Let’s be honest, the deck was stacked for Nintendo. After poor showings from Microsoft and Sony, the last member of the Big Three had all eyes focusing on their press conference. Under that kind of pressure, a lesser company would have cracked; however, Nintendo is no ordinary gaming company. The company most definitely out-performed their rivals, and with flying colors too.
- The conference began with all things Zelda. This year marks the 25th anniversary for Legend of Zelda and fans were beginning to get suspicious when no special commemoration had been announced by Nintendo. And then a live orchestra started playing beautiful arrangements of classic Zelda tunes. And then Shigeru Miyamoto walked out on stage. This was how Nintendo kicked off their E3 press event, with the man who created Zelda showing off a slew of new products commemorating the franchise’s 25th anniversary. Miyamoto proudly announced that the “Zelda-bration” () will be celebrated across all the Nintendo platforms: Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D for the 3DS, a free, downloadable version of Legend of Zelda: The Four Swords for the DSi, a special edition, golden Wii Remote, emblazoned with the Hylean crest, Link’s Awakening arriving on the Nintendo e-shop, and a Legend of Zelda orchestral tour later in the year (dates were not announced). Miyamoto also showed off some Skyward Sword footage and confirmed the title is due out for the holiday.
- Miyamoto then left the stage and Reggie Fils-Aime took the stage to tease the upcoming Wii sequel reveal and show us Nintendo’s line-up for the 3DS. Reggie told us that Wii sequel will be releasing next year – this year is all about the DS. Nintendo’s first party line-up for their new portable system consists of the following: Mario Kart 3DS, Star Fox 64 3DS, Super Mario 3DS, Kid Icarus: Uprising, and Luigi’s Mansion 2.
- Mario Kart 3DS, a holiday season release, will see the arrival of some new features (flying karts/hang-gliding, underwater karts, and kart customization) as well as a fine-tuning of the online modes, especially the battle modes.
- Star Fox 64 3DS, due out in September, will feature graphic updates to the classic N64 title as well motion and touch controls and a multiplayer experience.
- Super Mario 3DS, due out by the end of the year, looks to be a breath of fresh air for the Mario franchise. Reggie told us this game was created from the ground-up and it certainly looks that way. Based on what I saw, the game will offer a traditional platforming experience enhanced by other 2D and 3D elements. Also, Bowser’s long-forgotten children, the Koopalings, will return in this title.
- Kid Icarus: Uprising, a game first teased last year, and due out by the end of this year, got some love. We’ve already seen a good chunk of what the game has to offer, but Reggie showed us some of the online battling, which looks insanely fun.
- Luigi’s Mansion 2 was the only real shocker of the bunch. Reggie promised a much more fulfilling experience with this game – there are several new mansions and environments for players to explore. Again, like Super Mario Bros 3DS, this game was built from the ground up, which should breathe some new life into the series.
- After this, we were given a look at some of the third-party releases due out this year for the system. This list is not conclusive, but should give you some idea of what you can expect for the 3DS over the next couple of months: Resident Evil: The Mercenaries, Resident Evil: Revelations, Tetris Online, Ace Combat 3DS, Cave Story 3D, Driver: Renegade, Pac-Man Dimensions, Galaga Dimensions, Mario and Sonic 3DS, and Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3DS. Reggie promised that demos for many of these titles will be coming out soon.
- Next, there was some talk about the Virtual Console and what’s in store there. Excitebike 3D is available to download for free this month. This week also saw the release of Pokedex 3D (freeware). You start off with a few Pokemon and, through interacting with other users, can build your Pokedex. Pokedex 3D also allows for the Pokemon to be transplanted into images using the Augmented Reality system.
(As a sidenote, I checked twitter at this time to see if anything was in the Trending Topics. To my surprise, Nintendo had all but consumed the entire list worldwide. As of writing, the Twitterverse is still positively ablaze with chat about Nintendo’s conference, something that neither Sony nor Microsoft managed to accomplish, but, to be fair, Microsoft was competing with Apple’s WWDC. Also, follow me on Twitter! @Killblue!)
