After a video on Sunday which revealed a lot of information about the Wii U hardware, we were set for some exciting announcements on software when we tuned into the live broadcast from the Nokia Theatre at E3 2012 on Tuesday. Nintendo were about to reveal the games we’d be playing on our new console, and the assembled journalists as well as the viewers at home were excited to see just what they had to offer. So what happened? Let’s take a look.
9:00AM(PST) – A Pik Welcome!
The conference opened with a video clip of Shigeru Miyamoto sitting in his dressing room while Pikmin milled around in the background. it was extremely cute, as well as being a nice way to introduce the first game we saw on stage – Pikmin 3, sequel to the GameCube’s games about little vegetable people hanging around a garden. After having some fun overlaying pikmin onto various audience members, the ever-lovable Mr. Miyamoto launched into the presentation in Japanese, ably translated by his Nintendo Treehouse buddy from last year’s presentation.
We saw some phenomenal graphics from the Wii U, as well as the introduction of a new kind of pikmin able to break hard surfaces. Olimar is gone, replaced by four playable Pikmin commanders which allows for much broader and agile gameplay than the unruly mobs that trailed around in the original games. Impressive? Yes, and it drew the second biggest cheer I saw at E3 after Watch Dogs. I can’t wait for it, and neither should you!
9:09AM – Let Me Entertain U!
As usual, Reggie Fils-Aime then took to the stage in order to demonstrate the Wii U GamePad to those who didn’t watch the Pre-E3 Nintendo Direct. He also explained that there would be 23 Wii U titles showed off at the convention, exciting! It’s still a very attractive device, even with the screen in the middle, so I don’t think they’ll have any trouble winning people over about the design.
He also went into detail about what Wii U is setting out to do – namely, improve gaming, social experiences and how you enjoy your TV – the same marketing stuff you’ll hear from all of them. He explained that the Wii U will include Netflix, Hulu, YouTube and Amazon Video, which is a good step forward that should bring Nintendo in line with its competition, at least in terms of non-gaming capabilities.
Afterwards, he explained what the term ‘asymmetric gameplay’ means – apparently we’ll be hearing it a lot – namely the idea that not everyone’s multiplayer experience has to be equal, and that different players can win in different ways – think the 3-Vs.-1 minigames from Mario Party if you want an example. As a final comment, he leaves us with the happy news that, contrary to the rumours flying around, the Wii U can accommodate two GamePads at the same time, as well as up to four Wii Remotes or Wii U Pro controllers. Fantastic! Now who’s up for Draw Something on Wii U? Oh god let it happen.
9:16AM – Across The U-MiiVerse
MiiVerse, Reggie explained, is the first thing you’ll see when the Wii U is powered on. Your own Mii, he continues, will be joined by those who also play on your system, as well as your friends and others from your country or who speak your language. The tiles they congregate around are representative of both your own commonly used software and popular software globally, which seems like a sneaky way of advertising their games, but could be interesting nonetheless. I’m not sure how this would work, but I’d imagine more commonly used software will sit in the middle, with less-commonly employed applications lying further out. Simple, intuitive and different. A big thumbs up from me so far!
The Miis, he said, can both type and draw messages to share with others on MiiVerse, as well as high scores, screenshots and moods. This will eventually be available from 3DS, PC and smartphones due to its browser-based nature. It seems they’re going after Microsoft’s SmartGlass idea, creating a network of devices around Wii U to enhance its appeal. Very sneaky, but also very clever.
9:19AM – It’s-A Mii!
Apparently, every time Nintendo launch a new system, Reggie gets requests to the tune of ‘It sounds great, but you’ve got to have a Mario game. I want it to be like Mario’s always been, only better’. Knowing fans like I do, I’d imagine those requests were more profane, poorly worded and contained crude requests for a Mother series box set, but props to Reggie for trying to not portray his customers like unpleasable half-wits.
