After yesterdays early morning (early for a night owl like me) wakeup for Microsoft, it was somewhat of an amazement to me that I managed to spring out of bed today with equal or greater enthusiasm for Nintendo's press conference. Yes, Nintendo! What I've been waiting for. No dozing today, just a shivery awareness--possibly brought on by the overzealous air conditioner--of the awesomeness--hopefully--awaiting me.
After a short intro clip showing Mr. Miyamoto getting ready with cute little Pikmin dancing all around him, he and his Pikmin are up on the stage now, welcoming everyone. For those of us on the internet, Pikmin are popping up in the audience now, making a few members look uncomfortable. Miyamoto then welcomes Bill Trinen to the stage as his translator. He begins theorizing that game machines shouldn't be dependent on a TV, and intros the fancy new controller, claiming a "Dedicated personal screen changes the importance of TV screens".
Then, much to the delight of fans around the convention center, he shows off Pikmin 3. You can definitely tell a graphical update from the earlier installments, though I'd hate to see the riot if they looked the same. There's a new variety of 'Rock' Pikmin in this title, and says it uses the Wiimote/Nunchuck configuration as one of its main control methods. On the other hand, the Wii U gamepad brings in a much heavier strategy element, with an overhead map view and multiple commanders of Pikmin. Seems using the gamepad is a different game experience than the Wiimote option. That trend continues all conference; a rather interesting twist, I think. Now he's saying Pikmin 3 is a game for serious gamers (though not in those words). Then he pulls a Pikmin doll from his pocket as he leaves the stage. I love this guy.
Reggie Fils-Aime takes the stand next, and claims he feels like a...purple Pikmin? Awkward. I wonder sometimes if he says stuff like that intentionally just to make a joke for next year. Now he's saying that games are the most important part of this conference--is that a gentle rip of M$?--and that over the next hour, it'll be a solid demo of over 20 Wii U games. Next he says that the Wii U can change your life, and revolutionize your living room, and I wonder if this will turn into a design show. Reggie then tells us that Netflix, Amazon video, ETC will definitely be available on the Wii U, and that at E3.Nintendo.com hey're going to be updating their info as E3 continues, since there's "not enough time" to do so in this press conference alone. Supposedly, and to my everlasting horror, the Wii u is a very 'social console', and they're using the phrase “Asymmetric gameplay” to describe the unique experience of playing with the duel screens of gamepad and TV. And, as I faithfully recorded earlier, gamepad players play differently than 'standard' Wiimote players do. And, happily enough, the Wii U can use two gamepad's per console. I'm happy they addressed that after the complaints last year.
Now Reggie is showing off a detailed 3D view of the gamepad. Taking a note from Sony and Microsoft, the thumb sticks now have press buttons too, and also with a bit of Xbox flavor, trigger buttons aside from L and R are on the back, with those two being up top, making the thing resemble a really big GBA, almost. I see a USB slot as well, and I can only ponder the possibilities. Charging, hopefully too; it looked almost like there was a ubiquitous battery slot on the back, and I really wanted to not have to purchase batteries every three weeks, ala` wiimote. It's got a camera built in, along with a speaker and headphone jack. And a blue glowy home button. Really, the gamepad itself resembles a game console, or tablet of sorts, what with the touch screen. Here's hoping there will be someway to transfer games to it and carry it with you.
Now they're showing Miiverse again, though it was 'released' for public viewing earlier this week. Seems to be a hub of sorts for the console, as well as a social thingum. You can see/send simple text messages, somewhat like swapnote, and you can share screen shots taken from a game, as well as scores and such. And you'll be able eventually to view it with a 3DS, PC or mobile device. I smell Microsoft wizardry here.
Continuing to display Miiverse' potential, we wants to bring in an 'old friend'; namely Mario in the form of New Super Mario Bros U, which uses Miiverse within the interface as a 'real time social window'. Seems similar to Live!, from the slight view shown here. NSMBU seems to have a squirrel suit of sorts, and the old Yoshi mechnism, where you find a baby Yoshi and have to feed it enough to make it grow. I love that. It also features well as a gorgeous art style, gushy as that may sound. It can also be played standalone on the gamepad, and features 'boostmode', where up to four players use Wiimotes to control, and one player (for a possible total of five) helps them out with the game pad, making blocks appear or other helpful objects and triggers.
Next Harley Quin pops up on the big screen to annoy people. Or, I guess, intro Batman Arkham City on the Wii U. She's freaking everyone out as Martin Tremblay walks on stage and thankfully sends her away. Alright, so maybe she was just annoying me; the audience chuckled. Either way, Arkham City: Armored edition is a remade (or at least modified) version of Arkham City made specifically for Wii U. Batman not only has an armored suit, but uses a BAT computer to work through various puzzles and also set and actuate traps. The gamepad, of course, is used as the BAT and functions as a scanner, hacker and remote controller of batarangs, amongst other things like explosive gel traps. As cool as it is, I can't help but point out that Batman Arkham City is already wildly successful on other consoles at the present date.
