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E3 Nintendo Round-up

20 Jun 2011

In this, the last of my dissections of what the big three console manufacturers have to say at this year’s E3, I’ll tell you what’s on Nintendo’s mind. 

I’ll be honest and say that of the big three, it is only Nintendo’s current offerings that I don’t own myself. I have a lot of respect for Nintendo’s contribution to gaming, especially the fabulous Zelda games, but I’ve not felt inclined to purchase any of their equipment since the GameCube.  Nintendo’s reluctance to step into the HD arena with the Wii turned me right off the system, even if it did mean missing out on Twilight Princess. Also, as a core gamer, I just don’t consider myself to be in their target demographic, as demonstrated by the fact that my mother-in-law has Wii Fit. Not cool. 

At E3 this year Nintendo set out to change my mind.

Nintendo entered the E3 fray at their keynote presentation with Zelda creator, Shigeru Miyamoto, on stage re-enacting the musical cues from his Zelda games with the help of a full orchestra. It would all be a bit odd if it was anyone else, perfectly normal for those guys from Nintendo. It‘s pretty amazing to think that Legend of Zelda has been with us for 25 years.

Joining Microsoft’s Kinetic and Sony’s PlayStation Move, Nintendo’s keynote message was all about being deep and wide. Not the sort of message that you’d normally expect from such a family-friendly outfit.  All joking aside, this was Nintendo’s mission statement pledging to offer games with depth to a wider audience.  A very welcome pledge indeed.

The  highlighted offerings of rejuvenated classics like Mario Kart, Starfox 64 and Super Mario for the 3DS was all very well;  but there’s a whole 80s vibe to Nintendo’s obsession with wringing every last bit of gaming juice from some of their old franchises. I’m not sure if it smells of nostalgia or lack of imagination. I don’t really care for the acid-trip experience of Mario Kart and I certainly don’t want to take another trip to Luigi’s Mansion, the original title being the weakest of the early GameCube games.

Hold on, though; Nintendo have got plans for the 3DS.

In setting out to be more than just a diversion for teens, the 3DS is going to be hosting a lot more mainstream titles, such as Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D, Ace Combat 3D, Resident Evil: Revelations and Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D. Catering for fans of Nintendo’s more traditional fare, the eShop will be packed with Gameboy and Gameboy Colour titles for the 3DS’ virtual console. Also, Pokémon fans will pleased to hear that Pokédex 3D, an eye-popping 3D character database complete with stats and move lists, will be offered to 3DS owners free of charge.  

The big news at E3 for Nintendo, and the main delivery method for their deep and wide pledge, was the unveiling of their game console, christened the Wii U. What’s with these barking mad console names?

The first thing that really stands out with the Wii U is the inclusion of a peripheral that looks to be part controller and part handheld console. The Wii U controller sports a saucy-looking 6.2 inch LCD screen! This makes for a multitude of interesting possibilities. Games can be switched from the TV to the controller screen, allowing the gaming to continue whilst Coronation Street is on. The controller’s touch screen can be used as a graphics tablet for drawing. Photos can be browsed on the controller’s screen and "wiped” onto the TV like the guys do in the Avatar movie. All very cool, but that’s not all. The controller is also motion sensing and can be used to target objects on the TV, the screen providing a zoomed view with crosshairs when held up to the TV. The controller’s screen can also be used as a stats display in a similar way to the second screen of the 3DS. With a touch-screen, microphone, camera, accelerometer and gyroscope, Nintendo will be proving us with the most hi-tech controller ever. 

The actual Wii U console doesn’t mess about either, as Nintendo finally embraces high definition gaming. First off, Wii U is fully compatible with Wii games; just don’t expect to see them all crisp and in HD. GameCube fans are out of luck as Wii U offers no support for GameCube titles.

The Wii U demos at E3 showed off a level of graphical detail that should give Microsoft and Sony executives a few sleepless nights. Wii U already boasts the support of top developers, with an impressive list of core franchises that’ll be making an appearance on Nintendo’s new baby. Expect to see the likes of Arkham City, Assassin’s Creed, Darksiders 2, Dirt, Alien’s Colonial Marines, Ghost Recon Online and Tekken when the console comes out next year.

With EA ending Nintendo’s E3 2011 keynote with what I can only call a glowing endorsement of the Wii U console, there are exciting times ahead.