Yesterday, I went to Nintendo’s attempt to bring E3 to the masses, with four games playable. I managed to get a look at all four games and played two of them, but more than that, there were a few observations I had as I stood in line.
Nintendo Can Keep Their Old Franchises Fresh
It’s probably not a surprise that games like Mario Kart 8 and Super Mario 3D World are exceptionally polished and carefully designed games. Nintendo has been doing this for forever, and their internal development teams have specific genres down to a science.
Mario Kart 8 in particular stood out; the new anti-gravity mechanic is surprisingly intuitive, but on the track you could try, I saw people ignoring it completely and still enjoying the game. But I actually enjoyed Super Mario 3D World a lot more. It took me a while to realize that the game was actually switching between multiple camera angles; it was that smoothly paced and the controls were that carefully designed.
That Said, They Need To Get Out Of The Past
There’s no reason for the HD remake of Wind Waker or for the new Donkey Kong Country game to be at this event. There just isn’t.
That’s not to say that they look bad: They both look great. Still, I noticed at the event that a lot of people attending, many of whom had just stumbled onto it walking around the mall, were confused as to why Nintendo was showing old systems, and in one case thought the Donkey Kong game was just a level on the SNES game that they’d missed the first time. This was one case where Pikmin 3 was really needed.
The Wii U/Wii Confusion Is Worse Among The General Public Than We Thought. Much Worse.
The second time I waited in line, the guy behind me was on his phone. You don’t want to eavesdrop, but in a closely packed line, it’s hard not to. And he was telling his girlfriend that Nintendo was launching this new version of the Wii controller today and it looked really cool.
That wasn’t uncommon. Chatting with people in line, the split was pretty much perfectly between nerds like me and people who literally had no idea what the Wii U was, how it was different from a Wii, and what they might get out of the system. It’s fairly clear there’s a publicity gap, and the name isn’t helping.
Nintendo Needs To Keep Doing This
I was there for roughly three hours, and, as I left, I noticed that the cashiers were ringing up two deluxe Wii Us. I also noticed that there were a lot more people in the Wii U section of this Best Buy, which has a games section best described as “lightly trafficked” by customers. People were pulling games off the shelves, reading the backs, and thinking about buying them.
The thing is, once people actually tried the system, once they understood how it was different and what they had to offer, they were genuinely interested in it. Nintendo needs more in-store demonstrations like this, with games just around the corner, to sell consoles. So, come on, Nintendo: Let’s make this a regular event.