Now Martin is bringing out Jeremiah Slaczka, to talk about Scribblenauts Unlimited. Now with adjectives, and hi-def. Just like the version on the DS, you can create loads of different objects using words to solve various puzzles, or fight, or ETC. Looks like a fun game, and again, it's very pretty looking and has a unique art style. Low res streaming disabled any sort of graphical comparison for me, though. In this, you use the gamepad to create the various stuff you'll use, and it looked handy with the touch screen. As an aside, you may notice I've no release dates to tell you; that's not because of my shoddy reporting, but because there were none given. Something I find annoying.
Reggie takes the stage again, kicking Martin off, to make the 'all about games' comment again. The next series of clips was sort of a blitzkrieg that left me nigh on frantic typing them down.
Darksiders 2 made it, and was instantly recognizable, even for me. Not sure how I feel about the mixed up theology presented in the series, but the game itself looked crazy fun, with Death being a pretty agile dude fighting lots of towering critters.
Then Mass Effect 3 popped up on the screen, and actually surprised me, because I genuinely didn't expect that. Even though I'd actually heard about it earlier last month. I probably don't have to waste text space describing that game, amirite?
Next was Tank! Tank! Tank!, which, though still stunned by Mass Effect, appeared to be a tank-based shooter with nice multiplayer capability. Tekken Tag Tournament showed up next, which was another surprise to me; looked like Tekken, but with a few wink/nods at Nintendo. I'm excited for where this title will end up.
Then Trine 2 Directors Cut, which is from all repute a pretty amazing platformer. Again though, there's the trend of either remade games being rereleased or older games being ported to the Wii U, and not a whole lot of completely original titles. I was hoping for at least one new IP at this years conference.
Ninja Gaiden 3: Ninjas edge wafted by next, filling the air with the scent of blood as Ryu tore, cut, and whirlwinded his gory way through various enemies. I swear, next time someone complains to me (as if I could even do anything about it) about Nintendo not having 'mature and hardcore' (which should probably be read 'violent') games, I will kindly point them out to this.
Aliens Colonial Marines is the final game, with all it's violent, creepy alien slaying (and being slayed) self swaggering about the screen. Supposedly, as hit the internet last month, the Wii U version will be better looking than the current Xbox and PS3 generation. Which is impressive, but not as much as may seem; it's a next-gen console being compared to current generations. If it didn't look good, there's a problem. In any case, the game does look nice, if bloody. I'm interested to see what it'll do with multiplayer, ad nothing has been mentioned yet. Whew...so many games, so little typing speed.
Next up for chat is the Music and fitness genres. For me, this is where the conference started going downhill. But Reggie punned himself over his 'My body is ready' comment last year, and I appreciate he can laugh at himself. Talking about how Wii Fit and Wii Fit+ got people into gaming who otherwise would not be, and how Wii Fit U introduces a new peripheral (Wii Fit meter) and uses the camera on the gamepad. Also Luge, which looks fun. The Fit meter looks like nothing more than a slightly advanced pedometer, which brings to mind the infamous glorified blood-pressure machine they tried to pass off last E3.
Now a music game called SiNG, which tries to get everyone to play, since usually with music games a few people are playing and the rest are staring numbly at the TV. The gamepad displays lyrics, and you face your friends to sing instead of facing the TV, and everyone is supposed to sing along, both with you and a dancing character on the screen...It's karaoke basically, but you have to actually face your friends laughter instead of a cold, heartless blue lyric screen. I'm mildly mortified at this.
Scott Moffitt takes the stage now to talk about 3DS titles. But, limited on time by Reggie, he's hosting a 3DS press conference thingum in a live webcast tomorrow night. Which I think was probably wise, instead of trying to cram it all into one event. Still, he shows New Super Mario Bros 2 off, and it is all about gold coins. There's even a 'gold' Mario ability, and they brought back the famous Tanooki suit (the audience cheered). Mario can also punch in this version, much to my delight. NSMB2 is scheduled for release August 19th.
Next pops up an oddly flattened Mario image; can't fool me; I know Paper Mario when I see him. This new one in the series aptly named "Paper Mario: Sticker Star", and relies upon using stickers to fight with, explore, ETC. This holiday season. Not sure if I favor the idea of having to replace my stickers frequently, but as they showed hammers, fire flowers, scissors, ladders, and other stuff all in sticker form, I'm looking forward to giving it a shot.
