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COMMENT | Zelda, Bayonetta, Palutena - How Nintendo won E3 for me

E3 2014, Female characters, Nintendo, Nintendo Direct E3 2014

COMMENT | Zelda, Bayonetta, Palutena - How Nintendo won E3 for me

I can’t help but feel sometimes that we get trapped in a bubble of cynicism and negativity in this industry. As gamers, we’re often very quick to cast aspersions, to believe the worst, to criticise aggressively often for no other reason than a difference of opinion. There have been so many articles published over the last week lamenting the lack of female characters, of female presenters at E3 this year.

It’s not a surprise any more, and it’s certainly something that we should decry and continue to push for change, for greater representation of a demographic eager to be included, or even acknowledged. However, instead of banging on about that, instead of pillorying Ubisoft further for their stupidity and lack of foresight, I’d like to take this moment to celebrate a press conference (of sorts) that gave us plenty to cheer about on this subject.

Yes, Nintendo, I’m talking about you.

COMMENT | Zelda, Bayonetta, Palutena - How Nintendo won E3 for me

I was so glad when Ocarina of Time gave us badass Zelda. Although the ending is still pretty much Link the dude saving the girl, Zelda helps out, and her alter-ego Sheik is a wonderful twist on the usual princess stereotype. But with Hyrule Warriors we’re getting to fully become the princess, slaying beasts, defying convention, and mixing it up in the heat of battle alongside Link. Not only that, but we get to play as Impa and Midna too. Nintendo dropped it in there, smooth as you like, and I guarantee you that I’m not the only girl in the world who punched the air at that moment.

I’d love to see playable Zelda in the games to bear her name, to have the chance to be a hero in her own games, but this is a start.

She’s already playable, of course, in Super Smash Bros, and the fact that we can now play as ourselves, men and women alike, is great news. If Nintendo have perhaps been a little responsible over the years for perpetuating the male-hero-female-princess stereotype, it’s excellent to see them making that work in a progressive fashion too. Palutena’s introduction led me off to immediately read up on her character history, and showed that you can still be girly and kick ass. You don’t have to be a tomboy, you don’t have to essentially try to be a man – you can look pretty in pink and punch Mario’s lights out.

COMMENT | Zelda, Bayonetta, Palutena - How Nintendo won E3 for me

Perhaps more than anything, I love that Bayonetta 2 is a Wii U exclusive. I love that Nintendo took that character, this is family-friendly Nintendo we’re talking about, and just said yes. I know Bayonetta is problematic for some. But I find her absurdly over-the-top sexualised persona to be exciting, provocative, and dangerous even. It’s not quite the same as the characters you find in Dead or Alive. There’s something incredibly sophisticated about Bayonetta, something devilishly complex. She doesn’t strike me as just a cipher for male fantasies, and I love playing as her. Men have muscle-bound moving statues or cocky Indiana Jones wannabes with perfect hair for their power fantasy needs – we have Bayonetta. She’s sexy, stylish, smart, and spectacularly capable. And I love that she’s coming to Wii U.

I’ve been a Nintendo fan since I first played A Link to the Past on my brother’s SNES. But what I loved about Nintendo’s presentation was that I felt like they were talking to me. Not to other people with me just happening to be there in the room, but talking to me: as a Nintendo fan, as a gamer, as a woman.

Nintendo showed more opportunities for playable female characters in their presentation than Microsoft and Sony combined. And Ubisoft would do well to note that if Splatoon and (as was shown later on in the week) Xenoblade Chronicles X can feature female character customisation options, why can’t they do the same on a game with a much bigger budget and significantly more manpower?

COMMENT | Zelda, Bayonetta, Palutena - How Nintendo won E3 for me

So I want to say thank you Nintendo. I want to say thank you for making me feel included, important, and interested. I’ve had plenty of people ask me over the last year why I bought a Wii U, and I tell them the same thing every time: because I believe in Nintendo. They don’t settle for safe options, they never have. They’re always looking to shake things up, sometimes perhaps to their financial detriment. But I love their spirit of fun, I love their persistent innovation, and I love that they don’t really care who the “core gamer” stereotype is. Whether you’re male, female, young, old, they just want you to play their games and have fun with them. As many people as possible.

