More than any other presentation, Nintendo’s was super-focused on new titles for both its new platform the Wii U and the 3DS.
The conference kicked off with Shigeru Miyamoto explaining some of the vision behind the Wii U controller, with the focus on a dedicated personal screen for each players. The big idea is using the second screen for innovative game functionality, Miyamoto saying that you wouldn’t have to wait to turn on your controller to weigh yourself in Wii Fit
Another example: the upcoming Pikmin 3, which is making its debut here. Again, you’ll control 100 Pikmin with enhanced animations and graphics, along with a new black Pikin type made of rock. These can be aimed using the Wii Motion Plus technology to break hard objects in the world. The basic controls will use the Nunchuck and the Wii Controller Plus. On the show floor, Nintendo will be demoing the new Challenge Mode where the player has to collect as much fruit as they can in a time limit.
Reggie Fils-Amis promised that we would see 23 games today during their presentation as Nintendo promised that the Wii U could potentially change gamers’ lives. To the latter, he explained that it would change how you enjoy gaming, how you game with friends, and how you enjoy TV. The Wii U will be getting Netflix, Amazon Video, and YouTube, but Reggie says that this week won’t be about explaining this promised massive sea change in gamers’ lives.
“Asymmetric gameplay” is a promised feature, where one player with a GamePad competes against other players with different objectives. The Wii U will support two GamePads a la the NES. A demo video explained the controls of the GamePad, with its touchscreen, dual analogs, shoulder buttons, IR receiver, motion control using the gyroscope, a built-in camera and mic, stereo speakers, a headphone jack, and the home button.
Yup, that’s a controller with a touchscreen in it. But hey, it’s coming in both black and white color schemes.
MiiVerse is Main Street 2.0, where Miis you’ve encountered in other games will congregate, assembling around games that are trending globally on Wii U. Each Mii has a speech bubble that has allows simple text messages or drawings as with SwapNote, emotiocons, etc. It’s browser-based, and post-launch you should be able to activate MiiVerse through the browser, 3DS, and smartphones.
Reggie brought up New Super Mario Brothers U which will use some of this functionality and how gamers can share their experiences with the game, dropping hints about where they are in the game, etc. The way he describes it, it’s like messages left behind in Demons Soul by other online players. As for New SMB U, it’s another four-player 2D Mario game featuring 3D character models. It can be played on the big screen as well as the GamePad.
But wait, there’s more: Batman: Arkham City is coming to the Wii U. With the subtitle Armored Edition, it will use the GamePad as a second screen to investigate crime scenes and feature exclusive versions of Batman and Catwoman. The second screen also allows for inventory management and there’s an exclusive B.A.T. mode where Batman will collect kinetic energy during fights which can be deployed through powerful special attacks. You’ll also be able to use the GamePad to aim to remote-controlled Batarang. You can also trigger explosives using the touchscreen. It looks like it’ll include new locations not in the PS3, PC, and 360 versions of the game.
I wonder if it will include all of the DLC to date. It’s being developed by WB Studios Montreal.
WB Games is also bringing Scribblenauts Unlimited to the Wii U from developer 5th Cell. The new game promises combination objects (such as a dog with wheels) with what looks like a parts system. You can share the things you create with friends and for the first time, Scribblenauts will include multiplayer. The game will provide the backstory for hero Maxwell’s magic notebook.
A reel showed off some of the other upcoming third-party titles including Mass Effect 3, Darksiders II, Tank! Tank! Tank! from Namco Bandai along with Tekken Tag Tournament 2, Trine 2: Director’s Cut (nice), Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge, and Aliens: Colonial Marines.
Fils-Amis began talking about the Wii Fit Balance Board, moving into a discussion of Wii Fit U which will use the GamePad for balance exercises, while you get on and off the balance board. It’ll offer calorie tracking and allow players to workout using the second screen. New events, a fit meter, and so on.
Nintendo’s not ready to give up on music games with Sing from FreeStyle Games. With Sing, you’ll use the GamePad to read lyrics while singing facing your friends (my friends don’t need or want to see that!), who can clap, dance, and sing along. It looks like it’ll require an additional microphone peripheral.
And now I’m sadly grumbling that Activision couldn’t resurrect DJ Hero for the new console.
Moving on to the 3DS, tomorrow night Nintendo will have an online event focused on the handheld, but today they’ll talk about a couple of the first and third-party titles on the way. One of those is the new 2D, gold-focused New Super Mario Bros. 2, which will be available in the U.S. on August 19th. Paper Mario: Sticker Star is also on the way, with the RPG getting stickers that you can pull out of the environment to use as special attacks or find special items. Sticker Stars is on the way this holiday season both digitally and on a cart.
Plus: another Luigi’s Mansion! Coming this holiday season, Luigi’s Mansion 2: Dark Moon include new ghosts, environments, and challenges.
Another montage, this one featuring some third-party 3DS titles including Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate which is 2D with 3D characters, QTEs, Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion, Scribblenauts Unlimited, and Kingdom Hearts 3D.
Back to the WII U, LEGO City Undercover is an open world crime fighting title from TT Games. Think of it as GTA for the kids. Use the GamePad to scan for criminals or communicate with your fellow officers (the game appears to be fully voiced), and there’s a bit of platforming to it as well. You can also disguise your character and go undercover. It’s on the way this holiday season and a portable version is in the works for the 3DS.
In Ubisoft’s Just Dance 4, the player using the GamePad can change the choreography for the other players actually dancing, and also set poses for them. Ubisoft described it as being the puppet master.
In Zombi U, one bite and you’re dead. Using the GamePad, manage inventory, use it as a sonar device to detect nearby living dead, it’s an object scanner, a scope for the sniper rifle, and door hacking tool. It looks like the action doesn’t pause while you’re using the second screen in this upcoming FPS.
Also on the way from Ubisoft on the Wii U: ACIII, Rabbids Land, Your Shape: Fitness Evolved 2013, Rayman Legends, Sports Connection, and Avengers: Battle for Earth.
Back to the first party: Nintendo Land. It’s to act as the Wii Sports for the Wii U, providing first-time users an understanding of the second screen. It’s a combination of all of Nintendo’s major IP, a minigame collection with an amusement park wrapper. In one game, four players navigate a maze, haunted by ghosts, and you have to communicate with other players to avoid it, conserve flashlight batteries. It launches with the Wii U hardware this holiday.
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