Miyamoto's new games: played at E3 2014

Nintendo certainly didn't make much fuss over the fact that famed creator Shigeru Miyamoto was showing two new games at E3. The company barely mentioned them in any announcement, and they were relegated to a corner of Nintendo's booth with only one demo unit each. Both are in their infancy, still given "Project" code names, but they're part of an effort to put one of the sharpest creative minds behind the GamePad, making it a necessary part of gaming experiences.

The results, as you might expect, are rather mixed. Both game sketches are rough, but one has a much better start.

Project Guard:

Miyamoto's spin on tower defense puts you in charge of a set of armed cameras. You can place them as you wish around a maze-like structure, and then watch as a series of mischievous robots attempt to infiltrate the center of the maze. The GamePad functionality comes from the constant swapping of your attention between the pad and the TV--using the TV screen to see where the robots are infiltrating, and then the GamePad to select the right camera and blast them.

It's extremely simplistic, but a lot of fun too. The frantic action of splitting your attention would probably get tiring after a while, but that makes it more apt as a party game. It's no coincidence that players (including myself) would do better when the audience called out camera numbers. It could certainly use more depth, perhaps in the form of power-ups or a certain number of automated turrets, but I could certainly see this making an appearance as a downloadable game, or in some form of a mini-game compilation.

Project Giant Robot:

Giant Robot, on the other hand, is not nearly as polished--and for games I described as "sketches," that's really saying something. It has you building a robot out of parts, stretching or squeezing them to impact their size and shape, and then taking it out in sumo-style battles with other robots. The weight distribution of your robotic parts has an impact on the effectiveness of your bot, and your punches are given extra force by turning the GamePad to lean into the punch. The first robot to fall or ring-out loses.

Functionally, though, the concept just doesn't work as well as it should. The idea of leaning into a punch is smart, but the robots are so lumbering that tilting the GamePad doesn't feel responsive. Too much of the combat feels random, like Miyamoto wanted to emulate the notoriously difficult-to-control QWOP. Worse yet, for an experiment meant to showcase the GamePad, nothing here couldn't be accomplished with a Wii remote. The bot-creation could be accomplished with sliders, and the punch momentum could be imitated with any motion-sensitive controller. It's a nice idea, but it falters in the execution.