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Mario, Zelda & Yoshi: was Nintendo’s E3 enough to save the Wii U?

Monday, 16th June 2014 11:58 GMT By Catherine Cai

We go hands on with Mario Maker, Splatoon, Hyrule Warriors, Yoshi’s Wooly World, Captain Toad and Bayonetta 2. Do they make a strong enough case for the return of the Wii U?

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Nintendo was finally ready at E3 2014 to deliver tangible proof of why its console was worth a spot in a gamer’s living room. The company unveiled the obvious, usual heavy-hitters like Super Smash Bros. Wii U and Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, but it also showed off Amiibo and Splatoon. Nintendo’s attempting to push the company in new directions, a response to accusations that the company’s strategy was to stay sitting duck on proven, popular franchises.

I had a chance to get some brief playing time on some of Nintendo’s releases on the show floor. Here were my thoughts:

Mario Maker

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“From an audience perspective, Mario Maker is brilliant. It caters to both players who are too good or dismally terrible at the game at once.”

From an audience perspective, Mario Maker is brilliant. It caters to both players who are too good or dismally terrible at the game at once. Giving the players the chance at a Super Mario Bros. level editor is the best way to attract players to the Wii U, while keeping the current install base occupied as the heavy-hitting titles come into play.

I was given the option of editing three different sample levels that were already provided, or creating my own. Naturally, I went with creating my own level from scratch.

The level layout provided was the one from World 1-1. It’s absolutely blank. I’m free to add goombas, koopa troopas, mushroom blocks, and just about anything else that’s present in Super Mario Bros.

It turns out that level designing for Super Mario Bros. takes some work. I think the killer feature in Mario Maker is the ability to seamlessly transition from level editing to playing. If I’m to die in the middle of a run, I can freeze everything and swap over to the level editor and make real time changes. I can then reset Mario back to a new spawn point, and play from that point forward.

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Oh, and did I mention that I can easily swap from classic mode to the new Super Mario Bros. Wii U aesthetic in the touch of a button? Amazing.

Though Mario Maker is both extremely powerful and simple at the same time, the demo did have its limitations. The only layout available so far is World 1-1. The timer is fixed to ten minutes, according to a Nintendo representative. I wonder whether or not Nintendo will offer up the ability to choose different background levels. Though currently I’m able to lay down pipes in the level editor, I’m unable to interact with them in the same way as in the games. Hopefully, being able to connect pipes will be a feature coming with the full release.

Regardless, I had a great time creating levels. Mario Maker is something I absolutely would look forward to as a Wii U owner, if not to create my own levels, but to see what brilliance comes out of the Mario Maker community.

Splatoon

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“Splatoon is Nintendo’s G-rated, non-violent version of Team Fortress 2.”

Ahh… brand new, untested IP from Nintendo. How refreshing. And it’s multiplayer-only, no less. Call it Nintendo’s G-rated, non-violent version of Team Fortress 2, if you will.

Splatoon is like most Nintendo games: simple in premise and gameplay. The E3 demo only contained a 4 versus 4, objective-based mode, where players control girls wielding paint guns. The goal is splatter as much of your team’s paint color all over the floor of the level. The team with the highest percentage of paint splatter on a level wins all. Players can take advantage of the paint guns or paint grenades in order to paint over the floor, or over the other team’s paint.

Players are able to morph back and forth between human and squid form. As a squid, players are locked out of the ability to fight, but are able to recover their paint (which is depleted through shooting and grenade use) levels and swim quickly through their team’s paint. As a squid, players are much more mobile and able to quickly scale walls to make a quick getaway.

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Paint guns and paint grenades are deadly to the enemy team. Wading through the enemy team’s paint will reduce mobility and being hit by the other team’s paint will result in death. Death isn’t meant to be a punishment in Splatoon and respawns are instantaneous. The entire design of Splatoon is teamwork-oriented, as players can easily track down their team members’ locations on the Wii U gamepad, transform into a squid, and “jump” to their location with a quick tap. Working together as a team means being better able to cover ground in paint and take down any enemies. The quick jumps to team members mean being able to push quickly and efficiently as a team.

