Jun 11, 2013

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E3 Nintendo Direct and Impressions: Super Mario 3D World, Wind Waker, Smash Bros., and more!

E3 Nintendo Direct and Impressions: Super Mario 3D World, Wind Waker, Smash Bros., and more!

When Nintendo announced a while back that they wouldn’t be having the traditional E3 press conference and instead livestreaming a Nintendo Direct, fans booed and sighed at the thought of a prerecorded video. Before I get to the content that was provided this morning during the Nintendo Direct at 7 a.m. PST, allow me to express my thoughts on the decision to do away with a press conference. Originally, I was one of the very few that felt this new take on E3 would be very beneficial for them. Renting out an entire theatre for only one hour can be quite costly, money that could be easily be used for marketing the Wii U to the consumers still confused on what exactly the system is all about.

Also, I’ve gotten more as a consumer out of the Nintendo Directs than anything Sony or Microsoft have done, considering I only hear from those companies maybe once a year. The Directs are personal and as Iwata-san puts it, “directed to you.” Not a shareholder, not retailers, and not analysts, which is what E3 is also for. So, in my opinion, the Nintendo Direct was their chance to get personal with the consumer and clarify why the Wii U is the console everyone needs, much like they were able to do with the Wii. As good as all that sounds, how was the actual execution? Well, before giving my final verdict, let’s dive into what Nintendo showed.

Iwata-san started the 40 minute show off right, showcasing a new trailer and some new features coming to Pokemon X and Y, including a pet management-like sim part of the game called Pokemon-amie and the 18th type Fairy was confirmed. Starting off with the only 3DS game showcased in a significant portion was a smart decision just to reassure the 3DS fans. The first HD 3D Mario game, Super Mario 3D World, is going in a direction most people did not expect. Most people assumed the game would be Super Mario Universe while I personally hoped for a true sequel to Super Mario 64, but we got instead, the Wii U sequel to the 2011 fantastic game, Super Mario 3D Land. 3D Land was and still is very much a system seller for the Nintendo 3DS, so I expect no less from 3D World. The first 3D Mario game to feature multiplayer, this is a sure fire way to increase sales for Wii U considering it will be releasing in December, just in time for Christmas and the holiday season. Mario Kart 8 was then announced, featuring tracks that go upside down, sideways, underwater, have motorcycles, and hover karts. From there Iwata went on to announce that Wii Party U and Wii Fit U are both being delayed. Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze was announced for Wii U, though it wasn’t clarified that Retro Studios is making it, that is most likely the case.

A 3rd party sizzle reel was then shown, sadly not revealing anything new coming to the Wii U this year, but reaffirming that Ubisoft and Warner Bros. as well as other publishers are strongly supporting the platform with the likes of Assassin’s Creed IV, Watch_Dogs, and Arkham Origins. Then another reel was played featuring eShop games coming to Wii U this year. This, in my opinion, was one of the strong points and more on this later. A new trailer for Wind Waker HD was shown, featuring one of the several changes that will be coming to the Wii U remake. The Wonderful 101 got a new gameplay trailer and a release date of September 15th. The first gameplay was revealed for Bayonetta 2, a game I think that will definitely be big for “hardcore gamers” featuring classic large-scale fights and boss battles and a new look for Bayonetta. A new trailer for Monolithsoft’s X was shown, getting me hyped up and excited for this game more than anything else that was previously shown.

Then the final announcement was made of Super Smash Bros. for 3DS and Wii U. The first part showed a cel-shaded (most likely to avoid technical issues) 3DS version and then the HD version for Wii U. This first trailer also revealed that the Villager from Animal Crossing will be one of the new characters in the games. Then a second trailer was shown, dedicated to revealing and showing some of the powers of the second new character, Mega Man. The fact that both versions have a flame beside the names, one that is red and the other, blue leads me to believe it is going to follow a naming structure similar to the Pokemon series. I believe that the 3DS version will be called something like Super Smash Bros. Fire and the Wii U version be called Super Smash Bros. Ice. Iwata-san then ended the Direct by showing a backstage look at the Nintendo booth at E3 for those that are unavailable to make it, which was definitely a nice tidbit for those of us at home.

So, how was the execution of all this? Mediocre, to be honest. Iwata-san, though as charming as he is, did not make this feel like a special and grand Direct. There were honestly other, better Directs that used skits and the goofy awkwardness that the Big N is so known for. Reggie and Miyamoto were noticeably absent and there wasn’t even any members of the Nintendo Treehouse showing off some of the announcements unlike nearly all of the previous Directs. While the games were great and Super Mario 3D World will definitely be a system seller for many this holiday season, I didn’t feel the soul of Nintendo that sets it so apart from the strictly corporate conferences that Sony and Microsoft have. Nintendo needs to emphasize and capitalize the aspects of the Wii U that it does best. First party games (of course, that’s what they’ve always done) but also one of their newest assets, the Nintendo eShop.

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I love instruction manuals found on retail games, everytime I buy a physical copy of a game I love to read through the entire instruction manual before playing it. I only have one retail game bought digitally on my Xbox 360 and I do have a good Internet connection so that’s not why. But if you look in my room, you will only see 2 physical 3DS games. Check my handheld itself and you’ll see more than 30 games downloaded and saved on my SD card. Anything from Virtual Console to retail games to eShop exclusives, there are so many digital games on my 3DS it’s like what you would expect from your smartphone or tablet.

That is what Nintendo needs to capitalize on with the Wii U. The eShop sizzle reel showed a ton of indie games that are going to be released this year and nearly all of them have peaked my interest. With Microsoft barring the entry for indie devs with such high demands, Nintendo can accept those studios with open arms and an open platform to freely update and publish their games. I know that this Direct was prerecorded and therefore no one, not Nintendo and not anyone else, expected such amazing conferences yesterday from Microsoft and Sony but that doesn’t mean Nintendo doesn’t still have a chance to bring everyone back this week with announcements like a price drop that would cause so many people to really want this console in light of the Xbox One’s hefty $499 and even the PS4′s $399 price tags.

Only time will tell, but Nintendo still has a long way ahead of it but if marketed right, the Wii U still has a chance to carve a nice and profitable niche for itself.

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