E3 2012: Grading the Big 3 – Nintendo

E3 2012: Grading the Big 3 – Nintendo

E3 is now underway and the final of the big three has taken the stage was Nintendo. Going into the conference Nintendo had all of the hype they could want surrounding them and their new console the Wii U. So does Nintendo manage to wow our editors or did they let all of the hype get the better of them?

Nintendo’s 2012 E3 press conference may go down in history as one of the most anticlimactic, mass-blue balling of the gaming media that has ever occurred. It all started so well – Pikmin 3! A Nintendo franchise that everybody wanted to see, fully showing off the Wii U’s novel features! This could be it! Nintendo are going to kick MS and Sony out of the park! But after that… It just dribbled out, didn’t it? The 3DS presentation was rushed and apologetic, although as a 3DS owner desperately waiting for my purchase of the handheld to be validated I await the 3DS extra presser with baited breath. Then Reggie’s promise of showing off 23 amazing games turned out to be a white lie so big I almost went blind. LEGO City and Scribblenauts Unlimited are two games with promise but the big talk made early on by hypemaster Reggie only served to make what followed a kick in the teeth.

The rest of the conference went from infuriatingly uninformative montages to ridiculous Tolkien-esque descriptions of minigame collections that nobody cared about. Mass Effect 3 on Wii U drawing a cheer from the crowd is one of the most baffling things I’ve seen at this year’s E3, and the rest of the third party port jobs failed to rouse emotion. And there were no live demos. In fact, the only live demo of a Wii U game this weekend wasn’t even in Nintendo’s own press conference! It’s like they accidentally read the script upside-down. It was bland, boring, uninspired and has done nothing to make me want a Wii U. Nintendo: what are you doing? You have a whole new console to show off and you managed to make your press conference even less exciting than Microsoft’s! I am left bereft of enthusiasm.

By Ashley ChittockGrade: C-

Nintendo did something very important at their show- they showed games. Games for everyone. Hardcore games, casual games, games for everyone who has ever touched a controller. In fact, they spent a bit of time talking about how there’s actually too many games for them to show. Which feels weird, since they gave nothing but lip service to the 3DS (which wasn’t redesigned, of course). The show was just games, games, games, starting strong with Pikmin and Mario, but the problem is, they started the show with a showstopper.

Which brings us to the biggest problem of the show- no WiiU demos. This is the thing we’re all curious about. How do these games we’ve experienced before work on the system? How is it adding to what we already have with games? Yes, we have a lot awesome things that we THINK we can do with the system, but confirm it! We found out that we can use 2 tablets, which is great (because it’s all I need), but since they didn’t show many uses of the controller, it fell a little flat.

That said, I’m seeing a lot of people doom-and-gloom this conference, saying it was somehow worse than EA. I really don’t know how that’s possible, except that this show was an inverse exponential curve of excitement- starting high, ending low. Because of that, we’re quick to forget anything cool that they showed. Pikmin 3! 2 New Super Mario Bros titles! Scribblenauts! Even Lego City looks interesting! Did they spend too much time on Nintendo Land? Yes! Don’t let that destroy your feelings towards the conference that showed new games, just because it ended badly. The problem is they didn’t show off the way the tablet integrates with games enough, but still, they showed a lot of games, and announced sequels to big games that have done well for them in the past. There wasn’t a new Zelda or regular Mario because it’s not time for them yet, but they’ll come- don’t worry.

I’ll admit I’m biased. I’m a huge Nintendo fan, but Nintendo’s biggest problem is really themselves. Right after the press conference, Nintendo itself announced a new game with a new demo on Gametrailers’ stream from Platinum games. Why wasn’t that on the show? I don’t know, but that’s the weirdest and most confusing part about what they did, and that’s what hurt an otherwise charming, content-filled conference.By Hiram Mojica Grade: B-

For the last few years E3’s have been about announcing and showing new hardware, be it portable or or otherwise. This year Nintendo was to explode onto E3 showing a huge selection of games for their new console to justify the purchase, but from what was shown, it was a bit of a disappointment. The “big” titles shown were New Super Mario Brothers U, Paper Mario Sticker Star and Pikmin 3 (which fans have been pleading for years to be announced). Short segments were shown for each which was good, however there were no proper live demo’s, understandable after Miyamoto’s Skyward Sword debacle. I must admit it was reassuring to see announcements for a decent selection of third part games were shown to support the Wii U including Mass Effect 3 and Tekken Tag Tournament 2, Darksiders 2 and Aliens Colonial Marines as well as new titles from Ubisoft.

