Last major update: 6/6/2012 at 8:06 PM EST (5:06 PM PDT).
As a longtime Nintendo fan and as someone who is curious about the Wii U, Nintendo’s conference was the one I was looking forward to the most. The general sentiment of some other people seems to be that Nintendo didn’t focus enough on the core gamers. While I agree that too much time was dedicated to the “family” titles, I would say that there were at least a few games that caught my attention.
There were some games that were barely shown or not shown at all that would have been really excellent to hear more about (the zany Project P-100 comes to mind). I hope to learn more about some new Wii U games soon.
After a fun little virtual Pikmin party in the audience, Nintendo showed off the first info of Pikmin 3, a Wii U title. If you thought the first two games looked gorgeous, you’ll find that this one contains an ethereal beauty. There were also some new additions to the gameplay, such as Rock Pikmin (they can break hard objects), the ability to aim at specific targets (for example, an enemy’s eye or its shell), having the Pikmin find materials to build bridges, new modes, and controlling up to four leaders on the map. None of these leaders were Olimar, so it looks like the story will see some changes, too. Another nice new feature is how the game will show you a replay of your playthrough. So if you’re a hardcore tactician, you’re going to get a kick out of analyzing your playthrough.
The GamePad (the official name for the Wii U tablet controller) displays the map and can be used to quickly scroll around the map to scope and to check the status of each leader, which is useful when plotting strategies and scouting out danger. The Wii MotionPlus controller works as an alternative control method, though using the GamePad seems more advantageous for certain strategies.
As for what was kept, the game is, of course, still a strategy game (or, according to Nintendo, a “real time action management” game). Also, the game will have a time limit, complete with a clock that counts down, just like in the first game of the series. I enjoyed the first two Pikmin games, and I have no doubt that this one will be a fantastic addition to the series and the Wii U’s library.
New Super Mario Bros. U was the next title shown. There were some very interesting new power-ups, such as the Flying Squirrel suit. Perhaps what captured people’s interests the most were the differently-colored baby Yoshis, each with their own abilities. Pink Yoshis could inflate to carry their holder. Blue Yoshies could blow bubbles that trap enemies and turn them into coins. Also, GamePad users can help other players by placing blocks that can be stood on. Apparently, this can help with speed-runs.
Batman: Arkham City: Armored Edition was up next. The game has some new features that the original Batman: Arkham City didn’t have, such as the B.A.T. mode., in which Batman’s new armored suit fills up with energy and gives the superhero even more strength to use against his foes. Also, the GamePad screen can be used to scan surroundings, choose gadgets from Batman’s entire arsenal, guide the Batarang, and to set off explosives that have been planted.
Scribblenauts: Unlimited was revealed to be the next entry in the Scribblenauts series. This time around, players have a continuous, open-ended world to explore and create in. In the video, a player first made a dog with wheels and then added some other parts to make “Auto Mutt” even more car-like. Another player added a funky green mohawk to it and called it “Bad to the Bone.” This is a game that artists can get creative with. We will also learn about the origin of Maxwell’s sketchbook, which will likely be discussed on both the Wii U and 3DS versions of the game.
Unsurprisingly, Nintendo revealed yet another sequel to the Wii Fit series, Wii Fit U. Like the previous installments, it uses the Wii Balance Board to sense movement and balance. The player can choose settings on the GamePad, though the controller is also used for certain mini-games. The game keeps track of the amount of calories you’ve burned, which can also be transferred from the included pedometer. Additionally, it can be played on the Wii U GamePad, sans TV, with the GamePad’s screen acting as a surrogate TV.
The next game was Sing (which is apparently a working title). It’s essentially a karaoke game. The GamePad’s screen displays the lyrics and its microphone can detect your clapping. The person who was singing was using a separate microphone, though I’m pretty sure the GamePad would be able to be used as one.
