Nintendo E3 2012 Press Conference In Review

With E3 in full swing, the press conferences are probably what are catching the eye of most gamers.  Microsoft started us off, showing cool features like SmartGlass; then Sony took their stage to surprise us with impressive games like Beyond: Two Souls and Last of Us; not to mention the Cross Platform technology to use a Vita as controller on PS3.  That just leaves Nintendo, whose core focus this year was titles for their upcoming system, the Wii U.  Join me as I recap the highs and lows of this year’s Nintendo E3 press conference!

Nintendo’s show started with a short video, featuring Shigeru Miyamoto, game designer and producer of many Nintendo titles, who was preparing to hit the stage.  However, several of the small entities known as Pikmin were hiding just out of plain sight.  As Miyamoto was called onto the stage, a single Pikmin fell into his jacket pocket.  The camera then followed him as he walked out of his dressing room, which segued nicely into the live feed of the show.

Coming out on stage with a small leaf sticking out of his pocket, Miyamoto addressed the audience, joking that he’s been seeing the small creatures everywhere.  To add a bit of viewer interaction, the cameras panned out to the audience placing them on screen, alongside superimposed Pikmin who danced on their shoulders and heads.  While none of the spectators seemed thrilled to be on screen, it shows that Nintendo wanted to do more than push their products to the audience, instead sharing in the fun with them.  While it’s a very small gimmick, it set a totally different tone than the other two conferences, and was a very nice touch.

Once the laughs were over, Mr. Miaymoto went on to talk about the ideals behind the Wii U.  He stressed that the reliance on our TVs was a hazard to gaming, and had to be the first thing to go, thus the Wii U Gamepad was born.  After a few more minutes of console hype, it was time to announce a game that everyone should have seen coming: Pikmin 3.

The title is looking in good shape so far, retaining its real time action management theme.  Thanks to the new graphics processor in the Wii U, the many Pikmin on screen are much easier to tell apart and the entire world looks more vivid than ever before.  While primary control is handled by the Wii-Mote and Nunchuk, the Gamepad can also be used to display an overhead map and can be used to scroll across the environment.

Players are sure to be thankful for this map, as up to four leaders will be controllable at once.  While none of these characters are Captain Olimar (which there is apparently an important reason for), gamers will be able to swap between them at any point in time.  Alongside the new leaders are new Pikmin as well, made out of what looks like chunks of metal, which can be used to help destroy objects in your way.  For those looking to get their hands on the title early, Challenge Mode will be playable on the show floor.  The objective of this mode is to collect as much food as possible within the time limit.

After Pikmin 3 got put away, Miamoto said his goodbyes (not before pulling out the plushy Pikmin from his pocket) and Reggie Fils-Aime, President CEO of Nintendo America, came on out for the rest of the show.  His first announcement came in the form of video applications, as the Wii U is set to support Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Instant Video.  Since the console can produce video in HD, it should be on equal ground with our current systems in terms of video streaming when it launches.

After the reveal, a quick video was displayed which showed off the key features of the Gamepad.  While most of the info covered characteristics already known, such as the layout, a few interesting features were mentioned that some fans might not be aware of.  The first, and probably most important, was that the Wii U will support up to two Gamepads at once, something gamers have been very concerned about.

Other aspects include rumble, stereo speakers, and built in camera and microphones.  Another very important feature is that the home button can suspend a game (in a similar way to the 3DS), allowing the gamer to interact with other aspects of the console without having to quit their game, which is a mechanic owners will truly love.

Moving on, some features of the Miiverse (the Wii U’s social mechanic) were detailed and explained.  Upon starting up the console, gamers will find the Main Stream, a series of tiles which represent games or apps.  Miis representing other users on your console, friends, and other gamers in your area, will flock to games or apps you have in common.  These avatars may also leave speech bubbles or hand drawn pictures to put forth how they feel about a title, or stress a problem they may be having.

These messages can also be found in dedicated game sections, and even inside certain games.  Reggie was quick to note that sometime after launch, gamers will be able to catch all the social fun from their PCs, smart phones, and other devices with browsers.

Next on show was another Mario title: Super Mario Bros. U.  While the title featured the classic 2D side-scrolling gameplay (with 3D models), there were a few new aspects.  Up to four players can play at once with Wiimotes, but an extra player can use the Gamepad to lay out helpful blocks on screen for players to utilize.  The game will also feature the Miiverse, with comments from other players laid out over locations on the map.  Add in a couple new powers, such as the flying squirrel suit, and Mario fans will have something nice to look forward to.

Also on show were several third party titles from many developers, including games such as Batman Arkham City: Armored Edition, Scribblenauts Unlimited, Darksiders 2, Mass Effect 3, Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge, and Aliens: Colonial Marines, just to name a few.

