After dissecting what I’ve read about Nintendo’s new console, the Wii U, from E3 2012 I wanted to discuss the system and my fears for it’s future – and possibly Nintendo’s as well.
I’ll point out up front that I got my console gaming start as a Nintendo fan boy. My first two systems were the NES and SNES, I had an original Gameboy and many of my favorite games have been Nintendo games. My biggest concerns going into E3 were that Nintendo was going to release an underpowered console, and that they weren’t really going to recapture the ‘core’ gamer with the Wii U. Neither of these fears were alleviated.
The first issue, releasing a console that wouldn’t be up to snuff tech-wise seems to be the biggest for me, and it feeds the second issue. I’m not a graphics snob (having a perpetually underpowered PC does that to a guy) but word is that the Wi U doesn’t compare favorably to the Xbox 360 and PS3. So this new 2012-vintage system can’t hold court with 7-year old tech? How is that possible? One possible answer is that Nintendo doesn’t want to intimidate it’s core Wii audience, which I don’t really buy. Another, somewhat more plausible argument is that the system’s graphics prowess is held back by the gamepad’s screen. It could be that they don’t want to create a huge rift between what you see on your TV and the picture you get on your gamepad’s screen, since the gamepad obviously wouldn’t be capable of putting out Unreal 4-level graphics. The problem I have with this is if Microsoft and Sony continue the visual upgrade competition they’ve been engaged in these last two generations then the Wii U will be left in the dust. That’s bad enough as is, but add the graphics engine differences to having to accommodate the unique interface and you’ll see a bare minimum of (often low-rent) ports from the next-gen PlayStation and Xbox, just like you saw this generation.
I know there are those who say that Nintendo is dead, for kids, or too old to compete but no company has the emotional connection to gamers like they do People froth at the mouth when they announce a new Mario, Zelda or Metroid game time and again, and they have the biggest collection of loveable, world-recognized gaming icons there is. It may just be nostalgia for me but I hope that I’m overreacting. I just know that for the last two console cycles Nintendo’s flagship systems (the Gamecube and the Wii) haven’t been my go-to systems (the PlayStation 2 and Xbox 360 were, respectively). We will all see once and for all after the system supposedly launches this winter, and I know I’ll be getting a Wii U for myself, regardless of these issues.
I guess I’m still a Nintendo fan boy at heart.