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Nintendo at E3 2011: Your Console? Our Controller.


E3 Expo
Nintendo was the main event on Tuesday, and based on announcements from earlier this year coupled with their performance in E3 conferences from previous years, expectations were high. Nintendo did not disappoint.

Right away, it was obvious that Nintendo was here to make a statement as we were introduced to the 25th anniversary of the Zelda series via a live orchestra. Shigeru Miyamoto and Bill Trinen talked about the many high points of the series as a whole, interacting occasionally with the orchestra to play some sound effects, then announced a few small things. First off, some port of Link's Awakening is coming to 3DS virtual console, and everyone can get a free copy of Four Swords. They also announced a concert tour of Zelda music, promised to come to "every region" of the world, so you can expect to travel to Papua New Guinea or Albania to hear orchestras perform your favorite songs from the series.

The Zelda bit was a bit underwhelming, with a lot of flair but not much substance, but the next segment - introduced by Satoru Iwata - was an instant remedy to a very un-Nintendo lackluster launch to the 3DS handheld system. We were treated to an incredibly impressive array of 3DS games promised to be out by this year's holiday season. We were shown a brief view of five key Nintendo titles to come out, and then Reggie Fils-Aime came out to show them in detail.

He began with the announcement of a new Mario Kart title. Though not a lot of details were given, it was promised to be tricked-out and clearly featured some hovering and flying elements along with some underwater racing. The karts seemed to transform a bit - nothing huge and out-of-character for the series - to accomodate the environments in which they were placed. The karts seemed a lot more customizable, as spoken about in CoNChat: "Bowser in a Mini Cooper." -R51

Following Mario Kart was probably the most impressive of the 3DS titles - Star Fox. The first push of the presentation showed gameplay from the outside - actually looking at the console as the game was played. They really pushed the fact that you can use the built-in accelerometer and gyroscopes to play Star Fox by turning the system itself instead of using the traditional controls if you wished. The screen images were small, but it appeared to be a pretty archetypal Star Fox game...until they got to the multiplayer piece. It looked like a pretty fantastic game that utilizes the cameras in a way to show player reactions to kills, whether the victim or the perpetrator. We don't yet know whether or not the multiplayer is WiFi enabled, but given that the original Mario Kart DS was enabled in that regard, gamers should expect that Nintendo would follow suit here. Anything less would be a disappointment and a mistake.

Smack dab in the middle of the 3DS announcements came a new Super Mario Bros game, SMB3D. Though Reggie seemed to be pretty excited about it, nothing that was shown in the trailer looked really innovative for the franchise. It looked very much like a Mario 64 universe, with improved graphics and some relics from the past thrown in, such as the raccoon suit from Super Mario Bros 3. Though it was one of the weaker titles shown, it simply wouldn't be a Nintendo console without a Mario platformer on it...it just seems like it would've been much better suited as a launch title.

Next up came the continued revival of #welovepit in the form of Kid Icarus: Uprising. A heck of a lot of gameplay was shown for this, including a character who looked suspiciously like Jecht from Final Fantasy X. It was very action-packed, with some platforming sequences and some flying through the air. It also featured a nice-looking multiplayer mode that almost felt like Kid Icarus meets Dissidia from how the action appeared to work. Finally, there was an augmented reality card game along with the actual game, but not a whole lot details were given there. A nice and simple summary quote came in CoNChat: "I wasn't at all excited for this game but this looks good." - FallingHeart

Finally, an unexpected series came back to the forefront as Reggie announced Luigi's Mansion 2. Having never played the original game, I can't comment on whether or not this was vastly different from the original, but the gameplay looked fun with more mansion exploration, and Reggie promised that there would be multiple mansions to explore, which made me wonder if there were complaints with the length of the original game.

Following these five came a look at what some 3rd party developers were creating for the 3DS, including but not limited to Cave Story 3D, Pacman, Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D, Eggman Badminton, and Tetris. There was also a less-than-exciting Pokemon 3D announcement that only seemed to be about the Pokedex. I described it as "like Pokemon but not fun".

Amazingly, Nintendo wasn't even at their most impressive following this pile of must-own 3DS titles. After months of speculation, the official announcement of Nintendo's next console arrived. It is called the WiiU, which was explained in a somewhat confusing manner about putting You back into the We so when We play the Wii, wii are incorporating You into the equation, so that You are never forgotten when We are playing Wii with U.

The first announcement with the WiiU came via the controller. It almost looks like an Amazon Kindle, with a 6.2" touchscreen placed right on the front of the controller itself, surrounded by two joysticks, a D-pad, and the regular buttons that you've come to expect from a Nintendo console. The controller is highly interactive with the system, as you can play entire games on that screen if the television isn't available. It was shown being used as a drawing tablet, being used as an Othello board, being used as a targeting scope to assassinate Miyamoto in some bizarre peeping tom game. The controller also had a camera and showed a couple of people using it to videochat.

