Nintendo Land Features

It was far from an auspicious start. Before Nintendo Land was debuted in the Nokia Theater at 2012's E3 conference, there was a small momentum gathering behind the Wii U: this was the console that would take the company back to its core audience after its mainstream dalliance with the Wii, the homecoming that would see it take the fight to Microsoft and Sony as it moved away from mini-game compilations and returned to the more traditional, hard-edged propositions that had forged its reputation.

It would be easy to dismiss Nintendo Land. It's a mini-game collection, a handful of tech demos, a pack-in with the Wii U's Premium bundle. It's the equivalent of Wii Sports.

FeatureDiscovering the Wii U's third space

How Mario Chase reveals the magic behind Nintendo's new console.

Nothing quite beats the thrill of the first day with a console. It's a little like a first date; endless days of anticipation leading into a few hours that combine awkwardness and nervous excitement - and if the stars are aligned it's all full of the promise of years of happiness together.

Wii U: Hunting for the star of the launch line-up

FeatureWii U: Hunting for the star of the launch line-up

Asymmetry and a focus on local multiplayer suggest great promise for Nintendo's new box of tricks.

Console launches can be tense affairs, can't they? First there's the worry about getting home from a midnight opening without being mugged by the bigger kids. Then there's the fear that the arrival of expensive new hardware will magically coincide with your rent going up and your wife walking out, landing you on the streets with an old paper bag for a house and no electrical sockets to plug your brand new Fairchild Channel F into.

More importantly, though, there's the software line-up. You've probably got a limited amount of money to spend - if you don't, incidentally, have I ever mentioned that I'm a bone marrow donor and I love receiving gifts? - and you want to make sure you end up with Twilight Princess rather than Red Steel. Nintendo showed off quite a few of its launch titles in Frankfurt earlier this week, and with Red Steel still fresh in my mind, I wandered around trying to spot potential winners - and also eating some of those weird menthol boiled sweets I can only ever find in Germany. Tangy!

Let's put aside the ports and the cross-platform stuff for the sake of this piece. The likes of Darksiders 2 and Mass Effect 3 look great, but the true star of any launch is going to be something console-specific, right? When Nintendo's involved, you can bet the true gems will probably be self-published, too, and sure enough there are two titles you should keep an eye on.

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FeatureSaturday Soapbox: Can Nintendo court the casuals again?

The Wii U's done a brilliant job of pleasing the hardcore, but it's going to have do more if it wants to succeed.

Do you remember the last time? When the Wii launched at the tail end of 2006, it was to an air of excited curiosity that went well beyond the borders of core gamers, with Nintendo conjuring what ran close to a full-blown phenomenon.

FeatureFearful Asymmetry? Assessing the Promise of the Wii U

Why Nintendo's 'new' idea might be a lot of fun.

Gaming's filled with long words these days. I'd just gotten used to 'asynchronous', for example - although I still can't spell it first go - and now here comes 'asymmetry' to mess me up even further. Asymmetrical gaming. It's straight over to autocorrect for that one, too. Damn you, double-m.

FeatureNintendo Land: Roll Up, Roll Up?

Wii U's marquee mini-game collection is good fun, but falls flat at E3.

It all started so well. The charming intro video of Shigeru Miyamoto and his Pikmin moistened the eyes of a few attendees overwrought by all of yesterday's throat-stabbing and dubstep. It heralded a look at a long-awaited and gorgeous sequel, and did our ears deceive us, or was the legendary game designer up on stage actually talking about deep game mechanics? This would be a different kind of E3 press conference from Nintendo!