You know that bit in The Simpsons when Homer points out that he isn't strictly eating a pie if he just walks forward with his mouth open and there just happens to be a pie in front of him? Well that's basically Nintendo's E3 2011 press conference and your assumptions.
We already know that all that third-party Wii U game footage came from the 360 and PS3 versions. And that's fairly understandable, given how far off the Wii U versions of those games are. And we also now know that Masahiro Sakurai's crowd-pleasing Wii U Smash Bros. announcement referred to a game he hasn't even started planning yet. But what's a bit more damning, and rather potentially worrying in terms of that all-important non-Nintendo support going forward, is what Nintendo let you assume in terms how many third-parties actually have Wii U games in the pipeline. Because it turns out that one of the most exciting developers who appeared at E3 vouching for the system is producing absolutely bugger all for it.Above: Proof! Well, proof that Ken Levine has appeared in a video and knows what the Wii U is, anyway
Ken Levine, he of beard and Bioshock, popped up on Nintendo's third-party reel at its E3 press conference. He seemed to love the Wii U. He was all excited and animated, and seriously pumped for the idea of headshotting the faces off things while his wife slept next to him, oblivious to his nocturnal violence.
"Yay!", we all thought. "Bioshock Infinite on the Wii U! Nintendo has got this third-party support thing sorted for the first time since the SNES" But it turns out that the second sentence in that little proclamation of vicarious triump is about as grounded in reality as a schizophrenic unicorn. Irrational games, you see, currently has no plans to develop anything for the Wii U. Ken has admitted that. He's "not saying it can't happen", but absolutely nothing is on the go at the moment.
Hmmm. I'd say that this means we can't assume that any of the developers in the video who didn't mention specific games are actually doing anything either, then. We know that Ubisoft, THQ, Warner Bros and EA and Namco Bandai are on board (two of whome will port to absolutely anything. You know who I'm talking about), and Sega's Aliens: Colonial Marines very probably on the way, but Warren Spector is most certainly an unknown quantity. As are Vicarious Visions and 5th Cell, but to be honest I'm not too upset about perhaps not getting a new Spyro or Scribblenauts. Though I am a little suspicious that 5C's publishing history is tied almost entirely to EA, WB and THQ, perhaps making Nintendo's E3 showreel developer pool even smaller.
I've no doubt that the Wii U is going to get significantly more hardcore third-party support than the Wii, mind. Its vastly increased horsepower and proper controls will see to that. And much like the DS, it looks to be a Nintendo console whose gimmicks can really help in the development of worthwhile, exciting new forms of gameplay.
Until I get a full launch-window line-up though, I think you'll forgive me for being a little bit nervous. And that's ages off, so let's just cross everything in the meantime, shall we?
July 12, 2011