Cast your mind back to 2007. Ask any gamer from around that time what console it was they owned between PS3 and 360, and the majority will probably answer with Xbox 360. Having been released earlier, at a lower price and with often better versions of multiplatform games, the 360 was a no brainer vs. the PS3 during those early years, when blockbuster PS2 games were still being released.
However, the general feeling about the PS3 was that gamers were promised two very good reasons to buy it early on, but those promises weren’t delivered until almost two years after its launch. Those two promises were Metal Gear Solid 4 and the Dual Shock 3. In fact, so strong was the allure of MGS4 that it could have caused a weird effect where people weren’t buying the PS3 until MGS4 came out. Waiting for MGS4 became as good a reason not to own the PS3 as it was to buy one. This paradox could be exactly what’s happening to the Wii U.
This game essentially held the PS3 hostage for about two years – then it finally came out.
Why is it so difficult to shift the thing? It could be that many gamers are holding off on buying one until the right game comes out; a big exclusive which says “OK, now I’m worth buying”.
I believe that there’s only one franchise in Nintendo’s arsenal that can carry that kind of weight, and it could be that system seller which halts the system’s sales until release – its MGS4, if you like.
That franchise is The Legend of Zelda, which, somehow, still hasn’t seen an all-new original HD entry, which, if announced, would make gamers (especially Nintendo’s install base) go absolutely mental for the machine. Remember the reveal trailer for Twilight Princess? The excitement around the non-cel-shaded graphics and Miyamoto’s sword-swinging entrance essentially guaranteed the success of that game. Nintendo needs another one of those, stat.
The crowd went ballistic when this happened. Imagine if it happened again.
Nintendo are currently hard at work on a new Zelda game for the Wii U, and if we have a game that gets the tone right, the legions of fans that are waiting for the right opportunity to buy the Wii U will have it. However, if Nintendo announces a Zelda game which doesn’t take advantage of the landscape offered by a post-Dark-Souls-world then they’ll be in even bigger trouble.
What I mean by that is this: Zelda on the Wii U needs to be as big a leap from A Link to the Past to The Ocarina of Time. It needs to re-invent the series in such a way as modernise itself – but keep the puzzle-solving open world gameplay intact. Things such as voice acting (except on Link, of course), mo-capped cut scenes and maybe a slightly darker tone (not Prince of Persia: Warrior Within levels of nonsense – just make it not look like a kid’s game) could help the Zelda series appeal to the long-time fans that are in their 20s and 30s. The game design is there – without question, Nintendo will deliver great puzzles, great mechanics, and great dungeons to explore – but the tone and some modern polish will help a new Zelda game soar to system-selling heights.
If this doesn’t sell a console, I don’t know what will. Where is it, Nintendo?
I believe that the success of the Wii U is riding on the next big 3D Zelda game – make it reason enough to buy the machine, but get it out this year before people get tired of waiting. If the PS3 could make its big turnaround, then surely the Wii U will too? That question is hard to answer because last gen, the PS3 was performing poorly in the early years due to the perceived lack of games as well as the feeling of holding off until MGS4, but it was still the most powerful machine out of the three consoles –which made its exclusives truly a sight to behold that to this day continue to impress.
The Wii U is far and away the weakest machine this gen, meaning that drawing a parallel between the Wii U and the PS3 in their respective gen’s becomes difficult. However, my theory still stands – the HD Zelda game is coming, and it is the Wii U’s last hope – the last card in Nintendo’s hand. They’ll have to play it perfectly otherwise they’ll be in serious trouble.
What do you think? Can Zelda save the Wii U? Are you waiting for Zelda to come out so you can justify buying a Wii U?