Nintendo promised a live stream today to prove the potential of the Wii U, what they presented highlighted Nintendo’s dedication to stronger online connectivity, more modern features and that you cannot count on E3 for the biggest Nintendo news.
Opening with a bang, Nintendo addressed the questions on everybody’s lips; when and how much? As Word of the Nerd Online reported earlier, the Wii U will be available in two distinct bundles, available November 18. For full details on what is included in each bundle, check out the launch details here.
The Wii U pricing of $299 for the basic model and $349 for the deluxe hits the pricing sweet spot, making the Wii U just about on par with current high definition consoles. Nintendo also announced that the deluxe edition will come with a premium online membership for discounted eShop games on the console, promising more details in the near future.
Nintendo pointed out that neither bundle comes with Wii remotes or nunchucks, due to the already large circulation of the original Wii accessories. Nintendo was quick to add that the Wii U will have new games compatible with original Wii controllers and be fully backward compatible with original Wii games. Consumers can expect to see Wii U branded Wii remotes and accessories soon.
After talking about the hardware out of the gate, Nintendo was enthusiastic about getting to software. They opened with new details on mini-games from Nintendo Land. They presented a live demo of Metroid Blast, a co-operative mission-based mini-game.
Metroid Blast is an example of Nintendo’s touted asymmetrical multipayer. One player uses the Wii U gamepad to control Samus’ gunship to provide covering fire from the air, while the other player uses the Wii remote and nunchuck to control their Mii on the ground, loaded up with Samus’ armor and weapons. During the demo Nintendo showed off the use of some of the tools player will have access to, such as the grapple beam used to navigate the arena, including grappling onto the gunship for an elevated view of the battlefield. The mission they showed at the press event was a simple swarm mode where players fought waves of monsters. Nintendo promises there will be enough variety to Metroid Blast that it could almost be its own game, including two competitive modes and a single-player option.
Nintendo then briefly showed an update on New Super Mario Bros. U. An overview of a Super Mario World-style world map, while not new to the New Super Mario Bros. (NSMB) series, looks to be more complex, with more branching routes through the world, hinting at more levels with alternate exits. By showing Mario move from a green field map to a desert implied there game not be distinctly separated worlds, but one large flowing map.
Nintendo also revealed two new challenge modes; just like the challenging Coin Rush mode on NSMB 2 on the 3DS. NSMB U will feature Boost Rush, an auto scrolling set of levels that move faster as players perform better and go for better times and scores. In addition there will be another mode simply called Challenges. Challenges will be small, self-contained skill-based objectives for players to attempt. One example given at the press event was completing a level without ever touching the ground by bouncing off enemies heads and using power-ups.
Before going into more games Nintendo broke off into their newest non-gaming initiative with the Wii U, called Nintendo TVii. With the Wii and 3DS Nintendo has been dabbling more in non-gaming functions with the integration of Netflix and Nintendo Video on their devices. Nintendo TVii is a free service to make the Wii U into an all-in-one TV service with impressive scale.
Nintendo TVii complies all the programming on any television services the user subscribes to, such as Hulu and Netflix. Through their Wii U gamepad the player is able to see a full list of programming on any services the player regularly watches programming on. Nintendo described it as a “second screen experience” since everything is done on the Wii U gamepad. Nintendo TVii even personalizes the experience based on each individual Mii on the Wii U console, giving each member of the household a unique profile.
The real power of Nintendo TVii really shines with sports programming since while watching the game viewers can see updates, states and plays all displayed on the Wii U gamepad for easy reference.
After Nintendo TVii, Nintendo moved on to highlighting third-party games coming to the Wii U with some unexpected surprises. First they highlighted Japanese developers Platinum Games, the developer of Mad World for the Wii and Vanquish for the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360, with two new Wii U exclusive games. The first was a surprise announcement of Bayonetta 2, the follow-up to the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 cult-hit action game from the creator of Devil May Cry. The announcement was accompanied by a short teaser. Bayonetta 2 will be a Wii U exclusive, published by Nintendo.
Next platinum Games showed a short, updated trailer on the Pikmin-like Project P-100 game shown at E3 last June. At the end of the trailer they revealed that the game has a new final name; The Wonderful 101.
Capcom was next with the announcement that the much anticipated Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate would not only be coming to North America early next year on the 3DS, but will also have a Wii U version launch along with it. The most interesting part of this news is that players will be able to push their saved data from the 3DS, to the Wii U versions of the game and back again. This will allow players to take the game with them on the go and then play it in high definition at home on their television. This is the first game to announce such connectivity and it will be interesting to see if more games use this functionality.
Activision was the last developer to take the stage with a sizzle reel including footage of Skylanders Giants, Wipeout Season 3, 007 Legends and the Nintendo exclusive Transformers Prime, based on the cartoon series.
Finally there was a live demo of Call of Duty Black Ops 2 running on the Wii U hardware. Activision revealed that there will be Wii U exclusive functionality in the game using the Wii U gamepad. Players will be able to create custom class load-outs and call in airstrikes using the touch screen mid-game. The Wii U gamepad can also be used for local multiplayer on the same Wii U console without needing to play on the same screen by allowing one player to use the television while the other uses the screen built into the Wii U gamepad.
Activision also confirmed that there would be alternate control configurations by allowing players more traditional controls on the gamepad pro or motion controls with the Wii remote and nunchuck.
Nintendo closed the event promising the Wii U launch would be the strongest in the company’s history. While it was too soon to confirm which games would be available day-and-date with the console, they did confirm that there would be 50 games available for the Wii U between November 18 and March 30.