Many gamers found it strange when Nintendo announced that they wouldn’t be holding a media briefing at E3 this year. Of course they are present at the show; their booth will allow visitors to sample many of their upcoming Wii U and 3DS titles, but they wouldn’t hold a glitzy and attention-grabbing conference on stage like Sony and Microsoft. Instead they would rely on the format for sharing game news that has worked very well for them for the last couple of years; a Nintendo Direct live stream conference.
In a little over 40 minutes, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata shared details and trailers for several games, some of which we knew about already and some which came as a surprise. Release dates and further information was also provided for games that are due for launch in the next few months. Pokemon X/Y kicked off the conference and looked like a step up for the series in terms of graphics and new features. It will be released worldwide on October 12th and will contain a brand new type of Pokemon; fairy. Yes, really. You can also interact with your Pokemon in a very Nintendogs way in order to boost your affinity with the creatures.
Next came the first trailers and details for two very anticipated games. The first was Super Mario 3D World, which as its name suggests takes plenty of inspiration from the 3DS game of 2011. It looks very nice in HD and will also feature a 4 player mode which is a first for a 3D Mario game, however it has to be said that against the brilliance of Super Mario Galaxy or even Super Mario Sunshine it looks pretty underwhelming and safe. It could almost be an HD version of the 3DS game which is sadly a route Nintendo seem keen to follow lately, judging by the equally underwhelming New Super Mario Bros Wii U. Mario Kart 8 was likewise pretty much as we expected it to be. Looking nice and shiny with recognisable courses and karts, at least here there does seem to be a move towards trying something new, with the karts able to transform into anti-grav vehicles and travel on walls and upside-down. At least that should please the fans who were looking forward to a new F-Zero title. Super Mario 3D World was promised for release in December, with Mario Kart 8 heading for 2014.
A few games were then confirmed to be delayed for a few months; Wii Party U and Wii Fit U were both scheduled for the summer but will now be launched towards the end of the year. Likewise Art Academy for Wii U is not ready for release yet, but a reduced version of the game will be released sooner, to allow Wii U owners more options for drawing pictures through MiiVerse.
Nintendo are proud of their links with third parties, and although it still seems the majority of upcoming big-name multi-platform games will be skipping the Wii U, Nintendo showed a sizzle reel highlighting many of the games which will be making the transition. Assassins Creed IV, Batman: Arkham Origins, Deus Ex: Invisible War, Disney Infinity, Just Dance 2014, Rayman legends, Scribblenauts Unmasked, Disney’s Planes, Shin Megami Tensei IV, Skylanders Swap Force, Splinter Cell: Blacklist, Sonic Lost World and Watch Dogs were all shown off, with the Sonic game in particular impressing on both Wii U and 3DS.
Nintendo then moved on to discussing a couple of their Wii U titles which were due for release in the next few months. The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD looked very nice, with some great lighting effects in particular. The games art style means it hasn’t really aged since its release, and the 1080p graphics do look very pretty. In the eyes of many however it is one of the weaker Zelda games, and of course if you already played it years ago it can hardly be defined as a new game. It was shown to integrate the MiiVerse in an original way however, with messages being able to be sent to other players in bottles to be washed up on shore. The Wonderful 101 however does look very original and a blast to play, as you control a large crew of superheroes at the same time, battling baddies in a super colorful world. Abilities can be learned which focus the team to work together to create weapons and shapes out of their bodies which you can activate by tracing the relevant symbol on your GamePad. The Wonderful 101 will be launched on August 23rd in Europe, and September in North America.
The next title to be shown was the long-awaited new game from Retro Studios. Rumors were rife that we might see a new Metroid Prime, or possibly Starfox. Instead we get a new Donkey Kong Country platformer. In fairness Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze does look very good, and the last Wii Donkey Kong platformer was a solid game. Is it particularly exciting though? Not really. Dixie Kong will be joining Donkey and Diddy as playable characters and there will be a co-operative multiplayer mode which should be a ton of fun. The plot features Vikings invading Donkey Kong’s island which forces him to travel around and face off against various bosses in order to evict them. It will be released before the end of 2013.
Two more games shown off that we hadn’t seen much of so far were Bayonetta 2 and the mysterious ‘X’ from Monolith Studios. Both looked impressive in action and Nintendo promised more information on both soon, which are scheduled for 2014.
The last thing Nintendo left us with today was an impressive look at the new Smash Bros game for both Wii U and 3DS. So far just called simply Super Smash Bros, the trailer was a combination of CGI and some gameplay on console and handheld. Looking simpler and almost cel-shaded in look on 3DS, the Wii U version looked again as you might expect, like an HD version of the Wii game. Nintendo confirmed the game will be released in 2014, and that the official website is going live right now. Oh, and Mega Man is a playable character. That in itself is a very cool move.
So, that’s pretty much it for Nintendo at E3 this year. The majority of the games discussed will be playable at the show floor so we should be seeing some hands-on impressions soon. With a bit of luck when we attend Tokyo Game Show in September we will also be able to bring you our own impressions. Despite not really wowing anyone, Nintendo have put out a solid showing for the next 12 months and at the very least new Super Mario, Mario Kart and Smash Bros should be enough to carry Nintendo through. Shame the new Zelda game wasn’t shown though.