There was an opportunity here.
One last chance, you could say, for Nintendo to capitalise on the only time they have left. Despite releasing a clear year before any hint of threat from the next-gen consoles, The Wii U has faltered and choked; failing to deliver even the bare minimum of multiplatform ports alongside any hint of a consistent first party pipeline.
E3 2013 was their final opportunity to make up for lost time, but instead of bringing things home with an emphatic reveal, Nintendo flinched, fumbled and blew it over the course of 41 minutes.
As a day-one Wii U owner, I've been showing Nintendo some tough love over the last few months, and often gone out to bat for them as devil's advocate. Now the gloves come off. Unfortunately, unbelievably, yesterday's showing was just making the best of a bad situation.
See, Nintendo actually revealed some fantastic stuff. Super Mario 3D World may just be a revamp of the 3DS' flagship Mario title, but Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros. both looked absolutely exquisite. Classic Ninty properties brought screaming into the next-generation with gorgeous visuals, classic action and new tweaks. I was practically jumping for joy while watching the reveals, and imagining all the multiplayer fun I have in store as a Wii U owner.
It gets better. Bayonetta 2 revealed its gameplay debut with all the intricately-designed insanity we've come to love from Platinum Games; our heroine duelling atop F22-Raptors in flight and engaging in aerobatic, tight, fluid combat. Day. Freaking. One. MonolithSoft's X has us excited more than Square Enix' announcements - since it's a truly open-world JRPG based on the best JRPG in years, from a studio who's proven themselves to be one of the best in the business. This could genuinely the first next-gen JPRG in gameplay terms, not just visuals.
All of which would have made for an utterly emphatic Nintendo Direct or even E3 press conference... last year. Unfortunately, Nintendo have managed to arrive late to their own party.
Both Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros missing Christmas is inexcusable. Unacceptable. Iwata would have been fired from any other company by now.
Nintendo are perfectionists. They take great pride and pains in never releasing a bad first party game, but this leads to enormous development times and potential delays. Nintendo simply didn't start developing the Wii U's system sellers early enough, games like Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros., to account for this - meaning that we now have niche titles like ZombiU and Pikmin 3 releasing before the big hitters. Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros are designed to get people onto the platform, and once they're firmly in the Nintendo camp, Pikmin 3, The Wonderful 101 and Bayonetta 2 give them a reason to stay loyal. It doesn't work the other way around!
More to the point, the Xbox One and PS4 release in a matter of months. Nintendo had a whole year to make merry without next-gen competition, twelve months to shower players with exclusives and beef up the install base before the Microsoft and Sony machines broke cover. They failed to do so, and in the last few months before the next-gen truly starts, we only have a paltry lineup to tide us over. HD Wind Waker? Okay. The Wonderful 101 looks amazing, but it's no system seller. Super Mario 3D World? It'll be fun, sure, but it's out in December.
There'll be other things to buy in December. Did Iwata not get the memo?
Another Donkey Kong Country game is quite literally the last thing we need right now, considering the dearth of Metroid, Star Fox or new franchises on the platform. It amazes me that Nintendo haven't tasked their studios with their biggest franchises, or even combined them to get their system sellers out of the door. They revealed nothing for the coming months beyond a new Art Academy, yet didn't even bother to bring their massive new Zelda title to the show for fear that we might get too excited about it! At every stage, Nintendo's leadership defies logic and moves at a snail's pace when their rivals are moving faster than ever.
Put simply, the Wii U will fail to move, to progress, to evolve and critically to sell before next year, at which point the competition will be absolutely fearsome. I want to offer solutions. I want to extend platitudes and find some silver linings. But I can't, at least, not yet.
Never mind. I'm off to play some more Fire Emblem: Awakening, Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon and wait for Animal Crossing to arrive. Gosh, isn't it nice to play and look forward to games on a Nintendo console?