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Posted by Alex

It looked promising. Opening on a smiling Shigeru Miyamoto (as if any other kind exists) and a bunch of CG cartoon Pikmin skittering around the cheerful designer's press conference dressing room, Nintendo had seemingly set the tone for what was to come. As Miyamoto bounced out onto the stage to introduce Pikmin 3 for the Wii U, it looked as though we were in for a fun ride. Maybe, just maybe, Nintendo was going to come at us with a slew of interesting games. We knew third-party stuff was there, and we knew there had to be other Nintendo originals kicking around. Maybe Nintendo was going to wow us. Maybe they were going to be able to punch through the cynicism and skepticism and actually show us something awesome.

That feeling did not last.

Pikmin 3 looked really great. I mean, it's Pikmin, but it's not like we've had one of those in a while.

Miyamoto was on stage demonstrating Pikmin 3 for maybe 5 minutes. The game looked great, in that it looked like an extremely crisp-looking Pikmin game. Then Reggie came out to regale us with the myriad games Nintendo planned to show us for the Wii U. 23 games, he said, would be shown to us. This number sounded fantastic, we of the Internet-watching audience were pumped to see what they'd bring us.

Then he started talking about Hulu and Netflix. It all kind of went downhill from there.

The apps were not the problem. Of course the Wii U was going to have apps, and it's good that they have them. It wasn't the awkwardly explained revelation that the Wii U can totally support two GamePads now, (translation: Hey guys, you can buy another one of these things!) It wasn't even Reggie. Despite talking in his frequently parodied stilted tone, Reggie was pretty much the expected Reggie, outside of a few strangely dark moments. The problem was, Nintendo didn't deliver on the promise. They showed games, but they didn't show very many that offered anything beyond the expected, or the inexplicable. Some of these games looked reasonably fun, but Nintendo games aren't supposed to be reasonably fun. They're supposed to be cheery rays of sunshine that put permanent grins on the faces of all the company's fans. There didn't appear to be too many smiles in NintendoLand today.

Let's deal with the obvious stuff first. Yes, there is a New Super Mario Bros. game for the Wii U, and it looks...like a New Super Mario Bros. game. To be fair, it did look really sharp. If that had been one among several big game announcements, then I doubt people would have been so critical of it, but beyond NSMB and Pikmin, Nintendo had surprisingly little to show for its own work on the platform.

Instead, Nintendo put the focus on third-party support. This has, for many years, been the proverbial football that Nintendo's Charlie Brown has thus far been unable to kick. So Nintendo doubled down on the third-party action, bringing out Ubisoft and WB Games reps to show off a few scattered new games, like Scribblenauts Unlimited and ZombiU, and then showing us a whole lot of Batman: Arkham City Armored Edition. You know, that game you played last year, except without touch-screen controls shoved in there for fun and profit but let's be honest it's actually mostly profit.

If you're going to make Mario obsessed with collecting gold, why not just make a new WarioLand?

The expected montage showed yet more games we have already played, or at least will have possibly played by the time the Wii U launches. Darksiders II, Ninja Gaiden 3, Tekken Tag Tournament 2, and yes, Mass Effect 3, will all be there at launch. But are any of these system sellers? Do you look at this slate of games and say, "Yes, this is why I will buy a Wii U." More likely, you're saying to yourself "Well, I already own hardware that plays these games, and enhanced boomerang control isn't really enough to get me to plunk down on a new console." If I am mistaken in presuming this, by all means say so in the comments. However, if the general reactions I've been reading following the conference are any indication, if anything, I'm being polite.

There will assuredly be better third-party games post-launch, of this much I am certain. But Nintendo is not in a great position to be waiting around for great games. Remember the 3DS launch? And if they are going to be waiting for third parties to get on board, they needed to show more than a New Super Mario Bros. game and Pikmin. For as fun as those games look, NSMB has kind of been worn down at this point (case in point, the OTHER NSMB game shown for the 3DS at the same conference), and Pikmin is perhaps a bit too niche to get the mainstream audience on board.

And instead of showing interesting, broad-spectrum games, they showed us NintendoLand.

NintendoLand is, of course, Nintendo's hub for small-scale gaming experiences with a theme park, er, theme. There are going to be several of them at launch, including a Zelda-themed game, an Animal Crossing-themed game, and a Luigi's Mansion game, which we got a very, very lengthy demo of. By the end of said demo, I was not exactly chomping at the bit to take a trip to NintendoLand.

