Continuing on with their Digital Press Event like last year, all eyes were on Nintendo to see just how they planned to make a comeback. With the WiiU continuing to struggle to find an audience, the major focus this year had to be software, right? What can fans and early adopters look forward to playing this year.
Software was the key and Nintendo impressed with a number of first party efforts liek Splatoon, a brief glimpse at the new Zelda WiiU project and an extended look at arguably their biggest 2014 title: Super Smash Bros. Was it enough to get people excited about the WiiU’s future? Robot Chicken was also on hand to help spice up the show with transition pieces between segments which I felt added some humor to the show.
In case you want to see what they’re showing off this year, here’s their conference in full.
For the full recap, head on below the break for the entire breakdown, thoughts, and final grade on what Nintendo brought to the table this year.
Live Action Fight: Now this is the way to kick off a conference! Satoru Iwata, President and CEO of Nintendo going up against President and COO of Nintendo of America, Reggie Fils-Aime in a live action fight. The fight was enhanced by some really cool effects and ultimately was to transition over to Smash Bros, but this is something I could really get behind going forward.
Super Smash Bros: Arguably the biggest piece to Nintendo’s show and also their ace in the hole for 2014. Masahiro Sakurai come on screen to announce that you’ll be able to play as your Mii character in Smash Bros. Before you roll your eyes, just know that each Mii character can be given 1 of 3 special attributes such as brawler, swordsman, or gunner which changes the type of fighter that they are. In addition to a trailer which rapid fired through the many modes and things you can do in the 3DS version, Nintendo also confirmed that those NFC figures will be compatible with Smash Bros. Smash Bros also closed out the show by announcing that Palutena from the Kid Icarus franchise is joining the fighter roster.
Amiibo Figures: Those NFC figures detailed last month in a Nintendo financial report? They’re now official and are called Amiibo. Using the gamepad to scan the figures into the game, you can then start using that figure with compatible titles. What’s interesting here is that this figures will level up and evolve with you the more you use them. So two Amiibo Mario figures can be vastly different from one another depending on how you develop them. As of right now, Smash Bros is the only compatible title but Nintendo is expanding this to include pretty much all first party titles in the future including Mario Kart 8, Mario Party 10 and others.
Yoshi Meets Yarn: If you thought Yoshi couldn’t get any cuter, well, you’re completely wrong. Wooly World introduces the green dinosaur to a world made completely out of wool all in stunningly rich vibrant HD. Yoshi’s eggs are now balls of yarn, enemies unravel, and better yet, the time limit on stages has been removed letting players instead focus on exploration rather than rushing to the end. The fabrics will fly in 2015.
Captain Toad’s Treasure Tracker: Surprise! If you enjoyed those short puzzle segments form Super Mario 3D World U, Nintendo is making a complete game on them starring the explorer, Captain Toad. No much was detailed outside of a trailer, but the game looks to also feature boss battles. Expect to start spelunking later this year.
The Legend Of Zelda On WiiU: The news I think many people were waiting for also had the least information. Eiji Aonuma came on to talk a little bit about his team’s vision for the next Zelda title on WiiU. Essentially, they’re making it an open world game, letting players go where they want as they see fit. We were also treated to a screenshot which showed off just how vast the world is. Opting for a more cel shaded look almost like a cross between Wind Waker and Skyward Sword, a short trailer showed off just how vibrant and gorgeous this HD Zelda world looks. The game is due in 2015, so for now, wraps are still on tight.
Next Step for Pokemon: A new trailer for Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire came on next showing off the updated character sprites and visuals from this GBA classic fitting more into the X/Y look.
Bayonetta 2: The wait is almost over now as a new trailer revealed an October 2014 release date for this bonkers action title. Not only that, Platinum and Nintendo are adding in a remastered version of the first game complete with Nintendo clothing and items for her to use. Not a bad deal for 60 bucks.
