E3 2014 Preview: Nintendo
Of the big three, Nintendo is the biggest wildcard due to the Wii U’s lack of upcoming software and the 3DS’ full library of Nintendo IPs with no huge holes. They’ll take the virtual stage with a Nintendo Direct livestream on Tuesday, June 10 at 9 AM PT/12 PM ET.
The Wii U arrives at E3 in a very weird place as the current anchor around Nintendo’s neck that they have to deal with if they want to come out of E3 with good vibes surrounding it. Even with Mario Kart 8 releasing with great reviews and probably some increased sales, that’s only going to get them so far if are going to be too stubborn to lower the price. The PS4 and Xbox One are only $100 more than a Wii U by the time this Nintendo Direct starts, so a drop to $250 or lower would be the best way to get people on board instead of their current reluctance to jump in.
Besides the price, Nintendo has a lot of game announcements to make in this Nintendo Direct since the Wii U is anemic in that department right there. They pretty much had Mario Kart 8, Super Smash Bros, X the successor to Xenoblade Chronicles, Yoshi Yarn, and Bayonetta 2 before last week and that’s not much of a convincing future for the Wii U.
They likely have a new Legend of Zelda to make their showpiece title at E3, which would be the huge deal that they need. Outside of that obvious game, there are still some big Nintendo IPs that could use a home on the Wii U like Metroid, Animal Crossing, Kirby, Star Fox, and a number of others. I’d be really happy to see some smaller titles such as a new Luigi’s Mansion, F-Zero, and Rhythm Heaven to deviate from the typical crowd for a bit.
Some love for the eShop would also be nice with the way Nintendo has heavily favored 3DS eShop development with its smaller developers, though indies will help ease the pressure a little bit as they slowly trickle in. We’re also waiting on more Virtual Console platforms to be announced and/or revealed such as Nintendo 64, GameCube, and that weird DS announcement to hopefully happen this year to show that they’re not that out of touch with their digital marketplace.
Third party support has pretty much withered away with big third-party games from EA, Ubisoft, and others skipping the Wii U in favor of the PlayStation and Xbox families of consoles. Of course, Disney Infinity, the LEGO games, and plenty of other licensed games are plentiful for families, but those titles don’t make much of a splash at E3. It would be nice to see Nintendo throw out some third party titles in this Nintendo Direct as a big surprise.
The 3DS is easily Nintendo’s best system right now, but that isn’t to say that it’s doing great right now. It sells just fine, but it won’t be able to prop up the ailing Wii U forever. Nintendo has three models going right now that range from the $130 2DS to the $200 3DS XL, which would probably need a price drop to combat with the expected Vita price drop the night prior to the show. Nintendo doesn’t need to really respond to anything that happens with the Vita, but the 3DS is in a weird spot in its fourth year with its library covering so many bases that there’s not much left.
Looking at what Nintendo has coming up for the 3DS, it’s this week’s Tomodachi Life and the new Smash Bros. That’s it. Looking at their IPs shows that they’ve touched base with most every franchise, so you could expect that it’s hard to find much in the way of holes they could fill that would be on the same level as Mario, Mario Kart, and The Legend of Zelda. There’s F-Zero, Rhythm Heaven, a new Star Fox, Metroid, WarioWare, Advance Wars, and I’ll throw Earthbound out there because it deserves a mention somewhere for the small chance that it could ever happen for North America. Either they take on some of those franchises or they start going back through the existing list to revisit some of the more promising games with sequels.
Third party titles probably gets a headliner, like Monster Hunter 4, along with some of the upcoming Atlus games and some others if we’re lucky. The 3DS eShop could also use some fresh life brought to it with some original titles and maybe some DS and GBA Virtual Console titles that would bring some portable-friendly classics to the 3DS instead of more NES games that you’d have to purchase twice to have on both Wii U and 3DS.
The lack of a proper live press conference really doesn’t matter when it comes to making any of these announcements, so it’s up to Nintendo to show that they’ve made the smart moves to get the Wii U on the right track and keep the 3DS train rolling steadily. The future lineups for both systems are really small, so this show should be mostly about announcing game after game to get you excited for the next year or two. If we want to go crazy, new hardware to replace the Wii U would be the type of announcement that would manage to steal the show and make sure that nothing the Xbox One and PS4 did could stand out in comparison.
In the meantime, I asked my fellow SmashPad editors to tell us what they’re expecting or hoping to see out of Nintendo at E3 this year:
Danreb Victorio, Managing Editor:
“It’s been more than a year, and Nintendo still doesn’t realize that their marketing team needs to be fired. While they won’t announce something like that at E3, only the Wii U owners know how great of a console it is, and if Nintendo knows it and plans on at least making some money on it, the heavy hitters need to be there. We all know we’ll see the new Smash Bros. and the new Zelda game in some capacity, but now we need solid information on games like X and the crossover… maybe a Star Fox game, or even the announcement of a GameCube Virtual Console.
As for the 3DS, while it can be argued that Nintendo has pretty much covered all the bases, I won’t be satisfied until we get our Golden Sun announcement. Let’s not forget that Golden Sun: Dark Dawn, like the first GBA game, ended in a cliffhanger.”
Filippo Dinolfo, Senior Editor:
“To me, Nintendo feels like a company that has no idea where their place in the industry is. Their unique and, some may say, innovative approach to consoles seems to have landed them in the doghouse with most gamers. So, I would love to see them bring back some of their less used and overdue for a reboot franchises like Star Fox and Metroid. Failing that, they’re dead to me.”
Patrick Mifflin, Associate Editor:
“It’s hard to say whether the bad news is the historically awful start the Wii U has gotten off to, or the fact that a peripheral announcement has generated more buzz for the system than any Wii U game produced thus far. Only drama queens are going to translate that into an outright doom-and-gloom forecast for Nintendo, however, as everyone else will understand and respect just how much money they pulled down during the Wii years. Indeed, the good news is that Nintendo still has the most loaded war chest they’ve ever had, and company president Satoru Iwata has a full well of IPs he can run to in order to save both his current flagship console and his industry legacy. Star Fox is long overdue for a comeback, Fire Emblem is in perfect shape for a full-time return to consoles, Kid Icarus recently enjoyed a well-received reboot, and it’s hard to say that anything short of an “all of the above” approach would even be responsible for Nintendo going into E3.”