The new year is just underway, and Nintendo wants to make sure the world knows how well they’re doing and how confident they are heading into 2012. In a gleeful press release, Ninty broke news that they sold more than 12 million total hardware units in the US in 2011. It breaks down like this: 4.5 million units of Wii, more than 4 million Nintendo 3DS systems, and over 3.4 million units of the Nintendo DS family of systems were sold last year. Some calculations later, the current install base for Wii is 39 million and for Nintendo DS it’s over 51 million. The house that built Mario blames their recent successes on a strong software lineup. 3DS games Super Mario 3D Land and Mario Kart 7 have been crowned the fastest-selling titles in the history of their respective franchises when they launched. Additionally, Nintendo notes that they are now also the first 3DS games to sell 1 million units each in the US. Zelda also made an impact on the Wii; The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword became the 45th Wii game to sell over 1 million units in the States. And 2012 is already looking to be a solid year for Nintendo with highly anticipated games on the horizon; first-party titles from franchises such as Mario Party, Pokémon, and Kid Icarus as well as third party titles like Resident Evil Revelations (Capcom) and Metal Gear Solid 3D Snake Eater (Konami) are coming soon. And of course, don’t forget that their next home console the Wii U is expected to launch later this year. Get the full debrief directly from Nintendo after the break.
The house that built Mario has gone ahead and slightly tweaked the exterior design of their family friendly console the Wii. The hardware refresh introduces a more streamlined look and is meant to sit horizontally rather than stand vertically. At the same time, Nintendo decided to drop GameCube compatibility meaning that the redesigned console will not be able to play GameCube games. The new bundle, which packs the newly configured Wii in black, New Super Mario Bros., a Super Mario Galaxy soundtrack CD, a black Wii Remote Plus controller, and a black Nunchuk will hit stores October 23. Now get this: there is no price drop and the Wii will continue to sell for $149.99. In a press release Ninty went on to state that the current Wii bundle (which includes Wii Remote Plus and Nunchuk controllers, Mario Kart Wii, the Wii Wheel accessory, and GameCube backwards compatibility) will continue to sell at the $150 price point. So when you’re shopping this holiday season, make sure you get the right bundle! In this case, functionality trumps aesthetics especially if you have a solid library of GameCube games.
‘The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword’ releases November 20, limited-edition gold controller bundle in tow
What may be considered the final great game for Nintendo’s Wii console finally has a release date. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword drops November 20, 2011. As detailed at Ninty’s E3 press event, Skyward Sword will ship standalone at the regular $49.99 price point and a limited-edition gold controller bundle will be offered at a reasonable $69.99. If you have your sights locked on the shiny, golden Wii Remote Plus bear in mind that it will not be sold separately from the bundle. To further celebrate Zelda’s 25th anniversary, Nintendo is also bundling in a music CD featuring select orchestral arrangements of iconic music spanning the history of the franchise which will be performed at The Legend of Zelda 25th Anniversary Symphony Concert. For more information regarding the concert–which is coming to Los Angeles and London in October–click here. The CD will be included in every game box (whether sold by itself or as a part of the bundle) during the initial retail run. Eye the packaging above, and read the PR after the break.
After almost five years on the market, Nintendo has finally decided to drop the price of the Wii from $199.99 to $149.99, effective May 15. In addition, the Wii Sports + Wii Sports Resort bundle will no longer be available. The lower priced Wii, still available in black and white, will come packaged with Mario Kart Wii and matching colored Wiimote (with built-in Wii Remote Plus functionality), nunchuck, and Wii Wheel accessories. The new black Wii Wheel will also be made available for purchase separately for $9.99.
On that same May day, Ninty will launch the new Nintendo Selects collection of Wii games. The companies most popular Wii games such as The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Animal Crossing: City Folk, Mario Super Sluggers, and Wii Sports will sell for a low $19.99.
We knew it was coming, but Nintendo has made it official. The Wii Remote Plus (or the newly designed Wii-mote with the MotionPlus accessory built inside) is coming to U.S. Wii players for an exciting low price of $39.99. Ninty confirms the Wii Remote Plus will become the new standard Wii-mote to come stuffed inside all Wii packages and bundles when it releases November 7. It will come in the following tints: white, pink, blue, and black.
To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the original Super Mario Bros. game, Nintendo decided to deck out the Wii in a red coat of paint for Japanese gamers. Today I am happy to announce that the company who invented Mario is bringing the celebratory console to the States. In addition to the red Wii console, the limited edition bundle includes a red Wii Remote Plus and matching Nunchuck, Wii Sports, and a copy of New Super Mario Bros. Wii. The bundle costs $199.99 and ships November 7.