He used this system to show off New Super Mario Bros. U – the originally titled 2D platformer currently in development for the new system. The demo shown is in HD and makes Mario look rather small – though I suppose that won’t be an issue once we get it up on a big screen. Given how popular NSMB was for the DS and Wii, it’s a very smart move and a potentially very big system seller, so it’s good to get it up on screen, but it might have been better left until the end.
9:22AM – Bruce Wii-yne.
Harley Quinn then appeared on screen and told Reggie to move aside for Martin Tremblay, President of Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment – but never mind that, wahey, it’s Batman! The Caped Crusader is back in Batman: Arkham City – Armoured Edition, announced the nerdiest man to ever take to a video screen, before we’re shown some very nice footage of our favourite superhero using the Wii U GamePad to perform actions like controlling a Batarang – we like it! This version contains something called B.A.T Mode (clever) which allows his new armoured suit to go all Matrix on us and deliver slow-mo super moves.
9:27AM – Scribblenauts and Assorted Third Party Stuff.
Scribblenauts has always been an interesting concept that never quite worked, mainly due to the difficulty of trying to make every word in the dictionary an interactive object, so it’s great that the newest title, Scribblenauts Unlimited, will offer the chance to not only put in a ton of nouns and adjectives, but also create and share their own terms for players around the world to use! It looks like Nintendo’s answer to Little Big Planet, which can only be a good thing since that game was a ton of fun. That said, they need to moderate the level–sharing options here, otherwise, like LBP, we’ll end up with mountains of giant phalli and Super Mario Bros. clones. But hopefully not both at the same time.
A quick trailer from Reggie followed, detailing the third party games coming to Wii U, which mainly consisted of things we knew (Darksiders II, Tekken, Aliens: Colonial Marines), some we didn’t (Mass Effect 3, Trine 2) and some that were just damned strange (Tank! Tank! Tank!). There wasn’t anything particularly spectacular here, but it’s always nice to see third parties throwing support behind the system, since that’s what Nintendo have always been lacking in and it’s cost them dearly in the past.
9:32AM – Wii Fit U.
After Reggie said his immortal line (‘My body is ready!’) and received a huge cheer, he went on to show off a trailer for Wii Fit U, featuring a weirdly sexually charged conversation between two lifeless automatons working out on the Wii U. Some new events were shown off, including trampolining and luge, but frankly, expect everything you got in Wii Fit, just with the ability to upload data from outside exercise using the GamePad’s IR transceiver.
9:36AM – SiNG!
Using the infinitely irritating ‘Call Me Maybe’ as a backing track, Reggie then showed off a trailer for new music game SiNG (Working Title) which displays dance moves on screen with the GamePad display acting as a window into the lyrics of the karaoke-style title, which aims to bring audiences into music games as well as just the players. Which this is actually kind of a cool idea, I fear being seen by others of my kind, so I won’t be buying it, but if a good old fashioned SingStar-style game for Wii U sounds good to you then definitely keep an eye on this. Nobody acts like this in real life though, Freestyle Studios. Work on your trailers.
9:38AM – 3DS Games.
Scott Moffitt took to the stage to announce some of the upcoming 3DS games, opening with some of the worst attempts at humour I’ve ever seen. Still, did anyone else think he genuinely sounded annoyed? I get the feeling he probably wasn’t told he’d be doing the presentation until a few weeks before, and wanted to vent his rage in the most friendly way possible. The presentation wasn’t long, since they were webcasting the full 3DS showcase seperately.
He began with New Super Mario Bros. 2, a game that bends the limits of the word ‘New’ and has a big focus on the collection of coins. Details are scarce on why specifically that’s a big mechanic, but it certainly looks like a lot of fun. There’s not much we can say apart from that it’s being released both digitally and at retail and launches in the US on August 19th. Look out for it!
