Before Nintendo’s press event began, I readied my 3DS for the long-awaited firmware update and eShop scheduled for today. I hoped that during the conference, Nintendo would reveal some special download available as an E3 treat of sorts and they did just that. Kind of…
The show started with an orchestra playing a medley of music from The Legend of Zelda series. It was great to hear such classic tunes in such a classical way and as Shigeru Miyamoto pointed out when he came on stage, music is an important part of any Zelda game. But onto the eShop treat and as of today, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening will be available to download. Yes, okay, we knew that was coming but another reason to check out the eShop nonetheless.
Nintendo president Satoru Iwata teased information regarding their new system all through the conference but hesitated to mention anything until the last third. Until then, he and his colleagues focused on the 3DS showing a reel of games coming to the handheld such as Mario Kart 3D, Star Fox 64 3D, Super Mario 3D, Kid Icarus and the surprise announcement, Luigi’s Mansion 2. An actual sequel to the critically acclaimed GameCube game with brand new locations and multiple mansions to explore. I never got round to playing the first game but it’s one of those titles that Nintendo fans always wished would get a sequel. And now it has. Mario Kart 3D looked a lot like the Wii version mixing old and new tracks but this time all in 3D. I’ll definitely buy it, probably get royally peed off by the blue shells and enemy AI but still love it to bits. Super Mario 3D once again treads within familiar Mario territory and is a cross between New Super Mario Bros and Galaxy if the gameplay video was anything to go by. And the inclusion of the Tanooki suit is now official. Joy! Another game that had fans pandering for a sequel was Kid Icarus and the latest footage of that looked really very slick. Quick, fast past action akin to Sin and Punishment. Sounds good huh? It’ll also feature a multiplayer mode for three-n-three matches as well as AR card battles.
That was the first party line up but what of third parties? Nintendo were quick to plaster publisher names everywhere at last E3 so this time we expect some actual footage. And we got a bit. A montage of games spooled across the big screen showing things like Resident Evil Revelations, Tekken 3D, Ace Combat 3D (Woo!!), and Metal Gear Solid Snake Eater 3D. What’s more is that part of Nintendo’s eShop will house demos of both 3DS downloadable games and store bought titles. Hooray! Nintendo have finally learnt the importance of having demos readily available.
But the big announcement of the night was of course the new system. The successor to the Wii. The brand new way to interact with games. The future of both casual and hardcore experiences. The Wii U…. The wha? Yep, Nintendo went for a name more like a child’s impression of a fire engine than legitimate console but, like we learned at Sony’s press conference, there really is no good way to name your device anymore. More importantly, the way you control the Wii U is its real asset. It’s basically a tablet with buttons. For months, it’s been rumoured such a controller exists but no one really quite believed it. A touchscreen in the middle of a controller surrounded by buttons, a d-pad and analog sticks? Are you mad? I guess so because that’s just what we’re getting. The device isn’t a replacement for the 3DS, that would be ludicrous, it needs the Wii U unit, which looks like a smaller, rounded Wii, to stream information to it lag free (or so Nintendo promises) so you can either play games on the controller instead of your HD TV or together with it. There’s an immediate gimmicky quality about that but really, the potential for this new piece of hardware is through the roof. If the right developer can get hold of it, we could see some very interesting ideas.
Graphically, the Wii U will be comparable to the Xbox 360 and PS3 but Nintendo didn’t give any specifics on its power. They did show a video supposedly representative of what it can do which looked like something you’d see on today’s HD systems but it’s hard to really say since it was a show reel not in-game footage. But to show that Nintendo weren’t kidding when they said about appealing to every gamer not just the casual, they finished off the initial announcement videos of Wii Sports-like titles and went on to show a load of third party, hardcore releases that can also be found on the other HD systems like Darksiders 2, Batman Arkham city, Ghost Recon online, Assassins Creed, Dirt, Aliens: Colonial Marines, Metro Last Light, Tekken and Ninja Gaiden 3. Most if not all those games were gory in one way or another but the fact they’re coming to the Xbox 360 and PS3 means whatever fancy way of utilising the new controller can’t be too obscure otherwise Nintendo would be right back where they are with the Wii forcing devs to make alternative version of their games rather than straight ports.
All in all, Nintendo once again had the best press conference of all three major platform holders because of the first party titles and interesting new console. But from now on we can confidently mention third party games in that list of exiting reveals at a Nintendo conference. The Wii U should not only rid Nintendo of the gap between their hardware and everyone else’s but add a whole new and intriguing way experience its games. Well, that’s my hope for it anyway…