We’ve had a chance to talk about Nintendo’s showing and then discussed how the other guys did, but now that the show has effectively wrapped up, it is time for us to comment on the show in general. This year’s show was preceded by a slew of leaks covering everything from Nintendo’s new controller to the Halo 4 tease being ruined just minutes before Microsoft’s show, two new consoles were revealed, and a press conference from Microsoft that will prove memorable for all the wrong reasons. In other words, plenty happened but that doesn’t necessarily mean this show will add up to a winner. Let’s see what your Nintendojo crew has to say.
Now that I’ve had some time to let everything sink in, I think it was a pretty good E3. I am sure now my initial reactions were clouded by my expectations– I really expected the show to be littered with surprises, but there were hardly any, and what was there we had pretty much already known about (either through rumors or previous unveilings). It certainly skewed my perspective on what the company was actually trying to communicate, and I believe that is why I felt underwhelmed.
Undoubtedly the topic of the show was Wii U, and while it initially left me pretty unimpressed, I’ve begun to warm to it. The controller has been getting some pretty favorable reception (at least from the impressions I’ve read), and developers seem to be really supporting it (which bodes well for its graphical prowess). I do still think it’s pretty ugly (the console itself as well as the controller), but I am hoping Nintendo will fine tune the design in the next year. I’ve come to realize this year’s show was more about introducing the device and illustrating some of the things it was capable of rather than completely blowing the lid off of it, which would explain the general lack of real first-party games, but I’m sure once we get closer to its launch we will see some really impressive stuff.
3DS had a great showing despite the fact nothing really new was announced. I absolutely loved the first Luigi’s Mansion, so I’m really looking forward to the sequel, and Super Mario 3D looks absolutely fantastic. The console may have started slow, but this year will be packed with great releases. I am genuinely afraid I will not have enough time to play them all.
And I would be remiss not to mention Skyward Sword. The game looks like it is coming together wonderfully– the graphics are much more refined than when the title was first unveiled, and it just looks so different from every previous Zelda game. My biggest concern was that it would stick too closely to the series’ conventions despite what Miyamoto and Aonuma had said in interviews, but it really does look to be a fresh take on the franchise.
In all, this year’s was a solid event. There may not have been much in the way of new games, but it just reiterated how many great ones were already in the pipeline.
I feel as though I’m still stuck in the mindset where I expect E3 to be not-so-great anymore, after what we had a few years back. (I don’t like talking about it. What dark days those were.) But I honestly feel like this particular E3 did a few things– I mean, looking at what was revealed (the Vita; Wii U … Minecraft for 360?) anyone would say that this E3 was fairly productive. But for some reason, I feel like it either a) needs time to sink in or b) wasn’t as impressive as I thought it would be.
Before anyone says I’m jaded, let me just say that I’m actually fairly excited for the Wii U, though that could just be my Nintendo fanboy talking. As someone who used to want to become an artist before I realized everybody else was better than me, the idea of painting on the tablet fascinates me– yes, I know uDraw exists, but seeing as this is a first-party product, I’m sure Nintendo’s got something in store for it. Just imagine all the color-by-number games Wii U will have! (Kidding.) (I hope I’m not prophetic.) ‘course, it’s not multitouch, which is something even the Playstation Vita has, but eh. It’s not wholly necessary, I don’t think. Though it’d definitely be nice.
Based on the Nintendojo polls, everybody has fairly mixed reactions when it comes to Wii U. Somehow I don’t know if this is good compared to what people felt about Wii when it was first announced; the console seemed to be more polarizing than its successor here. (Still is, when you get down to it.) I’m no analyst, but I think it’s a bit ironic. Now that Nintendo’s got the casual crowd, it’s got the luxury of getting rid of its “well, our console only plays games, and does that good enough, all right” mentality it once had with the GameCube, back when DVD playback was a Big Thing. The Wii U– and its controller– seems to have the capability of doing a lot more than just playing games.
You know, I just realized I’ve totally abandoned the roundtable topic. Just goes to show that this E3 may have underwhelmed many people, but it’s certainly given people a lot to think about. It’s basically thrown things at our faces that we won’t realize are awesome/ridiculous until much later. Inception E3, anyone?
Like Andrew, I did feel a bit underwhelmed by this year’s E3. I was almost at the point of thinking, “Has E3 lost its magic for me? This is like Christmas all over again!” but as things have sunk in, I’ve developed a deeper appreciation for what we’ve witnessed over the last few days. Sure, Nintendo slightly bombed on the announcement of Wii U in a variety of ways but the console still has potential. I think the fact that literally nothing was actually pushing Wii U’s significant hardware beyond a meaningless video and that glorious Zelda HD demo didn’t help either, if they had even balanced up the “Oh look, a casual-friendly tablet!” with “Zomg, look at this amazing shiny game!” a bit better then we would be more content. What actually excited me the most were the things that Nintendo kept quiet at their main show; the games heading to Wii and DS have me very excited for some reason. Maybe it’s just my inner Kirby fan breaking out, maybe it’s the secretive nature of their announcement but I’m anticipating a lot of these titles that are coming to the aging hardware.
