By Sage Ashford
And here we are with the second installment of the Path to E3 (see the first here). This time we'll be examining Nintendo, the oldest gaming console company industry, often celebrated for their beautiful games that are continuously able to instill a feeling of childlike wonder in gamers of all ages. Now, Nintendo's a little different since they don't actually plan to make an appearance at E3, opting instead to set up in Best Buys around the country and put on a Direct the day the conference begins. It's a little different from the norm but it has the same effect in the end. With that said, let's get started.
Where They Stand
Unfortunately, Nintendo has had the roughest of starts with the new generation, even in comparison to Microsoft's troubles. Considered an unstoppable titan in the 2006-2011 era, Nintendo brought outrageous numbers in month after month on both their Nintendo Wii as well as the handheld Nintendo DS console.
Still, two years and the release of their new Nintendo Wii U console later, journalists and gamers alike are wondering if Nintendo will even be making consoles in the next generation. Their new system is woefully underpowered and the company seemingly has a poor working relationship with third party developers, both of which are factors that have led to the Wii U's most damning problem: it doesn't have very many actual games to play. Even the release of Nintendo's first party efforts have slowed, with the company being forced to delay certain games just so their users can have something to play for that quarter.
Granted, Nintendo has something going for them that Sony and Microsoft don't. They're almost entirely removed from the console wars, at this point, for one. And for another, they're often viewed as the last bastion of "pure gaming", where ridiculous amounts of DLC and pre-order bonus content (WATCH_DOGS chart) are kept to a minimum, and where the most beloved franchises are still given proper respect and due diligence (Sort of. I'm still wondering where my next-gen Metroid and Star Fox are.), Nintendo consoles just never seem to garner as much ill will as the others. This is a factor that can easily play into their comeback, as gamers generally want to see Nintendo win.
What They Need to Do
The impression that gamers have right now that's keeping them from investing in a Wii U is two-fold: (1) they believe Nintendo's games are often for more casual gamers and (2) they believe the games that aren't are just more Mario and Zelda titles. This is an impression that Nintendo needs to correct. Fortunately Mario's already had his day in the sun so for now I'm guessing he's going to be benched. On the other hand, despite the perception that there's "too much Zelda", the Wii U's "The Legend of Zelda" game is also one of the most anticipated titles for the Wii U, with fans everywhere speculating on what direction Nintendo will take the series next.
But overall, what Nintendo needs the most right now is variety.
What to Expect:
The Legend of Zelda
For a lot of people probably the most anticipated game from Nintendo, since we've heard so little about it. There've been rumors aplenty, but most of them have been proven incorrect. Personal prediction? This is this year's Super Mario 3D World for Nintendo. Premiered out of nowhere and then gets released near the end of the year. I stand a good chance of being wrong, but I'm sticking with that.
Super Smash Bros. U
They had a complete media blow-out with this game, giving fans a 35 minute Direct not too long ago. I suspect if E3 has anything new, it'll be whatever characters there are left unannounced, as well as a more firm release date than "this Winter" for the Wii U version of the title.
The Nintendo/Platinum partnership continues with Bayonetta 2. Fortunately, this will probably do a lot better than Wonderful 101. Apart from being a part of the on life support character action genre, Bayonetta 2 is probably one of Nintendo's biggest "I can't believe they have this" titles. If they're really serious about saving the Wii U, hopefully we'll see a lot more games that fall into that category. Anyway, since it's supposed to come out in the summer in Japan, I'd guess we'll finally learn the global release dates during the Direct.
Zelda joins the list of video games who've had a Dynasty Warriors-esque game. Recently, some news that slipped out of Japanese magazine Famitsu has given the title an August release date for Japan, showing us some neat new screens and give fans an idea of what the story will be about. Again, Link will have to find Princess Zelda, but he'll also have to reclaim Hyrule–fortunately he'll be allowed the help of several as-yet unannounced characters. Expect to hear much more about this title at E3.
Monolith Software's "X"
It'd be nice if this game got a title–I'm tired of typing "Monolith Software's X" every time… Since it already made an appearance at Nintendo's last big Direct, the next stop is E3, same as last year. Probably this time with a actual story trailer. Now, Nintendo says this game is being released this year worldwide, but it wouldn't be the first time the company overestimated what they could accomplish in a single year.
Shin Megami Tensei x Fire Emblem
Most people have forgotten this game existed. Some might even believe it's cancelled. What's most likely though is when they first showed it all they had was some basic ideas. Now, here we are almost a year and a half later–it's probably about time for a legit teaser, if not some gameplay. I have a feeling this is one of the titles Iwata is referring to when he mentions titles that take advantage of the Wii U's GamePad.
Sage Ashford is a college kid with far more hobbies than he has free time. You can find him on Twitter @SageShinigami, but also at his own blog Jumping in Headfirst.