It looks Nintendo got inspired by Au on the periodic table of elements, because New Super Mario Bros. 2‘s focus is on the series’ iconic gold coins. A lot of the actions Mario performs generate more and more of those coins, and both the enemies and Mario were shown to turn to gold in some parts (is anyone else reminded of Metal Mario?). The audience cheered when Raccoon Mario showed up, so that’s another thing to look forward to. Perhaps there will be a Golden Raccoon Mario this time around…
As someone who loves Paper Mario, I was thrilled to hear more about Paper Mario: Sticker Star. While the series used badges in the past, this iteration will use stickers, which can be peeled off of the environment. The information was still a bit vague, but it seems like these stickers will grant Mario important abilities. While I enjoyed Super Paper Mario, I’m glad that the series will be returning to its traditional, semi-turn-based RPG form.
After about 11 years of waiting for a sequel to the GameCube launch title, Luigi’s Mansion, Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon was announced. Before, it was known merely as Luigi’s Mansion 2. The subtitle seems to suggest that the Moon will play a key role in the story. Unlike the original title, this one has multiple mansions to explore, each with mission-based challenges to conquer. The video showed different themes for the mansions, such as a wooden cabin that had a possessed bearskin rug. There will also be even more of a focus on ghost hunting and capturing. For fans of the original, I’m more than willing to bet that this one will be a massive improvement on an already fun series.
If there’s one equation I’m sure of, it’s Grand Theft Auto + LEGOs = LEGO City: Undercover, which will have both Wii U and 3DS versions. The GamePad can be utilized to scan for hidden criminals, which is a pretty basic but useful function. The trailer suggested that series will retain its trademark humor, though something new thrown in to the mix is that you can choose between disguises to go undercover. True to the title, the character was even able to take on various roles, from a construction worker who can drill into the ground with a jackhammer to a robber that can open a locked fence door.
Just Dance 4 is the next entry in the Just Dance series. The player holding the GamePad has the power to change the on-screen characters’ costumes and to select the players’ dance moves. I couldn’t get a full screenshot of the game itself, but seeing the graphics of a dancing game isn’t all that crucial to understanding what it’s about.
ZombiU is — you guessed it — a zombie game, in which the player must survive an onslaught of zombified folk. The GamePad is used to select items from the inventory, to zoom in for sniping, and to scan surroundings. It was also shown to turn into a touchable keypad, which could be used to hack doors by inputting the correct numbers. Since the GamePad can detect movement, the player must shake it when he or she is grabbed by zombies. Another fun little tool is being able to “zombify” yourself by taking a picture with the GamePad’s camera. I would’ve shown more of the on-screen gameplay, but the entirety of the video had the GamePad somewhere on the screen.
If you’ve ever wanted to go to a Nintendo-themed amusement park, then Nintendo Land will likely be your best (and currently only) bet. Despite some very vocal people targeting their ire at it, it doesn’t necessarily seem like a bad game. Also, it was mostly talked about in a special video that occurred after the official conference. While I can understand some fans’ reactions, it definitely seemed like some people were overreacting at how much Nintendo focused on it.
The best way to describe it is that it’s a virtual theme park with mini-games. Think of it as the equivalent of the original Wii’s Wii Play, only with much more to offer. Much like how Wii Play was meant to demonstrate the Wii Remote’s capabilities while providing an experience for less experienced gamers, this game is clearly serving as a set of Nintendo-themed mini-games that take advantage of the Wii U’s GamePad’s abilities. It would be great to see it bundled with the system, just as Wii Sports was with the original Wii. I wouldn’t be surprised if this turns out to be the case.
Some other titles that were briefly displayed were Darksiders II, Mass Effect 3, Tank! Tank! Tank!, Tekken Tag Tournament 2, Trine 2: Director’s Cut, Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge, Aliens: Colonial Marines, Assassin’s Creed 3, Rabbids Land, Your Shape: Fitness Evolved 2013, Rayman Legends, Sports Connection, and Avengers: Battle for Earth for the Wii U, as well as Castlevania: Lords of Shadow: Mirror of Fate, Disney Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion, Scribblenauts Unlimited, and Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance for the 3DS.