E3 Conference Highlights Nintendo’s Reliance on Smash Bros Franchise
Nintendo’s digital event at E3 was critical for a number of reasons. Firstly, it is E3 and so most gamer eyes are on them. Secondly, the Wii U has long been forgotten as a competitor by Sony and Microsoft. This event was Nintendo’s opportunity to show that they are still a force to be reckoned with in the video game market.
The show was a testament to the games-sell-consoles mantra that has been thrown around a lot by the Big N in the last year. A half hour jam-packed with trailers and interviews about new IPs and updates on previously announced titles. But the most fascinating part is what was written between the lines of their presentation.
Four New Characters: Palutena and Three Different Miis
Front and centre of the presentation was the new Smash Bros. As the next behemoth title for the Wii U, it deserved that spot. It is a one-game hype machine. The surprise, however, was that Smash Bros Wii U / 3DS was constantly referenced throughout the broadcast. Every time Nintendo’s new Amiibo system was raised, Smash Bros was there too. Becoming an anchor for this new technology and their E3 conference says a lot about what role Smash Bros plays in Nintendo’s future plan.
Amiibo was another cornerstone of the Nintendo broadcast. It represents a foray into the Skylanders phenomenon (or, as they call it, toys-to-life). As someone who does not bother with Skylanders or Disney Infinity, the whole Amiibo thing seems frivolous to me.
On the other hand, its application within existing parameters is outstanding. Using the Wii U game pad in lieu of a power portal and promising compatibility with various games. The only real example given was Smash Bros but Nintendo promised it would work with Mario Kart 8 somehow.
While other titles were thrown around, they were either smaller fries or glossed over. Captain Toad’s Treasure Tracker was borne form a minigame from last year’s Super Mario 3D World and felt sorely out of place. It screamed banner on the front page of Nintendo’s e-shop, not third billing at E3.
Scarcely any time was spent on The Legend of Zelda Wii U whereas Hyrule Warriors and Yoshi’s Woolly World were discussed at length. Although Splatoon does look like a crazy bit of fun.
What all this says to me, however, is that Amiibo is Nintendo’s focus and Smash Bros is their crutch. Preoccupation with these two projects is a risky endeavour and leaves me worried. Will these be enough to start shifting Wii Us?
Sony and Microsoft gave gamers reasons to invest in their consoles with a new colour and combo package and bonus deals on Live membership, respectively. But the amount of Smash Bros games that Nintendo will sell can only be equal to or less than the amount of Wii Us; and given what we know of Amiibo, that will only sell less.
There has never been any doubt that Nintendo is capable of creating amazing games. The trouble they have been facing over the last two years (and that has only worsened since the Xbox One and Playstation 4) is shifting consoles.That is something that was never specifically addressed in the broadcast.
As a Wii U owner, this E3 was very exciting and I can hardly wait for the announced games to be released. But I just did not see anything that would convince me to shell out for a new U.