With new titles, Nintendo works to explain Wii U

Nintendo producer Shigeru Miyamoto discusses the Wii U at a press conference Tuesday in Los Angeles.

Story highlights

  • Nintendo rolls out 23 titles for the upcoming Wii U
  • System's handheld game pad offers different perspectives
  • New "Super Mario," "Batman Arkham City" and "Mass Effect" titles are planned
  • Wii U is expected to be released this holiday season
A year ago, Nintendo announced the Wii U, the next generation of its massively popular gaming system that incorporates a handheld controller with its own video screen into play with the more traditional Wii console.
On Tuesday, at the world's largest video-game gathering, the company was still explaining it -- and not sparing any superlatives in doing so.
"It changes your gaming. It changes how you interact with your gaming friends. And it changes the way you enjoy your TV," said Reggie Fils-Aime, president and CEO of Nintendo of America. "It's not just intuitive, not just accessible to everyone, but it stands to revolutionize your living room."
Having showcased the Wii U hardware at last year's Electronic Entertainment Expo, the focus at Tuesday's Nintendo event was on games: 23 of them, to be exact.
They ranged from "Super Mario Brothers U," the inevitable arrival of Nintendo's most enduring and beloved character, to "Batman Arkham City: Armored Edition," a new take on the popular action franchise.
But while the titles were plentiful, the real focus was on how the Wii U will make them different.
At the forefront is what the company is calling "asymmetric game play."
What that means is that a player using the system's new handheld controller -- it looks like a tablet computer, with a screen and buttons -- can share the same game with other players who are using traditional keypads. But that player's objectives and experience will be different than the others.
"The player with the game pad takes on a special role," said Katsuya Eguchi, the developer of "NintendoLand," a game that will combine characters and settings from 12 Nintendo titles into one "greatest hits" game. "It's playing the same game world as the other players, but with a different perspective, different information and a completely different role."
In one of those mini-games, "Luigi's Ghost Mansion," up to four players using traditional controllers play as ghost hunters, while another with one of the new game pads is the ghost. The "ghost" sees more than the other players on the pad's video screen and plays against the others.
In turning to Eguchi to create "NintendoLand," the company is hoping to answer any lingering questions about whether the Wii U is simply a handheld gaming device attached to a Wii. He developed "Wii Sports Tennis," the game the company credits with most clearly and easily showcasing what the Wii could do when it was released six years ago.
"For Wii U, 'NintendoLand' does the same thing," Fils-Aime said. "Play it, and you begin to understand."
The game will be released at the same time as the Wii U this holiday season, Fils-Aime said. No price for the system has been announced.
The Nintendo event marked the second straight day that one of the three major gaming console makers used the big stage of E3 to focus on "second screen" gaming. On Monday, Microsoft unveiled its SmartGlass system, which lets players use their tablets or smartphones in conjunction with its Xbox 360.
Other titles announced for the system included "Wii Fit U," a new version of the exercise program that has sold more than 43 million copies; "Sing," a karaoke game that lets players user the new game pad to read lyrics; and, in a nod to hard-core gamers, "Mass Effect 3," the latest in the acclaimed role playing-game series.
On its Twitter feed, game creator Bioware noted that the title represents its debut on the Wii and that the game will be available when the Wii U launches.
But "Mass Effect" and "Arkham City" weren't enough to please some hard-core gamers, many of whom are down on Nintendo for what they see as its focus on games geared toward a more casual, family-friendly audience.
"I'm not really sure what Nintendo wants to be ... ," said Morgan Webb, host of G4 network's X-Play. "Nintendo has abandoned the core gaming audience even though they like to pretend they're not."
For the handheld Nintendo 3DS, the company announced upcoming titles, including "Disney Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion" and "Paper Mario: Sticker Star."