Can Nintendo Salvage The Wii U?

By Adam Ma on June 11, 2011, 1:28AM EDT
Wii U

There is no denying that Nintendo's showing at E3 was a massive disappointment, or at the very least, ridiculous confusing. Considering how high of a bar they set set for themselves in the fields of innovation and their history with industry-changing peripherals, it's a wonder they thought it would be possible to get away with showing a controller without a system as their big announcement. A controller that, mind you, while relatively advanced won't be showing up on store shelves anytime soon. Without a single major announcement for their existing system, let alone the new one, and a series of titles that really should've launched alongside the 3DS, is it really any surprise that Nintendo's stock fell to the lowest its been in five years just moments after their press conference?

So with a year or so before anymore information regarding the Wii U is released, it's time to look to what Nintendo could do to change our minds. They certainly have a lot of time to get their game together and if they do, Nintendo may yet again see another N64 scenario. However, we're not saying the entire press conference was an utter disaster as there were quite a few positive points to Nintendo's presentation that were simply overshadowed by the amount of crap they tried to heave onto the stage and pass off as revolutionary.

Their biggest trump card, though many will play down its significance, is their constant push for more third party development. Over the years, this has been Nintendo's greatest failing, and while the more zealous Nintendo fans will try and maintain that exclusives are what make a console great, the reality is that having a nice mix of the two is what will keep a good system alive for a long time. Sony and Microsoft have kept both of their systems competitive by fighting over the rights to third party development teams, so seeing Nintendo finally throw their own glove down on the subject is extremely encouraging. Even more astonishing is that the titles announced are relatively mature compared to their prior lineups, which means that, provided the console is nice enough to power decent visuals and is simple for developers to work with, the Wii U could be Nintendo's edge on the market.

Beyond that, Nintendo does have an extremely good idea when it comes to designing a console meant for entertaining the family. Many gamers actively shun the Wii due to it's childish lineup, so if Nintendo have plans on embracing s casual, family oriented gaming system, why not design a console that's able to adapt to shifting family needs? The problem with the Wii U isn't its hardware, it's that Nintendo have given absolutely no support for how this hardware would realistic make a
difference in a household.

Who needs another multi-hundred dollar system to play Othello on? Or an extra controller to pretend to use as a golf tee? I'm still trying to figure out what kind of information can be found on a Wii U controller or a Wii Fit pad that couldn't be attained on a scale from Walmart. It felt like Nintendo was reaching for straws during its presentation, trying to find the one that would possibly resonate with consumers. Instead, what they wound up with was a whole lot of confusion and no real focus. Especially when you consider that Nintendo announced a controller without the system. The order's usually the other way around, or at least altogether.

Nintendo's time over the next year should be well spent hashing out exactly what place the Wii U will have in current Wii owners' homes, and why replacing their old system with a new product is something they should consider. This doesn't mean that they need to reveal the specs of the core system, at least not at this time as they clearly aren't ready, but it would go a long way to detail a more fleshed out lineup. The casual gaming applications of the Wii were extremely obvious, but the approach to Wii U's technology is a bit different and it's difficult to imagine what kind of experience it can bring to a multi-platform game.

This goes back to the reason why Nintendo's presentation of the Wii U was an absolute disaster. All of the things that gamers would have really enjoyed seeing were barely touched on. The time spent hinting at all of the things the system is capable of would have been much better spent focusing on the stream of third party development titles instead. What's more disappointing was the lack of a projected price point. Although Microsoft brought nothing new to the table this year, Sony was at least kind enough to give some focus on the Vita's cost.

Although many have written off the Wii U due to their disappointment in Nintendo's E3 showing, I refuse to forget that despite my passionate dislike for motion-controllers, the Wii has managed to infiltrate just about every single household on the planet; considering the company manages to do this with a large majority of the products they create, it's hard to criticize them as being one-hit wonders. The fact that Nintendo is taking multiplayer a lot more seriously on this new console gives me hope that they've begun to look at the bigger picture. Give it a little bit of time, a bit more information, and a little more developer support and I have very little doubt that the Wii U won't make quite a showing sometime next year. For now, it's best just to forget this showing ever really happened.

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