Nintendo began their 2012 E3 Press Conference with the biggest heavy hitter they have: Shigeru Miyamoto. The beloved icon opened the show showing off the real-time action game, Pikmin 3 on the Wii U. This beginning – along with Nintendo’s Wii U tech demonstration two days ago – emphasized Nintendo’s commitment to showcasing the Wii U’s games.
When Nintendo of America’s President Reggie Fils-Aime took the stage, he further accentuated this with his first statement regarding the hour-long press conference, “It’s all about the games.” He then launched into the Wii U’s interface, which will bring us there. Entitled Miiverse, it is a web-based operating system that Nintendo promises to connect you on your Wii U, 3DS, PC and your smart phone. Of course, there was a caveat that this connectivity will not be ready at launch.
Reggie said it was all about the games and he wasn’t wrong, officially announcing New Super Mario Bros. U. Though it was obvious a new 2D Mario would accompany the launch since last year’s E3, they really focused on the in-game social connectivity. Messages and alerts can appear on the overworld map as you travel between levels. When in the levels, you can play four characters using the Wiimotes and if you desire, a fifth person can join in using the Wii U Game Pad (I’m calling it a WiiPad from here on in) to help the four heroes by creating blocks and using other useful skills.
Having learned from the recent past, Nintendo knew they couldn’t rely only on first party games and as such, really pushed how much support they have received / will receive from the third party community of developers. Warner Bros. Interactive was trotted out to show the Wii U exclusive Batman Arkham City: Armored Edition. This version will have fully armored Batman and Catwoman, and will have a special B.A.T. mode that can only be discharged from your WiiPad. Also from the WiiPad, you’ll be able to manage inventory and direct gadgets using the WiiPad’s gyroscope. Also shown from Warner Bros. Interactive was Scribblenauts Unlimited. From what little we saw, it looked good in HD and you will have the ability to devise new objects not found in the database.
After Warner Bros. stepped off, there was more third party love with a montage of games coming to the Wii U that included Darksiders 2, Mass Effect 3, Tank! Tank! Tank!, Takken Tag Tournament 2, Trine 2: Director’s Cut, Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge and Aliens Colonial Marines.
Not to be outdone on the third party support, Ubisoft also dropped by to show off the eight Wii U games they showed at their own press conference. While I was bummed they didn’t show more of Rayman Legends, they did show off ZombiU. My second time seeing this game in as many days, I’m still just not sold on this game or concept – though I will admit I was intrigued by having to use the WiiPad for a lot: managing inventory, scanning the area for zombies, as a sniper scope, for shaking off zombies in close quarters and as a door-hacking device for just a few. Ubisoft also showed off Just Dance 4. In Just Dance 4, there is a mode where up to four dancers use Wiimotes while a “choreographer” chooses what moves the dancers must perform using the WiiPad.
Staying on the party performing kick, Nintendo also had a video of SiNG (it’s a working title). It’s like karaoke meets forced fun as the singer sings into a microphone with the lyrics on the WiiPad to allow you to face your “audience.” It also tries to force interaction between the song, the singer and the others present. Afterward, I thought it was not quite ready to be shown – even in a video.
Of course, Nintendo did not forget their portable market. There was a brief segment on the 3DS. They showed off New Super Mario Bros. 2 (releases 8/19), Paper Mario Sticker Star and Luigi’s Mansion Dark Moon (apparently, there’s no ‘2’ anymore). There was also a montage of third party games shown, but I think I’m going to tune in tomorrow night for the 3DS-specific briefing and report the results here on COIN-OP TV.
There will also be a new Wii Fit game, surprisingly called Wii Fit U. Clever branding aside, Nintendo looks to integrate the Wii Fit board, the WiiPad (think gyroscope) and a new peripheral called the Fit Meter, which is portable and connects to the WiiPad through NFC (near field communication). You know, you take it out on runs and stuff. I do wonder if the Fit Meter is a replacement or evolution of the Wii Vitality Sensor from two years ago.
Nintendo finished up their press conference with the unveiling of NintendoLand. For the announcement, they brought out its creator, Katsuya Eguchi (Animal Crossing, Wii Sports, Wii Sports Resort). NintendoLand is a virtual theme park that will demonstrate and spotlight the Wii U and the functions of the WiiPad. There will be 12 “attractions” in total, with only 5 being shown this week at E3: Legend of Zelda: Battle Quest, Animal Crossing: Sweet Day, Luigi’s Ghost Mansion, Donkey Kong’s Crash Course and Takamaru’s Ninja Castle. While they only showed off two of the five on the screen, Nintendo did show the game hub where above each attractions entrance, there was a symbol. I noticed the 5 symbols on the stage for the five shown attractions and looking at the symbols in-game I came up with these possibilities for the 7 thus-unreleased mini-games themed as: Mario, Yoshi, Metroid, Starfox, Pikmin, F-Zero and Birdo? Again, that’s just me spitballing, minus the Mario (a Mario hat is a Mario hat), Yoshi (a Yoshi egg is a Yoshi egg) and Metroid (we played the Metroid mini-game on the show floor last E3). Whether or not NintendoLand will have the popularity and system-selling power Wii Sports had remains to be seen this holiday season.
Nothing completely jaw-dropping from Nintendo this year, but at least they’re focused on the most important thing: the games.