EA’s booth at E3 was filled with gorgeous games, bright lights, and plenty of buzz. A sequel to Mirror’s Edge! Battlefield 4 in all of its glory! An adorable looking tower defense game in the Plants vs. Zombies universe!
None of these games are coming to the Wii U. But that’s okay. Let’s take a walk over to Activision’s booth: Destiny, the first post-Halo game from Bungie! Diablo III is coming to consoles! Call of Duty: Ghosts has an all-new engine! Oh wait, none of these are coming to the Wii U either; though it was announced that Ghosts would make an appearance. Let’s take a gander at the Ubisoft booth where they’re currently demoing Rayman Leg—oh, that still hurts…
This was my inner monologue as a Wii U owner during E3 week. There were a lot of great games in the South Hall of the Los Angeles Convention Center. There were also a lot of great games in the South Hall of the Los Angeles Convention Center that weren’t ever coming to the Wii U. But you know what? It doesn’t really matter. Nintendo isn’t making a system to compete with either the Xbox One or the PlayStation 4. What they are making, however, is a glorified Nintendo box, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.
Yes, their initial start to E3 failed to impress me. The Nintendo Direct lacked any sort of major surprises, but just like last year, Nintendo’s E3 presence is all about actually playing the games. While they’ve played it incredibly safe by announcing already proven franchises and follow-ups to successful games, these follow-ups still look incredibly fun to play. Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros. will help move some systems, and Bayonetta 2, The Wonderful 101, and Pikmin 3 will help the system gain some buzz. If anything, this strategy, if you even want to call it that, is incredibly similar to what happened with the Nintendo 3DS: stumble for a year, see the release of a 3D Mario, Mario Kart, and Zelda remake, begin to print money. The Wii U will be getting a 3D Mario, Mario Kart, and Zelda remake all in the next 12 months, in addition to some other anticipated titles.
I know we were saying this leading up to E3 this year, but Nintendo is putting everything in place to have an absolutely tremendous show next year. There’s a new Zelda game deep in development for the Wii U that we almost saw this year, Retro hasn’t forgotten about the Metroid franchise, the latest entry in the X series looks absolutely fantastic, we’ll probably learn more about Shin Megami Tensei X Fire Emblem throughout the year, and I’d be shocked if a few surprises weren’t thrown in throughout the year as well, helping to strengthen the console.
I guess, looking back, I shouldn’t really be surprised by this turn of events from the house of Mario. They like to send waves through the industry when the spotlight is solely placed on them, choosing to announce major developments during Nintendo Directs throughout the year. Their pre-E3 briefings lacked the punch of their competitors’ E3 showings, yet their game demos were able to deliver a knockout blow. So while Nintendo didn’t blow me away this year at E3 by playing it incredibly safe, they did deliver plenty of enjoyable games. All of these enjoyable games essentially came from their own pockets. And you know what happens when Nintendo publishes a game? Said game usually (almost always, anyway) contains a high level of polish and quality control.
You know what doesn’t always have that high level of polish and quality control? Third-party games. Red Steel, anyone? Or maybe we should check out those sales numbers for Call of Duty on both the Wii and the Wii U. People aren’t going to buy those games on the Wii U because that’s not why people are going to buy a Wii U. If they want that traditional shooter experience, they’ll get it elsewhere. If they want that traditional Nintendo charm, they’ll get a Wii U. Nintendo has recently shown, with the DS, Wii, and 3DS, that they know what’s best for their system.
Besides, while it’d be nice getting games like Witcher 3 running on the Wii U, it would more than likely be an inferior version, due to the weaker hardware specs of the Wii U. That’s no knock on the system, though. It’s better for a game to not release on the Wii U than for a weaker port to release and tarnish its reputation.
If this wasn’t enough to prove to you that the lack of third-party support won’t cause the Wii U’s demise, then how about these Wii U features: lots of great Nintendo games, cheaper price tag, plays used games, backwards compatible, doesn’t require an internet connection, and no fee to use media services or play multiplayer games online. The Wii U may not have a lot of developer support from outside the company, but when you have a company stuffed with first-party titles such as Mario and Zelda, does it really matter?