Nintendo’s E3 Saved the Wii U’s Life

The Wii U wasn't looking good heading into E3, but Nintendo's conference managed to breathe new life into the console.

The Wii U wasn't looking good heading into E3, but Nintendo's conference managed to breathe new life into the console.

I should’ve learned by now:

Never underestimate Nintendo.

After the GameCube, I wasn’t the only journalist to believe Nintendo would go the Sega route and simply adopt a third-party business for consoles while maintaining their handheld dominance. Then they shocked the hell out of the world with the Wii, which ended up selling 100 million consoles.

Then when the Wii U was announced, I was pretty well convinced Nintendo had made a gigantic mistake. A high-def version of the Wii? Yeah, that can’t really compete against the next-gen machines from Sony or Microsoft. And you can’t reuse the same gimmick and expect it to hit big twice.

And so, the Wii U goes and sells only a few million out of the gate. In fact, the PS4 sold more in its first six months than the Wii U had sold in its entire lifespan.

But then came E3, where Nintendo proved they were indeed Nintendo

Heading into E3, there were rumors that Nintendo would farm out its mascots to mobile platforms (and there’s still talk of that). Many of the biggest upcoming multiplatform blockbusters didn’t appear to be coming to the Wii U. Over a year and a half into the new console’s reign, and it was abundantly clear that Nintendo didn’t have another firecracker on their hands. In fact, the Wii U, for all intents and purposes, looked doomed.

However, it was starting to gain traction in Japan and just before E3, we started to hear about some potentially amazing projects in the works for the Wii U. Hyrule Warriors, the new Super Smash Bros., the intriguing Mario Maker, and the confirmed return of Star Fox made me remember why Nintendo is Nintendo. They don’t merely focus on their legendary mascots, they also reinvent the nature of interactive entertainment by integrating continually fresh ideas.

Do those ideas always work? No. Are they on the cutting edge of video game technology? I wouldn’t say that. Is it a guarantee that the Wii U will succeed now? Not by any stretch.

But…Hyrule Warriors ALONE might’ve made people go, “Hm, maybe I DO need a Wii U”

There’s just something about Zelda the awakens the kid in all of us. I don’t mean that in a negative way, as if to say that Nintendo only does “kiddie” games; rather, I’m referring to the sheer fantasy of video games. What franchise better epitomizes that innocent wonder and awe? On top of which, it’s clear that Nintendo is embracing the new regime for the new Zelda installment; i.e., they’re adopting the open-world format. So very popular these days, it’s perfect for Zelda, right?

Above all else, if you watched the Nintendo E3 conference, you got the feeling that no matter what happens in the industry, this company will always make you smile.  I may not buy that Wii U. It may still bow out long before the PS4 and Xbox One are done. But I can say, without any shadow of a doubt in my mind, that Nintendo keeps surprising me because they’re Nintendo.

About the author


A gaming journalism veteran of 14 years, a confirmed gamer for over 30 years, and a lover of fine literature and ridiculously sweet desserts.