I wasn’t expecting to visit a haunted mansion or a battle stadium at E3 2019. After all, when I think of E3, I think of games and the opportunity to play them. So while entering the worlds where they take place has always been a dream of mine, I didn’t think that it would ever become a reality.
And yet, thanks to Nintendo that’s exactly what I was able to experience at E3 2019. Nintendo of Canada’s Andrew Collins took me on a tour of the company’s two biggest E3 games, Luigi’s Mansion 3 and Pokémon Sword and Shield. I was able to experience the sprawling booths in all their glory as well as the games on which they are based, and I’m happy to say that they both managed to impress.
Luigi’s Mansion 3
Starting with Luigi’s Mansion 3, it’s important to point out that Luigi is widely known for playing second fiddle to his shorter mustachioed brother. I mean, they are called the Mario Bros. after all. Yet it seems like no one told Nintendo, as the Luigi’s Mansion booth managed to steal the show, and more importantly, position Luigi in the spotlight that he has so long deserved. As mentioned before, the booth is a haunted house, guarded by two bellhops and a worried statue of Luigi and his gooey alter ego. You can’t actually see the inside of the booth unless you wait in the two-hour line or make use of Nintendo’s Warp Zone pass, but thankfully Andrew was able to get me in for a sneak peek.
Inside is a fully realized spooky mansion, complete with ghosts and ghouls moving all around, a sprawling staircase and of course game demos. Walking on certain areas of the booth made the area react in different ways, be it with moving furniture or the sudden appearance of a friendly polterpup. Similar to the actual game, the music helped nail down the fun and spooky atmosphere and the fact that my shirt was glowing in the dark made it even better. It really does have an amusement park feel to it, and it makes the upcoming Nintendo theme park all the more exciting to anticipate. It’s clear that Nintendo put the most work into the Luigi’s Mansion Booth this year, and for Andrew, the style of the series made the booth a no-brainer.
“I think that Nintendo has a history of creating a really immersive booth experience that really resonates with consumers that come to E3. We always try to make it a special experience. When you’re working with a game like Luigi’s Mansion 3, which is a very stylish and cartoony game, that lends itself to recreating in such a dramatic fashion as we’ve done here,” he said.
Thankfully, the gameplay section that I played managed to do the impressive booth proud. The game takes place in a haunted hotel where Luigi, equipped with his trusty Poltergust G-00, is trying to find his friends Mario, Princess Peach, and Toad. While the slice I played wasn’t long, I did get to solve some puzzles using the fittingly named Gooigi, a green blob version of Luigi. As shown in the trailer for the game, he is able to make it to certain areas that the regular Luigi can’t, and I was able to use him to make it past some pesky spikes. Goo-igi adds the possibility for a second player in Luigi’s Mansion, although he has far less health than Luigi and probably shouldn’t be used by non-experienced gamers.
That being said, even for Luigi, it’s easy to get overrun if you’re not careful. The game brings with it new ghosts that carry shields, and you have to make use of a suction cup attack to wrestle their shields away and defeat them. If you do get surrounded, there is a handy ground pound attack that Luigi can now use that makes the game far more manageable. You can also whip ghosts around in this game and slam them on the ground, similar to the way the Hulk batters his foes. Also, a simple touch of the D-pad makes Luigi cry out for Mario in a wonderfully charming way, and the button certainly saw a lot of use during my play-through.
While the demo was fun to play, there wasn’t all that much enemy variety, and I would like to see more in the final game. Even still, it’s great to see Luigi get the love he deserves, both on the show floor and in Luigi’s Mansion 3. The game launches at some point in 2019 and looks to be a fun co-op experience for players of all ages.
Pokémon Sword and Shield
The Pokémon Sword and Shield booth was very much the opposite of Luigi’s Mansion, as it was open concept and fully viewable from the show floor. Inside were a number of cheerleaders that did various routines while showing players to the demo booths scattered throughout. The entrance featured a giant Pokéball emblem and the sides surrounding the demo were plastered with pictures of fans that completed the battle stadium look. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a 50 ft. Pokémon on display in the booth, but thankfully, there was one in the game slice that I played.
The demo took place inside a water gym and featured a maze of waterspouts along with shutoff switches and a few trainers scattered throughout. If you’ve ever played a Pokémon game, then the puzzle won’t be anything new, and the trainers were also rather unimpressive. Thankfully, the main selling point of Pokémon is the Pokémon themselves and they were a joy to battle with. I was given a six Pokémon party that consisted of Grookey, Scorbunny, Sobble, Yapper, Wooloo, and Corviknight. The three starters each had their own distinct personalities, with Grookey being sassy, Scorbunny jumping up and down, and Sobble looking shy. Wooloo and Corviknight were revealed earlier this month during the Pokémon-focused Nintendo direct, and Corviknight is easily the more impressive of the two. He’s incredibly strong in battle and possesses an intimidation characteristic that is sure to be useful in the game. My favourite of them all, however, was Yapper, a corgi come to life in the Pokémon world. He was also the one that I chose to Dynamax and while he isn’t all that powerful, the sheer novelty of seeing a 50ft tall dog in a Pokémon game is something special.
While the puzzles and trainers were rather by the book, the part that really impressed me was the final gym battle with Nessa. Upon entering the door to the gym leader I was greeted by a long tunnel with a light at the end and from it came the sound of screaming fans. Walking into the stadium made me feel like an actual Pokémon trainer—and an important one at that. The camera angles felt dynamic and there were a number of different moments that captured the feel of the original anime. The greatest joy of the whole experience came when I was able to Dynamax my Pokémon. For those unaware, Dynamaxing is an ability that you can use once per gym battle and it turns one of your Pokémon into a powered up, 50 ft. tall version of itself for three turns. In retrospect, I probably should have used it more strategically. Instead, I powered up my Yapper which was able to K.O. the gym leaders’ first Pokémon before being defeated itself. Even with the foolish Dynamax, I was able to defeat Nessa and I truly felt accomplished for doing so.
One of the things that the demo didn’t show off was the wild area, which was teased in the recent Pokémon direct, but Collins was able to give a bit more context on why the area exists in the game.
“I think it was inspired by Britain, and if you go to the North of England then you’ve got this wild expanse where you can have huge lakes, mountains, and big open fields, and that’s what I think we’ll see when we get to see more of the wild area,” he said.
Both the wild area and the gym portion I got to play will be in the final game when it launches on November 15, 2019. If the demo is any indication, then Pokémon Sword and Shield is shaping up to be a standout entry in the long-running series. For more E3 content and Pokémon news, stay tuned to CGMagazine.