There seem to be a lot of disgruntled people talking about a lacklustre performance from the big three conferences at E3 this year, with Microsoft focusing mainly on entertainment and interconnectivity, Sony spending too much time on Wonderbook and nowhere near enough on the Vita, and Nintendo generally being seen as disappointing all round. While I am inclined to agree that many of the things Microsoft and Sony talked about weren’t really pitched at the majority of people actually sat in front of them (although the games showcased all looked great and got a fantastic reaction), I fail to understand many of the accusations being thrown at Nintendo.
During the conferences I was keeping an eye on Twitter for the first time, finding myself generally astounded at the things people were complaining about, which ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous. I saw people complaining about too much dubstep until Linkin’ Park was played, then the general feeling was that they preferred dubstep; I saw people saying there were too many coins in New Super Mario Bros. 2; and, unbelievably, I saw people saying the Wii U isn’t innovative at all.
Now, musical taste aside, and allowing for a certain amount of knee-jerk stupidity in a world that thrives on extreme opinions, I cannot understand why some people have such a chip on their shoulder about some companies, like Nintendo. I could accept a demure “the Wii U doesn’t look very interesting”, or a trenchant “more casual tat from Nintendo”, but I struggle to see how it can be branded as not innovative. Not when the fact that one of the two screens the game is being played on is free from physical anchoring, so it can be moved and used in ways we’ve never seen before. This asymmetric gameplay is so new to our minds that I think there’s a general lack of understanding about the Wii U’s capabilities. It’s either that or everyone managed to forget the meaning of innovation overnight.
Looking beyond this to the games that Nintendo showcased for the console, it is clear that many people misunderstand other aspects of the new console as well. “Oh, not another 2D Mario game,” they cried, forgetting that it will be the first ever high definition side-scrolling Mario game. No matter what they’ve seen before, you can guarantee they’ve never seen Mario look so good. The same goes for anything else being released on Wii U; people will have to get used to thinking about HD gaming and Nintendo in the same sentences. Pikmin 3 looked absolutely incredible, a fact that was forgotten by the end of the conference when everyone was driving hate into social networks about Nintendo Land. I guess I understand, I mean why would Nintendo ever release something that showcases the full capabilities of their console? That’s outrageous, right?
“What about a 3D Mario, like Galaxy?” Traditionally, 3D Mario titles arrive a short time after a new console’s release; Galaxy was not a launch title for the Wii and Super Mario 3D Land was not a launch title for the 3DS, but they were both great and both well worth the wait. Nintendo take their time when it comes to releasing games like that, but it seems they have a good reason, as the games are fantastic when they do turn up.
Many people were complaining about a lack of Zelda and Mario Kart titles. Have you all forgotten Skyward Sword and Mario Kart 7 so quickly? Why should we be in a hurry for another, when we still have recent games from both of these series? And Metroid? Well we know that Retro Studios are working on something, so I guess we will just have to be patient; E3 is not the be all and end all of gaming expositions.
Now I want to spend a bit of time on third-party games. There have been so many complaints about there being too much of a focus on third-party releases at the Wii U conference, yet I find it understandable given what happened with the Wii. There is no denying the amount of third-party support the Wii got, but it was not of the same calibre as games the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 get from third-party studios. Nintendo is showing us that they want to get in on the multi-platform action for games people buy in droves, which is also emphasised by the creation of the Wii U Pro Controller.
Hopefully a day is coming where we will be able to choose between three home console platforms for games like Assassin’s Creed III instead of just two, and with the extra capabilities of the Wii U, such games are sure to be a much more interesting and engaging experience if they make use of asymmetric gameplay, the most innovative thing to come out of the gaming industry since someone what it would be like to have motion controls instead of just button-pressing.
Finally, let’s take a moment to look back at the previous home console from Nintendo. The Wii is the most successful home console ever created. When it was announced, people tried to shout it down. When it was released the naysayers sat back in their chairs with smug looks on their faces as they predicted the console would be a flop. Yet the opposite happened. Nintendo have proven they know exactly what they are doing when it comes to the home console crowd, so we should have faith in them this time. I know I do.
Matt is a lifetime gamer from his humble beginnings with the Atari 2600. He is also the host of the Default Prime video series, The Bowlingotter Show.
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