E3 2011 – Nintendo Press Conference Reactions
This morning Rob, myself and the guys from PSnation got the chance to go to Nintendo’s Press Conference for E3 2011. A lot was expected from Nintendo because of all the speculation on what their new console could be, and what their angle would be. Nintendo did their best to reveal their latest attempt to close the gap between gamers and non-gamers, the WiiU.
Their claim was that the Wii, or “We”, was about bringing people together. In the new console, they wanted to focus more on the individual gamer, so instead of branding a new console they put all the capabilities of the Wii into an iteration that embraces the individual, “you”. Ultimately we get the name WiiU.
The only thing Nintendo really spent time focusing on was the controller, and generally forgot to really make it clear that this WiiU is an entirely new console. It confused many in the gaming community, and it’s certain to confuse any non-gamers trying to get a new device for their family to enjoy. The WiiU is a brand new console, capable of 1080p HD picture and has the most versatile controller on the market.
The controller looks like a smaller iPad with analog sticks on both sides, a d-pad on the left, 4 buttons on the right, and 4 shoulder buttons. It has a touch screen in the center, motion sensing capabilities, and has a number of different ways it can interact with the main console. Either the screen can enhance gameplay by providing additional support features, or it can be used as the main screen for any game. In keeping with the theme of a console for the individual, if the family wants to watch TV, it doesn’t have to stop the gamer from playing, allowing them to play solely through the controller without the use of the TV at all.
The most exciting part of the conference was when they illustrated different applications the controller could have. Imagine a baseball game where the pitcher uses the controller to place their throw via a virtual window, or for the outfielder to be able to catch the ball precisely by seamlessly holding the controller to the TV and placing the screen within this window. Imagine being able to place the controller on the ground in golf, seeing the ball in the sand and using the Wii Remote as the golf club, swinging this virtual club over the screen. Perhaps the player wants to make customized tattoos on their characters. Generally, the screen on the controller allows the player to have an additional view into the world of the game.
The conference had a number of big name developers discuss the conceptual implementations this controller could have in asymmetrical gaming. Imagine having four players on Wii Remotes trying to evade a character playing through an over-world map. There really are some great conceptual uses for the console, but “imagining” great content doesn’t sell consoles.
This is incredibly hypocritical of me to say because in my 3DS review I stated that there weren’t any real console seller games in the market, but there definitely will be. I feel like Nintendo is making the same mistake again with the WiiU. They present a limitless sky of what the console could do, but no concrete titles that actually will. As far as we know, the only games that are coming out for the console are ports from other consoles. Until there are specific titles that consumers can get excited about, it’s difficult to be fully happy with the announcement. For this reason I say that this unveiling was the most exciting part, but it was also hollow.
Nintendo has always been in the habit of iterating rather than making new consoles. The DS became the 3DS, the Wii is becoming the WiiU, the NES became the Super NES. This isn’t a bad thing, but in this case the rendering capabilities bring the console into the present, not the future. I admit I am excited to see what potential the new controller has in store, but shortly after the WiiU comes out, Microsoft and Sony are bound to release the next step that puts Nintendo a few steps behind the hardware times again. Nintendo has always had the stance that hardware doesn’t make the console and that innovation is most important. Fundamentally I agree, but I’m waiting to see how it actually does rather than just in speculation and possibilities.
From there we heard of all the Mario and Nintendo properties that are on their way, most of which we already knew about. All the announcements were regarding established franchises. Even their big announcement of an all new game on the 3DS was Luigi’s Mansion 2. By its definition it can’t really be a brand new title, it’s a sequel. There’s Star Fox 64 3D, Super Smash Bros for the 3DS and the WiiU, Kid Icarus and a new 3DS Super Mario to name a few.
Ultimately Nintendo made a collection of promise that they will need to work to fulfill. I’m waiting on the really great games for the 3DS in eager anticipation, but this is hardly a smart way to sell a console. Once Nintendo can stop telling me to imagine what the games could be and actually start showing me what the games are I’ll probably change my tune. Until then, I’m waiting Nintendo.