While the Nintendo Media Showcase (and Nintendo Direct) were both highly anticipated, they were both met with mixed feelings and thoughts on Nintendo as a whole. What were my expectations or hopes and how were they met? What are my thoughts on the Wii U after having seen and played some of the games so far? What do I think will become of the Wii U now that the E3 show is over?
That’s a tough question. I’m a general gaming fan, first and foremost, but I have a softspot for Nintendo as their pedigree in QUALITY gaming is such that it cannot be ignored or “poo-poo’d”. That said, Nintendo has always done one thing well, better than most developers, and that one thing is bring a level of shine and polish to its best selling franchises.
However, that does not change the fact that Nintendo has yet to truly move BEYOND its safe franchises (on the whole) in respect to new IPs or bringing back characters/games it hasn’t used in over 20 years. What about a new Ice Climbers game? Or a new Star Tropics?
The Nintendo Showcase was, IMO, a good one. Not a GREAT one, but a good one. Showing the Nintendo Direct from an hour earlier that day while we waited for Nintendo President, Reggie Fils-Aime, showed that the company could still produce their games in quality that is not easily matched and elicit strong responses in those who viewed them or played them. Bringing out the individual game designers and producers to introduce their games and directly ask them questions after all the introductions and speeches were done was a welcome change to pre-E3 conferences and made it more of a personalized affair. However, despite all of that, the strong responses this go-around to the Direct and Showcase were either mixed or muted.
The Nintendo brand games such as Super Smash Bros. (co-developed with Namco Bandai’s top fighting game talent) and Mario Kart 8 looked great but will be launching in 2014… too late for some who wanted the new console to start flying off store shelves (these games SELL systems!). Super Mario 3D World will be releasing in December of this year, but that is not totally set in stone and could slip to early 2014 itself!
Where does that leave the Wii U for the rest of this year? It needs system selling software that only Nintendo can bring to it. It needs 3rd party exclusives that not only show off the power of the console but entice gamers to give the system a serious look and not so easily dismiss it. Unfortunately, there are a number of hurdles to the Wii U’s success at retail, with the lack of Nintendo brand games and 3rd party exclusives. With so many highly anticipated exclusive games like Monolith Soft’s X and Bayonetta 2 not releasing until next year, that does not bode well for such a great piece of machinery as the Wii U.
The third party support that the Wii U will have this year appears to be MUCH smaller than the support its immediate competitors (Xbox One and Ps4) will be receiving for just this fall and winter. Sure, games like Watch_Dogs, Batman Arkham Origins and others are still coming, but at E3, the same companies bringing these games did not announce any of the NEW games announced at E3 were mentioned to have Wii U versions in the works. Even certain exclusive titles such as Rayman Legends and Deus Ex: Human Revolution: Director’s Cut have now gone multi-platform. This is likely because of the Wii U’s still small sales and install base, which in turn hurts the console from getting more 3rd party support. However, there is the off-chance that the titles are just being delayed in announcement for the system as was the case for Watch_Dogs and Call of Duty: Black Ops 2. Time will definitely tell which scenario it is.
Speaking of the games that were shown during the Nintendo Direct, Bayonetta 2, Monolith Soft’s X, Mario Kart 8, The Wonderful 101 and Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze were the most graphically impressive while we finally got to see the highly anticipated Super Smash Bros. and Super Mario 3D World. All the games shown were beautiful with bright vivid colors and clearly detailed texture work, especially in the cases of Bayonetta 2 and X.
Sonic: Lost World was one of the better showings for the Wii U. On the show floor, it was a DREAM to play. At once I felt as if I were playing one of the original Sonic games that I grew up with. Fast, fluid and with a sort of 3D side-scrolling feel to it, I was reminded of WHO Sonic is and why he was so popular with gamers. I think this game will be the one that makes many former Sonic fans rave for him again.
Indie games were a big part of Nintendo’s Wii U Showcase and legitimized them to many in t he Indie games community as a platform to not only develop for, but PREFER to develop for.
Yes, I’ve said the name a few times already but Bayonetta 2 impressed me during the Nintendo Direct. But it was the SHOW FLOOR demo that convinced me that the Wii U was the right console for this game. Not because of horsepower or the GamePad, but because even with its absurd world and over-the-top action, it felt right that I was playing it on the Wii U. Response time was fast, graphics beautiful, frame rate was a steady 60 fps (I didn’t notice any slowdown whatsoever) and gameplay was fast, frenetic and full-on INTENSE! It’s my must have game next year! And with 2 player multi-player (no mention yet if that multi-player is local or online), it is more and more looking like a system seller!
Mario Kart 8 was a different game than what I was expecting. I was HOPING for at least one kart type to mimic or copy F-Zero in some way, but the hover mode of the karts and cycles were, aesthetically, satisfying. The tracks are MUCH different, and F-Zero-like, this time around and the overall theme of the game seems to be defying gravity, which it seems to do well in spades. In fact, the tracks, to me, seemed larger than 2 average tracks combined in Mario Kart 7! I’m looking forward to this game as much as I’m looking forward to the next game we’re going to talk about.
Monolith Soft’s X was the graphic showpiece of the Nintendo Direct. Looking MUCH cleaner, detailed and dynamic than the teaser trailer we were shown earlier this year in January, X opened up with a character walking inside a giant industrial type building or hangar. When he finally gets to his mech, we’re then taken on a roller coaster ride of scenes from the still-in development game. You can tell right away that the graphics received a serious bump up in detail, refinement and overall pizzazz! It looked beyond what is possible on the Xbox 360 and PS3 and clearly shows that the Wii U is a next gen system. I suggest you watch this trailer (and all the trailers shown thus far) in HD. I just wish there was more like this coming… THIS YEAR!
Oh, and the framerate seemed to have been 60 fps. Take that, naysayers!
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD reminded me so much of the GameCube years but also reminded me that I wasn’t playing it on the GameCube. The resolution was bumped up to 1080p with textures receiving a significant bump in detail. A few changes have also been made. Remember the Tingle Tuner that was available when you played the game through the GameBoy Advance connection? Well, now you can access it via the GamePad. There are a few other changes, many not specified, that make this HD update a worthwhile game to own if you never played the original (or even if you did). It will release this year in October in the US and September in Japan.
We can’t end this without talking about Super Mario 3D World. What was shown on both the Nintendo Direct and on the show floor was a treat for my eyes as everything seemed new-ish. Borrowing elements from previous Mario games, the 2D/3D perspective and adding in new elements such as the cat suit (no Catwoman jokes, please!) and 4-player simultaneous cooperative (or competitive) gameplay gives SM3DW a distinct look from the previous Wii Galaxy games. The Cat Suit is a great addition to the Mario mythos and enhances an already great playing game (you can scale walls and pounce on enemies like a … well… cat). Graphically, the game was crystal clear and vibrant. And Chargin’ Chuck is back!!
There were other games such as Pikmin and Wonderful 101 that I wasn’t able to play but will be writing about them in my reviews later this summer.
So, those are my thoughts on the Wii U showcase and Nintendo Direct. What are your thoughts on these games and franchises? Hit the comments below or tweet me… and take a gander at the images I took of the Showcase below!