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Nintendo’s E3 Presentation

 

The first official site of the Wii U controller.

On Tuesday, I had the pleasure of attending Nintendo’s E3 presentation, which included the debut of Nintendo’s latest console, the Wii U. I must say, as someone who was utterly disappointed by the Wii, I was impressed. While the excitement before the presentation was reserved for the new console, none was spared for the impressive display of new games for the Wii, DSi, and the 3DS. Nintendo’s presentation was one of my favorite from the big 3 in recent years. As a core gamer, I’ve felt Nintendo has lost it since the Wii debuted, but I’m happy to say they may be poised to turn that around. Considering this year is the 25th anniversary of Zelda, this makes me very happy. One more bit before we get to business: The orchestra at the top of the show — highly appreciated. Delightful.

Nintendo 3DS

When I first got to demo the 3DS a few weeks leading up to its release, I was astonished by how disappointed Nintendo left me. As a fan of 3D gaming (not 3D movies), I was eager to try out the new handheld. The viewing angle made it difficult to lounge comfortably while playing and the launch titles… oh, brother. Stinkers. While I still am disappointed in the hardware, the games they showed off and made playable on the floor have turned me around, although I’ll use up a genie’s wish for a new version of the 3DS to be announced at the Tokyo Game Show later this year. There are too many games to talk about, so I’ll share my favorites.

Well EXCUUUUUSE ME, PRINCESS!

Next week, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D hits shelves. Own a 3DS? Buy it. No questions asked. I beat this game numerous times on multiple consoles in the past, but wow! The game play is as good as it ever was. The graphics are clean with vibrant colors. But the 3D, oh my goodness, that sweet, sweet 3D. I could have stood in the same spot playing this game all day. There is no better use of 3D in a game on the market yet. Not even close.

When Kid Icarus: Uprising debuted last year, I didn’t care for the most part. I wasn’t particularly a fan of Kid Icarus in the past. Uprising just looked like a game to play if you were bored to me. I was wrong. The footage shown to us blew me away. Packed full of fast paced action and impressive 3 on 3 multiplayer. Put it on your Christmas list.

I love the paneling for the stage!

Mario will see an impressive holiday season. Both Mario Kart and Super Mario will be hitting the 3DS this winter with new titles. Mario Kart plays as good as always. The addition of gliding karts is yet another fun and comfortable addition to the beloved franchise. The hints to other kart augmentations, such as submarines for underwater portions of courses, excite me. Super Mario sees the addition of a new raccoon tail, which is cool, but the 3D tickled me more. I may not have felt as overwhelmed as when I played Mario 64 the first time, but I’d be lying if I said that the rush of nostalgia that warmed my body wasn’t welcomed.

Lastly, a game I rolled my eyes at when first debuted on the GameCube, but quickly became addicting, is getting a sequel: Luigi’s Mansion. Next year we will get Luigi’s Mansion 2 on 3DS. I can’t wait to see more.

Wii

I still hate the Wii and its base games. There are good titles. I know. I’ve played them. Overall, the Wii left gamers behind. The new games shown were no exception. Bland party games to bore me to sleep after an hour or two of sleep. Kirby Wii was the largest disappointment. Now a multiplayer hack and slash, players bumble across the screen attacking in a button mashing fury while someone always seems to have a special power ready that clears the enemies from the screen. BORING!

Link's core must be chiseled from carrying around such a heavy shield all the time. And from all the tumbling he does.

Of course, one star always shines brighter. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is blinding. While I was originally turned off by the cartoonish look to the game, it works. It looks consistent in art style and well thought out. The new weapons, such as some hook shot projectile that you fly, seem like welcomed additions. I plan on borrowing my friend’s Wii to play this holiday season.

 

Nintendo DS

There’s only one DS game that gets me excited – Professor Layton and the Last Specter. This series is great. Ya feel me?

Wii U

The new console is here. Well, sort of. Not until fall of 2012, but that’s close enough to get giddy about it. All focus is on the new controller. This tablet-like device harbors a 6.2″ touch screen, two analog pads, four shoulder buttons and all the other normal buttons. There are stereo speakers, an accelerometer, a gyroscope, a camera, a microphone, a sensor strip, a rechargeable battery, and a stylus all built in. What a mouthful! The screen will be used in multiple ways.

This Zelda build really shows off the Wii U's graphical ability.

My favorite use was demonstrated first in the video shown. Imagine playing a game on your tv. In a fit of passion, your roommate bursts through the door intent on watching the tv. No problemo, dude. Just send the game play to the controller screen and continue your game. I want this now. Of course, developers can get creative with their uses of the screen. It could be used as a scope on the new Zapper, or a hub to organize your items during a game. On demo showed the player swiping the screen, which flung throwing stars a targets on the screen. Another showed the player placing the controller on the ground to display a golf ball, which was then hit with a swing of a Wii Remote. It can even be used as a tabletop gaming surface for games like checkers and what not.

