Nintendo E3 Conference Recap
Another E3 is behind us and another peek at what Nintendo has in store for the future of gaming. The biggest part of the spotlight was reserved for the Wii U. There was no shortage of gameplay footage, showing the new ways that the console is expected to revolutionize the way we play games. And they did give plenty of information about what to expect come this holiday season, even if it was just a general overview.
Main man Shigeru Miyamoto opened the show with the unveiling of another Pikmin title, available at launch on the Wii U. The gameplay is reminiscent of the game’s Gamecube predecessors, but the biggest new feature is, of course, the use of the Wii U gamepad. Miyamoto emphasized the greater depth of strategy the gamepad will employ, something the company feels is needed in a day and age of simple pick-up-and-play games found on smartphones and the like. Serious gamers are looking for something more intricate, and Pikmin 3 promises just that.
Reggie Fils-Aime then took the stage and went on to discuss "how [the Wii U] can change your life". He explained that at its core, the Wii U does three things. One, it changes gaming. The new ways to interact with virtual surroundings is expanding and moves away from the single television screen, giving our games an entirely new dimension. Second, it changes how gamers interact with other gamers. With features like Miiverse (the comparable “main street” of Wii U’s social outlet) and games like NintendoLand, the goal is to better connect players and create a more intimate bond within the games themselves. Lastly, the Wii U will change how we enjoy our televisions, and that, Reggie promised, is what makes the Wii U unique. Details about what that entailed were saved for later, however, and we have yet to understand fully what that means.
Next, a few of the third-party titles were showcased, including Batman: Arkham Asylum Armored Edition and Scribblenauts Unlimited. We were then given a video montage of other third-party games to come, including Dark Siders II, Mass Effect 3, and Tekken. If nothing else, the promise of these titles making a Wii U debut is somewhat of a relief to fans who were let down by the lack of third-party support for the Wii. The gamepad is proving to be an interesting challenge for designers. It will be exciting to see what else we can expect from the system in the future. Reggie finished with a note about the music and fitness genre of gaming, which included SiNG (working title) and Wii Fit U. It’s nice to see the Wii Fit balance board won’t be completely useless for those who purchased it for the Wii. But I have some doubts about SiNG, which looks more like a glorified karaoke tool than an actual interactive game. Then again, I do tend to feel pretty badass with a microphone in my hand and music drowning out my terrible singing, so who knows?
The stage was then turned over to Scott Moffit for the 3DS, who spent just as much time lamenting about his time limit on stage as he did talking about the system. He did manage to squeeze in three first-party games to look forward to: New Super Mario Bros. 2, Paper Mario: Sticker Star, and Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon. All of these titles will be available this coming holiday season, with Paper Mario possibly being one of the first titles to arrive in downloadable format, according to Moffit.
After a brief overview of Lego City: Undercover for the Wii U (which looks pretty awesome in its own right), Yves Guillemot and Xavier Poix of Ubisoft took the stage. This was probably the most interesting part of the conference, as Ubisoft has some pretty exciting titles in the works. Showcased were Just Dance 4 (complete with dancers!) and possibly the most anticipated Wii U game to-date, ZombiU. With its “one bite and you’re dead” gameplay, ZombiU promises to be a fresh taste in the survival horror genre. Ubisoft’s portion closed with a short trailer of other titles in the works, including Rayman and Assassin’s Creed, among others.
Wrapping up the show was Katsuya Eguchi who discussed NintendoLand. Much like Wii Sports for the Wii, NintendoLand is a game that is designed to demonstrate the underlying appeal of the Wii U system. So when your non-gamer mom picked up the Wiimote to play tennis, she was able to get the gist of the system and its new controls. NintendoLand operates in a similar fashion, with fun minigames that will allow anyone to be able to get a feel of this different style of gameplay. And because the game is showcasing famous Nintendo franchises in their element, we may see new gamers join the fanbase and seek out other games as well. NintendoLand will also be available at the system’s launch, which is good news for those who want something fun to play immediately.
While Nintendo’s show didn’t have as much flare or bells and whistles as in previous years, they were able to get the point of “together, better” across relatively well. The Wii U promises a fresh start in gaming, with the same “togetherness” that Wii achieved in its time. It will be interesting to see just how developers utilize the functionality of the Wii U gamepad and what it will really mean for gamers of all skill levels and interests.