Here we are, the final console maker conference. Let me start once again with full disclosure: The Wii was my second console after my PS3. I also bought a DS far into its life span, and far after a PSP. There are few games Nintendo itself publishes anymore that interest me and that list does not include the franchise this site takes its name from. In truth, I have always been more attached to Nintendo’s less popular offerings (except Pokémon), including many titles that ended up being one-offs like Uniracers and Stunt Race FX.
While Pokémon is my series of choice on Nintendo’s portables, I gravitate primarily and heavily toward Kirby on consoles. When Epic Yarn was enough for me to take the plunge on a Wii, Nintendo doesn’t need to do all that much to sway me if they have a Kirby game in store. However, they probably don’t. As such, I will need to look at their other offerings and weigh them carefully. I already own two HD consoles, so adding a third isn’t my first prospect.
It’s worth noting that I also have a 3DS, but my interest in the system has been waning for quite some time. Pokémon Conquest, a DS title, is the only 3DS-compatible game coming out soon that I have any interest in purchasing. I will be paying special attention to any 3DS announcements in hopes they don’t drive me to sell the machine.
Much like David, I will only focus on the first two conferences due to them actually announcing new features and games pertaining primarily to the Wii U. The 3DS conference had some interesting apps, but didn’t show any new games. With all that said, here’s the rundown.
Nintendo Direct Pre-E3 (Wii U Hardware)
Wii U GamePad
With a somewhat larger area to put one’s hands and a touch of the Wii’s characteristic baby blue, the redesigned Wii U GamePad looks way more like a Nintendo product than its previous incarnation. The switch from circle pads to analog sticks without the octagonal grooves is definitely a plus for me. This also paves the way to the sticks having left and right triggers under them, which finally puts this controller on par with Nintendo’s competitors. The rest of the changes are mostly for ergonomics, which is an undeniable boon.
The bolted-on back panel also reveals that this pad will be rechargeable, which is an extremely important positive for me. In an age where everyone opts for rechargeable batteries out of convenience, the Wii’s remotes requiring two AA’s felt archaic and baffling when compared to the DS.
Going into the non-gaming features, the inclusion of NFC was unveiled last year but bears mention once again. With the technology being so new that it’s not even included as a standard in its true target devices (smartphones), one has to wonder if this is going to end up like Sony’s inclusion of an infrared port on the original PSP. Nintendo has yet to show a single real-world application of the feature, so I’ll be finding out with everyone else when the system launches later this year.
The TV Control button is the next big non-gaming feature. While it’s a nice little addition, I feel like programming it wouldn’t be worth the time over a cheap universal controller. Using the GamePad to control your devices would seem like a waste of potential gaming time between charges.
Wii U Pro
Iwata rolled over the announcement of this controller, but it’s easily the highlight of this edition of Nintendo Direct. With its 360 controller look and an inverted analog/button scheme compared to the DualShock 3, this could potentially be the biggest beacon Nintendo could send up to attract gamers who prefer their competition. While I still need to try it out, the button symmetry is already very attractive to me.
Since I didn’t have a GameCube like David did, I can’t say I used anything other than the Classic Controller and CC Pro on the Wii. While they were definitely useful, they were also fairly awkward with the need to tether them to a Wii remote. The Wii U Pro solves this problem by being both a completely independent controller and being fully rechargeable via its top-positioned charging port.
My only gripe is that this controller will likely be an optional purchase rather than packed in with the console. If the pricing of Nintendo’s competitors and its own Classic Controller Pro are to be an indicator, buying one of these could end up being the first hidden cost to anyone who wants to game for a remotely extended period of time.
A lot of these features were nice, though none of them were innovative and many of them are grounds for a dangerous amount of abuse from malicious players. I’ll do a quick summary of each individual feature.
The message board for each specific game is something I’ve seen done on the PlayStation Vita to middling results. I somehow don’t see this being any more useful than hopping onto GameFAQs’ recently launched mobile site and getting the information from there. The very fact that you’re looking for spoiler-specific hints to beating certain parts of a game should also keep you from having the spoiler censor activated, so there’s no specific advantage to using this system over a quick search on GameFAQs.