But the fun doesn’t stop there! A special-edition Nintendo DSi XL bundle lands November 7, too. The red DSi XL features three iconic Super Mario Bros.-themed graphics and comes bundled with a copy of Mario Kart DS and preloaded with Brain Age games and a Photo Clock. It’s priced at 179.99.
Let’s hear it for the most iconic video game characher ever–happy birthday Mario!
And just like that the trifecta is complete. Netflix subscribers can now access their movie and TV show content on Microsoft’s Xbox 360, Sony’s PlayStation 3, and now Nintendo’s Wii, without inserting the instant streaming disc. Sure you can’t access anything beyond your Instant Queue and there’s no HD/5.1 surround sound support, but Wii owners should rejoice in this step in the right direction. Hop into the Wii Shop Channel to download the Netflix app to your Wii Menu for quick and easy access.
Wolfbreeder, an LA ad agency, put together this impressive viral featuring a man wielding a PlayStation Move controller versus an oversized Mii (a personalized avatar from Nintendo’s Wii). Guess who wins this battle of epic proportions.
Hey all you GoldenEye 007 junkies! Ready for your long-awaited fix when the next-gen GoldenEye releases for Wii this holiday season? Well I’ve got some good news that’ll make your holiday shopping bag a tad bit heavier. The new GoldenEye game will be released alongside a golden gun-inspired Wii Classic Controller Pro. Though the Classic Controller Pro is not required for gameplay, it’ll add that extra bit of old school nostalgia to make the experience all the better thanks to a familiar control scheme. The controller will ship this fall bundled with a “Classic Edition” of the game for $69.99. It has not been announced if it will be available separately.
Game: Epic Mickey
Developer: Junction Point Studios
Release date: Holiday 2010
A while back I reported on a new Wii title called Epic Mickey. After playing the expansive demo at E3 I am so happy to report back that Epic Mickey is everything I hoped it would be. In fact, it was my favorite game of the show! The visuals, the controls, the characters, and the environments all blend together to make an exciting Disney experience with our good pal Mickey Mouse at the helm.
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what type of game Epic Mickey really is. It takes cues from platformers, role-playing games, and third-person shooters, even. It meshes 2D and 3D gaming to produce stunning color and black/white visuals that stem from classic Disney history. The first part of the demo took us to Wasteland, a place where old, washed up, and forgotten Disney characters hang out. Characters like the pirates Smee from Peter Pan and Scurvy Pat are there to give you tasks to perform. In a beautiful cut scene that features 2D paper animation, Smee is crying because all of the pirates are being turned into robot monsters. It is up to Mickey to save the pirates from their demise. At the Wasteland I was instructed by Tiki Sam (he looks sort of like Goofy) to find three masks that are hidden throughout the area. There is a lot of trading and bartering that goes on between all these different characters; one decision leads to another and this all eventually lands Mickey in the appropriate situation to help stop the machine from destroying the pirates. Your decisions to either help or ignore the characters around you will affect the outcome of the game.
The game is split into three different areas: quests, transitions, and actions. Wasteland is a quest area; it’s a place where interact with other characters to complete certain tasks. Transition areas take place in-between quest and action areas and they usually contain special items and collectibles that will help Mickey elsewhere in the game. The transition area I jumped into was a movie reel and it transported me to a 2.5D sidescroller based on Mickey’s first appearance in 1928′s Steamboat Willy black-and-white cartoon. There are about 40 of these sidescrolling adventures in the game; they are all based on classic Disney cartoons. Playing through Steamboat Willy was a ton of fun. I am really looking forward to discovering all the other transition areas in the game. There’s nothing like classic Disney lore.
At the end of the Steamboat Willy level I jumped into another movie reel that brought me to a new area in the game called Skull Island. This is an action area where Mickey will run into enemies to defeat and conquer and it’s the place where I’ll find a way to stop the machine from turning the pirates into robots. My first mission is to find three anchors to save Smee’s ship from sinking into the ocean. There’s no better time to talk about controls then right now. In the game Mickey wields a magic paintbrush. Paint is used to create objects in the environment. If you stumble upon an area and you’re stuck, more than likely a spray of paint will reveal a bridge that connects the gap to crossover. Paint thinner is used to destroy objects around you. It can also be a helpful tool to find hidden objects that reside inside rocks or trees. Throughout the game there are clues guised under dark silhouette shapes; if you keep your eyes open for these subtle hints you can use your brush to uncover what’s there. When it comes to enemy interaction you have one of two options. You can use paint thinner to erase them or paint to strategically turn them into friendlies who will fight for you. Mickey can also collect objects called “sketches”. In the demo I picked up a TV sketch; at one point during the Skull Island sequence the TV sketch was used to distract an enemy. Mickey literally places a TV in front of an enemy and while he was distracted by a scene from the original Steamboat Willy cartoon I picked up a missing anchor piece. Humorous, fun, and effective.
