And in the end, there was one. And speaking of one, of the big three conferences at E3 2012 this year, Nintendo’s is the only one for which GameSpot requires me to enter my birthdate. Go figure.

So, full disclosure? Well, I’m not sure I really need to– just look at the name and logo for this site. It’s plainly obvious that I am a big fan of Nintendo; I don’t tend to hold it against the other companies (once upon a time, yes, but things change), but there is a certain reliability I feel I can count on with Nintendo. They’re the ones who basically brought me into this whole thing, and my tastes and preferences– old-fashioned as they may sometimes be– no doubt reflect this.

However, I’m not one to unapologetically praise anything they do; if anything, I feel that unwavering praise is the worst thing anyone can offer a company, so I try to call things as I see them. I don’t always agree with everything they do, and often home they’ll rectify things in good order. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. Despite this, they are the ones you might say I feel most comfortable with.

So, moving on to their press conference…

Actually, that in itself is a tricky maneuver. Over the course of E3, they had four events to show off their wares outside of the show floor. The first came as a pre-recorded, preemptive strike the day before E3 even began, and was designed to show off the Wii U’s functions. So we might as well deal with that quickly.

Nintendo Direct

The Wii U GamePad Has a Name – So they’ve named the controller, and are paying homage to the Nintendo Entertainment System’s controller in the process. That’s cool.

This version is redesigned from the one I used last year, and among other things changed are the Nintendo 3DS-styled Circle Pads to full-blown analog sticks. That’s cool, I guess– I didn’t have a problem with the pads, but some people seemed less than pleased. I’m not sure I’ll notice a huge difference, so whatever works best.

Oh, and the ability to operate as a television remote control? That’s cool, but unless it can also operate my cable box, DVD player, and switchbox, I probably won’t use it too much.

As an aside, for the second year, they’ve shown a game which looks like it would be called “Wii U Sports,” yet no announcement of such a game. I’m hoping for it, personally.

Wii U Pro Controller – Nintendo President Iwata confirms that all Wii controllers will work with the Wii U, so that’s cool… and something of a first, if I’m not mistaken. Then he unveils the Pro Controller, which looks like a Nintendo-ified Xbox 360 controller, meant to be ideal for multiplatform games.

I’m happy about this, as the lack of GameCube support on the Wii U has left me wondering how I would play Super Smash Bros. when it comes; none of the other control options on the Wii U worked very well for me, including the Classic Controller. So hopefully this will work as well for me as the GameCube controller did.

As far as the form… I would go into a spiel about how being different isn’t always better, but it seems to be something of a moot point now, as the version shown on the show floor was different from the more Xbox-derivative version seen on Nintendo Direct. Either way, I’m a little surprised/disappointed they didn’t retain the GameCube’s basic form, if not the button/stick layout.

My only other question is whether it will be fully interchangeable with the Classic Controller/Pro. Looking at it, there doesn’t seem to be any reason it shouldn’t be, but… well, sometimes Nintendo simply does what Nintendo does.

The Video – Ah, the infamous video… frankly, I found it to be amusing in an over-the-top, tongue-in-cheek way. Usually, any time actors are used to play gamers, the first thing people say in reaction is “gamers don’t act like that.” Here, that much is glaringly obvious while providing exposition… most notably, to gamers (unlike other portrayals, odds are few if any from the mainstream are looking at this).

Also, loving Non-Specific Action Figure. He has the Morphin Megazord’s Power Sword, so that automatically commands respect, and I hope we see more of him in the future.

Miiverse – This seems like a neat concept, but I need more details. For example, can I restrict my Miiverse to friends only? Are Friend Codes needed (probably)? Can I bypass it and go straight to the game when starting up the system, if I so desire?

Alright, so on with the main event!

The E3 Press Conference

Pikmin 3 – This was a pretty strong start, as this is probably the longest-awaited game they had on the entire program. And a bit funny, as well, with Pikmin popping up in the crowd and Bill Trinen being called out as if he were one.

That’s one theme which seemed prevalent with Nintendo this year, that they weren’t afraid to have a little fun, get a little goofy, and even make fun of themselves at times. And I wonder how many people in attendance stood up when Miyamoto acted like he was going to throw that plush Pikmin. A lot, I’d wager.

