Getting Chummy With The Nintendo Prez

Satoru Iwata: adorable.
Satoru Iwata: adorable.

Satoru Iwata is just so… so lovable, isn’t he?

I watched the latest Nintendo Direct presentation last weekend, and I just couldn’t get over what a brilliant marketing tool it is, mostly due to the cuddly persona of the Nintendo President, Mr Iwata. As he cheerfully whips his way through the presentation, you can’t help but mentally cheer him on, especially as he stumbles over a few hard-to-pronounce words but stoically carries on regardless. (‘The Wonderful 101‘ caused a few problems, as you can imagine – it’s hard enough to say with English as your first language.)

Fils-Aime: no-tie lounger.
Fils-Aime: no-tie lounger.

I’m particularly fond of his penchant for gestures. For most of the presentation he remains in the rigid, hands-straight-by-sides posture of the professional Japanese businessman – none of this no-tie lounging that seems to have been adopted by Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime. No, Iwata-san is the very model of business-like statesmanship, which is why when he breaks out one of his trademark gestures, it’s hard not to smile. I’m not sure whether there’s someone behind the camera who holds up a sign when it’s time for him to wave his hands about, but I almost want to cheer when he starts flapping his paddles.

As Tiny Cartridge points out, Iwata-san also seems to have developed an official gesture for when he says ‘Nintendo DIRECT’ – the ‘DIRECT’ is accompanied by a charming palms-out ‘viewfinder’ gesture, as if Mr Iwata is reaching out into your very home to touch you with his well-manicured hands. I may have to adopt this gesture in real life, although how I’m going to slip it into conversation is anyone’s guess. Maybe we’ll have to start ‘A Most Agreeable Pastime DIRECT’, in which I can tell you all about the games I haven’t had time to play.

"Welcome to Nintendo... DIRECT!"
“Welcome to Nintendo… DIRECT!”

As I said at the start, the chief reason why the Nintendo Direct broadcasts are great is that Iwata-san is so lovable, so basically I just believe anything this cuddly little man says without question. I was a bit miffed about the lack of games for the Wii U and 3DS at the beginning of the year, but then Iwata-san said he was sorry about it, and that they’d been really busy, you-know-how-it-is etc etc and suddenly all was forgiven. In fact I felt a bit guilty that he’d been working so hard for my benefit. The man has a magnetic power I tells ya.

I was sad to hear about Nintendo’s lower than expected Wii U sales figures this week (check out this interesting analysis by Eurogamer), but I wasn’t that surprised either: I love my little Wii U, but after the launch-day flood of games, there’s been an absolute drought of quality software, so no doubt that has something to do with the tail off in sales. The lack of marketing doesn’t help either – when I told my office co-workers that I was buying a Wii U, not a single one of them knew what it was, and this was during the week it was released.

Still, the good news is that lovely Mr Iwata has promised us lots of wonderful games in the future, including two new Zeldas (hurrah!), a 3D Mario, Super Smash Bros., Mario Kart, Yarn Yoshi and a new one from the makers of Xenoblade Chronicles (which looked a lot like Monster Hunter from the clip they showed – no bad thing). Plus there was great news about an improved Virtual Console heading to Wii U, along with loads of promotions to celebrate 30 years of the Famicom, including an immediate offer to download 1987’s Balloon Fight for 30p. Bargain!

To my shame, I’d never even heard of Balloon Fight, but it turns out to be a brilliantly addictive game: if you’re got a Wii U, download it now before the offer runs out, you won’t regret it. What’s more, it turns out that even watching other people play it is addictive too, as this compelling footage of a middle-aged Japanese man shows:

[As fawned over by Lucius Merriweather.]