Well, is that it? Are we witnessing end for Nintendo in the hardware market? Have they just delivered their Dreamcast on a big, massive plate of disappointment? After watching the E3 conference it is clear to me that Nintendo have no idea what they have actually created. The Wii U, with it’s cumbersome GamePad and last-gen hardware. It isn’t just trailing behind future tech from Sony and Microsoft, it’s struggling to match what is out there right now.
So what? You might say. Nintendo has never been about cutting edge hardware, it’s always been about the games, the classic IPs. Mario, Zelda, Metroid, they’ll sell any console. So where were they at E3? Where were they when Nintendo needed them most? Mario showed up, in a game that looked basically identical to what was shown for the 3DS a little later on. Reggie letting everyone know, almost in embarrassment, that “it looks nothing like the other one”. It did… a lot.
Treated to an almost pointless demo of the said Mario game, we were shown what Miiverse was all about. It’s all about nothing, really. Friends’ status messages popup in your own game to remind you where they are, or whether they’re stuck. Nintendo seem stuck. For a company that prides itself on innovation, this was dire. The Nintendo 64 launched 16 years ago with a game that defined a genre, the 3D platformer, Super Mario 64. So why do Ninty seem to be going backwards?
Wii Fit, it has to be the most popular sweat-fest in circulation today. Say hello to Wii Fit U, an evolution more than a revolution. New moves, new workouts, a new meter of some sorts, oh yeah, and the ability to carry on your workout on a tiny screen while the wife watches Coronation Street. Errm no. Most of the benefits of using the GamePad alongside the TV seemed to be placing it on the floor in front of the balance board, while, chameleon eyed, you tried to watch both screens. In reality, it’s just crying out to be stood on.
Call on 3rd parties to save the day. Never a strong point of a Nintendo console, but things may have changed? First up we were shown an updated game from last year, Batman: Arkham City. Last year. Essentially the same title but with some GamePad gimmicks thrown in on top. Hardly inspiring. Next up Ubisoft demoed Just Dance 4, which was a painful experience. The GamePad can be used to throw moves to the dancers? Really. They did make up for it somewhat with the interesting looking ZombiU. This game actually made fairly good use of the GamePad. At one point the protagonist was trying to hack a combo-locked door using a keypad on the controller screen, while the TV changed to a rearward view of a group of flesh lusting zombies chasing him down. Definitely the best the Wii U had to offer so far.
Everyone was waiting for the big ending. They had to have something up their sleeves? Well they did, it was called Nintendoland. A theme park full of Nintendo branded mini games. They had delivered their coup de grâce, a game that’ll be thrown in as a freebie with all Wii Us. Can you imagine Sony showcasing the PS4 with a new version of Home? Microsoft, the 720, with a Kinect Adventures title? It was a horrible, horrible ending to one of the worst E3 conferences I’ve ever witnessed.1