Nintendo's E3 2014: You're Buying A Wii U Now, Right?

Nintendo's E3 2014: You're Buying a Wii U Now, Right?

Last year, Nintendo dressed its developers up in cat ears and paraded them in front of a huddled group of attendees at its booth rather than have a press conference at E3. This year, it didn't even do that much.

I thought that might mean it had nothing especially good to announce, but given the strength of what we saw on Tuesday morning's Nintendo Direct, I'm disappointed there wasn't a big, flashy conference to go with it. I would have loved to have been in the room when that Zelda reveal happened. Instead I was watching the stream in a hotel lobby, and had to content myself with grabbing the arm of the person next to me and making a high-pitched noise.

We got other things instead: a whole day of Nintendo-themed fun and announcements on the Twitch stream, a Smash Bros tournament that pretty much nobody at the show got to watch but that was apparently greatly entertaining for those at home, and a booth full of mostly-new games to try out. It's an unconventional way to do E3, but it's been successful. People around here are excited about the Wii U for the first time since… well, since it was announced, really. I'm fairly sure we're not on the brink of seeing the Wii U perform a miraculous turnaround sales-wise, but we've certainly been left in no doubt that whatever happens to it, it will have fantastic games.

Nintendo often seems to operate in its own bubble, oblivious to the developments happening around it (case in point: Youtube and streaming, which Nintendo seems to view with the bafflement of a pensioner handed a multi-function remote). But Tuesday's Digital Event broadcast felt like a direct address to its critics. Those stop-motion Robot Chicken sketches poked fun at Nintendo detractors, and the bulk of the presentation tried to prove them wrong by announcing a few completely new games alongside that new Zelda reveal, with not a Mario among them. Maybe someone actually has been listening over the past year.

Nintendo's E3 2014: You're Buying a Wii U Now, Right?

Those new games — Splatoon and Captain Toad's Treasure Tracker — are both really good, it turns out. I played Splatoon 4 versus 4 and it was delightful. I'd always wondered what a Nintendo-developed shooter might look like; turns out it looks like transforming squids splattering an arena with ink. Captain Toad's Treasure Tracker is the first game to make interesting use of the GamePad since Nintendo Land. Yoshi's Woolly World and the new claymation Kirby game are more familiar fun — I'm hoping Woolly World can redeem Yoshi's New Island, but it's difficult to tell from three levels.

Smash Bros, meanwhile, is going to be a sure-fire hit (by Wii U standards, anyway). It's the kind of game that brings the Nintendo community together, and those Nintendo fans who've been holding off on a Wii U are suddenly going to feel very left out when it releases. I'm still not entirely clear on what benefits those Amiibo toys are going to offer — it seems like you don't actually need them to unlock characters — but they're gorgeous and I will probably buy them anyway. I'm not convinced by Smash Bros on 3DS, however; it's not a game that's especially well suited to a small screen.

It was the Zelda announcement that sold the show. It might only have been the briefest of glimpses, but that opening image of Link (?) on horseback in the middle of that beautiful world… it's the Zelda of my dreams, that Hyrule Field feeling of awe and incredulity multiplied by 100. I have absolutely no doubt in Aonuma's team's ability to actually deliver on that idea of a boundary-less, open-world Zelda; seeing how they remixed A Link to the Past with A Link Between Worlds, opening up the dungeons and environmental puzzles so that they could be done in pretty much any order, I'm feeling more positive about the future of the Zelda series than I ever have. Again, it suggests that someone has been listening.

Nintendo has been quietly but insistently changing the relationship between itself, the press and its fans for years with things like Nintendo Direct and the Iwata Asks broadcasts. Instead of giving the press information to be disseminated to the general public, Nintendo makes detailed and interesting information about all of its games available to everyone, all at the same time. They put the human beings who actually make the video games in question in front of a camera and get them to talk about it.

One thing you'll never get from Nintendo is the "we're totally focused on delivering unique entertainment experiences" nonsense-speak that plagues the rest of E3. For the most part, you get enthusiastic, mostly Japanese men and women talking about a thing they have made. It's exceptionally refreshing. It does also give Nintendo absolute control over the information, of course, which is exactly what it wants. It can craft the perfect fan-pleasing message.