At its core, Epic Mickey is a true-to-form roleplaying game where your decisions will effect the way other in-game characters perceive you. If you use paint thinner to erase elements from the environment around you more than you use paint to create, characters will take notice. In this case, they will be less friendly and willing to help you solve missions. In fact, a little green sprite named Terp follows you around and lets you know what type of “play style” you’re currently engaged in (too much thinner or paint or a mix of both). And since your decisions alter the game, you can literally play through it numerous way and every time will play out differently. With intuitive controls, an engaging story with fun and challenging missions, and spectacular visuals, expect Epic Mickey to take over your living room when it release this holiday season exclusivel for Wii. The game truly is a sight to behold. And and if you’re a fan of Walt Disney creations you will certainly not be disappointed.
The Nintendo booth at E3 was filled with Wii, DS, and 3DS software. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword was contained in its own section. Attendees were directed to wait in a specific area to gain some hands-on time with the game demo. A bunch of other first-party titles were playable in their own sections, too, and they include Metroid: Other M, Kirby’s Epic Yarn, Mario Sports Mix, and Wii Party. Other notable titles that were playable at the booth: Donkey Kong Country Returns, Pokemon Wii, Sonic Colors, Epic Mickey, GoldenEye 007, NBA Jam, Just Dance 2, Dragon Quest IX (DS), and Golden Sun: Dark Dawn (DS).
Mario Sports Mix looks and feels just like another Mario sports/party game, so it’s a ton of fun. The game has beach volleyball, basketball, dodgeball, and ice hockey games and each supports up to four players. In volleyball it’s 2-on-2 and you flick the Wii-mote up to serve and hit the ball and the nunchuck to move your player around. Basketball works similarly to Mario Hoops 3-on-3 for DS. After you set up a 2-on-2 game, dribbling is not required; you can pass the ball and flick the Wii-mote up when you’re near the basket to jump and shoot. You can also collect items and use them to trip up opponents. For both these games there’s a special meter that fills up during the course of the sport. Once it’s filled, you can make your character use a special move that’s essentially a free point because they can’t miss it. (Think of it as a gamebreaker from NBA Street.) Though I was unable to play the other sports, I am confident in saying Mario Sports Mix is yet another fun party game starring our favorite plumber. It releases next year.
Wii Party. Simply put, this game plays just like Mario Party, with the main difference being that your Miis star in the gameplay instead of classic Nintendo characters. You’ve got the dice to roll by flicking the Wii-mote up, there’s the game spaces you move across to reach for stars, and obviously the plethora of mini-games to keep things interesting. I played a mini-game that involved balancing a growing stack of presents. Party games support up to four players. In addition to party games, Mario Party also includes pair games (co-op) and house party games (these use the Wii-mote in various ways). The game drops later this year.
Donkey Kong Country Returns brought me waaaaay back to the good ‘ol days, if you know what I mean. Though it’s a brand new side-scrolling platformer made exclusively for Wii and its motion controls, it feels as if you never dropped the SNES controller. Thanks to the classic soundtrack and familiar environments, DKC Returns plays like a true modern DK game. If you’re playing single player, Diddy rides on DK’s back; in multiplayer mode the characters are controlled separately. And get this–if player two is having a hard time getting through the level, Diddy can jump onto DK’s back and go on a ride to the end of the level (all the while shooting peanuts to fend off nearby enemies). Diddy also has a jetpack in this game, allowing him to briefly fly to reach hard to get items (such as collectible stars). Both DK and Diddy share a ground pound attack that can help fight enemies and reveal hidden items in the environment. Sure, the DK experience is different thanks to motion controls but it’s most definitely a new one that I’m really looking forward to playing. DK has finally returned. Coming this holiday.
GoldenEye 007 is being described as a reimagining of the original classic shooter from N64. This time around the game stars Daniel Craig takes over the starring duty from Pierce Brosnan as James Bond. The game features a new single player campaign that follows the GoldenEye story but from a different perspective, Craig’s instead of Brosnan’s. At the booth I played the multiplayer demo. Thanks to an aesthetic facelift, the graphics look polished and the environments are more inviting. The muliplayer modes you’ve come to know and love, such as deathmatch and team deathmatch, are back, as well as character favorites like Odd Job and weapons like the coveted Golden Gun. Multiplayer is expanded with online functionality; you can connect and play with friends over the Internet and there’s an achievement system that involves experience points and unlockable items. I happened to play with a Classic Controller, and I was told other methods of input (with the Wii-mote/nunchuck) are being considered. 007 releases this November.
