In some ways it was a shame Nintendo didn’t take to the E3 stage in person tonight as that was its best E3 showing for some time.
But whereas both Sony and Microsoft are tasked with building the strong bases enjoyed by PS4 and Xbox One, Nintendo’s challenge is different – it has to grow the Wii U’s base. And significantly.
The jewel in the crown was undoubtedly the still unnamed Legend of Zelda title for Wii U.
On the plus side, what was shown looked magnificent and likely exceeded even the wildest dreams of the Nintendo faithful.
But here’s the thing – Super Mario World 3D failed to expand the Wii U userbase. Mario Kart 8 has been a hit in unit sales and commercial terms but again looks like it will struggle to shift hardware. Can Zelda succeed when they failed?
It’s impossible to say for sure, but what you can be sure of is that Zelda on Wii U IS looking special.
Don your sceptic’s hat for a moment, however, and it’s worryingly easy to turn your nose up. Open world RPGs have been around a long, long time. And while what was shown was new to the Zelda series it’s anything but new to RPG fans.
The combination of established ideas and Nintendo’s flair could yet prevail, however. Only time will tell on that one.
Splatoon delivered on what many critics want most from Nintendo – new IP. And as you’d expect it was full of good ideas. But did it look like a title with appeal that spreads beyond the current, limited userbase? Unlikely.
The same criticism could be aimed at (the again, beautiful) Yoshi’s Woolly World, which Nintendo seemed to describe as Super Mario Lite. And what of Super Smash Bros and its NPC figures (which bring yet another brand, Amiibo, to the table)? Is there a single person out there with a passionate interest in the IP that doesn’t already own a Wii U and 3DS? We’d bet not.
What the core will like, however, is Bayonetta 2. It’s good to know the game will be here shortly (October) and the inclusion of the first game is an excellent addition. But not a system seller.
What was more curious was the omission of Star Fox, which was leaked via a Miyamoto interview with TIME prior to the E3 video. A fan pleaser for sure, its existence suggests that Nintendo may have a few surprises left before the week is out.
But as refreshing as it is to see Nintendo put on a good show, only the most dedicated brand evangelists would argue that anything presented tonight offers a viable solution to Nintendo’s Wii U problem.
A price cut might, of course.
Here’s all the news from the show:
Miyamoto confirms Star Fox for Wii U - link
Mii Fighters and toy-to-life figures shown off for Super Smash Bros - link
New title Captain Toad Treasure Tracker revealed - link
Amiibo toys-to-life range revealed - link
Yoshi's Woolly World confirmed for Wii U - link
Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire dated - link
Open-world Zelda game confirmed for 2015 - link
Bayonetta 2 coming October, includes Bayonetta 1 - link
Mario Maker level creator confirmed - link
Online shooter Splatoon revealed for Wii U - link