Nintendo's E3 2014: You're Buying a Wii U Now, Right?

Here's the thing, though: new Zelda and new Starfox and Smash Bros are exciting to you and me, but these are not the games that will break through to the audience that the Wii found in the '00s. It's looking increasingly like most of those players have moved on, perhaps to arranging candy to make it disappear. Going by some of the conversations I've had in the past year (and the recent competitions in newspapers offering people the opportunity to "win a Wii"), there are still a great many people who don't actually know that the Wii U is a new console, or that it even exists. Zelda won't change that. Only a complete rethink of Nintendo's marketing will change that.

Nonetheless, the company is clearly refusing to abandon its newest fun-machine as a failed experiment and move on to something else. There's close to zero chance that the Wii U will be a massively successful console now, but there's a small but increasing chance that it could achieve respectability (and even profitability). By the end of this year it might have reached that critical mass where there are enough great (and, crucially, unique) games to make it irresistible to anyone with even a passing fondness for Nintendo.

From the stop-motion sketches to the goofy Iwata-v-Reggie fistfight to all of the games on show, Nintendo's E3 has been about fun. Whilst the usual conversations about gaming's problems with representation and reliance on violence go on elsewhere at the show, Nintendo had been floating about in its own world. It might be out of touch with the rest of the industry, but Nintendo seems increasingly in touch with what its fans want.


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This post originally appeared on Kotaku UK, bringing you original reporting, game culture and humour with a U from the British isles.


Comments

    Yes, but I'll probably wait until Xmas sales or next year end of financial year. While I'm totally sold on the new Zelda (it looks like playing a Ghibli anime!), it isn't coming out until the end of 2015, there's a whole E3 before then :p.

    I think the best way to go multi console this Gen though is to pick either an Xbox or playstation, and then get the Wii. No ideas why anyone would want to pay for both Live and Plus.

      Toy sales. Toy sales is when you can get the best gaming bundles. =D Those are usually in July.

        That's the End of Financial Year Sales.

          End of financial year sales are in June. Toy sales are in July and they're actually Christmas sales. They allow Layby to the 24th of December

      Hasn't it been PS? or XBox and a Nintendo for like the last 3 generations?

        Last two generations you only had to pay to play on one so it was easier to own all.

        Last edited 14/06/14 2:04 pm

      I was sold on the Wii U as soon as they announced Nintendo Land! Maybe I'm a bit too much of a fanboy...

      Or go PC and Wii U, I think that's what I'll be doing. I always said I'd most likely get a Wii U when the games arrived and it looks like that is finally happening.

      I might still get a PS4 for MGSV though, I don't think I can help myself there.

    Sadly the price of the console in australia still doesn't feel right for the value.
    It feels 100 Dollars overpriced at the moment, that was the one thing that wasn't addressed and still has not been addressed in australia since launch, regardless of the bundled games.
    The console is not packaged with the pro controller which appears to be the controller of choice to play their games either so it is just a really costly machine for what it is to start on a good footing with the system.

    You're Buying A Wii U Now, Right?
    Yes sir, I surely am. I played mario kart 8 at a mates LAN the other day and was teetering then, with Zelda announced (how awesome was that arrow???) it's a foregone conclusion.
    Bravo Nintendo, you've recaptured a lost fan from your heady days of Super NES, and though I've strayed, you've accepted my transgressions with nary a judgement and taken me back with open arms.

    Already have one and if I didn't I would still choose it over ps4 xbone

    Not now. In 2015 when the cool shit I saw this year comes out.

      I'm still hoping nintendo has some massive financial issues and goes the way of sega. I want it all on pc dammit.

        When was the last time Sega made a good game?

        At the current rate they can go another 2 maybe 3 generations. They have huge cash reserves.

          If they keep loosing in home consoles ( and potentially handheld in the future), and theres more money to be made going third party on Sony, Nintendo wont hesitate. It just hasnt reached that point yet.
          I predict as soon as Iwata and Miyamoto retire, big changes will happen.

