Wednesday, June 8, 2011

E3 2011: nintendo keynote recap by zoidberger

Entering this E3 the consensus in the industry was that it was Nintendo show to lose. They were the only one of the “Big 3” to debut a new system and they had all the buzz going into this E3. The next generation console war is about to begin and Nintendo is about to fire the first shot. I came away from the Nintendo Keynotes with more questions than answers. Was this an actual system or the most expensive game peripheral since the Steel Battalion controller? Why would Nintendo announce a new console but not show the actual console? Is this the new console or is the controller? Is this just a new controller for the existing Wii?

I feel like Nintendo had a golden opportunity to absolutely crush this E3. They had a chance to take back some of their core audience. I felt like this was no different then when the Wii balance board and the Wii motion plus were announced. This felt more like an extension of the Wii, than the next chapter in Nintendo’s console. Is the future of gaming an iPad controller with joysticks?

Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
The conference starts with Nintendo trivia, as well as a Zelda retrospective. It was nice to see a full orchestra bring the sounds of Zelda to life. The first speaker of the keynote is….

Shigeru Miyamoto, creator of Zelda. Interesting choice to start with a game developer rather than someone directly involved with Nintendo.

Miyamoto talks about the 25-year anniversary of Zelda. Also talks about the 3DS remake of Ocarina of Time. Announces that a Zelda game will be hitting each of the 3 consoles for Nintendo (DSi, 3DS, and Wii). Skyward Sword will be on the Wii and not the next generation system. It seems Miyamoto has learned from last year, he spares us from an awkward game demonstration of Skyward Sword.

Satoru Iwata, President of Nintendo, comes on stage to announce a “New Home Platform” and that full details will be coming later this morning.

3DS game trailers, Mario Kart, Starfox, Mario, Kid Icarus, Luigi’s Mansion. That is the kind of lineup the 3DS should have used at launch rather than six to eight months into its life cycle.

Reggie File-Aime, President and COO of Nintendo America, comes out and starts with the new Nintendo eShop. Free version of 3D Excitebike for download as well as a Pokemon Pokedex.

New console is announced, the Nintendo Wii U. The controller has a 6.2’ touch screen as well as 2 analog sticks and a + D pad. It’s backwards compatible, and compatible with other Nintendo devices. It also has a microphone, gyroscope, forward and backward facing cameras. The Wii U controller also features an accelerometer, a rumble feature and speakers.

Super Smash Bros. is announced for both the Wii U and the 3DS, no game footage is shown.

John Riccitiello CEO of EA comes out to announce they would bring their titles to the new Wii U.
Photo of Iwata from @NintendoAmerica on Twitter
They play a tech demo demonstrating the graphical power of the new console. They also announce ONE exclusive title for the new system, Lego City Stories, its a little disappointing to see that the Lego franchise is the only 3rd party company willing to extend exclusivity to the Nintendo Wii U so far.

On the surface it seemed that the controller was some sort of Wii peripheral, since they didn’t show us the physical console. It was later released that this is indeed the controller to the new system, but Nintendo did not release a price point or specs of the new console. At this point all we know is that the controller will be playable with and without your television. It also works in conjunction with your 3DS, but this wouldn’t be the first time a company has tried to integrate home gaming and mobile gaming. I have a few concerns with the new console, since we didn’t get specs on the system it can be assumed that it is still graphically inferior to both the PS3 and Xbox 360, otherwise the specs would have been released. The new controller works with the Wii, but was made unclear if the Wii remotes will be required to play on the new console. If that is the case then a game requiring the Wii remote, Wii nun chuck, and the new Wii U controller seems like a little much to play a single game. The price on the new controller is a big concern; I can’t imagine the controller being less than $100, which is a bit much just for a controller.

I’m not exactly sure how this was suppose to resonate with “core gamers” as well as no developer presence makes me wary of 3rd party developer support for the new system. Nintendo is trying to combine casual gaming and core gaming with this new system, whether they succeed remains to be seen.

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