The Blog Roll: Nintendo Starts With A Bang, Ends With A Whimper
Nintendo created a lot of questions last year when they revealed the Wii U. There was confusion to what exactly it was, what its focus was and what was it bringing to the table. E3 2012 proved to be the time that Nintendo would truly address these questions and tell us what the Wii U was all about.
The conference started with a bit of fan service; a tactic Nintendo has used for the last few years. Everyone’s favorite industry icon Shigeru Miyamoto ( we all wish he was our Grandad) took to the stage to reveal Pikmin 3. A great start to the conference which was reflected by the crowds hugely positive reaction. After a brief recap on some of the features of the Wii U a demo began of Pikmin 3 on Nintendo’s latest system.
Pikman 3 is seemingly keeping with all the traditional elements of the franchise, with the addition of new mechanics thanks to the Wii U’s pad. The pad’s screen acts as a map and a way to keep a eye on the status of you Pikman and the like. The pad is also used to play replays of certain events within the game. This was touted as being able to help the player improve their strategy.
While Pikmin has always been great to play, with the third looking as fun as ever, the Wii U features seemed a bit timid. The way the pad is used with Pikman 3 didn’t seem to far from the way a lot of DS (and 3DS) titles use the second screen. It’s early days for the Wii U, so the limited use of its features will be a running theme in the early life cycle of the console. I’ve got a feeling (maybe you could call it faith) that Pikman 3 is keeping some features held back for the moment.
Upon release I wouldn’t be surprised if Pikman 3 made better use of the Wii U’s features. There were a number of phrases and words slipped into the Pikman presentation suggesting some of the focuses of Nintendo in the coming years. The Wii was all about getting people who didn’t play games to pick up a Wii mote to invest into gaming. The Wii U is seemingly the next step with a focus on bringing the ‘casual’ gamers into the ‘core’ market without even knowing it. A tricky task that will be a large gamble for Nintendo to take. It’s too early to truly make a strong opinion on the Wii U at the moment. Nintendo have a big task ahead of them.
The internet meme machine, Reggie Fils-Aime, came to the stage to set up the bulk of the conference. The likes of Netflix, Hulu and Youtube were mentioned, straight after that it was all about the games. The announcement of the Wii U supporting two different game pads was met with a positive reaction, a little too positive to me. In this day and age surely two pads is the minimum amount we have come to expect our console to support?. The brief video detailing the Wii U pad did a nice job of presenting the various buttons and features, admittedly the pad does look pretty damn slick (and pretty familiar – ed.).
The social interaction via Miiverse is quite a nice concept. Sure the cute style interface wont be for everyone but hey it looks nice. Nintendo always manage to bring that distinct ‘video game’ feel to everything they touch, and Miiverse is no different. Miiverse has seemingly taken a leaf out of the Twitter book when it comes to some of its features. A nice touch which adds that little bit of social interaction with others while not being over bearing.
The announcement of Miiverse being accessible on 3DS, PC and mobile phones was expected but is nevertheless a welcome one. The real question is; will Miiverse be able to hold its own against Xbox Live and PSN? I’m not sure of its chances at the moment, but I do like the concept of Miiverse as a whole. The clean and relaxed look of its interface, also the inherent social aspect, carry a strange appeal to them. It’ll be hard for Nintendo jump straight into the same bed with the likes of Xbox Live and PSN, but it will certainly be interesting.
Nintendo’s next trump card came in the shape of New Super Mario Bros U. I’m not really sure why Nintendo feel the need to throw their consoles name at the end of every franchise game but that’s just me. Super Mario Bros U looked pretty much the same as it did on the Wii, the visuals looked a little sharper but that’s about it. The Wii U pad is used in conjunction with the Wii mote in a neat little way. The player using the Wii U pad can aide the players using the Wii mote to place blocks and other objects into the game to help players complete the levels faster. Known as boost mode, there is a sense of gimmick to it but at the same time could present a decent opportunities for co-op fun. Sure its not ground breaking but it does look quite fun, even more so with friends.
Third party support will play a key role in making the Wii U a success. Last year the Wii U trailer showed a ton of third party triple A games, next to none of these games were shown on the Wii U however. This year Nintendo wanted to publicly display big named third party titles on their new system and thus they ushered on Warner Brother Games onto the stage. Batman: Arkham City Armoured Edition was shown off via a trailer showcasing its use of the Wii U pad. The uses were mostly novel with the likes of using the pad to control the batarang and the touch screen for detonating the explosives gel.