Maybe NintendoLand is great. I have no idea based on the demos showed today.The lengthy demos shown on stage today just didn't seem to inspire excitement in anybody. Granted, us journalist types rarely get excited about "family gaming experiences," AKA the kind of minigame focused stuff Nintendo pretty much predicated the Wii on. But even as someone who liked Wii Sports and subsequent iterations of it, I found myself increasingly disinterested as Nintendo went deeper and deeper down this theme park rabbit hole. The Luigi's Ghost Mansion demo, which lasted for several minutes longer than it needed to, somehow managed to become less informative as it went along. It's as if it was sucking knowledge out of my brain as it continued. After reading about it elsewhere, I understood it--players are being chased by a "ghost" character controlled by the GamePad, while also trying to track down the ghost with flashlights--but watching it on screen, my eyes just kind of rolled back into my head. It sucked the life out of a show that was already breathing with some distress. And that was the closing segment.

Do with this image what you will.

I'm quite sure I'm being branded a negative nelly in the comments by now (possibly in more profane terminology), so for the sake of positivity, here are a few things I did genuinely enjoy besides Pikmin.

The 3DS actually made a good showing at the conference. In addition to the other NSMB (in which Mario somehow catches Wario's gold obsession), a new Paper Mario game, subtitled Sticker Star, was shown, and it looked pretty cool. Plus we got more Luigi's Mansion 2 footage. That's one I've been looking forward to since last E3, and seeing it get a bit of highlight time was great.

And then there was that one other Wii U third-party game. The one you may recall being titled Lego City Stories. It's not called that anymore. It's called Lego City Undercover, and it looks bonkers. Like, Lego parodying Grand Theft Auto bonkers. It's a hard-boiled open-world crime game with Lego people. Watch the demo for it when it goes up on the site. You have to see it to understand it.

It's distinctly possible that after getting my hands on more of these NintendoLand minigames and third-party endeavors that my mind may change altogether. Maybe the conference just didn't highlight the strengths of the system properly, and maybe my disappointment here will ultimately be for naught. If that's the case, I'll be the first one to yell it out to anyone who will listen. I want to like the Wii U. There are games I want to play on it. But few of them grabbed me strongly enough to shake me into an excited state. Little of what I saw today thrilled me, or even really put much of a smile on my face. I know my cold, callous heart is still capable of being warmed, because in the early goings, during that first Pikmin demo, I was all smiles. I want those smiles again. Hopefully after I hit the show floor, I'll get them.

Random Thoughts:

  • If you missed the post-conference live stream with Satoru Iwata, you missed some high comedy. Expect "Dad Chasers" and Iwata holding bananas to be this year's major E3 memes.
  • I didn't talk about the Wii U fitness stuff because I hate health. If it doesn't make me slower, fatter, or stupider, I don't want it.
  • I genuinely don't know what got up Reggie's craw today, but his interactions with the other business guys on stage seemed...a little brusque? He seemed especially harsh on that Scott guy, who had to go through all the 3DS stuff. Scott looked the kind of nervous that only a man who fears a severe beating can look.
  • Reggie's association of two GamePads being supported as being "like the original Nintendo Entertainment System" is either a brilliant piece of shady nostalgic marketing, or the rantings of a lunatic. I really don't know which.
  • They really pushed the black Wii U GamePad today. The future is black.

No more conferences, but stay tuned for plenty more commentary from us during our live broadcasts and during our wrap-ups from the show floor. There will be much to discuss!

Edited by Flappybat

It turned horrible. They started out so professional and then can only muster up four original titles for the Wii U before showing a selection of ports, they even headline with a port of Arkham City. For having brand new hardware it was seriously underwhelming. If this has more power than the 360 or PS3 they aren't bothering to demonstrate it.

The controller is just used as a secondary screen and does little to justify it's inclusion. There will be a couple of decent uses for it but having to take your eyes off your $800 TV to stare at a small map or inventory screen isn't a killer feature.

How could you try to explain Pacman for so long? Talking over a translator was icing on the crappy cake!

Posted by giant_frying_pan

Iwanta Banana.

Posted by Quarters

Man...I hate Nintendo.

