E3 2012: Nintendo Brings The Games But Relies On Third Parties For Core Titles
Nintendo has a lot to prove this year. After an impressive first showing last night with Ubisoft’s press conference, Nintendo has to keep the momentum going with its Wii U console. Excitement and hype are also at all time high with people on Twitter buzzing about Nintendo and Wii U.
Today, Nintendo finally lifted the veil on the titles that will be heading to the Wii U at launch this year and later down the road. Join us as we take apart every announcement and every game with a fine scalpel to see if Nintendo will have the best show or just end up as another sideshow attraction.
Miyamoto opened the press conference to announce Pikmin 3. Unfortunately, the game does not feature Olimar, but rather four new heroes. They also announced a new Pikmin type – Rock Pikmin – that will allow players to break down stone walls. Players will be able to control the game using either a Wiimote and nunchuck or the Wii U Gamepad. Miyamoto claims that the Wii U Gamepad provides more strategy since the players can see the map while playing.
Reggie Fils-Aime then took the stage to say that Nintendo would showcase 23 titles for the Wii U today. While that was true, Nintendo left it up to third parties to showcase core titles. It was unfortunate, but seems par for the course when it comes to Nintendo. As suspected, the rumor of a Majora’s Mask remake was just a fan-made trailer.
Before getting to the games, Reggie took time to talk up the Wii U Gamepad. He confirmed that players will be able to use two Wii U Gamepads at the same time. They weren’t going to show any games that used this feature during the press conference instead focusing on what they call “asymmetrical gameplay.” This allows one player to use the Wii U Gamepad to interact with four other players using Wiimotes.
Reggie then went on to discuss the recently announced Miiverse and explained more about the system that Nintendo has in place. Whenever the system is turned on, the player will be greeted by floating blocks featuring various games. These will represent games that you are currently playing or games that are currently trending around the world.
To illustrate this, they used the newly announced New Super Mario Bros. U as an example. He elaborated upon what we already guessed Sunday in regards to the Nintendo Direct video. Players will be able to share their accomplishments in game via Wiiverse by posting little text bubbles above levels.
As for the game itself, the gameplay trailer shows the best looking 2D Mario game yet. It’s colorful and clean while featuring some new powerups in the form of a squirrel suit that allows Mario and company to glide alongside a Yoshi that can expand itself to float.
Nintendo then had Warner Bros. Interactive come out to announce their offerings for the Wii U. The first game on display was Batman Arkham City Armored Edition. It’s the same great game that we played last year, but it now uses the Wii U Gamepad for easy access to all of Batman’s gadgets and tools. They also showed a demonstration of how the player can use the Wii U Gamepad to control the flight of a remote controlled batarang.
Not content with just showing off Batman, WB Interactive also showed off Scribblenauts Unlimited, the sequel to the breakout DS hit. The big change this time around is multiplayer and being able to create your own objects through the use of nouns. The demo featured a young child attaching tires to a dog to create some mutant vehicle canine hybrid that will forever haunt my dreams.
Remember how I said that Nintendo is falling on third parties to provide the core content, the company cemented that by showing off a montage of all the third party content hitting the Wii U. Some of the highlights include Mass Effect 3, Darksiders 2, Aliens: Colonial Marines and Tekken Tag Tournament 2.
Getting back to first party titles, Nintendo announced Wii Fit U. It will use the Wii balance board that everybody now has stashed away in their closet. It will feature competitive calorie burning as demonstrated by a couple taking turns doing exercises. It also appears that Nintendo will use a pedometer that will connect with the Wii U Gamepad to keep track of calories burnt while out walking/running.
What better way to complement a fitness game than a music game, right? Nintendo and FreeStyleGames took the perfect opportunity to announce Sing. It’s just like any other karaoke game except that the player doing the singing has the Wii U Gamepad for lyrics so they’re forced to look at the judgmental stares of their peers.
Even though Wii U was the focus of this event, Scott Moffitt showed up to showcase some first and third party 3DS titles that the company will be showing off tomorrow night. He announced three first-party 3DS titles which are New Super Mario Bros. 2, Paper Mario: Sticker Star and Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon. As for third party titles, the company announced Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate, a handheld version of Scribblenauts Unlimited, Epic Mickey and Kingdom Hearts 3D.
Announced last year but forgotten since, LEGO City made a return in trailer form. It’s an open world LEGO game being made by the guys over at Traveler’s Tales. It seriously looks like Grand Theft Auto LEGO except that the main character is a detective who has to solve petty crime because we can’t have murder in a LEGO city.
Ubisoft came out to display their offerings that they showed at their own press conference. The only difference was that we got a look at Just Dance 4’s puppet master mode, which allows the player on the Wii U Gamepad to change choreography on the fly, and the gameplay of ZombiU. ZombiU is interesting just because it appears that only one zombie bite will kill the player so it definitely ratchets up the survival horror factor.
The final announcement of the conference was a bit of a surprise. Nintendo always needs software to show people how to use its new hardware. Super Mario 64 for the Nintendo 64, Luigi’s Mansion for the Gamecube, Wii Sports for the Wii and now, Nintendo Land for the Wii U. If you’re thinking theme parks then you would be absolutely right.
Nintendo Land is being billed as a virtual theme park featuring everybody’s favorite characters from classic Nintendo franchises. There will be 12 games for players to enjoy when the game launches but Nintendo is only talking about five today. Some of the games feature characters and settings from The Legend of Zelda, Donkey Kong, Mario and others.
It’s a little disappointing to see Nintendo going with this as its flagship launch title, but I can see why they are. They are hoping to get back the casual audience with a new collection of brightly colored mini-games that show the appeal of the new Wii U Gamepad. The game’s development is being headed by the creator of Animal Crossing which explains the casual, laid back nature of the title.
If anything, Nintendo Land is our first good look at the visuals that the Wii U can push. While Pikmin 3 looked great, it didn’t really look all that different from the Gamecube titles beyond just a better resolution. Nintendo Land, however, is explosive and colorful with confetti and streamers flying everywhere. It’s a good case for Nintendo being able to hold their own against the the competition.
All in all, Nintendo’s press conference wasn’t surprising and that’s somewhat of a bad thing. Nintendo wowed us with the Wii when it was first launched back in 2006. Sure, it got stale after time and many gamers grew to hat the Wii, but it did get everybody excited for at least a little bit. Unfortunately, the games coming to the Wii U are either third-party titles with slapped on Wii U Gamepad features or the usual that we’ve come to expect from Nintendo including a safe Mario game that doesn’t push any boundaries.
I can safely say that Nintendo played it extremely safe this year at E3. There were no announcements of core titles for the gamers that were probably going to go out and be early adopters this year for the Wii U. If Nintendo wants to get some sales heading out of the gate, they might want to focus a little more on them instead of trying to recapture the market that has already left for the world of mobile devices.[Lead image courtesy of Joystiq]