Over the years, Nintendo’s press conferences have produced some truly memorable moments, showcasing the fun that is at the heart of the company’s development philosophy. E3 showcases for games such as Wii Sports and Wii Fit became show highlights for many attendees, which not only served to promote and strengthen Nintendo’s message, but also provided unique entertainment.
This year the traditionally secretive Nintendo has opened its doors somewhat through Nintendo Direct, an intermittent news delivery system presented by the company President Satoru Iwata and the regional teams. The content showcased in these videos aside, Nintendo Direct has offered us a rare glimpse into the inner workings of Nintendo, and much like the E3 conferences the company’s fun and enthusiasm for gaming has shone through.
So with 2012 coming to an end and with Nintendo Direct (probably) finished for the year, we’re taking a look back at ten moments from this year’s broadcasts that made us laugh, and showed us the fun that Nintendo exists to produce.
The Many Faces of Satoru Iwata
While the initial Nintendo Direct broadcasts were simply presented by Nintendo’s President Satoru Iwata, later shows took a different approach for introductions, with Iwata instead appearing in various video game guises, none more memorable than as a disembodied Brain Training head.
The Brain Training Iwata has since gone on to present many Nintendo Direct Minis, but just last week he was replaced by a brand new Iwata – Lego Iwata. As you will see later, Lego Iwata has become famous for another reason, but if we took only one thing away from Nintendo Direct, it’s that we want to own one.
Satoru Iwata Calls Reggie Fils-Aime
With Nintendo Japan and Nintendo of America separated by an ocean, the finance department must have been relieved when Iwata decided to stop using the phone and call Reggie using Wii U’s new Video Chat feature. Shown in a pre-Wii U launch Nintendo Direct, the back and forth was mainly to show the functionality at work, but it did provide some memorable moments nonetheless.
With Reggie attempting to speak Japanese (and showing just how difficult it must be for Iwata to speak English) and Iwata resisting the urge to draw a funny moustache on Reggie, this short chat not only showed off an interesting new feature of Wii U, but also the simple fun of Video Chat.
Satoru Iwata’s Solution to Video Capture
Creating a dual screened system is a brilliant idea for game developers, but for video-happy members of the gaming press it’s a nightmare. Now, instead of simply taking screenshots from the main monitor, screenshots need to be taken from the GamePad as well, and that’s before you even consider how to capture video from two screens at once.
The solution to this problem was provided by Iwata in December’s Nintendo Direct. His elegant solution to this problem was to simply strap a video camera to a crash helmet and call it a job well done. Surprisingly, it worked, although we might suggest a design rethink before sending it out to the press.
Reggie Joins the Crowd
Taking to the stage after Reggie Fils-Aime is a huge task for anybody, but for Scott Moffitt at the E3 3DS Showcase, he had to not only follow Reggie onto the stage, but present the show in front of him. While we’re sure Moffitt had no problems with doing a presentation in front of his boss, we can’t imagine he was expecting Reggie to start heckling him from the audience.
While it was almost certainly scripted, the fun back and forth between Reggie and Moffitt as Nintendo’s President assured viewers that he didn’t “need a sword to kick ass and take names” following the appearance of Non-Specific Action Figure received plenty of laughs, and was made all the more memorable by Moffitt then completely losing track of his lines. A highlight from what some may consider a lacklustre E3.
Shibata’s Got Talent
While games such as Rock Band have led many of us to believe we can sing, the fact remains that most of us can’t; with SiNG Party launching in Europe next year, we'll all have another chance to embarrass ourselves in front of our friends and family. To show us exactly how embarrassing it can be, Nintendo of Europe’s President Satoru Shibata gave us a rousing rendition of “Call Me Maybe” in front of a captive audience consisting of his dog, all filmed with what was made to look like a grainy home video camera.
While we’ll leave you to decide whether or not Shibata will be releasing his solo album any time soon, this moment alone is a brilliant example of Nintendo promoting its products in a humorous way. How many other CEOs have you seen doing karaoke?