More importantly, the touchscreen on the controller can act as a second screen for the video games themselves - similar to the touch-enabled bottom screen of a DS - if you have access to the actual screen. It is highly interactive with the original Wiimote as well, as we were shown a golf game in which your lie was shown on the new controller, you used the Wiimote as a club, and the television showed the course and your surroundings. They showed a potential Zelda game in which the touchscreen was the item-select menu so gameplay on the main screen would never have to be interrupted.

Even though the new controller is much different than the Wiimote, they are still going to incorporate most of the same hardware within the Wiimote to improve upon gameplay. For example, there was a game where you slide across the top of the touchscreen the fling shurikens, and one where you have to hold the new controller in a specific position to shield yourself from incoming arrows. Additionally, there was a pretty neat-looking game called Mii Chase where only one person has the new controller - giving them an advantage with an additional view - and everyone else is forced to control themselves with the Wiimote.

Once we were all introduced to the WiiU, Iwata came back out and dropped yet another bomb - a new Smash Bros game would be developed that would somehow be cross-platform between the 3DS and WiiU. Legitimately no details outside of this were given, but it was met with rousing applause at both the conference and within CoNChat.

Following Nintendo's own personal announcements came some testimonials from the heads of third-party developers talking about their own reactions to the WiiU and how they could possibly make use of it. The first third party game looked like some bizarre Lego Grand Theft Auto game, and it was followed by titles such as Darksiders 2, Tekken, Batman: Arkham City, Assassin's Creed, Ghost Recon, Ninja Gaiden, and Madden - many of which offer interesting changes for Nintendo as they are first-time appearances on their consoles and are much more violent than most offerings on the original Wii.


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Comments

BlitzSageComment 1: 2011-06-07 18:45
BlitzSage When it was first announced, I thought it was a cross between a portable and home console, which IMO would've been quite a game changer.

Even though it apparently isn't, as they said you can't take it away from the console, it still looks like a strong innovation, kind of DS-like.
laszlowComment 2: 2011-06-07 20:03
laszlow My excitement for this new system 50% depends on how good its games will be, and 50% on how cumbersome that beefy (but neat) controller will be. Comfortable grip and a good library? Well done, Nintendo. Otherwise? No thanks.
dont chocobos rule?Comment 3: 2011-06-07 21:26
dont chocobos rule? If they can fix what was wrong with the Wii catalog of games (i.e. 80% shovel-ware licensed titles), then I *might* get this new one. Although I've never been very impressed with Nintendo on any console I've owned of theirs, so I'll probably just stick to my PS3 and future Vita
Del SComment 4: 2011-06-08 16:25
Del S My thoughts on this should be obvious, but personally, I sincerely doubt this will be an actual innovation since precisely zero "innovations" in the last half decade have actually been innovations. Motion control for instance has ultimately been no more than a gimmick shoehorned into shovelware. I doubt this iWii-Pad will be any different in what games will be built for it.

I'd not hold my breath for the third party developers going for this long term. Shovelware will still be the order of the day outside the main Nintendo IPs I reckon, and anything Nintendo get will likely be no more than a cash grab port or a game built around the gimmicks.

BlitzSageComment 5: 2011-06-08 17:22
BlitzSage
Quote (Del S @ 8th June 2011 12:25)
My thoughts on this should be obvious, but personally, I sincerely doubt this will be an actual innovation since precisely zero "innovations" in the last half decade have actually been innovations. Motion control for instance has ultimately been no more than a gimmick shoehorned into shovelware. I doubt this iWii-Pad will be any different in what games will be built for it.

I'd not hold my breath for the third party developers going for this long term. Shovelware will still be the order of the day outside the main Nintendo IPs I reckon, and anything Nintendo get will likely be no more than a cash grab port or a game built around the gimmicks.

I think that depends on the developers. As with any piece of tech, many might turn out titles which do not utilize this feature. But creating an extra screen I think could expand multi-player possibilities, if of course it is done correctly.

Right now, multi-player games are severely limited, mainly because you only have one screen split between the participants. Imagine if each player had their own screen for Mario Kart, and the tv screen entered some type of cinematic mode, so that people not playing could watch the race as if it were broadcast on television.

Also, imagine the capabilities for co-op. Right now, co-op is basically limited to each player being close to each other. With extra screens, that could change co-op capabilities. Say you're playing a co-op campaign, and there's a sidequest, or something important was forgotten 30 minutes ago. One player could keep on the mission, and the other could backtrack. This would be easier with the fact that each player's vision is not limited. Playing something like Pokemon on it could mean that each player is playing separately, but in the same game world. I think, if developers think outside the box with it, it could turn out some great experiences.
Glenn Magus HarveyComment 6: 2011-06-09 15:00
Glenn Magus Harvey
Quote
"Bowser in a Mini Cooper." -R51


The (new) Italian Job, starring the cast of Mario Kart: WOULD WATCH.

