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Nintendo at E3: Hopes and Expectations

Familiarity dipped in innovation.

With Nintendo, we usually know what we’re getting. That’s not necessarily a criticism, of course, but the company’s reliance on a seemingly timeless spread of first party characters means that we can make sweeping assumptions with some degree of certainty. In short, we can say things like “we’ll probably see a new Mario and a new Zelda.” and feel quite safe in that assumption.

So, we’ll probably see a new Mario and a new Zelda. The Wii U pretty much guarantees that Nintendo will have a raft of new titles for their system selling characters to populate. The slow start made by the 3DS has been partially blamed on Nintendo’s reluctance to push their first party catalogue to the fore, favouring the forging of some third party relationships. People, it has been implied, didn’t buy a 3DS because they couldn’t play Mario on it yet. So the Wii U should have a Mario game in its launch line up. It’s safe to assume that Nintendo will also want Zelda to make an appearance, Link is incredibly popular and he’s been in the tech demo videos since the Wii U’s unveiling.

Zelda is sure to appear at some point, could the tech demos hint at a launch window arrival?
It’s getting quite late in the day for pre-release hype-building for the console and Nintendo really should be announcing a price, release date and software line up. Expect a few confirmed for launch day but probably more given that new “launch window” tag that’s nice and vague.

Nintendo has historically been exceptionally good at selling the unique features of its consoles. The Wii U brings a new tablet controller and Nintendo is going to need something to show it off. It’s not a huge leap to assume a Wii U Sports or Wii U Fit style game, nestled into the launch line up but also expect some sort of mini game collection that uses the screen of that tablet in interesting ways. There will probably be plenty of magnifying the TV screen, x-ray vision, target scopes for water-, paintball- or nerf- guns and other, family friendly approaches to the second screen.

On the subject of that tablet controller, there have been some rumblings surrounding the possibility of Nintendo lifting the restriction of only one tablet per console. It’s possible that they’ll announce two tablets as an option, given their large user base that’s keen on party style or same-room multiplayer. We can also hope for an announcement that it will be possible to use a 3DS as a controller with the Wii U but that’s perhaps wishing too hard. Limited functionality and possibly some form of cross-platform interaction, as we’ve seen with the PS3 and Vita, seems much more plausible.

It’s been suggested that Nintendo might benefit from rebranding the Wii U. The name as it stands lends itself to brand confusion in much the same way as the 3DS did in its early days. Simply, people won’t know it’s not just another Nintendo hardware revision. They haven’t been nearly so keen on that with their home console as they were with their handheld (DSLite, DSi, DSXL) so it’s not as much of a problem. A full rebranding seems unlikely but they will certainly need to work hard on firmly defining the console as something totally different to the ageing Wii.

Another hardware rumour doing the rounds is centred on a possible 3DS revision. The, frankly, ridiculous extra circle pad clip-on has led many to believe that they’ll create an entirely new unit with two analogue pads as standard. While that’s certainly something that’s possible, I’m more inclined to believe that they won’t bother right now. Maybe if E3 had come at Christmas time, this would be more likely but sales have really strengthened and it might be a case of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” with Nintendo, especially given the fact that they will be putting every effort into avoiding hardware launch shortages around the Wii U launch similar to those of the Wii. I think it’s more likely for them to revise their handheld hardware towards the end of the year, possibly at the Tokyo Game Show.

The Wii U announcement from E3 2011

It’s not all obvious franchises and hardware though, Nintendo’s conference also has the potential to be quite heavy on the games.

For the 3DS, Luigi’s Mansion 2 was playable on the show floor last year and New Super Mario Bros 2 is due for release in August. It would be astounding if they didn’t feature in a significant way. Paper Mario has also already been pencilled in for a release this fiscal year so it should make an appearance. There are hopes for a couple of western localisations, notably for Monster Hunter 3G or Monster Hunter 4 and the tactical RPG, Fire Emblem. Aside from that, there’s an Animal Crossing game on the way, Disney Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion (a sequel to the Mega Drive’s Castle of Illusion) and the bewilderingly titled Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate.

Montage videos are one of my favourite aspects of E3 stage presentations and I expect there to be a couple of Wii U ones. They’ll want to show how popular it is with third parties, how good it is for putting Unreal Engine games on and how adaptable that tablet controller is. Expect something featuring all the multi platform games they can muster, looking fantastic, and expect some lifestyle videos showing impossibly groomed, plastic-skinned automatons grinning inanely at the bright colours on their tablet controller as it does something amazing.

We know Pikmin 3 is in the works so we can hope for that. There have also been rumours of a Smash Bros appearance around the launch window, which doesn’t seem unreasonable. I wouldn’t be surprised to see something from the Starfox or Metroid series either. There was a rumour about a crossover game but that’s been quite heavily debunked but that doesn’t eliminate the possibility of at least one of the franchises making an appearance. My money would be on Starfox if we only get one. Nintendo will remember the cheer they got showing the 3DS game at last year’s show and that kind of enthusiasm has so far been lacking for the Wii U.

WB has just announced a multi platform game based in the DC universe - also coming to Wii U. A sign of things to come?
Ubisoft are earning a reputation for lending major support to new console launches and it looks like things will be the same for the Wii U. We know about Killer Freaks From Outer Space so expect that, at least in a montage. We also saw the leaked development target video featuring Rayman Legends with its innovative near-field technology use of the tablet controller. It would be nice to see a hefty chunk of that game, the leaked video made it look gorgeous. Further to that, Ubisoft’s strong launch support will likely stretch to their biggest release around the predicted arrival of the console: Assassin’s Creed III. Nothing has been confirmed but given Nintendo’s clear aim to tempt more high profile multi platform titles onto their machine, it would be a big omission if it didn’t feature.

