Last year, Nintendo's retreat from the annual press conference popularity contest seemed like an admission of defeat. This year, it looked like tactical smarts and forward thinking. Nintendo has come bang up to date.
So Nintendo arrived in Los Angeles with a spring in its step. And then it did something you never expect Nintendo to do - get mean. Its E3 Digital Event was whimsical, yes, but also slickly produced, persuasive, even illuminating, and it took a firm step away from the gawky, homespun and humble tone of the Nintendo Directs. It began by characterising the old-style E3 press conference as a stop-motion farce and took a pot-shot at the cynical hacks and entitled fanboy bloggers Nintendo has spent decades being bullied by. "C'mon Reggie, give us Mother 3!" whined one before the Nintendo of America president set him on fire. It was silly, but the message was serious and clear: that was the old way of doing things, and now Nintendo would set its own agenda, thank you very much. You want a new Metroid? "Not my problem."
The best part of all, though? It didn't stop with the game announcements. After the Digital Event, Nintendo's E3 continued online with its Treehouse live streams and best-in-class YouTube presence. There was a live-streamed Smash Bros eSports tournament, something you would sooner expect of a company like Valve or Blizzard. There were developer presentations with reams of live gameplay that were considerably more lengthy and detailed than the "behind-closed-doors" demos we journos are accustomed to at E3. I strongly recommend checking them out. No coyness, a minimum of hype, just raw information and enthusiasm transmitted direct from the developers to the players, without the publicists, the marketers - or even us journalists - getting in the way. Was this really E3?
Will all this "save" Wii U from its ignominious sales? Probably not. Does it matter? Not in the long term. What matters is that it saves Nintendo. In my decade as a games journalist, and during many preceding years as an amateur industry-watcher, I've had a consistent watchword: never write off Nintendo. The Kyoto company is tenacious, inventive, wealthy enough to weather a long storm, and it just loves making games. After E3 2014, I'm not going to be changing my stance.
I absolutely agree- Nintendo won E3, and in the process, it rewrote the rulebook of just how E3 should be done. The Wii U itself is destined for last place this generation, and nothing is changing that- but out of that desperation can arise a Nintendo that is a better game maker than ever. Just as the Gamecube days saw Nintendo's output at its creative peak.