Sunday, June 23, 2013

Nintendo Direct (UK) E3 2013: Later than Ever Impressions

Last Tuesday night week, after being tied up all day (not literally), I finally got to sit down and watch the E3 Nintendo Direct at about a quarter past eleven. Knowing that Mario Kart, Smash Bros. and the next Mario for the Wii U were going to be shown beforehand, I wasn't really expecting any megatons to be dropped amid that line up, especially with only an hour's running time. I was pretty excited to see the next evolution of Mario though and I did still have a faint hope that we'd see Retro working on something exciting. It's been a long day, Iwata. Please cheer me up with some games:

  • 00:05 - Okay, after some searching I've found a stream on Joystiq. Not sure if it's the right one. (It is only 40 minutes long), but let's check it out.
  • 00:17 - Pegi 18. Oh, this must be the UK stream. Well, it'll do I guess. The threat of spoilers is too high to go poking around the internet for the US one.
  • 00:35 - 'Sup, Iwata.

  • 00:48 - Whoa, look at the size of that room. I bet they had no problems with Kinect in here. :)
  • 01:22 - First up: Pokémon, I guess.

  • 01:56 - Pokémon sure does look different since I played Pokémon Yellow a decade ago. I should probably give the series another go; I did really like Yellow. Too bad they're seem dead set against a console version though. My attention span for handheld games is still pretty short.
  • 02:20 - Fairy type! #gamechanger
  • 02:48 - There are probably a lot of deviantArt users that'd enjoy bonding with a Pokémon.
  • 04:03 - Yep, got it already, Iwata.
  • 04:38 - 3D Mario?

  • 04:45 - 3D Mario. Looks quite a bit like 3D Land, at least from this angle.
  • 05:10 - Spotted a new suit in there, and it looks like there's some touch screen business going on here. Not sure about this music, but it's a step up up from the NSMB stuff I guess.
  • 05:20 - Whoa, hold the fucking phone! Peach! Is this the real New Super Mario Bros. 2?
  • 05:22 - And Toad. No vegetables sighted as of yet though.
  • 05:47 - Okay, looks like there isn't any Mario 2 stuff in there aside from the character line up. Multi-player stuff looks fun though.
  • 05:55 - Ooh, charging chuck. Though for all I know he might well have reappeared in one of the last three Mario platformers (that I've yet to buy, let alone play),
  • 06:17 - Super Mario 3D world for the Wii U. I know I'll probably enjoy the shit out of this, but I have to admit, it doesn't look like the epic Galaxy follow up I was hoping for today.
  • 07:40 - Cat Mario. The internet will be pleased.
  • 08:03 - December for Mario. That's kind of late. Maybe they're trying to get away from the two new consoles?
  • 08:13 - As promised, it's Mario Kart. Looks great in HD, but barring some major effort to make the single player entertaining, I am fucking done with this series. :D
  • 08:36 - Got to admit that hover karts are pretty cool though.
  • 09:07 - Seems to be a weird emphasis on driving on vertical surfaces this time 'round. Hang gliders are back from Mario Kart 7. Another Wii U game built off a 3DS predecessor?
  • 09:57  - Mario Kart 8. That numbering seems to be sticking around for now. Surprising they managed to resist the temptation to slap a U at the end instead.
  • 11:10 - Spring 2014. Have to admit I was expecting it to hit this year
  • 11:17 - Wii Party? I forgot that series even existed.
  • 11:48 - Just what the fans were crying out for: mini-games!
  • 12:39 - Both this and Wii Fit delayed. If I had to guess, I'd say Nintendo might be struggling with HD development here. If so, that doesn't bode well for the rest of this, or the Wii U in general.

  • 13:19 - For a split second there I thought we were going to get some Ambassador stuff announced. :) It's so strange to see someone apologizing for something at E3. Imagine any of the smug suits at Microsoft doing that kind of thing. I'd probably pay good money to see that.

