Nintendo E3 Press Conference in Brief

Nintendo’s E3 showing was almost exclusively devoted to its upcoming home console – the Wii U. While the company was the last to hold a press conference. It was also technically the first, having had a pre-E3 conference streamed online via Nintendo Direct. It was also announced during the main E3 conference that it will be holding an additional press conference online Wednesday 6th June at 6pm (PST) – 2am UK GMT – devoted exclusively to 3DS.

Pre-E3 Conference (4th June)
President of Nintendo Satoru Iwata gave a 30 minute pre-E3 conference focused exclusively on the features and functions of the Wii U gamepad and controls. No game footage was properly shown to demonstrate this functionality at the pre-E3 conference.

  • The gamepad will feature two raised joysticks. Last year the prototype used circle pads similar to the 3DS console. This has been changed as it was considered ill-suited to a home console.
  • Joysticks have 360 degree movement and can be pressed down.
  • The gamepad will feature a screen that will enable “assymetric diversity in gameplay”. Basically you will be playing one game using two screens that will show different things to enhance gameplay (rather than the gamepad screen and TV screen being totally synched).
  • Will include a motion and gyro sensor.
  • You will not be required to sit directly in front of the TV to play. The Wii was hindered by the necessity of being in proximity of the Wii remote sensor.
  • Sometimes you can continue playing games on the gamepad even when the TV is not accessible, e.g. on a different channel. This will likely be enabled for more casual games.
  • Images on the gamepad screen will not experience a delay between the action displayed on the TV
  • Wii U console will be compatible with all Wii controls, i.e. the Wii remote, the nunchuck, and balance board.
  • A Wii U Pro Controller will be released as a separate peripheral for the core gamer.
  • The gamepad will allow you to contact other players via the internet. You will be able to type on the touch screen with fingers or stylus, or doodle messages. This is intended to raise “empathy” among players and allow you to trade scores, tips, opinions and so on.
  • Videochat functionality will be enabled through the gamepad’s inbuilt microphone and camera. You will also be able to take and send screenshots.
  • There will be an internet browser capability on the gamepad, and you can transfer what you view to the TV screen.

E3 Conference (5th June)

The main E3 press conference on Tuesday focused primarily on the games in development for Wii U.

  • Pikmin 3 (Nintendo) led the charge of games to expect, and graphically-speaking it was gorgeous (and made this Geek get out his copy of the first game for the first time in yonks). The first two instalments in the popular series were released on Gamecube in 2001 and 2004, and got a Wii rerelease in 2008/9. The game will feature new Rock Pikmin, and the Wii U’s motion+ technology will enable you to aim more accurately. The Wii U game will be slightly different as you will not only be controlling an army of Pikmin creatures but also several leaders, which will be managed via the map on the gamepad. The Wii U’s improved graphics make the game look stunning yet doesn’t depart from the accessible all-ages Nintendo look.
  • New Super Mario Bros U (Nintendo) was also announced to be in development with gameplay videos shown on stage. The same as on the New Super Mario Bros on the Wii, the retro 2d platform multiplayer game returns with a few tweaks. First, you can socialise with fellow players during the game as you can send messages to one another via the gamepad. Some footage was shown where you could ride yoshis which is welcome. The game can also be played more personally on your Wii U gamepad screen, so you don’t have to be close to the TV to participate.
  • A special version of Batman Arkham City was announced for the Wii U, entitled Batman Arkham City: Armored Edition (Warners Brothers Entertainment). The game will involve various elements that take advantage of the Wii U’s gamepad features, including a more advanced inventory function, etc.
  • Scribblenauts Unlimited (5th Cell) was announced for the Wii U. This will be the first Scribblenauts game released on a home console. It will take advantage of the touch screen to type out objects to complete puzzles and you can combine objects into a chimeara object if you are so inclined. The graphics are sleeker and stand out more than its handheld predecessors. A version of Scribblenauts Unlimited is also in development for Nintendo’s 3DS handheld. Also a new feature will be multiplayer, although how exactly that will work, in practice, is yet to be determined.
  • Wii Fit U (Nintendo) brings the popular Wii Fit franchise to the next generation. It will combine both old and new Wii controls – the balance board, Wii remote – with the Wii U’s gamepad and a new peripheral entitled a “fit meter”. The Fit Meter will effectively be a pedometer that will upload your exercise during the day to the Wii U and so will contribute to and held adjust your workout. Also featured is the fact that you can use Wii Fit U away from the TV, e.g. even when a family member is watching something.
  • SiNG (Freestyle Games) is a music-based game that effectively brings karaoke to your living room. The Wii U gamepad will supply the lyrics to a song for you to sing and the gamepad’s mic will pick up your voice. The TV screen will also display the lyrics and dance moves for your friends to participate in, if you’re so inclined and have no shame. Or have had a few pints…
  • Lego City Undercover (Telltale Games) will combine two shades of awesome in one entertaining little package: Lego and Grand Theft Auto (albeit from the right side of the law). The aim of the game is to solve crimes and venture around a sandbox Lego city. The game looks extremely entertaining and the trailer is good for a chuckle.

