Anybody who thinks that the Wii U line-up is a bit on the dusty side should take a good look through the history of video games. Specifically, the launch of the Mega CD – some of the biggest and most renowned games released alongside it were approaching eight years old.
We’re not talking about the contents of the Sega Classics disk which came bundled with the system here. Compared to the following, the five Mega Drive games on that collection could have been considered almost new.
Quite how Sega managed to disguise the fact that these games were knocking on a bit is beyond us, although the fact that technology didn’t move as fast in the ’80s and ‘90s as it does now probably has something to do with it.
Road Avenger (aka Road Blaster) received a lot of promotion alongside the Mega CD, often found running on in-store demo pods and then later bundled with the Mega CD II. Quite amazing seeing as it first made an appearance in arcades back in 1985. Believe it or not, it was released even before the classic scrolling beat ’em up Double Dragon – the car from Road Avenger can be seen inside Billy and Jimmy’s garage right at the start.
Cobra Command was older still, first released in 1984. By the time it reached the Mega CD in 1992 it was older than a bottle of Bell’s Whisky.
Then we have Time Gal, which received higher scores than the two previous cartoony endeavours as the levels appeared in a random order. Like Road Avenger, it was released in arcades in 1985 and then on Mega CD in 1993.
Next up is Night Trap. Many think that this was a game made especially for the Mega CD but this isn’t quite the case. It was originally planned for a new gaming system from Hasbro entitled NEMO which used VHS tapes instead of cartridges. Filming was complete but when the system was canned, the footage was left lying around for five years until Sega picked it up.
Sega also picked up Sewer Shark, which too was originally destined for Habsro’s NEMO. This one made it out a year before Night Trap though – 1992 as opposed to 1993.
If you’ve ever played Night Trap and wondered why it has a distinctly ‘80s feel rather than a ‘90s vibe, now you know why – it was made in 1987.
So if you see somebody on the Wii U’s launch day spending the best part of £30 on Mass Effect 3 and feel tempted to point and laugh, then just think – back in 1993 gamers were happy to spend £39.99 on games released in the mid 80’s. If that isn’t testament to how skilful Sega were with their marketing back then, then we don’t know what is.
Nintendo’s conference left fans a little perplexed. No less than 23 games were on show, which is a figure none too shabby, but most had already been announced while the rest felt distinctly casual.
At least things got off on the right foot with a demonstration of Pikmin 3 on Wii U. The visuals are a clear step up from the humble Wii with environments both detailed and smooth. A new Pikmin type was also shown – rock Pikmin – who are able to smash glass blockades and large crystals. The trailer also has a quick glimpse of flying Pikmin. Keep an eye out for them right at the end:
A triple helping of Mario titles were shown including New Super Mario Bros. U and New Super Mario Bros. 2 for 3DS. During the demonstration for Wii U, Reggie confirmed that two Wii U GamePads can be used on a console at a time. A second player is able to drop support items in for player one which can be used to assist during the new speed-run elements. New Super Mario Bros. 2 on the other hand has a focus on coin collecting – the shiny things are everywhere. An American release date was confirmed – 29th August. Paper Mario for 3DS finishes off the trio and now has the title of Paper Mario: Sticker Star, thanks to the ability to place stickers in the papery levels. In the short demo we saw a fan sticker being used to power a windmill.
Batman Arkham City: Armoured Edition was the first third-party Wii U title to be given an airing. Rather than simply slap a map onto the Wii U GamePad screen, the developers have clearly put a great deal of thought into how the additional screen can be used. A batarang can be guided through the air by tilting the device and the screen can also be used to scan areas when held up facing your TV. Warner Bros. has another Wii U game in the pipeline – Scribblenauts Unlimited. The touch screen is used here to draw items that then appear in the game. A 3DS version is also planned.
After these short but pleasing demonstrations a showreel of other Wii U games gave us a look at the future. Darksiders II, Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge, Tekken Tag Tournament 2, Aliens: Colonial Marines and Trine 2: The Directors Cut should need no introduction, and nor should the surprise Wii U version of Mass Effect 3. Namco’s Tank! Tank! Tank! is a previously unannounced game, however. We assume this is a conversion of their 2010 arcade game. Environments are destroyable and there are fantasy elements including hydra-like enemies.
Things then took a turn for the casual with footage of the self-explanatory Wii Fit U – which can be used in conjunction with a pedometer – and SiNG (working title) from DJ Hero developers FreeStyleGames. Thankfully Reggie wasn’t forced to have a good old jive to show off Ubisoft’s previously announced Just Dance 4.
As for additional 3DS games, another showreel provided quick tasters of Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, the 2D Disney Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion, Scribblenauts Unlimited and Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance. Luigi’s Mansion on 3DS now also has a new subtitle – Dark Moon. We can’t wait for this one.
Since we last saw LEGO City it has received a name alteration to LEGO City Undercover. It looks incredibly fun, resembling a LEGO GTA with the slightly warped sense of humour we’ve come to expect from Traveller’s Tales. The trailer ended with a LEGO man building a familiar looking green pipe, followed by a familiar sound-effect when leaping down it. A 3DS version is also in the works.
