What better way to kick off a Nintendo press conference than with the man himself, Shigeru Miyamoto? The presentation started with a video of Miyamoto-san waiting for the conference to begin, while the Pikmin characters ran around his room. As the camera followed him onto the stage and then panned into the crowd, the Pikmin followed. The little critters appeared among conference attendees before Miyamoto-san moved into a quick overview of the WiiU hardware. He commented on the importance of having a dedicated game screen before officially confirming Pikmin 3 for WiiU.
New to Pikmin 3 are new Pikimin types, such as the rock Pikimin. The WiiU controller always has an overview map on the dedicated second screen. The entire game can be played this way if you like. Up to four Pikmin leaders can be controlled by the player. Pikmin 3's challenge mode will be available for play on the E3 2012 show floor. Miyamoto-san said Nintendo is developing WiiU because it wants to ensure that deep games as well as casual games are available for the WiiU. It's a promising start to the press conference.
Reggie Fils-Aime came out next to talk more about the WiiU hardware. According to Fils-Aime, games, social and entertainment are the three pillars supported by the WiiU gamepad's dedicated screen. Amazon Video, Netflix and YouTube were all mentioned as supported entertainment software. He then highlighted the Nintendo E3 Web site before recapping the weekend preview event Nintendo streamed online a few days ago.
Support for dual WiiU gamepads was announced before a video played highlighting all of the buttons and features of the gamepad. While the announcement is nice, we still have to ask, "Only two?" Everyone who plays will want to use one of the new gamepads. We can just imagine kids fighting over who gets to play with the gamepad and who has to play using a Wiimote.
Watching the Miiverse demo, the connectivity features seem cool, but the ability to freely share sketches sounds a bit … sketchy. Nintendo didn't address it in the presentation, but knowing the maturity level of teenagers online, we can just envision the real-time social space being overrun with nothing but penis sketches. This is the future of online communication.
Getting that image out of our head was New Super Mario Bros. U. It goes without saying that the visuals were spot-on classic Mario with the detail of current-generation tech. Bright and colorful, the gameplay looks to appeal to both the old-school gamer as well as the new gamers who may never have seen a working NES. Unfortunately, Nintendo only showed video (no live gameplay), but Fils-Aime highlighted all of the integrated social features. They sound neat on paper, though we really would have rather seen more of the game.
Next up was Batman: Arkham City Armored Edition. The core game is the same as the Arkham City that came out on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, though it integrates both the motion control and the second screen on the WiiU controller. You have full access to Batman's inventory via the gamepad screen as well as using it to control gadgets such as the Batarang and the explosive gel.
Scribblenauts Unlimited for WiiU may not be as violent as Batman, but the Scribblenauts series has been a big seller for Warner Bros., so it's no surprised to see it highlighted at the Nintendo press conference. As you might expect, Scribblenauts Unlimited makes heavy use of the WiiU gamepad's touch-screen. It also promises to tell the full story of Max, the main character.
Taking a quick breather, Nintendo ran a montage video of third-party titles, including Aliens Colonial Marines, Darksiders II, Mass Effect 3, Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge, Tank! Tank! Tank!, Tekken Tag Tournament 2 and Trine 2: Director's Cut.
On the exercise front, WiiFit is coming to WiiU as WiiFit U. New is an external calorie meter that can track movement outside of the core game.
Karaoke and dancing comes to the WiiU with Sing. Song lyrics appear on the WiiU gamepad, while the dance moves appear on the TV screen.
With the press conference focusing on the WiiU, the Nintendo 3DS is getting the bulk of its content shifted to another online presentation. Starting at 6:00 pm Pacific time on June 6, the 3DS presentation will be streamed from Nintendo's E3 Web site.
New Super Mario Bros. 2 was briefly shown off for the 3DS as a teaser for tomorrow's online stream. The brief bit of gameplay highlighted focused on collecting coins. A release date of August 19, 2012, was confirmed.
Paper Mario Sticker Star was the second 3DS game highlighted. You pick stickers off the environment to use as items and weapons. For example, a hammer sticker can be used to attack enemies. The game will be available as a physical cart as well as digital download this holiday season.
Next up was Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon. A 3DS sequel to the GameCube original, this iteration features more ghosts and more mansions. More details on all three games will be provided in the online stream. A 3DS preview montage ran through the new Castlevania game, Disney Epic Mickey 2, Scribblenauts Unlimited and Kingdom Hearts: 3D Dream Drop Distance.
WiiU is getting a dose of LEGO action with LEGO City Undercover, an open-world LEGO game in which you explore the city as an undercover agent. The demo video made the game look a lot like a LEGO version of Grand Theft Auto while still preserving the LEGO humor we've all come to expect. We saw the WiiU gamepad being used to explore the environment to look for hidden objectives. This looks like a WiiU title to watch.
Ubisoft came out next to highlight a handful of titles. First up from Ubisoft was Just Dance 4. Unlike most of the presentation, this one showcased actual gameplay rather than pre-recorded video. Four players were dancing with Wiimotes, while Fils-Aime interacted with the players via a WiiU gamepad. He could drop new moves into the mix with a click.
ZombiU was next up. When the zombie apocalypse hits, you'll be able to survive with just your WiiU gamepad. The gamepad can be used as a sniper rifle, inventory screen, door hacking unit and more. You can also use the WiiU gamepad to make your real-life self look like a zombie. The video demo was short and limited, though there is potential.
Ubisoft closed out its section of the presentation with another video montage including Assassin's Creed III, Rabbids Land, Your Shape Fitness Evolved 2013, Rayman Legends, Sports Connection and Avengers: Battle for Earth.
Back to Nintendo properties, it was time to look at NintendoLand. A virtual theme park, NintendoLand features 12 different attractions. Five of these areas are available for demo on the E3 2012 show floor. There were three objectives behind the creation of NintendoLand. First was to create new gameplay objectives for players. The second was to make it a game with plenty of multiplayer competition opportunities. The final goal was to make it a title that could be played by people the world over. That aspect was achieved by integrating Miiverse.
Asymmetric gameplay was highlighted in the Luigi's Ghost Mansion attraction. Here the player with the WiiU gamepad plays as an invisible ghost, while the four players using Wiimotes play as ghost hunters. The ghost hunters can find the ghost by using their Wiimotes. They will rumble when the ghost is nearby. If the four work together, they can locate the ghost and attack it with their lights. If the ghost hunters can eliminate the ghost, they win. If the ghost player can knock out all four ghost hunters, he wins. The gameplay looks like a bunch of fun for a group, but it doesn't really seem new. Watching the demo it's difficult not to think of 2003's Pac-Man Vs. for the Nintendo GameCube.
NintendoLand is a confirmed launch title for the WiiU.
Fils-Aime closed the presentation with two words: Together Better. It may be emblematic of the approach Nintendo is taking toward the WiiU, but looking back on the presentation, it's difficult not to feel under whelmed. For all the talk of innovation, the presentation didn't really give the feel of something new. Walking out, we had a strong sense of déjà vu, as if it were something we've seen before. The only thing missing is a late night TV commercial advertising the WiiU as "new and improved!" Here's hoping the WiiU games on the E3 2012 show floor are more exciting than the Nintendo presentation.