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Friday, January 16, 2015

Article: A Response to the Janurary 2015 Nintendo Direct

Well, it happened, folks. The first Nintendo Direct of the year had plenty of information, so let's discuss the good and the bad, right here, right now.

PROS:

-Wii U is getting digital versions of some of the best Wii games. For those who don't own these titles (like myself), this is fantastic news, and compounded by the fact that each one will be half-off of their already-low price during their first week. If Nintendo continues to release hard-to-find titles like this with a first-week discount, they could be setting up a very profitable venture. In other words, BUY THE METROID PRIME TRILOGY FOR TEN BUCKS.

-Splatoon is looking more and more like a great title.

-Some great independent representation and eShop love on both fronts, with a tease of Project Treasure, Ironfall Invasion, Moon Chronicles, and Gunman Clive 2.

-Amiibo re-releases for all you poor saps who didn't get Marth. Plus, their functionality has expanded to the New 3DS! Exciting, I suppose.

CONS:

-Intelligent Systems revealed... another Fire Emblem. That's great for people who liked Awakening and it makes sense with Awakening reviving the franchise, but the nature of these games rarely differs, and there are other properties that could use an appearance, like Advance Wars, or Paper Mario. It also shows that Nintendo is satisfied with the "if it ain't broke" mentality. What developer goes out of their way to say "this is all the same stuff you loved from the last game" this hard?

-No further information about Xenoblade Chronicles X.

-Amiibo is the main focus of the New 3DS, which isn't all that surprising, but it's not particularly welcome, especially considering the draw for a new gaming system should NOT be an optional and unappealing secondary market. Also, Nintendo dumped all over their old hardware.

-Pokemon Shuffle is a poor-man's Bejeweled, which is sad because there's already Trozei which is a Pokemon fan's Bejeweled.

-Amiibo support has evolved into a divisive concept- either it's silly content that doesn't add to the overall experience, or it has exclusive content that players miss out on because they don't want to own the figures.

THOUGHTS:

I am feeling torn. On one hand, going into a Nintendo Direct with low expectations means you won't get disappointed. And yet, I still feel disappointed. Nintendo is of course trying a very aggressive tactic with Amiibo, and they are entering a market with very little competition so that's a good thing, business-wise. The real issue with Amiibo, though, is that now it feels like useless cosmetic or game-breaking ideas, but with the announcement of an Amiibo-exclusive mode in Mario Party, Nintendo is treading a dangerous path of making their figures feel like locked-out DLC.

On one hand, this is Mario Party, so it does cater more towards a young audience and that group is who Amiibo are really geared towards. At the same time, honoring one of it's older franchises by including Fire Emblem characters in Project STEAM would be an enjoyable decision from Intelligent Systems, but the fact that it's locked behind Amiibo makes me wonder- what reason do these toys have for existing in a Teen-rated game?

No news on franchises that, as a Wii U owner, I really care about. While Splatoon is looking more and more like a full package and a great foray into the arena shooter for Nintendo, there has been no exciting reveal for the Wii U like Hyrule Warriors was last year, unexpected and pleasant. Then again, Nintendo made E3 2014 heavy with titles, so maybe that is all the content we'll be seeing from them in 2015. Hell, maybe some of that content won't even be released in 2015. At the same time, I can't blame Nintendo for revealing little during this Direct- it is the first one of the year. But no Wii U reveals except a soft nod towards Project Treasure (which, to be honest, I don't have high hopes for. Free to play and all) means that this E3 will be more of Xenoblade Chronicles, Zelda, Yoshi, Mario Maker, and Devil's Third. That's the sort of thing that happens when you put all your games, even those that aren't ready to be talked about yet, on display a year before they are going to release.

Ah well. See you all in March when the next Direct hits.

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