Yesterday I came up with a list of some of Nintendo’s most disappointing conference moments, designed as a guide for what kinds of directions Nintendo should avoid at E3 2012. Today I’m taking a more positive tone, focusing on high points - and there have been some incredible announcements to consider, some of which were simply awesome gestures to fans, while others shaped gaming forever.
While after Pit’s re-appearance in Super Smash Bros. Brawl after a long hiatus from the gaming world might have clued most of us in to the fact that he’d be reappearing in his own game soon, when Kid Icarus showed up as the headliner for Nintendo 3DS in 2010, it caught most of us totally unexpected. While Uprising didn’t wind up as a launch game as Nintendo had expected, it still was very much a symbol for the promise of the 3DS to deliver the kinds of games that had been missing from previous handhelds. Pit’s opening line, “Sorry to keep you waiting!”, turned out to be one of the most epic moments at E3.
The Lesson: When you bring back a dead franchise, do it with style. (Next up: Earthbound?)
The Nintendo 64 paved the way for a number of gaming’s modern conventions, from the way games are constructed in 3D worlds to the introduction of analog sticks. Its unveiling at E3 1996 gave the world its first look at Super Mario 64 and ultimately helped shape gaming as we know it today. Sure, the way E3 was handled in those days didn’t carry the same energy that it does today - but it was still an exciting time.
The Lesson: Sometimes it’s not about being different as much as pioneering advancement. Wii U might have missed the boat on bringing the gaming world into HD, but who knows if it’ll push things forward in other ways? If Nintendo can shape the industry with Wii U as it did with Nintendo 64, I’m sure this year’s E3 will be great.
Here’s one that I was able to witness firsthand: the kickoff for The Legend of Zelda 25th Anniversary at E3 2011. From the get-go Nintendo was out to please, bringing in a mighty orchestra to perform both a series’ theme medley and the theme song of Skyward Sword. It really felt like Nintendo was trying to bring all the fans together and give them something special.
Could you imagine what might happen if every big Zelda announcement were treated with such pomp and circumstance? Last year was a great one for fans, but we’ll see what the future holds.
The Lesson: Your fans deserve first-rate treatment for their patronage. Not just in major milestone years, though - they deserve it as long as they’re paying customers.
I don’t think mere words can sum up what made the Wii revolution so successful, so I’ll let the teaser from Nintendo’s E3 2006 presentation say it all for me. Look at that diverse lineup of games, feel the energy that penetrates every second of the trailer - everybody was curious to see how Wii would turn out, and I think its performance is a lasting testament to that.
The Lesson: If you make the play experience better, they will come. Will Wii U be able to achieve this for gamers who’ve settled in on other platforms as Wii did for the expanded audience? So far the touch screen shows potential…
I’ll admit it. I get massive goosebumps and can feel tears welling in my eyes every time I watch the E3 2004 Twilight Princess reveal. It’s not because I think the game’s the bee’s knees or anything - it’s actually my least favorite 3D Zelda to date - but because I remember just how awesome it was to be a Zelda fan back then. I still think that Nintendo should take a cue or two from the charisma and try to create a Zelda game that really can live up to it, a truly cutting-edge entry that the gets the whole gaming world cheering. Because when you set yourself up right - and I mean really right - people can feel it.
In this case, I don’t feel as if I’ve decided the number one Nintendo E3 announcement. The massive cries of jubilation took care of that for me.
The Lesson: The best way to excite your audience is to just give them what they’re asking for. Yeah, Zelda HD Experience was just a demo - but people liked it. If we saw a real game announcement that followed its pattern, Nintendo would certainly get a lot of good and well-needed cred.