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Hands on with the Wii U

Nintendo made the Wii U available for Club Nintendo Platinum members to play last week. I attended!

The GamePad controller is light, easy to manipulate, and not as obtrusive as it seems at first. Ultimately, my fears about the controller’s usability are gone. Yet, based on the selection of games I tried, I fear that Nintendo will be the only company to ever use a tablet controller effectively, as was the usual case for the Wii and DS. We've already seen the DS introduce a second screen, and there's not much else that can be done here that the DS hasn't already attempted.

The GamePad does not need to exist. None of the games demonstrated a clear need for this controller.

The tablets' companion piece, the Pro controller, needlessly messes with standard controller layout. It swaps the positions of the right A/B/X/Y buttons and the right analog stick, which is not impossible to get used to, but it begs the question: Why? The same question applies to everything about the Wii U.

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E3 - Two weeks later, what was memorable?

E3 was underwhelming this year. There were few real surprises, besides Ubisoft's Watch_Dogs, and maybe The Last of Us and Pikmin 3. Now, two weeks later, there’s very little of the typical post-E3 energy left.

By or at next year's convention, Sony's Orbis, and Microsoft's Durango will be unveiled. New consoles mean new dev kits, new engines, new assets, and new opportunities for old franchises to shine once more, plus a chance for new IP to establish itself. As such, this year was laid back, with developers and publishers afraid to get too ahead of themselves. They focused on the retailer, stockholder, and investor angle of the show. As a core gamer, I feel like I’ve nothing to be excited about.

I've provided some light commentary from the perspective of a gamer who wants real games — not pandering, not investment advice. Let us hear about the games that struck you most.

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Nintendo E3 2012 Press Conference Live Blog

Nintendo's Conference starts at 9 am PST / 12 pm EST! We've been told to expect a lot on Wii U games. Yesterday's conferences were a bit underwhelming, improving as the day went on with Ubisoft and Sony showing some really strong titles. Bosskey's readers have been rating the conferences thus far: Microsoft, C; EA, C-; Ubisoft, B+; Sony, A-. I wonder if Nintendo can top Sony?

You can watch their stream on Youtube or on Nintendo's stream site.

Join us for our live blog and chat! We'll be starting 15 minutes before.

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E3 2012 expectations, predictions, and japery

Held this year June 5 to 7 in LA, E3 2012 is probably the last E3 we'll have that focuses primarily on the current generation of consoles. It's a momentous event that always changes the landscape of game discussion, even if it tends to accomplish little on its own.

The potential for self-parody present on every public stage is one of E3's most entertaining aspects. Executives, hired talent, and developers appeal to fans with varying levels of charisma. Such antics have contributed to the fame of Nintendo's teddy bear monster executive Reggie Fils-Aime, among others.

This year's convention has a lot of potential for exciting news. Nintendo will be detailing their new console, for one. New handhelds 3DS and Vita will have to prove their longevity with interesting release lineups. The other companies will be sharing their closing lineups for what might be this console generation's last big holiday cycle.

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3DS and Wii U to support digital download of retail games

Satoru Iwata announced at a financial briefing that Nintendo would begin offering select titles digitally on the 3DS and Wii U starting with New Super Mario Bros 2 in August, and at launch for the Wii U.

It is currently unclear which games will be made available digitally beyond the new Mario game and upcoming brain training game Onitore. Although third parties were left out of the conversation, Nintendo-published games at least can expect to have this buying option. Digitally purchased games would be stored on the system's SD card, and would only be playable from the system on which it was purchased. If existing eShop features extend to this software, a user can also expect to be able to re-download previously purchased titles at any time.

Nintendo also plans to let retailers in on the process, allowing them to sell digital codes for games over the counter. This measure would allow retailers to set their own prices for the games, letting them to bring buyers into stores with promotional sales. Nintendo justifies this measure as trying to reach the type of person who is wary or unable to make Internet purchases, but still wants to benefit from having non-physical media on their device.

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Miyamoto expresses a desire to see a Link to the Past follow-up rather than a remake

Shigeru Miyamoto, creator of most things Nintendo, told Edge recently that he'd like to make a new Zelda "based on, or starting from" 1991's A Link to the Past (LttP). Rumors of a remake to the twenty year old classic have been circling since Miyamoto mentioned a port or remake as a likely 3DS candidate last year, but these new statements are big news for the future of the franchise.

"I think the answer would be the same if we're talking about just porting," he said, "but I think I'd be even more interested in creating something new maybe based on, or starting from, A Link To The Past. I think it's important to bring some really new software." - Miyamoto to Edge

Although his comments do not preclude the idea of an LttP port, it seems clear that he'd much rather focus on new material than put effort into a remake. Although the 3DS is in desperate need of new software, Miyamoto's wishes could also apply to the upcoming WiiU.

The last Zelda with the gameplay of LttP was the Capcom-developed Minish Cap on the Game Boy Advance, which came out over seven years ago. In fact, the last solely Nintendo-developed Zelda with that traditional gameplay was LttP's direct sequel, Link's Awakening in 1993. We've had tastes of Nintendo's (Miyamoto's) vision for this style of game with handheld outings and Four Swords Adventure, but an intentional return to LttP's style could be something special.

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