So as I promised, Act 2 of my articles will really be about E3! In this section we’ll look into detail at Nintendo’s press conference and booth. And we’ll see what the other big console makers, Sony and Microsoft, were up to as well!
I hope you won’t mind that this article may seem a little too Nintendo-centric. I do like the other consoles as well. In fact, I like my 360 and PS3 better than the Wii. But Nintendo’s press conference was the only one I was invited to. I usually don’t get a chance to go to any of the press conferences at all. But since I went a day early to LA this year, I decided to take advantage of the invite to Nintendo’s press event. Aside from the keynote speeches I went to at the early E3’s in 97 and 98, this was actually the first big company press conference I’ve been to at E3!
One more thing I should mention. Please forgive me if I didn’t cover certain games at the show. I’m just one person, and can’t cover EVERYTHING there is to see at E3. So for my coverage, I tried to narrow my focus a bit. Since I write for GamingWithChildren.com, I tried to focus on the family friendly games at E3. And the games that interested me, too. Luckily, most of the games I’m interested in are family friendly! There are a couple of games I looked at that are for more mature gamers, but you’ll know which ones I’m talking about when I get there.
Anyway, I arrived extra early for the Nintendo press conference and there was already a line! Wow! But we got good seats in the Nokia Plaza Theater, about five rows back from the stage! But the whole place filled up by the end. While we were waiting for the show to start, they had a little game up on the big screen where they’d show a blurry or pixeled image from a popular Nintendo game, and you had to try and guess it. The images would slowly become clearer and they gave you clues as to what the game was. I got the Kirby and Animal Crossing games right away! Sadly, this would be the only thing I saw about Kirby at E3. I really wanted to see more of the Kirby 20th Anniversary Collection and Animal Crossing 3DS, but that didn’t happen at E3.
The press conference started with a video of Shigeru Miyamoto getting ready for the show, and all these little Pikmin were peeking around and hiding in places. Miyamoto helped create Nintendo superstars like Mario and Zelda, and he also is responsible for the Pikmin games. Up on stage, Miyamoto talked about the new Pikmin 3 title, and how it utilizes the features of the upcoming Wii U console.
Miyamoto showed off some new rock Pikmin who can break down heavy gates. He also explained how the Wii U controller screen shows a map, so you can keep track of your Pikmin. Pikmin 3 will have a multiplayer component as well, and they showed off the characters that you can play. Strangely, there was no Olimar, but Miyamoto said that you’ll find out what happened to him in Pikmin 3. But you know what’s weird? I’ve never really gotten into the Pikmin games. Too much stuff going on, it’s also why I can’t get into Sony’s Fat Princess either.
After that, Reggie Fils-Aime took the stage to explain more of the Wii U’s features. Wii U will be able to use Netflix, Hulu, and other online entertainment venues. To everyone’s delight, he also said the Wii U will support two of the touch screen gamepads. He also talked about the controller, the touch screen, camera, and microphone. And the Wii U will have enhanced social gaming aspects with the MiiVerse.
Next they showed a video of New Super Mario Bros. U. I knew that at last year’s E3, New Super Mario Bros. Mii would end up really being a game. Some interesting things include a new flying squirrel suit for Mario. And you can carry around baby Yoshis like in Super Mario World. The baby Yoshis can even inflate like balloons!
Reggie also introduced other speakers from different game companies to show off third party Wii U titles as well. First was WB Games and the Wii U port of Batman: Arkham City Armored Edition. But as much as I like Batman, I don’t really care about that game. I was more interested in the next title they showed: Scribblenauts Unlimited. I actually got to play a little bit of that one at the E3 show, so I’ll talk more about it later in another article.
Then they showed some video of other third party Wii U titles from other companies, like a new Tekken game and Tank! Tank! Tank! from Namco (I actually got to play that one, too). Then they talked about Wii Fit U for a while as well as a new music game called Sing (working title).
After that, Reggie let another Nintendo employee talk about new 3DS games for a tiny bit. Emphasis on tiny. I’m actually pretty disappointed that they didn’t let him talk more about new 3DS titles. I know they wanted to focus on showing off the Wii U, but they didn’t need to brush off the console that’s already out now! I think the guy who got the talk about 3DS games at the conference was in charge of marketing the 3DS in the US, and it could just be my imagination, but he seemed kind of ticked off that Nintendo didn’t give him more time to go over 3DS games either.
Anyway, he talked a little bit on New Super Mario Bros. 2, which will be out in August. Collecting gold coins will take on a whole new level in this sequel, with coin producing power-ups and golden enemies that burst with coins when defeated. The other games he mentioned were ones we already knew about: Paper Mario: Sticker Star and Luigi’s Mansion 2: Dark Moon, both due out by the holidays. But nothing about Animal Crossing 3DS. ERGH! He did say that we could check out more 3DS games at Nintendo’s online E3 All Access site. But what’s the point of going to E3 if they don’t show things there, and instead just show everything online?