The Twitter-like presentation of the feature and its reveal as being compatible with smartphones also didn’t wow me, specifically because I don’t think to check game-related information on my phone but do check general social networks like Twitter. I wouldn’t be much help to anyone using the service, nor would I think to check back on my messages to be helped by others.
The instant video chat was extremely interesting, until I realized the entire sequence was supposed to show how you can connect to complete strangers over Nintendo’s network. I then noticed how creepy it was to have a fairly young adult talking to an elderly person wanting to be called “grandpa”. This feature will obviously have restrictions, so I’ll make sure this is the first feature I lock down or potentially deactivate.
Now while David was interested in Non-Specific Action Figure, I’m more baffled by how he managed to snag a Wii U before everyone else!
I’ll be honest: I don’t use my gaming devices for social interactions outside of the very rare online co-op between friends. Distinctive or not, the entire concept isn’t speaking to me. That’s why I haven’t lamented the lack of text messaging on the 3DS and why I won’t hold Miiverse as a feature that scores points for the Wii U. If this system allows me to send game invites to my online friends, it will have done its job.
It was later revealed that Miiverse’s messaging system will be completely moderated by humans. I just don’t see how this will be possible without automated assistance more advanced than spam and coarse language filters.
Various Wii U GamePad Features
The internet browser integrated with the GamePad further reinforces my point above: If you can browse GameFAQs at any time, there’s no need to access the game specific message boards. That being said, the browser can easily replace anyone’s need to buy a tablet and its demonstration ended up undercutting the usefulness of SmartGlass, which would be revealed the next day by Microsoft.
Nintendo Direct in closing…
The hardware demonstration was definitely interesting and exposed a lot of potential for the Wii U. While I wasn’t impressed by its social features, Nintendo still managed to show off that they’re serious about building a fully functional online ecosystem. That’s what matters the most to me. Now that the hardware and default features are covered, I need to see games.
E3 Press Conference
I’ll be focusing on the games exclusively for this part. Nintendo had more exposition for the Wii U hardware, but that’s already covered.
Pikmin 3 (Wii U)
As someone who never had a GameCube and missed the Wii release, I have no attachment or prejudice toward this game. The game seemed very interesting, though I don’t quite understand the exact concept yet. With the upcoming release of a Pikmin game on Wii, I’ll try it out to see if this is actually something that would sway me.
Streaming Services (Wii U) – YouTube, Hulu, Netflix
Much like Microsoft and Sony before them, Nintendo failed to mention which ones would be available in North America versus those that are US-only. I also covered my feelings on having my game console be my entertainment hub, so I’ll just reiterate that this announcement falls under “nice to have”.
New Super Mario Bros. U (Wii U)
This is a statement that I’m positive won’t win me fans on this site but since I’m here to represent “the other side”, I’ll go ahead and say it: I’m not a Mario fan. My casual interest in New Super Mario Bros. and its Wii counterpart was fleeting at best, evaporating after I finished each game. That being said, this title did nothing to move my interest for the “New SMB” series out of that casual interest. I will say that it looks *gorgeous*, though it’s not a platform seller for me.
Batman: Arkham City: Armored Edition (Wii U)
David touched on this earlier during E3, though I fall squarely on the opposite side of the debate. While I haven’t purchased it yet, I already have two platforms ready for the recently released Game of the Year edition when it inevitably goes on sale over the holidays. While I would like to use the features added to this version of the game, I don’t see them being worth the likely $30+ discrepancy in price when the GOTY sale happens.
Scribblenauts Unlimited (Wii U, 3DS)
Now THIS is a game I’m immensely interested in. I have loved this series since its appearance on DS and even its iOS offering. The HD graphics will definitely be worth it if you can make huge mechanical monsters to fill the screen.
While the game was also announced for 3DS a bit later, the Wii U version stole all of my attention. This would be the first title on my purchase list for the console.
Because everything is better with a montage.
Darksiders II (Wii U)
I completely skipped the first game in this series, despite the good criticism by people with similar tastes. I’d have to play that first, so whichever platform I choose between the PS3 and 360 will likely be where I continue the series.
Mass Effect 3 (Wii U)
I already own all of the games on PC, save for Mass Effect 3, while I wait for a full DLC bundle (i.e. Game of the Year edition) to release. I’m likely going to keep this a PC title.
