Sunday, June 12, 2011

Definitley Not Live Blogging Nintendo's 2011 E3 Conference

This year, just like 2009, I missed the live stream of Nintendo's E3 conference, tuning into GameSpot's feed just after it finished. After fiddling around with that stream for a while and getting nothing but the same couple of seconds at the beginning looping over and over again, I headed over to G4's recording and bashed out my thoughts second by second in Notepad.

What on earth will Project Cafe turn out to be? Are there literally no other games coming out for the rest of the Wii's lifetime. Will we ever find out anything about Skyward Sword? All these questions and more will be answered. Off we go:
  • -:--:-- Gah, dammit! I guess the press conference is just finishing in real time. I'm staring at a spoiler-filled wall of logos. Luigi's Mansion 2 and Kirby Wii are the ones immediately jumping out at me.
  • -:--:-- Right, back to the beginning. Looks like the audience are being treated to some Zelda trivia.
  • 0:00:16 Okay, that stream isn't working at the moment, so I've switched over to the G4 recording. The conference is kicking off with Skyward Sword and a live orchestra accompanying the video. I guess that answers the question of orchestrated music in Zelda then.
  • 0:00:41 I think I spoke too soon. This seems to be a video for the 25th anniversary of Zelda.
  • 0:04:02 Pretty cool so far. Looks like this is some Skyward Sword footage. Link and a girl are riding on birds through the air. I'm guessing you're going to have to rescue her at some point.
  • 0:04:33 I really love that OoT artwork. I wish I could get it at wallpaper size.
  • 0:05:23 It's Miyamoto. Man, that smile is infectious!
  • 0:05:47 I guess we've heard the Skyward Sword title music already then. I can't believe they're still using the same crappy font for Skyward Sword logo. :D
  • 0:06:50 More orchestrated Zelda music. Fine by me.
  • 0:07:23 Oh, Miyamoto, you're just too cute.
  • 0:09:09 A Zelda game for each platform for the 25th Anniversary. One of them is Link's Awakening DX for the eShop.
  • 0:10:07 Some OoT 3D talk, nothing new though.
  • 0:10:48 Free Zelda Four Swords for the DSi. Nice.
  • 0:11:20 Skyward Sword for the Wii during the holidays.
  • 0:11:40 A gold Zelda Wiimote is coming out with the game. I think I'll be needing one of those.
  • 0:12:08 Skyward Sword is "great exercise". Hopefully that doesn't mean a total waggle fest.
  • 0:12:16 There's lots of content in Skyward Sword. Sounds good to me. I know some fans will be pissed about them cramming in extra stuff to make it longer though; just you wait.
  • 0:13:01 Zelda concerts for each region. Hopefully we get recordings of those too.
  • 0:14:07 Yep, looks like they're offering a CD as some kind of tie-in with Skyward Sword. I wish they'd put some of these soundtracks on iTunes or something for once though.
  • 0:15:07 Some more of the guys who worked on Zelda over the years come on stage, including Anouma. Zelda timeline reveal imminent!
  • 0:16:00 That's the end of that segment. Pretty cool.
  • 0:16:44 Iwata takes to the stage.
  • 0:17:03 Nintendo - keeping the stock photography industry in business since 2006.
  • 0:17:59 Sounds like the Cafe announcement. A platform that's attractive to all players? We'll see, Iwata, we'll see.
  • 0:18:43 Deeper games and wider appeal to all gamers. Well, he's certainly talking the talk.
  • 0:19:10 Full details not coming until a little later. Hmm, they usually have a bit of a roundtable talk later on too don't they?
  • 0:19:52 No Cafe info for the moment. How about some 3DS games though?
  • 0:20:06 Mario Kart. Wouldn't it be nice if the balanced the single player for once this time?
  • 0:20:19 Was that a hang glider coming out of Mario's Kart?
  • 0:20:36 Star Fox 64 3D. Looks like the old voice acting is still in. Yay! I'm hitting L AND Z twice.
More impressions and some lengthy analysis after the jump.

