Finally, this is the one I was looking forward to.
I've gotta say, the conference left me a bit underwhelmed. Maybe because I'd followed all the reports of those rumors for the last month, which told us Project Cafe would feature a tablet-like controller with two analog sticks, four face buttons, two shoulder buttons and two triggers, a 6-inch touchscreen and a front facing camera. All correct. Weird. They said it would be an HD system, more powerful than a PS3, and that might actually be true. It's certainly no less powerful than one.
I was looking forward to seeing those rumors explained in a way that finally made sense, but when I saw the new controller, I realized it. There was no explanation coming. That really is what the new controller looks like. And while I left the conference feeling a bit unconvinced, especially considering the lack of first-party WiiU software announced, I've slowly been coming around to the idea. Watching videos, seeing it in motion, hearing about the possibilities and considering the uses for it that I would like to see myself, I've realized that this could be a very cool machine.
I'm not a big proponent of graphical horsepower, but the Wii has been showing it's age the last couple years and this update is definitely needed. It's also nice to see Nintendo settle back down on the couch this generation and give us an interface that lets us relax and have fun, while Microsoft flails around playing Sesame Street.
I was surprised at how much Nintendo didn't bring up at this year's conference though. I thought most certainly the WiiU's ability to mimic a DS would be shown off. It's great to have a touch screen in your hands, but they couldn't have missed the fact that it can serve as a bottom screen to your living room's top screen, letting you download or plug in your DS games. I would have liked to hear from Reggie or Iwata themselves that the system is full 1080p with 25gig Blu-Ray discs, instead of hunting that information down.
I was also a bit surprised at the name. I know Wii is a recognized brand that many non-gaming types can identify, but this is the first generation they haven't named their system something unique, and just like the 3DS, people emerged from the conference confused over whether it was a new system or a new controller for an old system. It can't be good for sales for so many people to wonder if this system is even a system at all.
Don't let my criticism fool you though, I'm actually pretty excited to get my hands on it. Imagining the simple potential of taking on-screen information like hearts and rupees and the map and which weapon you're wielding, and putting it all in your hands so that the game can just punch you in the face with beautiful HD visuals? That excites me. I hated the look of that giant Wiimote on the screen in the first Skyward Sword trailer last year. It took away from my excitement for the game. I'd love to play games that just let the visuals shine, without anything getting in the way. And really, since I lost all that weight, I'm far too energetic to stay in one place for hours playing a long campaign. I like the idea of going downstairs with it, going out on the deck.. I'm not sure how far it'll reach, but the potential for awesome is there. I also really like the idea that instead of appealing to casuals, the WiiU is creating a situation where someone like you or I could play a traditional game in a living room with other people around, unassumingly. Casuals could spot what you're playing and their interest could grow, without you having to force it on them.
WiiU aside, I found the presentation a bit dry. The Zelda concert thing was an interesting idea, and I hope it arrives here. Though more popular concerts than this often don't. I'll be picking up that Zelda Wiimote when it comes out, because I still don't have any MotionPlus options. Kid Icarus, Star Fox, Mario Kart, all great games but they weren't news. Luigi's Mansion was interesting, though I never played the first one. Mario 3DS looked really good, especially with the return of the Tanooki suit, but that was really it.
I suppose it's asking too much for every E3 to be like 2010, when they hit us in the face with a new Donkey Kong, a new Kirby, just one awesome game after another. But when the conference ends and I discover only later that we're indeed getting Rhythm Heaven Wii, "Kirby Wii", and Professor Layton 4. Or when you don't hear a word about Dragon Quest X, or the trio of Wii-RPGs that should be coming soon (The Last Story, Earth Seeker and Xenoblade Chronicles), I just start to feel like opportunities were missed. Why was so much time spent discussing a console that we won't be getting until after E3 2012? Is that the Nintendo way?
Oh well. I suppose it's enough to be happy that the WiiU is coming, and that it will eventually have very pretty Nintendo titles. In the end, that's all I really want.