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Nintendo had a big showing at the Electronic Gaming Expo last week, breaking out some of its most anticipated titles. And while we're only halfway into 2019, Nintendo is already making us look forward to the rest of the year with new entries in some of its biggest franchises, including Luigi's Mansion 3, Pokémon Sword and Shield, and the fresh remake of The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening, as well as a ton of new RPGs and some returning classics.
SYFY WIRE trekked through the Los Angeles heat to see what Nintendo had to offer at E3. Here are the most notable things we saw while hunting ghosts and battling Pokémon.
UPDATED SECRETS IN THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: LINK'S AWAKENING
When the original Link's Awakening came out in 1993, it was teeming with secrets. Items were hidden on the bottom of fishing holes, quests were unlocked by giving gifts to townspeople, and mysteries shrouded in plain sight were littered throughout the game.
During my hands-on with the game's Switch remake at E3, I learned that all those secrets and mysteries had been updated — dialogue and all. One quest about finding a plush Yoshi for a mother and her children includes dialogue that mentions the 16-year gap between the new game and the remake.
What's even better is that the quest to get the doll is much harder. You need to use an arcade claw machine to pluck the toy off a conveyor belt. The original game's machine had you line up the claw on the belt, but that was it. The new remake forces you to consider physics, as well, making it a lot more enjoyable and challenging.
The remake also looks amazing, incorporating new, diorama-style visuals that make its take on Hyrule feel especially wondrous.
The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening drops Sept. 20.
POKÉMON SWORD AND SHIELD'S GYMS ARE LIKE NOTHING BEFORE
Pokémon: Let's Go, a remake of the first game in the series, redesigned gyms as wondrous palaces that reflect the type of Pokémon the gym leader trained; the grass gym was adorned with garden pathways and huge plants, while Misty held her battles in an elaborate swimming pool.
Pokémon Sword and Shield, the new game in the franchise, takes its gym designs to another level, weaving puzzles and huge arenas into each building. I played through one at E3 featuring huge water pipes blocking your way to the gym leader, forcing you to redirect water from one pipe to another in order to get through the gym.
The gym leader battles are held in huge arenas with roaring crowds and floating Pokémon cameras, making them feel far more special than battles in previous games. Pokémon can also go into their Dynamax mode, growing to 20 times their original size.
While it's not a huge departure from how Pokémon works in general, Sword and Shield features a lot of promising designs that makes Pokémon feel bigger and more open.
Pokémon Sword and Shield launches Nov. 15.
MARIO & SONIC AT THE OLYMPIC GAMES TOKYO 2020 IS THE SERIES' BEST
Skateboarding, surfing, and even mainline sports such as baseball are coming to Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 — and it feels like this series might replace Mario sports titles. We haven't heard a peep about any other sports games (we still pray for a new Super Mario Strikers or Super Mario Sluggers), so these compilations could be the best we get.
The skateboarding, karate, and surfing games, which I played at E3 this past week, were a lot of fun. They don't have the depth that the full-fledged sports games have, but they were nice to experience with other players. It's like a more regal version of Super Mario Party, but the Olympics edition.
The surfing game had us riding along with a single wave as we pulled off different tricks with the pro controller, and the skateboarding game dropped us into a small park, where we used the layout of the ramps to build up speed and hit combos midair. Each game only lasted for a minute or two.
Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 is a fun entry if you like the previous games in the series, the Mario Party games, or any previous sports titles.
Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 launches in November.
NEW SUPER LUCKY'S TALE IS AN IMPROVEMENT ON THE XBOX ONE VERSION
Super Lucky's Tale, which came out on Xbox One and PC in 2017, is the sequel to the VR platformer Lucky's Tale. It was a fun, if casual, 3D platformer reminiscent of Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine.
It's clear that the Switch version I played at E3, which could be coming to other platforms later on, according to the developer, refines a lot of the mechanics from the original game, making it smoother and less clunky. The world looks great, with its smooth, visual overhaul. It's still incredibly easy, but it's worth it if you're looking for more games like A Hat in Time or Yooka Laylee.
Super Lucky's Tale launches later this year.
ANIMAL CROSSING: NEW HORIZONS REHAULS THE ENTIRE SERIES
While no one got to play the new Animal Crossing at E3, a ton of new details were revealed via interviews, the Nintendo Treehouse stream, and the first trailer. We now know that the sequel to Animal Crossing: New Leaf takes place on a deserted island that you must design a town upon.
- You can decorate the entire island with furniture, not just your home.
- All save files on a console will share the same island.
- There is no cloud saving, so be extra careful with your Nintendo Switch.
- You now need to craft tools and other items.
- Plants, including trees, flowers, and turnips, can be partially picked (leaving the roots behind so they can regrow).
- There is an eight-person multiplayer option, including four on the same console.
If you're a fan of New Leaf, these changes are exciting. New Horizons drops March 20, 2020. The wait will be worth it.