Comparatively, Nintendo's E3 2011 media briefing was short and, for the most part, sweet. While the competition struggled to cover all of their diversified offerings in a reasonable time, Nintendo addressed the immediate future of 3DS software and outlined their vision for the next console generation within roughly an hour. After the conference was over, we knew several key franchises would get the 3D treatment this fall and that Nintendo had found a clever way to bridge the gap between their casual and core console fans.
The briefing began in unusual fashion, as a live orchestra seated directly in front of the main stage played Shigeru Miyamoto in to classic Legend of Zelda songs. The 25th anniversary of the revered series was cause for reflection for Miyamoto and the numerous fans in the audience. Several Zelda titles in the works were detailed, notably Skyword Sword coming this fall. As a casual Zelda observer, the whole thing was a bit dry and a slow way to kick off the press conference,
Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Ame then took the stage to discuss the future of the 3DS. The device has been characterized by the usual software drought post-launch, but there's hope on the horizon. Reggie's announcements of Mario Kart, Star Fox, Super Mario, Kid Icarus, Luigi's Mansion and several third-party titles are on their way in the near future was a great signal to Nintendo's traditional base. Now if only they would try to make something entirely new.
Ultimately, the real reason people turned out in droves from outside the games industry to witness the event was to catch a glimpse of Nintendo's next console. Global president Satoru Iwata didn't disappoint, revealing the all-purpose Wii U. The new controller-driven console can support dual analog, high-definition, touch, motion and portable gaming, representing what Nintendo hopes is a solution to the delicate balancing act between casual and core consumers. Wii U will come with strong support from third-parties, while still offering the unique content Nintendo is now known for. It all seems like a great idea on paper, but one wonders if by trying to accommodate everyone, Nintendo risks satisfying no one. It certainly looks like a clever solution, so we'll give Nintendo the benefit of a doubt at this early stage.
Nintendo's media briefing struck a good balance between supporting their new portable platform now, and building a solid foundation for future console experiences. Here's looking forward to seeing more from Wii U in the months to come.