Continuing to show off titles we saw at last E3 (can you tell me mild aggravation?) It's Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon. And though I was complaining a bit earlier, the game looks good. Multiple mansions this time around, along with new ghosts requiring specific strategies to defeat. Whether this will be different from the original remains to be seen, but there were definitely some new facets. Like giant spiders. Launches this “holiday season”.
Scott then says you'll have to watch tomorrow to find out more, especially for third party stuff. Then he shows clips for Castlevania lords of shadow: mirror of fate, Epic Mickey: power of lllusion, Scribblenauts unlimited, and Kingdom hearts: dream drop distance. (all for 3DS).
Reggie kicks Martin off now and starts talking about Lego City, and using the Gamepad as a crime fighting tool. The Wii U gamepad is used as a scanning tool, and this seems to be a sort of open world crime fighting game, with sweet action mechanics. There's an exclusive portable version for the 3DS, but I'm still distracted by the Lego detective parkouring it up and laying a beat down on baddied. This has definitely taken the Lego series to new heights, well away from the slightly stodgy beginnings.
Reggies goal for Wii U this year is to provide new and engrossing game experience for everyone, hardcore or casual. Now he's praising Ubisoft for doing just that. Yves Guillomot, on behalf of Ubisoft, thanks Nintendo for the new oppurtunities the Wii U provides. Also, uses the phrase “asymmetric gameplay”. Hope that doesn't become a catchphrase. Regardless, they're showing off games with Xavier Poix now, including Just Dance 4. More random dancers, and this feels like yesterday all over again. But a dance mesh mode, called 'Puppet Master has been added to the series, and I can see it turning in an effective torture method. Then they throw up “strike a pose” and things turn awkward for a minute. I will say in its defense that the Just Dance series, wild flailing that it may be, is surprisingly fun, and this is the first music title at this E3 I haven't wanted to die in a fire.
Next, something hopefully masculine enough to slide past the fact I admitted to liking Just Dance, is Zombie U, one of the 'hardcore' titles they're offering up. The demo begins with the game pad being displayed as a survival kit pulled out of a hard case. In the game, it's used as a scanner and for inventory management, along with a sniper mode. Door hacking, too, and breaking free of a zombies unfriendly embrace (that's...not really something I think should be listed as a feature). Looks like a good title, in my eyes. Very pretty and spooky, graphically. And you can get zombified with the camera on the game pad, which they did with Reggie and spent the next five minutes just...staring at his face.
Now, in another wild rushing of clips, they've got Assassins Creed 3, Rabbids Land, Rayman Legends, Sports connection, and Avengers: battle for earth. All of these look great as well, so I'm quite happy with the updated graphical capabilities thus far. I'm less happy about the lack of Nintendo exclusives being displayed this year, but then, last year people complained over lack of third party games, so Nintendo cannot seem to catch a break.
Now there's props on stage, with 'Nintendo Land" emblazoned on the screen. Reggie is comparing Nintendo land to the original Wii Sports, in that it shows you what the controller can do. Now he's bringing on Katsuya Eguchi and Johnathan Yeckley to show what he means. It seems to be a variety title just like Wii sports, where your Mii visits different attractions which are based off classic Nintendo IP's. There's a Zelda title, as well as Donkey Kong and Animal Crossing, Takamaru's Ninja castle, and happily for me, a Luigi's mansion attraction. Oddly, it seems as though Nintendo land is not packaged in with the Wii U. It's supposed to launch at the same time as the Wii U later this year; one can always hope though, right?
More Nintendo Land stuff, this time at night with fireworks, but really no changes. Reggie says 'Together, better' and I'm frightened since it seems like one of those 'One of us. One of us. One of us' horror movie moments, but that's just another pop phrase for media consumption. Seems I've fallen for it. And...that was the end of the official conference. But in a very neat twist, they had a special presentation at the end just for internet viewers, where they rehashed games already shown and went over them deeper (giving more in depth gameplay videos about Nintendoland and Wii Fit U, for example). It's nothing spectacular, but it felt nice to be noticed.
And...that's all folks. Another Nintendo press conference with no release date for the Wii U, no price point, and very few brand new first party titles. Where is the Metroid, 3D Mario, or Zelda? Granted, Skyward Sword came out not that long ago, but still. Where is the list of release titles, even? Ah...Nintendo fanboy am I. And truly, I've been waiting for Wii U info since last year. But my non-biased side is unhappy with this conference, especially in retrospect. To be sure, I rank it well above Microsoft's yesterday (unfortunately, I missed Sony's), but at the same time, I can't help feeling a bit...mystified, I guess. It's like there was a cloak of sorts over information. Still, plenty of good titles, at least for the time being. Here's hoping for more info over the rest of E3.