Posted on June 17 2015 by Nathanial Rumphol-Janc
I’ve been racking my brain since we finished with our Tri Force Heroes and Hyrule Warriors: Legends coverage on the first official day of E3. I won’t sugarcoat it: I wasn’t satisfied with Nintendo’s Digital Event. It lacked any major “oh yeah” moment for Wii U gamers and for 3DS it almost felt like we were getting a bunch of experimental ideas (not a bad thing) in established franchises that we’re still waiting for a major game in (Metroid).
Fan reaction says it all. The trailer for the new Metroid game on 3DS, a multiplayer shooter, is approaching 40,000 dislikes compared to a few thousand likes. There is an absolutely pathetic petition to cancel said game, which is wholly selfish. Beyond that, fans here at Zelda Informer have been rather mixed when it comes to Tri Force Heroes. A majority are okay with it, but there are plenty that are unsure or not feeling it.
Beyond that, many feel Star Fox: Zero didn’t show well in the direct, followed up by some negative reactions from the media on how it controls. Needless to say Nintendo didn’t show well at this year’s E3. Still, there is a lot of positives to take away from them this year that tell us the future is very, very bright.
The Wii U Era is Coming to a Close, NX on the Horizon
One thing we have to swallow as fans is that the Wii U era is probably coming to an earlier than expected death. Owners might feel this is a slight kick to the balls, but Nintendo can’t logically continue to invest major funds into big console games for it when all their prior attempts at doing so haven’t made the Wii U a success. Smash Bros. and Mario Kart are two HUGE franchises – they both sold moderately well on the Wii U. What they didn’t do is propel Wii U sales to anything close to what a company would call a success.
We have to recognize that beyond us, Nintendo is a company and they have to put their best foot forward. Right now, that foot is supporting the 3DS, while trickling a few Wii U games out until the NX arrives. How is this a positive for us today? The 3DS and Wii U came out of the gates… pretty poorly. Neither had great launch lineups, and while the 3DS recovered a year later, the Wii U never did. It went from a bad launch lineup (according to sales and fan interest) to major gaps in games and releases that the Wii U still suffers to this day. Everything about the Wii U and 3DS launches was wrong, and with the Wii U it never got fixed, even with heavy hitting games released.
To avoid a 3rd straight platform release with this problem, Nintendo has to shift focus to developing for that platform much sooner. Regardless if they aim to get 3rd parties in the fold or not, they can’t hit the ground running with a new platform without a solid launch and first year release slate. By cutting back on Wii U games now, this ensures more games are ready for the NX in that launch and first year window. So it may suck now, but if you buy an NX, you’re going to end up being very happy.
Zelda is Going to be Okay and Tri Force Heroes is a Positive Sign
Of course, here at Zelda Informer our primary concern is the Zelda franchise. Many were upset Zelda U wasn’t shown (Nintendo told us it wouldn’t be months ago. Sure, I predicted they would go back on that and show it anyways, but I wasn’t upset it didn’t appear), but we’re still getting the game. It just looks more and more likely it is going to be a Twilight Princess situation where it releases at launch on the NX and on the Wii U. I know, that’s not what some fans want to hear, but I must ask: Why is this a bad thing?
As far as we’re aware, Twilight Princess was still be worked on heavily into the summer of 2006 before getting a full port job to the Wii. The same could be true with Zelda U. It might still be getting major work done heading into summer next year, and then brought over to the NX. Twilight Princess didn’t suffer for this – in fact that game went on to be one of the bestselling games in the series, with most of the sales coming on Wii. You won’t have to buy an NX to play it, but if there is something better on it – say its 60fps versus 30fps, or 1080p versus 720p, those differences alone are nothing but a positive, right? They aren’t holding back the Wii U version of the game, but they are taking advantage of the new hardware for those that early adopt. So long as the Wii U release isn’t limited quantities, I see this as a big positive.
I would rather they take more time to get this game right and have the side effect of that be a NX launch with the Wii U version still arriving than have a rushed game out this year that doesn’t feel as complete or features an emptier world (the world we saw last year was pretty empty).
