Zelda


Nintendo has been milking its impressive stable of mega-popular franchises for so long now that we really shouldn't be surprised that today's Nintendo Direct online video presentation was devoted almost entirely to sequels, remakes, and rereleases of popular franchises. Still, it's a bit incredible how much Nintendo is leaning on established properties, rather than new game ideas, to populate the software market for the 3DS and Wii U.

Of course, a generation of fans who grew up on these Nintendo games aren't likely to care too much. Nintendo announced a direct sequel to the SNES classic The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past for the 3DS today, using the same familiar overhead perspective and established Hyrulian world, while infusing it with new mechanics like the ability for Link to become a 2D drawing and scoot along walls. There are precious few additional details about the game, but I'm willing to bet a good portion of those reading this are ready to preorder for the holiday release right now just because, hey, it's a freaking Link to the Past sequel!

Many Nintendo console owners will likely have similar feelings about the new portable Yoshi's Island game Nintendo announced today. And the new 3DS Mario Party title, the new 3DS Mario Golf game, the new 3DS entry in the Mario and Luigi RPG series, the new 3DS Mario and Donkey Kong: March of the Minis game, the new 3DS Professor Layton game, the 3DS remake of Donkey Kong Country Returns, and Atlus' new 3DS Shin Megami Tensei game. Not to mention the new Wii U Pikmin game, which are now set for August 4, and the new Wario mini-game collection, Game & Wario, now set for June 23.

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I'll get those Wii U owners an HD Zelda re-release. Wii U owners LOVE HD Zelda re-releases.

Nintendo President Satoru Iwata used a direct-to-consumer Web video presentation today to talk about the company's near-future plans for the Wii U. While the presentation included many new details about the system's upcoming features and games, not many of those announcements could be considered very surprising.

On the features front, Iwata promised that the Wii U would be getting two new system updates in the spring and summer. These updates will include improvements to the Wii U's software launch times and faster switching between system menus, Iwata said. Those have been major gripes for Wii U users so far, but our tests found the loading times were actually comparable to launch titles for other systems.

Nintendo will also be bringing some important updates to the surprisingly robust and interesting Miiverse social networking service. These new features include a browser-based mobile interface, user-created community discussion threads, and a more-robust message filtering system, all of which should help make the service even more useful.

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Tomorrow, Nintendo is set to give us the final details on what we can expect from the Wii U's launch later this year. Yesterday and today, Ars readers shared their thoughts on what they want to hear from Nintendo, and what (if anything) could convince them to purchase the system, either at launch or after.

The more than 200 comments we received ran the gamut from Nintendo haters to self-described fanboys, with plenty of people falling somewhere in between. Here are some of the most interesting, thought-provoking, or just representative comments from the Ars readership.

Fool me once, shame on me...

By far the most common sentiment among the Ars readership was to hold off on the Wii U simply because Nintendo had failed to deliver a compelling experience with the original Wii. Commenter superslav23 said the experience of the Wii taught him to expect "the same games slightly changed to use the gimmicky tablet." damarv said he loved the Wii's motion controls as a concept, but complained that "rather than improving my physical abilities, I ended up jiggling a controller around."

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Tomorrow, Nintendo is set to give us the final details on what we can expect from the Wii U's launch later this year. Yesterday and today, Ars readers shared their thoughts on what they want to hear from Nintendo, and what (if anything) could convince them to purchase the system, either at launch or after.

The more than 200 comments we received ran the gamut from Nintendo haters to self-described fanboys, with plenty of people falling somewhere in between. Here are some of the most interesting, thought-provoking, or just representative comments from the Ars readership.

Fool me once, shame on me...

By far the most common sentiment among the Ars readership was to hold off on the Wii U simply because Nintendo had failed to deliver a compelling experience with the original Wii. Commenter superslav23 said the experience of the Wii taught him to expect "the same games slightly changed to use the gimmicky tablet." damarv said he loved the Wii's motion controls as a concept, but complained that "rather than improving my physical abilities, I ended up jiggling a controller around."

Read 19 remaining paragraphs | Comments


Tomorrow, Nintendo is set to give us the final details on what we can expect from the Wii U's launch later this year. Yesterday and today, Ars readers shared their thoughts on what they want to hear from Nintendo, and what (if anything) could convince them to purchase the system, either at launch or after.

The more than 200 comments we received ran the gamut from Nintendo haters to self-described fanboys, with plenty of people falling somewhere in between. Here are some of the most interesting, thought-provoking, or just representative comments from the Ars readership.

Fool me once, shame on me...

By far the most common sentiment among the Ars readership was to hold off on the Wii U simply because Nintendo had failed to deliver a compelling experience with the original Wii. Commenter superslav23 said the experience of the Wii taught him to expect "the same games slightly changed to use the gimmicky tablet." damarv said he loved the Wii's motion controls as a concept, but complained that "rather than improving my physical abilities, I ended up jiggling a controller around."

Read 19 remaining paragraphs | Comments


Tomorrow, Nintendo is set to give us the final details on what we can expect from the Wii U's launch later this year. Yesterday and today, Ars readers shared their thoughts on what they want to hear from Nintendo, and what (if anything) could convince them to purchase the system, either at launch or after.

