It’s no secret that I, François Chang, am a big fan of Nintendo. Have you seen my twitter name? It’s @ninferno. Nothing screams fanboy more than making your handle look and sound like the word ‘Nintendo.’ Now that we have that out of the way, I want to mention that Nintendo is looking like they are going to have a big showing at this year’s E3. Nintendo is set to reveal details on the future of its newest handheld in the 3DS, and they are also set to unveil just exactly what Project Café is all about. That means that we should expect to hear big news for both Nintendo’s handheld and console plans. That’s going to be a whole lot to take in, and I haven’t been this excited for Nintendo’s E3 showing since 2006.
Do you remember 2006? If not, here’s a quick history lesson. At E3 in 2006, Nintendo revealed games on the Wii for the first time. We saw quick glimpses of gameplay for the new system’s games, including Super Mario Galaxy, Wii Sports, and The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. This was also the show that got the new DS Lite more exposure with titles such as New Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, and Final Fantasy III.
That’s great and all, but what really pushed them over the edge was Reggie Fils-Aime’s push for gameplay over graphics. The words “Playing = Believing” took over the backdrop of the stage for a good amount of time, and Reggie really made you believe that the industry had been losing itself in all the graphical power and presentation of videogames for some time now. The message was that gameplay is far more important than graphics, and Nintendo made sure to let everyone know that they were offering something that no other system could.
The parallels between 2006 and 2011 are very evident, and Nintendo is now back in the position where they set the tone for the next 5 or so years. So, what is it this time? Nintendo could push more of the motion gameplay and Kinect-like technology for Project Café, but that doesn’t seem like the route they’re going to be going for. Nintendo was casual when casual was hip and new, and, honestly, they’ve already mastered that end of the gaming spectrum. Now, I think Nintendo is going to be targeting more of the hardcore gamers. At least, that’s what this fanboy optimistically sees it to be.
Throughout the whole Wii-era, us Nintendo fans have been deprived of seeing our favorite franchises making the big leap over into the future. Games like Super Mario Galaxy and Donkey Kong Country Returns did a good job making move over for the respective franchises, because I can’t really see them getting any better than they did even if they were on a stronger system. However, favorites like Mario Kart, Animal Crossing and The Legend of Zelda suffered and never really did make it out of the realm of Gamecube-ness. With the lackluster online capabilities and substandard graphical horsepower, they never stood a chance. It’s too bad too, because Mario Kart and Animal Crossing would have easily been many gamers’ late night preference over Call of Duty if they were done right. And if given the HD graphics it deserves, the epicness of The Legend of Zelda would shine just that much brighter than it already does.
Nintendo has always done what has been different, and in a time where everything is becoming more accessible and mainstream, it makes perfect sense for Nintendo to do the exact opposite once again. All the Nintendo games we dreamed about in the past may finally be realized with Project Café. Heck, the Nintendo 3DS is already making steps in the right direction with a much more practical online interface. And with the power the system supposedly possesses, the marriage of graphics and gameplay can find a home on Nintendo’s system.
Another E3 is upon us, and I have no idea what Nintendo will be showing. Like in 2006, maybe The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword will become a multi-platform title for Wii and Project Café. Maybe we’ll get an epic trailer in the likeness of Super Smash Bros. Brawl and the revealing of its inclusion of Snake. Rumors and speculations are floating all over the place, but, let’s be honest, those aren’t worth anything. If they were, Pikmin 3 would be here already. All we can do is wait and see. Looking forward to your showing, Nintendo. All signs point to excitement.