Friends, gamers, countrymen, lend me your ears. I come to bury WiiU, not to praise him. The evil that videogame companies do lives after them, the good is oft interred with their obsolete hardware. So let it be with WiiU… The noble 3DS hath told you WiiU was unambitious: If he were so, it was a grievous fault, and grievously hath WiiU answered it… Here under leave of 3DS, I come to speak at WiiU’s funeral, and to answer the unanwered question: What the Hell is Nintendo doing?
Instead of focusing on their struggling new console, Nintendo has been sinking all of their efforts into their until-recently-struggling new handheld, the 3DS. This seems like an enormous misstep on Nintendo’s part. Dedicated gaming handhelds are all but doomed. When done right, a dedicated gaming handheld provides nothing that a modern smartphone can’t provide. When done wrong, a dedicated gaming handheld provides gimmicky controls that are difficult to translate to other platforms and long-form-factor games that don’t work well for short, ‘in-between’ time-waster play sessions. Looking at Nintendo’s list of upcoming 3DS releases shows that they are going about creating new products in exactly the wrong way. In the latest Nintendo Direct, Iwata even admits that Nintendo has been designing some of their 3DS games with the express intention of players ‘settling in’ to play through long stretches at a time. That’s not how handhelds are supposed to work! “Mario & Luigi: Dream Team,” “Yoshi’s Island 3,” and “Zelda: Link to the Past 2,” are all coming to the 3DS, but NOT to the WiiU. The 3DS is even beginning to receive ports of original Wii games, like “Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D”, and some relatively decent-looking support from Square Enix, like “Bravely Default.” What is the WiiU getting besides “Pikmin 3?” “Game & Wario,” a collection of time-waster style minigames that would feel much more at home on a handheld than on a regular console. It seems that Nintendo is living in opposite-world.
It’s like Nintendo is so obsessed with futilely trying to stop their inevitable replacement by smartphones in the handheld market that they are willing to completely ignore their struggling console, which has a much stronger chance of succeeding in the face of the nebulous impending DRM disasters coming from Microsoft and Sony. Nintendo has a rare opportunity to re-associate ‘playing Nintendo’ with ‘playing console games’ again for the first time since the 1990s. Instead of focusing on their handheld and even porting non-handheld games to it, Nintendo desperately needs to pay more attention to the WiiU. It’s not like it would even be difficult, as certain third-parties are already showing the way: “Lego City: Under Cover” and “Monster Hunter: Ultimate” are both available on the 3DS and WiiU (don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying either of those games is good, just that they got the release model right). Outside of the 3D gimmick that can’t be made mandatory due to the health risks and inability of a certain portion of the general population to even see it, the 3DS has NOTHING that the WiiU doesn’t… indeed, the WiiU trumps the 3DS by having TWO analog sticks by default without resorting to an add-on dongle with a separate battery, not to mention a bigger touchscreen and a top screen limited in size only by the user’s entertainment center. There are even newly-released 3DS games that would be great candidates for porting to the WiiU: “Fire Emblem: Awakening” is a long-form Tactical RPG with attention-demanding things like perma-death for players to worry about, while “Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon” seems like a no-brainer for WiiU play. In the original “Luigi’s Mansion,” Mario’s brother wielded a Game Boy Horror in his left hand, with a ghost-catching vacuum cleaner/flashlight in his right hand. Looking at the WiiU, the GamePad is a shoe-in to play the role of the Game Boy Horror, while the Wiimote is the most perfect analog to Luigi’s vacuum ever devised! Whatever bean-counter at Nintendo decided that game was a better fit for the 3DS than the WiiU in the first place needs to be fired.
Regardless of the simplicity of my suggestions for solving the WiiU’s problems, Nintendo seems incapable of providing solid support for two platforms at the same time. In the past, the Game Boys received the short end of the stick, with options for playing their few good games on their sibling consoles (the Super Game Boy for the SNES and the Game Boy Player for the Gamecube). Now the tables are turned, with the WiiU left out in the cold while Nintendo focuses an unhealthy amount of effort on the 3DS, with no cross-platform capabilities on the horizon.
Yet in ignoring the WiiU as they are, Nintendo might yet kill the console before it has a chance to hit its stride. I am burying my re-boxed WiiU in a shallow grave, with the hope that it will rise like Lazarus once Nintendo decides to grace the console with the holy touch of some excellent first-party games.
Some special guests even turned out at the WiiU’s funeral to pay their respects (or lack thereof).
Wrote on 05/14/13 at 08:03 AM CT
I'm not following, the console isn't a year old yet, wouldn't it be more appropriate to do this with the Vita? And then tackle the Wii U next January if its still selling like the Vita?
Nintendo has had garbage to show for more years than just this. I'd rather they not get up on stage and have another Wii Music Embarrassment Party, honestly.
The Big N coming to terms with the terrible position its decisions have left it in, and then NOT prancing around on stage begging us to think the Wii Vitality Sensor isn't an awful idea may be a good step.
Even IF they have nothing to show, them being honest with themselves about it is better than they normally do.
We should be concerned that Nintendo is not planning on giving a stage presentation at E3. While it could be a money-saving attempt in the face of guaranteed craziness at the MS and Sony conferences with new hardware, it's more likely that Nintendo doesn't really have anything to show.
I think you're right about 3rd party developers and developing for platforms that they know. And like Jonzor said E3 would be perfect timing. One can only hope that the Wii U turns out a little like the 3DS. It launched with a dismal library and sales, but has picked up drastically over the past year.
It's far too early to call this system dead after 6 months. Things may not be looking good right now, but to compare it to the Virtual Boy is exaggerating.
I believe third party developers like EA are unwilling to put in the work to put out a Madden-like game because the WiiU hasn't sold enough and therefore they won't get truckloads of cash from releasing the game. They are waiting for Nintendo to release high quality games to get more systems sold.
These third party developers are more concerned with doing as little work as possible by making games for systems they know (PS3 and XBOX 360) and waiting for the new systems to pan out before investing in them. And, by doing that, they themselves are hurting the future of console gaming.
Gee, Jonzor, it's a good thing the weather didn't cooperate, otherwise Nintendo would have only had ONE week between re-boxing and funeral. Honestly, after two weeks, the body was getting a little ripe...
But seriously, Nintendo doesn't need to produce games instantly out of thin air, they need to give us some announcements and promises (things that are made out of thin air and wishful thinking). Right now we have Pikmin 3 and Game and Wario to look forward too, along with more expensive Virtual Console releases, and "upgrade" fees for existing VC games. There is NOTHING on the WiiU front that's encouraging, especially with the 3DS hogging all of the attention.
I thought that it was quite ironic that this week EA announced that it would not produce the new version of Madden on the WiiU. Not that I would ever play it, but it is not good news when a major distributor/developer is not releasing its bread and butter on a "4th ten" system. I guess they see it as DOA also...
Don't get me wrong, I desperately want a reason, or at least more than one, to buy the WiiU. I've owned a all of Nintendo's platforms since the NES (minus the Virtual Boy and the 3DS). But there has to be more than just New Super Mario Brothers WiiU for me to buy it.
I'm shocked. Nintendo had two weeks after your "re-boxing" ultimatum and couldn't turn the ship around.
That's two WHOLE weeks, mind you. Fourteen ENTIRE days. I mean, good grief, they could have made what, 9, 10 system-selling games during that time? It's like they weren't even trying for the last TWO WHOLE WEEKS.