Friday, June 10, 2011

In The News/On My Mind: E3 2011 Part 4 (Wii U Wii U Wii U Wii U)

Wii U Wii U Wii U Wii U Wii U Wii U Wii U Wii U Wii U Wii U.

OK, I got that out of my system.

So, yeah. Nintendo. First thing first, let me clarify two things that weren't too obvious from their press conference.

a) The Wii is dead.
b) The DS/DSi is dead.

For the Wii, there are only a handful of interesting titles left: Sure, Zelda: Skyward Swords is going to be all sorts of awesome, but outside of the hardcore, will anyone even know what Rhythm Heaven, Kirby Wii or even more obscure titles like Fortune Street (I highly recommend Rhythm Heaven if it comes remotely close to it's handheld counterparts). With no new big titles announced (Kirby is a old project from 2005, and Fortune Street is an existing Japanese localization title), it's safe to say that the Wii is done as far as new titles are concerned. The DS is in a similar boat, with few new titles left to be released. While this doesn't mean these systems aren't worth keeping (still tons of great games out there), if you're looking for something new, it's time to look elsewhere.

The 3DS is now in a very interesting place, given PS Vita's price announcement. The system hasn't sold the way people expected it to sell, and the lack of compelling or breakout software should be cause for concern right about now. What is the 3DS's Nintendogs (and Nintendogs + Cats didn't do the trick either)? Nintendo's finally shown more of Mario Kart 3DS and new Super Mario, yet there's still no sign of Pokemon either. While Nintendo's been able to show some more new third party games on the system, it seems like they still can't answer for whether the system will be as successful as the Nintendo DS. It also seems infinitely harder to gauge whether that DS audience have left for the iOS platform already. (Hey, maybe they need angry birds 3D! :P)

Wii U Wii U Wii U Wii U Wii U Wii U Wii U Wii U Wii U Wii U.

So yeah, Wii U. Let's get a few things straight:
This is the new system, and the new screen controller. Yes, there is actually a new system.

While the actual hardware is interesting, I honestly think this was the worst thing I saw this entire E3 because of how Nintendo unveiled it. I understand that the controller is the focal point of the package, but when I had to second guess myself on whether it's a new system halfway through your presentation, then it's gone terribly. Having your system support older controllers and accessories is a great point, but when the video shows all the older accessories in use, with existing game images, it makes people question what's new. In fact, the only hint of it being a new, powerful system was when a Twilight Princess-esque Zelda HD demo was shown on screen. The lack of any other concrete info, like online infrastructure, actual game demos, etc, also puts a damper into what could have been an interesting hardware.

Putting aside the absolutely terrible showing of an announcement, the actual hardware can bring some interesting possibilities (I won't get into the whole hardware specs thing, I think that's irrelevant to me as a designer outside of it being comparable to today's standards). The Chase Mii demo is a fantastic showing of what's possible with this controller setup (in ways similar to the old Pac Man Vs game). Having the second screen being capable of showing alternative views, in a way, is another form of the "augmented reality" experience, and I can see pretty new and interesting ways that could change how we see games. Some have mentioned how games like Batman Arkham City could take advantage of the tablet screen as a detective mode filter, and with at least another year before launch, I can't wait to see what other people can come up with.

But yes, the name is terrible. Just like "Wii", but we'll get over it. I hope.

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