I admit that I was pretty excited about the Wii U when I first saw it displayed at E3 2011. It just seemed like a cool system that had a lot of neat little gimmicks and the potential for some really great gameplay innovations. And Nintendo seems to have become a company that lives (the Wii) and dies (The Virtual Boy) by its gimmicks.
There was just this sort of magic at Nintendo's press conference that year, and I admit I got caught up in it a little bit. But as 2011 faded into 2012, I began to start having doubts about the Wii U. (I expressed those concerns a while back in a column called "So What's Going on with the Wii U?")
And then Nintendo's press conference this year, which I initially held high hopes for, failed to impress me.
First of all, I was disappointed to see Nintendo sticking to its guns on the name Wii U. The name is sort of confusing for non-gamers, especially those non-gamers who simply know nothing about gaming consoles. (If you don't agree with me, just wait until this Christmas when your crazy aunt buys you a plain old Wii instead of a Wii U, and then you have to explain to her why you need a gift receipt so you can return it to the K-Mart she bought it at.) This is actually a lesson Nintendo should have learned with the 3DS (as I explained in "that aforementioned Wii U column.)
Secondly, I felt like Nintendo misunderstood the E3 audience a bit. I mean, sure there are investors watching this stuff, but the majority of this crowd is made up of gamers hardcore and passionate enough that they went into a career field where they could get paid to talk about video games all day long; these aren't the grandparents who play Wii Bowling. Those of us at E3 wanted to see hardcore titles.
Last year, Nintendo promised us hardcore third-party support. Sure, we got a glimpse of Arkham City's Armored Edition and Assassin's Creed III at this year's conference, but Nintendo showed off NintendoLand as their grand finale. Sure, this has the potential to be the next Wii Sports, and the Luigi's Mansion-based minigame looks like it's tons of fun. Still, core gamers are getting bored with minigame compilations. Remember how well Little Deviants did for the Vita? (One feather in NintendoLand's cap, though, is that it features minigames based on already popular franchises. Little Deviants didn't have that.)