  • 0:20:54 Mario for the 3DS. That's the tanooki suit confirmed, plus the music blocks are back from Mario 3.
  • 0:21:15 Kid Icarus. I really like the 3D effect they've managed to pull off here.
  • 0:21:43 That'd be Luigi's Mansion 2. Looks great. The ghost kind of looks like the blob from De Blob.
  • 0:21:54 Reggie, accompanied by some Kaiser Chiefs.
  • 0:22:31 Reggie's slipping up at his speech. I guess his circuits are overheating.
  • 0:23:40 A tricked-out version of Mario Kart. I'm patiently awaiting Xzibit's arrival on stage.
  • 0:24:12 So far, so Mario Kart.
  • 0:24:48 Looks like there are going to be hang glider and submarine sections in some tracks. Makes me pine for a new Diddy Kong Racing.
  • 0:25:17 Looks like there's some room for customising the karts this time. But what about that damn blue shell, Reggie?
  • 0:26:32 Tilt or d-pad control for Starfox 64. Plus a live (choppy) video feed of your friends faces during multiplayer. Kind of neat.
  • 0:28:21 Mario 3DS in action. It looks a lot like a portable Galaxy. Count me in.
  • 0:28:46 Hmm, I'm a bit worried about the tanooki suit. They didn't show Mario flying or turning into a statue with it on, just gliding a bit.
  • 0:29:07 Super Mario 3DS this year, bitches.
  • 0:29:43 Kid Icarus now. Hah, they totally faked me out with that Man Icarus type guy at the start. :D
  • 0:30:18 Graphics look great. Gameplay looks very much like Sin & Punishment.
  • 0:30:36 Team-based multiplayer? Interesting. Not to me, but to someone else, I'm sure. :D
  • 0:31:59 No cheer for Luigi's Mansion 2? Bastards.
  • 0:33:17 Looks quite a bit nicer than the original game. A new game with several mansions.
  • 0:33:36 Some 3rd party 3DS stuff.
  • 0:34:39 Ooh, Tekken.
  • 0:25:25 eShop. Choo, choo!
  • 0:36:24 No word on GBA coming to 3DS VC yet.
  • 0:37:39 Pokedex 3D. Boring.
  • 0:39:19 Cafe time, birches.
  • 0:40:09 What? Reggie's making absolutely no sense now. He appears to be speaking in pure marketing gibberish.
  • 0:40:26 Wii U. Terrible name, worse logo.
  • 0:41:02 The tablet controller future is a reality. I'm not sure I like the placement of the buttons and analogue sticks up there.
  • 0:42:02 Playing NSMBW on the can. A dream finally realised.
  • 0:42:15 Draw (penises) on the new controller. You know, I'd totally be down for a version of Art Academy on this.
  • 0:42:34 A flash-style version of Othello being played on the controller alone. Definitely some potential for board games on there, but I've got to imagine Apple is already doing this kind of stuff though.
  • 0:42:54 Looks like the view on the controller screen can change depending on what part of the TV you're putting it in front of.
  • 0:43:17 It seems to be compatible with the Wiimote and balance board.
  • 0:43:24 Ugh, and the fucking zapper. :D
  • 0:43:31 Silent Scope Mii Edition.
  • 0:43:56 Video chat with the controller, but only during the most incomprehensible conversations known to man.
  • 0:44:23 So, I guess you can beam videos (of porn) from the controller to the TV. Why?
  • 0:44:37 Inventory screens on the touch screen, as predicted by everyone.
  • 0:46:01 There's a stylus for the screen, and the Wii U is compatible with the Wii Wheel. My prayers have been answered.
  • 0:56:40 Looks like the controller's got 3DS circle pads rather than analogue sticks. Also, two triggers and rumble.
  • 0:47:21 As well as a microphone, a speaker, motion controls and a camera. This thing is not going to be cheap.
  • 0:47:42 VERY IMPORTANT: Wii U controller NOT a portable game machine, please continue to buy the 3DS. Thank you.
  • 0:48:00 The video is being sent from the console to the controller wirelessly.
  • 0:48:50 Good grief! That Zapper is actually a new model. :D
  • 0:51:26 Lots of great new ideas incoming for Wii U, promise. Doesn't look like they're going to show much in the way of games today.
  • 0:52:35 It's 2005 all over again. Iwata drops the bomb on a new Smash Bros. coming (for the 3DS and Wii U, no less) and shows nothing. What a troll. :D
  • 0:52:48 Both versions will interact somehow? They haven't even started development on it have they, Iwata?
  • 0:54:05 A tech demo for the Wii U. Takes you back to they days of the GameCube Rebirth demo doesn't it. Looks good, at least on par with the 360/PS3. (Which I can totally judge looking at this low-res streaming video :D).
  • 0:55:32 New Super Mario Bros. Mii? (sigh) Get those fucking Miis out of my face. We need some Peach and Toad up in here.
  • 0:56:29 So, you can use Wiimotes and Wii U controllers to play the same game. If Pac Man Vs, Zelda Four Swords and FF Crystal Chronicles don't end up on this thing, people need to be fired.
  • 0:57:25 Lego City Stories? If that's not a GTA Lego crossover, I have no interest in playing it.
  • 0:58:07 Huh, that doesn't seem to be a million miles away from the truth actually. Still not interested. :D
  • 0:59:30 Yay. Everyone loves the Wii U. You know, I'd be much more impressed if they roped in Mark Rein and Cliff Bleszinski to extol it's virtues and tell us how easily it'll run UE3.
  • 0:59:40 Darksiders II, Batman: Arkham City and Tekken: Wii Successor? Current-gen ports abound. Let the Dreamcast comparisons commence!
  • 0:59:54 Assassin's Creed multiplayer with the new controller. Interesting.
  • 1:00:29 So what are Vicarious Visions working on now anyway?
  • 1:02:02 The new Metro game? Now there's something you'd never expect to see on a Nintendo console.
  • 1:02:23 Face painting for Tekken. Well, you have to look your best when you're throwing someone into a volcano, I guess.
  • 1:02:47 Ninja Gaiden 3. Looking brutal as ever.
  • 1:03:48 So, anything else for the regular Wii this year, guys?
  • 1:05:49 Sounds like Nintendo might have their online system in order this time. About time.
  • 1:10:09 And we come full circle back to the wall of logos. Looks like a Mario Party 9 logo on the right side. I guess that and Rhythm Heaven account for the rest of the first party Wii releases this year then.
  • 1:10:47 And that's it.