  • 14:00 - Oh, nice. Art Academy for the Wii U. The DS version seemed neat, but I never got around to checking it out.
  • 14:54 - So they're putting a cut down version of it out on the eShop this Summer? Cool.
  • 15:19 - Doesn't sound like it's free though. I'll probably wait for the full package then.
  • 15:44 - Some third party stuff? Hopefully there a few surprises in here.
  • 16:04 - Ubisoft and Warner back for round 2.
  • 16:13 - Thinking of picking up this version of Deus Ex actually, given the enhancements.
  • 16:27 - Disney Infinity and Just Dance. Don't know much about the former and I really couldn't care less about the later.
  • 16:30 - It still looks as aesthetically offensive as ever though. :D
  • 16:40 - Rayman Legends. Been playing the challenges app a bit, which leads me to believe that this game is going to be ball-shatteringly hard. Doubt I'll be rushing out to grab it to be honest. I haven't even picked up Rayman Origins yet.
  • 16:49 - Scribblenauts DC Unmasked. Still need to get around to downloading Unlimited on Steam. :D
  • 17:07 - Disney's Planes? Is that the direct to video Cars spin-off? That's even worse than a regular licensed game.
  • 17:18 - Another Skylanders. Man, this line-up is decidedly lacking.
  • 17:34 - Splinter Cell Blacklist. Didn't expect that. I wonder if they'll be reviving the GBA connectivity stuff for the control pad. :)
  • 17:42 - First time I've seen Sonic Lost world in action. Looks quite reminiscent of Sonic X-treme, that canned Saturn game actually.
  • 17:48 - I really hope it turns out well though. Goodness knows the Wii U needs some decent exclusives.
  • 17:57 - Watch Dogs - Ubisoft really representing on the Wii U. I can't imagine this will be the version to get though.
  • 18:04 - And that's the sizzle reel. Hard to believe we're still only in the first year of the Wii U. That's usually the kind of token third-party support you get a few years into a Nintendo console's run.
  • 18:20 - Some indie stuff now it seems.
  • 18:56 - Or just some eShop stuff in general. Of course Capcom would have to put out a Duck Tales remake after I've shelled out €20 for a  crappy PAL NES copy. :)
  • 19:12 - Well, that's new: Oddworld: New & Tasty. Is that the remake of the first game?

  • 19:41 - Oh, A World of Keflings. Played the demo for the first one on XBLA. Pretty fun. That giant Mii looks way stranger than a giant avatar though.
The infinite power of the cloud compels you to hit that jump.

  • 19:56 - New info on The Wind Waker HD. Really hoping this isn't just a graphical upgrade; You really feel the loss of that missing content in the middle of the game.
  • 21:52 - Looks nice, though a lot more similar to the original game than what they showed in January. I guess you'd loose the widescreen, but bloom aside, you could probably get the same experience by running the original through Dolphin.
  • 23:03 - Though, on second thought, it did look noticeably improved there. Looks like they're allowing you to speed up your boat too. Never had a problem with the sailing personally.
  • 23:19 - Connectivity lives!
  • 23:53 - Messages in a bottle, eh? Dumb, but kind of cool at the same time. I hope they're not implementing this at the expense of beefing up the amount of content in the game though.
  • 24:09 - October for The Wind Waker HD. That 2013 release schedule is actually filling in nicely.
  • 25:05 - The Wonderful 101 looks pretty neat.
  • 26:16 - That music sure sounds like Donkey Kong Country. Hopes of Retro megaton fading...
  • 26:27 - It's DKC all right. I really need to get back to the first one, but I'm not sure we need a sequel already, especially one that seems so similar.
  • 27:30 - Well, a Viking invasion makes a change from banana theft, I guess. 
  • 28:09 - Some Klonoa-type business here. Again the Wii U visuals certainly deliver.

  • 28:34 - Okay, now we're talking. #DixieKong4Lyfe
  • 28:53 - DKC Tropical Freeze - my favourite Slushie flavour. Surprised to see it out this year. Maybe I jumped the gun on that HD development assumption?
  • 29:17 - Bayonetta - the full frontal action you've been waiting for.

