As you may have read, I was in utter disbelief at Reggie’s announcement at the VGX/VGA show over the weekend. For Nintendo or Reggie to appear in person at this show was a rather big deal. Having not made any announcements or appear at the show for years there was a certain aura of excitement about this. Especially so given that Nintendo’s 2 competitors had recently launched their next gen consoles that within a week of launch already appear to be hot on the heels of the WiiU’s total lifetime sales (PS4 & Xbone in one week already selling more than Wii U LTD in the UK). I as many Nintendo fans was expecting something, not necessarily a megaton (although Zelda Wii U trailer hype was doing the rounds) but something. A new Smash Brothers character announcement with a trailer to accompany it. Or perhaps a new game in the works for Wii U from one of Nintendo’s beloved franchises that didn’t see a Wii iteration. Oh maybe Metroid is coming.
And there he was. Reggie stood there with a subtle Metroid badge on his jacket. “This is it, Metroid is going to be shown”. He wouldn’t be wearing a Metroid pin for any other reason would he? Turns out he would.
Yes that’s right. Cranky Kong was announced as the final playable character in Donkey Kong Country Returns: Tropical Freeze. You could feel it. Message boards all over the internet were going to uproar. Correct me if I’m wrong but I swear even a quote from the reveal the host said “the internet won’t like that”.
And just like that, the Nintendo hype train that we all obviously board anytime a Nintendo announcement is happening crashed and burned.
Reggie was pressed by the hosts about the PS4 and Xbone, to which Reggie responded with a great PR reply of “Kudos to them but The Wii U is home of great exclusives such as Mario 3d World”. Again the hosts press him on this and ask about sales to which we’re told they’re doing great. So great I might add that Knack… Yes Knack outsold it in its debut week here in the UK.
So are Nintendo completely oblivious to what is happening around them?
While we can all sit at our desks and rant on message boards that Nintendo are failing, they aren’t doing things right etc etc. Are they? We scream and shout we don’t want Retro working on Donkey Kong, we want a new IP or Metroid. Do we though?
Metroid Prime 1 = 2.82m sales
Metroid Prime 2 = 1.33m sales
Metroid Prime 3 = 1.76m sales
Donkey Kong Country Returns = 5.99m sales
The one DK game outsold 3 Metroid prime titles. It’s no wonder that Nintendo want to take the safe bet and work on a sequel to a game that sold well. Now I’m not saying that I dislike DKCR nor am I saying I won’t buy Tropical Freeze. I’ll definitely be picking it up. But I admit like the rest of Nintendo fan’s I’m disappointed that the news was so insignificant in the grand scheme of things.
Given how the Wii U is doing right now I’m afraid Nintendo fans are going to have to get used to Nintendo taking the safe bet rather than reviving any of their classic franchises that we may not have seen since the Gamecube. You can scream and shout as much as you like that you want a Star Fox, an F Zero, A Kid Icarus Wii U, a new IP, but in Nintendo’s eyes we apparently don’t based off the sales of their last outings or last new IP’s that didn’t take off (Eternal Darkness, Geist, Odama).
Now I do believe that at the VGA’s they should have done something a little more to get some much needed hype for Wii U and games for it. Even if when asked if Metroid is in production Reggie had of flat out said yes, rather than try to answer it without confirming it. That would have meant so much more and had much more positive impact towards them from fans.
I get their strategy in terms of play safe with releases currently that have previous good sales and I fully expect that they are working on a Metroid game. But Mario 3d isn’t doing all that well, so it’s looking like that even the Mighty Mario is hitting a series fatigue. Perhaps they should stop playing it so safe now and drop some megatons. Let us know we’ll see an F zero, a Star fox. Show us Zelda Wii U. Give us the tools to get us hyped & excited, announce games that would make the Wii U a complete must own console.
More Nintendo megatons -> more Wii U’s being picked up -> more 3rd party support = Profit? It’s not that simple I’d admit but surely a year after playing the safe card they must start making gambles as the safe bet doesn’t seem to be shifting units as much as they’d predicted.
My biggest fear for Nintendo is that they’re losing their relevance. Yes they make excellent games but each game is, once you break it down, just an evolution of the former in the series. Can’t think of anything new since Pikmin. I’m hoping they’ll decide to just focus on software sooner rather than later.
Not sure the sales comparison is entirely fair though. Metroid Prime 1 & 2 were released on a console that didn’t have the penetration of the Wii and Donkey Kong Country Returns was released four or five years into the Wii’s cycle rather than 12 months in like Metroid Prime 3. Buy which point there would be many more Wiis in many more homes and Metroid would (most probably) have been forgotten about. Would be interesting to see the units sold per consoles available to play it on at the time. 1.76m out of 10m Wiis is a much higher percentage than 5.99m out of 80m Wiis.
Then again, I could just be splitting hairs!
I guess as long as the 3DS is successful they still have their own license to print money. The catalogue of games available for it, and still to come out are incredible. Plus I guess they must still have a huge war chest left from the Wii. Can’t see them dropping out of the hardware business any time soon. If the Wii U turned out to be a 2nd Gamecube I’d be happy, the titles that Nintendo pumped onto the Cube were awesome.
Good points on the Metroid sales though, I never took into account the time scales of the life of the console when MP3 and DKCR were released, so yeah that could very well of changed things if there was a larger user base there for MP3 launch.