Splatoon was an absolute blast to play. However, I was able to experience the game alongside my fellow team and enemy team. Keep in mind that Splatoon requires Wii U gamepad functionality to play, and as the Wii U is limited in the number of gamepads, local co-op will not exist for the game. Currently, there’s no in-game chat functionality, or any way to communicate with team members. This was probably intentional on some level, as creating a chat function opens up infinite possibilities for a toxic, Internet community (which is the opposite of what family-friendly-fun-loving Nintendo wants.) Regardless, creating a team-based game means being able to communicate with fellow team members, and it’s a shame that Splatoon is lacking this functionality.

I also found the aiming in Splatoon to be a little clumsy. It relies on the Wii U gamepad’s motion control to work. Though it can be turned off, I wish the developers had added some sensitivity/acceleration options, so that the shooting aspect can be tuned to a player’s preference. Still, this is a rather minute complaint, especially when Splatoon is in no way meant to be a competitive shooter.

Next page: Hyrule Warriors, Bayonetta 2 and Yoshi’s Wooly World.

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11 Comments

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  1. xxxGamesMasterxxx

    Yes, it’s currently in second place sales wise with Xbox One being 3rd. I believe WiiU will be more successful than Xbox One.

    #1 1 month ago
  2. monkeygourmet

    I think the real triumph was how Nintendo hosted their e3 content. It was a great way to make viewers feel like they were actually attending the conference rather than the media placating MS & Sony managed.

    The actually games they had were extensivly demoed in all their glory (or roughness – Im looking at you Devils Third), and it created a much more ‘realistic’ and gamer-centric approach.

    I know the bottom line is still a sales pitch, but it was handled in a way that didn’t make you feel like a complete moron. I fully expect Sony / MS to have to copy this format in the future.

    The games themselves were almost all exclusives too. A huge bonus for someone like me who owns a gaming PC. I was left with little else I was interested in from Sony / MS’s perspective. All third party games will look / play better on the PC. By that token, all third party games will look / play better on PS4.

    All MS showed were lots of games that would play better on their rivals machine, which also costs less in many places. What was the point of that?!

    Exclusive-wise, both MS / Sony were a bit lacking this year, either remakes or titles that will be lucky to see the light of day in 2015.

    So, what we are once again left with is a £199 console with a huuuuge range of high scoring exclusive titles versus 2 third party machines (one of which has gimped hardware and is desperatly trying to make ground). From a gamers perspective, the answer to me is obvious, the PS4 / Xbox One simply aren’t ‘ready’ yet. They are being proped up by third party content I can already play at a higher quality and for cheaper on the PC…

    #2 1 month ago
  3. Obernox

    I liked Nintendo’s Wii U showing. Splatoon looks very original and Xenoblade Chronicles X is looking amazing.

    Their 3DS showing was meh though. Rehash Pokemon games, Mario UGC thing, an a hideously jaggy smash bros game….

    I’m totally sold on the Wii U though.

    #3 1 month ago
  4. Legendaryboss

    Oh god not this again! No, it is a good lineup but it is spread far too thin to keep any type of momentum going. Example nothing in June, July and August to keep up the Mario Kart 8 momentum. Bayonetta 2 is a Wonderful 101 repeat, likely to have higher-up sales, Hyrule Warriors i don’t know and then Smash Bros U is going to be impacted by the early 3DS launch, but should be Mario Kart 8 part 2.

    @1 Thats funny: Xbox One will surpass Wii U when all is said and done, Wii U will be lucky to get to Gamecube sales level.

    And whats up with the title? This is a range of previews of Nintendo published games. Where is the no longer a new IP ‘X’ and Devils Third?

    #4 1 month ago
  5. ManuOtaku

    @monkeygourmet glad to see you are good and well, and that you have decided to comment again.

    I think the wiiu has a good list of games right now, games that have been release, and upcoming as well. The value is increasing with every new title, therefore i believe the console will shine the brighter, late in the lyfe cycle.

    As for nintendo e3 i did like it, did surpass my expectations, and the treehouse events were good as well.

    #5 1 month ago
  6. Dave Cook

    Not enough coming out in 2014. They need to be faster.

    I am exited for Bayonetta 2 and Smash Bros. though, so I’m not poking fun at Nintendo when I say that.