As for Pikmin 3 itself, my exposure to the series has unfortunately been more limited than I would like. I only got to play so much of New Play Control! Pikmin before it had to be returned, and sadly, I never got the chance to pick up a copy of my own. On the bright side, Pikmin 2 is finally coming to the Wii, so maybe I’ll have another chance to get into it– and without that pesky time limit! But I like what I’ve played so far… it just hasn’t quite been enough to make me hunger for the sequel (yet).

Not Enough Time – Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime hits the stage, and perhaps goes a little overboard in telling us what they don’t have time to show us today in this, the shortest of the three press conferences. This becomes an issue we’ll get into later.

He does go on to talk about services which will work with the Wii U, including Netflix (almost a given, after the Wii), YouTube, and Hulu… the last of which is useless to me in Canada. Still, two out of three isn’t bad.

Reggie goes on to urge those watching to check out their website, YouTube channel, Twitter, and Facebook for more information. A simple crawl at the bottom of the screen might have worked, though I guess it was for those in attendance as well?

He goes on to discuss the Wii U itself and its unique style of allowing multiple players to participate in the same game in different ways (sort of like the “2-player” mode in Super Mario Galaxy, in a way), and likes the Wii U to the NES by noting two GamePads will be able to work with the system. This is followed by a guide to what the GamePad can do.

Reggie talks about Miiverse again, and notes that in time, you’ll be able to connect with it through not only the Wii U, but the Nintendo 3DS, PC, or smartphones. That sounds pretty neat.

New Super Mario Bros. U – Without question, this is one of the games I am most looking forward to– I love 2D Mario, as that’s basically what brought me to that dance, and while its often imitated, it’s never duplicated. And even with games such as Super Mario 3D Land trying to bridge the gap between 2D and 3D styles, the fact remains that 2D Mario still has a distinct feel to it that I’m more comfortable with.

As for this particular installment, it seems they’ve kept Mario’s idle pose where he looks at you… that’s still a little weird, I have to admit. You can see a number of unique assets, enemies, backgrounds, and power-ups in this trailer, plus the seeming return of Giant Land! It’s about time; that was a favorite of mine in Super Mario Bros. 3.

Word has it that the world map will behave more like Super Mario World‘s, which is most welcome. And with the inclusion of the baby Yoshis and their unique abilities, plus a Flying Squirrel suit I’ve seen compared to the Cape, it seems that this title may borrow more from Super Mario World than Super Mario Bros./Super Mario Bros. 3, and that’s cool by me– the map, especially. I’ve long missed a map like that. Here’s hoping they find a way to evolve the concept.

The music for the trailer is new, yet still retains the more jovial style of its predecessors, rather than the more epic style of Super Mario Galaxy. I’m a little mixed on that; I always liked the more adventurous Mario tunes, though having the enemies behave in tune with the music is a neat touch as well.

One of my favorite parts, though? The return of nighttime levels. I’ve always loved them, ever since the original Super Mario Bros., and felt they were sorely missed in the previous New Super Mario Bros. titles.

Oh, and there’s the “Boost Mode” with the Wii U GamePad and another player. This sounds neat, and could be handy for getting through tough areas without worrying about the Super Guide.

Batman: Arkham City – I think I’ve more or less said my piece here, though I’ve since seen someone liken this to Resident Evil 4‘s hugely successful release on the Wii. And really, if that doesn’t say it all, I don’t know what does.

Actually, there is one more thing to add to that: Resident Evil 4 was released on the GameCube, and the Wii version sold like gangbusters; Batman: Arkham City never even had a Wii release.

In any case, this was an odd choice, given we already knew about it, yet it makes sense; what better way to show “the Wii U difference” than applying it to a game many know, love, and are familiar with? And as much as I love New Super Mario Bros., even I’ll admit that Batman probably made a better showing of how it can work with more complex types of games.

Oh, and the introduction by Harley Quinn was neat. It may not be Arleen Sorkin any more, but Tara Strong does a fine job just the same.

Scribblenauts Unlimited – Here’s a game I’m stoked for. The first Scribblenauts was inventive, but a bit too rough to fully enjoy; Super Scribblenauts, on the other hand, refined the formula to the point of glowing. Scribblenauts Unlimited looks like it’s going to evolve the idea even further, and I can’t wait to see what I can come up with.

We Need a MontageDarksiders II: Eh.

Mass Effect 3: I’m torn. Good acquisition for Nintendo, but without the first two, I’m not sure how big I am on just diving into the third, especially given the whole “what you do makes a difference” thing.

Tank! Tank! Tank! – Now that looks like it might be my speed. An arcade-style game by Namco Bandai? Where you blast a hydra with missiles and cannons? Sounds like a winner, but I need more details.