It’s assumed that all third party titles will use the Wii U’s unique features, but only ArkhamCity was touched on in detail.  The title featuring the caped crusader will use the Gamepad’s touch screen and gyro features for things like Batarang control and setting off explosives.  While the TV screen will keep the camera on Bats himself, the Pad screen will focus on things he interacts with or uses, acting like his own personal computer.  Akham City: Armored Edition is actually looking to have a leg up on the other console versions, and I personally can’t wait to see more from it in the coming months.

Coming as a bit of a surprise, Ubisoft took the stage to announce their support for the Wii U.  Among them were Rayman Legends, Assassin’s Creed III, a new Your Shape title (which was previously a Kinect exclusive), Rabbids Land, and Avengers: Battle for Earth.  However, two titles were given an in-depth display: Just Dance 4 and Zombi U.

The former of the two looks about the same as any other title in the Just Dance franchise, except for the Puppeteer mode.  Here, a player using the Gamepad may select the next move for players using their Wiimote to dance to.  This mechanic looks like a wonderful addition to the series, and should really liven up a party setting, or just give the game some extra replayability.

However, it was ZombiU that not only highlighted Ubisoft’s showing, but the entire conference.  In ZombiU, your Gamepad is a complete survival kit, with many features at you disposal.  There is sonar, which can detect zombies through walls, your inventory screen for real-time weapon changes, and a scanner which can pull info from objects in the environment.  The Pad screen also serves to interact with tools and enemies, being used to hack doorpads, shake off zombies, and even look down the scope of a sniper rifle.  Titles like this one will make the Wii U an amazing console, using novel controls to suck the player directly into their in-game role.  If you have a chance to check out any Wii U game, this is the one for sure.

Something that received a surprisingly low amount of coverage was the 3DS, featuring only a few minutes of conference time, instead receiving its own show at a later date.  Key titles shown during its brief spot were New Super Mario Bros. 2, Paper Mario: Sticker Star, and Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon.

New Super Mario Bros. 2 was probably the most disappointing looking title so far, as the title is centered purely on gold.  Mario’s goal this time around seems to be acquiring as many coins as humanly possible.  Each and every new power or suit seems to be based on placing a mountain of theMushroomKingdom’s currency on screen, which looks both aesthetically repetitive and downright boring.  Players will be seeing a lot of yellow at launch, and I’m guessing it will make for terribly uninteresting gameplay.

Paper Mario: Sticker Star on the other hand looks to be a fun little game.  Keeping the cut-and-paste popup book theme as previous titles (which makes perfect sense in bringing it to 3D), the latest iteration in the series focuses on a new gameplay mechanic: stickers.  These items can be found through-out the in-game world, and are used in interact with the environment or to create various skills during combat.  Overall it’s looking like a fantastic next-step for the franchise.

The same can be said for Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon, which looks to take the established mechanics of the original game and expand upon them.  Players will be able to visit multiple mansions, each with its own mission based challenges, with many new and familiar ghost enemies to try and vacuum up.  If you were a fan of the original Gamecube title, this is one to watch for.

Other titles were shown off in a quick video, including Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate, Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion, Scribblenauts Unlimited (3DS version), and Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance.  While the 3DS’ time was short, it seems there are still many great titles headed our way.

Heading back to the Wii U, the next game in the ever growing Lego series was revealed: Lego City: Undercover.  Players take control of a LegoCity police detective as he attempts to fight crime around the brick-built metropolis.  Calls from dispatch will appear on the Pad screen, which will give hints on what to do next, and the screen can also be used to scan around for criminals.  Undercover disguises can be selected by the touch screen as well, which will be needed to gain access to certain areas of the city.  There is lots of action to be had as well, with our detective doing wall runs, ziplining, and even flying helicopters.  Lego fans have a lot to look forward to with this title, as it appears to be a great evolution for the series.

For one last massive announcement, Katsuya Eguchi, hardware producer for the Wii U, came on stage to reveal an intriguing new game: Nintendoland.  The title is one giant theme park, with 12 attractions based on Nintendo games, five of which will be playable on the show floor this year.  A painfully long demo for one of the attractions, Luigi’s Mansion, was presented to show off what the game is all about.

Four players, with Wiimotes, attempt to find and eliminate a pesky ghost, played by a fifth player with the Gamepad.  On the TV, the four human gamers can see the entire map and each other, but not the ghost player.  On the Pad screen, the ghost can see everything the other can, plus their own location.  The overall goal of the humans is to find and destroy the ghost who can only be seen with flashlights, and the ghost must frighten the humans into fainting.  It’s an incredibly simple concept, but took almost 20 minutes of the show time to over-explain.  Nevertheless the title is looking to be a fun, albeit simple, party game that will be enjoyed by Nintendo fans everywhere.

After the demo ended, everyone involved said goodbye and the conference ended.  If Nintendo have shown us anything, it’s that they’re very serious about supporting the Wii U with fantastic looking first and third party titles, which was a massive concern for skeptical fans.  It will be exciting to see how all these titles play on the show floor, stay tuned for more!

About This Post

June 6, 2012 - 11:45 am

Feature, Gaming