Day three of E3, and perhaps fatigued after trying to digest so much information, I wasn’t anticipating Nintendo’s announcement of not just software but also much rumoured new console with particular relish. Manfully I stepped up to the mark and saw a news conference that left as many question marks as answers.
The Wii U will be Nintendo’s sixth home console and the first Nintendo console ever to produce 1080p high-definition graphics, which the company see as key to winning back so-called ‘hardcore’ gamers who have perhaps left the Wii behind. The new console features a controller with an embedded touchscreen, allowing a player to continue a gaming session by displaying the game even when the television is off.
The system will be fully backwards compatible with Wii, and Wii U games can support compatibility with Wii peripherals, such as the Wii Remote and Wii Balance Board. However, it will not be backward compatible with Nintendo GameCube media, which means I’ll probably have to download Luigi’s Mansion and finally get rid of my physical copy. Boo!
As with any new console announcement, the public were waiting for details to emerge of the possible launch titles – Super Mario Universe? Zelda 256?
Well, confirmed already are LEGO City Stories, a new Super Smash Bros., and as revealed previously on Games Catalyst, a new Pikmin title. Also, many third party titles was announced to be available at release, and were on show with video clips taken from PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions (a bit naughty from Ninty there!).
It has to be said that encouraging third party support has been Nintendo’s problem in the past. Hopefully will be solved this time round with better developer kits and increased processing capabilities allowing the Wii U to not only keep up with but exceed the power of the 360 and PS3.
Not everyone was positive about the announcement of the Wii U though. Shares of Nintendo fell almost 10 percent in the two days following unveiling of Wii U to levels not seen since 2006. Some analysts did questioned Nintendo’s strategy, others whether Wii U was even its own console on not just a Wii add-on and more expressed concern that the controller would be too expensive to produce. Personally, I questioned the rather unambitious name, but then the Wii was an undoubted success, and I hated the name of that upon its debut. So what do I know?
Of course there were several 3DS properties on show as well – Animal Crossing, Mario Kart, Kid Icarus: Uprising, new versions of Starfox 64, Paper Mario and the classic Ocarina of Time, and excitingly, Luigi’s Mansion 2. In a way though, with all the familiar names, it seems Nintendo is perhaps in a bit of a quandary – everyone wants to see them trot out the well-known and well-loved franchises, but at the same time continual sequels threaten their reputation for innovation. It’s a fine line they’re walking, but I have faith they’ll make the right choices where necessary.
As for the faithful Wii owner, it’s rather slim pickings if we’re honest. Leading the way is the ever on the radar The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword but, is ever seems the case Nintendo didn’t announce a concrete release date leading to speculation that we’ll still be talking about its development this time next year. Outside of Zelda only Xenoblade Chronicles and Kirby Wii really caught the eye, looks like it’ll be time to upgrade soon folks.
And as the tables are packed away, Los Angeles Convention Centre readies itself for playing host to a throng of devout Christians at the Victory Outreach conference. The devout gamers among our congregation are already safely back in front of their screens, anticipating the arrival of all the future loveliness we saw at E3.
See Part 1 of our guide here and Part 2 here.
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword from Games Catalyst on Vimeo.