E3 2011Features

Recap: Nintendo E3 2011 press conference

There were a lot of rumours about Nintendo’s new console before E3, and seeing the Wii’s steady decline and lack of support this year, it was a no brainer. And as they say, where there is smoke, there must be fire. A new console reveal was always going to give Nintendo the edge at this year’s E3, which could also explain the muted Sony and Microsoft presentations, which lacked any sort of impactful reveals. They’ve also had an average time with the 3DS, getting mixed responses from gamers due to the price and lack of availability of any must-own titles.

The conference started with an orchestra to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Zelda, and then came a cheery looking Shigeru Miyamoto. It’s always a humbling feeling whenever I see him on screen, even though I’m not really a big fan of Nintendo. He revealed The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D for the 3DS and mentioned how it is an improved version in every possible way. He then announced The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords, a four-player co-op game that will be available for free via DSiware. Finally, he announced a fall release for The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, for which a special promotional gold coloured Wii remote would be released.

Satoru Iwata took the stage after Miyamoto, and spoke about how they haven’t created a game platform that catered to all sorts of gamers, and provided them with a deeper and wider gaming experience. He then gave way to Reggie Fils-Aime, president of Nintendo of America, to hype up whatever they have. “Let me start with the things that matter most to gamers; those new headline titles for Nintendo 3DS,” he said, which was expected. A new Mario Kart game was announced for 3DS, which will be released later this year. Next up was Starfox 3D. “You can use the buttons or turn the system itself to control your fighter,” said Reggie. The game is out in September.

Super Mario 3D was revealed for the 3DS. It will be the first ever 3D Mario game built from scratch for a portable system. A short video followed, showing off gameplay, which is met with cheers from the audience. Next up, Kid Icarus: Uprising was showcased for the 3DS along with support for augmented reality cards for battles. Then, Luigi’s Mansion 2 was announced for the 3DS, followed by a spooky video. Third party games were revealed then for the 3DS via a video montage, including Resident Evil: Mercenaries 3D, Ace Combat 3D, Tetris, Cave Story 3D, Resident Evil: Revelations, Driver: Renegade, Tekken, and Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D.Next, Fils-Aime revealed the Nintendo E-shop, where you can search for game info and screenshots, videos and other downloads. He also announced a virtual console just for the Nintendo 3DS, where retro titles such as Excite Bike 3D will be available. Next, Pokédex 3D for the 3DS was announced, and it will available exclusively via the Nintendo E-shop.

Then, it was time for the new console reveal. “Welcome to the world of Wii U,” announced Reggie with a glimmer in his eyes. It’s normal to be stunned for a minute after hearing an announcement like that; I know I was. After all the rumours about a touch screen controller for the new Nintendo console, it finally came up on the giant screen, followed by a short clip demonstrating its capabilities. Plenty of cool features were revealed; you can draw using a stylus, play on the 6-inch screen embedded in the controller, and it also supports motion sensing. Iwata then came on stage to explain the streaming capabilities of the console. Think of it as the PS3-PSP remote play feature. He mentioned how several third party developers are excited about developing for the Wii U. Fils-Aime also echoed his sentiment, followed by a video featuring various developers talking about the possibilities of this new controller. “We couldn’t be more excited to bring the power of EA sports to Nintendo’s new console,” said Peter Moore, while the Ken Levine, Danny Bilson and Warren Spector sounded similarly excited.

Another montage followed, and was pretty interesting because many high profile third party titles like Darksiders 2, Ninja Gaiden 3, Dirt, Alien: Colonial Marines, Ghost Recon: Future Soldier, Metro: Last Light, Tekken and others were shown (Note: They used PS3/Xbox 360 footage for the video). Funnily, this was also the first time I saw Ninja Gaiden 3 gameplay footage, and I feel quite happy for Nintendo; they really needed the third party support badly.

John Riccitello, CEO of EA, then took the stage, no doubt thinking of this potential new avenue to grow the base for EA’s core. Yes, this means Battlefield 3! What I found really interesting was that Nintendo didn’t really show much about what the new console was capable off, or even their online network, which currently needs a lot of work. The whole Wii U presentation revolved around the controller, and while what they showed was fascinating, they really should have shown more tech demos at least. It’s always fun to see tech demos. Killzone 2 anyone?

With that, Nintendo wrapped the last of the E3 press conferences. Being in India, of course, all this seems so pointless, because Nintendo doesn’t even have a proper distributor here. Yes, you can resort to the grey market to satisfy your Nintendo love or import their games, but having to jump through hoops and overpay for what already looks like expensive hardware doesn’t seem too enticing, does it? So, can Nintendo pull off another runaway success like the Wii? They’re certainly hoping so, since they’ve stuck with the Wii branding and announced extensive compatibility with most Wii accessories so that massive current Nintendo home user base can relate to the Wii U easily. Nintendo could have showed much more, but that’s been the theme for E3 this year. All the major E3 press conferences have been really underwhelming.

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