Tag Archives: Wii U

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Thought Bubble: How Nintendo won E3

June 26, 2014

Nintendo-E3

The E3 media blitz has come and gone. At their respective press conferences, Sony, Microsoft, Ubisoft, and EA offered a dizzying parade of trailers, a flurry of commandos, mercenaries, dragons and cars.

The thing is, though, without a breakdown of all the games shown off at the big four conferences, I can barely remember what happened. They lacked anything that seemed cool and different, even if they definitely showed something new.

They lacked the ‘wow’ factor. Despite the number of new trailers, little about the press conferences was truly memorable. The best parts are uploaded and consumed separately, independent of the venue from whence they first appeared.

Even though the press conferences are staged for developers and the in-house gaming press, they’re watched by scores of people who don’t fall into any professional categories. The week after E3, Twitch reported record numbers of viewers – 5.9 million on day one, 12 million for the four-day event – tuning in for their around-the-clock coverage.

That’s far more than the total number of people who actually attended E3.

Maybe that’s why Nintendo – for the second year in a row – went without the traditional brick-and-mortar presser. Instead, it went to its own YouTube and Twitch channels and opened with an animated sketch produced by Robot Chicken. A stop-motion Reggie Fils-Aime tells a crowd of disgruntled reporters that they won’t be showing off a new Super Mario game (not a “traditional” one, at least) and then incinerates a scraggly-voiced man asking about the Star Fox series.

The preview for inter-franchise brawler Super Smash Bros. similarly begins with a video of Satoru Iwara and Reggie Fils-Aime brawling. At one point, Iwata launches himself head-first into Fils-Aime’s stomach like a lawn dart, meaning Nintendo’s Japanese and North American CEOs – their real-life top executives – began their not-a-press conference by reenacting a fight from Dragonball Z.

It’s utter madness for a risk-averse event like E3, but it became the most-giffed sequence of the entire week. While other gaming publishers work hard to avoid on-stage embarrassments (You can thank Konami’s surreal 2010 performance for that), Nintendo embraced the weirdness that resonates so well in the instant-reaction chamber of social media.

More than the other major publishers, Nintendo recognizes that E3 is a show – a performance – seen by millions of gamers. The fans watching live online outnumber the executives and reporters at least by tenfold.

Iwata-headbutt

(Gif by raikouji/Tumblr. Original by Nintendo)

When Nintendo did fill the Staples Center for its own live event, it wasn’t for a press conference. It was a tournament for the upcoming Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. Instead of journalists, the arena was packed with fans who had lined up outside for hours. The showcase featured 16 players – all well-known in the tournament scene – duking it out in the unreleased, unfinished Smash Bros. Fans cheered their favourite players and voted with giant flip-boards to call for their favourite characters. Nintendo’s Twitch channel enjoyed a consistent 165,000 – 190,000 concurrent live viewers for the tournament, which lasted nearly three hours.

Host Geoff Keighley, meanwhile, has interviewed execs such as Jack Tretton and, yes, Reggie Fils-Aime for Gametrailers TV, yet he looked entirely out of his element. Doing live commentary, he was unable to gauge crowd reactions that zigged whenever he telegraphed a zag.

With a half hour breakdown with Smash Bros. director Masahiro Sakurai and a live tournament, Nintendo probably got more mileage out of a single, unreleased game at E3 than any other publisher or presenter. Most importantly, it did it in a novel and memorable manner. Rather than a PR-friendly intro followed by a three-minute trailer, Nintendo gave the game to the gamers.

As a result, the gamers were let loose upon E3, and we got to see Smash Bros. in the state that most people will actually experience it. It wasn’t pre-rendered, nor was it a co-op demo performed by actors.

For a moment, it was honest.

mario-v-megaman

Nintendo’s masterstroke doesn’t make its E3 perfect, and it certainly doesn’t solve Nintendo’s ongoing financial troubles. The gorgeous Zelda Wii U game we got a glimpse of won’t be out until at least 2015, and Smash Bros. isn’t due until the winter holiday.

That may be why Nintendo attempted such a bold strategy: lagging in the financial rankings, it chose to embrace the players in a way that no one else has. It led to the company’s most memorable E3 in years, and (mostly) not for anything embarrassing.