Tekken Tag Tournament 2Tekken seems like an alright series, though I’ve not played much of it except here and there. Street Fighter X Tekken is perhaps the most interested I’ve been in the series, and I haven’t even played that yet, so– wait, was that Pit? Or Dreamland? Is that a Mega Mushroom?!

Consider me far more curious about this Tekken game than I was at the start.

Trine 2: Director’s Cut – This looks interesting, but I don’t know the first thing about Trine or Trine 2. This could bear further study.

Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge – It’s the Batman: Arkham City syndrome all over again, except a) we don’t know what the Wii U does to make this different from other platforms, and b) it was hardly as well-received as Batman in the first place.

…but it does list Nintendo as the publisher, so maybe this is one to keep an eye on for now?

Aliens: Colonial Marines – FPS? Pass.

Wii Fit U – Reggie rolls out with the “my body is ready” line, to much applause. As for the name, it sounds kind of… weird.

Still, I like Wii Fit… more as a game than as a fitness regimen, perhaps, but I like it just the same. If they keep this one cheap, like Wii Fit Plus was, I’m all in. And the ability to do more away from the TV might even strengthen my resolve to keep at it, too.

SiNG – You want me nowhere near anything to do with me singing, ever. Rock Band taught me this lesson the hard way. Pass.

Scott Moffitt, Nintendo of America’s Executive Vice-President of Sales and Marketing, comes out to talk about how he only has a few minutes to talk about Nintendo 3DS today, but that they’ll have another event for that during E3. Sad as it is to say, while he seems like a nice guy, indications from Twitter are that he is probably not going to be a well-remembered part of this E3.

New Super Mario Bros. 2 – I’m not going into detail here, as I intend to give this one its own post. Suffice to say, I’m a lot more excited by this one now than I was when it was revealed a couple of months ago.

Paper Mario: Sticker StarThe Thousand Year Door sold me on Paper Mario several years ago, and it has been entirely too long since we’ve gotten a regular Paper Mario title, so I’m very excited for this.

Super Paper Mario was alright, but fell short of its potential in some ways, and just wasn’t as good as those which preceded it. And given the possibilities the Wii offered, it’s a shame– if not a travesty– that they never made another game for that platform. In fact, when you think about it, Super Paper Mario was originally made for GameCube, so it’s almost like there was never a Paper Mario made for the Wii at all.

Anyway, this is looking good… but where are the sidekicks? Goombella, Koops, and the others were a big part of why I loved TTYD so much, as well as why I didn’t like SPM as much. Mario does have one sidekick, a sticker fairy named Kersti (see what they did there?), but that doesn’t quite count the same as a party of unique Mario species with names and personalities. It’s part of what helped set the series apart.

Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon – I loved the original, and while I don’t think this one looks quite as good graphically, I can’t wait to play it. They say it’s coming “this holiday season,” but the only holiday I will accept this on is Halloween. Not Thanksgiving, not Christmas, not Labor Day– I want this in October, when I can celebrate the holiday by busting 3D ghosts in the dark, thank you.

And the marketing just writes itself for that one.

We Need a(nother) MontageCastlevania: Lords of Shadow: Mirror of Fate: Eesh, what’s with the title? Anyway, this looks like a lot of fun, and I can’t wait to see my boy Simon step back into the spotlight and finally get some much-deserved characterization that doesn’t involve Death Note cosplay or hitting on Videoland princesses.

Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion: I never played the original Castle of Illusion or its ilk, but this looks right up my alley. Incidentally, SEGA should really start negotiating some sort of deal with Disney to release these games on a disc or Virtual Console or something, so both sides can fully take advantage of this.

Scribblenauts Unlimited: See my comments on the Wii U version.

Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance: The appeal of the Tron: Legacy crew aside, I have no interest in playing any Kingdom Hearts game until they prove they have some idea of where they’re taking this thing and announce an actual third game, rather than all of these spin-offs.

LEGO City Undercover – I’ve never really delved into open-world games very much; I’ve played a little Grand Theft Auto, but after crashing a car into another car, then stealing the ambulance which arrives to run over the paramedics as they tend to the first person I ran into, my interest had pretty much peaked. Aside from a little harmless anarchy, I was just never too into the idea of playing a semi-realistic criminal thug.

As an aside, Hulk: Ultimate Destruction has been on my want list for a while.

