Nintendo E3 2012 Conference Wrap

With all of the hardware details out of the way, Nintendo used its E3 2012 press conference to show off the games coming to the system.

Nintendo kicked off the show in a big way with the unveiling of Pikmin 3 for the Wii U. Led by Mr. Nintendo himself, Shigeru Miyamoto, the demo showed off a bunch of new features coming to the series. Miyamoto first mentioned the game’s updated visuals. He was particularly proud with the animation cycles, which allow for more variety in the little guy’s motions, allowing them to look more like groups of ants.

Miyamoto then introduced a new type of Pikmin, a black “Rock Pikmin.” These rock-shaped followers can break down walls, such as giant pieces of glass placed around the play field. The game is primarily controlled using the Wii Motion-Plus Controller and Nunchuk, though you can also use the Wii U GamePad. The GamePad’s screen acts as a mini-map, showing the locations of goals and what your Pikmin groups are doing. According to Miyamoto, you’ll need the map to develop your level strategies, especially since you’ll have four leaders to manage this time. Long-time series hero Captain Olimar wasn’t shown, though the reasons why are still a secret.

Before jumping into the games, Nintendo President and NOA CEO Reggie Fils-Aime introduced a short video refresher focusing on the GamePad’s buttons. Reggie also announced the Wii U will support two GamePads rather than one, as was the case during E3 2011. He also offered another quick overview of Miiverse before showing off New Super Mario Bros. U.

New Super Mario Bros. U is, like other games in the series, a side-scrolling game offering support for up to four players. The Wii U version introduces Miiverse integration by allowing players to drop messages on the game’s overworld map. The system is a bit like Demon’s Souls/ Dark Souls, but with a Nintendo twist. You can offer up hints for levels, such as secret coin locations or which power-ups work best in the level, or even brag about a particular speed run. Players can also transfer gameplay onto the GamePad’s screen.

The demo video showcased a few new power-ups, including two new dinosaur types. One spits bubbles at enemies while the other inflates, allowing Mario and crew to gain air. Mario will also gain a new Flying Squirrel wing suit, which looks to work like the Cape in Super Mario World.

Not content to just show first party games, WB Interactive introduced Batman: Arkham City – Armored Edition. The new version introduces new “armored” suits for both Batman and Catwoman, allowing them to build up kinetic energy as they fight enemies. Once the energy meter is full, they can use powerful super moves –called B.A.T. mode -- to clear out enemies.

The Armored Edition uses the GamePad’s screen in a number of different ways. In addition to quickly switching out weapons, you can also use the accelerometer to guide Remote Controlled Batarangs on the GamePad’s screen. You can also use the touchpad to detonate individual explosives while setting traps.

Next up was Scribblenauts Unlimited, which will feature a story mode focusing on Maxwell’s magic notebook. You can also use an in-game editor to create your own objects to pull into the game, such as the “Autodog,” a dog/ race car hybrid with a neon green Mohawk.

Next was a sizzle reel showing other third party games including:

  • Darksiders II
  • Mass Effect 3
  • Tank! Tank! Tank!
  • Tekken Tag Tournament
  • Trine 2: Director’s Cut
  • Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge
  • Aliens Colonial Marines

Getting back to first party games, a short promotion video announcing WiiFit U was shown. It still uses the Wii Balance Board (you know, the one sitting in your closet?), and features new games such as bobsledding, water cannons and a trampoline. There’s also some sort of pedometer support and you can watch workouts on the GamePad screen.

A video for Sing was also shown, a karaoke game where you read lyrics off the GamePad screen, so that you arer able to face your audience instead of your TV.

With much of the conference focusing on the Wii U, Nintendo is streaming a second, hour-long 3DS only conference on June 6 over at Nintendo E3 All-Access. Highlights of the event will include a look at New Super Mario Bros. 2 (which ships August 19), Paper Mario Sticker Star and Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon.

Another big game coming to Wii U and 3DS is LEGO City: Undercover, developed by Traveller’s Tales. Gameplay looks a little more open-ended than previous LEGO branded games and showed off a number of great Nintendo-related gags, like green LEGO pipes.

Next, Ubisoft showed off Just Dance 4 for Wii U, which lets someone with the GamePad choose the moves dancers have to perform during a song. Even more interesting was ZombiU. Of the games shown, this one looked to be the only one to really take advantage of the Wii U’s capabilities. The game is an FPS, but you can use the GamePad’s screen to scan for enemies by holding it up to the TV or to punch in numbers on keypads to gain access to new areas. There’s also a “Zombie Yourself” feature.

Nintendo closed the show with a look at Nintendoland, a Nintendo Theme Park themed collection of mini-games showcasing the Wii U’s different capabilities. In other words, it is a collection of tech demos that I imagine -- and this is pure speculation -- will ship alongside the Wii U similar to WiiSports.

We’ll have more Wii U coverage over the week, and be sure to check out Nintendo E3 All-Access for videos and tomorrow’s 3DS showcase.