Quote
Star Fox


Is there ANY hint that they'll be using as-yet-unused material from Star Fox 2, such as Miyu, Fay, or Wolf's unique theme? Or, heck, the gameplay?

Quote
Smack dab in the middle of the 3DS announcements came a new Super Mario Bros game, SMB3D. Though Reggie seemed to be pretty excited about it, nothing that was shown in the trailer looked really innovative for the franchise. It looked very much like a Mario 64 universe, with improved graphics and some relics from the past thrown in, such as the raccoon suit from Super Mario Bros 3. Though it was one of the weaker titles shown, it simply wouldn't be a Nintendo console without a Mario platformer on it...it just seems like it would've been much better suited as a launch title.


For some reason, even though I grew up on Super Mario platformers (SMB1, SMB3, SML, SMW1, SMAS, and SMW2YI), I wasn't really keen on NSMB. I played a bit of it and was mostly unimpressed. Mainly annoyed at the jump physics, I think, though come to think of it it's actually somewhat reminiscent of the somewhat-annoying jump physics of SMB1.

That said, if SMB3D can be SM64 done better, I look forward to it.

And yes, I used to believe that every Nintendo console had a Mario game as a launch title. It really shocked me to find out that the Wii debuted with Zelda TP rather than Mario Galaxy, but I still think they should have a Mario game as a launch title. It's one of those traditions.

Quote
new Kid Icarus game


Happy to see this franchise being revived though I've never played it.

Quote
WiiU


I thought the name "Wii" was bad, but this is worse.

Quote
new Smash Bros game to be cross-platform between 3DS and WiiU


I just hope this doesn't turn out to be confusing like FFCC.

Quote
But creating an extra screen I think could expand multi-player possibilities, if of course it is done correctly.


Definitely.

Quote
Right now, multi-player games are severely limited, mainly because you only have one screen split between the participants. Imagine if each player had their own screen for Mario Kart, and the tv screen entered some type of cinematic mode, so that people not playing could watch the race as if it were broadcast on television.


OH HELL YES.

Also, mini-screen can be good for accessing stuff without waiting to bring up a menu, such as an inventory screen. Seems that Nintendo has been going this direction all along, starting with the DS.

Quote
Also, imagine the capabilities for co-op. Right now, co-op is basically limited to each player being close to each other. With extra screens, that could change co-op capabilities. Say you're playing a co-op campaign, and there's a sidequest, or something important was forgotten 30 minutes ago. One player could keep on the mission, and the other could backtrack. This would be easier with the fact that each player's vision is not limited. Playing something like Pokemon on it could mean that each player is playing separately, but in the same game world. I think, if developers think outside the box with it, it could turn out some great experiences.


Ooh...a new experience with several-player RPGs? Dang.
Death PenaltyComment 7: 2011-07-03 21:30
Death Penalty I
Love
Luigi's
Mansion.

So much. Sadly, I doubt that I'll get the opportunity to play the second one, but gosh, the fact that they're making another is awesome.

The original one was a little short, I suppose, but mostly just because it was so awesome that I never wanted it to end.
BlitzSageComment 8: 2011-07-04 05:33
BlitzSage
Quote (Glenn Magus Harvey @ 9th June 2011 11:00)
Quote
Right now, multi-player games are severely limited, mainly because you only have one screen split between the participants. Imagine if each player had their own screen for Mario Kart, and the tv screen entered some type of cinematic mode, so that people not playing could watch the race as if it were broadcast on television.


OH HELL YES.

Also, mini-screen can be good for accessing stuff without waiting to bring up a menu, such as an inventory screen. Seems that Nintendo has been going this direction all along, starting with the DS.

Quote
Also, imagine the capabilities for co-op. Right now, co-op is basically limited to each player being close to each other. With extra screens, that could change co-op capabilities. Say you're playing a co-op campaign, and there's a sidequest, or something important was forgotten 30 minutes ago. One player could keep on the mission, and the other could backtrack. This would be easier with the fact that each player's vision is not limited. Playing something like Pokemon on it could mean that each player is playing separately, but in the same game world. I think, if developers think outside the box with it, it could turn out some great experiences.


Ooh...a new experience with several-player RPGs? Dang.

Well, we can only hope that designers use it properly. I'm sure many will not, but some of the brighter designers can definitely create some great experiences with it. Some Nintendo developers have proved over time to be good at subtly employing tech innovation to innovate gameplay by a major level.
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