Paper Mario: Sticker Star was up next, showing off the new title in all its glory with a trailer. It seems that it’s reverting to the traditional graphical style, but changing the combat to a sticker-based form, similar to the card battle systems you’ll find in Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories or Baten Kaitos. It’s a change we’re not entirely sure about, but since there’s not been a bad Paper Mario yet, we’re remaining hopeful.
Luigi’s Mansion was back again, renamed this time to Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon, which features a mission-based style and multiple mansions as well as all-new types of ghost. I’m a big fan of Luigi’s Mansion, and we really liked it when we played an early version back in October, so we have really high hopes for this one!
the third party lineup was touched on in a brief video, showing a new Castlevania, the 3DS Epic Mickey (looking very similar to Castle of Illusion) and Kingdom Hearts 3D in particular. After that, Scott left the stage and gave control back to Reggie, who had a very blocky game to show us…
9:45AM – Lego City: Undercover.
Lego City Undercover’s trailer looked very colourful and bright, and really seemed like the Lego-GTA hybrid we’d all been imagining it as, but with one twist – you mainly play as a cop! However, in true Lego style, you can play as the baddies too, so we see our hero Chase McCain dressing as a burglar and breaking through a door as well. Unlike previous Lego homages to various series, this one features a very open world, so we’ll look forward to seeing the amount of love put into the details and humour of the game. Another solid title to add to the Wii U wishlist!
9:48AM – Ubisoft Games.
Now Nintendo probably has a lot to thank Ubisoft for, since they were one of the few third parties to consistently support the Wii throughout its entire lifespan, and did a very good job too, bringing us the excellent Red Steel 2 as well as the lovable Rabbids. As such, it’s fitting that Yves Guillemot, CEO of Ubisoft, was invited onstage to talk about the Wii U and how it’s great, before Xavier Poix joined to make Reggie the ‘puppet master’ of a game of Just Dance 4, featuring the other song that’s on everyone’s nerves at the moment, Maroon 5’s Move Like Jagger.
Zombiu was up next, showing off the different ways the GamePad is used, like opening keypad doors, sorting your inventory and aiming a sniper rifle. The game’s very pretty looking, by the way, I thought it was pre-rendered when I first saw the gameplay footage! Though I suppose that’s to be expected from a next-generation console like this. Oh, and we saw Reggie transformed into a zombie, and uttering a few more immortal lines (‘I’m coming to eat you!’) before Ubisoft’s finishing trailer came on, showing us a few more things we can expect to see on the U. there was nothing spectacular that we hadn’t already heard about, but a solid lineup all the same.
9:56 – Nintendo Land and Goodbyes!
Well this next one came out of left field – NintendoLand! It’s a virtual theme park featuring HD minigames taken from the worlds of various Nintendo franchises, and it looks like a new take on the Wii Play concept – a way to show off what the GamePad does and get new players enthralled. For instance, one of the possibilities shown was a game in which four players with Wii Remotes wander round Luigi’s Mansion, illuminating a small area on a split screen with flashlights. The player with the GamePad plays as a ghost and has to chase them, as they are able to see the whole screen. It’s very similar to the Game Boy Advance Pac-Man released back in 2003, and should be a blast in multiplayer. The creator finished with a lovely trailer, before Reggie rounded off by saying NintendoLand will be a launch game for Wii U. This implies, however, that it won’t be a bundled title, something that really helped out the Wii early on.
Reggie ended the conference by talking about the Wii U’s mission – uniting people with technology rather than dividing them – and introducing the system’s slogan: Together. Better.
So overall? It was a pretty solid show. It lacked the magic of a new Smash Bros. or Zelda, but they weren’t to be expected given how busy the developers have been, and it helped free up more time for third parties. Wii u looks like a very exciting system, and I’ll certainly be picking one up once it launches later this year. Thanks for sticking with us through this week’s coverage!
So who do you think won E3? We’re pretty agreed that it was Ubisoft, but if you disagree or want to discuss further, drop by the forums or let us know below!