E3 2011: Will the Wii U Bring Traditional Gamers Back?

E3 2011: Will the Wii U Bring Traditional Gamers Back?

Nintendo did their thing, a new console was shown and my body was ready for it. Was yours? What did you think about what Nintendo is dishing out? More importantly, does this newest development make you want to sink some money into Nintendo once again?

Project Cafe is no more. We now have the Wii U. Not Wii 2. U. As in, “We, you.” Nintendo is going for a feel good, everybody together message with their console names it seems. Me, I’m not a fan of it. It sounds like a siren. Though honestly, the name is the least interesting thing about it. There’s tons of stuff to talk about here. Most importantly, whether this is the siren’s song for hardcore gamers that Nintendo desperately wants.

Let’s talk about the fact that Nintendo really, really wants your money again. Not your grandma’s or your little sister’s money, though that would obviously help. No, they want you, the hardcore gamer. You have wandered from Nintendo. It’s okay. It’s understandable. They made Wii Sports, it was fun but shallow. Then came everyone trying to copy Wii Sports. You tried to play the really good games, games with lots of attention and care put into them. No More Heroes, MadWorld, Zack and Wiki, and Red Steel. You liked them, but they never sold well. The market just wasn’t there for the Wii. Grandma doesn’t want to play with a chainsaw wielding game show contestant, and it really hurt when you realized that most of the waggle done with the Wii remote wasn’t really all that necessary. Wii Sports and all its clones made use of it well, but for everything else it just seemed tacked on there. So you left. You went to Xbox with its Halo and Gears of War. You went to Playstation for Uncharted and Killzone. Again, it’s understandable. But Nintendo is going to try to bring you back.

How will this happen? Well, they have games. Lots and lots of games. Games you want to play. Batman: Arkham City? It’s here. Assassin’s Creed? Here too. Aliens: Colonial Marines? Tekken? Ninja Gaiden? You know those names, yes? You want those games? They are on the Wii U. In HD too. Can’t forget that little fact. Nintendo, this is what we call a good start.

But a start is all it is. There are the gimmicks. This is a modern Nintendo console after all, so of course there are gimmicks. And they pretty much all involve the controller. Heh, controller. It seems so…small… a word for this thing, this behemoth. It’s got a 6.2 inch touchscreen. It’s got all the buttons you are accustomed to, the L and R, two analog sticks, and the ABXY diamond on the right hand side. It looks kind of like a Wiimote, if a Wiimote were smashed by a steamroller and given a screen. But you don’t want to know what it looks like, do you? You can see that in a picture. Here, let me get you a picture.

There. A picture. Now let’s talk about what you can do on it. You can draw on it. You can browse on it. You can take pictures. You can game on it. Someone else wants to use the TV? Switch the game over to Mr. Controller and you have a non-stop gaming experience, if a little shrunken. They showed Zelda during the demonstration and had the playing accessing Link’s inventory on the touch screen. They showed some type of ninja thing where you’re chucking ninja stars at defenseless trees. A noble concept in itself, but the interesting thing was how this was accomplished. You set the controller down and flicked the stars at the TV with your fingers by sliding them across the controller’s screen. That seemed kinda neat. But then again, the words, “kinda neat” don’t really fill me with confidence anymore.

Yes, this thing has games. Yes, the controller can do some cool things. But does this really mean anything? I am brought back to mid-2006, right before the launch of the Wii. Oh man, how cool will this thing be? Using the Wiimote like a gun, zooming in by moving forward, aiming and shooting and, God in heaven, using it like a sword? I can have a sword fight in my living room? That seems…kinda neat. But, as explained before, the disappointment eventually came. The neat stuff was never used like I thought it would be. The cool experience I wanted were few and far between. Awesome games like Mario Galaxy hardly used the motion controls. It did nothing that a button press couldn’t do. It didn’t immerse me more in the game world. It made me feel like a jackass for waving my arms around.

Which is where the Wii U really needs to step up. Yes, it can run Arkham City now. Good for it. But I already own two other consoles that can do that. Why should I buy a Wii U for this? I won’t be suckered in by “kinda neat” again. I also think that a lot of other people will be more skeptical of Nintendo’s new console. This has already affected the 3DS.  If you read the Wall Street Journal, and I do because I’m classy like that, sales of the 3DS are not exactly setting the world on fire. Now you can probably put that on a lot of factors, but the biggest one in my opinion is that there just aren’t any games that are attracting people. The biggest game at launch was probably Super Street Fighter IV, which has been out for months already on the bigger consoles. The next biggest reason to own a 3DS, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, was weeks away from release and is, when you get right down to it, a game we’ve already played. The 3D is kinda neat, but are we willing to invest $250 in kinda neat? Especially since the DS line kind of has a reputation for getting a better version a year or so later.

Do I want the Wii U to blow me away? Sure. I miss Nintendo. I grew up on Nintendo. I’ve owned every single console they’ve ever put out bar the Virtual Boy and, at this moment, the 3DS. But Nintendo has lost a lot of ground with the traditional gamer in the Blue Ocean strategy. They’ve gained a ton of new customers, but that won’t help them with their current fight. They’re entering a market that has had a five to six year head start on them. One thing is for sure though. Nintendo wants to be back in our homes. They want to play with you. The honest effort I’ve seen from them is, so far, a good first step.

  • JLo

    Awesome article and I couldn’t agree more on every single point.
    Btw… you want my VRBoy? lol

  • Josh Moore

    Awesome article and I couldn’t agree more on every single point.
    Btw… you want my VRBoy? lol

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