Nintendo Announces Wii U at E3; a New Way to Play the Same Old Franchises [UPDATED]

by     Posted 3 years, 197 days ago

wii-u-controller-image-slice-01

If Nintendo brought the same innovation to their software titles as they did to their hardware development, they wouldn’t need to make ten Mario games a year with some Zelda, Kirby, StarFox, and Metroid thrown in for good measure.  At this year’s E3, Nintendo announced their next generation console, the “Wii U”.  Let’s just get past the awful name.  Nintendo says it has to do with personalization (and then they showed nothing at their presentation to reflect that personalization) and I guess that means “iWii” and “uWii” were out.

But the name doesn’t matter.  The games matter…insofar as they show off Nintendo’s latest hardware innovation which is a controller that has a giant touchscreen in the middle.  Hit the jump for more on the Wii U, Nintendo’s E3 presentation, and my thoughts on both. [Updated: We've now added footage of the presentation, which you can check out after the jump.]

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wii-u-controller-image-01The Wii U controller does a lot.  It has an 6.2-inch HD screen and Nintendo bragged that you can continue to play games on it even if someone comes in and changes the channel to watch TV.  I imagine that’s wonderful news for parents who want to watch their giant flat screen but little Jimmy or Sally is playing the new Zelda game.  Of course, if your kids want to play a game with motion controls, they’re shit out of luck, but they don’t pay the bills so to hell with them.

The controller will also “display information on its screen that does not appear on the TV” and “the information and viewpoint can also change in the new controller based on the orientation of its gyroscope.”  For multiplayer games, the personalized screen can display exclusive information and thus change the competitive structure of a game.

All of this sounds like a creative boon to developers, right?  Here’s a little truth about 3rd party video game developers: they don’t want to specialize to a single console.  There’s a reason a lot of titles go on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 and never make it to Wii.  Not only does the Wii lack the graphical hardware, but the game has to be designed around motion controls while the PS3 and 360 have essentially the same controller.

It’s worth noting that while Sony and Microsoft were playing up the motion control gaming of their upcoming titles, Nintendo—the pioneer in that field—has apparently done away with them.  The touchscreen and camera embedded in the controller are new, but you still have two thumbsticks, a D-pad, four face buttons, and four shoulder buttons.  My guess is that more 3rd party developers will warm to the Wii U than they did for the Wii, but that the touchscreen will get minimal play outside of Nintendo titles.  However, the only 1st party titles announced were a new Super Smash Brothers game and a new Zelda game.  The Wii U is still over a year away so there’s plenty of time for Nintendo to actually show these games (and that’s assuming they’re launch titles) and add more to their line-up.

It won’t just be Nintendo games but it won’t be new franchises either.  Here’s a list of 3rd party titles announced for the Wii U:

  • Darksiders 2
  • Batman: Arkham City
  • “Tekken”
  • Assassin’s Creed
  • Lego City Stories
  • Ghost Recon Online
  • DiRT
  • Aliens: Colonial Marines
  • Metro: Last Light
  • Ninja Gaiden 3: Razer’s Edge

nintendo-wii-01It’s worth noting that by the time the Wii U comes out, Batman: Arkham City will likely be around a year old.  I’m sure they’ll find a way to integrate the controller, but it will still be the game that 360 and PS3 owners are playing this October.

If you bought a Wii and still own it (rather than trading it in), you’ll be happy to know that the Wii U is backwards compatible with all Wii games and accessories.  However, there was no mention of what happens to all of the Virtual Console games.

Most perplexing is that despite all of this innovation when it comes to a controller, Nintendo made no mention of how they plan to handle online gaming.  I’m no fan of online gaming, but I like having the option and it’s something almost everyone wants.  I like that Nintendo promotes physically getting together with your friends to play a game, but they can’t invite 3rd party developers onto their new system and then say “Ditch the multiplayer” or to base that multiplayer on shoddy to non-existence online infrastructure.  Nintendo knows how to sell their games online, but they continue to show no interest in actually bringing people together online.  It’s a future that Nintendo seems uninterested in and it’s eventually going to cost them.

Furthermore, they’re not keeping up with the gamers of today.  Kids love the system, but I don’t look to kids as the arbiters of quality.  A gaming console should appeal to everyone and while I don’t have much love for the Kinect, you can see that Microsoft is making a clear effort to appeal to everyone.  Kinect is being integrated into major franchises and M-rated titles but there was also a new Sesame Street game and Disneyland Adventures.  Nintendo wants to bring in 3rd party developers to achieve the same wide appeal, but those developers may not want to play with Nintendo’s wacky control schemes because they can’t be ported over to the 360 and PS3.  It’s a difficult balance between the two but other consoles not only manage that balance, but they also have a steady stream of non-shovelware games year-round.  By comparison, Nintendo usually has one marquee title every three to four months.

nintendo-logo-slice-01Which leads me to my biggest problem with Nintendo: that marquee title will be from a franchise that is at least ten years old.  The company continues to trade on nostalgia and rather than try something new, it’s always Mario, Mario, Zelda, Mario, Luigi, Mario, Mario, StarFox, Kirby, Mario, Metroid, Mario, Mario, Mario, Mario.  And all of those games usually have to adhere to the same structure.  A Mario-only game is a platformer, a Zelda game is an action-adventure, Starfox flies around in space, etc.  There are some deviations, but rarely anything radical or that would redefine a franchise.

