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E3 2015: Lessons to Learn from the Competition

Tembo: Too Badass for Wii U

by Michael Cole - June 29, 2015, 6:00 am PDT

This elephant should have made a home on Wii U.

Tembo jumps, rams, and ground-pounds through destructible environments to save civilians and defeat the bad guys! This platformer has an endearing comic book aesthetic featuring a Rambo-esque elephant that handles kind of like a more nimble Wario.

Tembo the Badass Elephant is being developed by a little Japanese company called Game Freak and it is coming to PC, PS4 and Xbox One, but not Wii U.

Nintendo fans are pretty darn familiar with Game Freak, developers of the mainline Pokémon games, Pulseman on Genesis (available on the Wii Virtual Console), and Drill Dozer for the GBA. One would presume Nintendo fans would be interested in a new game from them, and Tembo isn’t exactly the most technically taxing video game by modern standards. Actually, Tembo is built on the Unity engine, which Nintendo proudly supports on Wii U and New 3DS!

So why isn’t this coming out on either Nintendo platform? You could blame Sega, the game’s publisher, but the implication is that it isn’t worth Sega’s time and money, even though a Wii U version should be relatively trivial to implement. If Nintendo can’t even court developers and publishers they are on friendly terms with to release an easily portable game for their system, something is majorly wrong.

What can Nintendo do to favorably resolve this embarrassing situation? It's hard to say beyond offering to fund the Wii U conversion. Perhaps it isn't too late to add Wii U as a supported platform, but nonetheless it's a pretty darn bad sign for Wii U and Nintendo's relationship with Japanese third parties in general if a game that should be a shoo-in seemingly isn't even being considered. Did Game Freak ask and Nintendo refuse to publish this game? If so, Nintendo should not have allowed spite to get in the way of a Wii U release when Sega picked it up. Has the term "badass" been deemed inappropriate for a game title on a Nintendo system (by Sega or Nintendo)? If Nintendo hasn't even heard of this game, then they really need to engage Sega and Game Freak regarding Tembo ASAP, if only to learn more about why this game isn't coming to their platforms and how they can avoid a similar fate with NX.

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Talkback

famicomplicatedJames Charlton, Associate Editor (Japan)June 29, 2015

I just want to write "THIS" after every page of the article!

Evan_BJune 29, 2015

Hilariously, very few of Nintendo's "flaws" seemed evident at home. They showed off an impressive amount of games that are going to actually be released this year. Can the other two companies clearly state that?

Nintendo has proven again that the media doesn't need to drive the description and detail of their content. While I'd say Nintendo's digital presentation was weak on the whole they delivered a great deal of content to Wii U owners and gave a great showing to 3DS owners, as well. I'm sure walking through E3 was indeed a bitter experience, but to post online about how Nintendo slighted the media rather than displayed a healthy library is a bit bizarre. But whatever. To those that watched the Treehouse and got over the fact that Star Fox Zero is going to be a steaming pile of shit, E3 was still a pretty enjoyable experience.

Quote from: Evan_B

Hilariously, very few of Nintendo's "flaws" seemed evident at home. They showed off an impressive amount of games that are going to actually be released this year. Can the other two companies clearly state that?

Nintendo has proven again that the media doesn't need to drive the description and detail of their content. While I'd say Nintendo's digital presentation was weak on the whole they delivered a great deal of content to Wii U owners and gave a great showing to 3DS owners, as well. I'm sure walking through E3 was indeed a bitter experience, but to post online about how Nintendo slighted the media rather than displayed a healthy library is a bit bizarre. But whatever. To those that watched the Treehouse and got over the fact that Star Fox Zero is going to be a steaming pile of shit, E3 was still a pretty enjoyable experience.

You're mocking someone for being disappointed with Nintendo's E3 while simultaneously being someone who completely shits on their two biggest announcements? That's some pretty impressive range.

Evan_BJune 29, 2015

Thanks! I try to be as unbiased and realistic as possible.

Microsoft and Sony had great shows for very similar reasons. Nintendo had a mediocre showing because they were a bit more conservative about what they were showing. Wait, does that make sense? No, it doesn't. As someone who buys the content and not the hype, the only thing I'm disappointed in seeing from Nintendo is that they didn't have more information on Devil's Third, a game that is, and should have been featured at a show that had games releasing in the next nine months. Microsoft didn't show anything that convinces me to buy an xBox One- backwards compatibility is a feature that should be in ALL SYSTEMS AS A STANDARD, even if it hinders future releases. Our consoles don't last forever and that's an important feature. As for Rare games, I certainly don't give a damn. Sony also confirmed that games and concepts for games that were announced years before are still in development, which is... great, I guess? How does that affect my current purchase of a PS4? Not at all.