Posted by Xeteh

Thanks Alex, completely missed this today.

Posted by Phished0ne

Wow, the Black Ops demo from yesterday was right, the future IS black.

Posted by rramo010

The Wii U is only looking good for Zombi U and Pikmin 3...IMO

Posted by leejunfan83

That shit was Rrough!!

Posted by FishieBuddha

Disappointed at no Animal Crossing pushing. Where was the montage of 3ds games coming out this holiday?

Posted by chaiHazuki

Awful conference for a company positioning a "next-gen" console.

Edited by bricewgilbert

You just don't get it Alex. New Super Mario Bros 2 is Nintendo getting into the gold craze. It's an important statement from Nintendo about the gold standard. Ron Paul for president! Lizard People.

Edited by BlatantNinja23

my favorite thing about the wii u is that the gamepad's battery life is only like an hour longer than the 3DS.... yay the future

edit: also maybe I'm crazy, but I figured a 2D mario in 720/1080 (whatever the max res is) would look better? idk, crisper?

Posted by fusrodah

This recap needs more Call Me Maybe

Posted by aku88

Best part about the Nintendo conference was reading the comments during the post-conference live stream.

Posted by ManU_Fan10ne

its meme time

Posted by MannAlive

Why am I the only one disturbed that Nintendo has not released a date or a price for the Wii U that is supposedly coming out this year? Did I miss something that no one cares to talk about?

Edited by CrossTheAtlantic

It started out pretty cool, but I soon lost interest. I'm curious to see how the WiiU performs especially after Microsoft revealed SmartGlass. While I realize most people think SmartGlass seems like a thing separate from games, I wouldn't be surprised if it was Microsoft implemented an infrastructure that they actively put to use in the Durango/Whatever. At least, if I was them and wanting to steal their thunder, that's what I'd do. Create a system to allow all touchscreens to have functionality with your own console. Release new console that also has a major touchscreen component.

Could be interesting.

Wish there had been more unique third-party stuff.

Posted by AlexanderSheen

Jesus Christ , that thumbnail is... really disturbing.

Posted by nasie


Edited by Anaardvark
Posted by Vasta_Narada

As much as I love me some first-party stuff (like Pikmin, which I've been waiting for forever), Nintendo doesn't ever seem to have much going for it--at least for the past two consoles. Maybe the focus on third-party support is what made this a bummer, overall, considering there wasn't much in the way of original third-party stuff?

Of course, let's not forget about Rayman Legends.

Posted by Vasta_Narada

@hoodedrobin: They're doing a 3DS software showcase tomorrow, I do believe.

Posted by robbob88

Alex, my thoughts exactly. You nailed it.

And as a long time Nintendo fan, I am disappointed and believe that Nintendo could be in some serious shit if they don't get major 3RD Party support after the system launches. And I mean new 3rd party IP EXCLUSIVES to Nintendo Wii U.

Posted by leejunfan83

@Anaardvark: No animated!

Posted by EXTomar

Is Iwata holding bananas a metaphor for "dad chasing"???

Posted by 234r2we232

Reggie - Hard-boiled Nintendo Cop.

Posted by Abendlaender

Funny, they showed, what, 3 minutes of the 3DS and the 3DS still won the show (well....let's say it won Nintendo's pressconference)

Edited by Mumrik

People should probably hold back the cynicism until after the supplementary events. I thought N did quite well, thought the fitness focus of course isn't aimed that much at us. I thought they showed a few good exclusives that used the controller well and indicated that they maybe are catching on to that internet thing. They also did much more for the 3DS than Sony did for the Vita. If they release some good info at the other event(s) I'd say they had a very good E3. They could also ruin it all if they provided sucky specs. My main worry with this system is price and the fact that it'll probably be limited by the dreadful Wiimotes it has to support.

Edited by TheKing

It started out so promising. This years e3 really bummed me out, it's all but proven it's not for our audience anymore.

Posted by FishieBuddha

@Vasta_Narada said:

@hoodedrobin: They're doing a 3DS software showcase tomorrow, I do believe.

Yeah but...man...you've got everybody's attention. Throw a montage during Scott's section and cut down on that other dude explaining Nintendoland.

Posted by RudeCubes

I'll buy a Wii U because i'll be able to get those third party games AND NIntendo's games. I put off playing Arkham City because of that.