Other games were quickly reeled out in a flash trailer include:

  • Darksiders II (THQ)
  • Mass Effect 3 (EA)
  • Tank! Tank! Tank! (Namco Bandai)
  • Tekken Tag Tournament 2 (Namco Bandai)
  • Trine 2: Directors Cut (FrozenByte)
  • Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge (Nintendo)
  • Aliens: Colonial Marines (Sega)

Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot came to the stage to announce Ubisoft’s support and the slate of games in development for the Wii U.

  • Just Dance 4 (Ubisoft) will include exclusive Wii U features that enable you to edit the dance moves that your friends perform via the gamepad. This was demonstrated hilariously at the Nintendo Press Conference.
  • Zombi U (Ubisoft) is a new IP developed exclusively for the Wii U where you are to use the gamepad to help you to survive a zombie apocalypse in central London. The gamepad will include several features to aid survival including a sonar, a scanner, an inventory function, and a sniper sight. Also if you get pounced by a zombie you can shake the gamepad to get them off of you. A gameplay trailer can be found here.

Other Ubisoft games that were announced include:

  • Assassins Creed III (Ubisoft)
  • Rabbids Land (Ubisoft)
  • Yourshape: Fitness Evolved (Ubisoft)
  • Rayman Legends (Ubisoft)
  • Sports Connection (Ubisoft)
  • Avengers: Batte for Earth (Ubisoft)

A very short 5 minute bit was devoted to Nintendo’s handheld, the 3DS. Three Nintendo 3DS games were featured in the segment, with more promised in a one hour broadcast via Nintendo Direct at 6pm (PST) on Wednesday 6th June [2am (GMT) Thursday 7th June for those in the UK].

  • New Super Mario Bros 2 (Nintend0) – to be released 19th August in the USA
    The 2D platformer will be available for the 3DS and will be compatible with the Wii U version
  • Paper Mario: Sticker Star (Nintendo) – Christmas 2012
    Paper Mario returns with features that make use of stickers to help you solve puzzles and select battle commands.
  • Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon (Nintendo) – Christmas 2012
    The hotly anticipated sequel to the 2001 Gamecube launch title, will feature new ghosts and a heavier emphasis on ghost catching. The game will be divided up into mission-based challenges.

Finishing off the press conference was NintendoLand, a Wii U launch game designed to show people the possibilities of the console, just like Wii Sports did for the Wii. The game is a theme park filled with multiplayer minigames (disguised as theme park attractions) based around Nintendo character properties, including Legend of Zelda, Luigi’s Mansion, and Animal Crossing. The game will work with the Wii U gamepad and the Wii remotes.

Sources: Nintendo Direct, E3, youtube
Reporter: Dean Simons

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