Nintendo may have shown nothing surprising, but that doesn't mean their content is disappointing. Again, the games they had on display for the media may have been disappointing, but that only means I missed on less not attending E3 this year, and that's a pretty satisfying feeling. We're a nation built on self-entitlement, and so I'm not going to hate on TYP's feelings because he's certainly entitled to want to play games early because he's staff on a Nintendo fansite, but I'm not going to deny my own feelings of entitlement and say that I didn't deserve all those Nindie demos or treehouse coverage. Also, I don't think that Game Freak title is going to be all that impressive, because Game Freak isn't an amazing developer.

The point of E3 is to have a good showing of games for the people there to play and relay those impressions to everybody else. Calling it entitlement to think Nintendo should have had more there is a hell of a stretch.

Ian SaneJune 29, 2015

Last year Nintendo showed things for both the current year and the next year.  This year they stuck with just the current year.  So, yeah, there appeared to be less stuff and a lot of it was stuff we had seen before.  When you arbitrarily change your E3 strategy from one year to the next that is going to happen.

Fatty The HuttJune 29, 2015

What's wrong with Star Fox Zero? I wantched the Treehouse Live of it. Looked good to me. Please tell me why I should be disappointed. I mustn't miss out on the internet's hive-opinions.

You shouldn't be disappointed. I also watched the Treehouse Live for it and I can personally guarantee you it's going to be the greatest game in the history of interactive entertainment. Neal was also very fond of it, and he has somewhat more information on it than I do, having actually been there and played the game himself.

To me the biggest offense Nintendo had was constraining the discussion to what's in the pipeline for 2015/early 2016.  It's not even like there aren't games to look forward to in that timespan, but the message sent by doing that instead of teasing something for later 2016 or even as far as 2017 is "we don't want you to think past that date, because we'll be focusing on selling you the NX by then".

While I understand the need for them to plan an exit strategy from their current platforms that are struggling, leaving their core audience dead in the water without anything to look forward to until then is a bit aggravating. 

ejamerJune 29, 2015

The first point is the one that got me: Nintendo has cool, exclusive games coming to Wii U in both digital and retail formats. Many of those games got time on the show floor and/or with extended Treehouse sessions, but weren't show during the presentation that everyone was watching. Why?

I know Nintendo wants to control the message, yet can't help questioning both who they are targeting and what message they are sending after such a weak E3 presentation... They are the professionals, right? Who am I to think that showing all your games, and trying to appeal to the widest audience possible, would have been a good idea?

But damn, I am qualified to say that Nintendo clearly gave the worst presentation of any console owner at E3. If I didn't already own a Wii U/3DS, that showing would have done NOTHING to interest me in their product.


PS - I thought that Star Fox looked awesome on Wii U. Where does hate for that game come from?

Evan_BJune 29, 2015

It's just me that hates Star Fox, really. But I think there's an abundance of evidence that already points towards it being another mediocre game in a mediocre franchise.

Is that really what E3 is about, though? The people there playing games? There's an unending cycle of the same tripe being posted from the same websites about games that they think we should care about like Titanfall and Assassin's Creed, which mean something to the majority of the populous but do nothing unique or interesting. Nintendo's initiative has been to prove themselves different from their competitors, and in many ways, that has failed to appeal to consumers. But to hate on the presentation they gave to an even more select group of their consumers on aspects like their indie representation which I think was clearly displayed quite well for Wii U owners with the Nindies@Home deal is a bit ridiculous, and to decry them for not showing off more to a small group of people feels like more fodder for this whole "the press hates Nintendo" myth that is becoming more and more aggravating as time goes on.

Luigi DudeJune 29, 2015

Quote from: Evan_B

It's just me that hates Star Fox, really. But I think there's an abundance of evidence that already points towards it being another mediocre game in a mediocre franchise.

All evidence points to it being the sequel to Star Fox 64 fans have wanted for almost 20 years now.  Unless you didn't like Star Fox 64, there's no reason to expect this game to be a pile of shit which you called it early.  Of course based on your comments, I wouldn't be surprised if you didn't like Star Fox 64 in which case you shouldn't care about this game since it's not aimed at you.

ejamerJune 29, 2015

Quote from: Evan_B

...  which I think was clearly displayed quite well for Wii U owners with the Nindies@Home deal is a bit ridiculous, and to decry them for not showing off more to a small group of people feels like more fodder for this whole "the press hates Nintendo" myth that is becoming more and more aggravating as time goes on.

This is where we disagree (mostly). 


The Nindies@Home deal was awesome, and I think Nintendo should be congratulated for trying to bring the message directly to the gamers in that way.  Cynical people might say that pre-release demos aren't a big deal, but I think that making those demos available directly to the gamers who want to play (and hopefully buy) the games is amazing. 


