E3 Aftermath: Nintendo - The Yeti Blog - www.GameInformer.com
Switch Lights

The lights are on

E3 Aftermath: Nintendo

It's been well over a week since E3 2013 came to close. Now that we've all had time to recover from the adrenaline-boasting spectacle of the event, it's time to reflect on its biggest stories with calmer tempers and the clarity of hindsight. After all, it's hard to judge history when you're right jab in the midst of it.

But really, that's just me coming up with a lame excuse for being late to the party. To be honest, I was planning on writing a few blog posts about E3 much closer to the event itself. However, as it so often does, real life and procrastination got in the way of my plans. Call me lazy all you want, but better late than never is a motto I'm going to roll with here.

First off on my backlog of things to post about are my thoughts on Nintendo's unconventional E3 presentation.

Nintendo's decision to skip a traditional E3 press conference this year left many scratching their heads. With sales of its Wii U console sagging, the company desperately needed to take advantage of the event to drum up excitement. Did its webcast presentation, and more importantly, the game's it showed off, do enough to win over skeptical gamers? In a sense, the answer is both a resounding yes and a hesitant no.

Games needed to be the forefront of Nintendo's focus at this E3. Many have blamed the Wii U's sluggish growth on a lack of compelling software. It's not that the system has been completely devoid of great titles. New Super Mario Bros U would beg to differ. But for the most part, the system's meager launch lineup has failed to reel in gamers. Nintendo's top brass have even embraced this theory, promising to increase the output of new games for the Wii's successor.

This was on full display during the E3 Nintendo Direct Event, which showcased a number of exciting new first party titles. A new Mario Kart mixing the best features of prior console and handheld entries, a gorgeous new Donkey Kong Country from Retro Studios and the announcement of a new Smash Bros rounded out a list of familiar mainstays finally appearing on the Wii U. The first 3D Mario platformer for the console was also brought to light in the form of Super Mario 3D World. Featuring four-player multiplayer and a blending of 3D and 2D gameplay styles, the game should offer enough innovation and familiarity to please everybody. Also, Mario and his friends can turn into cats now to scamper up vertical slopes. Hey, after he transformed into a bee in Super Mario Galaxy, nothing should surprise us now.

Overall, Nintendo's exclusives were as impressive as usual. This, however, is where the problem lies. There was nothing but standard fare on display. Most games were simply new iterations of franchises gamers expect to appear on a Nintendo console. The only variation was the sequel to the flamboyant Bayonette action game, appearing exclusively on the Wii U. Nintendo must be hoping that Bayonette 2 will draw its fan base into the Nintendo camp, and add some much needed mature content to its lineup. Nonetheless, it currently stands out as the only beacon of newness shining from Nintendo's court.

In fact, one of the most impressive games Nintendo had to show this year wasn't a new game at all. Zelda fans finally got to see The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD in action after weeks of anticipation. Full demos showed off the Game Cube title's updated visuals, highlighting its softer textures, dynamic lighting and crisp shading. As stunning as it looks on the Wii U, nothing changes the fact that Wind Waker is an old game with an HD paint job. It could never pack the punch of a brand new game in the series.

Apparently Nintendo could have shown its new Zelda for the Wii U at this year's show, but choose not to in order to avoid overshadowing its other games. It's hard to not see this decision as a mistake. Even a sliver of Wii U Zelda details could have stolen the show out from under Microsoft's and Sony's legs, and it being omitted is a major disappointment. Without it Nintendo's Wii U roundup simply lacked the excitement it needed to be packing.

Nintendo made an effort this year to show off the Wii U's third party chops. Such games as Batman: Arkham Origins, Assassins Creed, Deus Ex: Human Revolution - Director's Cut, and Assassins Creed IV: Black Flag, were all proudly displayed acquisitions. Although this list of games appears impressive on the surface, and certainly blows the Wii's third party support out of the water, it's hard to see it giving the Wii U an edge over the competition. Great games have already been ported to Wii U to little fanfare. It remains to be seen if Nintendo can keep outside developers interested in the Wii U long enough for it to take root.

As strong as Nintendo's first party games are, the company cannot afford to go in alone this time around. Countless people complained about the scarcity of games to play on the Wii. If Nintendo wants to avoid this kind of situation, the company needs to give gamers something to play besides Mario, Zelda and Metroid once in a blue moon. Unfortunately, the Wii U's underpowered status compared to the Xbox One and PS4 will inevitably lead to inferior ports appearing on the system.

Nintendo is caught in precarious situation. Though the Wii saw much success appealing to a casual audience, it burned a number of bridges to hardcore gamers, It is vital that Nintendo doesn't neglect them this time around. Although casual gamers were what made the original Wii a sounding success, they are an inconsistent demographic whose interests ebb and flow. If the Wii U is to be a success, it needs to appeal to those invested in console gaming as well as everybody's grandma. To do this Nintendo desperately needs to sell its tablet controlled console to the masses. Providing new exciting games is simply the only way to do this.

With the Wii U in a precarious situation, Nintendo thankfully didn't neglect the 3DS, which has become a welcome success story for the company. Great games continue to come out on the system, creating a diverse library that will soon include The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D, Mario & Luigi: Dream Drop Distance and many other compelling new titles. Even if the 3DS didn't make massive waves at this E3, Nintendo did enough to keep its handheld healthy.

If there's anything to be learned from the past few console generations, it's that people should never count Nintendo out. The company can still do a lot to save the Wii U and resell its brand to hesitant gamers and the casual crowd. This year's E3 was a good first step, but not the giant leap that could have jolted Nintendo's lukewarm fortunes.

comments