For the last three years, Nintendo has been doing awfully at E3. After hitting a high point at E3 2010, where they announced game after game for the Wii, unveiled the 3DS with a smattering of first party and industry wide third party support, their showings in subsequent years plummeted. Their Wii U ‘debut’ in 2012 was completely botched, and last year’s Nintendo E3 Direct was average but inadequate.
So it makes me very, very happy to say that Nintendo’s showing this year was absolutely amazing. With the Wii U struggling to keep up with its more powerful competition, Nintendo needed to hit the ball out of the park as far as this E3 showing was concerned. And they absolutely did it- they demoed games already revealed for the Wii U, they debuted new titles, they created off shoots of existing franchises, iterated on some of their more popular ones, debuted multiple entirely new IPs, revived some dormant ones, and even managed to secure a major third party exclusive for the Wii U. The best part is, every single game that they showed us was exclusive.
Of course, first we need to consider the sheer breadth of titles that they showed us- they started with Super Smash Bros., announcing that Mii would be a fighter in the game, with three alternate fighting styes, and with full compatibility for their NFC figures, before proceeding to announce a concrete release date for the 3DS version and a release window for the Wii U one; they showed off (finally!) some footage of Pokemon OmegaRuby and AlphaSapphire, which look amazing, and gave us a release date for those as well; they showed us the Yarn Yoshi game announced last January, now called Yoshi’s Wooly World, and it looked absolutely adorable, and imaginative and inventive in its playstyle.
Right after all of this, Nintendo let the big bomb drop- the Wii U Zelda game, which looks absolutely stunning, and which takes a leaf out of Skyrim’s book (as well as the original NES Legend of Zelda) by offering the player a completely open world. The Legend of Zelda looked stunning- the artstyle, which seems to be a refinement of the one used in Skyward Sword, looked gorgeous, and the game looked absolutely amazing to play. It was announced in 2015, and we didn’t get much more than that short tease, but that was enough.
Nintendo then proceeded to show other games- Captain Toad, which is an intriguing action puzzle game based on the same engine as Super Mario 3D World; Hyrule Warriors, which looks better than ever, and looks like a genuinely compelling action game, with the best combat Zelda has seen in a while; Bayonetta 2, looking badass as always, and now given a release date (October 2014), as well as the welcome announcement that the first Bayonetta game would be included in the package; Kirby: Rainbow Curse, a sequel to Kirby’s Canvas Curse on the Nintendo DS, that looks to bring that brand of magical platforming to Nintendo’s big screen; Xenoblade Chronicles X, the final name of Monolith Soft’s elusive Project X, now confirmed to be a sequel to the award winning Xenoblade Chronicles, and confirmed for a release in 2015; Mario Maker, Nintendo’s take on a custom do-it-yourself platformer, that puts the power to make games in the player’s hands.
Splatoon, which is Nintendo’s innovative and hilarious take on a competitive shooter; Star Fox for the Wii U, finally reviving the IP after more than a decade of dormancy; two new Miyamoto IPs enigmatically called Project Giant Robot and Project Guard; Mario Party 10, just in case you actually wanted that; Layton Versus Wright for North America, with an August 29 release date; Fantasy Life’s localization for the west; and finally, the announcement that Itagaki’s stylish looking action game, Devil’s Third, is now a Wii U exclusive game.
Seriously, just look at that full list of games. It’s staggering, it’s expansive, covering a full range of genres, and all of it is exclusive. Nintendo has never made a better case for owning a Wii U than they did today… and the best part was the actual presentation style, which was hilariously self aware (they began by poking fun at the fans who keep asking Nintendo to revive F-Zero or localize Mother 3). It was funny, light hearted, and it was fun. Right off the bat, Reggie stated Nintendo’s mantra- games are about having fun more than anything else, and certainly, every single game they showed off highlighted that.
Really, if there is any one thing about this conference that was worth criticizing, it’s that a lot of the games- in fact most of them- are slated for 2015. So while the Wii U looks to have a stellar year then, for 2014, it looks a bit dry, with only Smash and a handful of minor games being confirmed for this year from here on out. Again, this isn’t exactly a new state of things for Wii U fans- that’s exactly how 2013 went for the system- and the sheer strength of Mario Kart and Smash Bros. should see the system through- but still, that was the one point I felt was worth criticizing.
It’s kind of funny, really. Nintendo didn’t even show up to E3 properly, and they still managed to win. Phil Spencer may have been the man touting the ‘games, games, games!’ mantra, but ultimately, it was Nintendo who showed us what that really meant. Top of the class stuff, this.
The Good: A staggering amount of games announced, all exclusive, including a new gorgeous Zelda, a new Star Fox, and multiple new IPs; existing games like Bayonetta 2, Hyrule Warriors, Smash Bros., and Xenoblade Chronicles X looked better than ever; extremely well paced and presented
The Bad: A lot of the games Nintendo announced were for 2015… actually, most of them were; 3DS got left out a bit
The Verdict: Phil Spencer may have been the man touting the ‘games, games, games!’ mantra, but ultimately, it was Nintendo who showed us what that really meant. Top of the class stuff, this.
FINAL SCORE: 9/10