E3 2012: Nintendo Continues to Drop the Ball

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E3 2012: Nintendo Continues to Drop the BallNintendo needed to kill it. Being the last press conference before E3 starts in earnest and having a coming out party for new hardware, a lot was riding on the big N’s show. Did they deliver? Well, to put it bluntly, no.

Here’s what happened:

  • Pikmin 3
  • The show kicked off with Shigeru Miyamoto hitting the stage to announce Pikmin 3 for the Wii U. He showed off a good amount of very nice looking gameplay and ran down many of the new features, a new type of Pikmin, the rock Pikmin, being able to destroy objects to build bridges and controlling four different Pikmin leaders for a more tactical level of control. You’re also able to control the game with either the Wii-Remote and Nunchuck or the Wii U Gamepad. Looks like it could be really cool.

  • Reggie hits the stage
  • Everybody’s favorite video game personality, Reggie Fils-Aime, makes an appearance to give a laundry list of features for the Wii U: Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, Amazon Video, all are coming to Wii U. He also introduced the concept of asymmetric gameplay, which, in this context, means multi-player games where some people using Wii-Remotes and some using the Wii U gamepad all play in the same game but have different experiences and goals. Sometimes the person using the Wii U gamepad will play the role of the antagonist, always trying to hinder the other players.

    In other words the Wii U gamepad will have the ability to help the other players by creating platforms or opening paths. He also announces that the Wii U will be able to support two gamepads at the same time, but no games were shown with that feature.

  • Miiverse
  • This basically looked like Nintwitter. A whole bunch of Miis were congregated around various billboard looking objects that featured various Nintendo characters. Users are able to send text or picture messages to friends.

  • New Super Mario Bros. U
  • If you’ve played a previous New Super Mario Bros. game, then you should feel right at home here. You can play it on either the Wii U gamepad or the TV. It features extremely nice looking backgrounds, tons of Yoshi’s and, of course, four player co-op.

  • Batman: Arkham City: Armored Edition
  • The game you played and loved last year is back on the Wii U with new features like the B.A.T. mode, which is a meter that builds over the course of combat and when it fills up makes you deal more damage. Also you have the ability to control the remote control batarang and explosive gel with the Wii U gamepad.

  • Scribblenauts: Unlimited
  • The ultimate version of Scribblenauts. They didn’t show a whole bunch, but it looked like there would be a significant amount of exploration. There’s also the new ability to make custom objects instead of just pulling them out of a dictionary and a new multi-player mode as well.

  • Rapid rundown of games coming to the Wii U. Darksiders 2, Mass Effect 3, TANK! TANK! TANK! (their emphasis, not mine; f it were mine, there would be WAY more exclamation points), Tekken Tag Tournament 2, Trine 2: Director’s Cut, Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge, Aliens Colonial Marine.

  • Wii Fit U
  • A video was shown of people getting fit. It’s Wii Fit but for the Wii U; not much more to say.

  • SiNG
  • Karaoke for the Wii U. The lyrics are displayed on the Wii U gamepad so you can face your audience instead of being forced to face the TV screen. If karaoke is your thing, then you should dig it.

  • Talking 3DS
  • At this point in the show they moved focus off the Wii U and on to the 3DS.

  • New Super Mario Bros. 2
  • Another New Super Mario Bros. game. It’s completely unrelated to the Wii U game announced earlier. The emphasis on this one is all about getting gold coins. The short video showed a gold fire flower, a new power-up that turns Mario solid gold and allows him to shoot gold fireballs.

  • Paper Mario: Sticker Star
  • An RPG featuring the classic Paper Mario art style. In this one you find stickers around the environments that become your attacks in battle.

  • Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon
  • The sequel to the GameCube launch game. They put an emphasis on exploring multiple mansions and more ghost catching action.

  • This time it’s a montage of upcoming Nintendo 3DS games: Castlevania: Lords of Shadow: Mirror of Fate, Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion, Scribblenauts: Unlimited, Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance.

  • Lego City
  • This game is most easily described at GTA meets Lego. Keeping with its family-friendly image, you play as a cop rather than a criminal. You can use the Wii U gamepad to scan for and arrest hidden criminals. It has really nice looking environments. Full voice acting in a Lego game is a little strange, but it if it all comes together, it could be a lot of fun.

  • Ubisoft
  • A little third-party action is on stage at this point.

  • Just Dance 4
  • It’s the fourth Just Dance game. People are on stage dancing to “Moves like Jagger.” It’s precisely as exciting as it sounds.

  • Zombi U
  • A survival first-person shooter that utilizes the Wii U gamepad in some interesting ways, checking your inventory, item scanning, sniping, door hacking. The gameplay they showed off seemed pre-rendered, but other than that it looks pretty exciting. I really want to see more.

  • The third montage of the show. This time it features Ubisoft games coming to the Wii U: Assassin’s Creed 3, Rabbids Land, Yourshape: Fitness Evolved 2013, Rayman Legends, Sports Connection, Avengers: Battle for Earth.

  • Nintendo Land
  • Nintendo closed out their show with what they’re positioning as the Wii U’s Wii Sports. It’s a mini-game collection built around the idea of a Nintendo theme park. They rattled off some names of franchises that there will be mini-games based off, including The Legend of Zelda, AnimalCrossing and Donkey Kong, but the one they demoed was Luigi’s Ghost Mansion.

    In this mini-game four players, playing as the ghost hunters, used Wii-Remotes and one player, playing as the ghost, used the Wii U gamepad. The ghost player could see the entire map, including all the other players; the hunters could only see each other. When the ghost got close to one of the hunters, their controller would rumble, indicating that there was danger close. The object was for the ghost to knock out the hunters before they could shine their flashlights on him and drain all his life. It looked like it could be a good time, but as the last thing showed at the press conference, it was a huge letdown.

    Nintendo needed a big show. After some interesting, but ultimately underwhelming, shows from the other big guys, they needed to knock it out of the park. But with no huge surprises, no launch date or price and a finale that rivals Wii Music in disappointment, Nintendo absolutely dropped the ball. Bummer.

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    • Vanvance1

      I think things are looking grim for Nintendo. All of the casual gamers have migrated to phones, tablets and facebook. The hard core gamers are largely alienated by the Wii.

      This new system doesn’t sound like much of a jump over the PS3.