All eyes have been on Nintendo heading into this year’s E3. With the pending launch of their next system, the WiiU, Nintendo held the greatest potential to make a splash in the industry. Nintendo started off on the right foot by talking about the highly anticipated sequel to Pikmin, Pikmin 3. The remainder of the show was a baffling, disappointing pitch for the system’s new tablet controller and Nintendo’s newest tag-line, “asymmetrical gameplay.” Here’s the run-down:
Fans have been clamoring for a Pikmin sequel since . . . well, since Pikmin 2. As many had guessed, the series will make its return on the WiiU. Boasting graphics that one would expect from a current-generation PS3 title, the game looks to be full of Pikmin charm.
The WiiU tablet controller adds ancillary control options that are mildly interesting. Though the use of the tablet felt slightly tacked-on, it would prove to be one of the slightest offenders during Nintendo’s conference.
Mii Verse acts as the hub of the WiiU system, offering social connectivity in a “town square” type setting. I didn’t hate this idea, though it certainly gives the system a less mature, somewhat silly feel compared to the serious UIs that current systems offer.
One of the best parts to any Nintendo hardware launch comes in the form of a next-generation Mario title. New Super Mario Bros U is not that title. Though the game promises to provide all the fun and multiplayer excitement of New Super Mario Brothers for Wii, the game does little to show off the system’s new capabilities.
Strike that. With the use of the tablet, a fifth player can participate by creating blocks and items via the touch-screen. This will help the remaining players achieve better scores, while the odd man out is left pondering whether or not the tablet in his or her hand could make an adequate weapon for a quadruple-murder suicide.
It’s the same Arkham City that you know and love, except it’s not. Armored versions of Batman and Catwoman take center stage, using their swanky new clothes to power up even stronger attacks and combos. Oh, and Batman’s gadgets have been re-tooled to make use of the tablet. Exciting.
Okay, so most of these changes seem to work well. Still, it’s hard to overlook the fact that the game will be more than a year old by the time the WiiU launches.
As someone who has never played a Scribblenauts title, I was a little out of the loop with this one. It’s exciting that Scribblenauts will be coming to the WiiU, but most of the presentation focused on how awesome it is to use the tablet(s) to play the game.
Scribblenauts Unlimited does feature multiplayer support, which is pretty cool.
Nintendo took a moment to flash a handful of third-party titles across the screen. Third party support will be a major make-or-break factor for the system, so it was nice to see these titles confirmed for the system (though many had already been confirmed prior to the show.)
Titles shown were Dark Siders 2, Mass Effect 3, Tank! Tank! Tank!, Tekken Tag Tournament 2, Trine 2, Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge, and Aliens: Colonial Marines.
I’ve lumped the next two titles into a single group because while these types of games tend to sell well, they don’t exactly generate a lot of excitement.
Wii Fit U was featured in a painful trailer that showed some random dude being taunted by his fit random girlfriend who was challenging him to keep up with her score. A lot of sweating, grunting, and more grunting ensued. Nintendo then revealed an integrated personal fitness device (pedometer) which connects with the game to help track exercise outside of the title itself.
It looks like a solid Wii fitness experience, but I couldn’t help but think that it was only a minor, sequential update to the existing Wii Fit / Wii Fit Plus titles.
Sing (working title) is a party karaoke title whose main draw is the ability to scroll the lyrics on the tablet . . . in order to let the performer face his or her (former?) friends while he or she sings. This supposedly promotes more of a social, party atmosphere and makes the experience oh so much better. Or not?
Nintendo didn’t devote a lot of time to the 3DS, though they pointed out that they would be holding a separate hour-long event dedicated to the hand-held device. Still, there was enough time to preview three Mario-themed titles.
New Super Mario Brothers 2 looks to provide a classic 2d Mario experience with a twist. The game focuses on an insane amount of coin, with most abilities focused around spawning more coins. If Mario has proven anything, it’s that a simple twist to a classic mechanic can be a wonderful, wonderful thing. Look for the game to hit on August 19, 2012.
Paper Mario Sticker Star brings the world of Paper Mario to the 3DS. Much of the classic formula returns, and the use of “stickers” adds a new layer to the game’s mechanics. Nintendo is aiming to release the game this Holiday season.
Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon turns the focus on Mario’s lanky brother Luigi. Featuring multiple mansions with unique puzzles, the game looks even better than its console predecessors. This game is also aiming for a 2012 Holiday release.
An open-world cop-action game set in a Lego universe full of TTGames’ humor? Yes, please! Lego City: Undercover stays squarely in Nintendo’s wheelhouse with cartoony, all-ages charm. But the game looks fantastic. Using a Lego-themed “disguise” mechanic to allow your character to “go undercover” is not only clever, but opens the door for some great puzzle-based gameplay.
While we didn’t get to see Reggie Fils-Aime dance around the stage, he did take part in Ubisoft’s Just Dance 4 demo. Tablet in hand, Reggie chose the moves that the four dances on stage would have to complete as they jumped and jived their way through Maroon 5′s “Moves Like Jagger.” So, yeah. You can use the tablet in JD4 to slightly alter the experience. Great. I can also use the tablet to bludgeon the next person who mentions the song “Moves Like Jagger.” Even better.
Aside from the horrible title, ZombiU looks like an interesting game from the talented Ubisoft. A first person zombie-survival title . . . with an M-for-mature rating! The game also featured some of the most promising use of the WiiU tablet, though that’s an admittedly low bar to cross.
It was Ubisoft to the rescue as another list of confirmed WiiU titles rolled across the screen. Assassin’s Creed 3, Rabbids Land, YourShape Fitness Evolved, Rayman Legends, Sports Connection, and Avengers: Battle for Earth.
Nintendo closed the show with Nintendo Land, which was appropriate since the title’s mildly amusing, gimmicky gameplay perfectly sums up the WiiU system itself. Comprised of single-player and multi-player minigames which each sport a theme from a beloved Nintendo franchise, the game looked fun. It also looked like the sort of tech-demo that should ship with the system. In short, a non-sports Wii Sports.
The promotional footage featured a family of ham-fisted actors that were tasked with making us believe that the game will make dad put down the booze, mom put down the pool boy, and get the kids to stop swearing at mom and dad. Even grandma would join in, giving the family a chance to mercilessly laugh at her while her old and frail body flailed in a feeble attempt to grasp this new-fangled, high-tech wizardry.
Way to point out how dysfunctional our real families are, Nintendo.
While I’d argue that Nintendo’s conference fell short of being Microsoft-bad, the show failed to capitalize on the excitement that new hardware should bring. One CNN reporter apparently mistook the whole thing as an announcement for a new controller. The story has since been corrected. As pathetic as that is from a major news outlet, it’s not hard to see where the confusion might come from. If this is what the WiiU has to offer, it’s hard to think of a reason why consumers should shell out the cash for a whole new system.
Hardware specifics were scarce, though they were talked about at separate events after the show and will likely see increased focus later on in the week. Reggie’s flat, sterilized delivery did little to add excitement, but the system does show some promise. Perhaps not all hope is lost for Nintendo fans.Posted in Game News by Steve R Gibson on June 5, 2012