Now that E3 has come and gone, it’s appropriate to compare and contrast the details of the event. If you read the article GU Nintendo Team: Our Thoughts on Nintendo’s E3 2012, then you would have gotten a quick glimpse at some of my thoughts on this topic already. Coming up in this article, I’ll expand on those thoughts while also deciphering what this E3 taught me and what it means for Nintendo, its fans and gaming in general. First, let’s hit up a quick recap to ‘get your body ready.’
Wii U Hardware
Nintendo’s soon-to-release console (although still unknown how soon) was reintroduced this year. However, two days before Nintendo’s conference a Nintendo Direct video was released to help explain the Wii U in order to possibly spread out the amount of new information over time. The video showed off the redesigned controller (now officially named the GamePad), a new controller for third-party ports called the Pro Controller and the Miiverse.
Step through a time portal with me and we’ll come to Nintendo’s E3 conference, which really didn’t explain too much more about the console itself. Nintendo hasn’t been keen on giving out full technical specs of their consoles since the GameCube either mind you, so this was questionable to ever be detailed. A price and/or release date wasn’t given either, but Nintendo already informed us that this kind of information wouldn’t be announced at E3. I was still hoping for a generic release window.
Much like Sony and Microsoft, Nintendo decided to start off their conference with its biggest game first: Pikmin 3. The game looks to stay true to its roots while adding just enough to keep it fresh, such as a new Rock-type Pikmin and multiple captains to control at once. On top of this, the graphics are such an improvement over the two previous games in the series that this detail alone is enough to make it seem fresh. If anyone had any wonder at all about whether Nintendo could create such a beautiful game in HD, this game should answer it right away.
Although the unveiling of this game was definitely nice news not only for myself, but for all Pikmin fans, I couldn’t help but realize that this was the high point of Nintendo’s E3 2012 conference (and possibly their entire E3).
New Super Mario Bros. U
Was it really a surprise to see a Mario title announced? Okay, so maybe the fact that this could very well be a launch title is a bit newsworthy. Nevertheless, Mario U (as I like to call it) looks to take social interactions to new heights while interacting with the Miiverse. It’s also going to continue with allowing four players to play together (online co-op still unconfirmed), but now an extra, fifth player can take control of the environment and obstacles in the game with the GamePad. Hey, it’s Mario with a bit of online mixed in. You’ll buy it, and love it.
Ugh. When I thought about all of the franchises I wanted to see at E3 from Nintendo, this wasn’t exactly what I had in mind. In NintendoLand, all of Nintendo’s major franchises and characters come together in this mini-game collection. It also seems to be heavily focused on social interaction with its Miiverse and online multiplayer interactivity. Think of this as the Wii Sports game for Wii U, only in amusement park form.
Other First-Party Games
There were some other first-party games on show at E3. Some of said games for Wii U include Wii Fit U (c0me on, you knew it was coming) and a karaoke game named Sing. Most of the first-party software, however, was ready and waiting to be seen and played on 3DS.
That’s right. The Nintendo 3DS had most of the Big N’s grunt-work behind it. However, no actual new games were to be seen from the company. Games like Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon, Paper Mario: Sticker Star and New Super Mario Bros. 2 were already known and detailed before. Besides the subtitles, the only other new information released were some release dates and more gameplay being shown off. That’s really the brunt of the first-party software showcased this year and although the lineup looks amazing, it still would have been nice to see something new. Oh, and Fire Emblem: Awakening was said to be coming to the West in a side interview with Reggie.
Third-party support was something Nintendo had been touting since last year. However , we really only got to see that Ubisoft is definitely a huge supporter, what with exclusives like Rayman: Legends and ZombiU (although these may end up becoming multiplatform). The very talented developer also has Assassin’s Creed 3 and more in the works, but other developers didn’t seem too inclined to either show or have anything ready besides a few like Rocksteady. Most of these other games seemed to be older and quite possibly considered irrelevant such as Batman: Arkham City – Armored Edition and Mass Effect 3.
Third-party support did seem to be a bit stronger for the 3DS however, with games like Castelvania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate, Scribblenauts: Unlimited (also on Wii U), Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion and a few others. These were games we knew very little about, if anything, and it was nice to see something new from third-parties. Let’s also not forget about Kingdom Hearts 3D, which will be releasing soon.
What Does It All Mean?
Let’s look at what this year’s E3 could possibly tell us about the future of Nintendo:
The Wii Is Over the Hill (And Buried in the Ground)
Besides The Last Story set to release July 10th in the U.S., there isn’t much else for Wii owners. Okay, so maybe I’m picking on the situation a bit. With the Wii U’s launch approaching, it’s obvious that support will be moving to the new console. However, without a release date for the Wii U, Nintendo fans are stuck wondering what their original Wii’s will be used for until then. This is something worth noting even at the end of a lifecycle.
Nintendo’s Home Console Strategy Hasn’t Changed
I get it. Nintendo is all about trying to do its best at catering to all ages, and this arguably hasn’t changed since the NES days. However, the company is much more forceful in getting the “casual” gamers in today’s market. When first unveiled at E3 2011, Wii U was said to be a console built to do a better job to incorporate everyone. Nintendo wanted to really capture the hearts of all gamers equally this time around. But, this just isn’t what I see. Sure, the third-party games seem to be there now (albeit only a few and some are pretty old), but it seems as though Nintendo just cannot create a game specifically for the mature audience. If Nintendo were to develop or publish just one mature game (I’m looking at you Eternal Darkness 2), this would completely change my attitude on this point. Until then, I’ll have to stick to the fact that nothing seems to have changed from the Wii to the Wii U besides the little extra under the hood and the controller.
3DS is King of Mobile Gaming
One area that Nintendo is excelling at on all fronts is the Nintendo 3DS. This year will see the release of many first-party and third-party games. Games of all genres will be covered due to series’ like Mario, RollerCoaster Tycoon and Castlevania. Also, the expansion of the handheld’s capabilities seems to increase every year, and this year could see the release of an Amazon Video app considering one is coming to the Wii U. After a slow start for the handheld, E3 2012 showed just which handheld is currently king of the crop.
What I learned From It All
First of all, I learned basically very little about the Wii U hardware. I know graphics aren’t everything, but I’m still very curious as to which IBM multi-core CPU and AMD GPU are inside the machine. I’m a pure tech geek at heart and I just need to know. Okay, Nintendo? This question of graphical power has its warrants though. For one thing, I’m afraid Nintendo will once again be left creating good games on its own without the help from third-parties in a year or two. It’s a shame, but most developers want more power and could care less about new ways to control games. Unfortunately, this is now where Nintendo has found it’s place and it cannot retreat. It’s currently stuck between the Wii “casual” crowd and “hardcore” gamers where I think neither will be as interested in the console as Nintendo hopes. The core Nintendo fans will almost always be there, but I don’t know if that’s enough.
Now that that’s out of the way, on a good note, I learned that I am extremely proud to own my 3DS. There was a small amount of worry inside me at one point, what with all the ‘Doomsday’ articles floating around the web, but I can honestly say that I’m glad to be an early adopter of the handheld.
So, Nintendo may very well have me on the fence with the Wii U still, but I at least know for sure that my 3DS will continue to see a lot of playtime. In fact, I think I’ll go play right now.