Wednesday, January 29, 2014

My Nintendo E3 Wet Dream


Building off of today's announcements, Nintendo is already leading 2014 in an incredibly strong way, and they need to keep this momentum up. They need to continue with the advent of news, but they shouldn't wait until E3. Last year broke tradition, and Nintendo held a series of press conferences across a few days, focusing on various aspects, rather than strain themselves to release an onslaught of news within an hour and a half.

Now, E3 is five months away, and we've had this discussion ever year before. This year, Nintendo really needs to get the lead out, stop fucking around, and get their shit together.

Back in 2012, I wrote a huge five-piece editorial on what Nintendo can do to help their image and their next generation. I've yet to hear back from them about what I wrote, so it's doubtful they took anything to heart. Looking forward to E3 and Nintendo's second full year in the market with the Wii U, they need to pull out their guns, drop the fucking bomb, and let loose on the industry to show they're here for a long time.



 * * *

E3 2014. The first year of the eighth generation in which all three major console players - Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft - have their systems out and available to buy. Murmurs of trailers for the hottest shit around are being talked about: Uncharted 4Halo 5The Legend Zelda...it's all being hyped up on the grounds of the LA Convention Center. Nintendo's conference is coming up, and the hoards of press are lining in to their seats, opening up laptops, starting live blogs, and getting their readers all giddy.

The theater goes dark.

An all-too-familiar theme begins to play, and Link's character model from Skyward Sword appears on screen. A flash of light and glitz overcomes him, and transforms his model into a high-res version, but also changing his appearance, obviously hinting at an HD Zelda game. The trailer plays, unveiling the setting, characters, dabs of gameplay, and ending with a title and a Holiday 2014 release date for the new Zelda game on the Wii U; we effectively get the whole shmagoygle.


Lights come up, and a red leather chair is in the middle of the stage with an end table, a small glass of drink, with Reggie just sitting there:

"We've got so much to talk about today, that I just don't have time for fluff, so we're coming in hard. Next trailer!"

Going dark again, we see a small orb speed past in a flash of black and red, then white and yellow, and finally, orange and blue, a charge shot goes off, and three Samuses (Sami?) appear: Phazon SuitLight SuitVaria Suit. A trailer reveals Metroid Prime Trilogy HD, with implementations of the scan visor on the GamePad, no more mandatory motion controls (but they're still there), and a whole mess of tweaks. Holiday 2014 release date.

"Don't want an HD re-release? Fine, here's another trailer."

This time, they reveal a brand new Metroid game for the Wii U, from Retro. Not a continuation of the Prime series, just a standalone entry. Holiday 2015.

"Now here's something you have been looking forward to a while. Play it!"

Smash Bros. shows up on screen. This trailer gives us a full roster reveal with vast amounts of gameplay, ending with a release date and proper name for both Wii U and 3DS. Lights come back up:


"Get this: Smash Bros. has a DLC release schedule. For 6 months after release, you get a new character and themed stage to match that character, each month. For. Free. Just sign up with Club Nintendo, link it to your Nintendo Network account, and blammo. Free DLC."

More sounds. We hear engines revving, and Mario shouting "Here we go!" Mario Kart is being shown for some reason, but Reggie stays firm on the stage: "Starting today, Mario Kart gets one new racer and track for 6 months, again, free. Just do the Club Nintendo/Nintendo Network deal, and it's yours."

We then hear Link again in the background. Skyward Sword Link comes out on screen, pulling the hand of a low-res model of Twilight Princess Link. He gets a graphical upgrade, they both pull out the Master Sword, and cling them together: Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword, in HD, dual release, on the Wii U. No bullshit motion controls. Tweaked gameplay. No map flipping. It's there. Holiday 2015.

The screen then does a shift, elongating the point of view, with the two adult Links losing their balance, and a rolling Goron blasts them out of it's way. Stopping, it reaches for the sides of it's head, and off comes the Goron Mask. Child Link appears on screen, and the "shift" comes back into view (reminiscent of how the 3D works on the 3DS, what with it "dropping" into the screen") announcing Majora's Mask 3D for the 3DS, available soon-ish, finally satiating the circle-jerk that is the demand of this port/remake (Note: Listen. I would like to replay Majora's Mask on the 3DS. It was not the quintessential experience of the franchise. It was dark, it was gloomy, and it was different, but it's not "the greatest goddamned thing ever.").


Finally, a Arwing flies across the screen. Peppy shouts to do a barrel roll, Slippy freaks out as usual, and Falco scoffs, with Fox reassuring the group with a nonchalant "don't worry; I got this." Brand new StarFox game for the Wii U, Holiday 2015.

* * *

Right there, Nintendo just showed off three new games, three HD releases packages to leap-frog the new entries, free DLC for two major games, and a full reveal of Smash Bros. That's only the first 30 minutes. If the cup isn't filled by now, you may need to reevaluate your priorities.

* * *

Stage-hands roll Reggie and his end table off stage, with Iwata walking out, high-fiving Reggie as they pass.

He starts babbling about "the new games are something to look forward to, but we must also look to our past to see where we have come from." He announces a Virtual Console overhaul, with a flood of NES, SNES, N64, and GameCube titles for the Virtual Console, plus third party platforms, making up for the piss-poor performance since launch. They then show off how your Virtual Console DS games will play on the Wii U, going about it exactly how we expected it be: top screen is on your TV, bottom screen is on the GamePad; it's a natural marriage of the two. Each platform gets a price drop in game prices, with the GameCube titles fluctuating between $10 and $20.