What brought the press conference down for me was “NintendoLand”. A good 20 minutes of the show was dedicated to the awkward, repeated dialogue from the games producer about a concept that was extremely simple and should have only had 5 minutes dedicated to.

What I came away from the conference with is that it seems like Nintendo are trying to do something unique with their new hardware, but not showing what is actually so unique about it other than you can play while someone is watching TV. In previous years they had shown ideas such as playing golf with the Wiimote while the WiiU controller was on the floor, yet nothing as interesting was shown.

By Alexander Cattell Grade: D+

This was supposed to be THE year for Nintendo. After the Wii U’s faltering debut last year, a renewed focus on the hardware as well as Sony and Microsoft opting to not show off new hardware, the goal was left wide open. All they had to do was deliver powerful shot and E3 was theirs. The problem was, while they had a brilliant run up not only did they miss the ball (the soccer imagery doing anything for you?), they fell flat on their face.

Nintendo opened up with something everyone wanted: A new Pikmin. Pikmin 3 showed off a lot of the features on the Wii U which was cool, but for some odd reason Reggie rushed through a presentation that outlined all of the capabilities the Wii U had to offer. In fact, Reggie made it feel like a great beast was looming over his shoulder and if the show ran too long, it would consume everyone in the room. The Nintendo 3DS was a victim of this behavior, as its upcoming catalog was completely glossed over limited to a brief discussion of two first party games and a video montage for third party titles. It sounds like there is going to be a separate show for the 3DS which was incredibly disappointing to me, a regretful 3DS owner who is desperately seeking value in the machine.

As expected, Nintendo extended an olive branch to core gamers with Wii U ports of Batman Arkham City, Mass Effect 3(???), Ninja Gaiden 3 and Trine 2. Each game was touted as having all sorts of Wii U functionality, but it is hard to get excited for games that are a year old.  The problem with Nintendo’s show was that nothing felt exciting. There was no energy, no delight. They showed off some concept videos of first party software, like ZombieU and Super Mario Bros. U, which seemed neat but NintendoLand was a confusing mess. It was crazy to see Reggie pass over the hardware because “there wasn’t enough time.” Nintendo should have owned E3 this year and I feel a measure of distress that they had such a poor showing. I want Nintendo to succeed and I hope they are able to bounce back from the amount of disappointment that seems to be coming their way.

By Allen Kesinger Grade: D

Watching Nintendo’s conference was akin to experiencing a dream that slowly turns into a nightmare, culminating with Reggie Fils-Aime’s mutated face on the Wii U Game Pad in a demonstration of ZombiU. Things opened with a visit from Shigeru Myamoto, who goofed on his English translator Bill Trinen, shortly before announcing Pikmin 3 for the Wii U. He walked through a taped demonstration, outlining new gameplay ideas and the reasons behind them, before signing things off to Reggie, who immediately sapped all the momentum from the room.

Forgive me, it’s difficult to divorce myself from feelings of intense cynicism after watching this. The problem was no one, apart from Myamoto and Trinen, really seemed like they wanted to be there. The tone felt stilted and latently hostile, Reggie pattered on about having “too many games to show and not enough time to show them,” revving up the audience for a payoff that never really came but in fits and starts. Indeed, 23 games were shown, but they each amounted to little more than glossy marketing trailers. There were no live demos, things felt devoid of substance, and the 3DS (which gets its own conference tomorrow) was glossed over in a searingly awkward presentation from another Nintendo exec whose name I can’t even remember now. And to top it off, we still don’t know when the Wii U releases and for how much. That feels like a crucial misstep to me. Yes, Reggie kept TELLING us how he wanted to focus on games, but how long should it take in your official press conference to divulge that information and move on?