First off, let's get right down to the Wii U - While I'm a bit concerned about the button placement and how the controller might feel to hold, I'm really excited by the potential gaming applications of the thing. There's a ton of functionality packed in there and I can see Nintendo and a few third parties putting out some really innovative stuff taking advantage of its various features.

Not too surprisingly, the console itself isn't exactly a next gen powerhouse. But it is in HD and should be powerful enough to support the current middleware being used by the industry. That should ensure most multi-platform games gracing the Wii U, as well as the PS3 and 360, as well as encouraging most third parties to have a crack at Wii U development (especially given how many missed out on the early, more lucrative days of the Wii). And, of course, we're going to see Nintendo's offerings making the leap to HD, which will be awesome.

I'm fairly concerned about it's eventual fate as far as third party support goes though. The Wii name is poison for most core gamers and presuming they already have a PS3 or 360, they're not going to care that Arkham City or Darksiders II is available on Nintendo's box; They can already play those on the consoles they have. It's nice to see Nintendo acknowledging the need to get major Western developed games on the Wii U, but ports aren't going to woo many over to the Wii U, especially with new Microsoft and Sony consoles somewhere over the horizon.

To have any chance to get core gamers outside the Nintendo faithful interested in the Wii U, they're going to have secure a bunch of big, exclusive, core-focused third party games (not Lego City Stories) and/or develop new "hardcore" IPs internally. I don't think they'll do either. I think the audience for core games on the Wii Uis going to be pretty small and once the ability to easily port stuff from the PS360 goes away, the amount of third party games that don't have "dance" or "party" in the title will be minuscule.

Am I going to buy a Wii U though? Of course I am! I'm still a Nintendo fanboy after all. There wasn't an awful lot to get excited about Wii U-wise at the conference though, other than the controller and the vague promise of a new Smash Bros.. I would have loved to have seen a few new, actual games get announced, but I guess that's what next year's conference is for, eh?

Turning my attention to the original Wii, I was really hoping that they'd blow the lid off a bunch of unannounced games to fill the giant, gaping chasm that is the Wii release list for the rest of the year and beyond, and that they'd show off Skyward Sword a bunch. I guess the Zelda 25th anniversary segment ate into any potential Skyward Sword time, so despite the handful of info and footage we got, I still feel a bit in the dark about that game. Having said that though, I enjoyed the Zelda bit of the conference lot. Miyamoto goofing about with an orchestra and a bunch of cool announcements made for an entertaining start to the show.

Other than Skyward Sword, the only other Wii games only got announced via the logo wall at the end of the show. I guess that makes sense given the time they needed to unveil the Wii U, and the fact that none of the games announced were exactly going to set the world on fire. Mario Party 9, Kirby Wii and Rhythm Heaven - I guess it's something, but Dragon Quest X, Xenoblade or The Last Story would have made for pretty awesome announcements during the show itself; One last hurrah for the Wii. Of course, we still don't know if the latter two are even coming to the US though.

And that leaves the 3DS, which didn't really have a huge showing, I thought. I'm pretty excited for both Luigi's Mansion 2 and Super Mario. The first Luigi's Mansion was enjoyable, but fairly short and limited in scope and I'm interested to see what they do with a multi mansion spanning sequel. Super Mario looks a lot like Mario Galaxy with some elements brought back from Mario 3. You won't get me complaining about more Galaxy, but after putting so much focus on the return of the raccoon tail, the lack of flight in the video has me scratching my head. Surely they haven't brought back the tanooki suit to allow Mario to do a little glide across gaps? If so i'm going to be ridiculously disappointed. The ability to take to the skies with the racoon leaf was one of the best things about Mario 3!

As far as the other 3DS software goes, Kid Icarus and Starfox were already shown last year and the umpteenth versions of Mario Kart and Tekken arren't exactly sending my hype levels into overdrive, especially Mario Kart. I guess I'm missed out on the main draw of the game with my crappy broadband connection, but I really didn't enjoy the Mario Kart Wii single player. The AI rubber-banding and the unbalanced power ups, the things people have been complaining about for years, were not only not improved in that game, they were worse than ever. I might be forgetting a few other 3DS games, but for a platform that's been struggling slightly, I was surprised they didn't wheel out some more big guns. Major third party announcements were notably absent, especially compared to the bevy of third part support that was pledged last year. Has everyone jumped ship to the iPhone or the Vita already?

All in all, not a bad show, but not a terribly exciting or surprising one either. The Wii U was pretty much what everyone expected, dumb name aside. And aside from Luigi's Mansion getting a sequel and the slightly unexpected appearance of Metro: Last Light and maybe Ninja Gaiden 3 on the Wii U sizzle reel, there was much in the way of surprising game announcements. Well, maybe Mario Party crawling back from the dead was a little surprising, but it wasn't exactly a new Retro IP or a Starfox revival or, as some had been speculating, a big Rockstar announcement. Damn it, Iwata, where are those bombs at?

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