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Nintendo Returns to Classics, Focuses on Link, Donkey Kong and Pit

Nintendo at e3 2010
Nintendo's new glasses-free 3-D handheld, the 3DS, was hardly the surprise of yesterday's Nintendo keynote. Instead, big N looked to the company's stock of franchises past and showed off some old friends in a series of new games. From Link to Diddy and Kirby to Kid Icarus, we examine Nintendo's lineup for the next year.

'Donkey Kong Country Returns' (Wii)

Donkey Kong Country Returns
After a 3-D jaunt on the Nintendo 64 years ago and a peripheral-laden Gamecube title, Donkey and Diddy Kong are casting aside the extra dimensions and drums in their brand new side-scrolling adventure. The banana-grabbing duo charmed us all over again with a breakneck series of runaway mine carts, barrel blasting and enemy bopping. Built by Retro Studios, the team behind 'Metroid Prime,' 'DKCR' has us thrilled for another run through the jungle.

Donkey Kong Country Returns

'Kirby: Epic Yarn' (Wii)

With 'Epic Yarn,' Kirby heads back to a living room console for the first time in ages as he navigates a game world made from cloth, zippers and thread. As suggested by the title, the game finds a side-scrolling Kirby composed of yarn, which can be bent, wrapped and transformed into weapons or even vehicles (e.g., a UFO, mech, jet and car were all demoed).

Release: This Holiday

Kirby's Epic Yarn

'Kid Icarus' (Nintendo 3DS)

Kid Icarus
Nintendo pushed winged platform star Pit into the spotlight as the lead 3DS launch hero, originally part of something called Project Sora. Pit, who has appeared in some titles as a secondary fighter like 'Super Smash Bros: Brawl,' casts off the side-scrolling to fly in a true 3-D world. Nintendo didn't show any live gameplay, but the footage we saw ran extremely smooth and we're looking forward to getting hands-on time with the first all 3-D game not to require glasses.

Kid Icarus

'The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword' (Wii)

Skyward Sword
Another entry in the long-running Zelda series, and another guaranteed month of exploring the latest version of Hyrule. 'Skyward Sword' pushes much of your control of Link to the Wii Motion Plus, requiring players to swipe and stab with the Wiimote to attack enemies and complete puzzles. The game also adds a revised item management system for quick switching between Link's weapons and objects, ranging from the old standby bombs (that can now be both bowled and tossed) to a multi-use whip and a flying item-gathering beetle. The graphics aren't radically different from 'Twilight Princess,' but the gameplay and Wiimote look tighter than ever.

Release: 2011

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

'Mario Sports Mix' (Wii)

Mario Sports Mix
For years now, Mario, Bowser, Yoshi and the rest of the crew have been leaving the rolling hills and question-mark blocks of the Mushroom Kingdom to go countless golf, tennis and soccer excursions. 'Mario Sports Mix' rounds out the mix in one fell swoop, also offering volleyball, hockey, dodgeball and basketball. 'Mario Tennis,' which doesn't exactly have the most riveting name, remains an all-time-favorite party game. Until we boot up 'Mario Sports Mix' for a night of multi-player, we'll withhold our judgment of what seems to be a desperate grasp for the few sports left over.

Release: 2011

Mario Sports Mix

'Epic Mickey' (Wii)

Teased at last year's E3, 'Epic Mickey' initially set out to show a darker, more mischievous side of the mouse. A year later, though, the Mickey makeover has been toned down following the always dreaded focus group testing. Still, the game will retain the moral dilemmas insinuated last year (e.g., should you help the entire town or simply focus on fighting enemies?). Mickey will use paint or paint thinner to create or attack, respectively, his newly malleable environment, and the player's decisions will influence how game characters (drawn from Disney lore), interact with the mouse.

Release Date: September 16, 2010

Kirby's Epic Yarn

'Goldeneye 007' (Wii)

We sprinted over to the Nintendo booth to get our hands on the relaunch of a gaming classic, and walked away a bit distressed. Rare, the developer of the original, isn't involved, and it's not a level-by-level remake. Further, the game doesn't get much of a visual upgrade; the graphics date 'Goldeneye Wii' to the mid aughts, and it's neither charming nor retro. We'll check back after a night of tossing remote mines around, but don't expect rave reviews once this one lands.

Release: This Holiday


'Metroid - Other M' (Wii)

Metroid Other M
The 'Metroid Prime' reignited Samsus's career back in 2002 by morphing the classic side-scrolling space adventure into a first-person shooter game. Now, Nintendo is bringing back some side-scrolling skills, and mixing 2-D and 3-D combat in 'Other M.' You'll be able to switch from platforming to 3-D combat mode for different styles of gameplay.

Release Date: August 31, 2010

Metroid - Other M

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