1. Pikmin 3
When Tuesday afternoon, June 5th came, Nintendo kicked off one of their biggest E3 press conferences ever with a cute, funny opening. It showed the tiny Pikmin creatures helping Shigeru Miyamoto (the creator of Mario, Donkey Kong, The Legend of Zelda, and Pikmin) get ready for the conference. After the laughs came a bit more seriousness as Mr. Miyamoto took the stage to give a description while showing the first trailer for Pikmin 3 for Wii U. It was already known that they were going to show off the third game in the Pikmin series but none of the consumers or press knew exactly how it was going to look and play.
(For those unfamiliar with the series, Pikmin (consists of two Gamecube titles and two New Play Control Wii ports) is about an alien, named Captain Olimar who crash lands on a mysterious planet where the little creatures live. The Pikmin are tiny red, yellow, purple, blue, and white and either have a leaf or a flower on their head to indicate how strong they are. Up to 100 of the little guys follow Olimar around to take down giant insects, find treasures, and parts of Olimar’s ship so he can eventually return home.
The graphics are the most photo realistic to ever be featured in a Nintendo game (aside from the more realistic, yet cartoony world of the Donkey Kong Country series made by former Nintendo developer Rare) and the terrain is what it would look like if you were a bug crawling on the ground, as you would see grass, plants, rocks, mushrooms, and puddles. Just think of the views that the shrunken kids in Honey, I Shrunk the Kids had in their backyard and you’ll understand more of what I mean. With these games you are shown what it would be like to be an insect and face the natural beauty and dangers of the real world!
The gameplay seems to be pretty much unchanged except for new Rock Pikmin. These are stronger Pikmin and are used to break down glass obstacles and I’m guessing take down tougher obstacles. Oddly, during the trailer shown, Mr. Miyamoto stated that there’s a reason why Olimar wasn’t being shown but he was in the game.
Though the game looked very good graphically, it didn’t blow me away as I expected it would. I thought that the graphics on the ground areas such as grass looked blurry and not realistic enough. I felt that for a next generation console the graphics could have been clearer. I will admit though, that the oranges and strawberries that the Pikmin were carrying around did look real along with the plants but not to the degree of realism I had hoped for.
I’ve never played a Pikmin game (though I have the New Play Control version of Pikmin for Wii) but it does look fun, relaxing, and very interesting (though I’ve been warned it can be very difficult). I plan on checking out the first game later before deciding on buying New Play Control Pikmin 2, and eventually Pikmin 3. I have to play the first two but knowing how good Mr. Miyamoto is at making games I won’t be too surprised if I enjoy playing all three!
My biggest question about this game is whether it will feature online cooperative multiplayer. It would be very cool to be able to load a new file and play alongside my best friend Daniel and he wants online play in this a lot more than I do! We will find out in the next several months whether the Big N has taken the time to allow for any type of online multiplayer!
(It has been confirmed that there will be no online multiplayer. There will be local cooperative play though. The reason for no online play is due to (as Mr. Miyamoto said) possibly too much slowdown with hundreds of Pikmin on the screen at once! Maybe he will change his mind and we will see online play after all but don’t get your hopes up too high Big N fans!)
2. New Super Mario Bros. U
The only thing that was a real surprise was Reggie’s revealing of the name change from New Super Mario Bros. Mii. The improved graphics were shown in the first trailer for the game as “The Regginator” explained the all new “Boost Mode”. In this mode as four players used Wii Remotes to control Mario, Luigi, Blue Toad, Yellow Toad or two of their Miis in place of the Toads, the fifth player helped or hindered progress using the Game Pad. They held the Game Pad and with a tap of the stylus or their finger they were able to conjure Boost Blocks which had colors of red, blue, and green with a Spade, Club, Diamond, etc. pictured on the side of each.