Game: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
Release date: 2011
In terms of control, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is a stellar improvement over the last Zelda game for Wii that was ported from GameCube, Twilight Princess. The game requires the Wii MotionPlus add-on and true 1:1 motion is the result. Though the short demo at E3 did not share details about the plot of the game it did help introduce how you will control Link for the better part of the game. The Wii-mote is your sword and the nunchuck acts as the shield. At all time you’re constantly whipping out your sword and shield to fight off enemies. To bring them to the forefront it’s as simple as a quick forward moving shake of the controllers. Most of the enemies came in the form of plants and the game makes it super easy to figure out how to kill them. Plants open their mouths horizontally and vertically; so if a plant opens its mouth vertically you take out your sword and slice vertically to kill it. Slice and dice is the name of the game here. After learning how to kill the plants with your handy-dandy sword you quickly learn that you have a bunch more weapons at your disposal. Hit a button on the Wii-mote and a menu pops up enabling you to select from weapons like a slingshot, bow-and-arrow, and a whip. Many of the weapons, namely the sword and bow-and-arrow, work exactly like they do in Wii Sports Resort. It’s pretty clear that Nintendo ported these 1:1 actions from that game to this one. But that’s not an issue, really; I always enjoyed Swordsplay anyway. Link can also throw bombs into the middle of growing baddies and boom they go. With the aid of a map I was able to find my way through the plants and to a door with a wandering eye. I was instructed to spin the Wii-mote (my sword) in a clockwise circular motion to confuse the eye to enter the door. The demo concluded with an oversized scorpion boss. To kill it the game hinted at slicing your sword at its pinchers. I had very low health and ran out of potions so I died before I could kill the big baddie.
All in all Skyward Sword is definitely turning out to be a solid Wii title. Before this year’s Nintendo press conference all we had was a teaser poster and now there’s a trailer and playable demo. As a long-time Zelda fan there’s not much I can complain about. The precise motion controls are a welcome addition to the franchise and a more cartoonish-looking Link and environment make the game feel less like Twilight Princess and more like uber-successful titles Ocarina of Time (my personal favorite) and Wind Waker. There’s no cell shading here, but the graphics feel more friendly and colorful when compared to Link’s last outing.
In just two days the Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo press conferences will be over and “the big three” will be showing off their latest innovations in hardware and games on the show floor at their respective booths at E3. Let’s dive into each company’s plans and dissect what they have in store for us.
Xbox 360: You can expect massive titles like Halo: Reach, Gears of War 3, and Fable III to be demoed in real-time and hyped up during the Microsoft press conference. But the buzz around Microsoft this year surrounds their gaming without controllers initiative codenamed Project Natal. With a pre-E3 event called “Project Natal for Xbox 360 Experience imagined by Cirque du Soleil” you can expect the motion-capture accessory to dominate Microsoft’s offerings throughout the week. With Natal Microsoft is first and foremost targeting the casual gamer, looking to expand to the same market Nintendo captured with the Wii. Natal’s initial launch lineup will be announced and this first batch of games will likely take advantage of Natal in simplistic ways. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Richochet and Paint Party games that were previewed last year end up shipping with it. And there’s always little Milo who may certainly star in his own game. If you’re the hardcore type, it would be remiss for Microsoft to ignore you after all these years of support. I’ve seen video of Burnout Paradise being used with Natal and Fable III lead designer Peter Molyneux stated in an interview that the next Fable will incorporate Natal functionality. Whatever the launch lineup may be, I would hope Microsoft has at least a dozen casual games to entice new gamers to their console and a sprinkle of hardcore experiences to satisfy their longtime users. Also, I wouldn’t be surprised if a new version of the Xbox 360 dashboard took advantage of Natal with a gesture-based UI. As of now we know Natal is expected to launch this holiday season; the press conference should make things more clear with not only a definitive release date and a price (fingers-crossed under $100), but also a final name for the hardware (although “Natal” has grown on me over the months).
Enough Natal. Let’s talk games. I’ve already hit on the big sequel exclusives like Bungie’s Halo: Reach, Epic’s Gears of War 3, and Microsoft Game Studios’ Fable III. First person shoot XCOM from 2K Games looks fantastic (also available on PC), Capcom’s Dead Rising: Case Zero brings another compelling zombie shooter, and Microsoft Game Studios’ Avatar-based racing game Joy Ride will likely use Natal in more ways than one. And you can’t forget about the next Assassin’s Creed game from Ubisoft subtitled Brotherhood.