On the third party front, I was a little underwhelmed. Square Enix, Konami or Capcom didn’t throw up anything that got me genuinely excited and my devotion to more Western developers is somewhat fleeting. I did find the line of developers talking about Wii U to be an odd mix, all very Western and all very middle of the road. They even brought out John Ricitello from EA to talk about the console and he had the cheek to bring along his EA logo that includes Mass Effect. No Mass Effect for Wii U? Thanks John. That was my big issue: after years of being excluded from the hardcore party, we’re finally being allowed in but we’re still sitting at the kiddie table. I know it’s early days but if Nintendo had clinched things like Final Fantasy, Metal Gear, a new Kingdom Hearts and the next Resident Evil from the get-go, Wii U would be on a stronger platform. I know it took a fair while for Xbox to earn the rights to such franchises but I’ve grown impatient this gen. And I don’t want my console purchases to make me feel like a second class citizen.
For better or worse, I will always remember this E3 as the year that I went from a gaming enthusiast to a gaming journalist. Even though I wrote about my anticipation for the expo in the editor’s letter for this issue, that was more of a brave face on the whole thing. E3 has had me terrified for weeks and even though it’s been a rocky ride to cover the show, I’m very happy with our excellent content for the week. It’s also a victory for my OCD planning skills, I just didn’t see Luigi’s Mansion 2 coming…
Reflecting on this year’s trade show, I’m surprised by how little software there was that I was excited for. It seems like all the big announcements were for hardware– PSVita, Wii U, and such, and to a lesser extent, the 3DS eShop. There was only one big announcement for a first party 3DS title that we didn’t already know about, and the Wii offerings this year were all but DOA– and I’m not talking about volleyball.
I’m very excited for games like Kid Icarus: Uprising, Super Mario 3DS, and Star Fox 64 3D, but I already was. And since all of Nintendo’s Wii U games were tech demos, it’s hard to get really pumped for it, as well. The most interesting thing about the new console for me was using it to show where your golf ball was on the ground. That part of the video really stood out for some reason. Knowing that the system is specifically intended to have one screen-controller only, at least for now, is kind of confusing as well, although since they’ll undoubtedly be prohibitively expensive, that isn’t too big of a deal on that score.
Microsoft’s press conference was the epitome of banal; lots of Kinect versions of stuff and some new sequels which we had already pretty much expected. Here’s a question for you: Can anyone tell me the best-looking original IP you saw this year? Or even name one? Seriously, I’m not just being sarcastic, I actually can’t think of one. Oh, and as I predicted, Nintendo’s new console has a horrible name. Sony joined in on the game, too! I’m so proud.
M. Noah Ward
For a little while, I was bummed about not going to E3 this year. Last year I had mentioned would probably be my last E3 for awhile because I wanted to go to other shows for a change, and I’m definitely going to PAX Prime in a couple months (can’t wait!). But this was a new hardware show– and for two companies, no less! But now that E3 2011’s all wrapped up, I definitely feel I didn’t miss much. In fact, by Tuesday night, the rest of E3 could have been non-existent since there weren’t any games I wanted to read about or watch videos for. The press conferences had all the big news, with the only other exciting headline being ESA’s highly unlikely threat of relocating E3 out of L.A… If only, if only! I’ve seen more than enough of slummy, hot, downtown L.A. and would be thrilled with somewhere else– San Diego, San Francisco, Las Vegas– just not Atlanta, thanks.
So yes, by Tuesday evening any sadness of not being at E3 was quickly gone, because, as Aaron noted, there weren’t many games to be excited about and, agreeing with Kevin, Wii U is an unattractive (in both name and design) and, thus far, completely awkward piece of hardware. I don’t see casuals swarming to get the hardware (too daunting; only one tablet per console), and the legacy of the “Wii” name and significantly less dazzling prospect of playing video games on a chunky tablet for the next five years isn’t going to suck the hardcore in. So how, then, is this a machine “for everyone”? I’m hoping, like many of you, that seeing real first party launch games and a stronger commitment than year-old ports (come 2012) from a few third parties will make me a believer. And just make the dang thing black (even dark gray?) already.
Thankfully, we have a swath of must-have games coming up for 3DS, not to mention more Layton and Kirby on DS to tide us over. And, yes, Skyward Sword will be fantastic.
