Nintendo E3 – It’s all about yoU with WiiU

Nintendo always have a good showing at E3 and whilst Sony showcased a new handheld (and apologised continuously over PSN Gate) and Microsoft added new Kinect features (and YouTube… yep that’s new for 360 apparently), it was always going to be Nintendo that revealed something truly different. And they certainly did.

An all new console is on the way in 2012 and it’s called the WiiU. That’s right, Nintendo have just tacked the letter U on the end and claims that that refers to making the experience more about you… But luckily that’s where the laziness ends and the innovation begins.

The WiiU, like it’s predecessor, is all about the controller and I have a feeling that Nintendo have been watching the iPad quite closely. It is effectively a tablet computer with buttons on either side. I was initially very skeptical about this – I don’t want to hold a giant touchscreen when playing games – but Nintendo pressed on with their promo video and it made a little more sense.

The controller can be used in a variety of ways. You can stream your full-res games from the console straight onto the controller, giving you a truly HD handheld experience like no other. Alternatively, there  are mini games designed specifically for the controller for you to play anywhere. But the truly innovative developers will use the controller’s screen and the TV in conjunction for brand new experiences. Examples shown at the conference included swiping ninja-disc from the touch screen to the TV, playing baseball and targeting enemies (or should that me eneMii’s?!) in an FPS.

The new device was also shown as a great way of including more people in the WiiU experience. Examples were shown of people sharing things they found on the internet (no dirty minds please) from their controller, straight onto the screen.

Interestingly, the original Wii Remotes will still be compatible with the WiiU meaning you could enter games with some playing with Wii Remotes and some with the touchscreen layout. An example being shown at E3, is a game where the player with the touchscreen has to hide in a maze (which they see top down on their controller) and then the other players with Wii Remotes hunt them down with a third-person view on the TV screen. It certainly could lead to interesting and original concepts.

I should point out that the new controller does have traditional analogue sticks and control buttons. Nintendo made it quite clear that it wanted to bring the hardcore gamers back into their party (after many felt alienated with the more casual aimed Wii) and they’re doing this by bringing back something they know. It will be a welcome return to traditional controls on the Nintendo flagship console.

But I do foresee a bit of a problem with this whole system though. I have a couple of Wiimotes, two Wii wheels, a Wii Zapper, two Wii Motion Plus, a classic controller, a Wavebird controller and two nunchucks which I use with my Wii console and I consider that to be too many controllers. With this new controller joining the family, it’s only going to cause yet more clutter in my controller collection. And with a touch screen, that thing isn’t going to come cheap!

You may have noticed I mentioned HD earlier, because at last Nintendo will be bringing HD graphics with the WiiU. But this was pretty much all we learnt about the new console. It’s likely to be quite unchanged from the Wii in that department, with all the emphasis on the controller, but if it drives costs down, that’s probably a good thing.

There isn’t much in the way of games being announced. Some exciting third party titles were announced such as Assassins Creed, Tekken and… wait for it ‘Lego City!’. Lots of third party developers seemed hyped about it, most notably EA who traditionally don’t gel so well with Nintendo. There was also talk of a Smash Bros game for WiiU and 3DS which is enough for me to buy a console as it is, but the main titles will come at a later date, maybe November time this year…

And that brings me nicely onto the 3DS. Despite being a lifelong Nintendo fan, I still don’t have one of these because I don’t see the point. I love the 3D, I love the online, but there just aren’t enough games on it yet. Reggie Fils-Aime proudly stood in font of the E3 crown and revealed 5 new games that look like they could turn this around.

MarioKart is great on any console, it is one game that is always done brilliantly and so I think this could be the game to convince me to get the 3DS. Not much looked new in it although there do seems to be new gliding abilities and the option to customise your Kart (that should please plenty).

StarFox returns with a new focus on online and real-time video which looks cool whereas Kid Icarus should finally get released this year with a rather nice looking storyline. An interesting move was the return of Luigi’s Mansion. The oft-forgotten Gamecube platformer will return on 3DS for a sequel.

Most anticipated will be Super Mario 3D, the first ever 3D Mario to be built from the ground up for a handheld console. The plumber in red has never let us down before  and I would expect this to be no exception.

I’m still not quite convinced to part with my cash for a 3DS, but I’m getting closer. The games are slowly coming for it and with more free downloadable content announced, this could be a must-have in a few months time.

I feel similarly towards the WiiU. It’s new, fresh and innovative as you would expect from Nintendo, but I’m unconvinced as to it’s overall benefits as yet. They’ve got a year before this goes on sale, I’m pretty certain by then we’ll all be wanting one and then wondering how we coped without a massive tablet device to control our games before… oh Apple, what have you done!

For more coverage visit Nintendo’s E3 hub

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