Nintendo’s E3 2014 stream had some gems but lacked sparkle – opinion

Wednesday, 11 June 2014 10:03 GMT By Dave Cook

Nintendo posted its E3 2014 broadcast yesterday and announced the next Legend of Zelda game for Wii U. That was big news, but what about the rest of its presentation? It had some gems but generally lacked sparkle, says Dave Cook.

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OK disclaimer time: I am NOT anti-Nintendo, the company isn’t down the toilet, I actually like the Wii U and many of its games and I still regularly play my 3DS. However, I genuinely felt that Nintendo’s E3 2014 stream lacked the gut-punches of its peers. Compared to Microsoft’s game heavy barrage and Sony’s big reveals, the Japanese giant continues to play third-fiddle.

I’ve been on the receiving end of wrath dispensed by Nintendo fans on this site before, and I get it; we like to be defensive of our favourite format. I avoid that by choosing not to have a preferred platform. I’m a gamer, I like games, not the devices that play them. I have to make this absolutely clear before I move on to say that I felt quite deflated by Nintendo’s E3 announcements, but let’s look at the positives first.

The Legend of Zelda is going open world on Wii U in 2015. Just read that line again. Feels good doesn’t it? Quite rightly too, as it can be argued that the NES original was an open world title in its own right. We saw Eiji Aonuma discuss his fondness for the game’s expansive setting before giving us a glimpse of the new Hyrule Field, with snowy mountains on the horizon that players can actually visit. It was a watershed moment for the series.

”This is it friends, the moment many of you had been waiting for; a true open-world representation of Link’s world. You’ve craved it ever since you first rode onto Hyrule Field in Ocarina of Time and now, finally, it’s almost in your grasp.“

As he spoke about dungeons and areas that can be visited in any order, and the freedom to explore Hyrule at your own pace, green grass swayed in the wind while Link looked out at the landscape atop Epona. This is it friends, the moment many of you had been waiting for; a true open-world representation of Link’s world. You’ve craved it ever since you first rode onto Hyrule Field in Ocarina of Time and now, finally, it’s almost in your grasp.

Major kudos all round to Nintendo on that one, seriously. I’m hyped as hell to play the new Zelda, and the same goes for the Bayonetta double pack, which houses the first and second game, along with lots of Nintendo-themed content, such as a Samus suit and other weird quirks. It’s a zany game to begin with so this actually makes logical sense.

Platinum’s first entry was the only gave I had ever given 10/10 back when I worked on scoring sites, and I played Bayonetta 2 last year. I enjoyed it. It was difficult, insane, slick and really worth checking out if you’re fans of games like Devil May Cry, God of War and so on. I’m really happy this is a Wii U exclusive, as it’s a game I’d absolutely buy a Wii U for, and I get the feeling it’ll shift some consoles once it drops this October.

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Super Smash Bros. never fails to disappoint, and the reveal of Nintendo’s Amiibo scanned figures raised he hype further. Essentially, you can get a figure of your favourite fighter, scan it into the game using your Wii U GamePad and they’ll appear in-game. The figure will then receive data and evolve based on your performance, which should see players battling their toys to see whose is better.

”I know that I already want to play Xenoblade Chronicles X, but it’s out in 2015 and we still haven’t seen gameplay. There’s a new Star Fox coming and I couldn’t be happier. When’s it out? I have no idea. Is there a new Mario in development? I couldn’t tell you even if I wanted to.“

The fact that hose figures can be used in mutliple games – Mario Kart 8, Captain Toad Treasure Tracker and Mario Party 10 were among those mentioned – is pure genius, and should make Nintendo a ton of money. It worked for Skylanders and Disney Infinity so far, and I see no reason why it won’t here. Seriously, this is a significant move from Nintendo, even if you’d rather shove your head in a lit oven than play with those figures. Believe it.

So why am I being down on Nintendo’s stream? Well, it’s because these games still aren’t out for ages. I know that I already want to play Xenoblade Chronicles X, but it’s out in 2015 and we still haven’t seen gameplay. There’s a new Star Fox coming and I couldn’t be happier. When’s it out? I have no idea. Is there a new Mario in development? I couldn’t tell you even if I wanted to. The low volume of third-party support – and yes, it exists – was really apparent. The lack of solid details is frustrating.

Nintendo cannot produce enough games to keep its core slate full, and while games like Captain Toad and Mario Party 10 have fans, they are not system sellers. We needed more first-party games of Mario Kart 8 calibre but we didn’t get them, besides Zelda and Smash Bros, although they’re still a while away. Splatoon looked charming and fun, but it’s a new IP and has a fight right out of the gate, while news that Devil’s Third is now a Wii U exclusive fell flat because we haven’t seen it yet.

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You may be thinking, ‘but didn’t this large third-party Wii U game list just appear on your site?’

Yes it did. Look a little closer and you’ll see a wealth of indie games that I’m sure are brilliant, like Lone Survivor, Stealth Inc. 2 and Tengami, but these are not system sellers. I am absolutely not putting down Nintendo for raising its indie stock – I think it’s a wonderful thing – but let’s be honest; these titles will not sell Wii U consoles.

”Nintendo needs to up the volume of its first-party exclusives and big hitters like Bayonetta 2 and Xenoblade Chronicles X if it wants to see the ownership numbers rise.“

In bigger productions, we’ve got Sonic Boom, Skylanders: Trap Team, Lego Batman 3, Watch Dogs, Costume Quest 2 and Just Dance 2014.

They’re all fine games and ideal for the youth demographic, save for Watch Dogs which is out on every other system already. If the third party publishers aren’t bringing their titles to Wii U in numbers, then Nintendo needs to fill the gaps with big titles of its own. The problem is that the company is taking too long to bring those games to market.

We needed to see a solid, consistent road map of big system-selling Nintendo titles yesterday. We got one, followed by a handful of superb exclusives, then exciting exciting eShop games like Kirby that, despite looking fun and polished, will not sell machines.

Nintendo needs to up the volume of its first-party exclusives and big hitters like Bayonetta 2 and Xenoblade Chronicles X if it wants to see the ownership numbers rise. It’s worrying when a publisher like Ubisoft withholds a finished Wii U game because the format’s sales aren’t high enough.

Think about that.

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