Shigeru Miyamoto took the stage first to outline Nintendo’s thinking during the conceptual stage of the console’s production. It has been six years since Nintendo launched the Wii. For the Wii U to be complete it couldn’t be dependent on TV, says the luminary designer behind many of Nintendo’s most hallowed intellectual properties, including Mario.
As consoles need to be connected to the TV they’re always a slave to it, believes Miyamoto. Consoles can’t be played when someone is watching, and they can’t played when the TV is off, he points out.
Therefore, Nintendo wished to design a console with a dedicated screen. Irrespective of some press and consumer doubt over the necessity of the screen, Microsoft, at least, sees merit in the concept. Announced yesterday, the Xbox will connect tablet and phone screens to the console using a new system it calls SmartGlass.
Miyamoto continued by unveiling Pikmin 3. It has been 10 years since the Pikmin franchise appeared on the Gamecube. Pikmin 3 utilises the Wiimote and nunchuck, while the Wii U GamePad provides an interactive overview of the level’s map. Players can use the touchscreen to more easily control the Pikmin, says Miyamoto.
When using the pad exclusively, players control four Pikmin leaders. There are also challenge modes available on the GamePad, for example, collecting as much fruit as possible within a time limit. Players can also watch a recording of a previous challenge on the TV while they play another round, thus allowing them to gauge their playthrough.
Nintendo America president Reggie Fils-Aime followed Miyamoto and began by announcing a series of online partnerships with Netflix, Hulu, YouTube and Amazon video, before announcing that the conference would focus especially on games. In all, 23 games, both first and third-party, were shown to press and audiences at home. More importantly, however, Fils-Aime confirmed that the Wii U will support more than one GamePad per system, strengthening the system’s usefulness for many core cooperative or local competitive games.
Fils-Aime also recapped MiiVerse, a kind of social platform native to the Wii U. When players launch the console, the Mii and those of friends and strangers will pour onto the screen and congregate around the games they’re playing, thus providing a snapshot infographic of what’s currently popular on Wii U. The Miis will also talk using both text and pictures. How Nintendo intends to moderate these transactions is not yet known.
The only first-party title announced so far at E3 for the Wii U is New Super Mario Bros U. The gameplay is classic side-scrolling Mario, and the map is interactive, displaying comments from fellow friends based on the current location of their own game.
Warner Bros. took the stage next and announced Batman: Arkham City: Armored Edition. The edition includes Wii U functionality such as selectable special attacks, as well as batarang and explosive control via the GamePad.
Warner Bros. also announced Scribblenauts Unlimited for both Wii U and 3DS. 5th Cell’s next instalment will introduce multiplayer and great social functionality to the series.
SiNG (working title) is Nintendo’s first music title for the Wii U. The game’s key point of difference is that players will no longer need to face the TV, as the lyrics for songs will appear on the GamePad. Onlookers will be provided with a series of dance moves they’re able to perform along with the singer.
Nintendo 3DS took a backseat at the conference. However, a New Super Mario Bros. 2 was announced, and confirmed for a US launch in August. Additionally, Paper Mario Sticker Star will also arrive later this year. Of the 3DS titles shown, Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon caused the most excitement. With its hammy haunted house aesthetic, Dark Moon will feature multiple mansions, new puzzles and new ghosts. The game is due this holiday season.
For core Wii U audiences, Ubisoft’s ZombiU was undoubtedly the key platform-exclusive shown. The game promises to be somewhat difficult as players cannot be bitten once. The GamePad acts as the player’s apocalypse survival kit. It’s used to scan areas for the undead, as a sniper scope and for hacking doorways.
Finally, Nintendo announced NintendoLand. A themepark based on Nintendo’s most celebrated IP, NintendoLand is to Wii U what WiiSports was to the Wii, and will showcase the gameplay differentiation of the console.
Gameplanet will have much more information on NintendoLand and Nintendo’s other titles in the days ahead.