          Last edited 14/06/14 11:58 am

            As long as Pokemon lives, Nintendo won't run out of money, ever. We tend to think of Nintendo's finances being tied to their consoles but their merchandising arm is something the other two can only dream of having.

        So much hate over this. But sonic racing and transformed were both awesome cart racers and they were both on pc. Everything is better when its on pc.

        Nintendo can't make Nintendo games when under financial pressure to release or without their hands on relationship with the hardware. Without the insane level of freedom he operates with at Nintendo today Shigeru Miyamoto quickly turns into a less excitable Peter Molyneux. Mario Kart 8 doesn't get those four extra levels of polish. The team doesn't know the hardware so well that they can constantly push the console to just before it's breaking point without the player ever noticing just how close to the line they're getting.
        You may see Mario or Zelda on other consoles one day but they won't be Nintendo games.

      This. Unless they're sitting on something amazing for toward the end of the year, their lineup for 2014 doesn't interest me.

        Keep in mind the current range of games isn't completely empty. If you're getting one eventually anyway I recommend going for it sooner rather than later. Even if you're not playing games on it the universal IR blaster remote on the game pad is fantastic. =P

          I have a universal remote and don't have many other devices hooked up that I'd get use out of. Additionally there is literally nothing currently out for the system I'd buy if I owned the platform (most of Nintendo's franchises leave me completely cold - especially those starring a certain plumber - and there's no Metroid, Fire Emblem or Zelda available yet). Will probably get one some time in 2015 for Xenoblade. Hopefully it'll have dropped in price by then.

    Nope still not buying, they have "Some" games "Coming" in 6+ months but everything else about it still sucks, it has no 3rd party support, its online system is still whole inferior to its rivals making any game I might want to play online and instant not worth the effort. and most importantly its price.

    Its as weak as a 360/PS3 and should be priced as such, they should be eating the cost of the tablet if its any large factor so they can move units.

    Realistically they need to dump the basic and drop the pro price to about $200-250 AUD and offer it in white for those who want their consoles to look filthy it also needs to come with a larger HDD, because fuck buying an over priced console then having to spend another $50-100 on a portable HDD. Once the currently announced games are out there isn't anything else left.

    What we will get Mario kart 9? another smash bro's, another Mario and Luigi platformer? At this point they have literally thrown every single first party title they possible can at the console. Which is great until they run out (which they basically have) because again there is no 3rd party support for the machine.

    So it all ties back into that price, sure a hardcore Nintendo fan who plays ALL their titles will buy it at its inflated price point but most people don't. Personally I like Zelda smash and Mario kart, every other title is awful for me. Platforming be it side scroll or galaxy style are boring, so that's all the other Mario games gone, so is Yoshi/kirby and the toad game, they ruined Mario party a long time ago so that is out and then what is left?

    But that is my point, if the machine were $200 odd bucks with Nintendo land and whatever other game is out at the time (Smash/Kart/Zelda etc) then It would be a worthwhile purchase even for those few games. Because who are we kidding almost every single cross platform game your pretty much going to be buying it on any other console you own.

    Last edited 14/06/14 9:03 am

      Definately right about the price issue. My Wii U cost me $220 new (basic pack) and $54 Mario Kart 8. I only bought it because it was a reasonable price for something that offers very little compared to the competition.
      I really dont know what ill be buying next (Mario Party 100??? #[email protected]% NO!) so thankfully I didnt splurge too much on the thing

      Last edited 14/06/14 9:13 am

      White pro? I won't buy it unless its black. I don't want a toy, I want my consoles to disappear into my AV gear.

      This so much. The WiiU does not interest me at all. Why would i want to buy an overpriced console with little to no 3rd party support, Nintendo games which are pretty much rehashes of their old ones and a terrible online system. I've already got a Wii and i can get my Nintendo fix on that. Im waiting till their next console before i think about buying from Nintendo again.

      dude go look at a list of games that have been and will shortly be released for the Wii U before saying it has "no 3rd party support". I think you'll find it actually has quite a bit.

