A couple of months ago I wrote a post about my thoughts on Nintendo’s March Direct event. In said post I discussed what appeared to be a confusing lack of information on anticipated titles and projects. In the March Nintendo Direct, we got word of a new Paper Mario game, more info on Star Fox Zero which was coming out the following month, and a new Kirby title among other random pieces of news. What we didn’t get was news about the new Legend of Zelda or any information about the Nintendo NX. After lamenting at the lackluster release schedule for Nintendo’s consoles, I said that they were probably just saving all the info on the new Zelda and the NX for E3. Two months later, it turns out the only part of that guess I got right was the Legend of Zelda bit, and I got it right in the worst possible way. This post is my attempt at explaining how I’m still having trouble wrapping my head around Nintendo’s recent announcements and their plans for the year.
In case you haven’t been keeping up with the slew of Nintendo’s announcements over the last couple months, Nintendo’s E3 plans have been revealed to be solely a Nintendo Treehouse stream of Zelda and only Zelda. For those of you unfamiliar with the Nintendo Treehouse streams, essentially it’s members of Nintendo of America’s Treehouse team meeting with game designers who are showing off upcoming games for Nintendo’s various platforms. Usually, they rotate the titles, and you get a good mix of soon-to-be-released titles and new surprises from the show. What they’ve proposed is surprisingly not as thrilling as you might think. While none of us know what the exact format will be, a stream focused on the same game for eight hours has the potential to be incredibly tedious. Plus, considering that I want a majority of this title to be a surprise for me when it comes out next year, I don’t want to see more than maybe the first hour of gameplay, not the first eight.
On a brief aside from E3, it’s been announced that the latest Zelda will be on both the Wii U and the NX and is coming out in March 2017. While the delay is somewhat disappointing, it also means that our NX release date is also in March and also delayed from its original 2016 release. Though, personally, I wasn’t that surprised due to the complete lack of information we’ve had about the system.
Shifting back to E3, I want to talk about what’s not at Nintendo’s E3 this year. To start off, let’s talk about how there are no other games apart from Zelda and why that makes no sense. First, while I understand that Zelda will sell systems, especially as a launch title for a new console, having it be the sole focus might backfire for hype generation (see earlier comment about potential tedium). Second, we know that other games are coming out this year. There’s even a new Pokemon game coming out for Pete’s sake. Not to mention all the new mobile titles that they have planned with some of their biggest franchises. Essentially, they have a lot of stuff they could be talking about but for some reason aren’t. I’d get it if Nintendo were in a position to have this kind of clout, that they could rely on one of their biggest franchises to get them through possibly the most important event in the gaming calendar. The reality is that they’re not, and as much as taking risks is important in business, this is not how you take risks. Examples of risks that would make more sense to me would be only talking about the NX, or admitting that they don’t have much of a show because they messed up somehow. I can’t help but feel uneasy about the whole thing as if the reason why we’re only getting Zelda is that everything behind the scenes is actually on fire.
The next glaring thing that is missing from Nintendo’s E3 is the NX, and that’s scary to me. Actually, I’ll clarify that statement. The NX missing from E3 alone isn’t scary. It’s the fact that it’s missing, and we’re getting quotes from Nintendo Execs like “It’s not a true successor to the Wii U or 3DS” that scare the shit out of me. I have to give it to Nintendo that they are willing to innovate and keep things interesting in the gaming landscape, but the fact they keep talking about how revolutionary this thing will be gives me Wii flashbacks that I don’t like. Also, I’m getting E3 2008 flashbacks, which if you follow gaming will know why that’s not a good thing to be associated with. E3 is the best time to show off how great your next platform can be, and what they’re doing with the NX is confusing to me as a Nintendo fan. Maybe even a little scary too.
We’ll probably get all this information in other ways, but apart from being confused the whole mess seems slightly shocking. Nintendo appeared to be on the right track over the last couple years. Sure the Wii U isn’t selling well, but the games have been phenomenal, and they’re excelling in other areas with the 3DS and Amiibos. So the way they’ve been making these announcements and event decisions doesn’t make sense from a marketing standpoint. If I’m optimistic, the NX could be a great chance for the company to start fresh and bring another innovative idea to the table. However, it’s hard for me to do that right now and I’m just left befuddled as to what to expect from them not only at E3 but also the rest of the year. When I was hopeful back in March, I didn’t realize how wrong I’d be.