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What Am I Supposed to Say About the Bakugan Announcement?

When games that wouldn't have been news become news.

Nintendo doesn’t know how to manage expectations for its announcements, but that’s probably not its own fault, really.

Today, at the end of a Nintendo Treehouse presentation focusing on Paper Mario: The Origami King, the company unveiled a new game by Shantae developer WayForward. An announcement that a mystery game would be getting spotlight on Nintendo’s dedicated stage came yesterday, so Nintendo fans took that shit and ran with it.

Wayforward is known for working on side scrollers, so some folks were ready for a new Metroid announcement. Plenty of other speculation ran wild, and after a little over an hour of that, Nintendo clarified that WayForward’s next game wouldn’t be tied to a Nintendo property.

Today, the announcement came, and it’s Bakugan: Champions of Vestroia, a Switch exclusive based on the anime of the same name.

Immediately, there was backlash. Even just looking at the responses to publisher WB Games’ tweet about the game you see people calling it shovelware and dunking on it. Based on my understanding, the timing is a bit weird for a Bakugan video game, as the franchise has aged far out of its mainstream relevance. And yeah, maybe the game doesn’t look that impressive to me, but I’m also not its target audience, so what do I care?

Would Champions of Vestroia be received the same way if Nintendo hadn’t put it on Treehouse? Probably not, but it also wouldn’t have had as many eyes on it to begin with, and I certainly wouldn’t have had any reason to address it, as the venn diagram of Fanbyte’s audience and Bakugan’s fanbase doesn’t seem like it has much overlap.

In other news:

Generally, Nintendo’s family-friendly approach feels incongruent with the way people interact with the company. More so than Sony or Microsoft, Nintendo is out here courting a wider audience with its primary platforms of public relations. But where Sony and Microsoft will usually only hype an announcement up because it will be a major marquee title for the PlayStation and Xbox brands, Nintendo doesn’t seem to grasp that there are people who keep watch on their social media accounts like they’re waiting for an announcement for their favorite franchise, specifically, at all times. At least not before it’s too late.

Nintendo’s got a surprise announcement coming up next week? It’s gotta be Metroid Prime 4, right? Maybe even that long-rumored Metroid Prime trilogy remaster for the Switch that people have been asking about? Or what if, despite having literally just revealed the latest addition to the Super Smash Bros. roster with Min Min from Arms, Nintendo is going to include my favorite obscure character from a 20-year-old Mario spin-off next?

Ultimately, it’s not Nintendo’s fault that there are sections of the internet who think that everything has to be for them, otherwise it’s a waste of time and resources. But I mostly just feel bad for the WayForward team, because their licensed game for kids is about to be put through the ringer by people who wouldn’t have gave it a second glance had it not been on Nintendo’s Treehouse.

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Kenneth Shepard

Kenneth is a Georgia-based writer who still periodically cries about the Mass Effect trilogy years after it concluded.

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