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E3: Nintendo should have shown us its moves: now it's up to the other Captain

by ShadeOfLight   //   5:07 AM on 06.07.2012



The stage is set: E3 2012. It's the fifth of June, and Nintendo's press conference is about to start.
They are going to nail it this year. Yesterday Microsoft once again fell flat on its face, and while Sony did well, it was nothing that can't be beaten. Nintendo has a fresh new console to promote: all the more reason for them to knock it out of the park today. They've got this one in the bag.

The show starts: a nice little video featuring Miyamoto being followed around by pikmin. Man, they're starting off with Pikmin 3! I told you this was going to be glorious! I can't wait to hear what else they have in store! "You've got to have a Mario game", Reggie says a little while later. He's right, you know. New Super Mario Bros. U is shown, people like it. A little Van Gogh there in the background, Nintendo? Nice. The game looks good, but it's not that spectacular. Also, Nintendo really needs to work on its naming conventions. Harley Quinn starts talking to Reggie. A little bit of disguised DLC promotion? Oh well, it was a clever little segment, so we'll let it slide. Warner Brothers comes up to show a few games. Arkham City looks great, but it was already great on the other consoles a couple of months ago. People are largely unimpressed. A nice little trailer reel. It includes Trine 2, but nobody seems to notice despite the fact that it's goddamn TRINE 2 FOR WII U!

About half the show is over now, and it was alright, but nothing stellar. Nintendo's saving the big guns for last. Or Wii fit U (naming conventions!), I guess? Well, Reggie admitted that his body was ready, so it's all good. Wait, singing? People are looking over to the person sitting next to them: "why would they show this?" 3DS is next, that apparently also exists. Couple of Mario games, couple of trailers, pretty okay. Wii U is back. Ubisoft? That looks promising, let's see some more Rayman! Oh, dancing. Drat. ZombiU looks cool though. Also naming conventions.

We're nearing the end of the show. Those big guns are coming any second now. But first, Nintendo Land. Bunch of minigames that will surely be sold together with the console. Nobody really cares at this point. After more Nintendo Land, Reggie is thanking everyone for coming? Wait, was that it? No big guns? Fireworks play. They're blasting away Nintendo's major E3 victory. People are standing up, a little disappointed. It wasn't a bad show, but Nintendo didn't nail it like they should have. And what was up with ending with Nintendo Land? Sighs are heard as people stand up to leave.



...

But then it happens. The lights dim again, the screen goes black. "Wait, what's happening?"
Music starts playing. Awesome music.
Duuum-duuum-duuum-duuum-dum-dumdum-duuum-duuum-duuum-duuum-dum-dumdum
Several people start wooing: they obviously know what's up. The rest hasn't caught on yet.
Until, out of nowhere...
SHOW ME YOUR MOVES!
The guitar comes in, the Mute City theme in full glory! The crowd goes wild! Some people are playing air guitar along with the music, others are applauding and being otherwise just excited as hell.
And on the screen? Gloriousness. It's a short trailer, but it's showing off nothing short of a brand new F-zero game! The game looks fast as hell, and the visuals rock! Captain Falcon is back baby!
At the end the screen simply says: "F-zero UX". Naming conventi-ah screw it. New F-zero!

Everyone finally leaves the Nokia theater, ecstatic: Nintendo has won E3.



At least, that's how it went in my imagination. Off course we all know that it didn't really go this way. Now, I've gotten over my disappointment and am now able to see that Nintendo still had a pretty decent show, even without a big surprise. Still though, many people were hoping for something really exciting, and while any of the "big guns" would've done fine, I believe F-zero in particular would have been completely perfect, for Nintendo's sake as well as ours. In fact, here are three reasons why.

1: We haven't seen it in forever
Many people of the internet have already pointed out that maybe it was too much to ask for a new first-party title right away. The last Zelda, after all, was only a couple of months ago. Yes, we're getting new Mario games, but those also aren't really what we were talking about. Off course, Pikmin 3 will also be great, but we already knew about that one. We wanted to be surprised.
And what would be more surprising than reviving the series that has skipped the Wii entirely, despite launching one of the most meme-worthy characters in Nintendo history?

