All three platform holders' E3 press conferences have now come and gone. Nintendo was the last to go, with a briefing scheduled for noon EDT on Tuesday, June 7, and the company had easily the most anticipated press conference of the show. Nintendo pulled back the curtain on its next console, the Wii U, although many important details on the system remain unknown. The company also spent time on the celebrations lined up for the 25th anniversary of the Zelda franchise, and promised that some desirable 3DS software is actually on the way. For all the big stories, head here.
But what do the Destructoid editors think of the way Nintendo's conference went down? Does the Wii U seem appealing? Has our faith in the 3DS been restored? Do we expect Nintendo to ever announce a new IP again?
Niero: Innovation aside, the Wii U primarily represents three things to me:
1) Nintendo can sell nostalgia to us all over again on cheap hardware.
2) The Wii is here for another 2-3 years minimum as their flagship system. This seems scary -- the fidelity gap between their games and the 360/PS3 is going get even wider. The video of the bird did not reassure anyone.
3) The Wii U is possibly a trojan to resell the DS library on the TV. This is supported by Smash Bros. being announced on both 3DS and Wii U.
I wonder if a glasses-free 3D 6" screen will make the final version in a year.
Conrad Zimmerman: Nintendo is in a bit of a tough spot. Their gambit on motion control certainly paid off, but releasing what seems to be current-generation hardware with what's likely to be a rather expensive gimmick doesn't seem likely to recapture the fire of the casual audience Nintendo created and seems a bit of a "fuck you" to the hardcore, asking them to buy a second console for the games we've had access to for years on other platforms.
Price will be key and if they can't be aggressive, I'm expecting a very public flop.
Matthew Razak: I'm with Conrad. It's all about the price. If they can come up and release this around $300 or maybe even $400, then they'll have a competitive console and that will be that.
I understand why they didn't ditch the Wii brand even though I think Wii U is a terrible name. Ditching Wii would be one of the dumbest marketing moves ever, as the brand recognition for it in the mainstream is so incredibly high. Sadly, they didn't do a great job of differentiating this as just another peripheral. It was a bit confusing at first if they were even showing a new console. Still, if the rumors of it being more powerful (see THQ's comments), and also offering some very cool stuff with the new controllers, are true, then I don't see why you wouldn't purchase your multi-console games on the console that gives you the sweet extra features. However, maybe the Vita can do all this on the PS3 and then we have two systems able to produce the same effect. Something tells me that a lot of what the Wii controller does won't be quite as easily done on the Vita (especially in terms of pick-up-and-play from one to the other). I also wish we got some sort of specs at all.
Game-wise, I got all excited for my 3DS again. Once that game lineup starts actually landing, it might be my most played system, easily. There's just so much awesome coming out for it.
Finally, did anyone else notice how they said "some kind of connectivity" when discussing the 3DS and Wii U versions of Smash? Leaderboards are not connectivity. Understand, Nintendo? If you're connecting the two, then you better give me the ability to play against someone on the 3DS, even if it means tailoring back the graphics on the Wii U version or something.
Maurice Tan: I bought a Wii at launch, thinking a massive influx of innovative new games would use the motion peripheral. Suffice it to say I won't make that mistake again.
Matthew: Don't you think third parties will be better prepared for it this time around, Maurice?
Maurice: I don't intend to find out before a price cut. I already have a PC, a 360 and a PS3, and I'd rather play the multiplatform games with either a mouse & keyboard or a controller. That is, not using some tablet thing as a gimmick. I'm sure it will have its audience, but I'm not in it.
Jordan Devore: I'm so much more excited by what was shown on the 3DS side than anything related to Wii U, and that even goes for games that were already announced long ago.
As for the lack of Pikmin, well, the new game had better be phenomenal beyond all belief.
Jonathan Holmes: I think Pikmin will be announced at Nintendo's fall press conference thing, and that it, too, will be a 3DS/Wii U combo. And it shall be glorious.
But yeah, Nintendo killed it this year. "Hardcore" gamers are going to be gun-shy towards the Wii U -- and they have good reason for that, I suppose -- but in the end, they will get a Wii U, or at least, their families will.
This is the first console that will truly allow "hardcore" gamers to play Modern Warfare 3 in their living rooms, then have their little sister come in to watch The Doodlebops, and let them relinquish the TV without having to relinquish their game. That feature alone is huge.
Nintendo has basically solved the riddle of fitting a console that people will play alone for hours (a.k.a. a "bedroom console") into the living room. That's a big deal. Like Conrad and Matt said, it's not something most people will pay $400+ for, but if they can keep this thing affordable, it will continue Nintendo's dominance for the immediate future (or until Sony and/or Microsoft rip off all of Nintendo's ideas... again).
Also, RHYTHM HEAVEN FUCK YES.
Josh Tolentino: To be honest, this is the most excited I've ever been about Nintendo hardware since the original DS, mainly because it's a console that appeals to me, at least as far as it conveying the feeling that "this is a controller I can see myself playing games I enjoy on." That's more than can be said, in retrospect, for the Wii.
That said, I'm still not prepared to take the plunge on it. It comes down to games and pricing, and I already own a PS3 and a good PC.
Samit Sarkar: If there's one thing we've learned about Nintendo, it's that you can expect them to zag when everyone else zigs. After the Wii, I thought I'd gotten past caring about ridiculously stupid console names, but I was dead wrong, because "Wii U" makes the PlayStation Vita look like the best-named device in the history of gadgets. Inane moniker aside, I'm definitely interested in seeing Nintendo's first-party games in beautiful 1080p HD, and excited about the prospect of having three platforms that are about equally powerful graphics-wise. But just like with the PS Vita, I will remain apprehensive until we have some inkling of the price point. The tablet controller alone has got to cost at least $150, right? And Nintendo always makes a profit on their hardware.
