E3: How Nintendo could screw up a sure thing

Can you smell that in the air? That’s E3. It smells like feet and worms.

Yesterday I alluded to the concept of “winning” E3, by which I mean generating the most hype and conversation. And I mentioned that hardware tends to generate a lot of excitement. On top of that, surprises are a big part of E3, so surprise hardware is the hydrogen bomb of presentation fodder. Though rumors have been circulating for a long time regarding the specs of Nintendo’s new console, it’s really shrouded in mystery. We have a vague outline, but no one really knows what to expect.

As powerful as the PS3 and 360? More so? Better online services? Wii backwards compatibility? A touchscreen controller? What the heck is this thing?

For this reason, Nintendo is an easy early pick for this year’s favorite. If Project Cafe is impressive, they’ll have generated the most discussion and speculation with only the most minimal of efforts. However, this puts the pressure on to wow us with the presentation. Oddball ideas won’t win the crowd if we don’t see some practical applications for them, and if the system is on-par with the 360 it will be called a half-step forward like the Wii.

Nintendo needs to show off Project Cafe in several ways: what makes it unique, how it can be used for cross-platform ports, why you’d want to play said ports on the system, and what first-party software is coming down the pike. That means the presentation is going to be a juggling act, and it’s going to be hard to give every aspect of the system its due.

I have to remark on the presenters. Reggie Fils-Aime is a cheesy marketer. He just is. I love how boldly he approaches everything, but his infamous “kick ass and take names” line was great for an underdog company. Now that Nintendo is on top, his brand of bravado isn’t as endearing. He comes off as stilted and a little too slick, and it feels like we’re being sold on something. I much prefer Iwata, even with a translator, but he usually just gets trotted out to talk about the handheld market.

While I’m on that subject, show some fresh 3DS software. The system isn’t doing terribly, but it’s had weak software so far, so give us something to inspire confidence in the system. We know about Kid Icarus and Zelda is due really soon, so show us what the second generation of software has in store for us. Show us how SpotPass can really impact games. And heck, show us how it can interface with Project Cafe.

  • Looks like I’m not going to pick up any eShop points after all. The launch line-up was outlined today, and everything I’m interested in is free. Super Mario Land might be kind of fun, but that game doesn’t control like Mario and I get the feeling it probably didn’t age well. I suppose I’ll wait to see the pricing, but I really would’ve liked Link’s Awakening. I’d have hit that so hard. Also, updates on Thursdays? They’re distancing themselves from the disastrous Wii/DSiWare Mondays, which is probably a wise move.
  • This game trailer might be the saddest thing ever.
  • Good on Capcom for listening to fans. It seems like the company is in an odd transitional phase. The Japanese branch seems so stubborn and stuck in their ways, and the American branch seems tuned into the fanbase and really trying to have a dialogue. I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop and the companies to split in some kind of Capcom Civil War.

One thought on “E3: How Nintendo could screw up a sure thing

  1. […] a week ago, in my pre-E3 ramblings, I wrote an entry for Nintendo called How Nintendo could screw up a sure thing. The premise was that with the most mysterious new hardware, it was almost guaranteed to win the […]

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