Still, this is entirely too negative. Press conferences aren’t really meant to be entertaining, and despite the lack of really exciting news, it’s apparent that the Wii U definitely has gas in the tank. Nintendo provided a sizzle reel of third party games that are coming to Wii U, and while most were already known, it indicated that these ports would no longer be cut from the same cruft of shoddy Wii games, but feature-rich updates that stand toe-to-toe with their 360 and PS3 counterparts. That is good news. Apart from that, the standout of this show was the trailer for LEGO City: Undercover, an open world LEGO game that looks like a combination of Saints Row and 70s cop shows. You read that right.

By Adam Condra Grade: D+ 

Things were going great. Miyamoto was his usual, infectious self, gearing the audience up for Nintendo's E3 conference. They photobombed people in the audience with cute little Pikmin! They showed off Pikmin 3, which looked great.

And then the rest of the conference happened.

The Regginator himself couldn't wait to show us 23 different titles, it seemed. And then there was a long talk about Hulu. And Netflix. And some very basic-looking social media apps for the WiiU. Every once in a while, the conference would play a highlight reel of the promised plethora of games. But often each was shown for just a few seconds.

It's all information that fills in gaps about what the WiiU will eventually be, but talking about Netflix doesn't get people excited. Talking about being able to use two WiiU GamePads doesn't get people excited. Rolling out a trailer with third-party games that will be a year or two old by the game they actually hit the WiiU is the exact opposite of exciting.

I honestly felt like I was being tricked at some points during the presentation, as if they were purposely slowing things to a crawl just before the big, huge reveal that turned it around. No such luck. Instead, Nintendo's behaviour was borderline bewildering. They showed New Super Mario Bros. U for a minute, maybe two, before turning around and spending an exhausting amount of time breaking down some WiiU controls for Arkham City, a game that nearly everyone in that conference hall has probably already played.

In retrospect, it was foolish to think that Nintendo had learned not to ignore the "core" game player, as they've been talking about recently. I'd say that they fell back on their same old tricks, but they didn't even do that. Beyond showing two, mildly interesting looking (no longer) New Super Mario Bros. games, Nintendo didn't even parade their usual stable around. Instead, they focused a solid quarter or so of their presentation on NintendoLand, a painfully mediocre-looking minigame collection.

What? Why? They seem to really be pushing for a Wii Sports-like phenomenon with NintendoLand, and maybe it will assimilate people into the system's new control scheme. But tossing around shruikens isn't interesting to look at or play. It's mildly intriguing at its absolute best, and dreadful at worst. Watching Nintendo's laboured, minutes-long explanation of a Luigi's Mansion themed minigame for NintendoLand was by far the most aggravating part of the conference. Especially since it can be accurately summed up by me in less than ten words: Y'know, it's like Pac Man Vs.

It's not like nothing good came from the conference. It's just really hard to be excited about any of it. Even the Regginator, master of hype that he is, at times seemed legitimately pissed off to be there. He even razzed his own executives that were paraded out to talk. In one brutally uncomfortable moment, poor old Yves (the CEO of Ubisoft) stood there with a plastered-on smile, waiting for Reg to see him off with a warm farewell. It didn't happen, and he just sort of strolled off stage, Reggie's back turned and already moving on to the the next uneventful segment on stage.

Yes, Pikmin 3 looked rad, as did LEGO City Undercover, a GTA-inspired free-roaming LEGO title. But where's the big news that's supposed to win over everyone who found the Wii a little lacking? What's up with all these old games? What is Retro Studios working on? Why wasn't Project P-100, Platinum Games' WiiU-exclusive that looked pretty rad on Gametrailers live show, nowhere to be seen? Nintendo's showing was confusing, and none of it made me want to own a WiiU or a 3DS. These systems can and most definitely will deliver some big titles. No indication of that during the briefing, however. Certainly the worst press conference of the bunch.

By Adam Schedler Grade: D

That's all for our grading of the Big 3 Conferences. Let us know what you think of our thoughts? Do you agree? Keep it here for even more E3 2012 coverage and thanks for reading!

The owner and editor-in-chief of Darkstation.com. I've been apart of the website since 2002 and purchased the website in 2010. Owning and running Darkstation is a dream come true. I love video games and I love writing and talking about them even more.