The company’s losing money and the Wii U is failing. How can they turn it around?
Let’s face it – all is not well at Camp Nintendo. For the second year running Nintendo will be eschewing the traditional press-conference in favour of another digital streaming event. This follows news that the company continues to report major losses due to underwhelming sales of the Wii U, prompting President and CEO Satoru Iwata to halve his pay in response. With Iwata’s internal approval rating falling like an angry thwomp, it looks as if Reggie Fils-Aime is going to have to pull every PR trick in the book to give the impression of a company with a plan at this year’s E3. That is if his body is ready, of course.
Nintendo are coming in last in this race, and while nothing on the following list is a guaranteed blue tortoise shell, these are the things that we at Screen Robot want to see from the house that Mario built at E3 2014.
A New First-Party IP
While this may not be true for the 3DS, it is safe to say that the third-party ship has sailed from the Wii U. Bar the notable exceptions of Activision and Ubisoft, the Wii U is a console that you buy (or don’t buy as the numbers suggest) to play Nintendo first-party titles. So far the Mario, Zelda, Pikmin and Donkey Kong titles for the Wii U have been of excellent quality, with metacritic scores in the 80s and 90s, but they have been too few and too familiar to provide the boost to sales that the console desperately needs. All Nintendo fans long to experience this kind of quality in a new universe, with new characters and new mechanics that make the Wii U gamepad an essential tool rather than a fun gimmick. An appearance from forgotten properties like Starfox and Metroid certainly wouldn’t hurt either. Also, no more side-scrolling platformers, please. We love them, but enough is enough.
No More Disconnect From Core Gamers
Remember the excitement at last year’s E3 as gamers tried to guess what the big surprise would be at the end of Nintendo’s Software Showcase? Would it be a glimpse of Zelda U? Perhaps Metroid Prime 4? Nope, it was the announcement that the Wii Fit trainer would be a playable character in Super Smash Bros…
I can just imagine Iwata’s logic here. Wii Fit has sold upwards of 20 million copies, so it must be a big hit with gamers, right? No, Mr. Iwata. The kinds of gamers that are tuned in to E3 aren’t dancing about on your silly balance-boards. They’re longing to swing a master sword at a vicious moblin or blast a space pirate with Samus’ arm-cannon. This misstep may have been an even bigger let-down than Wii Music as the (anti)climax of Nintendo’s press conference at E3 2008.
This year Nintendo need to start showing us core gamers what we want to see, or at lease a sign that they have some understanding of what we want to see.
More From the GamePad
I touched on this in point 1, but I can’t stress enough how important it is for Nintendo to make better use of the Wii U’s most notable feature. Being able to quickly select Link’s bow and fire off a few arrows in Wind Waker HD using a mix of touch and motion controls is a joy (and makes me wish I could be playing Dark Souls II with such a convenient interface), but it must be the tip of the iceberg, surely. NintendoLand made a solid showcase of what kinds of gameplay experiences we can expect from the unique controller, but there has to be more Nintendo can achieve here.
Imagine a Rainbow Six style tac-sim where you can plan your path through a battlezone by using the stylus on an interactive map before sending the troops in, or a console RTS game that is actually playable. The DS Zelda titles – Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks – featured asymmetrical multiplayer modes that made excellent use of that system’s features, and I find it hard to believe that such a mode couldn’t have been achievable in Wind Waker HD.
Firstly, no. I’m not talking about Hyrule Warriors.
Hints, rumours and general prick-teasing can only satiate gamers for so long. It’s time for Nintendo to give us our first glimpse of Link’s new tunic. The tech demo shown at E3 2011 is probably still the most exciting thing ever shown for the Wii U, and yet we have to keep reminding ourselves that it is not necessarily representative of the final game. So give us something that is representative of the final game already!
Iwata has spoken of non-linear progression, the ability to play with friends, and various art-styles being trialed at Nintendo HQ. This seems to suggest that the foundations of the series will be somewhat shaken up in the next installment. Last year’s A Link Between Worlds was both a return to form and a step in a slightly different direction for the series and an exemplary game in its own right, so show us what you’ve got, Nintendo. I want that theme song to be stuck in my head all over again!
Miyamoto Doing Something Silly
Tradition is tradition after all.