Tank! Tank! Tank! (Wii U)
I know this is a port of an arcade game, but it looks like the most ridiculous fun out of the entire “hardcore” montage. This is a title that I’m looking out for, though it might be a rent rather than a buy.
Tekken Tag Tournament 2 (Wii U)
I don’t like fighting games, though the Mega Mushroom was quite the interesting twist. Not enough of one for me to purchase a new Tekken title, but still worth noting for people who want the zaniest version of the game.
Trine 2: Director’s Cut (Wii U)
I already own the first game on PS3 and PC. I also own this game’s “normal” version on PS3 and PC. While this release is a Director’s Cut and I’m sure I might enjoy some of the controls far more on the Wii U GamePad, I just don’t see myself buying Trine 2 a third time.
Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge (Wii U)
I don’t like Ninja Gaiden, so I’ll try to look at this from another perspective:
The game was reportedly very poor on 360 and PS3. With people saying this game might actually fix many outstanding problems from the original release, that makes this the de-facto version for any gamer who likes the series.
Aliens Colonial Marines (Wii U)
It’s a console FPS. While the GamePad might bring something different to the experience, I don’t see it being any less uncomfortable to me than using a PlayStation Vita to play one.
…there we go. Montage, out!
Wii Fit U (Wii U)
I didn’t like/ignored the original Wii Fit/Plus, so I’m not any more interested by this one. As I said during the Nike + presentation in Microsoft’s conference, I’m an advocate of getting professional human help. Personal trainers and doctors fit that bill, not games they helped develop.
SiNG (Wii U)
Call me maybe…
Look, I’m not the demographic for this game and it’s likely that nobody who will ever read this article seriously fits the demographic either. They also made sure to pick a pop song, so expect SingStar/LIPS kinds of track lists rather than Guitar Hero/Rock Band.
New Super Mario Bros. 2 (3DS)
Much like the NSMBU title, I’m only casually interested in this. Unlike the Wii U title, I don’t need to be sold on a console by this game. With that in mind, I might pick this up somewhere down the line.
Paper Mario: Sticker Star (3DS)
This is where I’ll look like a hypocrite. If there are applications of the Mario franchise that I like more than most, it’s when he’s put in RPGs and… whatever genre Paper Mario falls under. What was shown was enough to pique my interest, so it being on 3DS means I’m picking this game up on launch day.
Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon (3DS)
Here I am, flip-flopping again. I don’t like Luigi’s Mansion, to the point where it doesn’t garner any interest whatsoever. This game announcement didn’t help me, unfortunately.
“Hardcore” Montage, Portable Edition!
Because everything is better (and smaller!) with a montage.
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow: Mirror of Fate (3DS)
Revenge of the colons! But seriously. I’m not the biggest fan of Castlevania and haven’t even finished the original Lords of Shadow yet. I don’t see myself buying this at full retail price, but might go for it discounted after I finish the first game.
Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion (3DS)
The developers once mentioned they inspired part of this game off of Suikoden. I know this game is not at all related in any other way, but the mention alone makes this old Suikoden fan’s heart melt. The game looking awesome helps, too.
Scribblenauts Unlimited (3DS)
Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance (3DS)
As someone who still hasn’t managed to muster up enough motivation to finish most of the Kingdom Hearts games I own, I won’t get this at launch.
Portable montage, out!
LEGO City Undercover (Wii U)
I’m a big fan of the licensed LEGO games. LEGO Star Wars and LEGO Batman are among my favorite licensed games of all time. This, however, didn’t interest me. While it did show a few half references later on in the trailer, it didn’t grab me in a way a full-blown licensed parody would. I’ll give this game the benefit of the doubt, though it’s far from being a system seller.
Just Dance 4 (Wii U)
I’m not the demographic of this game, much like Dance Central 3. However, I always found Just Dance far less interesting in that it doesn’t analyze your full body movement at all.
Zombi U (Wii U)
Much like Resident Evil, I hate games that focus on zombies. This game literally has “Zombi” in its title, so I’m staying far away from this.
Because Ubisoft’s better with a montage.
Assassin’s Creed III (Wii U)
I already covered my huge fandom of this series in my Sony rundown. I also placed my full support behind the PS3 as my target platform specifically due to its tie-in PlayStation Vita title.
