Nintendo took the unusual move of showing off a plethora of Wii U details ahead of their annual conference this year. During the pre-E3 video, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata confirmed the redesign of the Wii U’s GamePad controller and introduced Miiverse, a social hub which makes up part of the new consoles operating system.
The stated intention behind this pre-show video was to free up space within the main conference so that Nintendo could talk about Wii U games and Wii U games only. As you might expect, this move was seen as a welcome confirmation that Nintendo had plenty to show and wanted to dedicate their conference to talking exclusively about the Wii U’s upcoming launch line-up.
As it turns out this wasn’t the case, as Nintendo’s conference, although concentrating primarily on the Wii U, also took time out to talk about the 3DS.
The show started on a positive note, with a delightful demonstration of Pikmin 3, Miyamoto’s pet project. However, no matter how much charm the little Pikmin delivered it was easy to see this was a game that started life on the Wii, mainly due to the poor utilisation of the Wii U’s Gamepad.
This unsatisfactory display of how the GamePad could be used, continued throughout the conference. Whereas in 2006, Nintendo made it crystal clear just how the Wii Remote will be of a genuine benefit to certain games, this week Nintendo’s showing didn’t instil the same confidence in their new touchscreen controller concept.
After showing off Pikmin 3, Nintendo invited Warnes Bros to the stage to demonstrate a new version of Batman: Arkham City. This ‘Armoured Edition’ features new content and unique methods of play, such as scanning your surrondings with the GamePad. Whereas these additions certainly looked nice, the fact remains that Nintendo dedicated a healthy amount of their conference to demoing a now eight month old game which originally saw release on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in October of 2011 — hardly the best way to convice folks on all new console, no matter how hard Reggie may try and convince you otherwise.
Batman: Arkham City wasn’t the only ‘old’ game announced for the system, as a montage of upcoming Wii U titles revealed that EA would be bringing Mass Effect 3, released in March this year, to the console. Beyond this commitment to bring Commander Shepard’s space romp to the Wii U, Electronic Arts’ was unusually absent from Nintendo’s annual summit, without even a sniff of the now-expected Madden and FIFA franchises.
Ubisoft took to the stage to give a brief demonstration of the ever so imaginatively titled ZombieU, a survival horror game set on the streets of London. This was one of the few games shown which seemed to gain a positive reaction, it was just unfortunate to see their demo end with a failing example of a face-scanning feature which makes you a zombie. Ubisoft confirmed that they are one of the few third-party publishers seriously backing the Wii U with Assasins Creed 3, Just Dance 4 and a new Rayman game among others set to come to the console in the initial launch period.
As shown last year, Nintendo spent stage time again this year showing off the next addition to the New Super Mario Bros. series. The trailer offered no surprises, showcasing similar gameplay to the previous entries in the ‘New’ series. The game will without doubt be a blast, offering gameplay that will appeal to a broad audience, however it’s hard to get people excited for what is seemingly very similar to the former games.
Nintendo closed there E3 2012 showing with a lengthy demonstration of a new title dubbed ‘Nintendoland’. Described as ‘virtual themepark’, it is in fact a minigame collection featuring 12 of Nintendo’s properties, such as Zelda, Metroid, Mario and more. The minigames shown were a mix of new along with remodelled tech demos from the 2011 showing, all of which failed to inspire the dedicated audience watching.
Although the drawn-out demo of Nintendoland didn’t excite on any great level, it does give Nintendo a unique opportunity. Reggie Fils-Aime proclaimed that the launch title would be the Wii U’s Wii Sports, however in terms of gameplay its more akin to Wii Play. What Nintendo need to do is make the minigame collection a pack-in that’s free with the console, this way the game will act as a great introduction to the series within. If the casual crowd take to the Wii U in the same way they did the Wii, having Nintendoland available from the get go gives Nintendo a great way to get easy exposure to there other franchises.
Considering the unique position Nintendo find themselves in this E3, being the only console manufacturer with new hardware to display, it was disappointing that their E3 showing failed to excite.