Wednesday, June 6, 2012

E3 2012: Nintendon't Live Up to the Hype

Well, I held off an extra day to make my comments on Nintendo's E3 2012 offerings, due to their unexpected announcement that they would have a 3DS-dedicated conference this evening.

Sadly, that was one of the only surprises Nintendo had to offer this year.

Nintendo presented the hardware side of their new WiiU console in their Sunday night Nintendo Direct broadcast with the intent, they said, to focus their entire E3 keynote on software.  With that in mind, Nintendo's keynote was the only one for which I had fairly high expectations.  They had a lot to prove this year, with many people skeptical of what the WiiU would do to recapture "hardcore" (ugh) gamers.  And sadly, I found it something of a flop.

As expected, Pikmin 3 and New Super Mario Bros. U took the center stage as the console's first-party launch window titles.  Batman: Arkham City had its own stint to show off its unique WiiU tablet functionality, and a later video showed another selection of third-party titles coming to the WiiU, which included:
  • Darksiders II
  • Mass Effect 3
  • Tank! Tank! Tank!
  • Tekken Tag Tournament 2
  • Trine 2:  Director's Cut
  • Ninja Gaiden 3:  Razor's Edge
  • Aliens:  Colonial Marines
It's yet another zombie game, but it seems to put some new spins on the genre.
A series of Ubisoft titles were listed off, too, like ZombiU, Assassin's Creed III, and Rayman Legends, and Scribblenauts: Unlimited was announced, complete with multiplayer mode and both WiiU and 3DS versions.  Call me picky (I'm used to it), but virtually none of those games appealed to me.  And Mass Effect and Batman continue to be perplexing choices for their third-party, multiplatform titles, given that they've already been out on the PS3 and Xbox 360 for months, making them far from the system-sellers Nintendo are making them out to be.  Well, at least ZombiU looks sick, going by the accounts of Kotaku and Operation Rainfall.

After the keynote ended, Spike's TV coverage did catch an announcement of a new title from the supremely awesome PlatinumGames:  Project P-100 (working title), directed by Bayonetta mastermind Hideki Kamiya, with a Viewtiful Joe superhero theme, and "Pikmin meets Transformers" gameplay.  It will be published by Nintendo, and it looks like PG* is still aiming for the WiiU's launch window.  It looks like it has some potential, and Kamiya has never disappointed me, but I couldn't help but wonder:  why wasn't this part of the conference?

So, for me, yesterday's conference was generally lacking in any interesting surprises, but what about the 3DS?  Well, we were told that because they simply couldn't muster the time to show off everything they wanted to of the handheld's line-up, they would air a separate briefing focused on just that.  Fast forward to this evening.

... Where practically nothing new was shown.  It literally consisted of every 3DS game that was shown in their brief montage yesterday, in slightly more detail--a disappointing fact when I feel that I was led to believe that they would make some new announcements and, heaven forbid, maybe even surprise us with something!  Unfortunately, the outstanding moment for me was the announcement that the Pokemon: Dream Catcher app on the 3DS will be able to catch monsters and transfer them to the upcoming DS games, Pokemon Black 2 and White 2.  That's a cool feature, but again, I was expecting a lot more.  They didn't even show Rhythm Thief!
Don't get me wrong, Paper Mario: Sticker Star is looking great.
Also like yesterday's keynote, the best part wasn't even included in the broadcast:  IGN and Kotaku reported a confirmation, finally, of a North American localization for Fire Emblem: Awakening.  Why Nintendo didn't feel inclined to mention this on the air is beyond me.  I've been met with a few counter-arguments that E3 is a trade show, aimed at developers and investors, and that the things that interest me don't interest investors.  It's a fair point, but it would be foolish to suggest that Nintendo isn't aware that a huge portion of their audience is, in fact, gamers--intended or not.  Given they wasted the entire stream talking about games they've already shown, and that they didn't even go for the full hour (they started 10 minutes late), it wouldn't have killed them to throw in even a brief tidbit about Fire Emblem.

Maybe I'm just too hard to please.  Maybe the interests of investors and of the fans are just far too disparate now to continue to appeal to both audiences.  But for the past several years, E3 has failed to impress me.  It's not that there were no games there that interested me, but rather that the surprises I've come to hope for were almost conspicuously absent.  I think I'll be sitting next year's Expo out, and instead just catch up on the highlights online.

Overall E3 2012 Highlights:
  • Watch Dogs (Ubisoft)*
  • Project P-100 (PlatinumGames, Nintendo)*
  • ZombiU (Ubisoft)*
  • Beyond:  Two Souls (Quantic Dream, Sony)*
  • Metal Gear Rising:  Revengeance (PlatinumGames, Konami)
  • Ni No Kuni:  Wrath of the White Witch (Level-5, Namco Bandai)
  • Paper Mario:  Sticker Star (Nintendo)
*denotes a newly announced game at or around the time of E3 2012.

There's always TGS.

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