Many people have written Nintendo off, but they are still capable of one or two surprises
It’s that time again, kiddies. When the internet explodes in an orgy of heated arguments and collective meltdowns. When our mother’s sexual decency is often called into question over hostile forums, and comparisons to Hitler and Nazi Germany can be made with alarmingly irrelevant frequency to just get a one up on someone. Yes, E3 is here and we’ll all soon be having “constructive” debates about what was good, what was bad, and whether or not the Xbox One is better than the PS4 because one displays the colour blue in a slightly darker shade.
You see, Nintendo have taken something of a back seat recently. In many ways this has been pretty great. While the Sony and Microsoft fanboys wage their endless war against each other, us Nintendo kids have (for the most part) been sat quietly in the corner, enjoying a slew of great 3DS and Wii U games. The only problem is that the well of great games has kind of dried up a little bit of late. We know we have Mario Kart 8 to be getting on with and Smash Bros. 3DS on the way this summer, but beyond that, the future is a vast, unknown stretch.
I think this is pretty great, as the E3 Nintendo Direct presentation is the company’s big chance to get people talking about the big N again, to set the web ablaze and make everyone forget that the Xbox One can fry an egg at fifty paces or that the PS4 can teach your kids algebra or whatever. I don’t think this E3 will magically save the Wii U, by any means. I think it might be too late for that (an argument for another time). But this could be the E3 that will remind people that when Nintendo are backed into a corner they make some truly awesome games, and secure the Wii U’s place as one of those consoles everyone missed out on in the same way that the Gamecube is the mostly fondly remembered console of that era, despite being the worst selling one.
With this in mind, I want to take a look back at Nintendo’s history at E3. They’ve had the highest ups and lowest downs of any company at E3, at times knocking it out of the park and reminding everyone why they’ve endured, and other times sadly, they’ve come across as dated and a little bit of a joke.
Skyward Sword Doesn’t Work (2010)
Good or bad? Well, it was just a little bit awkward. Folks were already unconvinced by Skyward Sword. Most saw the graphics as an unhappy compromise between cartoon and realism (they were wrong, it was gorgeous) and even more people were unconvinced by Skyward Sword’s 1:1 motion controls. The era of the motion control was winding down, and it’s fair to say people were getting sick of the ol’ waggle waggle. Folks hoping for some classic Zelda were a little put off, so as you can expect, there was a lot riding on gameplay demos to prove that this was going to be a cohesive, enjoyable experience.
Now, if you’ve played Skyward Sword you’ll know that the controls are flawless. Whether you love them or hate them is immaterial because they work, and they work very well. Unfortunately for Shigeru Miyamoto, they did not work at this crucial demonstration. Thanks to interference to the wireless signals (allegedly), the controls looked unresponsive and broken, and poor old Miyamoto waggled for his life, but to no avail. As a Nintendo fan and a massive fan of Skyward Sword, this one is still painful to watch. Because of this unfortunate set of circumstances, a lot of people unfairly made up their mind on Skyward Sword for good.
Wii U Reveal (2011)
Good or bad? Confusing. I am a devout Nintendo fanboy, but even I was unsure about what the hell the Wii U actually was. Was it an add on? Was the tablet just a fancy extension? It certainly seemed that way, since the tablet was the main focus of the demo and the small glimpses we got of the console itself just looked a Wii.
Nintendo’s biggest mistake was probably putting the Wii brand in the name. Sure, the Wii was a juggernaut and every household had one, so you can’t fault them for holding on to the name. However, because of the massive casual recognition the Wii name had, these casual fans who weren’t prepared to sit through a 30 minute E3 conference had no idea this was a new console. Nintendo simply didn’t make it obvious enough that this was an entirely new console and I think it’s fair to attribute a great deal of the Wii U’s shortcomings in the market to this original reveal.
Twilight Princess Launch Trailer (2004)
Good or bad? Oh my lord, it was a thing of beauty. I remember very clearly, watching the trailer for the first time on a DVD that came with the E3 blowout issue of Official Nintendo Magazine and I was absolutely blown away. Whatever your opinion on the cel shaded world of Wind Waker, it’s fair to say there wasn’t a Zelda fan around that didn’t want to see Hyrule realised with this level of gorgeous detail.
Starting with a dramatic pan across vast fields and lush forests, the cinematic trailer takes it time, building up the excitement before finally unveiling Link himself. Cue an overload of awesome. Horseback sword fighting, giant hordes of enemies, creepy plant monsters and a humongous fiery bastard at the end that wouldn’t have looked out of place in Lord of The Rings.
While Twilight Princess turned out to be one of the worse Zelda games going (still great though) this trailer still manages to get me excited for a game that has been out for years now. If you need any more proof of the effect this trailer had, watch the reaction of this crowd at E3. Only Nintendo could get a reaction like that out of a room full of professional journalists. As if it couldn’t get any better, said video has the trailer end and then Nintengod Shigeru Miyamoto himself comes on stage brandishing a replica Hylian Shield and Master Sword. When Nintendo do it right, they really do it right.
Smash Bros. Melee Reveal (2001)
Good or bad? My favourite reveal trailer of all time. While this one might not be as big as the Twilight Princess trailer, or as controversial as the spaceworld Zelda tech demo and subsequent Wind Waker reveal, it remains to me a quintessential Nintendo moment.
It’s infectious to watch this video and hear peoples’ unbridled joy at seeing beloved characters like Mario, Samus and Link rendered in such detail for the first time, and the crowds’ unexpected excitement at seeing a new Smash Bros. game. At this point, it wasn’t yet a franchise for Nintendo and I doubt people were expecting to see it again (at least not so soon).
So at this year’s E3, PS4 and Xbox One can show off all their fancy, technically impressive games. I don’t care, as long as Nintendo do what they have the capacity to do, and reduce the room to cheering fanboys with a simple trailer. Because at the end of the day, no matter how dodgy some of Nintendo’s past endeavours have been (I mean, they survived the virtual boy) people will always love Nintendo because Nintendo make games people love.