Everything or Bust for Nintendo at SDCC 2015

(by Gene Yraola)

Nintendo made one of their strongest showings ever at SDCC with much of the tone regarding their appearances as their last stand for the Wii U.  Trailing heavily in numbers behind Microsoft and Sony in the current generation of game hardware and with many have of last year’s heavy hitters haven already gone to retail (Splatoon, Smash Brothers, etc) and quite frankly a very paltry showing at last month’s E3, Nintendo had much to prove, if not ground to recover, by SDCC.

Much of the emphasis regarding Nintendo’s presence on the showfloor was heavily dependent on this September’s Mario Maker for the Wii U, which aims to target gamers from all areas ranging from the retro to current casual players.  While games such as Little Big Planet were first in the UGC realm of level-design, none have ever had the mass-appeal nor nostalgic factor that Mario has had.  Nintendo well aware of this pretty much focused all of their Wii U display kiosks at SDCC on Mario Maker alone, a risky if not bold move on their part to reach as many of the walking traffic as possible.

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Despite having been announced more than a year ago and already a focus title for Nintendo at E3, for whatever reason Mario Maker was perhaps one of the best showings for a gaming booth at SDCC in quite some years.  Mario Maker, with its preset created levels, single handedly made Nintendo one of the hottest players at this year’s con and equally touted the game as bonafide KILLER APP for the publisher this September.

Amongst new features shown off at SDCC included those of special amiibos unlocking specific features in the game’s engine maker, including the ability to use sprites from other Nintendo franchises such as Zelda and Metroid.

Nintendo was also proudly showing off much of the game’s HD graphic capabilities with many preset levels created using the New Mario Bros 3D World engine.

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However, Nintendo’s big bread winner has always been their portables, and their designated room at the nearby Hilton, surely did not disappoint. A full range of titles were on hand for the Nintendo 3DS including niche titles such as the latest installment of Chibi Robo (with a specially included amiibo to boot!) and of the course the pending arrival of Yo-Kai Watch.

Nintendo did also show off one other Wii U title within their SDCC lounge, albeit very hidden – Yoshi’s Wooly World.  Though we’re reluctant to say Mario Maker was still their main event regardless of any other Wii U title on deck for this year.

Though pundits may say Nintendo has hit bottom, and possibly are at their last stand with the Wii U (which is inevitable considering the growing buzz around the upcoming NX console), the game maker came guns a blazin’ at this year’s SDCC.  If anything, Nintendo’s SDCC showing is perhaps one last love letter to fans that they will not go quietly into the night for this year’s current console generation and if indeed this is the end for the Wii U, they are giving fans plenty of reasons to be optimistic not only of their future console’s capabilities but of their pending library of software.  Sega’s abandonment of the Saturn and Dreamcast, this is not.

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