Nintendo Rapid Reactions
The thing about E3 is that every year is the same: every year you expect something fantastic, and every year it just fails to deliver.
Coming off a day of four disappointing press conferences, surely we could expect Nintendo to kick us out of the doldrums. They have a new console! Sure, the PS Vita wasn’t exciting, but this was a new console that could have been called the Nintendo. That couldn’t suck. Zelda’s 25th anniversary couldn’t suck. Surely they’d give us some Wii games if the new console wasn’t coming out for another year, at least. Surely they’d give us a couple new 3DS games.
Let’s spoil the ending: nothing happened.
While Sony and Microsoft were both pretty boring, we got a good sense of what they were about: Microsoft had lots of demos of bros shooting bros, and Sony had a lot of demos showing us the physical realities of their new games. We could see things, and we could appreciate them.
Nintendo? Not so much. We got some footage of Skyward Sword in a montage, coupled with lots of Miyamoto led silliness, as well as videos of some 3DS games. As for the new console, the Wii U? Not so much: no footage of new Nintendo games, and only footage likely from the lead consoles for other 3rd party games.
Start with the good. The 3DS came with some decent reveals. Super Mario 3D is not, as I expected, a remake of Mario Bros. 3, but instead a new 3D platformer (in both ways!) with the return of the tanooki suit. Yes, it doesn’t look very different from Mario Galaxy, but that’s not an especially bad thing. It’s a 3D Mario platformer, so it definitely has the potential to be a killer app.
Okay. That’s the good. In the mediocre, we have the rest of the 3DS’ catalog for this year. Kid Icarus has some of the most annoying voice actors imaginable, but it also has a potentially compelling multiplayer mode and it’s likely the game will be passable. The new Mario Kart looks like Mario Kart DS graphically, and features only a little bit more customization in terms of kart configuration. It looks obligatory, like they were contractually obliged to make a new Mario Kart. Star Fox 64 3DS is a remake with few important additions, so forgive me for not giving much of a damn. The new announcement was a sequel absolutely no one ever, ever asked for: Luigi’s Mansion 2. Description is impossible, since it looks to be exactly the same as Luigi’s Mansion, a game so perfect no changes were required.
Man, it’s just the masterpiece we needed to move 3DS, the out of touch executives at Nintendo said. And we all cried.
The bad and the ugly, as it were, was the Wii U. Its name is the ugly, and what it is is the bad. Not necessarily for what it is, either. The controller is a tablet. A comparison can definitely be drawn between it and the PSP Vita, in that both are tablet like devices; in fact, they both can sync up to the television in a very similar way.
I’m struggling to describe it. This was a pure potential presentation, where they talked about it in lofty terms, but they never showed us the damned thing. Perhaps I could be excited if I weren’t bewildered, like a train just drove through the chicken coop that is my life.
What can the Wii U do? Well, you can definitely play games on it while someone else watches TV. Except in the games you can’t. It’s a tablet. You can draw on it. It has an accelerometer. It looks far too unwieldy to hold for more than 30 minutes. It can run modern HD games, and they’ve got some 3rd party support and games like Assassin’s Creed Revelations, Batman: Arkham City and Darksiders 2, but nothing to differentiate these ports from their appearances on the other consoles. There’s one exclusive right now: Lego City Stories. Who gives a fuck?
That’s the problem. We always say Nintendo needs 3rd party support, and they have it now, but they also have no new games to show us how this console would be exciting or even what it is. What they needed was a stage demo of one of the games, some sort of killer app, that would put this in the forefront of everyone’s minds. Right now, I have little conception of what this console is capable of and what good it would do me, especially since most of the gameplay footage they gave us showed one person playing on the Wii U and four people with Wiimotes, which has potential but no practical examples of its benefit.
Let’s close with the good: new Super Smash Brothers, on both 3DS and Wii U. They can be played together, like the PS Vita is promising. I don’t know how it will work. I don’t think Nintendo knows how it will work. I don’t think the console is quite cooked yet, and I think they’re pushing this out soon to try to preempt Microsoft and Sony’s consoles, to force them back to the drawing board. Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to be the most revolutionary console, sadly.
It looks like a failure, to be honest.
Most disappointing is the total lack of Wii news. The Wii is dead, folks. No Skyward Sword release date, at the venue that seemed most reasonable to expect it from, and no announcements of anything new. This press conference was pure potential, and honestly Nintendo needed immediate results more than potential.