By Gamer_152 6 Comments
It’s a shame about Nintendo really. With the path they’re going down there’s only ever so much they’re going to be able to do to appeal the “core” gamer, but their continued discussion of features and games that didn’t seem all that interesting only hurt more from being preceded by the promise that they were going to be “All about the games”. They also insisted more than once that any brevity in the presentation of their games was just due to the fact they didn’t have enough time, but there were other companies at the show who had even less time than them and they seemed to do fine. No, Nintendo’s problem was not a lack of time, but rather the fact that the time they did have was filled with a lot of things a lot of people didn’t particularly want to hear about or just needlessly long periods of talking.
Still, it’s easy to rip into them, on the positive side I must acknowledge that they had one of the strongest openings of the show. Their intro was charming and I have a lot of love for the Pikmin series, it’s been the IP that I’ve most wanted to see Nintendo continue with and Pikmin 3 looks like it brings back that unique gameplay, odd world, and wonderful empowerment of having your own mini-army to beat up evil monsters. Serious kudos to Nintendo on that one.
After a moderately long speech on Reggie’s part came a video explaining individually the various buttons that exist on a modern controller, and I’m really not sure who that was meant to be for. The look we were given at some of the more social features of the Wii also came across as rather lacking. They seem to have neither the proper online support for gaming and media that the other consoles do, nor the ease of communication you could get with a home PC.
It wasn’t until twenty minutes into the conference that we actually got a look at a second game. Aside from the obviously awkward title, New Super Mario Bros. Wii U left me fairly indifferent. It’s a Mario game and just by virtue of that it has something going for it, but there was nothing else in particular that made it stand out.
Things pressed on with Batman: Arkham City: Armoured Edition and at the time it was a slight relief to see Nintendo trying to focus on a third-party “core” game, but in retrospect the Batman showing might have been one of the most disappointing parts of the conference. When the game was announced last year it felt almost like a pleasant surprise, but seemed much less cheery upon the realisation of why it was such a surprise. Nintendo have a console which seems to be roughly on par with the 360 and PS3 on a technical level, but have a short amount of time to compete with them before they bring out technically superior consoles, and they seem to be squandering it.
If at the launch of the Wii U the best Nintendo has to offer the more traditional gaming crowd outside of their own franchises is a game that was out on other platforms a year before, except with a tablet involved, then that’s something very worrying. Nintendo has talked a lot about wanting to support the “core” gamer and to some extent they’ve done that, but when something like Armoured Edition is as big a deal for them as it obviously seems to be, it reflects an inability to compete with Microsoft and Sony on that playing field. It’s a shame to see things go this way.
On a lighter note Scribblenauts Unlimited looks like a rather wonderful sandbox game, Wii Fit U looks like a Wii Fit game, although I do wonder about its ability to compete with Kinect fitness games, Sing looks terrible, and New Super Mario Bros. 2 and Paper Mario: Sticker Star look like they could be great takes on some traditional Nintendo properties. I have a bit of a weird nostalgia going on for Luigi’s Mansion as well, which it looks like I share with more people than I expected, and Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon still looks like it could be great fun.
When it came to the Lego City game I didn’t think I’d be quite as put off by the speaking Lego minifigs as I was but there we go. I can’t say the game looks exceptionally good; while the Lego series has provided some very enjoyable gameplay, even with an open-world bent, it feels as though it may be wearing a little thin, and a big part of the appeal of the Lego games up to now has been their cute reimaginings of existing properties. When you create a Lego game separate from any existing external universe I think you lose an important part of what they’ve been, but this might well be a game aimed more at kids than adults so fair enough.
For Just Dance 4, I fear that like the Wii fitness games it may be rendered somewhat obsolete now that we have games like Dance Central on the Kinect that don’t require you to hold anything while you play and can track your entire body at once. I heard a number of people say that they thought Zombi U looked promising, but I can’t say I really “get it” and as a demo of the possible applications of the Wii U controller I think it fell a bit short.
And then the unfortunate end to the E3 press conferences, NintendoLand. I think Nintendo put too much worth in the idea of a virtual theme park, but it looks alright if this is to be the pack-in game for Wii U as some have speculated. It’s no Wii Sports, but I think it has something going for it. Far too much time was dedicated to it though and as a big finisher for the show it really wasn’t as good as it should have been. I was sure Reggie was going to turn around, tell us he had “just one more thing” and then reveal a new Star Fox, Legend of Zelda, Metroid, or something similar, but that moment just never came and the whole show was left to peter out into the bizarre and baffling presentation that was the post-conference video.
Nintendo often come across as so likeable and charming that I feel like I want to go easy on them or give them the benefit of the doubt when it comes to lacklustre events like this press conference, but I think to do so would be patronising to the company. My optimism is somewhat increased by the news that they have more games than they showed at the conference, but the briefing this year seemed like a sad reflection on the fact that Nintendo’s best years may be well behind them. They obviously can’t provide hardware as powerful as that of their competitors, and what new hardware they have contributed doesn’t seem to be getting used in any amazing ways.
The utilisations of the Wii U tablet simply range from “Kinda cool” to seeming tacked-on and ill-advised. Their third-party support remains very lacking and dare I say they seem somewhat out of touch with the modern consumer. I don’t think anyone really knows how the casual gamer will receive their new machine, but for both “core” and “casual” players it seems like better alternatives already exist for a lot of products and services they’re aiming to provide.
While some of their first-party titles like Pikmin 3 do look like a lot of fun and to their credit, it seems like they’re trying to do some original things with some of their games, I don’t feel like they’ve presented anything for the Wii U which feels hugely revolutionary and I think they’ve presented few games which make good use of those classic Nintendo properties we’ve come to expect like Zelda or 3D Mario. I also continue to feel no great inclination to pick up a 3DS.
Duder, It’s Over
Whatever short-fallings their might have been with Nintendo though, I think the conference as a whole showed us some exciting games on the horizon. There was perhaps an overabundance of shooters and existing IPs as opposed to lots of new content, but such is the nature of the industry. E3 was full of some great demos, very promising games, and I look forward to a lot of what was shown. I hope you do to.