E3: Nintendo, A Love Letter to the Hardcore?

nintendo-e32009Despite record sales for the Wii in 2008, last year’s Nintendo E3 briefing didn’t exactly fire up the masses with Wii Music and Animal Crossing. This year Nintendo was determined to please the hard-core and appeal to its expanded audience. That’s not an easy balance to strike, and I’ve publicly wondered if Nintendo even needs to focus on E3. I mean let’s face it: Most Wii owners who pick up Wii Fit don’t even know or care about the trade show.

So how did Nintendo do? There’s no question there was much more for the hardcore Nintendo gamer at E3 2009, including the shock announcement of Metroid: Other M — probably the best kept secret in any of the first party briefings. Add in Mario Galaxy 2, the first hints at a new Wii Zelda (which was mentioned the next day at a Miyamoto roundtable), and a 2D Super Mario Bros for Wii, and Nintendo certainly has a lot of games in the pipeline.

Here are my thoughts on the briefing:

STAGECRAFT: The cramped Club Nokia stage combined with high-placed teleprompters made it look like the Nintendo executives were talking to the heavens for most of the briefing. Still, Nintendo always delivers the quickest (75 minutes) and most polished E3 briefing. This year’s show was no exception.

GOOD THINGS COME TO THOSE WHO WAIT: For most of the briefing hardcore Nintendo fans were up in arms. Half way through the presentation I was getting Tweets like “This is worst than last year!” But then, in the final 10 minutes, Reggie saved the show with Mario Galaxy 2 and Metroid: Other M. Before I knew it, the positive Tweets were flowing, such as “Give Reggie a bear hug for us hardcore guys!”

CHECK YOUR FACTS: When discussing Wii Fit, Cammie Dunaway said that with 15 million sold, the Balance Board now ranks alongside other home systems in terms of worldwide installed base. What system is she referring to? While the Wii Fit numbers are impressive, both the PS3 and 360 are beyond 15M sales worldwide.

SPECIAL ACHIEVEMENT AWARD: You have to give props to Reggie and Cammie for actually playing games during their briefing. Rival execs just read prompters, but the two Nintendo figureheads actually picked up controllers and played their products.

STRANGEST SEGUE: From Cammie Dunaway: “We admit we haven’t quite figured out how to move [Mario] into a fourth dimension. But that number, 4, that’s the key to Mario’s next surprise.” Is this a hint that the next Wii will include a water sprayer to add 4D effects to your Mario experience?

ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM: Nintendo spent ample time hyping up the multiplayer in New Super Mario Bros. for Wii….but conveniently forgot to mention that there is no online multiplayer support.

ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM, PART 2: Reggie said, “”Third party publishers are drawn to opportunity. And right now there’s no opportunity larger than Nintendo.” The only problem? Third parties can’t seem to crack the opportunity and make non-Nintendo games a blockbuster hit on the Wii or DS.

BIGGEST OMISSION, PART 2: When Iwata revealed the Wii Vitality sensor he only showedphotos. But apparently there is a video of a Vitality Sensor demo, which Iwata showed to some European press behind closed doors. He edited the video himself on the plane trip over from Japan.

MOST OVERSHADOWED GAMES: Nintendo is getting into user-created content in a big way. Both Minis March Again: Mario vs. Donkey Kong and Warioware: DIY encourage user creativity, but the message seemed to be lost during the briefing.

BEST LINE: “I’ll be honest, I read the blogs too.” — Reggie, as he began to introduce the “hardcore” section of Nintendo’s briefing with Dead Space, The Conduit, and Metroid: Other M.

WHAT NINTENDO DOESN’T WANT YOU TO CALCULATE: Sure there are some big first party Wii games in the pipeline, but the vast majority are coming in 2010 like Sin and Punishment 2, Endless Ocean, Super Mario Galaxy 2, and Metroid: Other M. The second half of 09 looks very light for hardcore first-party games.

MOST QUESTIONABLE GREENLIGHT: C.O.P THE RECRUIT from Ubisoft for the DS. With GTA: Chinatown Wars off to a slow start, does Ubisoft really think it can be successful with a new original GTA knock-off on the DS?

ONLY IN JAPAN: Where’s the news on new Wii Channels for the US? Japan has been rolling out new content like the Wii No Ma video channel and even a channel to order Pizza online. But Reggie didn’t even mention Nintendo Channels during the briefing.

BEST REVEAL OF E3: The setup for the Metroid: Other M trailer was brilliant. Reggie didn’t give up the surprise with his introduction, and it took a good 10-15 seconds of the trailer before it was clear a new Metroid game was afoot. Bravo!

7 Responses to “E3: Nintendo, A Love Letter to the Hardcore?”

  1. none Says:

    Her reference to 4 was obviously the 4-player mode of new super mario bros wii.

  2. Aaron Miller Says:

    You have a strange standard for “a lot of games”. Nintendo announced some great games for regular gamers, but their number of quality titles still pales in comparison to Sony and Microsoft. What I see from Nintendo is more of the same: a few great games per year.

  3. Mishkin Says:

    I clicked through to here from N4G. Really pleased to find an article worth reading and well thought out/presented rather that most of the rubbish that I have to wade through on N4G (but finding the odd gem is why I still do). I will be checking out the rest of the site. Cheers.

  4. J Hayden Says:

    Great point with the “Special Achievement Award” —

    I didn’t put that together; how unique it was that the Nintendo execs actually you know, played their own games up there. There’s also something to be said for the fact that a one-time HAL programmer rose the ranks to become president of the company, whereas some of the other top suits from Sony / MS didn’t come from a video game background at all.

  5. forcedtodrive Says:

    You’re crazy, Geoff. Nintendo’s was the biggest let-down of the whole event! I got up bright and early to watch the conference on G4, preparing to be wowed and all they gave us a bunch of casual crap followed by a few lackluster titles. Wii Vitality? Really? Super Mario Galaxy 2 looks exactly the same as the last! Until I see more details on Other M, I’m far from excited. Team Ninja hasn’t made anything interesting since the first Ninja Gaiden.

  6. Email: About the Disruption Test and User Generated Content « Malstrom’s Articles News Says:

    […] Geoff Keighley wrote, after E3 2009, that he was surprised of how many user-generated content games Nintendo showed and was even more surprised that it wasn’t noticed this direction Nintendo was taking. MOST OVERSHADOWED GAMES: Nintendo is getting into user-created content in a big way. Both Minis March Again: Mario vs. Donkey Kong and Warioware: DIY encourage user creativity, but the message seemed to be lost during the briefing. […]

  7. robert Says:

    Face it nintendo forgot the hardcore. Its good to see another mario,Zelda,and Metroid but were still missing most of the icons we’ve supported for 25 years. They promissed Pikmin and Kid Icarus and we still haven’t seen them, we haven’t even heard about Starfox, F-zero, Kirby,Donkeykong, Earthbound, I could go on but I think you get my point. Their third party support sucks and the good first party are few and far between.

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