    #6 1 month ago
  7. ManuOtaku

    @Dave Cook i know you like nintendo, and that you are also very critical, in a positive way as well, and that is the way it should be imo, i do really appreciate that, is not that common in the media. You Dont bash it for the sake of it, or because is cool, your reasons are very well explained.

    #7 1 month ago
  8. polygem

    It was a great, modern style of presentation and what was shown was solid. It was awesome for people who already own a WiiU but i am not so sure if it was enough for the guys who don´t yet.

    I personally can´t see the appeal of the one and ps4 yet but people are buying them, probably because they expect the good shit to come later.

    For the WiiU, there simply isn´t enough for 2014.

    On the other consoles isn´t either if you also own a PC though. If that´s the case, those presentations have been extremely disappointing.

    But anyway, i think Nintendo really go for it now. The presentation showed that. It was very confident and optimistic…It just takes too long with these games releases – still does – but i think we´ll see a much more frequent flow of content soon.

    MK8 gave the WiiU a pretty decent boost, Smash will probably do the same, Zelda will too, i mean that´s pretty much out of question. The WiiU is not a failure.

    I wanted a Metroid so bad – the show was good and all but it lacked a true wow moment – but compared to the competition, it still was the one that made me the most excited.

    #8 1 month ago
  9. OmegaSlayer

    I must say that this E3 sold me a WiiU.
    A second hand WiiU just for Bayonetta.

    As a Sony fanboy I’m severely disappointed by Sony.

    I like corridors and don’t like open games.
    I like my gameplay to be condensed the game, I like a dense game, I don’t enjoy too much to go from A to B for 10 minutes just to have a 2 minutes shoot out or to eavdrop someone.

    I like third person stuff and not first person.
    I like swords and kicks more than guns.
    I like artsy settings rather then the same reality I have outside the window.
    I like playing a game without needing of grind and search in a menu the best weapon for the best thing.
    I like a direct game to have fun.

    Sony at the moment has nothing like this under its hood.
    Neither first party, nor third party.

    Bayonetta is the embodiment of indie spirit with AA(A) production.
    I poured 170 hours in Bayo1 on PS3, the worse version, the worse port ever, and had so much fun.
    I’ve seen Bayo2 trailer and in the first 5 second there’s a polygon that’s big like an elephant, but I wanted to play that more than The Order or Uncharted 4.

    There’s no way I’ll buy more than one console each gen, and at the moment I’m strongly thinking in getting a WiiU in October instead of going for the Destiny PS4 bundle.
    I might pick Bayo2, Wonderful 101 and maybe Mario Kart since I don’t like other Nintendo stuff, but I’m sure I’ll have fun and replay those games more than Killzone, Uncharted or even God Of War

    #9 1 month ago
  10. monkeygourmet

    @9 Omega Slayer

    If you haven’t already played it, may I also recommend Mario Galaxy 1 & 2 on the Wii?

    IMO, one of the best examples of concentrated gameplay in existance.

    I also share your opinion on a more structured and concentrated experience. There is nothing worse than a title attempting open world and failing. From that perspective I think games like Watch Dogs fail even harder. A huge budget, wasted on providing ‘freedom’ of choice which simple isn’t there.

    Five minutes of skating round on an ice lake and throwing a snowball in Mario Galaxy, is infinitely more enjoyable than 40 hours of Watch Dogs depressingly boring trudge through a lifeless world.

    Im really intrigued to see Nintendo’s take on an ‘open world’, with the new Zelda game. I always feel they don’t attempt something unless they can make it:

    A. Unique
    B. Polished
    C. Play really, really well

    Bayonetta 2 should be a treat in this respect too. Incredibly explosive and tight mechanics coupled with deep gameplay… Sounds great! :)

    #10 1 month ago
  11. Clupula

    I think Nintendo definitely showed a move in the right direction, BUT no way is this going to save the Wii U.

    Xenoblade Chronicles X looked exciting and so did Zelda, but that Spitoon game or whatever? Don’t care. Nor the Yoshi thing.

    Overall, just more of the same from Nintendo. Definitely stuff that appeals to the people who already own the system, but not enough to lure in a very large number of new people.

    #11 1 month ago