We’re still a long way from Wii U and we’re even further away from seeing how it will perform.  It took a year from its launch for gamers to realize that the Wii was a stagnant console that was only giving them a worthwhile game every six months or so.  And Nintendo has had great success with the system in terms of sales.  They’ll probably have the same success with the Wii U if it hits the right price point.  But in terms of games—the lifeblood of any gaming console—I fail to see how the Wii U will significantly change Nintendo’s appeal for anyone other than kids and parents who want to be popular with their kids.




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  • Seev

    I don’t think they announced a new Zelda for the Wii U. There’s Skyward Sword for the Wii, but the Zelda footage they showed was only a tech demo and based off Twilight Princess.

  • Super Dooper

    Actually, they didn’t announce a new Zelda game at the show. I think you’re referring the footage that was shown. They didn’t really announce anything, apart from the ‘supposed’ Smash Bros. tie-in with the 3DS.

  • rockman_blues

    Stick to movies, Mr. Goldberg. You might think you know what you’re talking about. But, dude… negative.

    • Chris

      Amen.

    • http://collider.com Matt Goldberg

      Wait–being negative about a product means I don’t know what I’m talking about? Do you care to make a counter argument to prove that you know what you’re talking about or was it simply easier to write a pithy sentence and be on your way?

      • brosephqballs

        Matt, to argue on your level…

        I hate you. Drop dead. You’re stupid. Shut up.

      • Matt

        OWNED

      • LAME

        You guys at Collider need to improve the way you recieve comments and critics. If readers tell you “you know what, you suck doing this” you should take note of that. When you are really doing something right, simply you won’t recieve critics like that. If so, then you should improve. Feedback is really important. Take note.

  • Super Dooper

    Actually Matt, your argument against Nintendo’s Wii U touchscreen is the same you should be making for the Kinect; that third-parties would not want to support divergent control schemes and instead focus on making the same game available on multiple platforms.

    Third-parties have ignored the Kinect much like they have the Wii, in that most ‘games’ are just hasty ports of Wii games, and even those few that are exclusive (not many) are mostly glorified Flash-type games for the kids. Ghost Recon looked cool, but doesn’t really offer anything ‘new’, apart from having to flail your arms when simple button presses would suffice. Games like Fable don’t count, because they were already exclusives.

    But your right about supporting new tech in multi-platform games. They probably won’t, apart from the odd feature (i.e. Madden will most likely benefit). Third parties are lazy, and less innovative than they’ve ever been.

    • http://collider.com Matt Goldberg

      Right, but neither the 360 or the PS3 are reliant on Kinect or Move. Developers can use them or ignore them. My bet is that 3rd party developers will rarely utilize the full capabilities of the Wii U controller.

    • Some Guy

      No one wants to jump on board with Kinect?

      Words cannot describe how upset I was with MS press conference but did you see what Bioware is doing with it in Mass Effect 3 and Ubisoft is doing with Ghost Recon?

      And Crytek with Ryse for crying out loud.

  • TheDuke

    Wow. That was harsh. Was someone raped by Donkey Kong as a child?

    • http://collider.com Matt Goldberg

      Ganon, actually.

      • TheDuke

        Ganon eh? Yeah he has those busy hands. It was Samus for me. It sounds kinky, but it really isnt. Kinda developed into one of those Fatal Attraction deals. Especially when she insisted on fucking me with the suit on. Thats when rape became an issue. *Cough*

  • dean

    When those games which are from franchises over 10 years o;d usually end up becoming the best game of the year, or on the top game sof the year list. I really couldn’t give a shit. Do we complain that there’s a 23rd Bond film coming out? No, because we’re used to a certain quality and they’re usually fun as hell.

  • Chris

    Yeah, honestly, you should just shut up and do updates on movies and TV. Leave this coverage to people who know what they’re talking about, you know, on gaming websites.

    • http://collider.com Matt Goldberg

      Or else what? At least “Super Dooper” had the courtesy to provide an actual argument. Go be lazy somewhere else.

      • Chris

        Your entire argument whining about Nintendo resting on its decades old franchises is already shaky given the announcement of third party support. Granted, they’re ports, but you’re making the claim that Arkham City will be a year old by the time it’s released for Wii U. They never announced a Fall 2012 release date, it could easily come months prior to that and, as developers have already had the dev tools for quite some time, there could be a number of fresh releases (both mulitplatform and exclusive) that have yet to be announced by April-May of 2012.