Just Dance 4 wasn’t the only Ubisoft game to get an airing. The ZombiU trailer which was first shown during last night’s Ubisoft conference was played again in full. This is what Killer Freaks from Outer Space has become – a zombie game set in London, complete with the ability to map your face into the game. It looks pretty decent, and much like Batman Arkham City the GamePad is being put to good use. We saw it being used as a torch and as a sniper rifle. Don’t expect such innovations in Assassin’s Creed 3 – it has been confirmed the touchscreen is simply being used as a map and to swap weapons. The Avengers: Battle for Earth is one we can’t really comment on just yet as not much has been shown. It’s worth nothing though that it also stars Spider-Man and the X-Men. Rayman Legends was confirmed to have a five player mode and those Rabbids aren’t too far away either, this time starring in Rabbids Land. Sports Connection and YourShape: Fitness Evolved 2013 should need no explanation.
The conference ended with Nintendo Land – a virtual theme park housing several mini-games based on various Nintendo franchises. Last year’s Catch Mii demo appears to have evolved into an Animal Crossing endeavor subtitled Sweet Days. Other mini-games confirmed were the single-player Donkey Kong’s Crash Course and Takamaru’s Ninja Castle along with the multi-player The Legend of Zelda: Battle Quest and Luigi’s Ghost Mansion which bares more than a slight resemblance to Pac-Man Vs.
Nintendo left us with a trailer of Nintendo Land, complete with fireworks and trumpets.
Judging by our Twitter feed many Nintendo fans felt disappointed that there was no other big name Nintendo franchises on show other than Mario. In fact, “no Zelda” even started trending on Twitter just minutes after the conference ended. Is it too much to expect a new Zelda just eight months after Skyward Sword? Perhaps, but a showing of another big-name Nintendo franchise wouldn’t have gone amiss. There wasn’t even the slightest hint of Pokemon.
After disappointment came confusion – just moments after the conference ended word broke that Spike TV were announcing a new Platinum Games Wii U title currently known as P-100. It looks like a mixture of Viewtiful Joe and Pikmin, giving you the chance to control an army of tiny superheroes able to morph into giant hands, swords, aircraft and more. Spike TV had bagged the exclusive but quite why Nintendo didn’t fight to get this trailer is a mystery. As you can see below, it already has all the hallmarks of a classic:
Moreover, Nintendo’s press site contains footage of a new Wario Ware title – Game & Wario – which was also not shown. Why choose to demonstrate Just Dance 4 over this? E3 conferences are for the Nintendo hardcore; not the casual market.
While the conference did help to put a lot of faith into the Wii U hardware – Nintendo’s games look even more charming in HD – we’d be lying if we didn’t say we expected a few more surprises and big name titles.
Nintendo’s decision to release a special pre-E3 edition of their news show Nintendo Direct has a slight knee-jerk feel to it. Most have assumed it’s because EA and Ubisoft are planning to show their Wii U titles at E3 on Monday, which is something they wouldn’t be able to do without showing off the new and improved Wii U hardware. Nintendo’s full-blown conference isn’t until Tuesday, lest you forget.
So what’s new? The controller, now known as the Wii U GamePad, has improved analogue sticks and NFC has been confirmed allowing for Skylanders-style scanning of physical items. The button to activate it is circled in yellow in the image below:
As well as the new Wii U GamePad, a comfortable looking Wii U Classic Controller has also been shown which resembles an Xbox 360 controller. The blue lights on the bottom suggest four can be synced to a system.
The software which instantly appears when switching the Wii U on is known as Miiverse – a Mii Universe – which allows you to see friends who are online. If you become stuck on a game, it’s possible to contact other players and ask for help via software rather like Twitter. The Miiverse will also be viewable on 3DS, PC and mobiles after the Wii U launches.
During a demonstration, a player stuck on a generic zombie shooter video-chats with his trendy grandad for assistance. A black controller was used, complete with a matching Wii U. It’s probably safe to assume the Wii U will launch in two colours, just like the 3DS did.
There’s an internet browser built-in too, which can be viewed either on the controller or on your TV. Nothing fancy, but it should come in handy when a quick trip to GameFAQs is in order. Images on the TV can be covered up and then unveiled with a curtain pull and a drum roll. “Ta da! Here’s a picture of me in the nude!”
No games were shown apart from a few clips from last year’s tech demos but we only have to wait until Tuesday to see what Nintendo has been working on. Something a little more exciting than New Super Mario Bros. Wii U, we hope.
Presumably to get some extra mileage out of the Wii and keep it in the public’s eye until the Wii U is released, Nintendo has shown off a new slimmer model. It’s due out for Christmas and comes bundled with two games – Wii Sports and Wii Party – along with a Wii Remote Plus with nunchuk.
Much like the new PSP E-1000 that Sony showed off yesterday, it doesn’t look that much different from the original model. The only notable differences are the blue bezel around the disk drive and the fact that it’s designed to sit horizontally rather than vertically. In order to cut costs, it won’t be compatible with GameCube games or accessories either.
