It was far from an auspicious start. Before Nintendo Land was debuted in the Nokia Theater at 2012's E3 conference, there was a small momentum gathering behind the Wii U: this was the console that would take the company back to its core audience after its mainstream dalliance with the Wii, the homecoming that would see it take the fight to Microsoft and Sony as it moved away from mini-game compilations and returned to the more traditional, hard-edged propositions that had forged its reputation.
All that was lost, though, when Katsuya Eguchi took to the stage to give a long, flat presentation of the title Nintendo chose to place on the front-lines of the Wii U's impending launch: a disparate collection of branded mini-games that seemed like a slight return to the approach that had seen Nintendo fall out of favour with so many of its fans.
Nintendo needed a game to sell the Wii U, its potential and its promise, and the sprawl of Nintendo Land never really seemed quite up to the task. Its concept weren't clean enough to gain wider traction, and not quite focussed enough to win over the core. Think of the success of the Wii and you're really thinking of the simple, sellable pleasure of Wii Sports, of its playful, direct approach that helped usher Nintendo's console into millions of homes. When Nintendo Land came out, everyone was still curious to know what the Wii U actually was, and where it was coming from. The answer was hard to find in that tangle of diversions.