But this? This looks like an open world I can get into. Colorful and crazy, and the LEGO games are usually pretty good anyway. And some of those Wii U GamePad uses look like they’d be fun to try out. And if there are more nods like that warp pipe at the end, I may be sold.

Just Dance 4 – …no. Just no. I mean, if you love dancing, great, but those days are well behind me… not that I ever had the rhythm for it, anyway.

ZombiU – I’m usually the first to lament zombie games, but… well, I’ll be honest. This one sounds neat, mainly for the whole “lose once and you’re dead” mechanic, which means you have to create a new character and choose whether to start over, or plunder your ex-character zombie for your old gear. I don’t know if I’m sold on this one, but it has a good start.

Ubisoft MontageAssassin’s Creed III: I think I covered my thoughts on this well enough here. Suffice to say, if I got any version, this might be the one… that is, once I learn what the Wii U contributes to the game.

Rabbids Land: I love the Rabbids, so this is an easy sell.

Your Shape: Fitness Evolved 2013: Eh, if there’s Wii Fit U already…

Rayman Legends: I still need to play Origins, but this looks terrific regardless.

Sports Connection: Next.

The Avengers: Battle for Earth: …maybe? I like the Avengers and all, but I’ve heard talk that this is basically like a fighting game where they don’t even make contact. So, like a cross between Marvel and Pokemon? I don’t know; the clip has me interested, but…

Nintendo Land – After playing the Wii U demos involving playing hide-and-seek through a sectioned Mario maze and Miis dressed as Samus Aran exchanging fire with another Mii in her ship, I have been saying that I hope they somehow bring those games to Wii U, and I think this is it. However, those two in particular weren’t confirmed for this title, strangely enough, though they’ve only revealed about five out of 12 of the mini-games included so far.

Reports from the floor at E3 are that the game is actually quite good, and I’m pulling for this or New Super Mario Bros. U as a pack-in game, and something tells me it would be this.

Admittedly, on appearances alone, this kind of made a weak end to the show. In truth, they should probably have led with this and closed with Pikmin 3. It still wouldn’t have been anything like unveiling Kid Icarus Uprising or The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess for the first time– they didn’t really have anything that would get a reaction of that capacity here– but it would probably have been an improvement.

And Beyond…

Nintendo went on to have two other events, a developer’s roundtable and a Nintendo 3DS showcase, but other than a few more details on games we’d already seen at the latter, there was really nothing new at either.

On a personal level, Nintendo’s press conference had more to interest me than the other two combined, yet it still felt a little weak, with much of the content being rehashed from last year’s press conference or other previous announcements. As I said, nothing they had really had that “wow” factor to work the crowd into a frenzy.

What really kills it is that there were a lot of details revealed and games shown throughout the show which would have really helped pep these things up. Fire Emblem coming to North America? Not mentioned at the Nintendo 3DS showcase. Platinum’s Wii U title, Project P-100? Nowhere to be seen, and it looks pretty neat.

There were no price or release date announcements for the Wii U, but if you were expecting any, then this must be your first time watching Nintendo at E3. That stuff always comes later. Even still, it feels like there are still a lot of questions left unanswered…

Oh, and some people wanted to see the new Super Smash Bros. While I was hopeful as well, I had a good feeling it wasn’t going to happen; director Masahiro Sakurai didn’t even begin work on that title until Kid Icarus Uprising was done, and that wasn’t until about a month ago, give or take a few weeks. I seriously doubt there was anything to show or reveal yet.

Likewise, some wanted The Legend of Zelda to have something. And for the Nintendo 3DS, certainly, since we know they’ve been doing something there. But for Wii U? Come on, they just released Skyward Sword back in November. I doubt they’re anywhere near ready to make an announcement yet; Miyamoto says they’re still working on ideas.

One sentiment I do fully agree with, however: Where was Animal Crossing?

Anyway, that’s my look at Nintendo’s E3 press conference. For me, it was the winner, though not exactly a landslide. After Sony’s press conference, I questioned whether gaming had passed me by, and this told me that no, it has not. There are plenty of games here I’d love to try out, though admittedly, I’ll probably only get to play a fraction of them. But the main difference between these titles and most of those at the other press conferences is that these are the games I would actively try to play, while the rest are games I’d more likely play if there was nothing better available.

Stay tuned; I’ll be looking at a couple of games more in-depth, and while these are my thoughts, that’s all their are. In the meantime, maybe someone else will feel differently and give their take on E3.

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