        All I’m saying is that people want to hear your opinion on this about as much as they want to hear mine, meaning they don’t.

  • !_!

    matt is a 360 fanboy. cant face the fact the microsoft had the worst E3 presentation this year. they lost

    • Some Guy

      Says the nintendo fanboy who doesn’t realize he wasn’t praising Microsoft either.

      Seriously people get off Nintendo’s dick ans realize they’re taking you and everyone else for a gimmicky ride full of rehashes and poorly execute hardware innovations that no one wants to jump on board with.

  • chris

    all you guys giving him crap for reviewing a gaming product should shut your pie holes and click over to IGN or G4. You’re on a movie AND entertainment site. if it bothers you that the writers might have opinions on other forms of entertainment, then don’t read the damn article. Every point he made is valid, regardless of what content you think should be discussed on this site.

    This new device is lame and is way behind the times. I wish I could say I understand why someone would upgrade their existing Wii to this sad product but the only person I know who owns one is 5 and she doesn’t really decide what gaming console she ends up with.

    So stop complaining and go back and play your old Zelda or Mario Bros games. We’ll let you know when Nintendo comes out with another 3Ds. I’m sure you’re dying to find out.

    • Chris

      How did I know the first person to bitch about people bitching would be someone fully agreeing with Matt’s whiny thoughts.

      • chris

        Nintendo sucks and has sucked for years now. Except it. The Wii was fun for maybe an hour tops.

        My point was basically that it is retarded to be on THIS site, reading an article like THIS, then giving the writer crap because this is a movie site. Tear apart his actual points, don’t just chime in with “stick to movies”.

      • Rebecca

        Ha, I love how the people who are freaking out don’t even know how to spell or use proper grammar. The major one that made me twitch inside was “except it”. *face palm* It’s accept, clearly this shows people’s intelligence.

        The Nintendo Wii has been a good system. Not as popular as X-box 360 because it actually offers real games rather than just first-person shooters. I know those types of games are popular but geez, they are redundant.

  • today i’m sober?

    only for zelda would i even consider buying a wii otherwise it’s a joke of a system

  • Tarek

    Nintendo is for the Nine-Ten.
    PS3 rules. ^^

    But I must confess that they are very innovative. The concept is very interesting…for my kids of course.

    when will we see KOTOR 3 on PS3 ? ^^

  • Sloane

    Matt, I agree with you on some points and disagree on others.

    -WiiU is a horrible name in my opinion, but I’m someone who was hoping for the “wii” name and look to be left behind. However, when you think about it, it would have been a stupid business move to not include it. And when push comes to shove who really cares what its called. I think it would have been smart to show the controller in black just so we’d have a little bit of a distinction.

    -Even if the 3rd party launch games are ports of games that have been around for months, years, sometimes we forget that many people who bought the Wii didn’t buy a 2nd console… meaning they have not only never played these games (in full) before, but they’ve never experience HD gaming on the reg. I think the fact that these companies showed up to talk about the system is really good news. Who knows what future games will hit the system.

    -your argument against Nintendo’s IP’s is somewhat valid, but dropping Mario would be like Disney dropping Mickey… it’s just not going to happen when every mario platformer they produce sells upwards of 20 million units. Sure, I think they should do away with the mario paint, mario grass cutting, mario shaving, etc… games but as long as they keep the big Mario/Zelda/Metroid franchises exciting and fun then I say keep bringing them back. Also, nintendo has been making games way longer than the other 2 companies… do you think Microsoft is going to drop Halo anytime soon? Hell no, Halo will live on until the company stops making games or people lose interest.

    -3rd parties may ignore the touch screen in the same way they often ignore move and kinect, but this controller can still play games the way normal 360 and ps3 controllers can at the very least, which will be good enough for some people… I mean did you really expect them to show a regular controller? Are you saying that would have made you happy? In terms of first party WiiU games we only got Smash confirmed. I’d wait to hold judgement until we see what they have to offer at launch, actual graphical capabilities, etc…

    I think the most important point here is 3rd parties no longer HAVE to make an entirely new version of a game for nintendo like they did with the wii. Whether or not they choose to add some new functions in the form of that touch screen or motion controls, that’s up to the developer. And that’s a good thing too. Developers who are actually excited by the screen/motion will take the time to implement them properly.

    We’re still going to get waggle games but hey, look at MS and Sony’s conferences… Waggle City

  • Hannah Torres

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  • Super Dooper

    Hey Matt

    Thanks for the kind words, and I guess you kind of asked for this by inviting the regular videogame trolls here. While I disagree with some of your arguments, I agree that Nintendo’s show wasn’t spectacular in showing off what this ‘new’ system is capable of.