      I also think the price is more than adequate. Perhaps you should stop defining a console's generation based solely on how powerful it is. MK8 is every bit as stunning as anything I've seen on the PS4, Xbone or PC.

        and how is being an ahole to him gonna change his mind? People are allowed to not like a console, its not illegal to not like a console. If he does not like the console for those reasons so be it. You are the perfect example of a rabid nintedo fan who jumps down a persons throat when they have a valid opinion about the WiiU that differs from their own

        Last edited 14/06/14 1:13 pm

          how was I an "ahole"??? for disagreeing? I see no name-calling, disrespect or anything... not sure what I'm supposed to have done?

          *edit* I've re-read my comment a half-dozen times and I'm still not sure what makes me a "rabid nintendo fan"... Whilst it's true I do take issue with those that take something they read on the internets and treat it as gospel (ie. NO third party support), I had no intention to be an "ahole" but rather attempt to educate and help others to see a different point of view.

          I apologise if any overly-sensitive person somehow took exception to my different point of view... I guess after all these years I still don't fully comprehend the sole purpose of a forum such as this - I always figured it was a place to share and discuss differing points of view.

          Last edited 14/06/14 1:33 pm

            You jumped down his throat with invalid replies. The way he sees third party support is obviously different to yours so dont say he is wrong. And what is wrong with him defining a console base on how powerful it is. There is nothing wrong with him making a decision on whether to buy a console based on the hardware specs.

              I didn't jump down anyone's throat. why are my replies "invalid"... because they are different? Facts are facts man and the fact is that whilst the Wii U doesn't have a HUGE amount of 3rd party support it certainly has more than zero. a lot more in fact. There isn't anything wrong with his opinion nor is he doing anything wrong by basing his decision to not buy the system based solely on hardware specs, all I was saying is perhaps he should look beyond that. how dare I offer a differing view, right?

          Wow, don't own a Nintendo this Gen, but you jumped down the throat of @wolfpacsnakepit who was being perfectly reasonable. Calm your tits maybe?

          Last edited 14/06/14 2:53 pm

    I bought a Wii U the other week for Mario Kart 8 and Wind Waker HD. So much fun, BUT a lot of money for a system that offers very little.
    I wouldnt recommend getting a Wii U yet. but hopefully this Zelda game and new StarFox is a step in the right direction.
    PS4 is what im really holding out for. FarCry 4, Metal Gear Olsid 5, Uncharted 4, Assassins Creed, Batman... hmmmm

    Last edited 14/06/14 9:09 am

      Get ZombieU, it is friggin awesome.

    Yeap but probably next year. It will be the first new gen console that I buy though. I still have a huge pile of shame to go through on my PS3 so feel no need to get a PS4 yet. Also I feel the PS4 is still a bit crippled for me as my PS3 is mostly used as a media centre.

    I bought one back in Dec 2013 and don't regret it at all. It already has a great back catalogue of games and most importantly it is fun. I haven't smiled and laughed so much playing games for years, it is a joyful experience playing Nintendo games on a Nintendo console. I have a XB1 and PS4 and been playing since the Spectrum 48K and this is my favourite console right now by a mile. If you have the money get one, pick up Mario 3D world, Mario Kart 8, Zelda the Wind Waker, Pikmin and I bet you wont touch your 'Next Gen' consoles for months.

    Keza left IGN to write for kotaku?

      Is that a step up, down or sideways?

      I was actually wondering that myself.

    I've got one. I've had one since a week after release so I've watched the gaming world dismiss it, articles claiming Nintendo is dead, people commenting that it's underpowered and therefore useless... I've seen people pick apart every aspect of Nintendo's approach to this gen knowing, as is the way of arrogant Nintendo fanboys, that eventually none of that would matter. People would be sold on the games and the WiiU would become hot again.
    Welcome back, Internet, there's room for everyone.

    big w has a sale starting next week(?), $198 for the skylanders basic pack which includes swap force and nintendo land.

    Still a no go for me. I don't have as much time as is like to play games so I don't think it's worth spending the money on a console to play Mario Kart, Zelda and Smash. I feel like I've already gotten everything I've wanted out of those franchises generations ago.