Despite the speed at which some – let’s call them “traditional HD gamers” – write off Nintendo, they have the potential to provide the busiest conference and the most exciting things on show. The Wii U is still something of an unknown quantity and despite the assumed reliance on old IP, there is going to be a heavy lean towards third party and multi platform games too. Seeing what Nintendo do with existing franchises on a powerful machine and what their partners use that controller for has masses of potential.

The 3DS is also into its stride now, and Nintendo may feel like there’s something to prove in the face of what should be a big showing from Sony for the Vita. As the ageing cliché goes: you should never write off Nintendo.

  1. cc_star
    Team TSA: Writer
    Since: Forever

    I’d expect more familiar games to be revealed for the 3DS as it continues its impressive unit sales.

    All eyes will of course be on the WiiU after last year’s balls-up of a reveal.

    Think Ninty have made a great move in making Wii accessories compatible, at commonly £35ish being able to use exisiting controllers is a major plus for families who probably have accrued plenty of them over the years. The downside to that is that it will limit the game types possible, surely we don’t won’t be waggling with an indiscriminate infra-red controller in big WiiU games if we’re not the 1 (or 2) who happens to be holding the new tablet controller.

    As always with Nintendo it’s first party titles that matter & Ninty really need to ensure they’re showing off the big hitters in their best light.

    Comment posted on 31/05/2012 at 18:21.
  2. Watchful
    Team TSA: Writer
    Since: Oct 2008

    Aliens: Colonial Marines motion tracker! Show me decent video of that Nintendo and you’ve got a guaranteed sale!

    Who am I kidding. I’ll buy a Wii U anyway. But I want to hold a motion tracker! :-)

    Imagine an Aliens AR game where they’re coming out of your house’s goddamn walls! I admit that I may be a teensy bit over-excited about A:CM. :-)

    Comment posted on 31/05/2012 at 18:53.
  3. CorvusofMorlich
    Since: Oct 2011

    I’m looking forward to Nintendo the most. Not just because I’m an utter fanboy, but because they have the most to prove this year.
    They have a BRAND NEW CONSOLE on the way and despite it being announced a year ago, people know basically nothing about it. They need to show how it’ll appeal to anybody other than the current Wii owners and hardcore fans and that basically means GOOD 3rd party support and new and original first party ideas.

    They’ve survived off of the Wii’s casual appeal for the past few years but they need to realise that it’ll probably be this crowd that will make the decision to just ‘stick with the Wii’ and avoid forking out on a brand new system.

    They also need to show that the 3DS will survive another year and what with that shitey add on’s reception and the recently discover of 3DS shipments being paused until around about their E3 show, it’s possible that a redesign is on the way, though it’s still pretty unlikely.

    It’s the pressure that’s on them that makes Nintendo’s conference the most exciting to think about.

    Comment posted on 31/05/2012 at 19:56.
    • CorvusofMorlich
      Since: Oct 2011

      *recent discovery

      Excuse all errors, actually. It’s dinner time :3

      Comment posted on 31/05/2012 at 19:57.
  4. TSBonyman
    Since: Dec 2009

    I’m looking forward to seeing what Wii U can do, more so to see how their HD entry compares to PS3/Xbox but i’m not really interested in the tablet aspect as i’m afraid i still see it as a bit gimmicky – no more gimmicky than Move or Kinect, granted but still a gimmick.
    I think it’s kind of funny, we’ve finally gotten to the point where handhelds have the optimum control system , ie dual sticks, yet the home consoles are still throwing gimmick controllers into the mix. From my own experience with Wii, Move and Kinect, new control systems don’t always enable great game experiences, with a few notable exceptions in each case.
    Of course i might be wrong and Nintendo might surprise me with the Tablet’s capabilities.. but whether it appeals to me or not i’m sure it will sell really well regardless! :)

    Comment posted on 31/05/2012 at 20:20.
  5. Person678
    BOOM! Headshot!
    Since: Jan 2009

    Find a new Wii U Zelda to be very unlikely. A Zelda tech demo has been fairly traditional for new Nintendo hardware, and rarely has any bearing on the eventual game, plus Skyward Sword came out not too long ago. Twilight Princess came out just after the Wii launched, it hasn’t been nearly long enough.

    Comment posted on 31/05/2012 at 21:14.
  6. Foxhound_Solid
    Is a smart cookie.
    Since: Dec 2009

    Let’s see what it can do ^_^

    Comment posted on 31/05/2012 at 21:29.
  7. wonkey-willy
    Since: Jan 2010

    lets hope the next console can be hacked as easily as the others

    Comment posted on 31/05/2012 at 23:40.
  8. Paranoimia
    Since: Aug 2008

    Interested to see what it can do, as I want to see who was telling the the truth – those who said it’s not as good as PS3/360, or those who said it’s better.

    Other than that, though, I’m not interested in them, their games, or their console.

    Comment posted on 01/06/2012 at 00:17.
  9. skibadee
    Since: Oct 2009

    if I’m honest nothing so far has made me want a wiiu.

    Comment posted on 01/06/2012 at 05:02.

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