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Nintendo: All Access E3 Presentation - Play by Play

Nintendo

Nintendo held a surprisingly low key, Wii U focused press conference earlier today. Serving as a follow up of sorts to Sunday's Wii U oriented Nintendo Direct presentation, today's event consisted mainly of a Wii U software showcase. Shigeru Miyamoto began with a short Pikmin skit, hyping up the third game in the franchise by super-imposing the creatures on different audience members. Miyamoto continued by reiterating that the Wii U's goal was to reinvent the concept of the television/console relationship; the fact that consoles are dependent on the television is rather limiting. The Wii U was developed with it's own screen to circumvent this. Miyamoto stressed that he wanted the Wii U to be the first screen players and family would see when entering the living room. Pikmin 3 was first name-dropped several years ago, and it was thought it would be in development for the Wii. However, upon seeing the Wii U hardware in action, Miyamoto thought Pikmin 3 would be better suited on the Wii U and given an experience that isn't possible on any other platform.

The game looks absolutely gorgeous thanks to the horsepower of the new console. The gameplay of Pikmin 3 is very similar to the first two Pikmin, but Miyamoto found that the Wii U solved issues addressed in the first two games. He spoke of the camera issues, saying if it was too far away, one could see the landscape better, but couldn't see the Pikmin well enough to control them accurately. The Wii U has solved this puzzle, as one can see an expanded, natural setting on the Wii U game pad's screen, and the view on the television is more free because of this. The player can touch the map to more effectively place the Pikmin in different areas, and the game gets much more tactical because of this. The main game is controlled by aiming and throwing with the Wii remote and movement with the nunchuk. A new rock-type Pikmin was revealed, and it's uses were demonstrated by doling out more damage to enemies, and breaking down objects and obstacles faster than the other Pikmin types. Opening up multiplayer options was the announcement of four additional captains to control, but any information other than that will come at a later date. In closing, the hero of the previous Pikmin tiles, Capitain Olimar, was mysteriously absent from the title, and Miyamoto went on to say the reason for this was a secret.

When Reggie Fils-Aime took the stage, he promised 23 Wii U titles to hit the stage during the conference, though many of these were third party titles, teased in a sizzle reel. As has become a standard with any home console, planned Hulu Plus, Youtube, Amazon Video, and Netflix apps were announced to be available at launch, with "more on the way".

At its core, the Wii U is designed as an outlet for what Nintendo likes to call “Asymmetric Gameplay”, an experience of four players playing a game normally with a player on the Wii U game pad given a new way to play the game. The gamepad was viewed in greater detail, showcasing rumble and gyroscope embedded within the controller, as well as a headphone jack, volume control, and stereo speakers for maximum immersion. Most importantly, Reggie unveiled that the Wii U will support two gamepads simultaneously. The previously announced Miiverse functionality was further explained, and it will play a prominent role in the Wii U's system menu. Online friends and newcomers will be congregating around games the player has been playing, and trending games that many are playing. This feature is quite unique, almost a twitter-esque system of frequently played games and messages popping up from various players. The player can share screens of the game they're playing, and send them to different players with a short message attached without disrupting gameplay.

New Super Mario Bros. U was unveiled briefly, and thanks to Miiverse, the player can see what others are doing and connect to one another right within the game. As expected, a new suit was revealed; a flying squirrel suit that allowed Mario to glide, almost as a cross between Super Mario World's cape and Super Mario Bros. 3's Tanooki Suit. The game looks incredibly detailed, with an enormous background and sharp visuals. In addition, different-colored baby Yoshis from Super Mario World are making a comeback! Yoshi eggs can spit out multiple Yoshis, and each color has a different ability. The show wrapped up with four players controlling the main game with Wii Remotes, and a fifth person can helpfully place blocks with the game pad's touch screen. Reggie briefly touched on how this would open up a world of possibilities for speed runners.

A Wii U enhanced version of Batman: Arkham City was announced as Arkham City: Armored Edition. The player can use a scanner on the Wii U controller to get a detailed view of the player's surroundings, and armored versions of Batman and Catwoman featuring new abilities are fully playable. “B.A.T. Mode” is unique to the game, which was described as a making the player more powerful and dealing more damage than in the previous console iterations. The gamepad also showcased Batman's batarang being controlled rather flawlessly with the game pad's gyrosensor.

