The third and final press conference of the big three consoles came from Nintendo. Based on past experience, it’s fair to say that many were expecting some sort of surprise from Nintendo. A surprise that would likely make the other two consoles look like they’re playing catchup. So did it happen again in 2012?
No. Microsoft unveiled a great many Xbox 360 entertainment features, Sony showed realistic game previews for Playstation and their ability to take a risk on hardware and Nintendo brought much of the same with regards to hardware and aimed for a home run with software and entertainment announcements, but those big swings were a miss.
Not much new here. The gamepad has changed slightly with the addition of more buttons and built-in features. The WiiU gamepad was shown in video demonstrations over and over again during the press conference. Images of families gathered around a television with gamepad in hand playing games, exercising and whatnot. The problem is we’ve seen all that before, some of it at last year’s E3. So what’s new? Well, it comes in black too.
Now don’t get us wrong, we were intrigued by the WiiU last year and continue to be fascinated by its usage possibilities. The issue with the E3 2012 presentation was the lack of live gameplay through the WiiU. Pre-recorded footage is fun to watch, but doesn’t fully depict real life usage.
Completely outlining all the ins and outs of the WiiU could be an article in and of itself, so we’ve borrowed an infographic from Nintendo’s Facebook page to define the buttons and included a video to detail their usage.
There were a couple bright spots in gaming for Nintendo. ZombiU was easily the most integrated for play on the WiiU. It took the idea of having a second screen for maps or gear switches and turned it into an accessory for gameplay with shaking to escape a zombie’s grasp and as a detector for enemies. ZombiU made the WiiU look like a piece of hardware worth having.
Super Mario Bros.U and Pikmin 3 round out the positive vibes towards WiiU games. Super Mario Bros.U looks like Mario of old and you can’t help but feel nostalgic about the franchise. Pikmin 3 looked creative though the game could clearly be played without a WiiU gamepad and probably be just as much fun.
Third party title offerings were essentially old games just redeveloped for the WiiU. Batman Arkham City Armored Edition is a new title, but still an old game with new features for the WiiU. Mass Effect 3, Ninja Gaiden 3, Aliens Colonial Marines are all coming to WiiU, but are old games.
The remaining game lineup involved a lot of silliness and undesirable content.
- SiNG is basically karaoke
- Tank! Tank! Tank! Looked horrible and should not have been shown.
- An assortment of fitness games including Wii FitU.
- Nintendoland. There are all sorts of problems with this, but if I were a parent I’d be watching how the interaction is monitored for this.
MiiVerse was introduced as the new welcome screen when powering up the WiiU console. Described as Main Street, it’s a social leap for Nintendo. The idea is to bring everyone who uses the WiiU along with all friends into the MiiVerse together on screen. Seems like a nice idea, but I don’t see the purpose in it. When owners turn their consoles on, they want to play games or watch a movie, etc., not draw pictures and hand draw chat boxes on the MiiVerse screen. It just seems unnecessary.
3DS has a multitude of games lined up. We’ll cover this more in our E3 2012 Game Recap.
Final Thoughts (Editorial notes)
Normally, I wouldn’t be so harsh on Nintendo. After all, I grew up with it, but these latest turns could be the end of a once great gaming platform. The WiiU is handy at best. It is advantageous to use a second smaller screen for maps and inventory views, but not a ‘game changer’.
The video presentations seem to expect users to view the small screen while visitors (non-players) enjoy watching the same or similar thing on a big screen (television). I’m telling you flat out right now, people do not want to watch others play video games – they want to play them. As a player, if the gamepad is in my hands, I will be looking at the large screen unless I’m forced to look at the gamepad screen. As a mobile gaming option, I like it. A family member can watch TV and I can still play a game – great!
The marketing team for the WiiU has their work cut out for them, because right now there just doesn’t seem to be a reason to invest in a Nintendo WiiU.
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