5 disappointing Wii U facts revealed by Nintendo’s E3 announcement

E3, the biggest annual video game conference, is underway. This year, it’s starting off with a bang. Nintendo kicked off their press conference announcing new details about their upcoming Wii successor, the Wii U. What we already know about the Wii U is that the primary controller will replicate a tablet-like device, providing a second-screen experience with Wii U games. There is even rumors that there will be fully playable games available on the controllers themselves, giving you a mobile gaming experience without requiring the console.

All of this was beginning to sound fantastic. Nintendo was innovating once again, setting the stage for the next generation of console gaming. Well, that was until today, when Nintendo revealed a new set of details about the Wii U. Reality is beginning to set in that this console is not going to be quite what we had imagined.

1. The controller’s screen requires a stylus

The Wii U controller looks like a touchscreen tablet with buttons and a joystick around the outside. However, the screen itself cannot read human touch. Instead, it requires the use of their included stylus. Nintendo is no stranger to the stylus, as it is packaged with the Nintendo DS, DSi and 3DS portable gaming devices. We’re expecting this to be a real pain in the ass.

2. The controller senses motion.. so you can swing a tablet around

The Wii U tablet controller includes built-in motion sensing, similar to Playstation Move. This will allow realistic gaming experiences for games like golf and other sports. The issue, though, is that swinging around a tablet hardly provides a realistic sports experience.

3. Wii U will include a Kinect-like camera attachment that is actually.. just a camera

We can assume Nintendo is attempting to compete with Kinect with this device. But, it seems they got it completely wrong. The camera sits on top of your TV, but unlike Kinect, it doesn’t track motion at all. It just simply allows you to take pictures, and only 4 megapixels at that. The only use I see for this is taking pictures of your grandma trying to swing a tablet like a golf club.

4. All Wii U games will only be Mario themed

Nintendo isn’t a stranger to Mario-themed games. In the past, we’ve seen Mario and the crew in tennis, golf, racing, fighting and many other genres of games. Today, Nintendo announced that all Wii U games will be Mario themed. To help accomplish this, all 3rd party game developers are required to license the new Mario API, which provides access to all Mario characters and sounds (such as the famous “WA-HOO” and “Its-a-me, Mario!”), playful graphics and more. We’ll be waiting on the edge of our seats for a Grand Theft Auto / Mario mashup game.

5. Friend codes will be the “lifeblood of online multiplayer”

For many users, friend codes were seen as one of the biggest downsides of gaming with your friends on the Wii. In order to add a friend and play a game with them, you were required to type in their long and obnoxious friend code, rather than a simple invitation system like many of the other consoles offer. Apparently, Nintendo believes this is the right approach; so much so that they are implementing it across their entire online multiplayer network. When you play online, Miis will be labeled with friend codes, not names. It will be your entire online identification. This includes friending, socializing, etc.

Aside from these obvious flaws, Nintendo has a lot to prove, so we’re hoping to see some better news in the coming months. But with graphics likely on par with the current generation consoles, Nintendo is going all-in on experience once again. We’ll see if this is an experience worth experiencing.

Zynga launches Draw Something clone despite acquiring it

Zynga is widely known as the game development powerhouse behind hot Facebook and mobile games such as Farmville, Cityville, Mafia Wars and more. Their incredible success was highly contributed to a formula they discovered which combined two very dangerous things – addiction and virtual goods. Zynga replicated this formula many times, using the same elements of gameplay and changing the theme, ranging from kingdoms to zoos. And it worked. Zynga has even been known to use analytics to help them tweak aspects of gameplay until it reaches the perfect point of obsession and impatience, leading to uncontrollable splurging, amounting to a gazillion dollars for Zynga.

Zynga is also known for blatantly ripping off games without any shame or concern. For example, one of their first hits, Mafia Wars was an exact copy of a Facebook Game that already existed. Zynga is also currently in production of a near-identical version of the hit mobile game, Tiny Tower. The Tiny Tower developers even reacted with a sarcastic “thanks for copying our game” response. Adding to their wreckless actions, Zynga announced today that they have launched a clone of their recently acquired game Draw Something, called Whiteboardville.

Whiteboardville is Zynga’s latest addition to their mobile lineup, allowing users to take turns drawing pictures for their friends based on a word selected from a random list. So basically, Draw Something. Some users believe that Whiteboardville is Zynga’s rebranding of Draw Something. However, apparently this is not the case. We reached out to Mark Pincus, Zynga’s CEO for a response.

“Oh Whiteboardville? Yeah that has nothing to do with Draw Something. We’re letting the Draw Something team do what they do best – improve Draw Something. Whiteboardville was our way to capitalize on a completely different market – those who love drawing and spending money.”

Mark expects Whiteboardville to be a huge success for Zynga. “In Whiteboardville, we reward users based on how many pictures they draw. But, you can only draw up to 3 pictures an hour. If you want to draw more pictures, you’ll have to pay to refill your picture meter”, he said. “Our analytics show that Draw Something users draw a lot of pictures. We expect that Whiteboardville will be a huge success for us.”

Duke Nukem Forever goes back to being unreleased

Duke Nukem Forever was announced as an upcoming title in April 1997 for release in 1998. That’s pretty reasonable. About a year to make a video game. Over the next 5 years, the game’s developer repeatedly pushed back release dates until they gave up on release dates all together in 2001, and said “when it’s done.” When the game was finally released in June of 2011, it had totaled up 15 years in development. It took less time for the Wright brothers to design and build a working airplane. It took less time from Kennedy’s challenge to the moon landing. World War II and the Manhattan Project happened in fewer years than the development of Duke Nukem Forever.

You would think that with this amount of effort put into a game, it would be an amazing achievement in art and entertainment. What the game achieved was a Metacritic score of 54%. Gearbox Software, Duke Nukem Forever’s final developer, isn’t happy with that score. Although most of the development happened prior to them taking over the project, they take the score personally. They have a solution. Although it has never been done before, Gearbox is de-releasing Duke Nukem Forever. Gearbox’s CEO Randy Pitchford had this to say:

Although Duke Nukem Forever has been under development for 13 years at 3D Realms, it was released under our name. We want people to associate Gearbox Software with taking games that have no chance of success and turning them into gold. We released a game that was much better than what we got, but we can do better. To prove it, Duke Nukem Forever’s release date will be pushed back again. We just need a little bit more time to make this game great.

Gearbox will be pulling talent from their upcoming titles Borderlands 2 and Aliens in order to really buckle down on actually releasing Duke Nukem Forever. When asked how long Gearbox is expected to release the final version of Duke Nukem Forever, Pitchford responded with “When its done.”