Making the Wii U Relevant
I’m a big Nintendo fan. Always have been, always will be, and those of you who have read this blog regularly know. But with their latest console—the Wii U—they’ve blown a head start and have already been counted as out of the race by many technology pundits. The Nintendo 3DS started out is the same way, but with a price cut and release of some highly-anticipated games, it’s taken off. The main difference here, however, is that the 3DS never really had any competition (the Vita is a joke). The Wii U can go the way of the 3DS instead of the GameCube (great titles, but not very many customers to enjoy them)—but it’s up to Nintendo to make that decision. Nintendo needs to make some things happen at E3, and beyond.
What Nintendo needs to do for E3:
Bring out the first party heavy hitters—but not Mario
Let me get this out of the way first: no more Mario. We’ve sen a ton of him throughout 2011 and 2012, and Nintendo has plenty of other franchises it can pull from to excite fans and the media. Give us some more information—and release dates— for Yoshi’s Yarn, the next Smash, and the next Kirby. Best of all, throw us all for a loop: let’s see F-Zero.
Many current console owners would be appeased by some new demos to play; we’re impatient, and Nintendo owes us. We bought the console early, and have been let down by no major releases since launch. It’s now April. I think that Nintendo should let us download the first few minutes of Wind Waker HD and give us a glimpse of what Yoshi’s yarn can look like.
“Hardcore” fans need to be addressed, if only because we’re the loudest and can make or break a system’s popularity. We know that Nintendo scored on Bayonetta 2. But what’s it look like? What’s the story? What is the gameplay like, especially for those of us that haven’t played the first one? We’ve gotta see that in action. Nintendo has to deliver on this, and tell us when it will be available—hopefully Summer 2014. Metroid is Nintendo’s first-party hardcore experience, and we’ll all be happy to see a return to Prime shape in Samus’ house. Letting us fly her ship between planets, chase down the Galactic Federation or rival bounty hunter, and switch between first and third person modes I think will be the future for this franchise. I think. Samus should have a voice—Nintendo should have at least one character that isn’t an empty shell—but she need to be written and portrayed well. She doesn’t have to say much. Retro, I think, could handle this balance well.
2. We Need Retro
Arguably, the strongest thing Nintendo has up its sleeve is whatever Retro Studios is working on. Widely and deservedly acclaimed for the Metroid Prime series as well as the Donkey Kong Country Returns reboot, anything they touch is essentially gold. Rumors have their new project to be one of two franchises: Metroid or Star Fox. Though I’m a huge Metroid fan and greatly revere what the team has done in reviving that series, it’s Star Fox that needs the revival treatment. It’s been 8 years since the last installment—interestingly, the same length of time between Super Metroid and Retro-developed Metroid Prime. Also note that both franchises skipped a Nintendo home console. It’s time for Star Fox to get its due. I don’t know what angle Retro can approach the game from, but I know that everyone believes that they know what they’re doing.
3. Third Parties
We need to know that certain third party titles are coming to the platform. We know that Nintendo has never been strong in this regard, but it would certainly be nice to see. Let’s have Nintendo fighting for us in the background: where’s the Mass Effect Trilogy? Where’s Bayonetta 1? Even going back on some last-gen classics would do well with those of us who only one one console—Nintendo’s.
Nintendo is going to have a lot of competition at E3, and new hardware will be all of the buzz. Only top-notch software is going to allow Nintendo to steal the limelight, and boy do they need it.
Long term, the Wii U needs a number things to happen: drop the basic set or include Nintendo Land with it, introduce a serious marketing campaign, and partner up. The basic set is confusing, a poor value, and useless. Make the deluxe available in white or black. I personally wanted a white console, but didn’t want to get ripped off. Additionally, include Nintendo Land with all hardware sold. Nintendo Land helps players to ‘get it’. Nintendo needs as many people to ‘get it’ as possible. I’ve barely seen any ads for the Wii U. Make it clear that this is new, badass, and is a gaming machine. The precious few ads I’ve seen haven’t done that. This is where Nintendo needs to be willing to break the bank: no console sales, no revenue. It takes spending money to make money, and Nintendo has the dough. They just need to direct it in the right way. Lastly, as I’ve said in previous posts, Nintendo’s history is it’s greatest strength. Partner up to allow us to experience this history in new ways. The best example of this is Tekken Tag Tournament 2, Wii U Edition.
If all of this happens (and I hope to God it will), then no one will worry about Nintendo; they’ll be the talk of the town and the industry’s darling. But more than virtually every company (but Apple), Nintendo’s fate is in it7
s own hands.