U demanded, Wii delivered

Mark Gibson

Nintendo had a lot of pressure to reveal a new console that matches third-generation graphics and appeals to hardcore gamers. What they revealed was not only a new HD console, but a stack of new and classic games for the new platform.

Nintendo started by celebrating Zelda‘s 25th anniversary. Nintendo had a live orchestra playing the music from the classic game franchise and continually referenced the fact that they had an orchestra as if they were saying, “We paid for it, by God we’re going to use it.”

The best announcement was that Zelda: Four Swords will be coming to the DSiWare for free, and Skyward Sword will be coming this holiday season with a golden Wii controller.

Next, Nintendo teased us with the hint of what its new console might be, but instead of revealing it right from the start, Nintendo showcased a plethora of new games for the 3DS. Mario Kart, Starfox 64, Luigi’s Mansion 2, and Super Mario were just a few of the many titles announced. Kid Icarus will also make a return to hand-held, but this time it will support multiplayer. The 3DS will be getting a big system update that will support a ton of new features, including a 3D Pokedex for Pokemon Black and White.

Eventually, Nintendo came to the most anticipated announcement of the morning: the unveiling of its new console, labeled “Project Café,” which is now Wii U. The biggest feature is surprisingly not the HD graphics, but the system’s controller, which has an LCD screen in the center of it. The Wii U controller acts a lot like the Sony Vita. It was almost déjà vu watching the presentation. Games you are playing on the television can be continued on the controller as a hand-held device. The controller acts like an extension of what is taking place on the TV. In other words, the Wii U is like playing a DS with the top screen being your TV and the bottom half being your controller.

But what really got the crowd going was the lineup of games for the Wii U, including Darksiders 2, Ghost Recon Online, Metro: Last Light, Tekken, and Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge, just to name a few. The games all feature next-gen HD graphics and look amazing. But more important was a brief announcement of a new Smash Bros. coming to Wii U.

A 3DS system update, a ton of games, and a new console that might appeal to hardcore gamers — I think it’s safe to say that Nintendo takes the cake for the E3 2011 conferences.