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E3 2011: PING/PONG: Nintendo Press Conference Review
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E3 2011: PING/PONG: Nintendo Press Conference Review

Nintendo came in at the finish with their official press conference for E3 2011. How did they do? Our rambling run-mouths share their thoughts.

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Now with Nintendo finishing off the major conferences of this E3 extravaganza, the Popzara gang’s back with another company-specific PING/PONG recap. There’s lots of newsworthy and exclusive stuff right HERE in the Popzara E3 portal, by the way. But in this feature, John Lucas, the green hat guy on the left with the Bob-Omb, and Nathan Evans AKA Mr. Universal, the blue suit guy on the right with the giant missile, will jaw-jack and jibber-jabber about what they thought about Nintendo’s conference good, bad, and indifferent.

Check the accuracy of their predictions by reading the pre-show PING/PONG right HERE and don’t let them get away with a dad-blasted thing if they get it wrong.

E3 2011 Nintendo Press Conference Review

Whuh. Huhh? Wuuhhh. W-What the? W-What did I just see? My head is spinning and birds are flying around my head like a Street Fighter dizzy animation. Oh my God. Groggy. What happened? What did they call it? W-Whuh…Wii U??? Wii U. Project Café is now Wii U. Wow. Whoa. Woo. I need to sit down for a minute. Gimme a second. Whew.

I went in to this conference steaming mad. Unlike most people excited about this coffee-table project, I was angry that Nintendo cut short the life of Wii, a console on track to become the best-selling home console of all time, in favor of putting together tablet-style controllers and appeasing the ungrateful so-called “hardcore”. I wanted a Wii Revival of software at E3 from Nintendo, some Zelda 25th anniversary gold-plated action capped with Skyward Sword, and a better boosted lineup for the desert dry 3DS library. It felt like Nintendo was going backwards and their higher priced 3DS console and games had me wondering if Nintendo had gone plum loco.

I come out of this conference not mad, not happy, but confused. My brain is absolutely broken after Nintendo’s show! At times the Wii U controller seemed clunky to me, then right afterwards it would seem right to me, then back and forth. There were times when I thought I got it and then times when I was left right back into that befuddling fog making sounds like a confused Scooby-Doo, “RRUUHH?” I kept seeing only that Wii U tablet-like controller used in tandem with Wiimotes and saw a Wii-like device under a TV set. That made me feel as if they WEREN’T going to kill off the Wii but give it a new life with the Wii U controller being the console ITSELF! And I was happy at that. An associate console to underline this strange Generation 7.5 period we seem to be in. Excellent! Then I kept thinking no they’re probably going to make a new console for this new controller because they kept saying “backwards compatible”. And I was disappointed at that. And this tennis match went back and forth in my head ever since Wii U was presented on stage.

The odd name is actually the least of my brain-breakers (that Wii U logo needs a change, by the way). Microsoft’s and Sony’s conferences were more straight-forward even if they had surprises. Nintendo’s conference only left me with more questions than answers. Perhaps you can help me out with these, Mr. Universal?

When I look back at our pre-show predictions, I’m surprised just how much we got right on this one, and how much we got wrong. For me, that helps equal things out somewhat, but I can’t help but feel like Nintendo’s show – overall – was the most disappointing this year, if only because they left us with far more questions than answers.

My biggest question may be the most important, although I think it’s more speculation on my part. Will the Wii U controller stream TO your HDTV display, or will it stream FROM a dedicated gaming console? With so much interoperability between existing Wii peripherals and accessories (the Wii U + Zapper just looked dorky, though) it’s hard to tell if the original Wii is going to be phased out or not. A dream scenario would have existing Wii consoles (or some type of updated HD version) acting as the ‘base’ unit, receiving streamed content from the Wii U controller and displaying it on your home television. I found it interesting that none of the footage shown featured more than one Wii U controller being played at once; in fact, it was the exact opposite, saying using a Wii U controller would give you an advantage over stock Wii Remotes. Hmm…

I find it somewhat ironic that just yesterday at WWDC Apple introduced a long-awaited feature for their iDevices that linked iPhones, iPod Touch, and iPads to their AppleTV wirelessly through AirPlay through Mirror Display, which includes Apps and gaming. We’ve chatted quite a bit about these two going head-to-head, and how ironic would it be if both introduced technology that was nearly the same without 24-hours apart from each other, presumably without knowledge about what the other was doing? The 3DS (and DSi) have longed been pegged as Nintendo’s answer to the iPhone/iPad, and the Wii U their answer to everything else. I just wish we had some more ‘answers’ to what their plans are.

Also, just wanted to say that the opening montage to help celebrate The Legend of Zelda’s 25th Anniversary was BY FAR the best thing I’ve seen at the show this year, and I want that performance right now. Anytime you have orchestrated Zelda music is fine by me.

