Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Latest Nintendo Direct, Double Standards, and Being the Underdog

Wednesday's Nintendo Direct was focused solely on the Wii U. For months we have been hearing and reading statements from Nintendo that they were just dealing with the launch period. That was fine and all, but many of Wii U owners wanted to know what was coming in the future, outside the launch window. The hardware manufacturer and software-making extraordinaire finally let loose some gems during their Nintendo Direct. It seems E3 had come early for Nintendo fans.

Now it's important to note that there was a fairly decent sized amount of software to look forward to already, such as Rayman Legends, LEGO City Undercover, Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, Pikmin 3, The Wonderful 101, and Bayonetta 2. However, many Wii U owners like myself wanted to know when the so-called "blockbusters" and real system sellers were coming. The fact of the matter is that early adopters were most interested in the tried and true types of games Nintendo is known for and the ones that fans were most hyped for. I am referring to a 3D Mario, a new Zelda, and games along those lines.

A new trailer for The Wonderful 101 
renewed interest in the title. 
Although we knew that eventually games like the aforementioned Marios, Zeldas, and Mario Karts were coming as those are the titles that never miss a Nintendo console, it was just nice to get a confirmation from Satoru Iwata that not only were they coming, but that they would be playable at this year's E3.

Nonetheless, some argue that without release dates and vague "these games are coming" type announcements with no trailers to speak of that Nintendo is just giving out "empty promises." Those are not my words, by the way. It seems that when Nintendo did not announce they were working on future titles beyond the launch window, people said the company had no long-term vision. Now that Nintendo has announced titles outside of the launch window, it appears that these same people are saying that the company is giving "empty promises."

This is all the while these same people getting amped for the new Xbox and PlayStation consoles. We know very little about the platforms, but that doesn't stop people from getting excited despite the rumors and "you'll see soon what is in store" statements that surround them basically amounting to "empty promises" as well. There's a big double standard here.

The thing of it is is that even though Nintendo heavily relies on its legacy and historic franchises, these franchises are constantly evolving. Generally (big emphasis on "generally") each game in the series tries something new to give the series a fresh feeling. Well, not New Super Mario Bros., but you can get what my point is regardless. The Legend of Zelda series introduced Z-targeting, touch controls, sailing, trains, playing as a wolf, near 1:1 motion control sword combat, and other concepts to keep the series progressing.

1:1 swordplay was just one new thing
added to the storied Zelda franchise.
While we have countless new franchises from other studios that are just the same games we've been playing for a decade now only with a new coat of paint and new IP attached to it (looking mostly at first-person shooters here), Nintendo's games attach old IPs and create new experiences that haven't been seen before. And again, not New Super Mario Bros., but you can get what my point is regardless.

At that same token, Nintendo does create new franchises. They've made new IPs like Xenoblade Chronicles, Brain Age, Pushmo/Crashmo, Sakura Samurai, Dillon's Rolling Western, Rhythm Heaven, Elite Beat Agents, Steel Diver, Fossil Fighters, Disaster: Day of Crisis, and so forth. They might not be at the caliber of or use as many resources as Mario or Zelda, but they're still all-new franchises.  Then the excuse is that they don't market them as much as Mario or Zelda so those games don't count, or they're too casual so those don't matter either. It's a simply put ridiculous stance to take.

What excited me most about the Wii U Nintendo Direct was confirmation that my purchase was a fruitful endeavor. It is always a risk to buy a console at or around launch. It didn't help that Nintendo was playing its cards incredibly close to its vest, but now we know that the big notable system sellers are indeed coming, and they are arriving relatively soon. The Wii U purchase was redeemed for many, or for those who don't own one yet, gave these fine folks a reason to look into the console.

Then there were the completely new announcements with screens or trailers to go with them like the tentatively titled Yarn Yoshi, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD remaker, and most impressive of all, Monolith Soft's brand-new and unnamed RPG project, which really proved to me that developers can make next-gen looking software on the Wii U if they try.

A new Yoshi game was rumored a while back,
but it's official announcement still surprised.
With all of the "Nintendo is doomed", "Nintendo needs to go third-party", and "Nintendo is living in the past" nonsense articles and analysis assessments going around from people and sites desperate for clicks and hungry to see a console fail, despite that not being good for the industry they are involved in and are supposed to enjoy (someone who wants to see a console fail is not someone who cares about this industry), it is an awesome sight to see Nintendo continue to thrive and prove doubters wrong.

Looking good, Link!
Even when they're leading the pack, Nintendo still seems like the underdog. They don't have billions of dollars in resources to pick up every third-party game out there. They don't have the money to spend on ridiculously-sized marketing campaigns. They also don't have a computer or television division to fall back on when their game division fails like Sony or Microsoft. Case in point, Nintendo lives and dies by gaming. That is their only avenue of business.

Giant monsters and mechs? 
You had me at hello.
The Wii U Nintendo Direct showed that Nintendo is not going to lay down and die. Wii U sales might not be at the level of the Wii during the same time frame, and the system might be harder to advertise than its predecessor, but Nintendo is showing once again that they are all about gaming and delivering unique experiences that are difficult to find anywhere else. As a Wii U owner, the Nintendo Direct gave me solace in knowing that my purchase no longer had to be majorly dependent on announcements that hadn't happened yet. Now I know that the Wii U has a future, and it certainly looks like a bright one at that. Whether it wins the generation or not is something I couldn't care less about. Leave that pissing contest for the console warriors and zealots that frequent gaming message boards and comment sections. What I care about is receiving a good stream of quality games, and that appears to be exactly what is going to happen with the Wii U.

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