Nintendo Wii U E3 hands-on preview: 'Mario Kart 8,' 'Super Mario 3D World,' 'Pikmin 3' and 'Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze'

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Nintendo kicked off the 2013 Electronics Entertainment Expo (E3) in style. Rather than a traditional media briefing, as Microsoft and Sony did the day before, Nintendo shared off their new games in their booth on the showroom floor, a couple hours before the show officially opened.

In addition to a new selection of games for the 3DS handheld console, the company had plenty to show for upcoming Wii U titles.

One title that was getting a lot of buzz was "Mario Kart 8." The franchise has popped up on every single Nintendo console going all the way back to the Super Nintendo in 1992. At 21 years old, what can they do to the game to change things up? The answer is get rid of gravity.

Stretches of the track have you racing up walls, across roofs and wherever else the game's designers want to send you. The new dynamic makes it feel like an entirely different type of game. There are certain parts that fans of the series will have to get used to as there are now so many possible racing surfaces.

Luckily, the controls remain the same for the game, so that will be a comfort. It didn't seem like there were any new items up for grabs to use as weapons, but the action does go underwater at various points. When your vehicle is submerged, a little propeller pops out the back to send you along.

"Super Mario 3D World" is the first multiplayer Mario game to go 3D. In the playable demo, you could choose from Mario, Luigi, Peach and Toad, all of whom had their own individual jumping styles. A new power joins the game too, as the characters can wear cat costumes, giving them the abilities to claw at enemies and climb up walls.

The new cat power up proves very useful at saving your life as you try to grab onto things instead of falling. It also helps reach things just out of jumping range.

"Pikmin 3" steps up to the table, looking to build on what was already a well-regarded game franchise. The beauty of "Pikmin" is it's simplicity. You're controlling tiny army's of creatures, tasking them with things to collect. The new game introduces new "Pikmin," the characters you control, including some that will break through rocks to uncover hidden items.

There's also an expanded multiplayer mode that requires people to work together, rather than compete against each other, to accomplish tasks. "Pikmin 3" is the type of game someone can pick up and completely understand within a few minutes, while still being captivated enough by challenged to continue playing.

Donkey Kong is also coming to Wii U, and he's not alone. Donkey and Diddy Kong return to consoles in "Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze." The game takes the same mechanics of other entries in the series and adds HD graphics and a 3D camera that allows for all new camera angles. At it's heart though, it plays exactly as it should.

"Tropical Freeze" feels like a true sequel to the original "Donkey Kong Country" on Super Nintendo. It's still a platformer, rather than a 3D-moving game and it keeps to the tasks you expect from the giant ape, collecting bananas and jumping on bad guys.


Nintendo also showed off "Bayonetta 2," "Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympics," "New Super Luigi U," "The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD," "The Wonderful 101," "Super Smash Bros. for Wii U" and "Wii Party U."

"Mario Kart 8" is set for release Spring 2014, "Super Mario 3D World" in December 2013, "Pikmin 3" on August 4, 2013 and "Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze" on November 2013.

Photo/Video credit: Nintendo