The main problem with this kind of third party support is simple; why would people buy a year old (or even older) game for the sake of a few gimmicky touches? It’s great to see Nintendo getting the third party support, but the aforementioned issue needs to be addressed. Scribblenauts Unlimited was also revealed by McLovin (at least he looked a bit like him) but being the honest guy I am I have to say…I’ve never played any of the Scribblenauts games. The crowd reaction was positive and from what I’ve heard from people Scribblenauts is a lot of fun, i’ll have to take their word for it.
A petty nifty trailer was shown consisting of all the third party titles coming to the Wii U. A surprise appearance by Mass Effect 3 garnered some cheers. There were a few titles that caught my eye during the trailer for various reasons. Aliens: colonial Marines was the first purely due to the concept of using the pad a motion sensor just gets me giddy. Tank Tank Tank just looked like fun fun fun (getting a bit Rebecca Black now…I feel so ashamed of myself for that ‘joke’ ).
Tekken Tag Tournament 2 caught my eye due to it being the first fighter announced for the Wii U, plus the Mario mushroom power up made me chuckle. Trine 2: Director’s Cut had me mark out a little purely because i’d enjoyed both Trine titles so much. The Wii U (or the Vita if I may add) would be a great place to host the Trine games so seeing it revealed for Wii U was pretty nice. The trailer showed a nice selection of third party titles but there needs to be a reason for people to pick the Wii U version over the 360/PS3 versions. The reasons will be purely placed in the hands of the developers, whether or not they know how to develop effectively for the Wii U will be a key point to success.
The trailer for Wii Fit U was shown. Nintendo told us how Wii U would work with Wii Fit last year so I’m not totally sure why they told us again; it certainly exists though. Sing was revealed, which combines singing and dancing; think Glee with a Wii U in your hand. It’s hard to tell if the trailer was showing gameplay or rendered footage, either way everyone in the trailer looked slightly too happy. Sing looked rather timid compared to the likes of Dance central and Sing it, nothing fancy or too flash..lots of jazz hands though. It seems every conference has one token game for the ‘core’ gamers to vent some hatred towards.
The 3DS has been a bit of a mixed bag since its release. For the bundle of so-so shovelware we get a top title, and as such the system lacks consistency. The 3DS had a quick stage presence (there was a hour long showcase planned for the day after) so information on new games was pretty thin on the ground. What they did announce and show were two new Mario titles. The first was New Super Mario Bros 2. With a focus on collecting coins (yeah I know that sounds silly but there’s a load more coins than you’d expect) the game just looked like typical Mario fun. Smooth, fast platforming on the go, not anything new but it has the potential to be a ton of fun.
The next Mario title was a new Paper Mario called Sticker Star. It’s looked pretty much like the other paper Marios with the addition of stickers. The stickers are slapped across the world and effect the combat and gameplay. Again it looked fun but nothing that would make people run out to buy a 3DS. The biggest new 3DS game (at least in my little old opinion) was Lugi’s Mansion: Dark Moon. Multiple mansions, different puzzles and enemies in each mansion that are all solved differently. The trailer did a good job of showing a mixture of gameplay styles, all of which looked fun, resulting in a positive crowd reaction.
A short trailer of third party 3DS titles was shown which consisted of Castlevania, Kingdom Hearts and Epic Mickey. All of these looked pretty decent and would prove to be good additions to the 3DS library. The 3DS seems to be finally getting a supply of big named franchsies and third party support which is just what it needed.
The focus flipped back to the Wii U and this time it was a look at Lego City. A trailer for the Wii U exclusive was shown and frankly looked quite impressive. Looking like Lego Crackdown, the trailer showed a varied amount of elements featured in the game. The Wii U pad wasn’t really shown to be used with the game too much but given its only a trailer its not much of a big issue. Sure Lego is quite childish but Lego City looked legitimately nice and could prove to be one of the Wii U’s biggest games. Kudos should also be paid towards the Mario tribute at the end of the trailer. A nice little game, a nice little trailer hopefully we’ll learn more about it in the coming months.
