Nintendo's E3 2014 Strategy: oh btw… Pac-Man IS in Smash Bros.

This year’s E3 is upon us and so far… things have been kind of dull. When re-releases like The Last of Us for PS4 and Halo: the Master Chief Collection for Xbox One are getting headlines, there is definitely a lull in excitement. Yes, you (the lucky customer) will be able to buy the same great games all over again – giving your favorite companies more money! I generalize, there have also been some great teases at exciting new games. When I say teases, I mean teases. Look at this new trailer for the new Star Wars Battlefront:

Not a ton of riveting gameplay footage there.

Anyway, in the midst of it all, there is Sony, there is Microsoft, and there is Nintendo. Yes, Nintendo is still peddling that Wii U thing of theirs. The console that has been largely forgotten recently, well up until the release of Mario Kart 8 and the arrival of psychotic Luigi to the internet.

Those eyes.

It is no secret that there hasn’t been much excitement for the Wii U when compared to the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One. Not that the Wii U does not possess its own growing library of quality games, not that the Wii U doesn’t have the strongest collection of exclusive titles out there, not that the Wii U isn’t the only system this generation to be fully backwards compatible (meaning they can’t do exciting re-releases like the other two… cause you don’t have to re-buy games to play them); it’s just a weird little machine. People are still unsure about the gamepad. People still want more games. Well, here is Nintendo’s Digital Event:

There are games all right, but many titles there were products that we already knew about. Bayonetta 2 is exciting and it is awesome to see the original Bayonetta included as well but, well, where is the new Star Fox? Turns out it was there. As was Mario Party 10 and two other brand new series (currently dubbed Project Giant Robot and Project Guard). Yes, evidently Nintendo believes in saving the best… for sometime other than their national E3 event.

It came off as bizarre to see an entire block devoted to Splatoon, another new game for Wii U, with no official mention made of the other two series. Explanation: these two new series must be (and sound like they are) at a very early stage in development. Plus as these are both new IP concepts for Nintendo, maybe the company does not feel confident enough in them at this stage to broadcast the games to an international audience. That might explain Project Giant Robot and Project Guard, but not StarFox. Heck, Nintendo and Robot Chicken even made a joke about it during their presentation:

It is nice to see Nintendo using their sense of humor but it is still a strange move. Nothing generates hype quite like a trailer and all StarFox received was a blurry video of Shigeru Miyamoto playing the game. The Mario Party 10 trailer was not even included as part of Nintendo’s Digital Event. Is there still hype for these games: of course, but there could be substantially more if Nintendo had given both games a better reveal. Which brings us to Pac-Man…

As seen in the Nintendo Digital Event, there were only two Super Smash Bros. character reveal trailers: The Mii Fighter and Lady Pala – Pale – Palutena (clearly a Nintendo A-lister). Pac-Man was also revealed but at the end of the day, at a non-streamed Nintendo developer roundtable. Now this is really strange. Pac-Man represents the unprecedented third third-party character in a Super Smash Bros. game. Plus, it’s freaking Pac-Man! Players will now be able to have the ultimate retro gaming rumble as Mario, Sonic, Mega Man, and Pac-Man are all together. No, no, show Lady What’s-her-Face, that will get the crowd pumped more.

While it seems that Nintendo has had the most exciting E3 of the large companies (sorry Microsoft and Sony, I’m just not excited to re-buy games from you in the near future), the company is still employing bizarre marketing techniques. It wasn’t all bright and cheer either as Ubisoft announced that they are sitting on completed Wii U games, but are unwilling to release those titles until Nintendo can build more excitement for the Wii U.

Announcing games in bizarre ways outside of your main event may not be the most efficient way to build hype, Nintendo. Just saying.

It does help when this is how the new Zelda game will look. No, really, this is confirmed to be in-engine graphics.
It does help when this is how the new Zelda game will look. No, really, this is confirmed to be in-engine graphics.

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