June 5th 2012. A frozen atmosphere reigns in the Los Angeles Convention Center. Cooling was too strong, they say. But the fact that some people left before the end of the Nintendo conference is an unmistakable sign that something went wrong. How did it end up like this? How could WiiU, destined to be the star of the show, become a embarrassing subject for both Nintendo and the press?
Shigeru Miyamoto starts the conference by presenting Pikmin 3, so identical to the previous ones that it would be funny if only it wasn’t the best game to be introduced. Miyamoto leaves the stage quickly to let Reggie Fils-Aimé, the man who didn’t want Xenoblade, host the rest of the conference. The president of Nintendo of America throws himself in a long and unless explanation of the WiiU GamePad functionalities and the Miiverse. Iwata had already briefed us on Sunday. Reggie follows with New Super Mario Bros U, a new non-innovating iteration of the game released 25 years ago. The public suddenly awakes when the guys from Warner Interactive take the stage. They doze back off immediately, given that the WiiU version of Arkham City is the same as the game they already played on PS360. We are then notified that multiplatform games like Tekken Tag Tournament 2, Mass Effect 3, Ninja Gaiden 3, Darksiders II, Alien vs Colonial Marines or Trine 2 would also be available on WiiU, without telling when.
We’re immediately back to the casual side of the Force with Wii Fit U and Sing, after which the Marketing Director of NoA comes to present 3 mario games for 3DS (which makes 4 mario games in one presentation) before inviting everyone to watch another presentation dedicated to 3DS, to be held the following day. Reggie takes the stage again with more WiiU stuff, which is a big relief for the journalists who thought that Wii Fit U was the conclusion of the WiiU part. Unfortunately, they have to watch a painful trailer of Lego City, presented as a big hit for Nintendo’s new system. Yves Guillemot of Ubisoft then comes to help WiiU with his horrible French accent and ZombiU, an FPS that takes advantage of the GamePad, but not always smartly.
Ubisoft boasts about his rich WiiU line-up, essentially made of crappy casual games, in which you surprisingly find Assassin’s Creed III. But the latter won’t be mentioned because the French publisher wants to focus on Just Dance 4. The nightmare continues for the poor journalists who can now barely stand the pain : a party-game called Nintendo Land is thoughtfully detailed until the end of the conference.
The 3DS conference was no better, because it held no surprises. It was a lengthy presentation of stupid mario/disney/casual stuff destined to kiddies. Real gamers were expecting Fire Emblem Awakening : in vain, Nintendo just sent a discreet tweet confirming the North American localization with “more info to come”. Tweet to which I vehemently responded.
News from the show floor aren’t good either : the system is just as powerful as a PS3 or an X360, the use of two GamePads simultaneously hurts the frame-rate and the tablet-like controller can’t hold more than 3 to 5h before needing a 2,5h-hour charge.
The manufacturer clearly took the casual turn again, probably to avoid direct confrontation with Sony & Microsoft on the core gamer market, on which they are bound to lose because PS3 and X360 will be cheaper with a far richer library. While Mass Effect 3, Arkham City or Trine 2 might interest gamers returning from a 1-year academic exchange on Pluto, most of the audience will have finished those titles already, and are not likely to buy them again despite the crucial inventory capabilities of the GamePad. Nintendo fanboys must face the brutal truth : third-party publishers, who lost a great deal of money on Wii, don’t give any credit to WiiU, which will have to rely on powerful exclusives like TANK! TANK! TANK! to attract costumers during the holiday season. Nintendo has not so many friends (not a single one, besides Ubisoft), and has no choice but to develop first party titles. But even when they do that, they don’t go beyond shitty 2D platformers or ridiculous party-games, because making a truly next-gen title costs too much and reduces profitability. This E3 is further proof, if needed, that Nintendo has nothing but contempt for gamers, and that this company is the worst shame of this industry.