Nintendo E3 2012 Press Conference – Impressions
The existence of the Wii U has been known of for a time, and while we’ve been aware of the basic mechanics of the system, this was where Nintendo would have to tell us why we wanted it.
The Pre-E3 Videos
To tantalise us without shooting their information-load, Nintendo released two videos online. The first was Iwata explaining the “Miiverse”, wherein people see the Miis on their system, their friends and other people playing their games, or around the world. With an effective, “main street”, the Miis all huddled around giant icons of the different games and can talk in little text messages or drawn symbols. The second video was a ‘comedic skit’ about a person stuck on a zombie game (Zombi U perhaps?), talking to a non-specific action figure. It demonstrated the ability to send messages from your GamePad and have people receive them on smartphones, as well as a function where people can make video calls with other players.
As has been expected for a while now, Pikmin is returning for the first time in a decade. The basic controls for the game only use the GamePad, with the touchscreen allowing navigation of the map so that you can look closer at the action on the console itself. The Wiimote and nunchuck also get some love, with a shake of the nunchuck to charge and the MotionPlus allowing accurate aiming when controlling the Pikmin. Shigsy was keen to mention that this was a game which show fun in deeper games, rather than just casual ones.
The Wii U!
Life-size Muppet Angel Reggie Fils-Aime, arrived to announce that during the presentation, we would see twenty three Wii U games, also that the Wii U would accomplish three things:
1) Change Gaming
2) Change the way you interact with your gaming friends
3) Change the way you watch television
This presentation was to show off the first two parts, although he dropped knowledge that Netflix, Hulu, YouTube and Amazon Video would all be accessible (and HBO Go has been rumoured). Much like the Wii, an emphasis was made on connecting with friends through gaming in new ways, primarily through, “asymmetric gameplay”, between people who have GamePads and people with Wiimotes and normal controllers. Because of this, the gameplay experience will be purposefully different for each player with a different controller.
The GamePad itself was examined a bit further, with a few pieces of information:
It will be possible to use not one, but two Wii U GamePads, although most of the launch games will only focus on using one. The touchscreen can use your finger or a stylus. There’s a motion sensor, gyroscope, geometric sensor, a camera and microphone. It has all the Wii’s buttons in a more standard controller layout, but with a widescreen touchscreen in the middle.
New Super Mario Bros U
This was revealed in the pre-E3 video as one of the upcoming games, primarily as people can leave messages for each other on levels, and on the world map. Like the first one it’s a 2D side-scroller with Mario, Luigi and their poor, nameless mushroom subalterns. As well as four players, it boasts a fifth playable role through the GamePad, where someone can provide aid by placing blocks for the other players to use. The other aspects shown include a flying squirrel suit and multi-coloured Yoshis.
Batman: Arkham City Armoured Edition
It seems odd to announce a game which launched last year, but Warner Brothers seem to have added a bunch of extras which are only usable with the Wii U interface. We saw a few of them, scanning the scenery, using sonar to detect enemies, detonating explosive triggers and aiming the remote batarang.
Using the GamePad as Maxwell’s magic notepad, Scribblenauts included more customisation than before. You can take pieces of different objects or creatures and mix them up, with their sample, “Auto Mutt”. It boasts multiplayer gameplay and the origin of Maxwell, which doesn’t seem like something anyone’s been asking for. Still, the game itself looks like it could be a lot of fun.
There were also short trailers for: Darksiders 2, Mass Effect 3, Tank Tank Tank, Tekken Tag Tournament, Trine 2: Director’s Cut, Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge and Aliens: Colonial Marines. News has said, outside of the presentation here, that Colonial Marines will be best on this console.
Wii Fit U
Reggie made a joke about having to look like a wally on a plastic bathroom scale at E3 before, with the Wii Fit launch. It’s sold 43 million units, so they’re pretty eager to repeat that.
This Wii Fit launch will use the Balance Board, like before, but also a pedometer which allows you to upload your progression during the day onto your GamePad. In the post-show video, it was mentioned that it would even know what exercise you were doing when you were away from Wii Fit. The demonstration video showed the GamePad in different places, such as in front of the balance board for a trampoline game and pointed at the screen for a Mario Sunshine style game.
We then saw a video trailer for Nintendo’s expedition into both singing and dancing games. Their aim is to be more of a collective experience of singing and dancing chaotically, with lyrics both on the screen and on the GamePad, and dance moves to follow from a bopping cartoon character. It looks far simpler in design and execution than most games of this type, although it might be too simple for the cost of a normal game.
A Break for the 3DS
The 3DS will get a proper showing in the future, but Scott Moffitt appeared to show his lack of ability to speak publicly, and to present three first-party Nintendo titles.
New Super Mario Bros 2 is themed all around gold. Everything’s all about gold, including golden fire flowers and vast amounts of coins everywhere. It seems eager to differentiate itself from the Wii U version. Paper Mario Sticker Star is a 3D outing for the interesting part-platformer, part-RPG, involving you pulling bits of the scenery off and changing the world with stickers. Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon has Luigi playing Ghostbuster across multiple mansions with a more mission-based style to his game compared to the ancient romp on the Gamecube.