Of course the presentation was mostly predictable – when has it not been? We always expect Miyamoto or Reggie to take the stage and wow us with heavenly light, and that’s why we big-time fans usually end up so feverishly disappointed. I suppose we would’ve been better off not expecting to see any Wii U games. Sure, I would’ve loved to see at least one (Pikmin 3 has to be presentable by now); but Nintendo must’ve decided against it for some good reason. Perhaps it does not want Captain Olimar being viewed as Wii U’s mascot, as he likely would’ve been if his was the first game unveiled.
Also, I highly doubt that Wii U will not also be compatible with the GameCube controller, so any fears of having to play Super Smash Bros. 4 with a tablet would be better off disregarded for now. That said, I will continue to invest my fanboy faith in Nintendo. I’ve been faithful to it through the highs (SNES, N64, Wii) and lows (GameCube) and I ain’t about to give up on it now. Which reminds me… back in 2001, EGM predicted that Nintendo would be out of the business by 2010. Reflecting on that statement always makes me laugh.
Well other than my predictions being so horribly off, I was pretty satisfied with E3. The only downside was the lack of focus on the Wii games other than Skyward Sword for the most part. Nintendo does seem like it’s ready to cut its losses with the Wii (though it’s not like the Wii has been unsuccessful, for what it’s worth) and moving on with only a few games along the horizon.
I think that the Wii U is trying to go a long way to rebuilt their relationship with third party games, which seemed to go kaput this past generation. Say what you want about Nintendo but when they have a misstep in one generation, they do what they can to fix it somehow. It may not be totally repaired, but you gotta at least applaud the effort. Some of the games that are said to be on the Wii U look pretty sweet and I’ve always wanted to play Assassin’s Creed so I’ll be sure to look that one up.
The 3DS is starting to gain its footing with the opening of the eShop and a list of upcoming games. I was getting worried for a moment, but I think it’s just in the nick of time. The Vita is going to likely give the 3DS a run for its money so it’s at least a good thing that the 3DS is starting to get things really going. I’m excited to see how that competition goes.
E3 was a good start for Nintendo. While they weren’t the hands down winner (there really wasn’t any but if I were to have to say someone, I’d probably say Sony), they did do a lot at least with the new systems to garner some interest, even if it’s just me.
We seem to have reached a consensus that this show was strangely underwhelming. Generally heads explode in delight when new hardware takes center stage but that really didn’t happen for PS Vita or Wii U. For Nintendo’s new system, I attribute this lack of enthusiasm mostly to the huge number of leaks and mass speculation that had most, but not all, of the controller’s innovations figured out, as well as the general lack of any real games. Yes, there were plenty of promises of new ideas, classic franchises, and better support for core gamers, and while I have little reason to doubt that Nintendo will be able to deliver all of this to some extent, I would have loved to see games that proved their point right then and there.
Really, that whole thing about showing the games can be applied across the board. What we saw of 3DS was impressive, but aside from a few pleasant surprises (Luigi’s Mansion 2) there wasn’t much there that we hadn’t already seen, even if all the older stuff was now better than ever. Sony and Microsoft also had a strong stable of previously announced games from third parties (Battlefield 3, Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, Batman: Arkham City, Modern Warfare 3, etc.) but we once again saw too few new announcements, especially when it came to original ideas. Things were quite different on the first party front though. Microsoft pleased Halo fans but had everybody else scratching their heads as they showed how Kinect was needlessly being forced into just about everything else; so they were effectively channeling Nintendo circa 2009. Sony didn’t pull any real surprises, except for PS Vita’s pricing, but still delivered a solid selection of games across both its old platform and new handheld, though the most exciting stuff once again came from well established series.
So what’s the problem? I did see and learn about plenty of great games, but very few of them were new to me. Now that I think about it, except for finally seeing Wii U’s new controller and PS Vita’s pricing, this year’s E3 was pretty much a non event. There were no monumental announcements and the few pieces of noteworthy news could have been handled in smaller press conferences, and I dare say that Wii U would have benefited from such an event at a latter date with more tangible content.
Maybe I’m being too harsh; this year was not a spectacular failure (except for Microsoft maybe), but we have come to expect more. I’m glad that it gave me the opportunity to see a few new things and learn more about games that I have already been interested in, but the industry needs to remember that this is the time of year to bring out the big guns.
And with that we (almost) shut the book on E3 2011. We’ve covered every announcement, game and console of the expo and we hope you’ve enjoyed covering them with us but now it’s your turn. Did you enjoy E3 2011 or was it a disappointment in the end? Let us know all your thoughts on the past week in the comments!