The Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles is the world’s premier trade show for computer and video games and related products. The games that your kids beg for have their beginning at this huge event. This year, I was able to stop in at E3 for a bit and try out a few games. Here are some highlights that I know you’ll be hearing about in the very near future.
The Wii U. Yep. It’s the Wii craze all over again. The Wii U is Nintendo’s successor to the Wii and it comes with at least one new gimmick: a controller with a touch screen. The console itself is actually a pretty sizeable upgrade, with new hardware that can push the type of pixels you’d normally see in a PS3 or 360 game. In fact, many games that have already been released on the other two consoles are being released again for the Wii U, modified to take advantage of the new controller. While the Wii U isn’t necessarily something I’m personally excited about: any game I played on it had me looking up and down from one screen to the next, focusing on the gimmick rather than the gameplay, there will be a big demand for it this fall. I do like that Nintendo pushes family oriented games, with many titles safe for kid consumption, but I feel like we’ve seen the touch screen somewhere before… on another device…with a fruity logo… and much cheaper games…
The Wii U will launch with NintendoLand: a fun and lively theme park filled with 12 different attractions, each with its own take on a Nintendo franchise. Each attraction features unique game-play experiences made possible by the Wii U GamePad controller. Depending on the attraction, players can compete solo or against other players, or even team up to play cooperatively. Up to five players can participate in dynamic multiplayer modes in select attractions. The experiences change every time, depending on whether players are using the GamePad, holding a Wii Remote or just watching others play on the TV screen. While not confirmed officially, NintendoLand looks to be the Wii U’s version of Wii Sports, the base game that nearly every Wii U will have available. I had the opportunity to play a few of the minigames in NintendoLand and really had only one thought the entire time: these feel like iPhone games. The mechanics are simplistic and based on touch. However, if this retails for $60, that’s 10x the cost for a very similar experience on my phone or iPad.
The title that everyone will be looking for this fall when the Wii U launches is, of course, Mario. New Super Mario Bros. U (say that three times fast) is a new, side-scrolling adventure featuring Mario, Luigi, Toad … and your Mii character. The four player co-op can be fun, but if you’ve played New Super Mario Bros. on the Wii, it’s pretty much the same experience. A nice catch for parents, however, is that kids can play solely on their Wii U controller. This means that when the Bengals game is on, you can watch that while your child plays Mario on the controller. A nice touch, but with no price point announced yet for the Wii U as a whole, one wonders if it will be worth it.
A surprise at Nintendo’s E3 booth this year was a game with the working title Project P-100. What initially caught my eye was the game’s art style. It’s stylistic take on super heroes is well suited for the Wii-U. It’s an action game where you command a group of heroes that form items to beat up giant robots. Pretty straight forward stuff. Controlling a mass of heroes at one time created quite a bit of fun. While this title will probably be under the radar for some time, expect to hear about it more as we get closer to Christmas.
Lastly, a game that I didn’t have a chance to see on the Nintendo show floor, but have heard great things: Lego City: Undercover. This is the only Lego game exclusive to the Wii U and may bring back memories. No Batman, LOTR or Pirates license here, folks. This is pure, unadulterated LEGO. Players assume the identity of Chase McCain, an undercover detective armed with clever disguises. The mission is to put a stop to the fiendish Rex Fury and end his crime wave in LEGO City. As players run, drive and even fly through the city, they’ll use the Wii U GamePad controller as a new police gadget. This is going to be one of those games that every kid will want. It looks like a ton of fun.
It’s pretty obvious that Nintendo will dominate this coming Christmas, with a new piece of hardware and a new mario game, it will be hard for them to go wrong. However, I must say, that out of all the kid friendly games on the E3 floor, Nintendo was the least impressive. Next week we’ll take a look at some of the standouts. Until then.
Cheers and happy gaming,