The Wii U is backwards compatible with all Wii titles and peripherals. Thankfully, more focus will be given to the system by third parties this time around, perhaps because it is in HD and it looks damn fine. They showed off plenty of “M” and core gaming titles coming to the system. Finally, the respect we wanted as gamers. Diversity and choice wrapped in a pretty bow. I want. I want. I want it.

Hey, Nintendo. If you’d like me to review the console at launch, just let me know. I think I could work that into my schedule for you.

Zelda is 25 years young

Miyamoto was very excited about Zelda‘s success. Beyond what I mentioned above, Nintendo is giving away the Ocarina of Time soundtrack if you purchase the new version. All you have to do register the title. DSi users get Four Swords as a free download. Also, Link’s Awakening DX is available on the 3DS eShop.

Most excitingly, this fall there will be an orchestra on tour playing everyone’s favorite Zelda music. Zelda and I both turn 25 this year. The music is engrained in my ears. I also believe a live orchestra delivers a live music experience that can’t be replicated. News on this to come in the future.

Overall, great display from Nintendo! I was thoroughly impressed. I can’t wait to see how this pans out. There was too much to fit here. Watch the presentation and get all the info at E3.Nintendo.com and follow me (@MatthewBurnside) on Twitter for live updates from the E3 floor. I’m playing the games and I’m making fun of the weirdos.

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16 comments

  • Re: Wii U

    Yes, the screen “dock” feature sounds great unless you’re playing that game that uses the Wii U controller as a gun-sight or (in the only example shown actually using Wii U game play) the Zelda inventory system. Game developers with have to decide to create games that use the portable screen to fully play the game OR there will be games that are unable to play “undocked” from a separate display. Undocked, the Zelda inventory system would either be moved to button/menu selections (which would impact seamless gameplay) or to alternate touch sequences on the screen (which would require swapping between one- and two-hand grip on the controller). Either way, the user experience is compromised – either by limiting the remote nature of the controller or by forcing developers to expend resources to program for 2 interface scenarios.

    Conceptually, it is interesting…but to me, it screams of the same gimmicky scenarios that the Wii Motion controls have created for non-Nintendo developers.

  • Nice E3 coverage, Matthew! Good to hear more opinions on the Nintendo Press Conference.
    Initially I thought the Wii U was just a controller I could use with the Wii I already have, but that isn’t so. I will have to see more before I drop more $$ on ANOTHER system.
    As for the 3DS, I wasn’t convinced either at launch, but DAMN those new games look great! I’m a sucker for Mario/Luigi and Zelda, and Kid Icarus looks amazing. I’m with Mr.Hardwick when it comes to excitement over the return of the Tanooki suit in Mario! SQUEE! I may have to upgrade to a 3DS come the end of this year (i have an original gameboy- still works!- and the first DS)
    Also, I really hope one of those Zelda 25th Anniversary concerts heads my way!

  • Was there as much confusion about the Wii-U at the conference as there seemed to be for those watching at home. My Twitter Feed was filled with “WTF?” And I was really confused as to what Nintendo were actually showcasing at the time since they focused the entire Wii-U presentation on the controller and not the system itself. It wasn’t until later when Joystiq posted a press release from Japan explaining that the Wii-U is a new HD console that I had an inkling as to what was going on.

    As someone else mentioned, though, it still feels gimmicky. But I felt the same way about the Wii. Which I never bothered to own. But I am the hardcore gamer Nintendo is attempting to sway for this new system. Unfortunately, though, I’m just not really interested.

    My favorite part of the Nintendo conference was Miyamoto. He’s about the only guy I’ve seen in the press conferences who really seems to enjoy what he’s doing. I loved his enthusiasm for the Zelda franchise.

  • Totally disagree about Wii U. I feel it’s only real innovation is it allows you to play on something other than a TV. I’d rather they spend time fixing the Wii motes and get them up to par with the PS Move. The Move is everything the Wii promised but failed to deliver.

  • @Alex Dantin

    You’re operating off of a lot of assumptions there- that Nintendo will force developers to do stuff, rather than developers WANTING to use it because they like to make new things because new things get bought. Even if it is a gimmick, they still get money due to its gimmickiness. Even if the developers don’t want to use the new functionality, I doubt Nintendo will really be a hardass about it.

    I think the situation for Nintendo has been and will always be that they just take third party developers that want to use all the features of their device as they come. Anyone else? What’s the point of making a game for a console if you don’t use the console’s advantages?

    Nintendo could be (and has been) shortsighted about something like this, sure, but they’d be stupid if they didn’t realize that now is the time to just let the third party developers do whatever sparks their interest with the new controller. From the show, that seems to be their stated intent. The Kinect is a gimmick too- but look at what so many non-Microsoft people have found to do with it! Ignore the gaming side of this- Nintendo is handing you a tablet that has full functionality with both their games and (more importantly) the magical wifiable internets. That’s something to get excited about, at least.

