Following on from Microsoft, Sony and 2 of the big publishers, so far the only announcement that surprised and amazed in equal measure was Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs. The ball, was now Nintendo’s to drop following on from Microsoft’s utter joke of a conference and Sony’s half decent showing. And with the Wii U visible on the horizon, what could go wrong?
I admit, when the big N’s conference started I was giddy with anticipation. What could be released with the Wii U? And what might be coming out in near future? A new Zelda game? Maybe a fantastic looking 3D Mario game or Mario Kart? Well, things started off great, with the introduction of Pikmin 3, and with a rather amusing video featuring the little fellas. I was instantly transported back to when the Gamecube was announced and fantastic array of titles and new IP’s to look forward to, including Capcom’s exclusive Resident Evil deal for the ‘cube. So after the Pikmin 3 announcement, Reggie-san took to the stage showing off the Wii U. At this point I was adamant the only way this could go wrong is if he was to strip off and smear himself in faeces. After all, he’d introduced himself by saying (to paraphrase) “Yeah it’s gonna have Netflix and the same stuff as everyone else, but at the end of the day, it’s a games machine. And that’s what we’re here to talk about. Games.” Well, colour me convinced!
New Super Mario Bros. U was one of the first Nintendo titles to be announced, and it does look pretty decent, but seems like nothing more than filler before another of the same ilk as Galaxy and Sunshine will finally see the light of day. Batman Arkham City has been given a jazzmatazzing, with the additional subtitle of Armoured Edition. This is being handled by Warner of Montreal as opposed to London’s Rocksteady Studios, but with the game pretty much entirely the same give or take a few features, there shouldn’t be much to worry about. The differences in the Armoured Edition are the costumes of both Batman and Catwoman, as they are now in shiny armoured garments, which apparently have an adverse effect on the happenings in the game, and also, the controller screen can be used in the likes of detective mode, looking for clues etc, by holding it up to the screen. Realistically, it needed something different doing to it, as there’s probably barely any videogame playing Bat-fans who have yet to succumb to the majesty of Arkham City, and those that have already played it to death, may be looking forward to the games subtle, and not so subtle, differences. I for one however, cannot see this being a flagship title to shift the console. So expectation was still rife for a triple A Nintendo title to be announced. Another great looking game is Lego City. Full of all the charm and wit you find on the Lego movie cross over games, Lego city is a free roaming, open world adventure, drawing on comparisons to Grand Theft Auto, of all games. All we saw was a montage of cut scenes, but it’s from Travellers Tales, the same developers behind the movie based Lego games, so good things are expected.
A lot of time was spent on the Wii U’s home screen. This is basically Mii Plaza spliced with Twitter, where other Mii’s from around the world can voice their opinions on games etc. A concerning amount of time was spent talking this up, and quickly eradicating any truth in his previous statement about it all being about the games. And just to rub salt in, as well as the Mii plaza nonsense, another Wii Fit was announced, along side an awful looking ‘game’ called SiNG. Which is basically Karaoke, where you can read the words on the controller as well as the screen, enabling you to face your friends when you sing. Life complete, is what you would have heard from absolutely no one. And then… Just Dance 4! Not only do the annoying, obviously not actually playing along dancers look like idiots, they dance to the god awful Move Like Jagger, song and it seems to last forever. It’s exactly the same as every other Just Dance only you can change the dances midway through with the tablet controller. If that’s their big selling point, I guess they’re just throwing mud and seeing what sticks.
Despite the ball now being dropped big time, there was a great show reel of some of the upcoming 3rd party titles, and despite the fact that almost all are available on the other two current gen consoles, the way the controller tablet is utilised will no doubt be the deciding factor. The seemingly forever delayed, Aliens Colonial Marines being a great example. Imagine walking through the empty corridors of he USS Sulaco, with the controller also acting as the iconic motion sensor, as the controller itself has a speaker on it. The emphasis wasn’t entirely on the Wii U, as a few 3DS games were also shown off, including New Super Mario Bros. 2, and Paper Mario Sticker Star. Both looked pretty good, with Mario Bros. being pretty much more of the same only with a couple of extra features. To finish off, Nintendo decided to show off what they were touting as the Wii U’s version of Wii Sports. “Just like Wii Sports, once you see it, you’ll get it”, we were told. Well, what we were presented with was Nintendo Land. A load of minigames based around some of the Nintendo universes favourite characters. Then followed an explanation of a 4 player Luigi’s Mansion mini game, which anyone with a pair functioning eyes will have understood straight away, yet we had to have it’s gameplay and functionality explained to us as if we were 5. And that was it. A presentation that should have had gamers excited for the launch of Nintendo’s first HD console, just left everyone deflated. Let’s be thankful there’s better 3rd party support for this generation of Wii, and as of yet, no shovel ware.
Out of the big 3, it looks like Sony ran away with it, just by not being as disappointing as the other 2. Fortunately, other developers and publishers had better news, including Konami, who have announced a new Castlevania game for the 3DS, based on the Lords of Shadow reboot from a couple of years ago. Lucasarts revealed the interesting Star Wars 1313, where the player assumes the role of a Bounty Hunter, and as yet, not a midichlorian in sight. Dead Island Riptide was announced, which will be a sequel to the Oceaninc set zombie action/RPG. Details are thin on the ground, but hopefully it will be an improvement over the fun but flawed original. As well as new games announced, there was also lots of footage and demo’s of those we can expect sooner rather later, such as even more Lego in the form of Lego Batman 2: DC Superheroes and Lego Lord of the Rings. Both games getting my inner fanboy very excited indeed. Another game that piqued our interest was Tokyo Jungle. Already available in Japan, this PS3 exclusive is set in a not too distant future Tokyo, where wild beasts roam the once densely populated metropolis, as all the humans have vanished. Taking on the role of one of over 80 different animals, including a tiny dog, a cow and a lion, with one fundamental rule, survival. It’s not a conventional looking game, and comes across as rather original, and is already something we’re keen to get our hands on. If only one of us could read Japanese, we’d get it right now! Although there’s no release date set, it has been confirmed for a western release.
So after another so-so year at E3, speculation is rife that the poor showing is just the calm before next years storm, as Microsoft and Sony are expected to unleash the next generation of console. But until then, we’re stuck with tablet features that no one asked for, and an underwhelming new console from Nintendo, who now it seems, insist on staying a generation behind.