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Nintendo's painful metamorphosis leaves fans reeling

Nintendo’s E3 was always going to be a strange one, yet what unfurled in its Digital Event was as bizarre a piece of corporate theatre as its infamous 2008 conference, where the company danced to the grating tune of Wii Music and its over-energetic re-reveal. Back then, Nintendo fell out with its fans for forgetting the hardcore, but this year – when it’s playing to no-one but those faithful few – the fall-out came for entirely different reasons.

The strangeness cut both ways, though. In the puppet parade that kicked off the event there was a colourful reminder that there’s still no-one quite like Nintendo, its bounding, self-referential glee the perfect antidote to the more staid shows put on by Sony and Microsoft. This was Nintendo doing things its own way – and with third party support seemingly limited to Activision’s Skylanders and Ubisoft’s Just Dance, it’s the only way it can do things – but it was worth remembering that while the other platform holders leant on the might of other publishers, nearly everything in Nintendo’s show was the work of its own hand.

Then there’s the fact that PlayStation and Xbox can sell themselves on the promise of what’s to come in 2016, while for Nintendo that still remains off the menu. Those caveats aside, though, this was still a weak show – Reggie Fils-Aim set expectations as well as he could, acknowledging that next year was when we’d hear about the theme parks, the mobile games and, yes, the NX, but even with the bar set low there was a sense that Nintendo limboed well under it, with Iwata moved to make an apology of sorts in the immediate, fiery aftermath on the company’s official Twitter account.