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

Wednesday, 11th 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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30 Comments

  1. Legendaryboss

    Oh dear part two has arrived, in a less *something something* manner

    #1 3 months ago
  2. atlans89

    What do you mean by “not seen gameplay of Xenoblade Chronicles X”? There is one in January’ Nintendo Direct and the demonstration at Treehouse event. The footage is everywhere online now.

    #2 3 months ago
  3. Legendaryboss

    The last three paragraphs nails it.

    #3 3 months ago
  4. Dave Cook

    @atlans89 Where was the gameplay last night? It’s E3, they should have shown more.

    #4 3 months ago
  5. Joe Musashi

    A respected colleague of mine said of Amiibos: “So, uh, this is physical DLC then?”.

    “OK disclaimer time: I am NOT anti-Nintendo [...] However…”.

    Come come now, Mr Cook. If you’re not for Nintendo then you’re against them. It’s that simple.

    JM

    #5 3 months ago
  6. The_Red

    I really enjoyed Nintendo’s digital presser. The intro was insanely awesome, even for someone who doesn’t care about Smash but have agree with the most points raised in this piece (Especially the unknown dates of Star Fox and X Chronicles).

    However, my biggest problem is the lack of diversity. Now I’m not saying they were all same games. They was rather decent variety in gameplay types (From shooter to platformer to action adventure). The problem is with the THEME and DEMOGRAPHIC targeting. This point becomes more obvious when we compare it to Sony event.

    Sony presser was a true roller-coaster when it comes to themes and demo targets (Outside lame middle section which was squarely aimed at clueless Sony execs from other divisions of company). There was super serious The Order (Dark, gothic, horror, adult), then there Entwined (Surreal, all-ages). There was FarCry 4 (violent, goofy, adult) and then there was LBP3 (goofy, cartoonish, all-ages). Stuff that appeals to PC gamers (Grim Fandango, Magicka 2) to super WTFs like Abzu and Hotline Miami 2. Let’s not forget for madness of Bloodborne and MKX.

    Nintendo event had Bayonetta to cover something different but that trailer felt more all-ages friendly than anything I’ve ever seen from that particular series. At the end of Sony presser, you could feel them trying to appeal to gore-hungry teens (And stupid 20somethings like me), high-art hipsters, nostalgic PC fans, Japanese melodrama lovers, masochistic hardcore gamers, family friendly audiences and fans of 1st party franchises like Uncharted.

    In contrast, Nintendo’s presser was aimed squarely at the latter one with a nod towards the family friendly. Even X felt like the niche awesomeness that it used to and more like a more usual Nintendo game. In short, it was an absolute form of preaching to the choir.

    #6 3 months ago
  7. gametaku

    Are you on crack, Dave? They showed 2 hr of Xenoblade Chronicles X gameplay last night.

    #7 3 months ago
  8. gametaku

    @Dave Cook Are you on crack, Dave? They showed 2 hr of Xenoblade Chronicles X gameplay last night.

    #8 3 months ago
  9. Dave Cook

    @gametaku After the E3 2014 stream.

    #9 3 months ago
  10. JPickford

    Nintendo’s presentation was great. Especially if you watched the live stuff afterward which went into more depth.

    Is it obligatory to be negative about Nintendo? I thought the MS presentation was boring with no interesting games (for me).

    #10 3 months ago
  11. Bomba Luigi

    They did show Gameplay of X a while ago already, even in the first announcmend way back was some Gameplay if remember right (not much, but a little bit). Not sure how you managed to miss all that.

    But I get what you say on everything else, but what Nintendo did much better then everybody else was show and tell. Bloodborne was great to see, but it was just a Trailer, no Gameplay or explanation what it will be like.
    It was the same for many Games on E3, then look at something like splatoon – a Game I have Zero interesst in but they did it right. Showed the Game, showed Gameplay and Explained what they wanna do how it will be like.

    There wasnt much sparkle in that reveal, but it was very informativ, which I like a lot more. Nintendo did that on almost everything, which was in my opinion a good Job.

    #11 3 months ago
  12. Legendaryboss

    @JPickford “Is it obligatory to be negative about Nintendo?” What a ridiculous rhetorical question, negativity isn’t exclusive to Nintendo and anyone who thinks so just proves what i said yesterday.

    #12 3 months ago
  13. melonbuster1

    Wow.. Nintendo show was great. . They have no support from 3rd party games but still rocked it

    #13 3 months ago
  14. Nfanboy

    There is no question that Nintendo had the best showing at E3.
    Saying otherwise would be a shame.
    And I think David Cook needs to spend sometimes on the Nintendo Treehouse live feed…

    #14 3 months ago
  15. Legendaryboss

    http://cdn.memegenerator.net/instances/500x/27076070.jpg

    #15 3 months ago
  16. EightBitYoshi

    I have to agree with Dave. I watched every show and Nintendo’s was the least exciting. I love Nintendo games hence I own a Wii U purely for their world class exclusives but the system has reached a stage where it’s only market is core ninty fans. Wii U is a great additional console to own alongside a PS4 or XB1, but I would not be satisfied as a gamer if it were my only system. There’s so much more content for the other formats and with the continued lack of third party support I can’t see how they can ever fix this.

    #16 3 months ago
  17. polygem

    To be fair dave, they have said this right from the start. They decided to go with a shorter presentation and then planned to get deeper into details in the following days. That’s what they are doing. I wasn’t impressed by either sonys or microsofts presentations. They felt outdated. The content almost exclusively aimed at the twen, early 30s gamer. Nintendos show was at least entertaining. I agree though, it lacked a real punch. A true wtf moment. This wont be enough. On the other hand you can’t deny that the competition gets lazier year by year. The whole conference lacked a surprise. That’s the real problem to be found this year. The real wtf shit.

