After a disappointing and underwhelming first day, E3 was looking a bit dreary. Electronic Arts and Ubisoft both had good shows (and I personally can’t wait for EA’s Overstrike), but almost everything was stuff we either knew about or knew to expect, so it hardly made up for yesterday’s main attractions. Nintendo, on the other hand, had a strong showing just like I expected. A lot of what they announced and showcased was also expected, but finally getting to see it for ourselves was really something. But don’t just take my word for it; take a look at our Nintendo E3 2011 press conference summary:
- Nintendo kicked things off with a video montage of the last 25 years of The Legend of Zelda, including Skyward Sword, complete with a full orchesta playing the theme song. Shigeru Miyamoto came out on stage and acted out motions while the orchestra played various soundbits at his command.
- Talk of the green-capped hero went on for some time as Miyamoto promised that there will be a Zelda game for every platform. The 3DS, for one, will have the remastered Ocarina of Time, as well as Link’s Awakening in the eShop’s Virtual Console. He announced that Four Swords will soon be made available to 3DS owners free of charge.
- There will be a gold Wii remote as a promotion for Skyward Sword. It’s not terribly surprising, but it might be a cool item to get.
- Miyamoto confirmed the Skyward Sword will still be for the Wii and not their next console. He also stated that to celebrate the franchise’s 25th anniversary, symphony concerts around the country featuring LoZ music will be held. Additionally, there will be two music CD’s released: the original soundtrack to Ocarina of Time and one based on the promotional concerts. He then thanked some colleagues for their work and thanked the fans for playing and then finally stopped talking about Zelda. As much as I love Miyamoto and these games, it was going on a bit too long.
- Satoru Iwate took over and basically started tooting Nintendo’s horn; how they’ve changed gaming and erased boundaries. I’d be rolling my eyes if it weren’t so true. He then went on to say that there are still mental boundaries in regards to hardware and that they still need to find a way to fully satisfy both casual and hardcore gamers. The tease then stated we’d have to wait until later in the morning for more details, but he confirmed that the new console will release in 2012.
- A 3DS trailer was played that showcased Mario Kart, Star Fox, Super Mario (with the Tanooki suit!), Kid Icarus, and Luigi’s Mansion.
- Iwata properly introduced the new Mario Kart for 3DS, which apparently features underwater portions as well as hanggliding. It seems a bit odd and I have concerns about how well it will work, but it feels like it has been so long since the last Mario Kart that I’m excited anyway. The real kicker: it will be available this Christmas.
- Iwata went on to talk about the new Star Fox. You will be given a choice between buttons or tilt control and the cameras will apparently record your reactions in multiplayer. The game is set to release sometime in September in the US.
- We then got to see more of Super Mario, which looks absolutely fantastic for anyone who enjoyed the original games. New Super Mario Bros. really helped bring some nostalgia to the franchise, but this takes it a step further. The game looks great and should be a blast to play. And best of all, we’ll be getting it this year.
- A new Kid Icarus: Uprising trailer was shown, featuring dialog from Pitt and in-game footage. There will apparently be AR card battles as well as 3-on-3 multiplayer action. Not much else was said, but we can expect them game later this year.
- Iwata then announced Luigi’s Mansion 2. The footage shown featured some great details and lighting as well as numerous characters on-screen at once. This one was definitely a crowd pleaser.
- Another video to show off some of the upcoming third-party titles for 3DS: Resident Evil: Mercenaries, Mario & Sonic At The 2012 Olympic Games, Ace Combat 3D, Tetris, Cave Story 3D, Resident Evil Revelations, Driver Renegade, Pac-Man & Galaga Dimensions, Tekken 3D (the only new one), and Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D.
- We then heard a bit about trailers and demos being available in the eShop as well as various GameBoy/GameBoy Color classics being offered in Virtual Console. Reggie Fils-Aime then went on about Pokédex 3D, which is now available for free in the 3DS eShop. It isn’t particularly exciting, but it does have me eager for a 3DS Pokémon game especially if this indicative of what the character models could look and sound like.
- Reggie went on to make the big announcement and reveal of the week. What many of us have referred to as Wii 2 and Project Café was revealed to have the unfortunate name of Wii U. Admittedly, the logo is nice, but I still can’t get over the name. Of course, that doesn’t change how great this thing looks. The console itself (not shown during the conference) looks like a rounder Wii, but the controller is massively different. As most people have suspected, the controller does indeed have a screen (a big one!) with touch capabilities, as well as a camera, which can be used for face tracking, pictures, and video conferencing. I won’t even get into the possibilities of the screen because that alone would be deserving of a full-fledged article. But I will say that this will be fantastic for Uno, Battleship, poker, and sports fans. Finally, we’ll be able to get a proper local multiplayer experience with games like we never could before.
