E3 2012 - Nintendo Press Conference
This was the final of the big three, E3 press conferences. More games and announcements are likely to follow over the next few days, so keep checking back for updates, opinions and disappointment.
Nintendo’s E3 2012 Press Conference
The show opened with Shigeru Miyamoto lounging in his changing room, unaware of a herd of Pikmin trampling all over his shit. E3 really needs to step-up security. Miyamoto brought his CG mini companions to the stage and before you knew it they were clambering all over the audience.
Despite knowing relatively little about Pikmin, it’s hard not to get enthused by Miyamoto with his childish grin and unfaltering enthusiasm. The reveal was of course for Pikmin 3 for Wii U, which drew a roar of approval from the crowd. It was all very colourful and charming and there was talk of new features, depth and strategy, most of which was completely lost on me. Still, it was an excellent opening gambit and as Nintendo as you'd like.
Reggie Fils-Aime's presenting style is rather jarring after the effortlessly amiable Miyamoto, but his opening was exactly what we wanted to hear. He assured us that the next hour would be "all about the games”, promising 23 titles in today's presser (I think we should request a recount), before complaining that there wouldn't be enough time this week to reveal everything about the Wii U that he wanted to share.
Completely contradicting his statement about concentrating on games, Reggie spent the next five to ten minutes detailing the Wii U's features. He gave us the ins-and-outs of the tablet controller and confirmed that some titles would support two gamepads. My reaction was "I should bloody think so" but this seemed to impress the crowd. Welcome to the next generation, where games can support up to two controllers! MiiVerse was next on the slate and it was revealed that Nintendo's new social hub will also be accessible on the 3DS, smartphone and PC.
To no one's surprise, New Super Mario Bros U was the first new game to be shown. It looked virtually the same as every other Mario title I've failed to show interest in, but I’ve been reliable informed that new Mario = good news.
With the plumber out of the way, it was time for Nintendo to focus on the third party support that they have been stressing since the last E3, starting with Batman Arkham City: Armoured Edition. There were some interesting uses of the tablet, but for the most part the demo showed the gamepad being utilised as little more than a glorified menu. When it was used for gameplay mechanics, it made me wonder why I would want to perform such actions on a smaller screen when I'm sat in front of a large, HDTV.
Plenty of ports and sequels followed, including Scribblenauts Unlimited, Darksiders 2 and Mass Effect 3. Wii Fit U received the most attention, and at this point not even Reggie was bothering to be original, as he fell back on "my body is ready" shtick. Freestyle Games, of DJ Hero fame, presented Sing, a karaoke sim that was aimed squarely at the causal market (i.e. not the people sat in the audience) in design and presentation.
The press conference was light on 3DS details, as there is a dedicated mini-show for Nintendo's flourishing portable scheduled for later today. The presenter followed Reggie's lead by complaining that there wasn't enough time to show everything he wanted to; perhaps if they’d dwelled less on tired re-runs and company babble they would’ve had more time. A quick montage showed New Super Mario 2, Paper Mario: Sticker Star, Luigi's Mansion 2 and a couple of other less notable titles. Moving back to the Wii U, Lego City Undercover looked far more entertaining than it had any business being, like an overly angular, family-friendly Grand Theft Auto.
Next up were the newly crowned E3-goldstandard, Ubisoft. I struggled to understand what CEO Yves Guillemot was trying to say, but I'd like to think that, when asked what he liked most about developing for the Wii U, he had replied "I like the fact that we can just port games we made for other consoles by adding a U to the title" in his thick, French accent. Just Dance 4 (U) was demoed by some rhythmically challenged dancers and ZombiU attempted to prove that adults who didn’t grow up with Miyamoto and aren't looking for 2011 ports may yet find a reason to consider the Wii U. The demo was decent enough, but it was Reggie ZombiU that stole the show.
To close, we were introduced to Nintendo Land, a hub of mini games and social interaction - part theme park, part PS Home. To be completely honest, I’m not sure what exactly Nintendo Land is as I stopped paying attention to the long-winded and terribly dull demonstration quite early on. It will launch with the system and, presuming it’s more than just a collection of mini-games, has some potential. And that, apparently, was all.
In a Nutshell
There were a lot of re-treads here, either new entries in familiar series or ports of games that you may have already played, but that was to be expected. Nintendo thrives on nostalgia and needs to introduce new technology and upgrades in a way that will feel familiar and comfortable to the millions of Wii owners who would never dream of calling themselves a gamer. Nintendo succeeded in highlighting features of the Wii U, even if the games and their use of the tablet were, for the most part, uninspired.
I’m a heavy gamer, but as someone who doesn't play many Nintendo games and was absent from their 8-16 bit heyday, this conference held nothing of interest. However, it succeeded in achieving what it set out to do: going into more detail on the Wii U and featuring a solid and safe collection of games. At an E3 where the press conferences have ranged from thoroughly underwhelming to outright disastrous, Nintendo is assured of finishing slightly ahead of a rather lethargic looking pack.