Rounding out my coverage of the three major console manufacturers showing off their latest goods at E3 in Los Angeles this week comes Nintendo. Since their latest console, the Wii U, came out last holiday season, Nintendo did not have nearly as much to show off, and far less at stake, than the rivals Microsoft and Sony. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t still a lot to be excited about when it comes to the Wii U.
Nintendo’s family-friendly brand showed through strong at E3 this year, with colorful new titles in the Pokemon, Mario, Donkey Kong, Mario Kart, Zelda, Wii Party, and Smash Bros. series all being shown off. While it’s easy to argue that we’re seeing little new innovation here (there are significant new franchises being created for both the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One), these are established franchises with huge fan-bases who are eager to get exciting new HD upgrades to the games and characters they love.
These titles stand in stark contrast to the family-unfriendly games Microsoft highlighted for the Xbox One, and the more mixed-bag of games coming up for the PlayStation 4. For families with younger children, there is no question—the Wii U is still the next-gen console for you.
For families with older children, or adults who simply want to enjoy great games, the choice is much more difficult. While Nintendo holds on to their Mario, Pokemon, Donkey Kong, Zelda, and other characters tightly, and will likely never release games featuring these characters for other consoles, they aren’t the only ones with strong exclusive titles for their upcoming consoles. The Xbox One will be featuring some exclusive games of it’s own, including the beloved Halo franchise, Killer Instinct, and several new titles like Sunset Overdrive and Quantum Break. Similarly, the PlayStation 4 will be boasting exclusives including Drive Club, Mad Max (yes, based on the films of the same name), Killzone, and possibly even Final Fantasy XV (though it’s exclusivity status has yet to be confirmed).
But let’s face it—buying the base models of all three consoles would total more than $1,100, far more than any family is likely to spend this year on hardware, never mind the $60-70 games, additional controllers, and other accessories that will be required to fully enjoy these systems. So for many families, the question will be: which one to get?
Nintendo’s positioning is quite clear: they offer a budget-conscious console at $299 (and the price may yet drop before the holiday season, nobody knows) with a solid array of games hitting store shelves by the end of the year. Families with younger children who still want to enjoy top-notch gaming experiences won’t find a better selection anywhere else. Plus, with no PlayStation Plus or Xbox Live Gold to subscribe to, it will be a cheaper console in the long run by far.
For adult gamers and parents of older children, we’ll have to wait and see how things pan out before making any real recommendations, but on price and strategy alone it’s beginning to look like the PlayStation 4 will be an early winner this holiday season. With higher-quality graphics and more mature titles, balanced by an aggressive courting of independent developers, it looks as though Sony’s console is currently positioned to be the best for everyone.
Where does that leave the Xbox One? Well, they’ve got 6 months to convince us that it’s worth spending $100 extra for the console, plus $60/year for Xbox Live Gold, in exchange for an improved Kinect sensor and the additional home media and entertainment features that Microsoft is gearing up to deliver this fall.
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