Nintendo Press Conference E3-2011

Nintendo’s E3 2011 press conference was arguably the most anticipated. It’s true that Sony announced their new portable, but the sheer momentum of the rumor trains barreling down the Project Cafe tracks was just too much a force to be reckoned with. The promise of a new console that could have the capability to hoist Nintendo back onto its throne, well frankly, this doesn’t look like it.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Shigeru Miyamoto started off the show with one of the biggest smiles to grace a press conference yet, but he wasn’t about to spill the beans too early. Instead, he wanted to flaunt his baby’s 25th anniversary: The Legend of Zelda. Skyward Sword is making its way to the Wii this holiday season but first, Link’s Awakening is available starting today via download on the 3DS. Next week, it’s Ocarina of Time in 3D and in September, FOR FREE, The Four Swords comes to DSi owners. That’s a lot of Link and Nintendo spared no expense for Miyamoto by backing his announcement with a full, live orchestral accompaniment.

Miyamoto introduces Saturo Iwata, who begins talking about how the new console is expected to “play deeper and reach wider”. But first! (sigh) here’s what’s finding its way to the 3DS. Star Fox 3D will have players barrel rolling once again. Mario’s bumbling brother get’s a sequel in Luigi’s Mansion 2. Last year’s promise of Kid Icarus comes to fruition in Uprising with an augmented reality component and some great looking multiplayer. A 3D Mario Kart hang-glides and dives underwater on the 3DS and finally, a brand new Mario platformer that brings back that fantastic Tanooki Tail. A host of new 3rd party titles were montaged across the screen as well: Resident Evil, Driver, Tekken, even a new Tetris. As a special treat, 3DS owners will get a brand new 3D Excitebike pro bono later this year.

Now Iwata steps down and our favorite stick-in-the-mud Reggie Fils-Aime steps out to relieve the audience from its tension. Seriously, this dude needs to learn how to smile or get a massage, it’s like watching a mannequin read a press release. Anyway, at long last, announcing… the Nintendo…

Wii U

Say again? It sounded like a siren just went by.

Wii U.

Okay, really, who comes up with this stuff? Reggie makes an attempt at humor by asking us to recall how ridiculous we thought “Wii” sounded, but how we all came to accept it. Uh, not really, but go on. Though he was relatively tight lipped (okay, VERY tight lipped), the Wii U is a brand new console that works not only as a gaming device, but a kind of media device too. It’s claim to fame won’t be the about-freakin-time HD graphics, but it’s touch screen controller. The handheld screen is a bit bigger than an iPad, has two analog stick, a dpad, a camera, the Wiimote’s button set and 4 additional buttons.

It’s HUGE. Remember the complaints about the size of the first Xbox controller? Prepare to hear them again with this. It’s hard to see how their primary demographic, small children, are going to be able to get their hands around this.

The tech is actually interesting, but not entirely practical for a gamer. It works as a second screen, containing inventory, HUD like information and a host of other complimentary in-game features. It also acts as a stand-alone unit, but only in-so-far as it is within wireless range of your home console. To be blunt: The Wii U controller is not a mobile device. You can’t play on the bus or on a plane. You’ll be lucky if you can play in another room. It does have the ability to bring your game off the TV and onto its own screen, which is a nice feature for families with only one TV. Additionally, it can play its own games and make use of the built in accelerometer.

Finally, though a bit sketchy (if you’ll pardon the pun), the screen can become a drawing pad with a stylus. One demo shows Tekken characters having make-up applied and being sent back into the fight. As an artist, that functionality has my interest piqued, but I work with Wacom tablets everyday, and that kind of quality is going to be hard to match.

So this was their flagship announcement, but was it really worth all the hype? EA took the stage to announce their partnership and excitement for getting the chance to bring their titles to the new console, so it looks like at least one big name is on board, which is really what will make or break the system.

We’re going to try to get a better look at the unit on the show floor, but judging by the crowds and a lack of respect for one little ole blog like us, that may prove to be difficult. Stay tuned.

Christopher Kirkman

Christopher is an old school nerd: designer, animator, code monkey, writer, gamer and Star Wars geek. As owner and Editor-In-Chief of Media Geeks, he takes playing games and watching movies very seriously. You know, in between naps.

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