LOS ANGELES--After teasing it for months, Nintendo finally took the wraps off of its new console this morning. Dubbed the Wii U, the new device will bring a host of innovative new features to home console gaming, thanks to its revolutionary controller. The controller is centered on a 6.2-inch touch screen and will also boast twin circle pads, D pad, two shoulder buttons, twin triggers, face buttons, microphones, and an accelerometer, camera, and gyroscope.
These features, as well as the ability to use the controller's screen as a second display, have attracted a bevy of third-party development talent to the Wii U. THQ is readying Darksiders II as a launch title for the system and is also bringing Metro: Last Light to the platform. Namco Bandai's Tekken, Codemasters' Dirt, Ubisoft's Ghost Recon Online, Warner Bros.' Batman: Arkham City, and Tecmo Koei's Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge are also in development for the system, while Sega's Aliens: Colonial Marines is "being prototyped and considered" for the console.
However, other than a Super Smash Bros. title, Nintendo has been cagey about first-party support for the new console. During the Wii U section of its presentation, the game giant hinted at a Wii Sports-type game with some baseball and golf tech demos, as well as a Zelda title with a brief video clip showing a battle from Twilight Princess re-envisioned on the console. Another "conceptual idea" was called New Super Mario Bros. Mii, which saw players' Miis play alongside Mario.
To shed further light on its first-party plans, Nintendo is convening a much smaller gathering of the press inside the Los Angeles Convention Center this evening. In 2009, the Kyoto-based game giant used the event to announce the Wii game that would be called the Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, which it detailed at the same venue a year later.
[6:12] After a prolonged wait in a hallway, several hundred weary press members are finally ushered into a theater between the Los Angeles Convention Center's two main halls.
[6:15] A presenter reminds the audience that any videography or photography is strictly forbidden. Sorry for the lack of visuals, folks!
[6:16] The audience is at capacity, and excited since Nintendo legend Shigeru Miyamoto himself walked past the line before the show began, guaranteeing his attendance.
[6:17] The last few stragglers are taking their seats now, as Nintendo PR workers try and pack the house full.
[6:20] "Thanks for your patience--we're just about to start."
[6:20] And it begins!
[6:21] A presenter from Nintendo of America reminds everyone that tonight's presentation will be a longform presentation.
[6:22] In attendance is Miyamoto, Yoshiaki Koizumi, and Eiji Aonuma from Nintendo.
[6:22] Miyamoto takes the stage and jokes about how tired he is via translator Bill Trinnen.
[6:23] A Japanese journalist starts talking on his phone and gets some dirty looks from the crowd.
[6:24] Miyamoto says the focus for tonight's presentation will be the 3DS, not the Wii U, eliciting a few groans.
[6:25] He starts promoting the 3DS' eShop, asking if anyone had downloaded the 10 3D game trailers from the eShop. Only a few hands go up.
[6:25] First up: A trailer for the Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time 3D.
[6:26] Link gallops around on a horse on a green field as Miyamoto reminds everyone the framerate is improved and the textures have been redone.
[6:27] "I played it myself recently, and found it quite refreshing. I was amazed how much I had forgotten. I literally stopped several times and said, 'Oh yeah, I wrote that!'" jokes Miyamoto.
[6:28] He mentions the hint movie feature the game will have, which will help players finish the game
[6:28] He doesn't want to give away the answers straight up with these movies, though, so the hint movies just offer a snippet which will act as a clue for the player.
[6:28] Another cell phone goes off. More dirty looks.
[6:29] Miyamoto says that there is enough new content that he hopes people who played Ocarina of Time will play it again when it releases next weekend.
[6:29] Now it's time for Starfox 64 3D, and another trailer.
[6:31] Video of the space-dogfighting game rolls as Miyamoto emphasizes the style of flying in the game, and how it's his favorite component.
[6:31] He says the audience for game is split between those who prefer an inverted axis and a regular control axis.
[6:32] Miyamoto hopes someday there can be a unified standard for control schemes.
[6:32] Sorry, control axis.
[6:34] He now talks about how the 3DS' gyroscope allows for new controls for both Starfox 64 3D and Ocarina of Time.
[6:35] For Starfox, they developed a hybrid scheme which has players use the gyroscope for up and down motion and the circle pad for side-to-side motions.
[6:35] Next up this year is Super Mario 3DS…
[6:36] …or not, as Miyamoto defers to Koizumi, who will present later.
[6:37] Also due out this year is Mario Kart for the 3DS, which is running at 60 frames per second on 3DS on the show floor.
[6:37] The carts have small wings in the game, which made Miyamoto want to call the game "Mario Kite," he jokes.
