So here we have it, the conference we have all been waiting for, Nintendo takes centre stage for the press event of 2011’s E3. Fortunately, very little was leaked in regards to Nintendo’s announcements which provided a thoroughly enjoyable and interesting conference.

LINK TURNS 25!!

Kicking things off with class is Nintendo’s dedicated orchestra, playing some of the most well known songs from the Legend of Zelda titles to a video presentation of some of the different Zelda titles through the 25 years since it’s creation. Ending the five minute tribute with what was announced as the theme song to the upcoming Zelda title, Skyward Sword.

Upon ending the tribute, the orchestra was joined onstage by the enigmatic presence of Zelda creator, Shigeru Miyamoto who emphasized the importance of the sometimes touching music in the Zelda titles and thanked the fans for remembering such simple 8-bit tunes over the years.  Miyamoto then asked the orchestra to play some of the more iconic sound bytes from the series including the ‘solving a puzzle’ and the ‘Fairy Fountain’ tune.  Miyamoto also asked the orchestra to play the ‘getting an item’ tune to which he pretended to open an invisible chest and lift his arms in triumph.  I thought this was a nice touch as it really showed the level of love the Miyamoto has given these title over the years.

Miyamoto then went on to announce that as part of the 25 anniversary celebrations for The Legend of Zelda franchise, Nintendo will be releasing a Zelda game on each of their hardware platforms including Links Awakening on the Nintendo E-Shop, the Ocarina of Time 3D on 3DS with improved frame rate and graphics, The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords on Nintendo DSi as a free download and Skyward Sword on Wii this holiday season.

Also as part of the 25th anniversary celebrations, Nintendo are also releasing a gold Wiimote with the iconic Triforce symbol on it
Not to stop there though, Nintendo are also arranging a series of Legend of Zelda Orchestra concerts around the world to perform the iconic music from the franchise.

And finally, Nintendo are releasing two music CD’s, one being the soundtrack from the Ocarina of Time 3D game as a special gift to people who register the game early and the second disc will be inspired by the Legend of Zelda Orchestra tour.

In a very touching move, Miyamoto bought several key members of Team Zelda onto the stage to thank the fans for their support of one of the most well known and best loved franchises in gaming history.

NEW 3DS TITLES

At this point in the conference, we had Satoru Iwata on stage, offering half hints and cheeky teases about the new Nintendo console but focusing more on the 3DS and it’s upcoming titles, both he and Reggie Fils-Amie, President of Nintendo America showed off video packages for games like Mario Kart, Starfox 64 3D, Super Mario, Kid Icarus and Luigi’s Mansion 2 with the first three titles being available before the end of this year.

THIRD PARTY DEVELOPMENT

Reggie then went on to remind us that at the launch of the 3DS we were informed that a number of third party developers were working on titles for the 3DS, these are now revealed as

  • Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D by Capcom
  • Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games by Sega
  • Ace Combat 3D by Namco Bandai Games America Inc
  • Tetris by Tetris Online Inc
  • Cave Story 3D by NIS America Inc
  • Resident Evil: Revelations by Capcom Entainment Inc
  • Driver: Renegade by Ubisoft
  • Pac-man and Galaga Demensions by Namco Bandai Games America Inc
  • Tekken 3D by Namco Bandai Games America Inc
  • Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D by Konami Digital Entertainment

Reggie then went on to explain that there would be limited availability on a complementary download of 3D Classics Excitebike back from 27 years ago and a special Pokémon Pokédex available for free download on the 3DS.

WII WHO? WHAT?!

So the moment of truth finally arrived, Nintendo unveiled their new console, well, sort of.
The WiiU video package sent several very confusing messages to the press in the room at that time and watching it you could easily be forgiven for thinking that the WiiU was simply a controller for the existing Wii Console as the new console itself is never actually mentioned in the press conference.

We were shown several videos of people using the ‘Wiipad’ controller (NOT the official name for it, just my own name for it) with existing Wii hardware such as the balance board and the double handed Wii-gun would indeed suggest that Nintendo are only releasing a new controller for their current console.

Moving aside from the confusing messages sent by Nintendo for a moment (I’ll come back to those soon enough) the actual piece of hardware that Nintendo are announcing does look wonderfully impressive, and if the video package is to be believed, gamers will be able to simply pause full retail games on their TV and continue playing on the ‘Wiipad’ with no change to the graphics or gameplay, wirelessly.

The actual details about the controller released by Nintendo at the conference were the kind of hardware specification that would come to mind if you saw a piece of hardware like that coming from Nintendo:

  • 6.2 inch front touch screen
  • Twin analogue sticks
  • Triggers and standard face buttons with additional L and R bumpers (similar to the 360)
  • Speaker on the controller
  • Built in microphone
  • Inwards facing camera
  • Gyroscope

Moving back to the somewhat confusing reveal of Nintendo’s WiiU and its controller, we are then shown a rolling video of a bird flying through a Japanese garden, this was (apparently) to showcase the High-Def graphics that Nintendo gamers have been calling out for since the Wii was released.

We were then teased with the prospect of a Super Smash Bros game for both WiiU and 3DS and informed that possible big budget titles like Darksiders II, Ninja Gaiden 3, Batman Arkham City and Assassins Creed should be coming to the WiiU when more details are released next year.

We ended the Nintendo conference with a further video package of some of the major names in video game development such as Peter Moore (President of EA Sports) Danny Bilson (Executive Vice President of Core Games at THQ) and Katsuhiro Harada (Chief Game Director of Namco Bandai) explaining how powerful this new technology is and how revolutionary this console will be when it is released, potentially in 2012.

Personally, this new console (and it is actually a console, not just a controller) looks amazing! Nintendo will, if they can step up and deliver what they promise, outshine the PS3 and the Xbox 360 with the WiiU, which is strange for Nintendo as they have never been focused on high grade technology and would rather make a hardware platform that is accessible for everyone and do something different and revolutionary with their consoles, be them home based or handheld.  I think the conference was confusing and personally, rushed.  Nintendo confused everybody there by keeping the Wii brand, it gave the message that this was an add-on rather than a new console.  The software there was nowhere near ready, even Reggie Fils-Amie admitted that none of the playable content at E3 was from a finished retail title, they were all tech demos.

I’m already sold with this console though, as a complete video game and technology nerd, I’m completely onboard with Nintendo, I have my ticket for the Hype train and I’m already in my seat, I just hope this train doesn’t derail like the Vitality Sensor that we were promised with the release of the Wii.

E3 Coverage: Nintendo Press Conference photo