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Wii U Hands On Experience At E3

Jordan Austin, Eric Parra |
June 11, 2013 | 9:28 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

Nintendo showcased their system and new games at E3 (Jordan Austin)
Nintendo showcased their system and new games at E3 (Jordan Austin)
Early Tuesday morning, Nintendo substituted their traditional E3 Press Conference in favor of a special edition of their popular Nintendo Direct web series showing off their plans for the future.  

In it, a new iteration of the popular Super Smash Brothers series was shown off for the first time, revealing new characters like MEGAMAN and the Villager avatar character from Animal Crossing (and later an addition of the Wii Fit Trainer as well). There was also a showcase for Retro Studios’ latest project Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze,  Pokemon X and Pokemon Y revealed two new Pokemon along with a new Fairy Type, and some Pikmin 3, Mario Kart 8 footage which was playable along with the new Donkey Kong Country on the E3 show floor.

I was able to get hands-on time with all three, and all three seem to shaping up nicely.  Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze plays similar to previous iterations in the series, but the visual upgrades from Wii to Wii U enhance the overall atmosphere of the game.

Super Mario 3D World was also a newly announced game (Jordan Austin)
Super Mario 3D World was also a newly announced game (Jordan Austin)
Textures are more detailed, colors pop, and it runs consistently smooth.  Although there was only time to play through one level, it was just enough to showcase these improvements.  The camera is much more dynamic, allowing for many different viewpoints as you fly through the stages, and the controls are tight and responsive but the lack of gamepad support is unsettling.  The only available option was to play with a Wiimote and Nunchuk, as some of the commands required motion control.  This will probably cause frustration for those actually using the gamepad controller, since shaking the large controller can be dangerous. Aside from that, the game plays well and is quite polished for a game that still has four months of development left.

In the same vein, Mario Kart 8 also was quite polished, the art style of the game really responds to the upgrade in hardware the Wii U provides, as it was easily the best looking game of the three. So far the only game play enhancement I noticed was that a couple of the courses allowed you to ride up walls, but other than that it’s the same as its predecessor.  

Pikmin was one of Nintendo's big showcasings at this year's E3 (Jordan Austin)
Pikmin was one of Nintendo's big showcasings at this year's E3 (Jordan Austin)
The controls were somewhat frustrating, as the only option was a Wiimote steering wheel controller.  Steering the wheel would steer the car, but the turns weren’t very responsive.  I often found myself turning far too wide, and the only way to cut it sharp was to click the drift button, which felt really awkward as you have to reach into the center of the wheel with your finger to do so.  The representative at the booth wasn’t sure if the motion controls were still being fine-tuned, but I would recommend using a Wiimote/Nunchuk combo or preferably a Wii U pro controller.

Lastly was a new cooperative mode being introduced in Pikmin 3.  It consisted of two players using their Pikmin to gather supplies, harvest resources, and defeat enemies to build up their reserves.  Each round is timed, and at the end of the time limit each player’s reserves are added together and a bronze, silver, or gold rank is achieved.  It was a simple, straightforward game type that the representative described as a tool to introduce new players to the experience.  While this build of Pikmin 3 also had no gamepad support, the representative assured me the final product would.  

As of now, the gamepad’s screen functioned only as a map.  Once again, controller issues aside, Pikmin 3 in my opinion, had the most impressive showing.  New gametypes were playable, the lush outdoor landscape looked great, and the Wiimote/Nunchuk controls work well with this type of game.

In the end, each of the games were visually impressive and stick to what fans know and love.  While Pikmin brought more new gameplay mechanics to the table than Mario Kart 8 and Donkey Kong Country Tropial Freeze did, that isn’t a bad thing.  If Nintendo can sort out its controller functionality for its new console, all three games should become mainstays in any Nintendo fan’s gaming library.  


Be sure to follow Neontommy's E3 coverage here

You can contact staff reporter Jordan Austin here.



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