E3 2012: Nintendo Conference Coverage and Thoughts
Nintendo had a lot of hype to live up to with their re-revealing of WiiU and they needed to ensure it’s customers that they had a strong list of games, both first party and third party, to keep people entertained and intrigued about the WiiU’s capabilities.
The conference started out with a cute video of Miyamoto in his dressing room, reading his script for the conference while little Pikmin were scurrying around in his room. One dropped itself into his coat jacket that he wore to the conference and it was very adorable. Using this intro, Miyamoto made the announcement that Pikmin 3 is coming to WiiU.
Managing 100 Pikmin, you are tasked with many different things, one of the modes (Challenge mode) had pikmin gathering as much fruit as possible within a certain amount of time. The ability to put it in HD helped sell the fact that there is more of a worker ant type of look to the pikmin, and it did show in the tech demo. The graphics looked beautiful and adorable at the same time. A new type of Pikmin was announced as well. The Rock Pikmin that are used to take down tall standing barriers.
The WiiU gamepad allows players to play Pikmin more like an RTS game with an overhead view. Using the gamepad allows you to control 4 leaders at once and after a session has been finished, you can watch a direct replay of all the action in order to better your experiences and skills for future sessions. I’ve never played Pikmin, but if this video shows anything, it’s that it looks like a very fun, cute and relaxing game.
Mr. Miyamoto left the stage and Reggie came on board to talk for the duration of the rest of the conference. Claiming that the entire conference would be devoted to “All about the games” he stated that 23 new WiiU titles would be shown in the hour of air time they had. Short statements confirmed that Netflix, Hulu, Youtube and Amazon video will be coming to WiiU and that the WiiU will support 2gamepad controllers as opposed to the originally announced one gamepad. After some surprising amounts of self promotion of their twitter, facebook page and youtube channel, they moved on to showing off the gamepad itself.
The gamepad itself was shown and it features the normal D-Pad, A B X Y buttons, two analog sticks with buttons when pressed inward, a home button for the WiiU console, two trigger buttons (LZ and RZ), two shoulder L and R buttons, built in speakers, a headphone jack and a built in front facing camera. The design seems sound and hopefully it all can work in conjunction with eachother. The Gyroscope and Accelorometer along with rumble functions I have a fear might hinder eachother.
The Miiverse that was talked about at the Pre-E3 show was detailed a little bit more, being the first thing you’ll see on your WiiU console, your Mii will be joined by all Mii’s on the console and show some Mii’s from your friends list and across the world. You’ll see pop up bubbles from friends when they text publically or need help with something. You’ll be able to screen cap and share your WiiU screen with friends and it’ll show recent activity and scores. They also claimed that they plan to bring Miiverse to 3DS, PC, Smartphones and internet enabled devices.
Following the more small announcements, Super Mario Bros. U was shown on screen and a short montage video was shown of what to expect. You’ll be able to connect with friends while in the game or while in Miiverse for playing along with some real time social networking. The demo showed off some new suits for Mario to wear, the awesome over sized world from previous titles and some fat little yoshis you hold that do different abilities, the two shown had one that inflated like a balloon and the other shot little bubbles out of it’s mouth. The new “Boost” mode was also announced that allows one person to use the gamepad and lay down blocks for players in real time while the other four players can keep playing via the Wii Remotes. Mario is the beloved franchise of Nintendo and it looks like they’re going to keep these new side scrolling Mario’s coming, which I have no problem with.
Following their first party announcements, Reggie turned over to some third party content and introduced Batman: Arkham City: Armored Edition. They promised a bunch of new visuals (And the tech demo showed off some new skins for Batman and even some new cutscenes) and had a lot of emphasis on the WiiU Gamepad’s abilities. Detective mode would now be done in the gamepad screen and use the gyroscope to look around. You’ll also be using the gyroscope to direct the remote controlled batarang when you throw it. Your inventory will be accessible in normal mode via the gamepad and the final upgrade the game is getting is called the B.A.T. Meter, which is like a special meter that fills up as your fight more enemies. When you release it, you’ll have a boost of strength against your foes. While a little late, it’ll be interesting to see if this new addition to Batman can do enough to excite people for playing as the dark knight in the same story again.
A well beloved DS title, Scribblenauts, is getting it’s own console game. Scribblenauts Unlimited was revealed and had the claim that possibilities are unlimited. The demo showed some crazy ideas that would allow people to type up any idea they could think of, like before, but this time it would allow you to combine these different objects into one. The demo showed a dog with wheels for legs and a green mohawk. There will also be a multiplayer mode and the single player campaign will focus on Maxwell’s origin story. I loved Scribblenauts and so I am pretty excited on what this new title will allow in regards to the imagination.
