Nintendo Direct: Fanning the Flames of ‘Hardcore’ Games
Few franchises fill fanboys with as much childish excitement as Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda. Having reached incredible heights with the phenomenal success of 1997’s The Ocarina of Time, Link’s formulaic but always enjoyable adventures have consistently kept the Zelda franchise at the top of Nintendo’s portfolio of properties.
With a number of gaming websites raising questions of Nintendo’s place in the market and their ability to compete with the likes of Sony and Microsoft, it was crucial for the Big N to make a substantial impact at this Nintendo Direct broadcast, so they shamelessly used fan nostalgia to claw themselves away – at least momentarily – from the intense criticism they have been receiving since the 3DS’ lacklustre launch.
… And it worked. Regardless of recent hostility towards the company, any news regarding one of the most recognisable faces in gaming is bound to stir-up a storm, and even though a Wii U Zelda title was always inevitable, the mere acknowledgment of the game was enough to reignite the flagging flames of the Wii U. Those flames were then set ablaze with the revelation that one of the most beloved franchises in the series’ lineage, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, will be receiving an HD makeover in the not too distant future.
As a born and bred Nintendo guy, I lost interest in the company last generation after they seemingly abandoned the very fans that lined their wallets for decades in favour of the casual market and games like Wii Fit. This time around they seem to be trying harder than ever to win back the hearts of the hardcore fans, and these are the exact kind of announcements they need to be making in order to accomplish that. The one thing that keeps people interested in Nintendo games is the overwhelming sense of nostalgia associated with their large roster of recognisable faces, and I will most certainly be picking up a Wii U as a result of this announcement.
Sure, the Nintendo Direct broadcast was a somewhat muted affair overall, with not much in terms of concrete details, established franchises, or noteworthy gameplay footage to demonstrate the Wii U’s burgeoning future, but the Legend of Zelda franchise holds enough heft to single-handedly rescue any flagging system. With the 3DS already set to have a stellar year in terms of AAA games and established first-party titles, it’s hard to question Nintendo’s ability to quickly turn opinions when they’re on the ropes.
If Nintendo can build on this momentum going into E3 (and it certainly seems like they will now that Super Smash Bros, Mario and Mario Kart have all been confirmed to make their debuts at the event) then it seems the Japanese gaming giants may have finally had the moment of clarity that Western gamers have been praying for since the final days of the GameCube.