It’s Behind You!
Prior to Nintendo Direct being broadcast in Europe, many Nintendo fans had never heard of Satoru Shibata, let alone know that he was the President of Nintendo Europe. All that changed thanks to Nintendo Direct, and not only did Shibata become better known, but his desk ornaments became important features of the show.
Early Nintendo Directs were broadcast from various areas of Nintendo Europe’s HQ in Germany, and whether it was in his office or at the distribution warehouse, Shibata was always followed by one lone Goomba. It’s a wonderfully quirky touch that brings out a lot of character, and has gone a long way to endearing him to the fans.
Just call me Grandpa
The initial unveiling of Miiverse was important for two reasons – it was Nintendo’s first real foray into the online community space, and the accompanying video to advertise this new feature was one of the funniest of the year.
One particular highlight from the video was the appearance of OctoG123. Initially just another Mii on the message boards, we later discover the surprisingly well informed OctoG123 is in fact an old man sitting at home on his Wii U. With our player stuck in ZombiU, OctoG123 swoops in using Wii U’s Video Chat to provide some much needed advice and save the day. But not before asking the player to call him Grandpa. Whether or not they actually are related has yet to be confirmed...
Satoru Iwata’s Unboxing Gloves
In the days leading up to Wii U’s launch, the internet was stirred up into a frenzy over who would be the first to unbox the system and show the world what was contained within (spoiler: it’s just the console). So in a brilliant move that usurped everyone, Iwata unboxed one himself.
That alone is enough to earn a place in this list, but the unboxing itself was full of brilliant moments that only Iwata could produce. We all know that the black Wii U is a magnet for fingerprints, so to prevent this Iwata produced a pair of immaculate white gloves to keep the console in pristine condition. No-one else would have thought of that, but Iwata did.
Following this, Iwata then proceeded to unbox the Wii U, but kept insisting that this was his first time, something that was proven mere moments later when he placed the GamePad on the stand the wrong way round. A genuinely funny moment from Nintendo’s President.
When you look at a fruit, it’s usually because you want to eat it. Not Nintendo. First appearing around E3, Nintendo created its own meme by simply staring at fruit. Yes, you read that right. Iwata’s initial fruit of choice were bananas, with a short 5 second segment dedicated to him staring at them, realising he was on camera, and putting them down. Since then, it’s become something else entirely.
Parodied by Bill Trinen in a US Wii U Nintendo Direct using an orange, fans are now speculating as to whether this is a subtle but brilliant marketing ploy from Nintendo to promote a new game. This speculation was further fuelled by Lego Iwata staring at a carrot last week, which while not a fruit, lends even more credit to the theory that perhaps there is a subtle message being fed to us.
Whatever the case, we’ll just have to wait to find out. Until then, expect to see more fruit/veg-based staring contests from the Nintendo team.
Non-Specific Action Figure
Before E3 we had no idea of the crazy antics Nintendo would get up to in this year’s Nintendo Direct episodes, but just the day before E3 began, we got a good idea of what was to come. Alongside the player in the pre-E3 Miiverse promotional video stood an action figure, and in an effort to keep it as generic as possible, it was known as Non-Specific Action Figure. And just like that he was Nintendo’s newest mascot.
With Non-Specific Action Figure by his side, and with help from OctoG123, the player successfully completed a level on ZombiU and received an all-important thumbs-up from the now-legendary figure. Later in the week, Non-Specific Action Figure would also help Scott Moffitt present the 3DS Showcase, before receiving a much deserved pat on the back from Satoru Iwata himself. In just a week, Non-Specific Action Figure had become famous in the Nintendo community.
Since then, his popularity has continued to grow, and is now considered by many fans to be their most wanted new character in Super Smash Bros 4. Will we see Non-Specific Action Figure return next year? Or will he simply reappear to stare at more fruit?
What are your favourite Nintendo Direct moments so far? And do you think Non-Specific Action Figure will appear in a fruit staring game next year? Let us know in the comments below!