We’ve already presented you with some highlights from Microsoft’s and Sony’s press conferences, so now it’s Nintendo’s turn. As expected, Nintendo showed off it’s upcoming next-gen console, the Wii U. However, some of the aspects they decided to showcase left me with mixed feelings.
Here are some of the biggest highlights from Nintendo’s E3 2012 press conference.
Pikmin 3! While I’ve never played the series, it is beloved by many gamers, so Nintendo came out swinging this year by revealing Pikmin 3 as a Wii U title at the start of their show. Miyamoto himself talked about the gameplay and how you can play the game with either a Wiimote and Nunchuck or the brand-new Wii U GamePad. While the Wiimote allows you to play more traditionally–though Miyamoto pointed out that the Wii Motion Plus lets you throw the Pikmin with greater accuracy–the GamePad gives you an overhead tactical view. I don’t know if you can play the game with both control schemes at the same time, but that will come at a later date.
After Miyamoto left the stage, Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Amie came out to tout a slew of Wii U games. Of course the biggest one had to be New Super Mario Bros U. Not only does the game feature Miiverse connectivity in the form of hints and notes left by other players like in Demon’s Souls, but more importantly, it features baby Yoshis! The gameplay footage showed Yoshis coming in several colors, each with different powers. Blue ones blew bubbles that trapped enemies while purple ones inflated like balloons to help players jump higher.
Despite some new features (and some I’m certain Nintendo is still keeping under wraps), NSMBU looked more like a refinement of New Super Mario Bros. Wii rather than something completely new.
But it wasn’t all first party titles at Nintendo’s press conference. They also showed trailers of several third party (multiplatform) games. Some of these weren’t new, but showing gamers that Darksiders II, Aliens: Colonial Marines, Mass Effect 3, and Tekken Tag Tournament 2, Batman: Arkham City Armored Edition, and others are coming to the Wii U might allay their fears that Nintendo will repeat the same strategy it used with the Wii.
Nintendo did not spend much time talking about the 3DS. They announced that New Super Mario Bros. 2 will be released on August 19, 2012, but other than that news was light because Nintendo is having another press conference dedicated to the handheld tomorrow at 6 pm PST.
So after a relatively strong beginning, things took a turn for the not-so-great. Not only did Nintendo show off Wii Fit U with a contrived video of a couple exercising together, but they then trotted out SiNG and Just Dance 4.
From the video they showed, SiNG looks like a simple karaoke game where instead of singing along with the words on the TV screen, you follow along on the GamePad. While one player sang with the GamePad in the video, the TV showed dance moves for those not singing to follow along with. It did not look like the compelling sort of experience that would make a person feel like they had to run out and buy a Wii U.
While the press conference pressed on toward its end, the audience seemed to be waiting for that one killer announcement, a new Metroid, a new Zelda, or maybe even a new Star Fox game. Instead Reggie Fils-Amie assured the audience that the Wii U’s must-have game that proves the concept would be NintendoLand.
NintendoLand is a theme park-styled collection of mini-games based around existing Nintendo properties, like Luigi’s Ghost Mansion. However, watching the demo videos and listening to Nintendo try and explain them didn’t fill me with a great sense of confidence. Nintendo’s concept of asymmetrical gameplay seems neat, but try explaining it to a non-gamer. NintendoLand (what little of it was shown) appears to lack some of the simplicity of Wii Sports. It’s one thing to show people how to bowl, but it’s another thing entirely to get them to play these types of mini-games.
Overall Nintendo’s press conference wasn’t as light-on-games-heavy-on-multimedia-experiences as Microsoft’s, but for me it didn’t paint a crystal clear picture of why I’d want a Wii U. The gameplay demos, especially those from the third party games, didn’t do enough to show off the Wii U’s unique functionality. And because Nintendo didn’t reveal a brand new game from one of their core franchises other than Mario, it’s hard to feel anything other than the conference ended with a whimper instead of a bang.