Nintendo took the stage at 12pm EST (9am PST) with one of the most anticipated shows of E3. They not only had the Wii U system to announce, but also a surging 3DS platform and games.
Yet, somehow, they gave us the most disappointing show so far.
First of all, we get that the Wii U has a touch screen controller, this was unveiled at last year’s E3. This year was all about telling us WHY we need that extra screen. The answer? We don’t, really. To me the various demos showed only that the second screen helped de-clutter the main TV screen. Various implementations throughout the presentation showed us looking at game maps, punching in door codes, scanning enemies and guiding batarangs around with it…nothing that we couldn’t already do – and well I might add – with the current generation of controllers. We never really saw that genuinely creative new use or implementation that really shouted to us that we NEED this.
They also didn’t touch on two HUGE series’ that gamers were hoping to hear about: Zelda and Metroid. Not a mention. They opened with a cheesy CGI Pikmin showcase, which superimposed Pikmin on people onto audience members. Shigeru Miyamoto had Pikmin hiding all around his dressing room, which eventually followed him out and onto the stage.
This, of course, was the lead-in to their first showcase: Pikmin 3. A real-time action management game, you command the Pikmin to do a variety of tasks. Nintendo claims that this will be a more interactive Pikmin than those we’ve already seen. The screen in the controller will allow smooth switching between Pikmin types, and aiming Pikmin with the motion device will be easy. We see the game on the TV and map on the handheld, which is also used to check the status of Leaders and coordinate strategies. You can also use the gamepad to play the full game as well. Pikmin 3 will have improved graphics due to hardware, and more interactivity due to enhanced controls.
Nintendo President Reggie Fils-Aime then came out to talk about the Wii U, boasting that it’s an intuitive system that will revolutionize your living room. In addition to gaming, Netflix, Youtube, Hulu and Amazon Video will all be available. He says the Wii U is meant to “integrate and elevate” your gaming experience, and mentions that – like the original NES – the console will support two game pads.
Nintendo also unveiled the MiiVerse, a social hub for you to communicate with your game friends plus people you’ve met around the world. Mii’s can can speak using speech bubbles or draw illustrations, use facial expressions and also screen shots. I imagine this will get out of hand quickly. Eventually you’ll be able to join MiiVerse through 3DS, Smartphone, PC, or web enabled device.
They then unveiled some new games as well as how the game pad will “enhance” their experiences. In New Super Mario Bros. U, you can use the game pad to see friends on level maps. It also boasts four-player co-op, where friends can use gamepad to place blocks and help out strategically.
In Batman Arkham City Armored Edition – a unique experience on the Wii U – the game pad will do things like scan, control batarangs, motion things, etc. You can also access the map and select gadgets on there as well. As I’ve said, this is not really that special, you’re just using the pad to do things you could do before with motion control or sticks. It’s just handy to have it all in one spot on the pad.
In Scribblenauts Unlimited, you use the pad for pretty much everything other than moving the character around…think the DS version but with the bottom screen in your hands and the top screen on your TV…and in HD.
The teased at some games that are on their way for the Wii U, including Darksiders II, Mass Effect 3, Tank! Tank! Tank!, Tekken Tag Tournament 2, Trine 2: Directors Cut, Ninja Gaiden 3: Razors Edge and Aliens Coloniel Marines.
As for the Wii Fit and the balance board, Wii Fit U has some new offerings. Trampoline workouts, shooting games, sledding…same basic game, just new events/excercise routines.
SING (working title) is a new karaoke game that is apparently on the horizon. The lyrics are on the pad while you dance the moves that are shown on the screen, sort of like a Just Dance/Singstar crossover. I have to say, of all the demos show at the presentation, this was the worst. The game looks uninteresting, and the people they got to act in it looked like they were having the worst time ever!
The 3DS got some love, with the introduction of some first-party games including New Super Mario Bros. 2 – which for some reason is covered in gold… everywhere, a new Paper Mario game that has you pulling stickers off walls that give you special moves, and a new Luigi’s Mansion game.
We also got a quick peek at the upcoming 3rd party lineup including Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate (why are these names so long?!), Disney’s Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion, Scribblenauts Unlimited and Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance.
Back to the Wii U. Lego: Undercover City was one of the highlights of the presentation for me, as it looks fun and engaging, with a comedic aspect to it as well. You’re a Lego detective running around a Lego city solving crimes. You use the pad as a communicator of sorts, conversing with your base and receiving the details of each mission You can switch disguises and go undercover. The game looks really good, and it will be interesting to see how that plays out. They also announced a portable version for 3DS which will feature a different game but stay within the same franchise.
ZombiU is a new IP that takes advantage of the zombie survival genre that we all love. This time you’re avoiding zombies with the help of a scanner on your game pad. You also use it to put combos in for door locks and browse your inventory among other things, all of which could be done on a regular controller. In this one, one bite and you’re dead. Seems interesting, but we’ll have to wait to hear more.
Nintendo then gave us a quick tease revealing Assassins Creed III, a new Rabids game, a new Rayman game and a new Avengers game. It was decent, though no gameplay footage was shown, suggesting these are farther off that we would like.
Finally, Nintendo unveiled Nintendoland, claiming that it will do for the Wii U what Wii Tennis did for the Wii. They demoed how the pad integrates with certain aspects. Nintendoland allows Mii’s to take part in multi-player games and interact outside of games. Is this the cheery more colorful version of Playstation HOME of the Wii U? We’ll find out soon, as it launches with the console.
All in all, a fairly disappointing showing for what should have been Nintendo’s shining hour. What did you think? Let us know!