With F-zero making up one of Nintendo Land's minigames, it's clear that the big N hasn't forgotten its racing franchise. Unfortunately though, the only video of it we've seen so far shows that it's much slower than an actual F-zero game would be, and the racetrack seems rather bland. Why not go all out with it instead? Hell, you could even get cameo racers in there. Have Samus unlockable in her gunship, Olimar in his rocket, Star Fox in an Arwing. Go for it! Nintendo fans would love it. Seriously, show that in an E3 trailer and watch the crowd completely lose its shit.


A small step in the right direction

2: It is "the hardest of the core"
Did you know that F-zero is hard? Like, really hard? Because it is. Only the most well-trained and experienced intergalactic racers had even a chance of beating F-zero GX for the Gamecube on the harder difficulties. This actually makes F-zero a great game through which Nintendo can show that the WiiU is indeed intended for the hardcore audience. Your grandpa wouldn't play F-zero (and if he would, he's awesome!) and neither would your little sister. No, F-zero is for us, and for us alone. We'll curse and scream when we just barely finish in second place. We'll spout memes like it's nobody's business. We'll post our records on youtube for others to tell us we suck. We'll do all of that and more, because this, well, this is our game.

In fact, this would be a great series to use with Miiverse. We've already seen that future games may get some sort of achievement system, and racing games are quite suited to that, as beating a certain time is half the fun of playing it. Actually, why stop at achievements? Get full-on online multiplayer in there! Man, if you can get a fast-paced racer like F-zero running online, no one will ever doubt the WiiU's online functionality again!

3: It could show off the WiiU's graphical power
The common consensus right now seems to be that the WiiU is about as powerful as the other consoles, perhaps slightly more. Because of that, people fear that Nintendo will be left behind once the new consoles come out.

Nintendo has a few tricks up its sleeve though. As Jim Sterling recently pointed out, gritty shooters don't make for very beautiful games. If you get a bit of color in there, you can actually get a much better looking game. Nintendo has always been able to make "outdated" hardware sing. Mario Galaxy, Metroid Prime 3 and Skyward Sword all looked better on the Wii than they had any right to. Monolith understands it as well, as evidenced by Xenoblade. And finally, Pikmin 3's visuals also managed to wow people, despite WiiU apparently not even being all that powerful.

F-zero is the perfect series for Nintendo to show that they can still do it. It's bright and colorful, with lights everywhere, and different racetracks can be used to showcase all kinds of different visual splendor. If you want to show what WiiU can do, let's say in an E3 presentation, this is one of the best ways to do it.


You want to play this in HD and you know it

All in all, the WiiU's launch line-up seems pretty good. A couple of first party games, one of which has been awaited for a long time, and some nice-looking third parties too. Some of them show off what WiiU can do better than others, but still. Nintendo's E3 presentation, however, was kind of underwhelming. Ending with Nintendo Land was especially hard to swallow for some people, but that game was somewhat saved by the inclusion of an F-zero mini-game. Could a full F-zero have saved the conference too? Yes.
F-zero, or even a small trailer, could show off the WiiU's graphical power, show that the WiiU is for the hardcore gamers and would have ended the show with a nice surprise to have them go home feeling good about life again.

In all honesty, I'm not sure how F-zero would utilize the new functions of the Wii U Gamepad. Then again, does it need to? Maybe it would be good for Nintendo to show the world that not everything needs to use the Gamepad for something special. Simplicity has its own charm, and the fact that the game could be playable on the Gamepad itself could also be a nice bonus in its own right. At the very least it would quell some shouts that every WiiU game is going to be "gimmicky" if Nintendo itself came with a game that didn't use the controller as much, but used its newfound graphical power instead. At any rate, a well-made trailer showing off cool stages, online play and whatever else Nintendo could come up with would have been eaten up by the crowd and would have surely won it some confidence.

Pikmin 3 is cool, but Captain Olimar can only get you so far. Perhaps it's time to call on the other Captain as well.

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