Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Nintendo Press Conference Wrap Up

Nintendo's press conference, one would imagine, had to already be pretty much set in stone. While we didn't know exactly what would have been shown (and quite honestly when it comes to Nintendo who ever does?) we knew that there would be a heavy focus on explaining the upcoming WiiU, presenting information about the console, and showcasing which titles we can expect to play. With Sony and Microsoft having no new consoles to showcase, there was reason to drum up excitement for this presser. Lip service would likely be paid to the 3DS, but this conference was all about firing the first shots in the next generation battle.

Wisely, Miyamoto, everyone's favorite face from Nintendo kicked things off by revealing that Pikmin 3 will in fact be coming to the WiiU. The game, in HD, seems beautiful. Though there seems to be more of a focus on multiplayer elements, offering connectivity with the WiiU tablet controller, most of the game looks like standard Pikmin. And honestly, I can be pretty happy with that as I have wanted a new Pikmn since the Wii released.

Despite starting off with a big, though not super shocking, announcement, Reggie was brought out to assure everyone that we can, most certainly, watch Netflix, Hulu, and Youtube on the smaller tablet controller. And what else about the tablet controller? Well there can be two of them, just like the original Nintendo. This further begs the question I have been asking since the WiiU was announced last year: why is this console not called the Super Nintendo Wii in order to simultaneously capitalize on the Wii name and make a play for core Nintendo fans. But that's neither here nor there, I guess. It was all about giving clear explanations and assurances that the controller would both act as a traditional controller while also having unique functionality the touch screen offers.

Following along with the topics of buzzwords that define current gaming, Nintendo announced MiiVerse to make a huge push for social gaming. Aside from showing an upgraded Mii Plaza, Reggie announced and demonstrated some of the way social functionality works with the tablet controller in New Super Mario Bros. U. Basically you can tag certain levels and leave messages for other players, presumably on a friend's list. Not much was said about how this would work, though promises were made that more information would be made public at tonight's Nintendo round table. The 3DS improved, slightly, on the way social elements work on Nintendo platforms, so hopefully Nintendo continues to make strides in this department.

Third parties were also brought out, showing us how games we have already played (and in my case loved) would play on the WiiU by talking up Batman Arkham City Armored Edition. This seemed to indicate that third parties may still be trying to figure the tablet out, as the primary functions seemed to just be making visible certain detective vision elements or guiding a Batarang by tilting the controller. However, the new Scribblenauts Unlimited was announced as well, which seems like a great fit for the platform. That franchise has always been hit and miss, but with a larger technological scope the final product should improve What that showed did look beautiful, and the iPad version of that game met with some favorable reviews, so this could be an example of third parties doing right by the controller.

A huge montage of games were shown as well, and perhaps the most interesting bit was that Mass Effect 3 will be coming to the WiiU. That feels odd to me, but Bioware did pitch that game as a stand alone product for people who were not heavily invested in the universe. I don't think new comers would do well stepping in without having any knowledge of the fiction, but at least it's there, I guess. It does give the impression that the same problems that plagued early third parties on the DS and, especially on, the Wii are still present.

There was also talk of a new karaoke game and some more WiiFit that is WiiU specific. I don't think a WiiFit game will ever replace a gym, nor will a karaoke game replace the other titles out there. But hey, it can't be worse than Wii Music, right?

The time to the 3DS was, as expected, short. Tomorrow night there's going to be a web exclusive 3DS press conference online. As expected there will be a New Super Mario Bros. 2 for the 3DS that vows to teach children the importance of the gold standard and the value of hard currency. Our pennies are not going anywhere! A new Paper Mario: Sticker Star was announced and Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon was shown. I liked Luigi's Mansion, so I was glad to see that game coming back. There are multiple mansions and a "heavier emphasis on ghost catching action" so that should be fun. It's time for me to buy a 3DS, I think. Hopefully tomorrow night a bundle is announced, even if it looks like a redesign won't happen until next year.

Most of the other announcements were lackluster or expected (like the new Lego game we've already heard about last year), but one of the more interesting titles was NintendoLand which likely is basically a minigame collection similar to Wii Sports that actually integrates storied Nintendo franchises in to a theme park inspired collection. The hook here is the integration that the game will have with the earlier announced Miiverse. Unfortunately more details won't be out until tonight's developer's round table. All that was really offered is that the player holding the tablet controller rather than the Wii-motes, and again a lot of Nintendo's games continued appeals to families and multiplayer experiences, will have different ways to manipulate the games. Nintendo makes compelling games, so this one should be no different, even if it is just a minigame collection. They developed the hardware, they'll best know how to use it. It was sort of odd though and incoherent. It's a minigame collection though, and even Reggie seems to be aware it's not presented all that well and urged everyone to check out Nintendo's E3 page.

But then it all sort of ended. Much like Microsoft's franchises, even with all the newness that surrounded Nintendo and the WiiU, everything felt like games we've seen before. And I was certainly disappointed that they didn't lock down a date or a price. I have expressed a feeling that Nintendo has been limited by its past and the expectations these place on the present. And, as a big fan of these franchises, but also a fan of video games as a whole, it was sad to see Nintendo end feeling so lifeless. There seemed like so much more to talk about, I still have questions, and that's not the best way to feel when everything is finished.


Did Nintendo deliver, or are you more concerned about the WiiU than you were before?

Anything stand out aside from Pikmin 3?

Who 'won' E3 in terms of press conferences?

Comments are welcome and, for anyone with a literary mind, I encourage checking out my poetry blog filled with all original works for your reading pleasure.

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© 2012 Richard James Thorne

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