A Nintendo E3 conference just isn't a Nintendo E3 conference without an appearance by Shigeru Miyamoto, who kicked off the proceedings with some Pikmin-themed tomfoolery. Emerging with a leaf sticking out of his jacket pocket, he proceeded to place virtual Pikmin on top of various audience members while speaking the most English I've ever heard from him. Eventually he used Olimar's whistle to summon Ninty's long-suffering convention translator, Bill Trinin.
Armed with this English-language assistance, Miyamoto proceeded to demonstrate the gameplay in Pikmin 3. The little guys are adorable as usual, and the graphics look quite nice. There are rock pikmin now that can be used to break objects, and the pikmin will be able to build objects like bridges as well. Throwing controls are more precise now thanks to the Wiimote IR pointer, so pikmin can be thrown at enemy eyes or other vulnerable areas.
The GamePad can be used to enhance gameplay, allowing the player to quickly scroll through the overall map and issue orders to groups of pikmin. Gamers who wish to play the game like an RTS can choose to play exclusively with the GamePad, relying primarily on map control. Adding to this increased focus on strategy and tactics is that there are now four leaders available (Olimar was absent for reasons Miyamoto said were secret) so that tasks can be broken up between four different groups of pikmin. Leaders can even throw each other to distant areas.
After taking a bow with his plush pikmin friend, Miyamoto summoned Reggie with his whistle and departed. Reggie proceeded to recap several Wii U features that were already covered in Sunday's pre-E3 conference. One new thing we learned is that the system will support up to two GamePad controllers at once, answering a long-held question about whether only one tablet could be used at a time.
Just as I was beginning to nod off, Reggie pulled Mario up onto the screen and announced New Super Mario Brothers U. This incarnation of the 2D Mario platforming series will include social network-style information via the Miiverse. Otherwise, it looks similar to New Super Mario Brothers Wii, with a focus on multiplayer co-op. Much like we saw with Rayman Legends at yesterday's Ubisoft conference, the player holding the GamePad can place blocks along the way in order to help up to four other players through the levels. Also, there were handheld Yoshi bubble guns.
Next up, Reggie summoned up Harley Quinn to introduce WB Games president Martin Tremblay. Tremblay introduced a Wii U version of Batman: Arkham City called the Armored Edition. The Armored Edition allows players to use the GamePad for various functions such as Detective Mode and Bat-a-rang tossing. Neat, but it seemed an awfully long presentation for a new version of a game that came out last November.
More interesting was the next announcement: Scribblenauts Unlimited for the Wii U (it will likely be multiplatform, but debuted on the Wii U). Scribblenauts looks great in HD, and there's a new object builder that allows players to combine different objects into one, such as putting a set of wheels on a dog to create an "Auto Mutt." Players can share these creations and can also play together in the new multiplayer mode. The game's story mode will focus on the story of how Maxwell acquired his magic item-creation notebook, but we all know we'll just spend our time making Longcats and Rocket Unicorns.
The Scribblenauts trailer was followed by a list of third-party games that we've already heard about, like Darksiders II, BioShock: Infinite, and Alien: Colonial Marine. Sure, they're great games, but everyone was hoping for something exciting and new. Amusingly, the game that got the most audience response in the montage was Mass Effect 3, a game that's been out for months on other platforms. The only game I saw that I hadn't yet heard about was something called Tank! Tank! Tank! It didn't look very good.