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Wii U Get It Right Nintendo? Nintendo E3 2012 Press Conference Analysis

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Yeah, they didn’t exactly put on the best E3 hardware showcase it must be said.

It’s clear to me now that Nintendo really didn’t realise the opportunity that they had at E3 2012; essentially their second attempt to unveil their next home console to Joe Consumer and get the ball rolling with some positive momentum five months prior to its launch.

They didn’t realise this simply because despite the fact that the whole conference was geared towards the new hardware, as a showcase for the WiiU the whole thing was horribly botched – dangerously approaching the ineptitude of last year’s dismal and confused showing.

In regards to the software side of things, particularly the first-party stuff, they started off well enough with Pikmin 3 and New Super Mario Bros U, but after that they completely fizzled out; people expected more – they expected one big first party bombshell after another.  Ninty’s one great card they have always been able to play is the strength and general level of innovation when it comes to their first-party IP’s – there really wasn’t any of that on show here and troublingly, some real key-players simply were not present at all.

Sure, Pikmin 3 looked good (not great), but everybody expected it; New Super Mario Bros U on the other hand, was a shining example of Nintendo playing it far too safe both creatively and commercially since not only can I not recall a time where Ninty had TWO ‘New’ Super Mario Bros titles on the same show (the 3DS had a New Super Mario Bros 2 title), but the games looked so unbelievably similar it almost beggars belief that the game is being positioned as a ‘killer app’ for the machine when it launches in November.

Pikmin 3 & Super Mario Bros U. Solid, but far too safe to spearhead a new console launch.

Would it really have hurt them so much to do a ‘Super Mario Galaxy Wii U’ – a game that not only in qualitative terms, would likely be up there with the legendary Wii titles but would also do justice to the extra grunt that the Wii U packs? Sure, I get the fact that Nintendo have never been about the graphics, but nevertheless, I feel that it would be an important tick to put in that box if they want to fulfil their quest of getting the alienated core gamer back on board.

Moving on, any sort of new Zelda title announcement was MIA which was cripplingly stupid on two fronts; firstly, it was the most logical follow-up ever to the superb tech demo that was shown last year (what was that about graphics Nintendo?) and secondly, a Zelda title (or at least news of one), is a damn near requirement to stoking the fires amongst not only the Nintendo faithful (who must be overdosing on Prozac by now after that conference), but the core gamer also.

So as an overview – we have a 2D focused Mario title which looks not unlike the previously released NDS/Wii titles; a Pikmin game that everybody knew was coming and boasts minor differences over its nearly eight year old prequel, no new other first-party IP updates (Metroid, Donkey Kong, F-Zero, the list goes on) and finally, we have no news of a Zelda title being anywhere near the launch window of the console (current reports put it as far as 2 years out).

The WiiU showcase was certainly worse off without any mention of the further exploits of this chap.

Oh and don’t think I’ve forgotten about ‘Nintendo Land’ either.  Obviously it’s a tad churlish to start shitting on it before we have it on our hands, but the claims of it being the Wii U’s ‘Wii Sports’ ring hollow when the game is effectively 12 or so mini-games with a table focus and comes across more like a ‘Wii Play’ style proof-of-concept set of activities rather than a ‘Wii Sports’ killer app equivalent.

Regarding Nintendo Land, apparently, the Zelda component of it was absolutely awesome, but instead they deigned to show the Luigi haunted house side of things, which looked contrived, un-exciting and unfinished (frame-rates dropped below 15fps at times; worrying considering how little was going on-screen, though I suspect that this was down to unoptimised code more than anything).

Despite their assertion to their contrary, I truly hope that they aren’t pinning all of their hopes on Nintendo Land as some great white hope to epitomise everything that the WiiU is about, because at this stage it just doesn’t have the same impact as a ‘Wii Sports’ or a ‘Mario Galaxy’.

Third-party wise, Nintendo pretty much gave themselves both barrels in the face.

