Up until now, the information coming out of Nintendo headquarters has focused pretty heavily on the Wii U's hardware, but at the end of the day, hardware means nothing without a solid lineup. Do I need to bring up the Dreamcast? How about the Virtual Boy?
Okay. That second one may have had more problems than just its hardware.
Well, this year Nintendo has slowly been shifting its focus away from the console itself and onto the Wii U's upcoming release titles. So far, Nintendo thinks they'll have 21 titles available on launch day, but there's a good chance that things will fluctuate as we get closer to the release date—though we're still not really sure when that's going to be.
Many of us thought that Nintendo's decision to close this morning's conference by showing off NintendoLand was a little strange, but the more we learn about the company's plans, the more we begin to understand that NintendoLand is a centerpiece to the Wii U's lineup.
In fact, as Katsuya Eguchi took the stage this evening in a closed-door presentation for a select group of journalists and investors, he emphasized the important role that NintendoLand will play for their next-gen console. "We're putting the Nintendo name on the line by calling it NintendoLand," he said. So it's obviously not something they're taking lightly.
The fact that NintendoLand has such an intricate relationship to the company's robust history certainly has something to do with its importance. After all, this is a title that's constructed entirely from the characters and settings that fans have grown attached to over the last three decades. Mario and Luigi have their own little corner of NintendoLand, as well as Link, Donkey Kong, and eight others that are in various stages of completion. We even got a surprise look at an F-Zero stage.
NintendoLand also does a good job showcasing Nintendo's visionary relationship between the television and the tablet. They've been tossing the word "asymmetric" around to describe the gameplay, but until now, there hasn't been a lot of depth to the definition of the term. But as soon as we got a chance to see the way that gameplay differs depending on the type of controller the player happens to be using, it all started falling into place. The Wii U definitely comes from the same thought process that birthed the Wii, but it attempts to extend replay value by customizing the experience further. Whether you're playing via the tablet during a multiplayer match, cruising through the single-player campaign, or using one of the other types of control, each will deliver an entirely different experience.
To illustrate the point further, Katsuya Eguchi, head of the Animal Crossing franchise, and Takashi Tezuka, one of the minds behind the Mario franchise, showed off a bit of gameplay from New Super Mario Bros. In this title, the player who happens to be controlling their character with a standard Wiimote will have the same experience that we were introduced to in the most recent SMB title. However, the person holding the tablet control pad doesn't actually control a character, but can interact with the gameplay by inserting helpful boost boxes throughout the stage. These boxes are simply temporary platforms that are inserted by touching the screen. Once they appear, the other player can use them to climb to areas of the maps that might have been previously unreachable. If both players are in sync, maps are completed quickly and effortlessly. However, if the players aren't in sync, the boost boxes become a hilarious annoyance that will inevitably ruin friendships.