The E3 instalment of Nintendo Direct for this year is done and dusted, and we'll have a detailed Game Buzz for you soon, dealing with all of the reveals from this year's press conferences and presentations, but here are some immediate reactions from the team and the community on Nintendo's offering this year...
Well, now we know why there was no press conference.
The Nintendo Direct E3 showing took just over half an hour to run its course. That's ridiculous when you consider that Sony filled two hours to bursting point and, even at 4am BST, I still could have soaked up more. By contrast, I kept looking at my watch during Nintendo's pre-recorded video.
This was supposed to be the thing that broke down that final hurdle in my mind and convinced me of one unassailable fact: that I needed a Wii U.
But it didn't.
The Wonderful 101, the Wii U's arguably only truly unique prospect, emerged unsung; Bayonetta 2 looked flashy, but won't arrive until next year. Same with Mario Kart. And Smash Bros. There was no urgency here at all, and you'd have been forgiven for wondering if news of the PS4 and Xbone's impending arrivals had even reached the ears of those amassed at Nintendo HQ.
2014, came the resounding chorus. 2014. 2014. Please wait. 2014.
Super Mario 3D World is problematic. Not because it won't be good -- it'll be fantastic (catsuits!! Peach!!! Four-way co-op!!!!!) -- but it doesn't really show any kind of evolution to the Average Joe. It might be too much to ask of the plumber at this point in time, but Nintendo need to realise that and then look elsewhere. Only Monolith Soft's X looked like a next-gen title in terms of aesthetics and ambitions, and the Wii U needs both if it's to convince anyone to buy any consoles. Unlike Microsoft and Sony, Nintendo's biggest competitor is arguably itself, and iterations of 3DS games, 2D Donkey Kong, and HD remakes of Gamecube titles, no matter how whimsical, simply won't cut it.
I loved some of the elements in this presentation, but it gave me absolutely no reason to think about buying a Wii U before the spring time 2014 at the earliest (unless a sub-£150 price point comes around).
Every press conference that came before it set out company strategy for the next year, for better or worse. But Nintendo seemed content bumbling through again, relying on charm and old IPs once more to generate interest. But it won't work. There are new horizons being breached, and new opportunities visible beyond them. And even when they had something spectacular (yes, Sonic, I am actually looking at you), they failed to even mention it was an exclusive or show anything meaningful.
The 3DS was able to capitalise on a strong Christmas, but can a marginally upgraded Wii Fit really become a system seller? The original still works perfectly well, and the sequel can hardly be expected to carry that kind of expectation.
My jaw hit the floor when Nintendo showed us another sneak peek at "X." Xenoblade Chronicles pushed genre boundaries with its enormous open world, epic battles and freeform exploration, so now that insane flying mechs have been added to the formula, I'm convinced that Monolith Soft are working on the first truly next-gen RPG. I haven't stopped drooling yet.
This was just one tasty treat in a truly delicious buffet. Bayonetta 2's gameplay debut was utterly stunning - all exploding clock towers, slow motion gunplay and questionable camera angles - while Mario Kart 8 needs to become a part of my life with all due haste. Finding shortcuts was addictive enough, but now antigravity lets us drive on the freaking walls.
Unfortunately, I can't snack on this buffet until 2014... leaving us in a right old pickle, I'm afraid. Sure, an upgraded Super Mario 3D Land will be great fun while it lasts, and my 3DS will never leave my side, but we only seem to have The Wonderful 101, Pikmin, the revamped Wind Waker and Ubisoft to tide us over until Christmas on the Wii U front. Nintendo absolutely failed to secure enough big-name titles for this year, the last few months before the PS4 and Xbox One make the Wii U obsolete. Mario Kart 8 AND Super Smash Bros missing Christmas is unacceptable, pure and simple, bordering on the insulting and idiotic.
Where were the big reveals, Nintendo? What about a new Zelda? Metroid? Star Fox? You had a perfect opportunity to come out swinging, but as always, the message was "please wait. We'll have something for you soon."
This will not stand. Sorry Nintendo, but you're out of time, and your tardiness has come back to bite you in the proverbial. This presentation was their last chance to make a big impression before Microsoft and Sony kick down the doors of the next generation. Nintendo had months to get their house in order, but they've frittered away the time, painfully wasting every minute of it, leaving only a skeleton crew to deal with one of the busiest release schedules we've ever seen.
I'm glad that I own a Wii U. But if you don't, I'm not entirely sure why you'd want one before 2014... and chances are you'll have another console to buy for by then.
Before E3 in our podcasts, I had stated that I was ready to be impressed by Nintendo with their low-key approach. This was a prime opportunity to steal the limelight away from Sony and Microsoft, to show that there was a reason for gamers to put money down on a Wii U before the PS4 or the Xbone. This was the perfect chance to reward early adopters with some amazing games in the immediate future, and while we did get a barrage of great looking and varied titles, most of them will be appearing in Spring 2014 at the earliest.
In short, this was not the show-stealing effort Nintendo absolutely needed, providing no sense of urgency for gamers to go out there and get a Wii U, and their lack of a major E3 press conference is starting to make a lot more sense now.
On the bright side, The Wonderful 101 getting a release date of August was excellent news, Project X looks like it will be another RPG masterpiece for Nintendo's consoles, and more Pokemon is never a bad thing, but for me this was Nintendo’s best chance to grab my attention and I came away no closer to wanting a Wii U than I was a few months ago. News of Art Academy will no doubt please drawing enthusiasts, but will Miiverse users be able to export them beyond Nintendo’s network? (something tells me the answer will be “no.”) Even with the official confirmation of the new Super Smash Bros. and Mario Kart titles, they didn’t manage to create enough of a buzz, and that makes me a little sad in a way.
For me, it has ended the E3 press conferences for this year with something of a whimper with more exclamations of “please wait” and “stayed tuned,” and that was precisely what Nintendo needed to avoid. At least it has made one thing easier for me – I won't need to re-evaluate my decision to purchase a Wii U until next year. In that regard, I suppose you should watch this space, Nintendo.
And, finally, here are a few reactions for the community...
@Dealspwn My view of Ninty's presentation will be ready in 2014!
— Jim (@NORTHERNJ4CK4SS) June 11, 2013
@Dealspwn You call that a showing? Smash Bros. and Bayonetta 2 were nice but otherwise, business as usual. Not exciting tbh...
— Patrick (@Realhoneyman) June 11, 2013
@Dealspwn Bayonetta has a new hairstyle, the mechs in 'X' will "battle enemies" and Donkey Kong has two fewer friends than Rayman. Top job.
— Joshua Clark (@MyLittleMogwai) June 11, 2013