The more than 200 comments we received ran the gamut from Nintendo haters to self-described fanboys, with plenty of people falling somewhere in between. Here are some of the most interesting, thought-provoking, or just representative comments from the Ars readership.

Fool me once, shame on me...

By far the most common sentiment among the Ars readership was to hold off on the Wii U simply because Nintendo had failed to deliver a compelling experience with the original Wii. Commenter superslav23 said the experience of the Wii taught him to expect "the same games slightly changed to use the gimmicky tablet." damarv said he loved the Wii's motion controls as a concept, but complained that "rather than improving my physical abilities, I ended up jiggling a controller around."

Read 19 remaining paragraphs | Comments


After about a decade of relative dominance with the NES and Super NES, followed by a decade of relative also-ran status with the Nintendo 64 and GameCube, Nintendo shocked the gaming world with the stratospheric success of the Wii. With a rock-bottom price, innovative new motion-sensitive controller, and the easy-to-understand, everyman appeal of games like Wii Sports and Wii Fit, the system went on to ship nearly 100 million units worldwide. But for its wide commercial success, many long-time gamers quickly grew disillusioned with the Wii, thanks to underpowered hardware that couldn't handle HD graphics and a software library that came to be dominated by nearly skill-free, "waggle-the-controller" mini-game collections.

With the Wii U, Nintendo seems to be trying to recapture the original Wii's sales magic while at the same time mollifying some of the lifelong gamers disillusioned by its predecessor. Instead of the motion-sensitive remote, the new control gimmick is a touchscreen tablet controller that can be used to play games while the TV is otherwise occupied, or to present secret information to only one player during multiplayer games. For more traditional gamers, the company is stressing the system's long-overdue HD graphics support, greater support for downloadable games, an Xbox 360-style controller option, and Wii U conversions for titles ranging from Batman: Arkham City to the upcoming Aliens: Colonial Marines.

On Thursday, Nintendo seems set to finally nail down the details of the promised "holiday season" launch and price point for the Wii U at a New York press event, officially ushering in the "next generation" of home game consoles. The announcement will likely also include the final details of the system's hardware specifications and which titles we can expect during the months-long "launch window." (We'll be there to liveblog the proceedings.)

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Replace that bulky Wii U GamePad with a Wii Remote in this picture and tell me it doesn't look more comfortable...

At Nintendo's E3 press conference this morning, Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime said NintendoLand would serve as the new system's version of Wii Sports; a killer app that could immediately convey the appeal of the system's new controller to a skeptical audience. And in fact, NintendoLand does a good job of demonstrating what can be done with the touchscreen-equipped GamePad, but I'm not sure it will attract the same, wide audience of non-traditional gamers that Wii Sports did.

The main problem with the five NintendoLand mini-games the company is showing at E3 is that they tend to require quite a bit of explanation to understand. Take Animal Crossing: Sweet Day, a slightly tweaked version of the hide-and-seek tech demo Nintendo showed off at last year's E3. Before we got going, a PR rep had to spend about a minute explaining how the four players with Wii Remotes are working together to collect candy, how carrying more candy slows a player down, and how to drop candy when the antagonists (controlled by the GamePad) got too close. It's not too complicated by video game standards, but it's far from the five-second "swing it like a tennis racquet" explanation of Wii Sports, and it's likely enough to scare away anyone not already versed in how games work.

Similarly, the player using the GamePad in Sweet Day has to control two separate characters using the GamePad's two analog sticks, a concept that is a bit difficult to master even for people with a lot of video game experience. Trying to get your non-gaming grandmother to play this role in NintendoLand seems likely to be a lot tougher than getting her to try a few frames of Wii Sports bowling.

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Multiplayer possibilities will abound in new Super Mario Bros. U.

Nintendo relied heavily on the old to sell the new at E3 today, announcing new Mario, Pikmin, Scribblenauts, and Wii Fit titles to sell the upcoming Wii U console and its unique touchscreen controller. In addition to these games, a new title called NintendoLand will bring the classic characters from Mario, Zelda, and Donkey Kong into one big multiplayer adventure.

New Super Mario Bros. U gameplay was shown, looking much like the gameplay we've come to expect from previous games. What's new? Mario will be integrated into the "MiiVerse," letting you interact with friends or anyone around the world for the purposes of strategy or just trash talking. With the Wii U GamePad merging the functions of a tablet and traditional button-heavy controller, the game can transfer from your TV to the screen in your hands, and let up to five people play at once.

That includes four primary players and a fifth helping buddies out through "Boost Mode."

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In advance of E3's official start later in the day, Nintendo will be presenting its traditional pre-E3 press conference on the morning of Tuesday, June 5 at 9:00am PDT (GMT-7—see when the liveblog starts in your own timezone).

Nintendo's presentation is likely to focus on the Wii U, the tablet-controlled console which was first shown at last year's E3, but barely discussed by Nintendo in the year since then. Expect a bevy of game announcements both from Nintendo itself and major third parties, as well as a lot of discussion of how the Wii U's controller will totally revolutionize gaming as we know it (at least from Nintendo's point of view). Nintendo is also likely to trumpet the 3DS' slowly recovering sales and expanding software library, potentially including new information on first-party portable titles like Paper Mario and Luigi's Mansion that were mentioned at last year's show.

Ars Gaming Editor Kyle Orland (that's me!) is on hand to provide all the news as it happens.

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