- A tech demo of sorts showed off Legend of Zelda in HD, which looks absolutely gorgeous. Never before have I imagined these games with such detail, but now it’s all I can think about.
- More information about the controller: it has four shoulder buttons, dual analog, a touch screen (as mentioned), a microphone, speakers, accelerometers, a gyroscope, and only and inward-facing camera. That last bit is slightly disappointing, but everything else sounds fantastic. We thought the Dreamcast VMU was amazing…this is the same feeling tenfold. Some are likely to be put off by the controllers size; it looks like a Wii Classic Controller mixed with a uDraw tablet and an iPad. From what I hear, however, it supposedly feels quite naturally and isn’t nearly as bulky as it looks.
- Iwata teased us with the idea of Super Smash Bros. coming to 3DS and Wii U.
- Reggie showed off the Wii U’s processing power and rendering capabilities. “Wow” is easily what was on everyone’s minds. We all know that Microsoft and Sony are likely to one-up the Wii U’s graphics when they release their next consoles, but for now, this is the best we have seen in gaming history. The amount of detail is astonishing.
- New Super Mario Bros. Mii for the Wii U will allow you to watch on either screen and play as your Mii alongside Mario and friends.
- Prototype games showed off the Wii U being used to look around within a game setting (while the TV image remained stationary) and block incoming arrows like a shield. Chase Mii allows you to get a bird’s-eye view while trying to hide from other players who are chasing you through a maze. Although it wasn’t stated, I imagine we can probably expect these to show up in some kind of minigame collection that will ship with the Wii U. Also, the Wii U is compatible with Wii remotes, which means it will most likely be backwards compatible.
- Lego City Stories will be developed by TT Games and published by Nintendo for the 3DS and Wii U. It looks like it could be a spiritual successor to Lego Island, which is still one of my favorite Lego games.
- While everyone catches their bearings, we sit through a video of various developers gushing about the Wii U. Ken Levine is also interested, which means BioShock will likely have its fingers in all of the pies.
- A trailer shows that DarkSiders 2 will be a Wii U launch title. Other games we can expect include Batman: Arkham City, Ghost Recon Online, DiRT, Aliens: Colonial Marines, Metro: Last Light (sequel to Metro 2033), Tekken, and Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge.
- EA’s CEO John Riccitello came on stage (a first for Nintendo) and talked about using the controller for calling plays in football games and mentioned that the console can support the Frostbite engine and open online functionality. He can’t wait to see EA Games on the new console.
- Reggie came back to talk about how Nintendo’s platforms have changed gaming and that the Wii U is just the beginning. So…NES, DS, Wii, and all of their other innovations are…pre-beginning? Whatever. He thanked everyone, said “Let the exploration begin”, and walked off stage. And just like that, the conference was over.
So, there you have it. We all knew to expect a new console and we pretty much figured out most of the controller’s features beforehand, but it really looks quite amazing so far. As much as I love the Wii, nothing makes me happier than to see Nintendo providing a more traditional console experience instead of focusing on a single gimmick. Yes, motion controls are still there and there are plenty of new gimmicks, but they are just additional options now. Now that we have the option for more traditional controls as well as more processing power, third-party developers are lining up and we can expect to see many more AAA titles make their way to the Nintendo console. And as much as I dislike the name, Wii U will be easier to sell to casual gamers who will see it as an upgrade to their beloved console rather than a whole new platform. Of course, we can also expect unknowing mothers and grandparents to get a bit confused around Christmas time and ask “But don’t you already have a Wii?”
Overall, E3 was a letdown, but Nintendo really made it up to us with a fantastic lineup. The PlayStation Vita showed us the great potential it has and it will keep Sony fanboys from ever giving DS a chance, which means the handheld war will rage on. This, of course, is actually a great thing for us because neither company is likely to back down, so we’ll keep getting improved hardware. But as great as PSV and 3DS are, I think it’s safe to say that Wii U stole the show this year. Even though we knew what to expect, actually seeing it at work made it a must-have. I know that as long as it launches for less than $400, it will be a pre-order for me. Of course, we still don’t know just how expensive this sucker will be. Be sure to stay tuned for further details.