They also have amazing games, and their lineup for E3 was very special indeed. Even if most of them are coming next year. But I’ve got a bit of a backlog on my Wii U, actually, so I’ve got time.

Big thanks to Jess for getting in touch and sending this in. If you have an article you'd like to see considered for publication on Dealspwn drop us a message here, on Twitter, or email Matt directly at matt[at]dealspwn[dot]com.

Add a comment5 comments
Late  Jun. 17, 2014 at 14:26

Nice piece, "Jester" :D

It's just a shame that Nintendo decided to swerve the normal E3 route and do their own thing! :(

I consider myself a gamer and I watched all of the main presentations by Microsoft, Sony, Ubisoft, et al - but I didn't watch the Nintendo one.
One of the things that makes E3 stand out from the other conferences is that it gets much more coverage in non-gaming places. And Nintendo largely ignoring this opportunity to show their wares was a mistake in my opinion.
Microsoft/Sony got their message out to all gamers and a handful of non-gamers. Nintendo got their message out to a small handful of their most faithful supporters. They're effectively selling their product to people who already own it, and eschewing all others. Which is totally backwards.

It's great that Nintendo put on a good presentation, with a few exciting looking games and more female protagonists than some other publishers. But if hardly anyone sees it then what's the point...

roberttaylor8273  Jun. 17, 2014 at 14:44

as good as the presentation was and some good looking games, just cant see this help get more sales for the Wii U, have to agree with late this only really appeals to hardcore nintendo fans, can't see it winning anyone else over. but good luck to them and will probably pick up a wii u around christmas

Jestering  Jun. 17, 2014 at 15:00

Thanks Late :)

I do agree with the point about digital presentation vs press conferences. I loved the video, but both of you are right...Nintendo will always have their fans, me included, but this was a great opportunity to show the rest of the world what's coming. And there's some great stuff coming, there really is, but no one really knows about it. Sony were streaming their press conference in cinemas and theatres across the US, but I fear Nintendo don't know when to really blow their own trumpet.

I love my Wii U, I really do, but I can understand why many haven't bought one yet, especially those relatively new gamers who's first real console was the Wii.

imdurc  Jun. 19, 2014 at 03:59

This year's Nintendo presentation felt like the first year where their "Direct" felt like a well-honed presentation. Not only that, but it felt fun. The Robot Chicken stuff was a clever poking fun at themselves move, too. But, the presentation did feel short.

However, they totally made up for the presentation length with the Treehouse and Smash Bros event. I say that for two reasons:

1) The Treehouse gave 3 days worth of live demos, interviews, etc. with devs and people like Reggie and Miyamoto. Some stuff I wasn't sure about, I got to see much more in-depth. At times, this also did the opposite, i.e. Mario Maker looked cool in the preview, but from what I saw in the Treehouse, it didn't make me want it.

2) I've never "got" Smash Bros. But, with the Invitational event Nintendo put on, I actually enjoyed it. And now, I think I'd like to get that game.

I must note - I think Nintendo are onto something with their video presentation. I've started to view the live stage stuff as quite hokey and perhaps, just a bit self congratulatory. Very American, in that sense.
I didn't really care for Nintendo's "Direct" for e3, before. But now? It's starting to feel much more to-the-point than the stage stuff. And with the extra Treehouse feature, that really helped make it rather awesome :)

Jestering  Jun. 19, 2014 at 10:31

The Treehouse stuff was a bit stilted in some areas, but they had some great stuff on there. The Miyamoto vs Reggie Project Big Robot thing was hilarious! And the Smash Bros Invitational was great fun to watch. I've tried watching esports before and hated it, but this was different. Really enjoyed it.

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