[6:38] Retro Studios is helping out with the game. A member of the shop stands up and gets a round of applause.
[6:38] That's it for this year's 3DS lineup, says Miyamoto.
[6:40] He explains the 3DS' depth slider is there for players' comfort and convenience, allowing them to play in 2D if they want to.
[6:41] He asks how many people are using the 3DS StreetPass. Virtually every hand goes up.
[6:41] He is hoping that everyone in attendance is getting his special private Mii.
[6:42] That's it for Miyamoto. Now Eiji Aonuma takes the stage to talk about Skyward Sword.
[6:44] Aonuma once again pimps the hint movies in Ocarina of Time 3DS.
[6:44] He urges everyone to retry the Water Temple level.
[6:46] Now it's Skyward Sword time, with Aonuma referring to a boss fight demo that's on the show floor. A few people in the audience have already beaten it.
[6:46] He says the fact the boss has a sword really shows off the game's sword-fighting mechanic.
[6:47] Other than flying through the air and swordplay, there are a lot of other gameplay elements from the game he wants to show off today.
[6:48] Exploration will be a big part of Skyward Sword, with players using their swords to find elements in the environment.
[6:48] They begin a Japanese demo of the game, which is the second area players encounter in the game.
[6:49] Two members of the race in the area, called the Monmas, are talking about a key they have for a nearby temple.
[6:51] Phi, the spirit that lives in Link's sword, helpfully directs the player to find the pieces of the key to the temple. Link uses his sword like some kind of medieval metal detector, waving it around as it beeps faster and faster the closer he gets to a piece of the key.
[6:51] One piece of the key is atop a tower which Link must fell by picking a nearby bomb flower and rolling it down a hill.
[6:52] The next key piece is on the other side of a wall. Unfortunately, so are several sword-wielding opponents, whom Link quickly dispatches.
[6:52] Another wall, another piece. Perky music plays in the background.
[6:53] More bomb flower-tossing takes down another wall.
[6:55] Link is also rocking a pair of metal gauntlets that help him dig.
[6:55] Skipping ahead, Skyward Sword's overall plot is about the forging of a master sword.
[6:55] In a new forest setting, Link activates a siren power which turns the woods into some kind of alternate reality.
[6:56] To leave this alternate dimension, Link has to collect a series of items.
[6:57] This world is also complicated by the fact that Link had to use his sword to access the dimension, meaning he is unarmed.
[6:57] This puts him at a disadvantage when facing some hulking guardians.
[6:58] Luckily they can be immobilized with some tear-shaped items--for a limited time. A flower on the side of the screen acts as a timer, with its petals disappearing as time runs out.
[6:59] The terrain mirrors that of the real-world level the dimension overlays.
[7:00] Aonuma explains that he wanted the environments between dungeons to be as interesting and interactive as the dungeons themselves.
[7:02] Since players will interact with the environments multiple times, he stresses that knowledge of them will pay off.
[7:02] Link meets his end, prompting several members of the audience to walk out.
[7:03] Yoshiaki Koizumi is up now to talk about Super Mario for the 3DS.
[7:03] Koizumi reminds everyone that he worked on Super Mario Galaxy and its sequel.
[7:04] Super Mario is a working title, as Nintendo hasn't decided on a final name for the game yet.
[7:04] "It's all Mr. Miyamoto's fault," he jokes.
[7:05] Now it's time for a demo.
[7:06] It begins with Mario walking through a green level littered with gold coins and the odd opponent.
[7:07] Koizumi said his mission was to create the "most Mario-like Mario game" he could on the 3DS.
[7:08] He shows off the dash feature, which is the same as that found in 2D Mario games.
[7:09] Mario nearly falls of a cliff but recovers. The crowd applauses loudly. Koizumi explains that the game has as slower fall speed which allows players to save themselves more easily.
[7:09] The game's levels will also end with flags, not stars.
[7:10] Now he's on a level which features huge spikes adorned with smaller spikes which thrust right towards the screen. He says the effect is better appreciated in 3D.
[7:11] Now it's boss battle time, with Mario facing off against a huge red and yellow turtle which comes at him with a spinning attack.
[7:11] As with smaller turtle opponents, Mario attacks by stomping.
[7:12] Now it's onto a side-scrolling page which features some classic Mario gameplay augmented by 3D flourishes such as items flying out of the background.
[7:13] Mario narrowly completes the level, getting more applause.
[7:14] Super Mario 3DS will also include a top-down Zelda-style scrolling dungeon style level in honor of Zelda's 25th Anniversary.
[7:15] Mario bounces on a trampoline right towards the camera. There is a pattern here.
[7:15] He must dodge a series of fire gushers that shoot right towards…well, you get the idea.
