Thursday, 24 January 2013

Nintendo Direct: Excitement Overload

This afternoon I spent three tedious hours finishing off Resi 5's co-op campaign with my brother. A real chore of a game, that. Between the daft locations, buggy action, and a final boss battle that took away an hour of my life I'll never get back, I managed to develop both a splitting headache and a real grudge against Capcom. I came out of it frustrated with myself for wasting time I could have better spent catching up with work, doing laundry, or maybe staring into space. And hey, what better way to bring myself out of that funk than by finding out I'd missed a thoroughly brilliant Nintendo Direct?

Now I'm a fan of these things. When I caught one for the first time, right before Nintendo's maligned E3 presser in the summer, I had no idea what was going on, but they've grown on me. Iwata's a charming host, always chirpy and as polite as you could ask for, with an enviable array of hand gestures. There's always a wee sense of mystery as to what they'll be about too. Ninty could pull out a couple of brand new Pokemon games out of nowhere, or they might just announce some daft Mario DLC. But they really managed to set the bar with this one.

Wind Waker, if done right, could set a new standard for HD remakes
Not only did we get confirmation that we'd be seeing a new 3D Mario, cross-platform Smash Bros, and Mario Kart at E3, but we were also teased with the prospect of a new Zelda, an HD re-release of Wind Waker, and a ton of other tasty stuff. A Shin Megami Tensei and Fire Emblem crossover? A new Yoshi game in the style of Kirby's Epic Yarn? A lush looking RPG from the Xenoblade team? More footage of The Wonderful 101? It was all I could do to keep myself from giggling with joy. However cynical I find myself feeling about games sometimes, I can always count on Nintendo to reduce me to the level of a wide-eyed 12 year old.

This was an important little broadcast. The last few weeks have been dominated by ongoing speculation over Sony and Microsoft's next-gen machines. Every day seems to bring spectacular new rumours, every little titbit poured over in excruciating detail while both companies remain tight lipped. We're all waiting for what we might get to see at E3. But with this, Nintendo have stolen a march on the competition. Given us a glimpse of what they'll be offering, telling us exactly why we should be excited, and putting themselves back on the radar. No matter how tantalising the prospect of new hardware may be, there's not much that can touch a new Zelda when it comes to getting people excited, let alone one that hints at a radical departure from the well-worn formula.

It all points to an explosive E3 this summer. While Sony and Microsoft are tripping over themselves to tease us with new machines, Nintendo will be bringing out the big guns, setting up a stellar few months for the Wii U and 3DS. With their own hardware stuff out of the way, and a dull couple of years behind them, Nintendo could have set themselves up for their best conference showing in a long while. Presuming that they haven't shot their load early and announced everything today, there'll be more surprises to look forward to as well.

A new 2D Yoshi game is another simple way to win me over
But it's more than that. This was Nintendo re-engaging their fanbase, giving something back to everyone that's derided them for embracing the lure of of the casual market, or blasted their sparse release schedule for the months ahead. With humility, here was Nintendo announcing nearly a dozen new games in 30 minutes, every one of them a uniquely tantalizing piece of software. They've shown that they're grabbing the potential that HD brings with both hands, giving one of their most beautiful games a loving rebuild. They're showing off the kind of exclusives you won't find anywhere else, from first-party gems to new titles from the likes of Platinum and Monolith. It was Nintendo doing what they've always done best: focussing on delivering innovative, exciting, and fun games for us to play.

Over on IGN, Richard George made the point that this was what made today's Nintendo Direct so exciting. Nintendo will always be able to hold their own precisely because you won't be able to play the likes of Zelda and Mario on your Playstation, your Xbox, your iPhone. “At the end of the day, gamers care about games. That’s what they want, and nothing else matters.” It's true enough, and marks why today left me as excited about Nintendo as I have been since the early days of the Gamecube. Back when Nintendo were teasing us with the prospect of new Zelda, Metroid, and Mario titles. Back when they were tying up Capcom to exclusive five-game deals, demoing the likes of Eternal Darkness and Phantasy Star Online, and the GameBoy Advance was going strong. There was a similar vibe today, an irreverent embrace of the sort of stuff that got us all excited by Nintendo in the first place. It may all come crashing down soon enough, but for now at least, the Big N have made a statement of intent for the coming year. And I, for one, couldn't be more intrigued.

No comments:

Post a Comment