Yes indeed. It was what I was waiting for. They started off the show in grand fashion for such a legendary series (pardon my unintended pun). And thankfully the game didn’t get pushed back anymore (I was seriously worried about that happening at the show). We WILL get The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword this Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa and just in time because I have been playing my various Zeldas on handhelds and home consoles to death lately. I got Zelda Fever and I don’t WANT no cure! Link’s Awakening downloadable now from 3DS’s eShop, Four Swords free on DSi Ware in September! Yeah! And nice touch on the symphony going to play Zelda songs on tour starting this fall. Music CDs of this symphony and in-game music to collect this year. They just need to go ahead and announce the full gold Wii console not just the gold Wiimote. Make that console gold and watch the holiday sales surge. It’s too easy an opportunity to miss.

But back to the Wii U. It looks really forward-thinking in some ways and that undoes part of my thought that it was backward-thinking. I like how it captures the image from the TV screen to move it around independently by shaking it around. The design wasn’t as clunky as I thought it would be but that thing is still a big board to lug around. Like most folks were with the Wii (not me, I understood the Wiimote instantly), this is going to have to be a controller you’ll have to test out personally to make a proper judgment. It just leaves your imagination wide open. What IS this thing?! I have never said that about a Nintendo console in my life. Usually I understand off the bat or get the gist of things in short time. Wii U has left me glossy-eyed but I’m intrigued enough to want to know more. Wii U = Wii University?

Now I’m sure you had some WTF moments of your own, Mr. Universal, when you watched Nintendo hard-sell their 3DS lineup. I was hyped to see Luigi’s Mansion finally make its return! But something tells me you were whelmed under by what Nintendo had to offer this year. Whatcha thought?

Was I disappointed with the 3DS lineup shown at E3? I’m disappointed by the 3DS in general, and after watching Sony break barriers by pricing their powerful PS Vita at the same price as the 3DS, it’s only fair to expect to see Nintendo amp things up and justify why I – or anyone – would choose a lesser-powered, less-innovative, less-networked, and less-functional portable over one that’s incredibly more versatile. They have no competitive or innovative advantage this time around, which means the games themselves have to be more than spectacular; they have to be spectacular-spectacular-plus.

We’ve seen StarFox64 3D before, and we’ve seen (bits of) MarioKart 3D, and while I’m sure both will be just as much fun as they look like, they looked too familiar for me. Big boss Reggie F. was all about wanting the “buzz of the new”, yet his entire presentation was essentially rehashes of older titles…but in 3D. I knew you’d go crazy over Luigi’s Mansion 2, which looked a little rough but still fun, but there wasn’t anything new to these titles whatsoever. The most impressive game they showed was, predictably, Super Mario 3D, which looked like a super-hybrid between Super Mario 64, Mario Galaxy, and a little bit of Animal Crossing (the perspective) for good measure. It looked pretty damn awesome and I want it, but I’m not sure if I’ll rush out to buy a 3DS just for that game the way I did with the DS Lite and New Super Mario Bros.

Overall, I thought it was a disjointed showing from Nintendo, and while the orchestrated Zelda music was outstanding and some of the 3DS lineup looked fun, they needed a better and more factual presentation than this. Microsoft and Sony’s conferences were great reminders that both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 were still vibrant, worthwhile platforms that you should invest all your life-savings (and then some) into, while Nintendo was asking you to look into the future and try to see things through their mushroom-stained lenses. I’m totally down for that, but I’m going to need a little more info than a few technology mock-ups and developers butt-kissing montages. I found it telling the ONLY game they showed for the Wii was Zelda: Skyward Sword, and this on a platform that still has a good 16 months left before its replaced. Forever never sounded so close.

Nintendo is definitely dragging their feet with the 3DS. This was the time to show off their big guns and they held back (or didn’t have anything to show, one or the other).. They can’t afford to play that type of game with Sony’s newly-named PlayStation Vita and the Apples and Androids breathing down its neck. That slow burn strategy only works if your competition doesn’t have enough momentum. They’re going to need more than the reliable tried and true franchises like Mario to get them through this challenge. I was really impressed by the announcement that the Super Smash Bros. series would make a visit on 3DS (and through its weird magic, the Wii U too). The fighting game genre needs more representation on handhelds (an untapped vein of potential) and it needs the proper game to encourage intense social play. Smash Bros. is THE right game to send the 3DS into the stratosphere but it’s too far off a title to boost the handheld in the short term.

But at least 3DS got some games! There was hardly nothing promoted about the original Wii at this show except for Skyward Sword! I can’t understand why Nintendo would stall this console so early before its successor releases. Do they hate their own console? It makes absolutely no sense at all and it adds on to the confusion I feel about this show. Oh, now the that smoke is clearing I come to understand that Wii U IS new hardware and the controller is not the console at all. I’m mad again. Nintendo’s going to get themselves Dreamcasted! They’re going to end up putting themselves in the same position once the others come out with their new systems. Why can’t they see this?! What a confounding confusing show!

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