This year’s E3 is going to be a crucially important one. All the major console makers have launched their new machines, and so far things aren’t playing out according to plan for any of them. The Wii U is bordering on disaster, Microsoft can’t go a week without changing their Xbox One strategy and the PS4 is selling solidly, but the system’s software calendar is a wasteland.
Over the next week or so I’ll be running down what the three major console makers need to deliver at this year’s E3 if they want to justify this generation of consoles to consumers. First up, Nintendo…
At his point, this lady will sell more new Wii U’s than Mario.
Give Hardcore Nintendo Fans The Franchises They Want
The dream that the Wii U is going to be another casual gamer baiting, money-printing machine is dead and buried. Nintendo’s last hope for turning the Wii U into a modest Gamecube-esque success is getting reluctant hardcore Nintendo fans who felt burned by the original Wii to part with their money. That means delivering the franchises the cranky core Nintendo fan wants — Metroid, Zelda, Star Fox, F-Zero. At this point Mario and Miis are going to do little to improve the Wii U’s fortunes.
Even if the next Metroid or Zelda is years away, you need to get those trailers out now Nintendo. Sure, people will bitch when the inevitable delays come down the pipe, but hopefully they’ll be bitching because those awesome initial trailers actually made them buy a Wii U. Now’s not the time for conservatism — Nintendo fans need something to look forward to.
Justify the GamePad
If the Wii U GamePad is going to continue to be an essential (expensive) part of the console (and it seems like it is) then Nintendo needs to justify it. They’ve done a terrible job of that so far. Since the Wii U’s launch Nintendo has been pumping out platformers that barely make use of the second screen. Pikmin 3 worked best with your old Wiimotes. Mario Kart 8 doesn’t do much with the device either.
It’s not that the GamePad is useless — I think it has great potential for role-playing, adventure and strategy games. Some of the minigames found in Nintendoland and Game & Wario are hugely entertaining. Unfortunately Nintendo has become incredibly timid in their decision-making. “More platformers! More Mario!” they shout, even if another Mario game or platformer is the last thing the Wii U needs.
In the past Nintendo was willing to step out of their comfort zone to justify their unique hardware. They made a first-person shooter (Goldeneye) to show off the N64’s analog stick, they delved into real-time strategy (Pikmin) to demonstrate the Gamecube’s processing power. Nintendo has said they’re planning to unveil new games at E3 that will demonstrate the potential of the GamePad — hopefully they’re as bold as some of Nintendo’s past showcase titles.