I'm wary of the Wii U precisely because it has so much potential. I say that because Nintendo squandered any good will it might've had for the 3DS with a rushed launch and a lackluster software lineup. The company isn't even showing anything but proof-of-concept demos at E3 this year, and all the third-party games in the three-minute montage will have been out on PS3/360/PC for months by the time the Wii U actually launches in 2012. And of course, the console's online infrastructure remains a huge question mark, since Nintendo has proven to this point that they have no idea how to implement a robust, modern network. Imagine trying to play Battlefield on our Wii U without headset-based voice chat, for example. I'll believe it when I see it.
Finally, I was supremely disappointed to see that once again, Nintendo did not announce a single new IP. They really do seem to be content with selling our childhood back to us with each new device they put out, and at some point, isn't that just kind of crass?
Chad Concelmo: I was so excited for the Nintendo press conference that I felt my reaction during it was a little affected. I had such a giant smile on my face during every announcement and piece of news, that Reggie could have brought out a puppy and punched it, and I would have mostly cheered in unwavering Nintendo devotion.
But then some time passed after the conference and I started seeing everything more clearly. And guess what? I still was smiling.
Well, to be fair, the smile was more of a grin ... but, looking back on the Nintendo press conference, I think the company is heading in the right direction. I really like the Wii U. It is way too early to judge based on the admittedly confounding presentation, but I think the concept and technology is really amazing.
Nintendo is really smart to keep the Wii name and not alienate the gigantic audience it has for the Wii. Yeah, the name is a turn-off for most gamers, and it still is way too early to really understand what the thing does, but I think they nailed it by creating something that truly could appeal to both casual and "hardcore" gamers.
All the 3DS stuff was pretty great, too. LUIGI'S MANSION 2!
Do I think Nintendo could have done a better job with the Wii U introduction and announced more original IPs? Absolutely. But I am intrigued enough by the Wii U and excited enough about the upcoming 3DS software that I am a happy guy.
But I'm not going to lie. My fingers are crossed. Nintendo is in for an interesting next few years ...
Xander Markham: I was looking forward to Nintendo unveiling their new console, but mostly because third-party support on Wii is now effectively dead. Reports of the tablet controller and dual analogues worried me, and sounded like Nintendo were backtracking in the face of popular opinion. I won't pretend I was all that delighted when the new controller was revealed, but that was as much confusion as disappointment -- it looks like an ungainly fusion of an iPad and traditional gamepad. I don't think even Nintendo are entirely sure what they want it to be -- it has a lot of great features, but no apparent vision unifying them. As for Nintendo's other consoles, I don't own a 3DS, but everything announced seemed awfully familiar, even by Nintendo's standards (and not much on show from third-parties), while Skyward Sword looks to be the only game in what is destined to be a barren final year for the Wii.
Still, the more I think about the Wii U (the name's fine, by the way -- everyone will just call it the Wii once the old one is retired) and its tablet controller, the more I appreciate it. Maybe that's my inner-Chad talking -- I've been a Nintendo gamer almost exclusively for my whole life, barring recent flirtations with PC -- but the fact that the console's compatible with all the Wii controllers should save gamers a lot of money and offer a much-needed choice in finding their favorite way of playing. The tablet will be fantastic for when the TV is occupied, even if I doubt I'd use it for much else if there are alternate options. My only worry with that is the number of control schemes developers will have to plan for -- there's no way I'm going back to any kind of shooting game without the pointer, for example.
Nintendo have traditionally released their consoles on a revolution-evolution cycle, and for me that pattern still holds: I doubt the Wii U is going to change gaming in the way its predecessor did, but might tidy it up a little bit. Colour me cautiously optimistic.
Maurice: Let me just add that I'm also glad we have Chad and Holmes on our team to counter some of our cynicism! I grew up with Sega and PC games, and I have absolutely zero retro-romantic feelings towards Nintendo franchises and their type of games. So while I have a DS Lite and a Wii, I haven't touched either for two years or something like that. The way I look at the Wii U is purely a perspective of: "Do I need it? Will it be worth the money? Will I actually play it if I can play multiplatform games on two other consoles and a PC?"
If the Wii U ends up being cheap, I'll probably still pick one up, purely out of gadget-lust and to see for myself what's what. But if not, I'm looking at a console that is not geared towards anything I like, doesn't really offer anything I care about (so far), and that will have to prove itself over the first year of its life cycle to win me over.
Of course, none of us saw the Wii's success coming. Will the same people who told each other to buy a Wii pick up a Wii U, though? I can see conversations going like this: "My kids loooove this new Wii U thing, you should get one!" "But I have a 360/PS3, and it already has a ton of cheap games for my son to play, and I stream movies and TV shows all the time."
I'm really wondering how to sell a Wii U to, say, my sister or my parents. With the Wii, it was easy. It was like deciding whether to give your parents a Mac or a PC; with one of them, you'd become the go-to help desk person to explain everything, and the other would let them figure things out for themselves while giving them what they need. Just put a controller in your hand, explain two buttons and let them control games in a "natural" way. With the Wii U, I wouldn't know where to start.
Matthew: I'd start with, "Hey, now I can play my videogames while you watch your show with the vampires." OK, that's probably more my fiancee and me, but that feature is awesome. Also, if you can play games while someone is watching TV, can you also stream movies and TV to the controller? If so, that pretty much gives you an extra portable TV (assuming Hulu comes to the system) in the room, which is amazing.
Now that you've seen our thoughts, hit the comments to tell us what you thought about Nintendo's E3 2011 press conference!