The Scribblenauts series is also touching base on Wii U and 3DS in Scribblenauts Unlimited A montage of upcoming Wii U games followed, and included Darksiders II, Tank Tank Tank! Tekken Tag Tournament 2, Trine 2: Directors Cut, Ninja Gaiden 3: Razors Edge, Aliens Colonial Marines, and a port of Mass Effect 3.

The Wii Fit craze will live on in the form of Wii Fit U. Nintendo demonstrated a trampoline game, with the controller on the ground offering a different view, while the player shifted their weight on the Wii Fit Balance Board to hit the trampoline at just the right angle to get maximum altitude and points. Other features were Using the game pad's gyro sensor to shoot water, and using the balance board as a sled. Each mini game lets the player know how many calories they shed, and the title also allows the player to upload steps from a pedometer. Also taking advantage of the main draw of the Wii U, the player can still play with Wii Fit U with only the game pad while the television is free. Continuing with their casual gaming announcements, Nintendo unveiled SiNG and Just Dance 4. SiNG featured a more performance-oriented way of play. The television features a character singing and dancing, while the game pad displays lyrics and coaxes the holder of the pad to encourage the audience through hand clapping and general boogy-ing.

Nintendo already stated that the 3DS would be taking a backseat for the time being, but briefly touched upon three first-party games coming out this summer or in the holiday season. New! Super Mario Bros. 2, looked suspiciously similar to it's big brother coming out on the Wii U, but Nintendo assured the audience that this was guaranteed to be a completely different experience. We'll know soon enough, as the game is expected to launch both physically and digitally on August 19th.

The highly-anticipated next entry in the Paper Mario franchise was unveiled as Paper Mario: Sticker StarLuigi's Mansion: Dark MoonCastlevania Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate, Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion, and Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream, Drop, Distance.

First featured at last year's E3, Lego City is shaping up to be a Grand Theft Auto-style adventure, but clearly a more tame take on the genre. The player takes the roll of an authority figure, solving crimes and scanning for hidden criminals with the Wii U game pad. Lego City: Undercover was name-dropped for 3DS, with Reggie promising more content and unique missions.

ZombiU, the shooter formerly known as Killer Freaks From Outer Space has already been shown off quite a bit by Ubisoft during this year's E3, and the game took the stage once again during the press conference. The gamepad is the player's all-in-one survival kit. Wii U gamepad will showcase the inventory, a scanner, and a sniper scope, though these are sure to just be the tip of the iceberg of features included in the game. The gyro sensor also can be used to break free of zombies, and aim more intuitively. Ubisoft also featured a short reel of gameplay from Assassins Creed III, Rabbids Land, Yourshape: Fitness Evolved, and Rayman Legends.

Finally, perhaps the biggest surprise, was the Wii Play-esque NintendoLand, a theme park inspired single and multiplayer mini game collection. Katsuya Eguchi, the developer of the Animal Crossing titles and Wii Sports series described the game to be “theme park gaming magic that demonstrates the Wii U technology” in a similar way that Wii Sports introduced the world to everything the Wii was capable of. Each of the 12 attractions are based on a popular franchise integrating in different play types. The player's Mii changes into a different costume to resemble a character from each world. Of the 12, five attractions were briefly touched upon: The Legend of Zelda: Battle Quest, Animal Crossing: Sweet Chase, Luigi's Ghost Mansion, Takamaru's Ninja Castle and Donkey Kong. Takamaru tasks the player sliding ninja stars at paper ninjas by brushing the player's hand across the game pad's screen. Luigi's Ghost Mansion has the player using the game pad take control of a ghost chasing up to four weaker players using Wii remotes. There was a heavy emphasis on teamwork for the four players, and the aforementioned asymmetric style of play for the game pad player. The ghost can see all of the other players, but the other players can't see the ghost, much like in the Gamecube title Pacman Vs. The four players shine their flashlights to damage the ghost, but if they leave the light on for too long, the battery will run out. When this happens, it's easier for the ghost to make the other players faint, leaving the downed player immobile.

As Reggie left the stage to an in-game NintendoLand fireworks show, it's hard to shake the feeling that Nintendo's press conference could have been so much more. E3 was the time for Nintendo to really push the Wii U onto consumers, but other than Pikmin 3 and New Super Mario Bros. U (which respectively were titles we either knew about or expected coming) the only real surprise was NintendoLand. While we can appreciate that Nintendo is trying to simultaneously appeal to core and casual gamers with the Wii U, it's tough not to be concerned with the lack of strong first party titles. Hopefully, between now and this coming Holiday season, Nintendo will have a few surprises waiting in the wings for would be Wii U owners.

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