Lego City Undercover
Instead of rendering another license adorable, Lego have made what looks like a free-roaming Lego City game where you play action cop, “Chase McCain”, wearing many different disguises as he fights crime across Lego City. The opening shots looked like Liberty City in brick form, and the disguises appear to change the abilities Chase has in his arsenal. Apparently the same franchise but a wholly different game is coming to the 3DS, too.
Just Dance 4
Ubisoft, flush from possibly the best presentation on Monday, revisited the stage. Their first offering was Just Dance 4, which included the ability for a ‘puppet master’ to change upcoming moves on the fly. Reggie did this using the GamePad for all the dancers on stage to then mimic the move he’d put on screen. While Microsoft had Usher dancing to announce Dance Central 3, this presentation showed more than just what songs were offered. The mechanic’s an interesting one, although I think this will make three Just Dance games in the span of two years.
An M-rated launch game for a Nintendo console? Interesting…
Unlike the Ubisoft presentation, we saw more of what the game will provide, instead of a slo-mo FMV animation to a droning version of “God Save the Queen”.
The GamePad can be used as a sensor to detect if zombies are nearby, a scanner for crates, a motion controller to shake zombies off of you, a sniper scope and the location for any inventory or keypad-entry needs. It has a lot of potential, and could even use the GamePad’s controller to zombify Reggie’s face.
Other Ubisoft Offerings
We saw more swift trailers for: Assassin’s Creed 3, Rabbids Land, Your Shape: Fitness Evolved 2013, Sports Connection and Avengers: Battle for Earth. None of the videos show any footage of how the Wii U enhanced the gameplay, but that’s the case with so many E3 videos.
This is supposed to be for the Wii U, what Wii Sports was for the Wii, as far as a demonstration of what the system can do, in this case the “asymmetric gameplay” phrase which has been thrown all around this presentation.
Nintendoland is a theme park where the Miis of you and your friends can gather and take part in twelve Nintendo-themed ‘attractions’. While they use the IP of Nintendo characters, it’s all costumes which your Mii dresses up in, including Luigi’s Mansion, Animal Crossing, Donkey Kong, Legend of Zelda and Nazo no Murasame-jō… weirdly.
During the presentation, there were five games out of the twelve mentioned, and two seen up close.
Luigi’s Ghost Mansion has a Pac-Man looking mansion maze with four players on Wiimotes moving their Miis around, looking for a ghost who’s invisible to the naked eye, but shows up in torch light. The player on the GamePad plays the ghost, with their own version of the level on their private screen. They pick off players one by one, disabled only with torch light. Players have a limited amount of torch battery to attack the ghost and to heal any of their number who faint. It looks like a hoot, and a good instigator of fights amongst friends.
The single player Donkey Kong Crash Course is only barely Donkey Kong related. On levels not unlike those from his eponymous game, you have to tilt the GamePad to navigate a cart through the level. The television shows the whole course, while the GamePad zooms in on the action.
People were actually able to play this game and others on the floor, which have been reported on or captured on video since. Satoru Iwata, the eccentric legend, expanded on some in his post-show, too.
The other games revealed:
Legend of Zelda: Battle Quest, wherein the GamePad player aims a bow and the Wiimote players wield swords through a rail shooter/slasher ride in the theme park.
Animal Crossing: Sweet Day has the Wiimote players running around a park collecting candy, getting bigger and slower as they go. The GamePad player uses each analogue stick to control attackers, chasing down their chubby prey.
Takamaru’s Ninja Castle is another single-player outside with the GamePad held vertically, with swipes to take down shuriken and other obstacles.
There will be seven more games revealed, but there was no mention of what they were or the level of online capability with this game.
As mentioned, Iwata delivered a post-show for the people who couldn’t be on the floor at E3 to experience the Wii U themselves. This included repeat visits to an acted family of a dad, grandmother, son and two daughters. They demonstrated each of the five Nintendoland games with varying degrees of convincing behaviour. Then we saw some more of the Wii Fit U games, the Core Luge, the Trampoline, Dessert Course (where you walk from table to table, delivering desserts balanced on a tray to hungry Miis) and Body Test, where you can monitor your family’s weight, which sounds a bit wrong. There was a little more with Zombi U, with Iwata telling us in a deadpan fashion that he was a zombie, with humorous zombie effects over his face. Oh Iwata, you legend. We also saw a trailer for Batman Arkham City Armoured Edition, which was the same as what we’d seen earlier in the presentation.
This was definitely an interesting show, and along with the Ubisoft presentation and the Nintendo Pre-Show videos, has done a lot to sell me on the idea of the Wii U. There’s still some way to go. The Wii had ports of existing games with bolted on extra Wiimote-based features. Hopefully the ones present with the Wii U will be less slapdash. The opening lineup has a lot of strong-sounding titles from Nintendo, and has now been put online, along with the specs for the Wii U itself. There are already reports of the GamePad having syncing problems with the launch games, much like the Wii Motion Plus. Hopefully this will be a kink which will be out of the system by the time it’s released, as this looks like it has the potential to be a really good console. The Wii was the weakest of the Next Gen era consoles by a long way, but with more power as well as innovation, hopefully this will be a system which can capture the imagination of hardcore and casual gamers alike.
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