Nothing ventured, nothing gained is a quick summary of the Nintendo show.
Earlier this morning, Nintendo had the final E3 show, right as the E3 showfloor opened to the press and attendees. It was a decidedly low key affair. Nintendo has been de-emphasizing its E3 showings for the last few years, preferring, instead, to disperse information via its own Nintendo Directs, which seem to be held at least once a quarter, for years now, and today’s show was just another step down that path.
On some level, this was not surprising- Nintendo had very clearly outlined what fans should expect from their show going in: a focus solely on 2018 games, with specific emphasis on Super Smash Bros. Games coming to Switch beyond 2018 would be shown off at a later date, Nintendo promised. And, well, that’s exactly what the company chose to do. It literally followed its promise to a T- well, almost. It was as if it was executing a program that it had hard coded.
So, what we got today was, a quick look at games coming to the Switch in 2018- these included Pokemon Let’s GO Pikachu and Let’s GO Eevee, as well as the newly announced Super Mario Party, alongside several other releases lined up for the year, including Overcooked 2, Paladins, Fortnite, Hollow Knight, Mario Tennis Aces, Ys 8, The World Ends With You, Dragon Ball FighterZ, Dark Souls, FIFA 19, Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Torna The Golden Kingdom, Splatoon 2: Octa, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, Octopath Traveler, Mega Man 11, Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate, Starlink: Battle for Atlas, Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus, and more- in quick sizzles highlighting the indie, Japanese, and western third party support the system will be getting, alongside previously announced first party hits.
"So, what we got today was, a quick look at games coming to the Switch in 2018 in quick sizzles highlighting the indie, Japanese, and western third party support the system will be getting, alongside previously announced first party hits."
Nintendo even did break the script a bit, by announcing a couple of 2019 games. Fire Emblem: Three Houses is the newest title in the company’s beloved strategy RPG series, and it was finally shown off in all its HD glory. The game looks absolutely fantastic, featuring the more somber tone of pre-Fates Fire Emblem games, while it also looks like the strategy gameplay for the series has been expanded, right alongside the RPG gameplay, which Nintendo began to expand in last year’s underrated Echoes. The kicker? The game is no longer coming out this year. Fire Emblem, which was among the first games announced for the Switch, and had been slated for a 2018 launch all this while, will now instead be coming in Spring next year. It represents the first major first party delay a Nintendo game has had on the Switch so far, and it is absolutely a bummer, since it’s a blow to the system’s 2018 lineup.
The other 2019 game that Nintendo showed off at E3 today was a brand new announcement- a curious mech action game coming from Marvelous, built on Unreal Engine 4, called Daemon X Machina. The game is a brand new IP, and looks hugely intriguing- it is also, apparently, a Switch exclusive. It’s a good get from Nintendo, but it is also not coming out this year- the clear lack of a release date associated with the game pretty much closes that book.
"Fire Emblem: Three Houses is the newest title in the company’s beloved strategy RPG series, and it was finally shown off in all its HD glory. The game looks absolutely fantastic, featuring the more somber tone of pre-Fates Fire Emblem games, while it also looks like the strategy gameplay for the series has been expanded, right alongside the RPG gameplay."
Oh, and Nintendo did the thing they love doing so much with five separate games today- you know what I am talking about. “And this game is available, now”. That thing. So- Fortnite and Paladins are both available on the Switch right now, having been made available as soon as the Direct ended. Hollow Knight also launched on the Switch right then. Meanwhile, a new demo for Octopath, which sees progress carry over into the final version, as well as Splatoon 2: Octa, were both confirmed to be releasing tomorrow. Which is awesome.
And then there was Smash Bros. Revealed to be Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, the game lives up to its name by bringing literally every single character the series has ever had- whether as DLC or as a base character, whether as a regular, or as a one time guest- together into one massive package. Which means Snake? He’s in. So is Cloud. And Ryu. And Mega Man. And Sonic. And Bayonetta. And Pichu, Ice Climbers, Marth, Roy, Ike, Wolf, Pokemon Trainer, Young Link, everyone is in. Literally everyone. To quote the tagline, “everyone is here”. Which extends not just to the characters, but also the stages of which a staggering 84 have been confirmed so far, featuring almost every single stage from every previous game, plus some new ones to boot.
"Fortnite and Paladins are both available on the Switch right now, having being made available as soon as the Direct ended."
Speaking of new ones, there are also new characters in Ultimate. While Sakurai, series director and creator, did warn that there won’t be many new additions to the roster this time around given the already frankly unwieldy size, he also confirmed Inklings (which the teaser for the game had already revealed), as well as- answering fan prayers at long last- Ridley from the Metroid series. He’s too big no longer.
It looks amazing. Smash fans will enjoy the game so much. This is literally the ultimate crossover, and the biggest celebration of gaming there has been yet. The game will feature new items, new Assist Trophies, and the gameplay seems to have been further revamped to be a bridge between the hyper technical Melee, and Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS. On the whole, it seems like this will be a great entry to the series- I don’t think Smash fans will complain.
But– and of course there is a but- the game launches far later than expected (December 4, so right at the end of the year), and while it brings together everything from previous games, isn’ anything surprising. Smash doesn’t need to be surprising, it needs to be Smash, so I don’t mean this as a criticism of the game, but rather to underscore the biggest problem with Nintendo’s show today- there were no surprises. It was exactly what we were told it would be, with potential surprises like Dragon Ball and Fortnite having been spoiled ahead of time by the leaks. So, it was a solid show that was well paced, and did what it was supposed to- but it felt really unremarkable. Extremely low key, underscoring, yet again, that the Switch’s second year is indisputably not as exciting as its legendary first year on the market was.
"Nintendo did what it needed to- showed off a stream of great, but not necessarily incredible or show stopping, games coming to the Switch this year, while focusing on the few games that are likeliest to keep the units moving as the year progresses- Fortnite, Pokemon, Super Smash Bros. It was an unremarkable show- but it was exactly what Nintendo promised, and the bare minimum of what was needed."
In the end, that’s fine. The Switch had such an incredible cadence of games this year, and it has managed to have such a high volume of new releases this year, that its success is self sustaining now, and Nintendo can afford to retreat and rally the troops for what I hope will be a 2019 that matches its 2017. Meanwhile, Nintendo did what it needed to- showed off a stream of great, but not necessarily incredible or show stopping, games coming to the Switch this year, while focusing on the few games that are likeliest to keep the units moving as the year progresses- Fortnite, Pokemon, Super Smash Bros. It was an unremarkable show- but it was exactly what Nintendo promised, and the bare minimum of what was needed.
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