Pikmin 3 looks cute — it's definitely Pikmin 3 alright. New Super Mario Bros U looks sharp and crisp, third party developers may be interested in the Wii U and Reggie Fils-Aime is a Clarke Griswold for a new generation. Those were my early thoughts on the Nintendo E3 conference.
Last night, at the time, I was brutally disappointed. Part of that feeling was to do with the fact that the conference ended on such an underwhelming note.
That note was NintendoLand — what appears to be a glorified set of mini-games set within a stylised PlayStation Home-esque environment. But, you know, I'm not entirely sure what it is, because they did that Nintendo thing of introducing a new feature with barely any real proper explanation.
I STILL DON'T KNOW WHAT SPOT-PASS IS!
(Okay, I do.)
(But not really.)
I don't really understand what Nintendo was getting at by finishing its E3 conference with NintendoLand. NintendoLand, I believe, is intended to be the Wii Sports of the Wii U. The piece of software that eases people into the new controller, and instantly teaches consumers why it's a valuable thing. But I couldn't understand precisely how NintendoLand would achieve that task. When you watched Miyamoto swing the Wii Remote to play Wii Tennis for the first time, that understanding was implicit, and ingenius. This time round I was simply confused. And you can bet consumers will be too.
For a conference that was supposed to be about the Wii U's launch line-up, there were remarkably few games. Nintendo's conference started at a furious pace, which led me to believe that Nintendo understood people's reservations and was setting out to dispel them.
New Super Mario Bros. U quickly followed Pikmin 3 and looked, in my humble opinion, absolutely fantastic. It looked precisely as you might expect it to but, at the same time, it was gratifying to see it in action — hi-res, crisp, playful.
Then we saw ScribbleNauts Unlimited, new Wii Fit stuff, and LEGO City Undercover — which actually looked pretty awesome, but at this point I began to wonder when Nintendo was going to unveil any big hitting first party titles.
But no. Nothing.
Much like the Sony conference before, Nintendo's E3 showing was defined by what was absent from the show.
No new Smash Bros., no new Zelda, no new game from Retro Studios, unconvincing third party support, no new IP from Nintendo. Very little to be perfectly honest.
It can't be a coincidence. All three conferences felt precisely the same — bogged down with software that didn't really interest us as we waited for surprises that never came. Part of it, I expect, comes from the fact that E3 has less relevance now than it ever did, but maybe there's another contributing factor...
Both Sony and Nintendo seemed to unveil all their biggest surprises before E3. Sony through pre-E3 press events where God of War Ascension and PlayStation All-Stars were revealed almost a month previous. Then Nintendo had that seemingly last minute, one hour presentation which discussed its online plans for the Wii U.
Had those surprises been left for E3 conferences, I wonder if we'd be left feeling as underwhelmed, or currently discussing how successful both conferences were?
It seems as though the 'big three', instead of competing for column/internet inches during E3, are becoming increasingly more content to pick their moments and reveal new content/IP when it suits them — not at an event where big announcements could possibly get lost in the all consuming noise of E3.
Maybe this will set a precedent for future E3s? Maybe we'll just have to get used to it, and adjust.