Hyrule Warriors: More details flooded out over this Dynasty Warriors and Zelda mashup. In addition to Link and Impa, Midna and Zelda will also be playable characters when the game releases on September 26.
Kirby and the Rainbow Curse: If you thought Yoshi was cute, Kirby wants to show you his game. Rainbow Curse is a follow up to Canvas Curse and this game is sporting really interesting clay based visuals. Gameplay looks to still include drawing ropes for the little guy to move around stages and levels similar to what was done in the original DS game.
X is for Xenoblade: A new trailer for Xenoblade Chronicles X (formerly known as just ‘X’) showed off a number of story elements for this sci-fi RPG. You got a glimpse of what looks to be the enemy figure in addition to fighting in spaceships and lots of dialogue. Look for this one sometime ni 2015 as well.
Mario Maker: The rumors were true. Nintendo has created a game that will let people create their own Mario levels. What’s cool is that players can use the old school NES look or create something from the “New” series of Mario titles. Players are free to create Mario levels how they want from walls of bullet bills to a complex network of green turtle shells, it’s really up to you now. I’d be surprised if Nintendo didn’t reveal some sort of level sharing feature as well.
Splatoon: Here’s something I’d never figured I’d be writing in regards to Nintendo. They’re making an online only arena shooter game. As a company who’s constantly behind everyone else in terms of online gaming, Splatoon came out of no where. Featuring squids who can also become girls (Yes, this game comes from Japan), the objective is to shoot your ink guns to cover more of the arena in your color of ink. Not only does this help your team, but the objective really is to splatter more of the map in your color than the other team. As squids, players can move quickly through their ink color while the human form shoots are enemy players. It’s visually interesting in a cute-Nintendo sort of way. Splatoon hits WiiUs in 2015.
Miyamoto Teasing: While during the event we got a glimpse at some sort of blurred out Star Fox screen, Shigeru Miyamoto confirmed that he’s working on a number of prototype games which feature the gamepad heavily. As we later found out, Star Fox is definitely one of those titles, but currently it’s pretty rough around the edges.
Quick Meeting: Again coming in at a brisk 45 minutes, it seems Nintendo was content to reveal more information throughout the 4 days at E3 rather than all at once. For some, perhaps they enjoyed that better, but I don’t know, seems like you should take advantage of having all eyes on you during your press conference than to fight for attention with all of the show floor noise.
Third Party Concerns: I had the same reservations about this as last year and it still applies. Major third party developers and publishers are staying clear of the WiiU as it’s not selling well enough to be a force. Ubisoft even came out and said they have a WiiU game they’re holding on to until the console sells better. Granted, that’s a bit harsh, but you absolutely know that other companies are thinking the same way. Hopefully Mario Kart 8 and Smash Bros will help push more hardware as Nintendo expects.
The Year 2015: The biggest issue I saw from Nintendo is that a lot of their announcements were around games due to release next year. Considering the position Nintendo is in with the WiiU, I think we can all see the problems with this strategy. They need hits now in order to move hardware. The biggest title Nintendo seems to be releasing this year is Smash Bros, kind of like putting all your eggs in one basket.
I felt like Nintendo fared much better this year, but ultimately, didn’t do enough to help their cause. I know there’s a lot of people out there that absolutely loved what Nintendo did, and frankly, it was one of their more strong showings in a few years, definitely. Looking at their current situation though, especially with how poorly the WiiU is selling, I felt like Nintendo didn’t pull out all the stops. Using only half the time of their competitors, Nintendo touched on some interesting first party games like Yoshi’s Wooly World, Mario Maker, and the new Legend of Zelda title but from my point of view, while these announcements were cool, none of them blew me away which is what I really wanted from them.
It’s going to be an interesting rest of 2014 for Nintendo as they look to gain at least a foothold in order to get to 2015 when the wave of software looks to hit. I will give them credit though, what they did show off looks great and really gives off a vibe of them trying to really turn things around. While Nintendo had a great E3 this year, I wonder if they did enough to really turn the tide back in their favor.