  • 29:41 - Oh my.
  • 30:10 - That sure looks like the ten minutes I've played of Bayonetta. I know. I'm a bad person. :D

  • 31:03 - Guess she decided against the "Rachel" then.
  • 31:57 - Another trailer. Monolithsoft, so it's got to be X.

  • 33:26 - Looks cool. Getting a real Zone of the  Enders vibe from the flying mechs.
  • 34:23 - Until I get some more info on Mario, I'd say this is definitely the first party game I'm most excited about at this point.
  • 34:25 - One last thing? Got to be Smash Bros.

  • 34:44 - Fuck you, Tom Nook. If anyone's deserving of a pummelling, it's certainly you. Also, I can tell this trailer is going to be pretty awesome.
  • 35:09- Or not. That sure was a collection of game logos.
  • 35:24 - That's the 3DS version I guess. The big screen is not kind to it.
  • 35:41 - Now we're talking. This looks like the Wii U version. Also, Skyloft stage confirmed.
  • 36:06 - A new character: a villager from Animal Crossing. Didn't see that one coming. Any third party surprises I wonder.
  • 36:15 - Didn't see anyone unexpected in those portraits, I'm afraid.
  • 23:26 - 2014. No surprises there. Hopefully they take the time to sort out the online this time.
  • 36:31 - Oh snap, a new challenger! I have a bad feeling this is going to be Raiden for some reason.

  • 36:43 - Oh shit!! Mega Man! Really hoped he'd make it into the Brawl roster. Better late than never.
  • 37:32 - Of course he's got a bunch of robot master upgrades. Could be a pretty awesome character.
  • 38:18 - Smash Bros. for 3DS? Smash Bros. for Wii U? I hope they come up with better names by next year.
  • 38:56 Well, I guess that's it unless there's more stuff in the NOA version.
Overall, I think that was a pretty solid line-up of titles; there really wasn't much shown that I'm not looking forward to. Still, it's hard to not be a disappointed by a couple of things.

For the first time ever, the mainline Mario series is going to debut on a home console, not with an innovative new take on the series, but with a direct, and pretty safe-looking sequel to the previous instalment. As the game I was most excited about seeing and a big Mario fan, that's quite a let down. And speaking of safe follow-ups: Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze. While I'm sure it'll turn out to be an excellent game, it breaks my heart not to see a studio with the talent, vision and potential Retro have not working on something meatier and more original. Given the proper support, I'm confident they could come up with a hell of a new IP. Failing that, they've clearly showed they're the go-to studio for revitalizing old Nintendo franchises; why not give them a crack at the likes of Star Fox or F-Zero?

Moving over to the third party side of things, things are not so much disappointing as depressingly predictable. With the Wii U failing to capture the runaway success of it's predecessor, already sceptical Western publishers now have little reason to continue developing for the Wii U, at least outside of cheap, family friendly offerings. Looking at the sizzle reel Iwata showed off there, it shows. Yes, a few of the big current gen/cross gen titles are still on their way, but those are only a fraction of what's coming out elsewhere, with a significant number of publishers bypassing the Wii U entirely. And really I can't see things improving as the PS4 and Xbox One gain traction and development shifts totally to to the next gen boxes, something I think will happen much sooner than some people think.

Judging by this Nintendo Direct, Japanese support doesn't seem that forthcoming either, but I'm not hugely worried about that at the moment. For now I think we'll continue to see Nintendo cutting deals with Japanese developers and publishers, like they have with Platinum and Sega, to bring more content to the Wii U. Later on, with the presence of both Monster Hunter and Dragon Quest on the console, as well as the big first party games they announced today, I'm hopeful the install base will reach a point where at least some Japanese devs will be confident to support it of their own volition.

For now though, there's quite an impressive slate of Wii U releases to look forward to in the impending future, as well as some exciting stuff (X, Smash Bros.) in the pipeline. That's certainly more than I could have said a couple of months ago. So I guess: good job, Iwata. :D

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