  • Great write up Matthew. I will hold off asking questions until I see you next. But I will say the Wii U looks promising, I really hope it delivers.

  • @Victor

    I’m not saying Nintendo as a company will force devs – but the tech is forcing them.

    I can think of 1000 wonderful things to do with the controller and a big screen TV…but when you take away the big screen TV you have fundamentally changed the gaming experience for the user. Not that one or the other can’t be fulfilling, but it is impossible to satisfy both at the same time. Sacrifices will have to be made either on the interface or the visual experience in order to accommodate both experiences.

    It is exactly the same issue as with the WiiMotes – no 3rd party developer was able to integrate the motion controls to a degree that made for a completely seamless experience when compared to like titles (not ports, just similar titles) on PS3 or 360.

    Personally, I don’t want to play another Mario or Zelda or Nintendo legacy title. Many of those games are great, but they don’t offer near the variety that the other consoles (or PC) does. Yes they’ll make a crap-load of cash…because they’re Nintendo and they always will…but for all the praise when the Wii was first revealed – for all the wonder at Motion Control and the neat things that only Nintendo was able to do with it – they (Nintendo) has done little to raise the bar for games in the last 5 years. They created an industry of shovelware carnival games and encourage developing to the lowest common denominator (even taking away the graphics limitations of the Wii).

    Nintendo is very good at being Nintendo – I have no animosity toward people that are really into that. But there is something fundamentally different about their business proposition/philosophy (and it isn’t just a “Japanese” thing because there are plenty of Japanese developers producing awesome titles) that has fed this instant gratification (ne casual) gaming experience that, I feel, has done more damage than good to the development landscape both creatively and financially.

  • @Alex Dantin

    I think I’d have to disagree that it’s impossible to satisfy both situations. Nintendo has proven itself to be aces at making low-res handheld games amazing (and, let’s be honest, low-res console games too) so I don’t doubt they’d bring that kind of prowess to the Wii U. I’m biased though, because I absolutely love the DS and handheld gaming- the concept of handheld/console gaming synthesis to this level is just pure pleasure to my brainmeats.

    Historically, Nintendo has opened up great levels of innovation- but they have never built upon their own foundation in the ways that Sony or Microsoft have. The last decade was, frankly, silly- Lots of cash, but, as you said, not very creative. I have hope that they’re going to change that with the Wii U- and considering the stated launch titles that include both Zelda et al AND hardcore-appealing 3rd party developers (and other implied titles like Burnout, etc), signs point to that being the way of things. Right now it’s all speculation, of course- only time will tell.

    Also, on a personal note, thanks for your polite tone- I’m used to anything about gaming online being a gigantic pissing match, so I’m glad to get a chance to actually intelligently discuss this stuff.

  • @Victor

    I have no interest in internet pissing contests :)

    Deep down, I hope they succeed. I really do hope they pull it off and create something amazing that leads to bigger and better games, but as someone mentioned – their conference was muddled and they didn’t win me over with what they showed.

    Just today [at Kotaku] there was a “proof-of-concept” demo of Aliens: Colonial Marines (not a confirmed game or mechanics, just a demo) where the “entire game could be played on just the controller” – using the controller as a motion detector, a map, and a lock-hacking tool…and those are all great things to do…but they were all separate from actually playing the game. Wouldn’t it be more awesome if you could use the controller as the motion detector (a la Aliens) in your hand while you were having to look back and forth between in and the screen to shoot what was actually in front of you? But you can’t do that if the entire thing is able to be played on the controller alone.

    It is still early…time will tell.

  • @Alex Dantin
    I think using the controller in the way you describe is exactly the sort of thing that is possible with games on the Wii U. I have a feeling a lot of games will be using it in that way. The Zelda demo showed the controller being used for item inventory and maps while the main game was played on a large screen.

    The ability to move the main game to the controller is just another option. I don’t think it’s intended to be the main mode of play, just a way to continue the game should the tv need to be used for something else (or if you want to use the bathroom without pausing). I think you’re right that having the controller screen support the main game on a television in some way would be the best, and I think that is how it will be used the majority of the time. I see the ability to play the whole game on the controller as more of a bonus, rather than the entire purpose of the system.

    I’m excited about the Wii U, and the new styles of game play that it can potentially offer. And I think moving into the realm of HD removes my only real disappointment with the Wii, which was the lack of some of the more serious third party games seen on PS3 and Xbox. Games like Batman Arkham City and Assassin’s Creed won’t just be bitter reminders that I can only afford one console.

  • Help. I’m having a Zelda nerdgasm. With OOoT 3D but two days off I’ve ordered the midna and wolf link exclusive, dark link exclusive statues from first4. I also found a zora tunic link first 4 statue new on eBay to go with the dark link water temple theme. Playing link’s awakening on 3ds is sucking away my time, already did original LoZ and link to the past replays….GEY PSYCHED!