The E3 2011 Report: Nintendo

Nintendo has got class. Sony starts it's show with flashy techno beats. Microsoft, of course, goes with as much pop music as it can. Nintendo on the other hand started out its E3 presentation with a live orchestra playing nothing other than an impressive Medley from the Legend of Zelda series. As far as presentations go, it was a unique way to start. Normally the crowd is talkative and noisy, but there wasn't a voice heard over the orchestra as they played. It was a unique way to start out, and it helped set Nintendo apart from the loud noisy and almost overwhelming presentations of Microsoft and Sony with a memorable kickoff.

The Good:
Nintendo pretty much nailed what an E3 presentation is supposed to be this year. They started off by announcing that a decent portion of the rest of years publicity will be devoted to celebrating the 25th anniversary of The Legend of Zelda. Not only will this celebration feature a full orchestra performing Zelda medleys around the world in a series of concerts, but two album releases and numerous rereleases of older Zelda titles (some for free), all of which will come together with the release of the latest Zelda title Skyward Sword later this year. All in all it was a very impressive opener, complete with Shigeru Miyamoto onstage (with translator) miming actions from the Zelda series such as opening a chest while the orchestra played the associated music in the background.

From there Nintendo kept things rolling with an impressive lineup of up-and-coming titles, both known and unknown. The greatest surprises (judging by the response from the crowd) was the revealing of a new Mario Kart 3DS (made by none other then Metroid Prime developer Retro Studios) and a new Super Mario for the 3DS (complete with the return of the famous Tanuki suit).

Of course, then Nintendo dropped a few more bombs on the crowd, starting with the reveal of their new console: the WiiU. The WiiU is the first of the coming tide of next-generation systems, sporting visuals and HD capacity well past the current generation and a clever new controller with a built in touchscreen. Even better was the announcement that all the current Wii games and Wiimotes are compatible with the new system, with the added bonus that all WiiU games will work with the older Wiimotes, so if you don't feel like shelling out extra money for three more new controllers, you're in luck. You won't have to.

The good news didn't stop their either. Nintendo announced a full suite of 3rd Party games coming to the WiiU for the hardcore gamer crowd, ranging from Darksiders II to Battlefield 3. It remains to be seen how that will play out, but as Nintendo repeatedly mentioned, the WiiU is about bringing the casual players (Wii) and the hardcore players (U) together under one console. They also promised several of their own IPs for the new system including a new Smash Brothers title (as well as one for the 3DS).

The Bad:
Nintendo could have done a lot better of a job showing of their new console. Questions and confusion still abounded after the initial presentation. While those who were on hand could simply go play the demo units on the floor, most of E3's viewing crowd online was left completely flummoxed. Even now almost three days later, many people online are still completely confused by the presentation of the WiiU, thinking it a TabletPC, a portable handheld, or even just a new controller without hardware. While the presentation of the WiiU was alright, there were a lot of details that would have been very helpful to mention, if only to clear up rampant confusion that reigned the moment the presentation was over.

The Ugly:
At this point, there is only one complaint that I would make, and that is that many of Nintendo's well loved titles still have yet to see the light of day in almost a decade. There was no new F-Zero title. No hint of a new Metroid. Not even a mention of a sequel to last years massively successful Donkey Kong Country Returns (which has sold just a few thousand shy of 5 million copies in under a year). Really Nintendo, do we really need five or six new Mario games in-between each Metroid title?

Hands down, Nintendo dominated the E3 presentations this year. Even with a lack of some titles, the material they showed off and the reveal of their new console, alongside the 25th anniversary of Zelda and it's accompanying concert, was enough to excite even the most jaded of fans. Between Mario Kart, Smash Brothers and Battlefield 3, Nintendo had a whole range of entirely game related material to show off, and that's exactly what they did. No awkward celebrity stars pretending to play with motion controls. No thinly veiled stock pitches aimed at shareholders rather then gamers. Nintendo was exactly what E3 is about: games for people that play them.

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