Nintendo became the Grinch that stole the video game equivalent of Christmas from the other major video game companies on Tuesday morning. Sure, Sony, Microsoft and others had plenty of cool stuff to show at their respective press conferences, but just a couple of hours before the E3 show floor officially opened for business, Nintendo blew the roof off the Nokia Center by announcing a brand new Wii 2.
No, “Wii U.” That’s the awkward, but now official name for the new system, which is scheduled to drop sometime in 2012. The main attraction of the Wii U is the controller – which boils down to being Nintendo’s version of an iPad. It boasts more features than a luxury car -- a 6.2-inch touch screen, with buttons, two analog sticks, a D-pad, an inward-facing camera, a rumble feature, a stylus, microphone and speakers.
Nintendo offered plenty of possibilities for the Wii U. They showed a golf game where you’d be able to use the original Wii controller as a club, but also put the new pad controller on the floor to serve as a virtual tee. You’ll also be able to transfer a game you're playing on TV on the controller’s display, freeing up the TV to be used for something else.
The experience of Wii U will be “deeper and wider,” said Satoru Iwata, Nintendo’s president, a comment that had those in attendance in laughter.
Other good news, however, is that it utilizes high-definition graphics–an aspect that the Wii sorely lacked – and is backwards compatible with the original Wii. Questions remain before we’re totally sold on it (Nintendo was mum on the system’s price) but the U looks like an A thus far.
Familiar Nintendo Faces
Though Wii U overshadowed the rest of the conference, Nintendo had some other important reveals at E3. For the Legend of Zelda’s 25th anniversary, a Zelda game will hit every console this year, including a remake of “Ocarina of Time” for the 3DS and a brand new “Skyward Sword” game for the Wii.
The Mario Brothers also returned, both for a regular Mario adventure and Super Mario Kart on the 3DS. Meanwhile, “Luigi’s Mansion 2” was also announced.
Going Batty For Batman
For our money, “Batman: Arkham Asylum” was the best superhero video game of all time, but that could change very soon. How? Rocksteady Games wowed E3 with a demo of the sequel – “Batman: Arkham City.” Unlike the smaller, claustrophobic halls of the Asylum, Arkham City is a sprawling, dirty, gothic-style playground that Batman can explore from the rooftops to the sewers with a series of new moves and abilities.
And this time you can switch from the bat to the cat. That’s right, Arkham City, lets players take a break from Batman to play as the
mischievous Catwoman, who has her own style of feral-like combat–slashing at enemies with claws and knocking them down with a whip.
Surprisingly enough, WB Games showed off at second Batman-related title at E3 in the form of “Gotham City Imposters” - a team-based first-person shooter that revolves around two gangs (one based on Batman and the other on the Joker) fighting each other in Gotham City locales. Think “Brink” with a comic book setting and a sense of humor.
We still haven’t seen much from the multiplayer mode, but Activision gave us a heavy dose of the single player from “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3” during a 20-minute preview session at E3. They played two levels –The most compelling of the gameplay was a scene in which a special forces underwater team (Seal Team 6, perhaps?) use explosives to force a submarine to emerge before invading the sub to hijack it’s missiles.
We also saw a map called "Mind the gap" that ended with a chase through a subway station and a massive derailment. It’s clear that “Modern Warfare 3” doesn’t reinvent the wheel – we say plenty examples of the series’ love for huge set pieces and explosions every several seconds. But, oh, what pretty explosions Call of Duty makes.
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