Boost Blocks could be used for the four players to hop on as they disappeared after being stepped on. When the Game Pad user taps the blocks on the Touch Screen they grow smaller, now containing coins. Also the Game Pad user could tap the enemies on the Touch Screen to stun them to help the other players playing on the TV screen. This type of gameplay was created so those who aren’t very skilled at video games could still be part of the action. It sounds like another way to hook the casual crowd and hopefully they will along with a lot of the hardcore gamers. Nintendo needs to gain the support of the hardcore that they lost with the casual centric Wii. With all the third party games and the Nintendo made games such as Mario, that goal can be achieved again!
I won’t go on and on about the graphics and gameplay anymore in this section. Since this is the Wii U game that I’m most excited about, I will be saving that all for my next article! I will close this section by saying that you can play as a Flying Squirrel and use Baby Yoshis for different abilities! These are all new abilities with the Baby Yoshis (in this look of them) having not appeared since Super Mario World! I was impressed by all I saw and you will find out all about that in my next article!
3. Nintendo Land
The conference had been dragging along since New Super Mario Bros. U was shown. They had showed more Third Party content coming to the Wii U and no more Ninendo firsty party. Ubisoft’s ZombiU and Rayman Legends were the only two third party releases that I was interested in and I’ll be detailing those at the end of this article. Now with only about ten or twelve minutes left the stage suddenly transformed!
There was a big colorful gateway from which a big sign was perched on top of it, reading Nintendo Land. When Reggie started talking about a Nintendo theme park I was very interested and wondered if the Big N had finally decided to build one here in America! Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case as it was revealed that Nintendo Land is a collection of twelve mini-games based on the classic franchises of the gaming giant! They will use local multiplayer with one player using the Touch Screen on the Game Pad while others use the Wii Remote (with Motion Plus) and Nunchuk combo.
The controls depend on the mini-game such as Donkey Kong’s Crash Course only having one player tilting the Game Pad and viewing the action on the Touch Screen to move the trolley to the bottom of the screen. The game is styled with the classic Donkey Kong arcade red girder ramps that the trolley moves down to reach the goal at the bottom. There are also moving girders that have to be operated with the right analog control stick along with elevators that can be moved by pressing a button (I think?) on the Game Pad. You also collect bananas as you roll along and after losing all of your lives your score is displayed on the top ten best scores. I’m assuming that this means the top ten best scores on your game and not by your country of residence.
The game looks to be the most fun of the games (other than Takamaru’s Ninja Castle where you flicked throwing stars at bad guys using the Game Pad’s Touch Screen) I saw that were previewed after the press conference (as the Luigi’s Mansion mini-game was the only one shown at the conference). I’m not going to go on and on about Nintendo Land though as I will do a more in depth article in the future when I discover more information. I will say that player’s Miis dress up in Zelda, Animal Crossing, Luigi, and more for the mini-game being played. It is also all connected to one fairly large circular and colorful hub where dozens of Miis wander around.
I wasn’t very impressed with this game and considered it the most disappointing Wii U title shown off during the press conference. It wasn’t until the next night that we discovered that this wouldn’t be a boring, forgettable mini-game fest like Wii Play. It would feature the ability to gain coins by playing the games to unlock bonus content and hopefully achievements! I plan on getting this game because though I own Wii Sports and Wii Sports Resort, I didn’t play much of the first and unfortunately never played the second. Hopefully this game will be packaged with the system as Wii Sports was when the Wii first launched in 2006!
(A rumor from a very reliable and unnamed source has stated that Nintendo Land will be bundled with the system and it will altogether cost about 300 dollars! If this is true then I feel that’s a very good deal (but was really hoping it would only be 250 and the tax!)
(It has also been revealed by Reggie that the Wii U will feature system-wide achievements but they will not be required by developers to be put in the games. Of course I assume that all first party Nintendo games will have achievements and I hope that they will be done a lot more creatively than the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3!)
The press conference ended unfortunately with more footage of Nintendo Land and fireworks in the night sky above the theme park. I thought the fireworks were a nice final touch. It was not a great press conference because it left several unanswered questions such as whether the games would really have achievements and whether the first party games would have online multiplayer. It didn’t make sense for Nintendo to talk so little about it! Anyway it’s time to move on to the first party Nintendo 3DS games shown at the next presentation!