Nintendo stands alone from their competitors in more than just chronological order. Holding their media briefing a day after both Microsoft and Sony is a statement of intent as much as a clever marketing move, proving that the Japanese veteran conducts business in a very different way to to their rivals... and sets them apart as the sole manufacturer with a new console on the immediate horizon. During our time queuing (and furiously streetpassing all and sundry) outside the Nokia Theatre, our belongings searched and pockets frottaged by courteous yet grim security guards, we were free to ponder a couple of important questions.
Can Nintendo atone for last year's confusing, arguably premature shambles? Will their tech work first time? And just as pressingly, having already given a surprise Nintendo Direct briefing two days ago, what has Ninty held back in reserve?
Big questions indeed, but the mood in the theatre was cheerful; everyone huddled beneath the sea of 3DSs, iThings and laptops were not-so-secretly rooting for the venerable company to kick off the first day of the expo with a bang. A triforce tattoo here. A power glove there. Ninty fans were out in force and showing their true colours, and we hoped that they wouldn't leave disappointed.
As it turned out, they didn't. Well, none but the die-hard Zelda or Metroid followers.
Miyamoto's exuberant entrance was accompanied by raucous, heartwarming applause, and the feeling of goodwill continued into the slightly rambling Wii U introduction. Pikimin 3's sensational presentation elicited gasps and coos from the audience, demonstrating adorable new Pikmin types and a potential benchmark-setter for strategy on consoles. Do we understand it? We want it, certainly.
Big Reggie's opening quip may have fallen horribly flat, but his commitment to being "all about the games" went down brilliantly. Games sell systems, games make or break companies, and that's all we wanted from the media briefing. Focusing on features almost killed last year's offering, and it's wonderful to see Ninty come out swinging.
Well shut my filthy, lying mouth. Carl's prediction of support for two gamepads, which I so cynically shouted down in the latest podcast, turned out to be right on the money - and I defer to his superior wisdom. When it's good news, I'm always glad to be proven wrong, but I'm glad I didn't put any money on it.
So where are these games, Reggie? MiiVerse looks like an intriguing social hub on multiple devices, though Ninty will have to make sure that their third party partners are on side from day one, and for the duration.
Ooh, here's a game. New Super Mario Bros U appears to have social features built into its DNA, and a helpful gamepad-enabled Boost Mode aiding for cooperative speed runs. Despite its traditional (passé?) 2D style, Mario certainly loomed over the Arkham City Armored Edition demo - will a few touchscreen features be enough to shift a year-old game... after its GoTY editon releases on PC and consoles?
Scribblenauts Unlimited, however, seems like a perfect fit for the platform, and a natural evolution for the franchise. The awesome new creation system (Auto Mutt!) should guarantee some massive replayability on top of the open exploration - what a coup.
Wait, what? Huh? Why... Mass Effect 3... without the original games to ground players in the universe?! Hell, I'll hopefully be too busy with tanks and aliens. Not a bad third party lineup, though, not by any means. Well done Ninty.
Ah, so does standing still and pointing a gamepad at the tv count as exercise? If so, count me in for Wii Fit U. That's my kind of workout. Maybe I can balance a beer on the gamepad while I lie down during the bobsleigh minigame?
Don't rush to count out SiNG as 'just another' karaoke game. Freestyle Games brought us the awesome DJ Hero, so expect a seriously impressive showing here.
Ouch, Moffitt. That was an awkward entrance, but be sure to check out e3.nintendo.com tomorrow for more 3DS info. Mario will become Nintendo's 'golden boy' in a very literal sense with New Super Mario Bros 2, which will be releasing surprisingly soon, pausing only to lose a dimension with Paper Mario: Sticker Star. The other brother seems to be the one to watch, though, thanks to Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon. The classic GameCube title deserves a modern revamp, and we couldn't be more excited.
Lego City Undercover looks amazing. A liberal dose of tongue in cheek humour helped its presentation to absolutely bring the house down, though it's all potential at the moment.
Ubisoft started strong with Just Dance 4, which appears to cater for the one misanthropic spoilsport who never joins in. He or she can become the puppet master and ruin everyone else's fun. Sold. However, said loner may well be better off with ZombiU, which is packed with some neat ultraviolent gamepad features.
So, Nintendoland is going to be the Wii U's starting killer app, eh? A themed minigame collection is a great way to get players involved. As well as recycling last year's concept demos, natch. It will also be a crucial tool to educate new players about Asymetric Gameplay, which could be a tough sell for more casual players. Will empowering a single participant serve to distance them from their friends and keep them from enjoying the fun, much like a Dungeon Master can't ever really experience the adventure they've created? Can segrating a sigle player really help to bring players together? We'll have to wait and see, and I hope that it's included in the box.
Either way, it's fantastic to see Nintendo giving out genuine, useful information, showering us with launch titles and giving fans the opportunity to catch up with content online. A Zelda or Metroid announcement wouldn't have gone amiss, but in a complete contrast to 2011, we're leaving the Nokia Theatre excited and expectant.
It's so great to feel excited about Nintendo again. It feels... right.