[7:16] Koizumi wraps up to applause.
[7:16] Miyamoto takes the mic again to introduce Luigi's Mansion 2, which he doesn't expect out this year--but in early 2012.
[7:17] He also name-drops Pikmin, which he forbids anyone to discuss today, to much laughter.
[7:18] He says that the very first game tested with a 3DS screen was the GameCube version of Luigi's Mansion.
[7:18] Luigi's Mansion 2 is being developed by Canadian studio Next Level.
[7:19] Miyamoto is overseeing the project, even though it's not being developed at EAD, Nintendo's main R&D facility.
[7:20] Now it's time for an exclusive Luigi's Mansion 2 video.
[7:22] It shows Mario's brother sporting his vacuum weapon talking to professor Elvin Gadd.
[7:22] Using the X button, players will be able to interact with environments.
[7:22] Various stages are shown, with Luigi hunting ghosts using mirrors.
[7:23] Miyamoto calls it "half-action, half-puzzle."
[7:24] In this new game, players will use Luigi's light to flash and stun ghosts to suck them up with the vacuum.
[7:25] And that's it for the presentation. A question and answer session now kicks off. No Wii U questions are allowed.
[7:25] Another phone goes off.
[7:26] First question asks whether lack of classic Nintendo franchises on the 3DS is hurting its sales.
[7:28] Miyamoto says that there are still mass-market titles like Nintendogs. He also thinks some mass-market abilities such as Face Raiders and AR games are built right into the system.
[7:28] Miyamoto says that his focus now is to bring "traditional gaming experiences" to the 3DS.
[7:29] However, there are more casual titles and expanded titles in the works, and will be announced later.
[7:30] Next question asks about whether Miyamoto finds boys and girls play games differently.
[7:30] Miyamoto pauses for a while.
[7:31] Miyamoto says that a lot of women play Mario games, but that anything that has "Mario Galaxy" in the title sounds "male."
[7:31] He also said the original Luigi's Mansion was too scary for some girls.
[7:32] After a laugh, Miyamoto says that he generally doesn't try and make games specifically for boys or girls, he just tries to make good games.
[7:32] He did say that the original Starfox took a male dream--flying a fighter jet--to a more general audience.
[7:33] Koizumi chimes in, saying that Mario Galaxy's male bent might come from it being modeled on his own boyhood dream of flying in space. He says he new Mario game will be more accessible.
[7:33] Next question is direct: Is Skyward Sword Nintendo's last game for the Wii?
[7:34] Nervous laughs all around the panel.
[7:35] Miyamoto says that he feels that his responsibility is to develop for the newest platform, so Skyward Sword will be one of the last titles for the Wii from his team. He does say that other developers are working on Wii games.
[7:36] Aonuma says he hopes that Skyward Sword "will be the kind of game that can close the Wii chapter of the series."
[7:37] Next questioner asks about what kind of balancing tweaks are being made for Super Mario on the 3DS in terms of running speed and manuevering.
[7:38] Koizumi says that 3D games have to orient players in their environment, so sometimes they have to be slowed down a bit.
[7:38] However, some parts of the game will be "very challenging."
[7:38] Last question: What happened to the Wii Vitality Sensor.
[7:39] "Next question" says Miyamoto in English, to a lot of laughter.
[7:39] He then begins a more detailed response in Japanese.
[7:40] "So development on that has continued, but what we found is that the device has a hard time performing consistently in a variety of challenges and environments." As such it's not ready for market just yet.
[7:41] One "last last" bonus question is about the Tanooki suit, which apparently doesn't have the same flight powers as in past games.
[7:43] Koizumi takes this one, saying that flying on a 3D screen presents some challenges, so they had to bend the rules a little bit.
[7:45] Takashi Tezuka, who worked on the original Tanooki suit in Super Mario Bros. 3 takes the stage. He explains that the suit's raccoon tail looked so good fluttering that they decided to just make him fly. Massive applause.
[7:46] In closing, Miyamoto mentions that it's the 10th anniversary of Pikmin, saying he wanted to release the game this year.
[7:47] He now says that he'd like to see Pikmin appear on the Wii U, "so we're gonna make it on that." Huge applause.
[7:48] "Since we've been working on Pikmin for the Wii for a while, maybe it won't be too long before we see it on Wii U."
[7:49] He emphasizes that Nintendo hasn't really officially announced any titles for the Wii U. The corporate side wants to stick to the company line, but personally he just wanted to announced Pikmin.
[7:49] and that's it!
For more info on Nintendo's latest console, the Wii U, be sure to check out our Nintendo Wii U: Everything You Need To Know feature or watch Nintendo's E3 2011 Press Conference to see the full reveal!