It's Nintendo's big day. The most recognizable company in the world of games is going to do its best at this morning's E3 press conference to convince us all that the Wii U has what it takes to put Nintendo back on top.
Interestingly, Satoru Iwata has, to some degree, already spilled the beans. In a queer move, Nintendo posted a 30-minute video on YouTube Sunday in which the company's president talks about all the stuff that will be revealed at Tuesday's conference.
That means we already know about some of the changes that have been made to the Wii U Gamepad controller – its circle pads have been transformed into more traditional control sticks, and it's been given a more ergonomic bottom – since seeing its prototype at last year's E3.
We also know about a second kind of Wii U controller – the Wii U Pro – that looks an awful lot like Microsoft's Xbox 360 controller. We can take it as evidence that Nintendo wants to court/win back hardcore gamers.
And we know about the Wii U's new social networking features, which will allow players to interact with the Wii U's user community to do things like find tips and tricks about games as they play them. That means no more pausing and picking up your iPad to hit up Gamefaqs.com for strategies.
So, what's left to know? Lots of stuff, including regional launch dates, hardware specs and, crucially, pricing.
Nintendo is in the unfortunate position of needing to bring its next-generation console to market at a price that can compete with the current-generation, budget-priced Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Anything over $400 will be a death sentence, I think.
Then there are the games. We still know of only a handful of titles coming to Wii U, such as Darksiders 2 and Rayman Legends. And we know of almost no first-party games aside from the next Pikmin and Smash Bros. games. So, expect dozens of game announcements, including new IPs that take advantage of the Wii U Gamepad's quirky features, ports of popular third-party games headed to other platforms (including some key M-rated fare), and several first-party gems. A Mario game must be mentioned – and, better still, slated for launch-day release.
WHAT'S ON DECK AT E3 TUESDAY?
After the press conference I'll be headed straight to the L.A. Convention Center to start my exploration of E3 proper (that's right, the show hasn't even begun yet!). My whole day will be spent with the big three: Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo.
I'll spend an hour getting an in-depth look at a previously undisclosed PlayStation 3 game (I'm hoping it will be Beyond: Two Souls, the new game from Heavy Rain-maker Quantic Dream, which was announced at Sony's press event Monday night) and then put in a couple of hours at Sony's VIP booth, where all of their upcoming games will be on display, most of them playable.
I'll also be given a tour of Microsoft's booth, where I suspect I'll see such wares as Forza Horizon and Gears of War: Judgement. Come the evening I'll attend a special Halo 4 event, where I'll interview 343 Industries' creative lead Josh Holmes (if you have any questions you want me to ask feel free to post them in the comments section below or tweet them to me at @chadsapieha).
But it's my time at Nintendo's booth that will prove most interesting, I'm sure. I'll have an hour to go hands-on with the Wii U before heading to a developer event in the evening where industry folk will talk about making games for Nintendo's new console. I also have a 30-minute sit-down with Nintendo of America head Reggie Fils-Aime on Wednesday. Again, feel free to send any questions you might have my way.
I know many of you are hungry to know more about third-party games like Grand Theft Auto V. Not to worry: I'll be exploring the rest of the show floor on Wednesday and Thursday.