Back to the Wii U, they talked a bit about LEGO City. Then some folks from UbiSoft came to show off their strong third party Wii U support, which includes games like ZombiU, Rabbids Land, Just Dance 4, Assassin’s Creed 3, an Avengers game, Your Shape, and Sports Connection.
Reggie concluded the press conference with a look at another Wii U launch title: NintendoLand. It’s really just a bunch of mini-games using the capabilities of the Wii U. You play as Mii people dressed as Nintendo characters and each attraction, or game, is based on a popular Nintendo franchise. They showed Zelda: Battle Fest, Luigi’s Ghost Mansion, Animal Crossing: Sweet Days (both of which look like variants of Pac-Man Vs.), DK Crash Course (steer a roller coaster around mazes of girders and ladders), and some ninja star throwing game. It all looks like fun! I hope one of the future attractions stars Kirby!
And that was all of Nintendo’s press conference! No pricing or official release date announced for Wii U. A lot of gaming sites and writers say that Nintendo’s press event was disappointing. But I had fun and I’m glad I went so I don’t think it was. Sure, I was upset that they didn’t say anything about the Kirby collection or Animal Crossing, but those are just my personal preferences and I’m just flat out weird anyway. However, even though I think the Wii U will offer a lot of fun and new gaming experiences, I also think it’ll end up being like the Wii in terms of what kinds of games you can play on it (good or bad).
I will say however that I was disappointed with Nintendo’s actual E3 booth, though. It was such a disorganized mess! Last year it was pretty easy to get around. You had your Wii games in the middle, Wii U games on the side, and in the back were the 3DS demos. But this year it was nothing but Wii U games. No 3DS demo stations. Not even a giant screen to show new games like they’ve always done in the past. You COULD play 3DS games, but they were hard to find. Some of the Nintendo booth lady helpers were carrying around 3DS handhelds with new games to try, and a couple even wore Mario and Luigi hats to let you know that they had a 3DS. But they were really hard to find in the crowd. In the back of the booth was the NintendoLand section with demos of some of the mini-game attractions.
The NintendoLand section was always really crowded. But I did take a picture of people playing Animal Crossing: Sweet Days. I was bound and determined to take a picture of SOMETHING Animal Crossing related at the show!
By the end of the second and third days of E3, Nintendo’s booth was considerably MUCH less crowded. In fact, I got a chance to hop onto a Wii U demo station there for a game that I didn’t even know about, and it wasn’t featured at Nintendo’s press conference either! The game was called Game & Wario. It featured characters from the WarioWare series, but the mini-games were much longer. It kind of had a Game & Watch motif to it, which makes sense because I’ve always thought the WarioWare titles kind of replaced the Game & Watch Galleries that came out before.
There were four games featured on the Game & Wario demo, including a skiing game with Jimmy T. and a multiplayer game with Penny called Fruit. But I played the other two games. Arrow featuring Wario was a shooting gallery game. You used the Wii U controller touch screen to pull back and shoot arrows at mini-Warios, and you could point the controller to aim at the screen like a Wii-mote. If the mini-Warios go too close, you had to stomp them on the Wii U screen with your finger before they got your stash of strawberries at the bottom. At the end of the level was a boss with multiple targets for you to hit.
The other game was a photography challenge featuring Mona. You had to take pictures of five different people. The TV screen showed the whole view, and you used the Wii U controller like a camera to zoom in close to take good pictures of who you needed to photograph. Kind of like Where’s Waldo. It was pretty hard, though. I cleared Arrow, but not this game. However, as I played this one, all the while I kept saying to myself, “they need to make Pokemon Snap 2 for Wii U that plays like this.” Anyway, as a huge WarioWare fan, I’m glad that one of the few Wii U games I got to try was a new one in the series.
And that’s all I feel like talking about Nintendo! Next to their booth was Sony’s. You could play PS3 games like a new LittleBigPlanet Karting racer, a new Sly Cooper game, and PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale. It’s just a Super Smash Bros. style brawler with Sony characters, but I didn’t to play it because the lines for all these titles were WAY too long. I tried to see if there were any new characters not previously announced in PlayStation All-Stars, but I couldn’t see any. I was hoping they’d put Loco Roco characters in there, or maybe (yet less likely), Tomba. There were other games at Sony’s booth, too, but I wasn’t interested in them. Sony’s booth was also a great place to play many of their third party titles, but I was kind of afraid to walk around Sony’s booth because it was full of raised and lowered steps, and I was worried I’d trip over them! At least I got to see this giant Sackboy!
Microsoft’s booth was after Sony’s, and it was also a great place to play 360 third party titles. But it was also hard to get around because their booth was full of crowded Kinect demo stations and closed meeting rooms. I did play an Xbox LIVE game demo of Joe Danger: The Movie. It looked like a lot of new features were added since I saw the game at PAX. At the back of the booth, Microsoft was heavily promoting Halo 4, but I wasn’t interested in that either.
And that’s all for now! Next time, I’ll talk about the third party games and companies I had meetings with at E3!