This decision caused mild upset during the Nintendo community, and some might say that upset is unwarranted – people have had five long years to go out and buy the original backwards compatible Wii. Also: this ‘Family Edition’ (as Nintendo themselves call it) isn’t going to be aimed at those who want to play Doshin the Giant and Chibi Robo between Mario Kart Wii sessions.
Ranting about losing the GameCube joypad ports, however, is just about justified – playing Smash Bros. Brawl with the GameCube joypad is the pro’s choice, after all.
No price has been announced, but Nintendo has confirmed that it’ll replace all existing models once stocks run out in Europe.
In related news, JRPGs The Last Story and Pandora’s Tower have also been confirmed for Europe, making the Wii’s 2012 line-up look a whole lot rosier than it did, well, any time prior to this news breaking.
Whoever said you can’t keep a secret these days was wrong. The new Nintendo console is not called Café, Beem, Stream or even Wii 2 or Wii HD but rather Wii U. Simply because it’s a console with something for everybody. You, specifically. There’s enough tech behind it to power visually demanding games and it’s also backwards compatible with the original Wii controllers and software.
Predictably there are a lot of conversions on the way but they’re not of older titles but rather games that are still to be released including Batman: Arkham City,Aliens: Colonial Marines, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Online, Tekken, Darksiders 2, Metro Last Light, Assassin’s Creed and DiRT. EA also hinted that Battlefield 3 is on it’s way. How Nintendo managed to stop developers leaking info is a mystery. Maybe Reggie threatened to crush their testicles with unsold copies of Wii Music?
There isn’t much to talk about in regards to the design of the console – it’s merely a Wii with rounded corners and a bigger power button. IBM are supplying the processor, it uses Nintendo’s own 12-centimeter proprietary high-density optical discs and supports 1080p, 1080i, 720p, 480p and 480i. Yep – you can stick a HDMI cable into the back of it. There are also four USB ports because you can never have enough.
The controller itself is the real head turner. A combination of an iPad and a traditional analogue controller, it has a 6.2 inch 16:9 touch screen, two analogue sticks, four trigger buttons, a built-in accelerometer and gyroscope, rumble feedback, camera, a microphone, stereo speakers, a sensor strip and a stylus. It truly is the Swiss Army Knife of the videogame controller world. T3 magazine reports that it is very light to hold and the screen is both clear and bright. Nintendo wouldn’t tell them how long the battery life is though. Likewise, price and release date are still a mystery.
Tech demos shown so far include HD Zelda, New Super Mario Bros. Mii and Battle Mii – a Metroid themed deathmatch. It’s still early days for the console yet, although the Zelda-alike Darksiders 2 was confirmed to be a launch title.
Speaking of Zelda, Nintendo’s conference kicked off with a tribute to the hero of Hyrule. It was revealed that Legend of Zelda: Four Swords for DSi is going to be a free download on DSiWare from September while a golden Wii remote will be released to tie-in with Zelda: Skyward Sword on Wii. And to celebrate Link’s 25th, symphony concerts are going to be held across the globe and two Zelda CDs will be available for the first to register Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D with Club Nintendo.
New details for a host of 3DS games were then revealed. In Mario Kart – which is being co-developed by Retro Studios – vehicles can be customised and there are also underwater sections and hang-glider power-ups. Starfox takes photos of your face for multiplayer purposes and Super Mario 3DS (as it’s now called) mixes bits of pieces from Super Mario 64, Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario Bros. 3. It’s going to have a Zelda-themed world too, viewed from a top-down perspective. Kid Icarus makes his E3 appearance for a second year running but now multiplayer has been confirmed
As for new games, how about Luigi’s Mansion 2 for size? It’s being developed by Next Level Games (who did Punch Out on Wii) and is very exciting prospect being the type of thing that’ll genuinely benefit from the 3DS’s illusion of depth. Several mansions will be on offer for Luigi to explore suggesting it won’t be as short as its predecessor. Kirby Mass Attack was also announced for 3DS, as well as Super Fossil Fighters and the very barren and bizarre looking The Rolling Western.
Namco are bringing Ace Combat and Tekken to 3DS. It’ll be the first Tekken game on a Nintendo format since Tekken Advance on GBA. Oh, and there’s going to be a Tetris game on three dimentional handheld. It was bound to happen sooner or later.
Nintendo are going to be publishing Lego City Stories (referred to as LEGO: GTA by people on Twitter) in partnership with TT Games on both 3DS and Wii U. A new Super Smash Bros was also teased for both formats.
The Wii and DS still got a look in. Kirby Wii isn’t a sequel to the lovely Kirby’s Epic Yarn but rather a 2.5 platformer much like New Super Mario Bros. complete with a four-player mode. Fortune Street from Square-Enix and Mario Party 9 should please fans of virtual board games (if any exist), the lush looking Rayman Origins is Wii-bound and Professor Layton And The Devil’s Flute is now known as Professor Layton And The Last Specter.
Finally, the award for the most unintentionally hilarious game goes to Ubisoft’s TinTin: Secret of the Unicorn which shows TinTin – who’s only a young boy, lest you forget – punching seven bells out of fully grown men and grappling them to the ground. Rah!