A small reel of upcoming games that will be on WiiU was shown. Included in this list were games like Darksiders II, Mass Effect 3, Tank! Tank! Tank!, Tekken Tag Tournament 2, Trine 2: Directors Cut, Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge and Aliens Colonial Marines. While I’m sure a lot of Nintendo fans were excited that they’ll get to play some of the best of the last year in gaming, there didn’t seem to be as much emphasis on new IP’s for the system during this short segment.
The music and fitness game genre was brought back to the spotlight and Reggie joked about when he was on stage with the Wii Fit. He claimed “My body was ready” which received a rather hearty laugh. WiiFitU will be using the same balance board from WiiFit but also incorporate the gamepad for some extra data and information. In some new mini games, you’ll be firing a water hose which will be aimed by the gamepad. There was a luge game shown where the player was laying on the balance board and there also seems to be a calorie counter and a fit meter coming out for taking along on runs and other such exercises. There will be new events and new exercises included in this updated version. Wii fit was a big hit and so it’ll be interesting to see if Nintendo can keep it going and keep it as relevant in their next console cycle.
SiNG is still a working title, but it’s a concept for you to be able to do karaoke in a more performer type style. Before, when you played such games you would face the big screen and sing the lyrics. This new game is trying to take that away by putting the lyrics on the gamepad so you can face your friends while singing.
Some 3DS announcements were made, including New Super Mario Bros. 2, where Mario is obsessed with gold. Everything turns to gold, including Mario in some cases. It seemed like an overload of coins at times so it’ll be interesting to see how crazy it can get. It will be available August 19th. Paper Mario Sticker Star was announced, which focuses on using stickers as your battle commands. Using a hammer sticker whips out a real hammer to battle your enemies. Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon is the next title in that series started on Gamecube which will have more puzzles and a much bigger emphasis on ghost catching by using specific strategies for specific ghosts.
The 3rd party line up for 3DS was shown, including Castlevania: Lords of Shadow: Mirror of Fate, Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion, Scribblenauts Unlimited and Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance. There definitely wasn’t as much focus on 3DS this year and it may hinder the sale of the system if Nintendo is heading towards a more WiiU Gamepad centric model.
A new Lego game was shown called “Lego City: Undercover”. It appears to be a parody on traditional cop style shows like Miami Heat, with both action, suspense, drama and it had quite a few laugh moments as well. You’ll be solving crimes, exploring a completely open world and certain things were used like X-ray vision,disguising yourself as other types of characters and the end of the video showed a pipe being built that the lego character jumped into like Mario. A portable version of the game is in the works for 3DS.
The Just Dance 4 team came on stage and Reggie was given control of the Gamepad in the new way of playing the game. Reggie was in the position of the “Puppet Master”, which has complete control over what dance move will be next up, while the other players have to do that dance as specified by the puppet master. There’s also a new “Strike a Pose” move where you need to strike a pose and keep it there for a duration of time. Most of them require a specific ability for balance. With games like DDR other such music based games in decline, I’m not sure how much longer a series like Just Dance can survive and make a profit.
The new ZombiU game returned to the stage to show a little more of it’s development, though still just demos and nothing in game yet, the video showed that the gamepad will utilize sonar, an inventory system, scanning for doing analyzing, sniping modes and being able to hack pin pads. They finished by showing a zombie app on the WiiU camera that turned Reggie into a zombie, though the software still needed some tweaks as it usually ran off his face.
The same quick video of third party software that was shown at Ubisoft yesterday was shown again today, detailing third party games coming to WiiU. Assassin’s Creed III, Your Shape, Rayman: Legends, Sports Connection and Avengers: Battle for Earth.
When the video was done we were introduced to the world of Nintendoland, a virtual theme park with small attractions that are focused primarily on key Nintendo franchises, including Zelda, Animal Crossing, Luigi’s Mansion, Donkey Kong and Takamara’s Challenge Castle. There will be a total of 12 attractions, but these were the only announced ones.
We were shown video of the new Luigi’s Ghost Mansion, where the person with the gamepad is the ghost and uses their own screen to follow players around while the others play on the main tv with Wii remotes. They cannot see where the ghost is. Only the gamepad player can. It’s up to the players to capture the ghost and it’s up to the ghost to take down all 4 players. Flashlights are used to take down the ghost, but they have limited battery life. If a player is knocked down, others can revive them with their flashlights, but this leaves them vulnerable to the ghost. Nintendoland will launch with WiiU.
Nintendo definitely made a couple decent announcements early on, but they didn’t do a great job of conveying WiiU as I think they could have. I think the fact that they’re incorporating their old hardware is cool, but may lead to confusion for buyers that don’t realize that it’s a completely different gaming system and not just an HD Wii (though at times it’s hard to see that distinction). Overall, they started out strong, but their conference seemed to dip down very quickly by the halfway mark.