Ubisoft (yeah those guys who appeared at all the other conferences bar EA’s) hit the stage with Just Dance 4. The dancers came out and stuck their arses out to the crowd. Just Dance 4 appears to include a ‘Troll your mates’ mode. This mode allows one player to control the Wii U pad while the others dance. The player with the Wii U pad selects the dance moves they want the dancers to perform. Sure it looks fun if your into that kind of thing but you just know friendships and relationships will end when someone spams awkward dances moves.
Ubisoft also came with their Wii U exclusive ZombiU (yeah another game with U at the end, cool huh?). The trailer didn’t really show much gameplay wise just a whole load of pre-rendered footage. The concept of only having one life throughout the game is quite neat and works well to breathe life into the sense of survival. The use of the Wii U pad also seems the most thoughtful with it being used as the players inventory and for various other tools. It’s easily the most interesting Wii U title at the moment.
A short Ubisoft trailer showing a whole bunch of Wii U games was played with some pretty big names in the mix. Assassin’s Creed 3, Avengers Battle for Earth, ZombiU, Rayman legends being the stand out titles. Ubisoft seem pretty confident in the Wii U, this is a good sign for Nintendo’s new adventure. Ubisoft’s role in the conference did a pretty good job in building some confidence in the Wii U, at least for me anyway.
Nintendo decided to end with Nintendoland. This is the main reason why I feel a lot of people felt underwhelmed by the conference. After some clear effort in building up the Wii U as a legitimate console throughout the conference this choice of closing game took the wind out of their sales. Nintendoland appears to be a collection of gimmicky mini games that use various features of the Wii U pad. The overall showing of Nintendoland felt more like padding to the conference than anything else. Sure it was pretty and sure people will play it…once, then never play it again, but this was not the best way to end the conference. The conference then ended with digital fire works….it felt more like a whimper.
Overall Nintendo always go into E3 with some pretty mammoth fan expectations. Fans will ALWAYS want one or two new game from the major Nintendo franchises be it Metroid, Zelda, Star Fox. Sure the announcement of Pikman 3 satisfied some people but others almost demanded a new Metroid. The disappointment of not seeing Metroid or Zelda on the Wii U is a large part of the reason a lot of people felt Nintendo didn’t do all that great. I would have been as hyped as anyone if Nintendo did announce a Metroid/Zelda title for Wii U but I didn’t feel entitled to one like some people seem to.
Pikman 3 looked nice as did new Super Mario Bros U, but were they nice enough for me to pick up the console on launch? No. I like the look of Miiverse and the ideas behind it, how effective it turns out to be is anyone’s guess but I’m certainly interested in it. Lego City surprised me with how good it looked. As I previously said, Lego City had a Crackdown vibe, which is hardly a bad thing. There’s plenty of potential within the game that will hopefully be fully exploited. I’ll certainly be keeping my eye on a game I foolishly disregarded last year.
Third party support is a tricky challenge that needs to be addressed. Will people honestly buy a year old game purely for a few tricks such as the ones shown in Batman? I’m not so sure they would. The third party support appears to be strong at the moment but that’s not to say third party developers wont jump ship in the time ahead.
The Wii suffered from a lot of third party developers not really understanding other ways to use the Wii mote, that danger is still present when it comes to the Wii U. ZombiU and Rayman look to be making impressive use of the Wii U pad, this is a promising sign that is a indication of things to come. When it comes to the Wii U’s game line up there does appear to be some genuinely interesting games. ZombiU (as a concept) looks pretty impressive as does Lego City. Consoles are only made great by their games and the Wii U (so far at least) seems to be on the right path.
Nintendo could have left a bigger impression on people if they had shuffled the order the game’s were revealed in. Focusing on ‘core’ games (bar Sing and Just Dance) for the Wii U was a good move by Nintendo, which allowed the conference to gain momentum. Ending with Nintendoland just seemed to kill all the momentum they had built, however. It was a showing of all the gimmicky early Wii titles people don’t care too much about.
It’s a shame a lot of people will remember Nintendo’s E3 2012 conference for the wrong reasons. Sure we didn’t get a new Metroid or Zelda title but that doesn’t mean Nintendo ‘failed’. If anything Nintendo gave a decent account for the range of games and features the Wii U would have to offer. Started with a bang, ended with a whimper, this was Nintendo at E3 20120. (P.S. I like French food – ed.)