- And now, the moment we’ve all been waiting for. Reggie begins talk about Nintendo’s Wii successor. He says that the Wii was all about the “we” in gaming, the communal experience. The console’s successor is all about “you” (pointing to the audience), the players. This leads to the reveal of the system’s name, the Nintendo Wii U (seriously?)
- Awful naming aside, the Wii U looks to be an incredibly impressive piece of technology. Not much was said about the system itself. Instead, the controller took the spotlight. Inspired by the recent boom in the tablet industry, the Wii U’s controller seems to be cashing in on that market. Equipped with a 6.2-inch screen, the controller will give one of the most brilliant gaming experiences I’ve ever heard. Equipped with the aforementioned screen, which has touch capabilities, two analog sticks, a D-pad, 4 face buttons, Start and Select buttons, 4 triggers, a microphone, a gyroscope (for detecting movement-based controls), and an accelerometer (for detecting intricacies and velocity within the movement-based controls, basically, the Wii Motion Plus). While gaming with the Wii U, players have a few different display options. You can show the gameplay on both the touch screen and your television, on just the television, and, get this, on just the touch screen. The Wii U will stream gameplay from the actual hardware to the controller, in case you feel like watching TV while you’re gaming. Almost every single Wii peripheral will be compatible with the Wii U’s controller, which opens up endless possibilities for control input.
- We then got a look at a few first-party titles for the Wii U, specifically, an HD Legend of Zelda and a New Super Mario Bros. A user over on reddit.com put together a great technical run-down on the WIi U. The images shown put it on-par with current PS3 and XBOX 360 visuals. Also shown were a few “prototype” pieces of software, including Mii Chase, a game where Miis chase each other around.
- Masahiro Sakurai took the stage next to drop a rather large bomb: two new Super Smash Bros. titles are in development, one for the Wii U and one for the 3DS. He also confirmed that there will be some cross-compatibility between the two games. Beyond that, no other information was offered about the new titles.
- At this point, Reggie highlighted some of the third-party studios who are working on Wii U titles, including, but not limited to, EA, THQ, Ubisoft, Warner Brothers, 5th Cell, Namco, Irrational Games, and Disney. Reggie then gave us a taste of what third-party gems we can expect for the Wii U. Be warned, the days of third-party shovelware seem to be ending: Darksiders 2, Batman: Arkham City, Assassin’s Creed, Ghost Recon, Aliens: Colonial Marines, Tekken, and Ninja Gaiden III were among the hottest titles teased for the new system.
- EA’s CEO, John Riccitiello, took the stage to pledge his company’s support to bringing a great line-up of titles to the Wii U including, but not limited to, Madden, Battlefield, Harry Potter, Burnout, and Army of Two.
- Reggie then came back to close out the show in style. The event ended with an image of Nintendo’s software future being shown. I can’t even begin to name all of the titles shown, so I’ll just leave you with this image.
Nintendo did a great job with their presentation this year. Opening with Miyamoto’s heralding of the Zelda-bration was just fantastic and the ball kept rolling from there. We can glean two important things from this conference.
1.) Nintendo’s days of alienation from third-party studios are over
At two points in the presentation, Nintendo proudly touted a great third-party roster for their newest portable and their upcoming console. And we’re not just talking about the next iteration of Jillian Michael’s Fitness here. There are great games coming for these two systems thanks to the olive branch that Nintendo has extended to the third-party companies.
2.) The 3DS now will have software actually worth purchasing
The two major problems that inhibited the 3DS’ launch performance were expensive hardware and an awful software line-up. By the end of this year, Nintendo will have released four (possibly five, depending upon the final release date for Luigi’s Mansion 2) major titles, not to mention the string of third-party titles. While the hardware cost hasn’t changed, customers will probably now feel far more secure in their investment thanks to this slew of awesome titles.
No solid release date or price tag were announced for the Wii U. I’m not normally one for speculating (as it usually just leads to disappointment and anger), so I’ll let the Internet take care of that. Regardless, it seems to be an incredibly impressive piece of technology that will most certainly define Nintendo’s success for the next cycle of systems. Again, this was a great presentation from Nintendo. We’ll be updating you when we learn of concrete release dates for all the titles mentioned above.
Stay tuned to Comic Booked for more E3 2011 coverage, and be sure to follow us on Twitter and join the conversation on our forums!