Right so instead of showing off the likes of Aliens: Colonial Marines running with unique features on the console (y’know a game that it isn’t out yet, people are excited about and the developers themselves enthusiastically claim that the WiiU version is the best version), we get a nearly ten minute presentation of Batman: Arkham City Armoured Edition – a game that we all played eight months ago now but now has added touch-screen irritations for you to deal with.  Smashing stuff.

Then on top of that, we get a sizzle reel showing off some more third-party games (a lot of the footage looks to be culled from the 360/PS3 versions) and some additional casual cack showreel from Ubisoft (AC3 nonwithstanding) and that was that.  Mind-blowing.

For the love of Cthulu why did this need to be demonstrated on-stage at the expense of, y’know, something NEW?

What they should have done, is relegated Batman to that sodding showreel and done on-stage demonstrations of Assassins Creed 3 and Aliens: CM; two games that really take advantage of the additional control methods offered by the machine and whose developers have been singing praises about since last year’s E3.  Both titles (AC3 and Aliens) are hugely anticipated games with a lot of buzz surrounding them, yet they found themselves relegated to the showreel.   Also, why the hell was innovative FPS ZombiU, a game that received more than a few decent reviews from the showfloor, shown only as a CG video during the presser?  It just doesn’t make sense.

People don’t give a shit about rendered movies – they care about the actual fucking game.  You would think that this was 2005 or something.  And another thing; where in the blue fuck was Platinum Games P-100?  A game which has totally enamoured pretty much everybody who played it on the showfloor and would appear to be jewel of the WiiU’s third party crown – and yet, it was nowhere to be seen.  Complete and utter madness.

Project P-100, one of very best WiiU titles in development, but apparently not good enough to even be MENTIONED at the presser. Dumb. As. Rocks.

Speaking of 2005, another thing that stuck out like a sore thumb was the lack of any mention regarding their online gaming infrastructure.  Sure, Miiverse is quirky and the social innovations that it enables are pretty inspired, but where was the meat ‘n’ spuds of the Wii U online gaming experience?  Where was the indelible proof that friend codes are dead forever and people have names/tags that can be sought out?  Where was the Xbox Live esque UI allowing you to create online gaming parties and multi-task with downloads? Where was the new look WiiU store?  Where were any of these things that were supposed to remind us that Nintendo is trying to make its online offering relevant?

And then finally, the coup de grace was of course the complete lack of pricing, release details or software line-up which was we all thought was going to happen but didn’t when Reggie said at the end of the presser: “and look what we have for you now…” and just proceeded to show a flyby of Nintendo Land.  Brilliant.  Thanks for that Reggie; I really wanted that – a flyby of a game that I was struggling to muster the enthusiasm for in the first place in lieu of ACTUAL FUCKING LOGISTICAL DETAILS ABOUT THE CONSOLE YOU ARE TRYING TO SELL TO US.


*Breathes deeply*. Despite what this analysis may lead you to believe, I actually love the idea of the WiiU hardware – the thought of being able to play games on a tablet which can function separately or interact dynamically with the console itself is pretty astounding to me; moreso when I think about the typical strength of Nintendo’s first party offerings in galvanising such an interesting concept.  I’m just not *sold* on it based on what I observed at their press conference at this year’s E3.

This apparently will be the game that will have the same gravitas and effect on customers as Wii Sports did in converting them to Nintendo’s cause. SPOILER: It won’t.

They have a lot of work to do if they want to secure the ‘core’ audience that they believe they alienated with the Wii and despite the commonly held belief that  Nintendo operate in their own generation, next year will very likely mark the launch of the next home consoles from Sony and Microsoft and Ninty really can’t afford to have a lackluster inaugrual year with this console.

Quite frankly, anybody who feels that Nintendo had a conference remotely approaching anything decent has bigger problems to worry about.

Like not breathing out of their cake-holes for starters.

Written by bitsnark

June 15, 2012 at 2:17 pm

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