Giant Enemy Drab: Nintendo E3 press conference review
5th Jun 2012 | 19:09
Witness the most ironic moment at E3 this year: Nintendo's press conference sounding off with a booming on-screen display of anticlimactic, dreary fireworks.
The curtain-caller was a theme park minigame compilation called Nintendo Land which, despite barely registering more interest than Wii Fit U, was presented on stage on two separate occasions, during what was the most disastrous E3 press conference in recent memory.
"Is it over?" one attendee asked, breaking a funereal silence underneath the looping firework audio. No one was really quite sure.
For a company with such a garlanded history in the video games business, it's alarming to see Nintendo make such barefaced mistakes during its most important event in the gaming calendar.
But behind this pie-faced moment of corporate theatrics lies a more serious issue. Even if Nintendo had concluded its 90 minute showcase with a Mario-Kart-Metroid-Zelda triumvirate, it still wouldn't have masked the fundamental problems eating away at the Wii U.
Demonstrably, Nintendo still doesn't know what the Wii U is, what it offers, or who it's for. Stuck between two audiences branded casual and core, Nintendo has devised a bungling console of competing philosophies.
Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime may have worked his script tirelessly to remind onlookers that Nintendo struck gold with the first Wii, but no one should be fooled by his attempts to apply same kind of sparkle on the Wii U .
The Wii's Remote was a stick, and thus a tennis racquet, and thus a sword and gun. The masterfully basic concept was essentially the digital extension of those simple childhood days when the only available toys were a small tree branch, a water pistol and a spot of imagination.
But take Just Dance 4, one of today's Wii U game demonstrations, as an example of how times have changed. Suddenly the simple act of dancing is not enough.
Nintendo asked: Why just dance in Just Dance? Why not instead stand still and summon other people's dance moves with the tablet controller?' The saddest part of this misguided tragedy is that, had that somehow been a good idea, it would have already been an iPad app.
Confusing rhetoric by Fils-Aime punctuated a number of modest games on display. At one point he claimed the key selling point of his new console is "asymmetric gameplay". Because apparently, though there was barely anything to testify such a claim, everything will be more fun if customers have to deal with two screens instead of one.
This, apparently, is the commercial philosophy from a company that managed to sell about 90 million Wiis simply by asking people 'fancy a round of indoor golf?'
Such simplicity no longer exists at Nintendo. At one point Fils-Aime even confused himself by saying, "imagine the Wii U as the Wii universe, and the Wii U GamePad as a window into that universe". Can't we just play F-Zero Reggie?
More disasters: For every minute Nintendo spent enumerating third-party support for its new system, a giant neon sign should have flashed on screen baring the phrase "No Activision Support".
It's not surprising that Kotick and associates appear to be waiting on the Wii U before pouring investment in. After the trailblazing success of the first Wii, Nintendo no longer seems to understand why it was such a success.
Where there was once simplicity, there is now exasperating confusion. Here's the more accurate sales pitch for Wii U, though you may need to take a deep breath: The Wii U is a TV-tethered home iPad that supports Unreal Engine 3 games whilst also providing an enclosed social network and internet browser in addition to "asymmetric gameplay" between television displays of which one is a touch screen.
Even Nintendo, with its peerless experience in the games arena, can't sell that kind of monstrosity.