E3: Nintendo explodes! Then fizzles.

After yesterday’s underwhelming Microsoft and Sony conferences, I felt a fair bit of excitement going into today’s Nintendo conference. The company has a tendency to misstep here and there, but with new hardware coming the conference was theirs to lose. And while I wouldn’t say they lost, per se, it wasn’t the blowout event they could have had if they played their cards slightly differently. Nintendo fell victim to the same problem as the other two: lost momentum.

There’s something to be said for building excitement with a particular kind of pacing, and all three dropped the ball this year. Microsoft has a tendency to pack its non-game announcements together in the middle, which just makes the conference drag to a crawl. Sometimes it manages to recover from that, but not this year. Sony missed a few beats in the middle, but got it back at the end. Nintendo opened strong, then fizzled out. The funny thing is that if they had started with NintendoLand and built slowly to NSMB Wii U and Pikmin 3, I think the conversation would be very different.

NintendoLand has to be a launch title. I’m sure this is part of the strategy — hold back the price, then announce it in a few months and pitch NintendoLand as a value-added proposition. But not saying that just leaves the question hanging in a bizarre way, since no one in attendance seemed particularly keen on paying money for it. It looks like a fine way to show off the system’s features. By simple common sense, that needs to come with the system.

The Wii U needed a strong launch line-up, and Nintendo had the tools in place to do that. If it had shown the Wario game and P-100, I think the core would be a bit more satisfied.

Nintendo was fine, but not nearly as good as it could have been. I’ll say B- but if I were weighting the grades by expectations vs reality it might have been the lowest of the three.

My predictions weren’t so hot on this one either:

  • Wii U price announced – Silly in hindsight, but no
  • a good-not-great launch line-up – Subjective, but I like to think so, assuming NSMB is a launch day game instead of launch window
  • some more solid dates for the 3DS’ fall line-up – True! We got a date for NSMB and release windows for Paper Mario and Luigi’s Mansion. Maybe more info to come tomorrow at the 3DS showcase.

So we know NintendoLand will feature themes from Zelda, Luigi’s Mansion, Donkey Kong, and F-Zero. And some sort of Mario thing, obviously. Any bets on the others?

And it looks like once the Wii U comes out, I have no reason to keep my Wii.

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