Beyond that, we are getting Tri Force Heroes. Some call it a little spinoff game, but reality is we have gotten a full multiplayer Zelda game before, so this isn’t inherently a first for the series. Four Swords was more of a spin off game (was a side game to a rerelease of A Link to the Past), but it became a core part of the Zelda franchise when Four Swords Adventures released. Fast forward today and Nintendo is choosing to revisit multiplayer Zelda on their most prominent platform with full online capabilities. This is, for all intents and purposes, a continuation of prior multiplayer attempts in Zelda done in a way that is unique and fresh.
We’re no longer competing against each other but instead working together cooperatively to tackle full-fledged Zelda dungeons. There is a core story that, while we only really know one little nugget, aims to offer something different. It has online play and solo play, along with supporting Nintendo’s download play for friends who don’t own the game. It’s not that big Zelda U-like title, or even a nice 3D title on the 3DS, but what it does is expand Zelda further, proving that multiplayer can fit in a very unique way. I am all for a third pillar of Zelda games existing where the focus is on multiplayer.
That allows there to be three core Zelda creations. You have the main console line, the main handheld line (traditional Zelda, essentially), then a third main multiplayer line. This being their third game built around a multiplayer aspect in the world of Zelda merely confirms to me that they are bringing Zelda to us in new and unexpected ways. I like this, and even if you never play this game, those who do are likely going to have an extremely fun time. It harkens back to when gaming was just about having fun, regardless of how silly the story may seem.
Tri Force Heroes is nothing but a positive sign to me as a Zelda fan. We’re bound to get more Zelda than we’ve ever gotten before moving forward – they just aren’t always going to be part of the traditional line, but it can be just as important and really help fill the long waits between traditional line releases. I am all for this approach.
The Calm Before the Storm
In truth, Nintendo wants Zeld
a U, the NX, and their future plans to really be a home run. Unfortunately, to get to that home run stage, you may need to put down some sacrifice bunts along the way. That’s what their E3 and rest of the year in 2015 is for them. Reggie talked about change, about shifting tides within Nintendo, and to avoid past mistakes they have to make sacrifices today.
Do you want them to have a robust Virtual Console on the next platform? Then they really can’t be worrying too much about the current. Do you want universal accounts and a strong united OS? Then they can’t focus too much on fixing what we have now. Do you want a platform to launch with a robust, varied, and heavy hitting first year? Then they can’t be trying to put all of their best efforts on a platform that consumers have rejected as it enters what is likely the last full year of its console life.
Do you want Zelda to be the best it can be, but still get some fun Zelda experiences along the way? Than we should understand Zelda U’s delay, even if it goes to the NX too, as it doesn’t hurt us in the least bit. We should applaud efforts like Tri Force Heroes. We should be begging for more one year turn around games like Majora’s Mask. More spin off titles like Hyrule Warriors can exist if we stop reacting poorly every time just because it’s not that traditional Zelda experience we all crave. Traditional Zelda takes a long time to make, especially if they plan to go open-world from this point forward. We should be understanding that to get the best Zelda games possible, patience becomes an important virtue and that we should be happy they give us some stuff to scratch our Zelda itch in the meantime.
That doesn’t mean you can’t be critical. If Tri Force Heroes is a giant turd we’ll be the first place screaming it from the mountain tops, but we’re not going to jump down and trash it just because it’s not Zelda U or because it’s not a traditional handheld Zelda game. That’s completely unfair to the experience, just like it’s unfair to trash the new Metroid game for not being a traditional Metroid experience. Judge the game based upon itself and that’s exactly what we’ve always done.
We should be extremely excited for the future of Nintendo, even if we have to exercise patience until next year’s E3. If next year’s E3 comes and goes and Nintendo fails to absolutely nail a home run with the NX and with the content, then I have completely misjudged the situation this year. However, I’m fairly confident that major change to create major shifts to solve ongoing issues requires major sacrifice – and that’s what we’re seeing right now.