    Don't get me wrong, they look like great games, but I've had my fill of blue shells and boss keys.

    I want one for sure!
    Was going to get one yesterday, but then I saw there are only like 2 game out at the moment that I'm even mildly interested in, so I'm going to wait.

    I have no interest in the Wii U, though I did just get a Wii and hacked it so i could play all my old Nintendo games on it

    I'll wait till 2015/2016 before considering it. By that time a lot of what we heard about this year will be out and hopefully a lot of it plus the console itself will have dropped in price

    Might buy a second hand one when the new Zelda game is out. Will pick up Mario Kart 8 and Lego City Undercover as well. There really isn't much else I can see myself buying at the moment.

      YES!! everyone needs to play lego city as well. Probably the funnest game I played last year. Add that to the list of reason to but a wiiU people!!!!

    Mario Kart 8 sold me on the Wii U

      This. Just picked up a Mario Kart console bundle half an hour ago.

        I recommend the online, they've definitely stepped it up from Mario Kart Wii. They've kept it simple yet effective.

    I've had one since launch, and it's been a favourite ever since. It's certainly got a much larger library of awesome games than the PS4 or the Bone, and although the overall library will never be as big, I find myself increasingly "meh" with all of the games shown on the bigger consoles. Gimme fun over realism any day. Viva La WiiU!

    Bought one day one. Nintendoland and nsmbu were awesome early games and despite the lack of games after old Wii games kept me interested. Lego city, and 3D world were great as well. MK8 has honestly hit it out of the ballpark and this is the happiest I've been with a console at this stage for a long time. E3 games coming up are really a bonus for me.

    The price is an issue, but eventually I'll pick one up. I'm interested to see what Nintendo have in store for their next gen of console (if they pull through). If they can make an insanely good hardware package and 2 or 3 years before the Xbox and PS get updates, they could pull out on top again. But they failed last time, so...

    Got one a while back for Windwaker HD.
    Picked up Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze soon after and my library continues to slowly expand.

    Currently Owned:
    Legend of Zelda: Windwaker
    Super Mario 3D World
    Tropical Freeze
    Mario Kart 8
    Pikmin 3 (free with Mario Kart 8)
    The Wonderful 101

    Soon to get:
    Super Smash Bros. WiiU
    Legend of Zelda
    Xenoblade Chronicles
    Starfox WiiU
    Bayonetta 2 (as well as Bayonetta 1)
    Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker
    Kirby and the Rainbow Curse

    Not looking at regretting my purchase at all for a while.

      It's a list like this which is why I'm selling my PS4 for a Wii U! Have no interest in 3rd party support !

        I'll get a PS4 eventually, but my library of games for it will be miniscule compared to my WiiU one. So far the predicted list for PS4 is Kingdom Hearts 3 and Bloodborne. I'll just sit out and wait till the next generation of consoles comes out and games drop to a much more reasonable $60-70 instead of $100+.

          Yeah I only buy consoles for first party games, I never buy 3rd party games on consoles, so for first party Nintendo wins every time! Now I just need to find something to buy my PS4 off me!

      Lego city undercover...... it's a must!!

    I have had a Wii U since launch (yes, i'm a sucker) and have barely used it. While I appreciate their e3 was not a terrible showing, they have not done much to make me think I am going to use it a great deal more, except for Zelda which I will likely play.

    However, I can't blame them entirely. It seems too obvious to say really, but Nintendo make Nintendo games and i'm slowly coming to the realisation that, well, I probably don't want to play Nintendo games. It's a little bit sad, but seems to be true. While neither Sony nor Microsoft pump out the number of 1st party games that Nintendo do, I am much more excited about playing their types of products along with the 3rd party games coming for their systems, so that's where my time will go.

    I'll keep the Wii U on the entertainment centre ready to go in case Nintendo surprise me though.

    I would get one if I wasn't planning on getting an Oculus Rift when they come out. Can't afford both unfortunately (not to mention I wouldn't have time to split between them and all the other stuff I do).

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