E3 2013 Recap: Nintendo Direct Conference

Nintendo decided to shake things up a bit this year foregoing a more traditional press conference setting for one of their “Nintendo Direct” videos. If you remember, my big idea for Nintendo was based around the idea of relevance. With the PS4 and Xbox One taking center stage this week, I believed Nintendo had to go all out and remind core gamers why you should be excited for Nintendo and their platforms. Don’t hold back. In the end, I believe they showed their hand but frankly, I just don’t feel like it was enough.

For the full recap, head on below the break for the entire breakdown and my thoughts on what Nintendo brought to the table this year.

Pokémon News: Things kicked off with a brand new trailer for the upcoming Pokémon games X & Y and the addition of a new type for Fairy Pokémon. A new feature was also detailed known as Pokémon-Amie. The best way to describe it would be that it’s along the same lines as Nintendogs only with Pokémon. Lastly, the worldwide release date was confirmed for October 12.

A New Mario Title: I think at this point, you should be expecting news like this as Nintendo revealed a brand new Mario game coming for the WiiU. Super Mario 3D World is hitting retail in December coming with 4 player co-op using the same lineup from the NES game, Super Mario Bros 2 (Mario, Luigi, Toad, Peach). Fans of cats will also be thrilled to know that the new power-up is a bell which puts your character into a cat suit allowing them to scratch enemies and climb walls. Yes, no need to adjust your screen, you read that correctly.

Mario Goes Karting Again: Get those red shells ready as Mario and the gang head back to the track with Mario Kart 8 for the WiiU. The big new addition seems to be looping tracks and the ability for karts to float using anti-gravity type magnets similar to F-Zero. Hey Nintendo, that reminds me….F-Zero.

Delays: Bad news if you were looking forward to Wii Fit U and Wii Party U as both titles were delayed out of their summer 2013 spots. Party was given the ambiguous launch window of later 2013 while Fit was exiled into the winter months. At least you’ll be able to stay warm with some half-moon poses now, right?

Get Creative With Art Academy: The MiiVerse will be getting an upgrade later this year as a new entry in the Art Academy franchise is currently in development. Giving aspiring artists access to tools like pencils, pastels, and colored pencils, they can draw on the tablet and them post their work to the MiiVerse.

Wind Waker Returns: The Zelda franchise was due its turn in the spotlight now and Iwata began things with the HD remake of the former Gamecube title, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. In addition to the HD graphics and gamepad support, the title also comes with new features such as changing the sails of the boat to make it go faster and the ability to use Tingle’s Bottle. Ah, yeah, let me explain that before our minds wander somewhere else entirely. Basically, it allows players to write messages, post them to the MiiVerse that will appear in bottles around other players games.

Retro Studio News: So that new project Retro Studios is working on? Yup, a new Donkey Kong title. Revealed as Donkey Kong Country Returns: Tropical Freeze, the game brings back Donkey, Diddy, and introduces Dixie Kong back into the mix now with HD visuals. The trio are out to stop Vikings who have invaded from the North Sea.

Platinum: Next up came some quick trailers from the quirky studio Platinum Games as they showed off both of their WiiU exclusive titles Bayonetta 2 and The Wonderful 101 in trailer form.

The Return Of Smash Bros: Arguably the biggest news (and somewhat expected) was the announcement of a brand new Super Smash Bros title. Honestly, there’s not much to report here as the game looks like Super Smash Bros Brawl from the Wii, only now in glorious HD and featuring new guest characters like Mega Man, The Villager from Animal Crossing, and the female WiiFit Trainer to go along with the normal staple of characters. I’m a big fan of this series but honestly, it’s hard for me to get excited here considering it looks like a game I’ve played multiple times before. Hopefully as the year continues, Nintendo will announce what makes this game feel fresh and special.

Quick Meeting: Clocking in under 45 minutes, Nintendo seemingly wasn’t interested in wasting too much time and made it clear that this shouldn’t be viewed as a traditional press conference. Now I know why as I believe it would have been judged harshly if compared to what Microsoft or Sony brought with them this year.

Third Party Concerns: Nintendo seemed to take this conference to really focus on their first party titles. While that’s fine, what is concerning here is the lack of really any third-party presence or exclusives. They did devote a real short segment to showing a list of games that are coming to the WiiU but really the only decent amount of time was given to Platinum. Is this a sign of things to come?

Playing It Safe: Ultimately, I felt like Nintendo came in without much to say. They seem content in the path that they’ve chosen and for better or for worse, intend to not deviate from said course. The games they showed off, while fun, are what we expect from them. A new Mario game, another Zelda title, Smash Bros, a new Mario Kart…you see where I’m going with this? While the games may be polished to the maximum and will be incredibly fun, we’ve been here before. Nintendo was content with not trying to hit for the fences, drop some surprises, or wow the crowd. Essentially, they failed to answer the question of why core gamers should pay attention to them.

Overall: C
Frankly, Nintendo didn’t send shock waves through the gaming world and yet, I don’t feel they really hurt themselves either. They showed off some solid titles that people will get excited for like a new Smash Bros, a new Mario Kart, and a new Mario game. If you notice though, the last thing I just typed seems to be what we’re talking about after every E3 for them. Yes, in regards to first party, Nintendo is solid but it seems they have to “reach into the well” quite often. I’m wondering if Nintendo is even concerned about their position amongst Sony and Microsoft at this point or if they view themselves as a complete separate entity altogether.

I really can’t say Nintendo followed my advice of trying to hit that homerun but ultimately, I believe they feel they don’t need to. I’m not sure what the future holds for them as the WiiU struggles to gain traction, third party publishers look to keep their games multiplatform, and release droughts which are coming for the platform. As a long time fan of Nintendo and supporter of them since the NES, it makes me a bit sad to see them like this. I can’t help but wonder if they’re now a step too slow or just out of touch with the current landscape. Nintendo can certainly be stubborn in terms of adapting quickly, so here’s hoping I’m wrong and they have an ace or two left up their sleeves.

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