Nintendo Wii U Developer Conference E3 2012

Apparently, in the world of Nintendo, one press conference is not enough. In their eyes, they need three. Last night after the show floor closed for the day, Nintendo held another conference and question and answer session just for their Wii U. I went into the conference assuming (go on ahead and laugh) that it would be about the tech specs and functionality of the Wii U. Oh no. Instead, I received another 90 minutes about Nintendo Land. Can you feel my excitement? You should.

For most of the conference, we got to see a live demonstration of the main theme park area, which functions a lot like the Miiverse they presented yesterday. The only difference is that when you play Nintendo Land, everyone you see at the theme park is everyone who is playing Nintendo Land at that moment in time. If they’re wandering around the main area, then that’s what they are doing in their living rooms. If they’re clustered around an attraction–like the Miis around game billboards in the Miiverse–then they’re playing that attraction. The theme park zone lets players interact with other Miis and make new friends with those who have similar gaming interests. (*coughcoughHomecoughcough*) There are also objects in the theme park that Miis can interact with as collectibles or to open up a secret attraction, such as the F-Zero racing game the demonstrators opened up for us.

Most of the attractions–mini-games–have a single-player mode, but not all do. For example, Animal Crossing Sweet Dayo is multiplayer only, much like Luigi’s Ghost Mansion. The Legend of Zelda Battle Quest, however, has a single-player mode. Donkey Kong Crash Course only has a single-player mode, as it’s an obstacle course ala Donkey Kong style. For the multiplayer attractions, the courses adjust in difficulty and spanse in accordance with the number of players. So if you’re going in with just two people, you won’t have the same number of enemies as you would with four people.

The last 20 minutes were devoted to showing off a bit more of New Super Mario Bros. U and how the Miiverse message boards work with it. As said in the main press conference, players will be able to leave comments about where they are in the game, and these comments can be viewed by the player in the overworld map of New Super Mario Bros. U. In addition to that, though, Nintendo said that throughout the game, players will be asked what they think about the game, and these messages will be posted when other players–not just your friends–have a similar experience. For example, if you die in the same spot over and over, the game may ask how you’re feeling about that. After you post your response, you will see what other players who had the same experience said about it. They assured us that Nintendo will be moderating these comments for profanity and for spoilers. They greatly emphasized that they do not want this social messaging system to contain any spoilers, no matter how small they are.

New Super Mario Bros. Wii U

Finally, they moved on to the gameplay. The game looks very similar to New Super Mario Bros. Wii, but the GamePad creates a very interesting feature. The multiplayer aspect of the gameplay is all about collaboration and/or competition, and the GamePad player is essentially the Dungeon Master for how the game will go. It is up to the GamePad player to add “boost blocks” to the game field to help the other players make certain jumps or prevent them from falling or help them get out of a nest of enemies. If the GamePad-wielding Dungeon Master wants to turn the game into a more competitive faire, then the blocks can be turned into coin blocks, forcing players to forego the all-for-one mentality in order to fill their pockets. As much as I hate platformers, even I admit it would be fun to play as the Dungeon Master.

If you don’t want to play with other people, you can still play as a single-player with the GamePad only.

In the brief Q&A session that followed, Nintendo did not release a price or a release date for the console or any of the games. They said that they would like to release Nintendo Land at the same time as the console, maybe as a bundle like they did with Wii Sports and later Wii Sports Resort, but at this time they don’t know if that will be possible. They did, however, assure everyone that all game saves AND game purchases tied to your Wii CAN be transferred over to the Wii U. This is huge, considering that DSiWare has always been tied to one DSi. Now, will it be easy to transfer the saves and purchases to a Wii U? That’s a different question entirely, and the answer is most likely probably not. But hey, the ability will be there, and at this point, that’s all that matters.

I’m still not jazzed for the Wii U, but it’s not that surprising as Nintendo’s core games rarely speak to me anymore. But how about all of you? Are you getting excited for the Wii U?