My problem: audience. Nintendo was preaching to choir by not showcasing these games in the main E3 presentation. Giving the games a couple minutes on (virtual) stage would have been easy enough and would have let people beyond Wii U owners - a rather small group, overall - see the goodness coming to the console.


Also, I don't agree that it's a small group of people who watch the main E3 presentations. A small group watches the Treehouse break-out sessions, but a lot of gamers (ie: not Nintendo gamers, but gamers in general) watch the main presentations for each console owner - especially if they have any interest in what might be coming. When that main presentation pulls punches so that the message can leak out elsewhere, all that is really happening is the message gets fragmented and lost.


The press doesn't hate Nintendo, generally. They mostly don't care - especially when Nintendo isn't making their job easier or bringing in a lot of traffic for monetization. But if Nintendo doesn't make their message easy to digest in one complete package, then the press isn't going to do Nintendo any favors by beating down doors to find out more.

EnnerJune 29, 2015

E3 is a show. Technically, it's a trade show for retailers, media, and select others, but it's still a show meant to excite, entertain, and set a tone for a company for the next 9-12 months. Is it fair that this one show is so big and huge that platform holders and publishers need to put up or shut up? Maybe, maybe not, but it's how it currently works. And Nintendo can't show up and have it's conversation centerpiece, the Nintendo Digital Event, and it's show floor booth be as limp as it was and not suffer for it.


E3 is a show and it's Nintendo's job and interest to excite all audiences in attendance, be it at the show or online. Performing poorly in any aspect means that Nintendo is not doing their job.


Ah, with any luck, maybe people will forget about Nintendo's E3 2015 once the Wii U and 3DS games start coming out and turn out well.

broodwarsJune 29, 2015

I've said it before, but Nintendo did the impossible this E3: they took what is easily the strongest 1st party lineup for the rest of the year, and then utterly failed to sell that at any point in their E3 presentations. Whether it was leaving games out of the public eye like Fatal Frame; focusing on Amiibo no one can buy unless you smuggle them out of Australia; giving no information on crucial titles; or giving pointless information on other titles to waste people's time during the Digital Event, Nintendo just demonstrated a complete & utter failure to convey a message. Instead, the message they conveyed is "We have nothing worthwhile to show because we're working on NX, which we won't tell you about, so here's our freezer-burned leftovers we could churn out with little money or effort."

Meanwhile, Sony's E3 presentation was all smoke & mirrors, but it at least conveyed a consistent message that "dreams can come true when you're with Sony" and they had a strong post-conference presence on the floor from all accounts.  Microsoft's E3 presentation was the same shooter-fest it always is, but they had some promising titles & a solid base to market from.  Nintendo just gave the impression that they had no idea what they were doing.

Evan_BJune 29, 2015

Oh, I agree that Nintendo failed to show off a strong lineup for 2015/2016. And I wasn't saying that a small amount of people watch E3. I was saying that gaming has a niche audience, and the media related to that medium is even smaller.

I also see that, when you look past the presentations, you an clearly see what is smoke and mirrors and what is actual content, and people already understand that. It's been a week since E3 and reality is starting to set in.

rlse9June 29, 2015

Quote from: Ian

Last year Nintendo showed things for both the current year and the next year.  This year they stuck with just the current year.  So, yeah, there appeared to be less stuff and a lot of it was stuff we had seen before.  When you arbitrarily change your E3 strategy from one year to the next that is going to happen.

Completely agree.  By going all in with their presentation last year and completely changing their strategy this year, they really screwed themselves.  Even with Star Fox which they hadn't shown, had that game been a complete surprise instead of a game we've known about forever, I'll bet the response would have been quite different.  And if Mario Maker had just been announced this year instead of being previously shown, there would have been as much excitement about that game as any game at E3.    It's great that they have some great looking games coming out during the second half of this year, but we didn't need E3 to know that.


It's also a little maddening to hear them talk about their philosophy of not showing games more than 6-8 months out as though it's written in stone and something they've done for years when in reality it's a complete 180 from what they did last year.

I don't have a problem with Nintendo showing Star Fox and Mario Maker last year. I understand the wow factor would have been higher this year if we had first heard about them this year, but both were highlights of this year's show anyway. Heck, had they not shown Mario Maker last year it may have died a quiet death with us none the wiser--the reception was bigger last year than Nintendo had anticipated.

Ian SaneJune 30, 2015

If Nintendo hadn't told us about the NX would we be making assumptions that they've given up on the Wii U?  They didn't really need to mention it yet.  When they announced the mobile stuff they could have just said something generic like "we are still committed to dedicated videogame systems" without being too specific.

Mop it upJune 30, 2015

It's about 15-20 years too late to learn lessons from the competition...

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