Read on for PS3 and Wii/DS discussion, plus more about third-party games and some “bizarre predictions”! (Click here for more…)
Why oh why would you ever buy something so unequivocally unnecessary?
Nine months after being released in Japan, a black-coated version of the Nintendo Wii console is coming to America. Come May 9 consumers will have the option to purchase a white or black Wii console. Both models will remain at $199.99. But get this–the baseline package now includes a copy of Wii Sports Resort and a Wii MotionPlus accessory. These new additions bundle with the standard fare that includes the Wii console, one Wiimote, and Wii Sports. Now you can finally match your black Wiimotes and nunchucks with a console of the same shade.
Just in time for Valentine’s Day Nintendo is now shipping pink and light blue-colored Wiimotes. It comes bundled with the Wii MotionPlus attachment. Priced at $54.99 it’ll make any gamer chick ecstatic on this holy day of love.
In a recent interview Nintendo President Satoru Iwata splilled the beans on what to expect from the successor of the Nintendo DS: “[It will have] highly detailed graphics…And it will be necessary to have a sensor with the ability to read the movements of people playing.” How interesting, Mr. Iwata. I can see an advanced accelerometer placed inside a new DS-like portable gaming device that will allow for motion control in Nintendo and third party games. As for the “highly detailed graphics,” this comment adds sparks to the fire about an NVIDIA Tegra chip being incorporated in the next DS.
In other Nintendo news, it was just announced that the Nintendo Wii will join the Xbox 360 and PS3 and finally support the Netflix service. Like the PS3, the Wii will require users to place an “instant-streaming” disc into the console in order to stream movies and TV shows. Obviously the Wii will not support HD content since its lowly graphics card can only handle 480p resolution. And per usual, there will be no additional fee to watch Netflix on top of Netflix’s monthly fees. If you’ve got a Wii and a Netflix subscription, head on over to Netflix to order your very own instant-streaming disc today. What are you waiting for?
Too bad there are no plans for bringing this limited edition model of the Wii to the states. We’ll just have to make due with black Wii-motes and nunchucks which are due out November 16.
Mickey Mouse is set to take gamers on a whole new adventure with ‘Epic Mickey,’ a Nintendo Wii exclusive. Little to no information has been released regarding the game. Warren Spector’s Point Junction Studios is heading the project, and the upcoming cover of Game Informerreveals a very artistic, dark, and mature shade of the Mouse. Look forward to additional information being spilt about Epic Mickey in the November issue of said magazine. The last greatest Mickey Mouse video game I played was “Mickey Mania: The Timeless Adventures of Mickey Mouse” on Sega Genesis (1994). This was a classic side-scroller that featured different versions of Mickey as you progressed through the game (from Steamboat Willy (1928) (my favorite) to The Prince and the Pauper (1990)). I have high hopes for the new Mickey tale; the motion controls of the Wii and today’s enhanced graphics should do him some justice. He’s due for another artistic and well developed game, wouldn’t you say?
After Microsoft and Sony decided to slash the price of their video game consoles, Nintendo wanted in on the fun. Effective September 27, the Nintendo Wii will become $50 cheaper and will sell for $199.99.
So, where does this leave us? Xbox 360 = $299. PS3 Slim = $299. Wii = $199. Prices are dropping and games and content are getting better. This is a win-win situation for the consumers!
In related Nintendo news, the ever-popular sequel to Wii Sports, Wii Sports Resort, is packing a second WiiMotionPlus in its bundle. Starting October 12, Wii Sports Resort will include the game, two MotionPlus accessories, and will cost $60. Yes, that is $10 more than what it cost before, but now it has a second MotionPlus; don’t complain.
This holiday season Nintendo will ship black versions of the Wiimote, WiiMotionPlus, and nunchuck. The Wiimote and the MotionPlus accessory will ship together as a bundle, and the nunchuck will be sold separately. Still, though, there is no word on the coveted jet black Wii console shipping in North America. In related news, the DSi is widening its color palette with two new flavors: pink and white. They will be made available on September 15. In less related news, the next iteration of Wii Fit dubbed Wii Fit Plus ships October 4. You can get the Wii Fit Plus bundle that includes the original Wii Fit, the new Wii Fit Plus, and the balance board for $99.99 or you can opt to simply get the new software for a mere $19.99. Plus features 15 brand new mini-games that promise to be more Americanized for our Western-bent methods of exercising. See the gallery below for images of the new hardware.