    #17 3 months ago
  18. polygem

    To be fair dave, they have said this right from the start. They decided to go with a shorter presentation and then planned to get deeper into details in the following days. That’s what they are doing. I wasn’t impressed by either sonys or microsofts presentations. They felt outdated. The content almost exclusively aimed at the twen, early 30s gamer. Nintendos show was at least entertaining. I agree though, it lacked a real punch. A true wtf moment. This wont be enough. On the other hand you can’t deny that the competition gets lazier year by year. The whole conference lacked a surprise. That’s the real problem to be found this year. The real wtf moment.

    #18 3 months ago
  19. polygem

    Sorry 4 doubledash

    #19 3 months ago
  20. RedLink1979

    Why didn’t you saw the #Nintendo Treehouse? The Digital Event was only some kind of preview. You should have more attention on what is really happening in E3 and in Nintendo’s twitter account. Star Fox WiiU is coming in 2015, Devil’s Third has videos on YouTube and on eShop. I don’t agree with some things you write, but as we live in democracy I respect your opinion. Ubisoft is just disappointing some times, i see them as the paradox in gaming industry: I would ask Ubisoft’s CEO how does he expect to sell consoles without games? I would like to remind him of how long Rayman took to reach WiiU and i would also remind him how WiiU got removed to a 2nd plan on Watch Dogs. Nintendo is getting really strong on WiiU games and I’m looking forward to all of them!

    #20 3 months ago
  21. EightBitYoshi

    Personally either a Mario 64 complete remake or better still a Mario 64 sequel is what would fulfill what I want out of the Wii U! Hell I’d even take a Sunshine sequel. Just give us a real 3D Mario game to get stuck into!

    #21 3 months ago
  22. RedLink1979

    Also don’t forget all the stuff we saw in #Nintendo Treehouse to be released in 2015 are still in development!

    #22 3 months ago
  23. Legendaryboss

    @RedLink1979 It is NOT Ubisoft’s responsibility to shift consoles/save Wii U.

    #23 3 months ago
  24. OlderGamer

    Sorry Dave, your opinion and all of that, but I think you missed the boat on this one. I saw several gameplayless cgi trailers from other presentation shows. Unfair to levy that against Nintendo, esp when lots of gameplay was shown elsewhere. The show I watched wss fun, entertaining, informative and had a wide range of games. Sure Zelda was great to see, but geez Bayo looked killer. The heavy hitter this year is smash bro, but lots of great things were shown.

    The biggest games in other shows were multiplates and sequels. Uncharted had three console releases last gen, smash bros had one. Wanna talk about how many halo, forza, fable, asscred, cod and bf games came out last gen? And people say nintendo rehashes…

    not sure what show you saw, the one I watched was great.

    #24 3 months ago
  25. ManuOtaku

    Well for me personally, nintendo surpassed my expectations, with a couple of surprises, new ips, some first party, and third party as well, it was very balanced, also because past events were not that good, the same for microsoft.But With sony was the opposite i did expected more, because past events were good, they werent as good as past events.

    This Made for me the most close E3 events, all 3 were good and pretty even in terns of content.

    But in order to finish, i think nintendo had a great event, and this will be tested in the hands on withun the event.

    #25 3 months ago
  26. zoopdeloop

    No matter how much i like Nintendo.They showed their incompetence by having a cel shaded Zelda again,it is beautiful in a way and it’s good that they expanded it’s world it’s just that Ninty doesn’t seem to evolve much
    Hyrule,Link,Zelda for 1.000.000 time over AND in cel shaded graphics on their “new”hardware…c’mon now

    #26 3 months ago
  27. Doppleganger

    Im very disappointed with Zelda seeing the Cel Shade graphics and was hoping it would be more like Twilight Princess or the tech demo. They lost me on a Wiiu purchase because of that.
    They need to go after the people that grew up with Nintendo and make it more mature looking and end this cel shade madness once and for all. Keep cell shade to for the 3DS!

    #27 3 months ago
  28. mistermogul

    I think the stuff they showed was good and it was a big improvement on last year with the Treehouse and Invitational etc.

    However, the problem is – and I agree with you here Dave – is that they are taking way too long between releases. The fact there is no 3rd party support amplifies that issue massively as there are so many big game droughts.

    It’s obvious Nintendo simply don’t have the resources to produce enough Wii U games and I think they need to spend some of their $billions in rectifying that for the suckers like me who invested in their promise…

    #28 3 months ago
  29. Parzival

    This is getting old…
    Nintendo is having a great E3 and what do I see on this site? A negative article of course.

    Yes, Nintendo needs 3rd Party support but we already know they don’t have much. They haven’t since the N64. So what’s the point of writing another article about it?

    They had the absolute best 1st Party showing out of all the three giants but where’s the article about that? If they had as much 3rd Party support as Sony and MS they would completely dominate the video game industry. But that’s not the reality here, so why not just accept it and analyse what they did show instead of they could’ve showed.

    Also, they spent around 45 minutes showing Xenoblade Chronicles X gameplay in their Nintendo Treehouse Live stream yesterday. They’re showing games right now actually. The Digital Event was just an appetizer really.

    #29 3 months ago
  30. Blackened Halo

    Xenoblade Chronicles X looks …terrible …it was really shock to see such huge downgrade (just watch beautiful X trailer released during E3 2013)

    #30 3 months ago

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