The gamers, the players, and the audience are the beneficiaries, and other E3 presenters could learn from the approach. A little more showmanship could make E3 more fun, memorable and even inclusive than before.

 

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Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze Review

March 6, 2014

In Donkey Kong’s latest, you’ll bounce through a number of islands, subjugating the local fauna on the way towards reclaiming your rightful throne. You’re like a furry, 500-pound Daenerys Targaryen. Continue reading

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The Dork Shelf Guide to Holday Shopping: Day 1

By Dork Shelf
December 1, 2013

For the first day of our holiday gift guide, we look at some movies, games, books, and random nerdy and dorky ephemera for your loved ones and friends! New Movies: The Wolverine – Unleashed Extended Edition (3D Blu-Ray, Blu-Ray, DVD, … Continue reading

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Super Mario 3D World Review

November 27, 2013

Super Mario 3D World is worth buying a Wii U for, all on its own. It’s a superlative platformer and might be the best Mario game to date. Continue reading

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Thought Bubble: Where’s the Buzz…zzzz…zzzz (Nintendo 2013)

November 21, 2013

Nintendo is falling behind with a holiday lineup that nobody will be talking about, writes Eric. Is its consistency worth the predictability? Continue reading

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Interview: Legend of Zelda Symphony producer Jason Michael Paul

September 4, 2013

Dork Shelf chats with Jason Michael Paul, executive producer of The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses, which makes its return engagement at Toronto’s Sony Centre this Saturday. Continue reading

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Thought Bubble: Sony’s Irrelevant E3 Victory

June 27, 2013

The verdict is in. Sony won, Microsoft lost, Nintendo stayed the course and we can all go home because Jack Tretton dropped the microphone. If only it were that simple. Continue reading

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Injustice: Gods Among Us Review

April 27, 2013

Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment hopes to answer fans’ burning questions about who would win a straight-up fight between Superman and Shazam, or the Joker and Bane. The answers are about as satisfying – and silly – as you’d expect. Continue reading

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News Shelf: 25/01/13

By Dork Shelf
January 25, 2013

And now, all the film, game, and comic news that’s fit to print. Star Wars Episode VII finds a director, THQ auctions off big name game franchises, Nintendo unveils new Wii U titles, The Sixth Gun gets an NBC pilot, and Rob Liefeld writes a screenplay. Continue reading

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News Shelf: 12/11/30

November 30, 2012

Big studios, heated discussions and an even tinier version of the little console that could – all this and more in this week’s News Shelf. Continue reading

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News Shelf: 11/23/12

November 23, 2012

Nintendo and THQ and Schafer and Molyneux and the Czech president gets involved in the case of two jailed Bohemia Interactive devs? It’s been one hell of a week. Check out this week’s news roundup. Continue reading

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Thought Bubble: The Wii U and the Trouble with Triple-A

November 20, 2012

The Wii U has finally arrived. Now that the first reviews are trickling in, we want to explore what the first crop of games tell us about the Wii U’s potential as a hardcore and mainstream gaming platform. Continue reading

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News Shelf: 9/14/12

September 14, 2012

Welcome to the News Shelf. Thursday’s announcement of the Wii U price, retail packages and launch date dominated the headlines, so that’s where we’re starting. But they aren’t the only company who made an announcement about bringing their games to your television. It isn’t even the only major tech hardware announcement to happen this week (three guesses as to what the other one was). Let’s take a look at the rundown. Continue reading

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Wii U: Can the GamePad Change Console Game Design?

July 20, 2012

Much of the recent excitement (and trepidation) over the upcoming Nintendo Wii U has focused on the new types of gameplay experiences the tablet-like GamePad creates. But it might be new ways of designing basic game necessities like in-game menus and inventory systems that take the spotlight in the months following its launch.
Continue reading

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Wii U Preview: Just What Is Asymmetrical Gameplay?

July 11, 2012

During a Nintendo event in Toronto we got a chance to try out the Wii U’s new asymmetrical gameplay in New Super Mario Bros. U, Rayman Legends, and Nintendo Land. The games we sampled at the event generally worked, but Nintendo still left us with more questions regarding the value of Wii U’s approach to co-op than any definitive reasons to love it. Continue reading

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