>>> Welcome to GAME FACE, BUZZ’s new video games opinion column by Alex Meehan, who kicks things off with some speculation about where the next Zelda game might find a home…
As Electronic Arts becomes the latest big publisher to drop out of the E3 show-floor, the year’s biggest gaming event has steadily grown less definitive. EA wasn’t the first (and probably won’t be the last) company to take a step back from the LA convention stage, though: it was Nintendo who decided to step off the hype train, and schedule a series of announcements throughout the year with Nintendo Direct.
However, the Big N hasn’t entirely forsaken E3. During last year’s event the company streamed a special, extra-long Nintendo Direct, as well as kept a steady stream of content from Nintendo Treehouse. It’s expected that this year will be a fairly similar affair, albeit lacking the beloved figure of Satoru Iwata-San.
Or will it?
Rumours have been circulating surrounding the mysterious project NX. The general consensus on the NX is that it’s the successor to the Wii U: a seemingly much-needed life-line to Nintendo’s struggling home-console sales. Recently unconfirmed leaks even suggest a 2016 holiday release date, with many pointing towards a reveal coming this E3.
After all, the Wii U will be five years old this November, the oldest of the three competing consoles, and has seen a drought of games for quite a while now. Many view the Wii U as a commercial failure, much like the Gamecube was; a console with plenty of excellent first-party titles, but severely lacking in third-party support.
As such, could the NX possibly be Nintendo’s next Wii?
But how can the NX be the next Wii, When the Wii U was meant to fulfil that role? The Wii U was designed to be the perfect successor to the Wii; another console with a key hardware feature designed to attract a larger “casual” audience and tap into popular technology trends. Yet in chasing that particular, highly coveted, golden goose, Nintendo very likely doomed itself from the start. The Wii was much more than just a popular console; it was a cultural phenomenon. A simple, easily translatable piece of entertainment hardware that proved that, to the general populace, power meant nothing and marketing meant everything.
Nintendo released the Wii U desperately trying to make it a Wii, but it wasn’t. It was too much like a tablet that wasn’t a tablet; it looked too much like a Wii and sounded too much like a Wii that many thought it was an add-on, and by the time of its release the significance of the Wii had long since died away.
So this begs an entirely different question: will the NX be nothing like the Wii U, then?
With the rumours circulating around the next Legend Of Zelda instalment, it seems very likely that Nintendo has been delaying it for a release on the NX. The game feels like it’s been in development forever, and it’s quite possible that Nintendo’s outlook on the Wii U was a far more positive one at the start of development. As sales for the Wii U slowly dripped away, Nintendo may have decided to ditch the console almost entirely, and peg all of their bets on the NX.
But my gut feelings for Zelda say otherwise. Nintendo has never really been one to call it quits when the going gets tough. When the 3DS had looked like a lost cause, the company continued to march forward with eager optimism until the handheld became the dominant force it is today. It would also feel like a particularly scummy move on Nintendo’s part to disappoint all of those people who may have bought a Wii U specifically for the next Zelda game.
The intelligent solution would be for Nintendo to pull-off another Twilight Princess scenario: to go a-head and release the game on both consoles. Not only would this keep the Wii U adopters satisfied, but it would also provide a delicious launch title for the NX. Pair this with a console exclusive 3D Mario title, maybe a new Metroid or Star Fox, and Nintendo has got itself a pretty attractive console.
So come on Nintendo, spill the beans! I might even have enough money to buy it. Maybe.