Posted by Patman99

I thought the Nintendo press conference wasnt that bad. I mean, all the games they showed I have at least a little interest in playing.

I bet NintendoLand will be better than most are expecting, rarely will nintendo put so much emphasis on something that will suck. I kinda got the feeling of a Mario Party meets "nintendo's greatest hits" vibe from NintendoLand and I think that may be fun with a few friends. In terms of "core" games I feel like it was a little dry however.

Posted by binhoker

These were games I might consider buying on the wii, but if this was supposed to convince anyone ( rising sun headbanded nintendo perma-adolescens excepted) that the wiiu is worth your time or money, I think it was an abject failure.


Posted by Begilerath

So the Ubisoft conference was a better WiiU conference?

Posted by Mumrik

@MannAlive said:

Why am I the only one disturbed that Nintendo has not released a date or a price for the Wii U that is supposedly coming out this year? Did I miss something that no one cares to talk about?

Reggie clearly said holiday this year. I'm guessing the dates will vary a bit from continent to continent.

Edited by Vestigial_Man

Lego City Undercover was the highlight of the presentation for me but it didn't make me wan't a WiiU, just made me annoyed it was being kept from other platforms.

Posted by Dixavd

You better watch the 3DS-only event tomorrow, especially before you start going around (like on twitter) saying Ubisoft won E3.

I will say I was slightly disappointed by the Nintendo Conference. They did sell me the concept though and I am very interested in seeing me - especially with Rayman Legends as an exclusive and Pikmin 3. But it did lack a final punch which the last conference before the WiiU's release really needed (I mean they did re-confirm after the evnt that it is slated for a Holiday release).

But it definitely wasn't bad, and I think your thoughts on Reggie's attitude is a bit clouded by negativity. Still I enjoyed this conference and the great details of ZombiU (like the character looking through his bag on screen as you look at the inventory on the controller, or the looking up from the controler and the character looking behind him when entering the passcode) were great details. And I am super pumped for WiiU - but again not completely sold yet (sold on concept though).

Posted by leejunfan83

@MannAlive: They''ll probably release it spring or summer 2013 to seem fresh and to find out more about their competion

Posted by Giantstalker

It wasn't great, but times like this remind me it's too easy to be cynical about the whole thing. It's just a taste, nothing more.

Posted by Sergio

@Begilerath said:

So the Ubisoft conference was a better WiiU conference?

The Ubisoft conference was better than the Microsoft conference too. Slightly better than the Sony conference as well.

Posted by Veektarius

@bricewgilbert said:

You just don't get it Alex. New Super Mario Bros 2 is Nintendo getting into the gold craze. It's an important statement from Nintendo about the gold standard. Ron Paul for president! Lizard People.

Posted by Korolev

@bricewgilbert said:

You just don't get it Alex. New Super Mario Bros 2 is Nintendo getting into the gold craze. It's an important statement from Nintendo about the gold standard. Ron Paul for president! Lizard People.


Posted by mikey87144

The systems final specs has me worried.

Posted by ScreamingGhost

If anything you were very nice about how poorly the Nintendo conference was. Minus Pikmin and Paper Mario there was nothing to even get a slight bit of hype for. Even those were known titles for some time now, everything else just felt like a rehash of years past. I know the Wii U will have the great 1st party games in the future but this did nothing to paint a bright er future for Nintendo. Also why was there no information on their online plans?

Posted by zanshin

@Flappybat: The funny thing is, that wasn't even a translator. I believe he was reading a prepared statement which was the basic equivalent of what was being said.

Posted by Saga

If it plays used games then I'm in!

Posted by UberExplodey

Simulated Dad was an asshole.

Posted by mikey87144

@RudeCubes said:

I'll buy a Wii U because i'll be able to get those third party games AND NIntendo's games. I put off playing Arkham City because of that.

You'll be paying full price for Batman when you could get it for half off the initial MSRP

Posted by Suigyoken

Boourns! Good thing I just liked Pikmin, and that Lego City might be a return to the style of game that Lego Island had. Too bad Nintendo can't figure out what's wrong.

Posted by MocBucket62

Man, Nintendo REALLY wants use to buy Nintendo Land. Why didn't they condense the Nintendo Land stuff to save room for unveiling the Project P-100 game?