After what could safely be called an underwhelming E3 presentation, Nintendo needed to sell the world on the Wii U in a big way. Last week Nintendo held four different press events targeted towards gaming’s major regions of North America, Europe, and Japan. With some time passed to properly digest the information, I look back on the NYC event to see if Nintendo was able to sell the Wii U to the gamers who came away disappointed at E3.
Price is right
The one question on everyone’s mind earlier this year at E3 was release date and price. While we walked away from that event with the question still looming over our heads, Nintendo didn’t let it get in the way of last Thursday’s conference. They immediately announced that the Wii U will release on November 18th for 299.99 to 349.99. While the date had long been suspected, the announced pricing of the console comes as a relief. Analysts and gamers had been speculating that the price could come in anywhere between 249.99 to 499.99 and while a lower price would always be preferred, the 300 dollar range is a more than acceptable one. At this price range Nintendo can position itself aggressively next to similarly priced consoles in the twilight of their lives. While Sony and Microsoft can tout a back catalog of titles, for shoppers, knowing that your holiday investment will still be relevant in four to five years is more important.
With price and date out of the way, Nintendo went to work appeasing their long term fans by providing demonstrations for Nintendo Land and New Super Mario Brothers U. While I have been looking forward to Nintendo Land for a long time, a large number of fans have been less than enthused by the title. The Wii had been home to a large number of minigame collections and genre fatigue had started to kick in years ago. Luckily Nintendo Land came out of the conference looking impressive with new attractions like Metroid Blast taking a large amount of the conferences spotlight. New Super Mario Brothers U had always looked like an impressive platformer but many worried if releasing New Super Mario Brothers 2 just months earlier would cannibalize sales and players interest. Luckily it appears that New Super Mario Brothers U is the stronger title out of the pair, with gameplay elements taking from the best of the New series as well as from the older mainline series. If any doubts remained on Thursday in regards to the strength of these titles, I think they can safely be put away.
Living Room Dominance
After reminding players why they love Nintendo, the conference took a turn for the unexpected. While Sony and Microsoft have long been vying for control of your living room it had always appeared Nintendo was more focused on games. So when they Introduced Nintendo TVii, it came off as almost out of character. I’m usually the guy who hates whenever a console manufacturer takes time out of their gaming press conference to talk about another form of media. I don’t care if your box has ESPN or MLB tv or whatever it is your trying to sell me, I’m here for games. Unexpectedly though,I found that Nintendo has sold me on Nintendo TVii. I cut the cord on cable about a year ago and have been using my Playstation 3 as a streaming media player. While it does the job, I do hate having to sift through three different services to see what I can watch. If Nintendo TVii really does make it that simple to integrate my watch lists from Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Instant, it will easily become my media streamer if choice. Unfortunately Nintendo didn’t go for the kill. DVD and Blu-Ray support has not been announced for the Wii U, likely meaning support doesn’t exist and ensuring that people will have another device in their living rooms to do those jobs.
Getting the Core
After getting the base and offering a service that will pique the interest of the non-gamers, Nintendo went for the core that felt they have been long neglected by Nintendo consoles. After teasing a Wonderful 101 trailer, gamers were surprised by the announcement of Bayonetta 2. News that a new Bayonetta game was coming to the Wii U would have been big on it’s own, but Nintendo decided to up the ante by announcing that they are publishing it as an exclusive. While fans of the original Bayonetta on other platforms might feel cheated, this was the only way of ever receiving a sequel to the title and shows that Nintendo is serious about helping core gaming come to the forefront of the Wii U console. If Bayonneta wasn’t enough to entice core gamers, Nintendo also announced that Monster Hunter was coming this March, and Call of Duty would be out at launch. While these titles are a big step in getting the core interested, Nintendo glossed over their consoles online capabilities. While we know launch titles like Call of Duty will heavily feature online multiplayer, leaving the details of the service a mystery will hinder any thoughts of hardcore Call of Duty fans from switching over from known entities like Xbox live or the Playstation Network.
While I have minor quibbles over things that did not get fully detailed, like the Nintendo Network, I would have to say that overall Nintendo had an extremely impressive presentation last week. The elephant in the room was addressed by giving us the launch details and any minor frets like software support or strength of titles seemed to get squashed. It’s always easy to say that they could do more, but it’s still early and any remaining concerns could get addressed in a reasonable time frame before launch. Even with the few questions I still have rattling around my head, I leave last weeks conference much more excited about the Wii U then I was before.