said of Rosalina, who uses a Luma as a battling partner a la Ice Climbers or Olimar. The ability to fight separately and then call the Luma back ended up being a huge advantage in matches, and it will be very, very interesting to see what more proficient players are able to accomplish with the character at a professional level.

Perhaps most impressive about the game overall is how it feels much more fluid and controlled than "Super Smash Bros. Brawl," and it seems many of the annoyances players complained about have vanished. No more random tripping, no sluggish movement -- the game's current build actively feels tournament-worthy on consoles. The biggest challenge now is to see how more characters and stages complicated the fight.

The game also looks completely gorgeous, utilizing the full capabilities of HD. There's a very big difference between "Brawl" and the new "Super Smash Bros." -- graphically, there's almost no comparison. It'd be very easy to see how "Super Smash Bros." could be the Wii U's killer app both graphically and gameplay-wise.

That said, there's still a long way to go before the final product hits stores this holiday season -- but if the game continues on this track, there are going to be a lot of happy Wii U owners come release day.

LEGEND OF ZELDA: HYRULE WARRIORS

A special demo of "Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Warriors" -- the "Legend of Zelda" version of the popular "Dynasty Warriors" franchise -- was available to demo only during the special press event, as players took on the role of Darunia -- the Goron equipped with a massive hammer -- during a mission in the Eldin Volcano Caves. The sequence was a lengthy mission that really emphasized how true the game is to both the "Legend of Zelda" and "Dynasty Warriors" franchises. While the combination may seem like somewhat of a mismatch to some, the two franchises actually fit together quite well. The Eldin Caves level featured Stalfos and Poes, which Darunia would smash through in relative ease. In addition to his hammer, Darunia's build included a flurry of bombs (used to open up secret rooms and damage enemies) as well as a Goron spin attack that saw him curl up into a ball and crash into enemies.

Part of the fun in "Hyrule Warriors" was seeing how the missions in "Dynasty Warriors" were implemented. In this case, when a massive wall of lava was blocking the path to the next section, Darunia, Link and Impa had to escort a massive Bombchu to knock down a rock formation so that the party could get across. Defeating higher-difficulty enemies allowed the party to take control of areas back from the Stalfos and start spawning Hyrule guards that would help aid players on their missions.

Perhaps one of the biggest pieces of praise I can give to "Hyrule Warriors" is that the "Legend of Zelda" setting -- plus, the classic "Zelda" characters, locale and sound effects -- keep the game from feeling like a slog. While "Dynasty Warriors" has a formula that is tried and true, it's easy to feel like the game becomes stale after a few minutes of play. The Eldin Volcano Caves level kept the game moving along at a steady pace, and there was always something to do.

Like many of Nintendo's recent releases, the game is absolutely gorgeous in HD. The character model of Darunia was especially impressive, able to emote and move fluidly despite his hulking frame. Plus, the demo showed off some pretty fantastic environments, from glowing cave crystals to molten hot magma that had some spectacular lighting effects. "Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Warriors" will absolutely be a game to watch as its September 26 release date rolls around.

BAYONETTA 2

"Bayonetta 2" was announced as a Wii U exclusive prior to the system's launch in 2012, and Nintendo brought a special level for the upcoming anticipated sequel to show press on Preview Night. The game follows in the tradition of the original "Bayonetta," which features the eponymous protagonist fighting against angels and demons with swords, guns and gun shoes in a hack-and-slash/combo battle style that feels as easy to jump into as the original.

The level showcased during Preview Night saw Bayonetta enter an Italy-like landscape, complete with canals, as she fought her way through a number of new enemies. Players can switch at will between two different weapon sets -- in this case, her pistols and her swords -- to completely cut enemies down to size. Those familiar with the first "Bayonetta" will feel right at home here. The game feels just as easy to learn (but difficult to master), but with better graphics and the return of "Witch Time" -- a slowdown effect activated by dodging an enemy attack at the last possible second, allowing Bayonetta to completely eviscerate her opponents.

In fact, the "Bayonetta 2" level was more of a showcase of how what already worked about "Bayonetta" has improved. Everything from Witch Time to her transformation into a panther was worked seamlessly into the level, and it was a real gameplay treat to combo off on enemies, who are a little more animated this time around. The different twitches they make when Bayonetta hits them is a subtle, but effective, difference and really helps to enhance and emphasize the overall improvements made to the game.

Unfortunately, there wasn't a lot of story that could be revealed -- cutscenes in the level were skipped for time purposes -- but everything that fans loved about the original "Bayonetta" is here in spades. Plus, the game has touch-pad controls if you're adverse to pressing buttons. According to the Nintendo representative demoing the game, everything that can be done using the gamepad's buttons can be done using touch controls as well.

Players can start collecting Halos in "Bayonetta 2" on September 20.

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TAGS:  sdcc2014, nintendo, bayonetta, legend of zelda, super smash bros

 
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