    Btw, did you see that the actual footage they showed was ACTUALLY from the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions…? Sadness…

    http://popzara.com/pages/1777/

  • Adrian

    I’m so tired of people talking about Nintendo using the same franchises over and over again. Nintendo has been in the video game business longer than Sony and Microsoft. People act like Sony and Microsoft don’t have a lot of sequels on their systems. How many Ratchet and Clank games have there been since the first game came out in 2002? Or was it 2001? Anyway, how many Halo games have been released since 2001? How many GTA games has there been since part 3 was released in 2003? If the people behind Bioshock, Resistence and Halo been around as long as Nintendo, and they had success with those franchises back in the 80′s, there would still be sequels made to those games today, and video game fans would get giddy and excited about them just like Nintendo games, because part of it would be because their damn good and the other part would be for nostolgic reasons. Why should Nintendo stop with the franchises that has made Nintendo what it is today? And there aren’t a lot of main Mario games released all the time. The Wii got three. The last time that happened was during the original Nintendo days. Do you have a problem with all of the sequels, reboots and remakes? Hollywood sure isn’t into making a bunch of original movies with turning to movies based on already things that are already popular. But then again, Hollywood can’t run on small original indie quirky films alone. And Nintendo can’t survive on Pikmin, Rhythm Heaven, Luigi’s Mansion, Wario Ware, Earthbound, without Mario, Zelda, Donkey Kong and Metroid.

    • Tarek

      “But then again, Hollywood can’t run on small original indie quirky films alone. ”

      who talked about indie movies ? they can make Blockbusters with original ideas. there is plenty of original stories in my library. ^^

  • grebdlog

    i knew by the title of the article that it was a Matt Goldberg. almost all of your articles are negative editorials. it’s something i’ve noticed again and again and again. i’d like to see some more positivity. your pessimism reminds me of a pretentious 10th grader who thinks he’s seen it all. people are making these games and movies for you, and you pick them apart from your computer screen like a spoiled brat. you condescend to creators.

  • Aaron Fournier

    I respect your opinions Mr. Goldberg, but you went too much out of your way to criticize Nintendo that your article borders on the absurd. I don’t see the problem with continuing to use the franchises that has made Nintendo so popular because despite what you may feel, people get excited to play those games. I’m a Nintendo loyalist because of those titles. In case you haven’t noticed, sequels are everywhere on every console. Because Nintendo’s have a little bit of history, doesn’t make them any less intriguing than Uncharted or Halo.

    Nintendo’s new platform is something to be excited about as well. It’s not only great that their thinking outside the box with how you interact with games, but it’s great that they have created an outlet for developers to think a little outside the box too.

    On a side note, like previous stated, a new Zelda game for Wii U wasn’t announced yesterday, so don’t pretend that there was just because you saw an elaborate tech demo. I agree that it creates hope for what could be a future title, but I will not look too much into it until Nintendo actually announces something.

  • iamtryingtobelieve

    I’m going to reserve my opinions until I get more info about the system:

    -Pricing: Not just for the system, but also the games & much more importantly, those controllers. A 6.2 inch screen isn’t going to make them very cheap.

    -Online: While it’s true the big N hasn’t made mention of the online capabilities of the system, I think they’ve finally realised if they continue to ignore online gamers, they will lose many older fans who’ve stuck with the company since they were little. I know they want to keep the familiy market, & if they want to install a parental control option that will keep young kids away from the dregs of the online community, more power to them, I however, would like to blow away my friends in Guam & Japan in a heated match of Star Fox while sitting in my living room here in the continental US.

    -Third Party-Nintendo has had terrible third-party support for too many years. Trying to think of any exclusive third-party games on the Wii that were worthwhile is a hard exercise (I can only think of MadWorld, but there had to be more than that). I know they showed the video of developers talking about how awesome they all think the tech is, but will they really be able to do something cool with it?

    I personally think that this system has great potential, & I would love to see the Big N come back in a big way, but I said the exact same thing back when the Wii came out. Yes it sold a lot, but when my house got broken into last year & my Wii was stolen, I never bothered to replace it. Honestly I didn’t much care about the loss. So yes, I’m apprehensive, but I’m very intrigued to see where they go from here, as I think the tech could provide some very good things. Just look at the much lower tech version, the Dreamcast. Those controllers were useful as hell when used right.

    I understand your frustration Matt, but Nintendo still puts out quality titles when it’s one of the flagship series’(with the exception of Metroid: Other M which was so very, very bad). If they can get enough support from third-party developers & come out with a solid online gaming plan, this could be a good system, so save the disappointment for the Wii or the Virtural Boy until we know a bit more.

  • FuckNintendo

    Nintendo never listens to what customers want it drives me up the wall and makes me start my own business to rival Nintendo, and you obviously know i am not using my real name or email address.

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