Okay, Nintendo, it’s real talk time: Your performance lately has been lacking, and you’ve only been getting better at breaking my heart. Your games haven’t been bad, they’ve just been stale, and I miss the child-like wonder that filled me up inside whenever I played them, the same feeling I got from the very first Nintendo title I ever played. Mario Kart 8 was supposed to be your salvation from all of that, but instead you used Battle Mode to rip open my chest and crapped on my heart with your bizarre HUD changes, and poor showing of items. It’s been bad times, Nintendo, and it shows, with failing profits and a poor follow up to the commercial juggernaut that was the Wii.
Coming up to E3, I honestly can’t say that I was expecting very much from Nintendo; as a long time fan, I was getting kind of sick of being unable to defend the Wii U from well deserved criticisms. The most prominent of which: Where are those first party titles, guys? Sorry, what’s that? You were keeping them hidden for E3 this year, along with all the things you manufactured from sneaking peaks at my dream journal? That’s what I thought, you coy devils you. From the beginning to end, Nintendo’s presentation was straight up entertaining and that’s not something that can be said about many of the other publishers at E3. I don’t just mean that they got me excited for their upcoming games (which they so, so did), but that they made their presentation genuinely fun to watch. What’s more is that they didn’t for a second focus on recent events, or wallow in self-pity, surging forward with confidence into a smorgasbord of nostalgia and innovation. So, without further ado, let’s talk awesomeness.
Robot Chicken introduced the presentation, taught me how to pronounce Reggie’s last name, and had running skits throughout; Reggie and Iwata-San “fought”, which was both hilarious and visually impressive (albeit occasionally creepy), without being corny; even the developer diaries, which I normally get bored of pretty quickly, were great to listen to in lead-up to their respective trailers. Possibly the biggest improvement is that this wasn’t a live presentation, but a pre-recorded one; anyone even passingly familiar with Nintendo’s past E3 presentations will understand that this can only be a good thing. Their past live shows were absolutely cringe-worthy, something that was fixed with last years first E3 “Direct” video, but has definitely improved with the change. To be honest, they could have shown 50 minutes of stuff that had already been released and I still would’ve enjoyed watching it.
I’m Kidding, Nintendo. Never do that. Ever.
From there, it was a cavalcade of first-party and second-party game announcements, reveals, and demonstrations; which, might I add, were made up entirely of Nintendo exclusives. In fact, there wasn’t a single game mentioned that will be appearing on another platform, which is absolutely mind-blowing when I think about how great they all looked, starting with Super Smash Bros. 4. With only a partial character roster and a handful of stage screenshots, we as an audience didn’t really know a lot about the game going into the presentation and that’s still true to a point. That’s not to say that we didn’t get to learn a lot about the game (Mii Fighters, new characters, Amiibo – oh my!), but that we truly got a sense that everything we’ve seen is only the tip of the iceberg.
Now that I mention “Amiibo”, I have to admit that this is a pretty novel idea with a lot of potential, and it genuinely has me pretty pumped to see how it all turns out. For those who’re still coming up to speed, Amiibo is the new NFC (Near Field Communication) platform that allows players to tap chip-installed figurines of Nintendo characters to their Wii Pad (and an announced 3DS adapter) to have those characters then appear in the game. For Smash Bros. this means that you’ll have an AI fighter that will learn and level up over time, one that you can face yourself or send out into the world to fight others. That’s right, you didn’t misread that, I said “For Smash Bros.”: This isn’t Disney Infinity amateur hour over here, this has the potential to reach into other games, with totally different functions, to introduce features which are totally independent of the game itself. Freaking. Rad.
There is no question that I will be buying all of this. Just… everything.
The fun didn’t stop there, because we also got the long awaited reveal for the new Zelda U, and when it graced my screen I thought my eyes and ears would melt from sheer joy as I beheld the words “open world Zelda”. It was short lived and details were scarce, but it was still enough to make me [REDACTED FOR DECENCY]. Instead, we got more details about Hyrule Warriors, the Zelda game by way of Dynasty Warriors, which is such a perfect idea that I don’t know why it hadn’t been suggested before. What I love most about Nintendo’s reveals is that they prefer to show gameplay over pre-rendered cinematics, and baby: Hyrule Warriors’ gameplay looks slick. If you can watch that without feeling even a spark of excitement within yourself, then I really don’t care to know you.
There were also several smaller trailers scattered through out the digital event, like Kirby and the Rainbow Curse, Xenoblade Chronicles X, and Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, just to name a few. These actually might have been the only parts of the presentation that I wasn’t so into, because the games themselves didn’t overly appeal to me, but there’s no denying that they still tapped directly into people’s joy receptors and cranked them to eleven. Xenoblade Chronicles, in particular, but also Captain Toad for some odd reason; the minigames might have been one of the most enjoyable parts of Super Mario 3D world, but I’m not entirely convinced that it can really be it’s own, stand alone title. I also can’t see the appeal of a character whose biggest defining feature is his head-lamp.
The same amount of thought went into my character design as what was put into the X1 launch!
The craziest thing about this turn around from Nintendo is how it has won me over, which, if you’ve been reading my reviews of Nintendo lately, is a pretty mean feat to pull off inside of 50 minutes. It is genuinely crazy, and I certainly feel like I’m going crazy. In fact, if you had asked me about Nintendo’s outlook even an hour before the presentation, I would have said that it was grim at best. If ever a games company could present a show of force, however, then this would have been it; What we saw in this years E3 was an old Nintendo, a Nintendo we haven’t seen for awhile, one that grabs the industry by the short hairs and starts dictating how things will go for awhile.
This presentation was clearly “A grade”, but, despite the skillful way in which Nintendo has beguiled me, I still feel as though something was missing. There was definitely something off, like the feeling you get when an old friend isn’t around anymore. Huh? Oh, hi there Miyamoto-san, I was hoping that you’d pop up somewhere in here and… oh… oh my, what’s that you’re playing? Is that… no… it couldn’t be… but it is! IT IS! IT’S STARFOX! OH MY GOD, IT’S STARFOX! A! NO, A+! NO, DAMMIT, NOT EVEN THAT’S GOOD ENOUGH – THIS WAS A “SSS” PRESENTATION!