The 3DS gets its own Virtual Console upgrade, seeing another flood of GameBoy, GB Color, and Advance titles, with more third party platforms. For the handheld Virtual Console, all Pokemon titles for Generations 1-4 are available (that's Red/Blue/Yellow up through Diamond/Pearl/Platinum). This is Nintendo's answer to PlayStation Now and to rapidly build the back catalogue of titles.

Another overhaul: Nintendo Network. They rebuilt from the ground up, brought in experts, and it's now virtually Xbox Live or PlayStation Network, relaunching this holiday. Iwata details the on-demand service they hinted at in January: effectively, it's Nintendo's version of PlayStation Now, with games being rented from the cloud to your Wii U and 3DS. They're not ready to talk pricing, but "Nintendo Now" is a thing.

Still free, but now a $30/year option is available to offer discounts/free games, just like PlayStation Plus/Xbox Live. Doesn't lock multiplayer/streaming apps behind a paywall, just a game discount program.

Iwata remains on stage, but the screen go dark. He begins an apology to the gaming community, the press, and, "most importantly, our developer partners." He continues on about how they haven't been the best company to work with in regards to getting a game published on the system. A new, internal team dedicated to third parties is announced, and to show they're not fucking around, they announce day-and-date releases (not delaying the Wii U version "just because"), a flurry of third-party announcements, and speaking of which, they unveil Bayonetta 2 with a trailer, gameplay, and a release date.

He goes further on to talk about partnerships and how they build a better future. Nintendo then reveals more on about their licensing adventures to other companies, and shows off exactly who they've been licensing to, starting off with Hyrule Warriors as the launch pad for this. Fighting games, platformers, racers...Nintendo isn't going crazy with the licensing, but they're across several genres of games. No announcements of PS4 and Xbox One platforms, but they show a bevy of non-Nintendo games that feature their characters from third party developers. They then announce the major partnership - hinted at in January - and takes the entire floor's breath away.

A small chime is heard in the background, followed by an alert. "You've been awarded a Medal!" It flips to reveal "Revitalized a Brand". Reggie comes out on stage alongside Iwata, and announces a system-wide achievement system that spans the Wii U and 3DS, called Medals; they even have their own "Player Cards" on screen, comparing their accomplishments between games. Going forward, all titles released have Medals, and retroactively, all first party titles will be patched to allow Medals to be earned. They announce a tool that will scan your save files on both systems, and retroactively award you Medals. Third parties have this option, but are not required.

Reggie then pulls out a 3DS XL, then begins controlling the Wii U with it; it can now be used as a controller to manipulate the system. He then presses a button on the 3DS, closes the system to put into his jacket, and picks up a GamePad. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds shows up, and he starts playing it; the 3DS can now stream it's games to the Wii U, paying homage to the Super GameBoy on the SNES.

* * *

Now, here's where shit gets weird, and your "extreme, acid-laced wild card." I would never expect any of this to happen, but you can't blame a bloke for hoping:

They then announce a Wii U system OS overhaul, powered by a spec-bumped Wii U. It gets a massive RAM bump (because fuck 2 GBs), a new CPU with a faster clock speed, and a massive internal storage boost. Going forward, all games will be made with this Wii U system in mind, and all Wii U systems are being pulled and "recalled" from stores across the globe. The Wii U you have? Nintendo will offer a steeply discounted upgrade to the new system. Had it since 2012? You get it for free; just send in the old one, they'll transfer your data, and send it back. The GamePad now ships with the high-capacity upgrade, and is free to all current owners of a Wii U; just go through Club Nintendo to get it.

Nintendo is going to make sure you are able to play all of the new games on the revised system, so the packaging for all of the games will alert those buying to make sure you have the new Wii U. If you put a "new" game in an "old" Wii U, a prompt will appear, letting you know this game is not playable on this system, but will generate several support options (phone number and email). Call Nintendo, and they'll hash out the details of getting you the upgraded system, with one week turn-arounds.

Getting even crazier, with this spec bump, the Wii U is now (at least) twice as powerful, and getting closer to the Xbox One and PS4, in terms of power. With that in mind, Todd Howard comes on stage to end the conference, completely blind-siding the entire industry.

Image: Venturebeat

He's shocked by the new Wii U and what it's capable of doing, saying "with this new hardware and reinvigoration, we feel we can make games for the Wii U and not sacrifice fidelity." Despite it's age, they're releasing the Skyrim Legendary Edition with all DLC and updated visuals (and an HD texture pack) for the system on November 11th to celebrate the third anniversary of Skyrim's release. Not only that, but there's an exclusive quest line, and Nintendo-themed items available in game. He promises future Bethesda releases on the Wii U, specifically, Elder Scrolls and Fallout series.

* * *

Despite my wild antics in the last section, everything above that is completely plausible, from the games, to the overhauls, to the Medals. Not only is it plausible, but it's something Nintendo should do, especially the games. Hell, it's what they need to do to aid a dying system. There's a difference between "dying" and "hanging on by a thread". Currently, the Wii U is hanging on by a threat, one from the overalls of Mario. That thread will only last so long before it comes undone, and the system ends up going on it's way out. Despite a great 2014 for the Wii U that starts with Watch Dogs and Mario Kart, there's jack shit for the system until the holidays with Smash Bros. and Zelda.

Nintendo needs to blow the pants off of people, just like they did back in 2010, and in 2004. The Xbox One and PlayStation 4 are a real thing now, and people are buying them in goddamned droves. You cannot ignore this, and you can't keep up this "if you want to play with our ball, you need to come over to our yard"; it's not going to last forever. Do not read the above as if they're my E3 predictions; considering my E3 desires. This is my wet dream for Nintendo's E3, and their 2014 overall.

The revitalization of Nintendo and the Wii U needs to happen now, and the presser that happened today is a great place to start.