Rabbids Land (Wii U)
I have honestly never played a Rabbids game. I also don’t know what to think about them. They little things are crazy, which could be my brand of humor.
Your Shape: Fitness Evolved 2013 (Wii U)
See my thoughts on Wii Fit U.
Rayman Legends (Wii U)
This is a game that was shown at the Ubisoft conference and instantly hit the top of my to-get list should I get a Wii U. It has since been replaced by Scribblenauts Unlimited, but this game is now a close second.
Sports Connection (Wii U)
Isn’t this Ubisoft’s alleged Sports Champions rip-off, which is in turn allegedly a Wii Sports rip-off? In any case, see my thoughts on Wii Fit U.
The Avengers: Battle for Earth (Wii U)
The CG trailer looked very interesting during Ubisoft’s conference. However, I made the mistake of seeking out more information on this game after the presentation and saw that it’s quite possibly the laziest kind of fighting system I have ever seen. That alone throws this game out of my consideration.
Nintendo Land (Wii U)
This is where Nintendo completely lost me, much in the same way Microsoft lost me somewhere during the Internet Explorer presentation and Sony with Wonderbook. This game seems like the perfect kind of response to PlayStation Home, but I don’t think Nintendo will have the foresight to pre-load the game directly on each Wii U’s firmware. If it ends up being a separate or pack-in game, it probably won’t gain a comparable amount of traction.
Unlike David, I won’t go into much detail with my impressions of the demos. I will say that this disappointed me in one way that seems unique to my tastes. With this game essentially being a colorful theme park that promotes each big Nintendo franchise, I’m appalled that none of the icons I could see during neither the feed nor any of the demos available on the floor are even remotely related to Kirby. While the franchise will very likely be represented in some form in the game, missing out on a nod to Kirby‘s 20th anniversary didn’t inspire me.
Much like David, I’m stopping here. The games shown or mentioned during the developer roundtable and 3DS conference weren’t anything new and I covered most of my thoughts on them already.
Nintendo’s primary mission this year was to get me excited enough to get a Wii U at launch. They didn’t succeed. By not showing off anything except launch and launch window games, they didn’t have anything that spoke to my interests in a way that would make me choose to get a third HD console, even though some games have added value on the platform over others.
I guess that’s also Nintendo’s 2011 curse: by trying to speak to me last year in a way that said “We will convince you to choose us”, they needed to snag a few exclusives, be they DLC, entire features, or full titles themselves, away from Sony and Microsoft to sway me on a multiplatform front. Even when their launch window list came out, I still don’t see enough to justify a new console purchase. When my personal interests come into play: They didn’t show anything from their franchises that spoke to my own preferences. The disappointing lack of Kirby in any form on a big anniversary year didn’t help things.
Nintendo’s second mission was to make me keep using my 3DS. They succeeded there. While I was not falling over myself in “take my money!” fashion, I was definitely wowed by their listing of upcoming titles. Since I’m not getting Scribblenauts Unlimited on Wii U yet, I’ll definitely fall back on my backup plan and snag it for 3DS. Then come the new games like Epic Micky: Power of Illusion and Paper Mario: Sticker Star, which I will be getting at launch.
Nintendo’s other, E3-specific mission was the same as Microsoft’s and Sony’s: to show me as much of their upcoming titles as possible. When you string all four conferences together, Nintendo failed horribly. With no mention of Pokémon: Conquest‘s impending release on DS, nor The Last Story on Wii, they completely omitted their support for “last-gen” products, not to mention support for any RPGs. They even managed to skip big and surprising titles like Project P-100 from Platinum Games’ Hideki Kamiya and Fire Emblem: Awakening. The former was likely relegated to Nintendo’s E3 post-conference due to its similarities to Pikmin, but Fire Emblem? I don’t personally like the series, but I know that most everyone else who remotely cares about RPGs is expressing a ton of love for it actually being localized.
So ends this look at E3 “from the other side”. I look forward to next year, where we’ll likely get to see Microsoft and Sony go through what Nintendo did this year. That’s where those two will try to convince me that I need to upgrade rather than stay with my current machines. Whether or not my collection will include a Wii U by this time next year will depend entirely on Nintendo’s post-launch window lineup.