For the past couple of years, Nintendo has opted to stay away from the media hubbub and general crazyness of an E3 press conference, instead preferring the safe environment of a pre-filmed ‘Nintendo Direct’ video. This year the briefing lasted for around 45 minutes, and tried its best to put Nintendo back on the map after a very difficult few months filled with stories of low sales. The video certainly started off strongly, with a Robot Chicken produced intro where Nintendo laughed at themselves, as well as some of their more… vocal fans.
Of course Mario Kart 8 recently launched, and early sales data indicates it is at least going someway towards restoring Nintendo’s fortunes. If the big N gets its way however, the launch of Super Smash Bros for Wii U this Holiday will really reverse the tide, particularly when combined with the selling power of their newly announced NFC figurines, Amiibo. These figures appear to function a little like memory cards, where you can save character data like move sets, and take your character to your friend’s house in the form of a cute Mario toy. Nintendo have also promised these figures will work with multiple games, including Mario Kart 8, so it will be interesting to see how they intend on using them in the future, and whether they will prove popular with Nintendo’s most hardcore fans. In other Smash Bros related news, the 3DS version has slipped a little to October 3rd, and Palutena and your very own Mii were announced as new fighters.
Perhaps winning the award for most improved game following an initial reveal, Yarn Yoshi has now become… Yoshi’s Wooly World. The gorgeous hand-made look really suits a Yoshi game, and it appears to be very much a Yoshi’s Island type experience wrapped up in some fancy new graphics and with some wool-based mechanics. It should be one to watch when it launches next year.
Nintendo chose to show a large number of games during the relatively short video – moving between trailers and more in-depth developer interviews showing gameplay snippets. Some if the titles that were shown off in trailer form included Bayonetta 2, Xenoblade Chronicles X, Pokemon (one of the few 3DS titles shown, we predict more 3DS news later in the week) and Kirby and the Rainbow Curse. All of these looked great, and titles like Bayonetta 2 and Devils Third which was announced after the show, are arguably what Nintendo needs to be hosting if it wants to succeed with the Wii U.
One of the big surprises at the event, and one which we will get to play as soon as Holiday this year, was Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, of course based on the mini-games shown off within Super Mario 3D Land. Boss levels and on-rails shooter sections appear to round off the puzzle-based gameplay and the title should contribute to a strong Wii U presence this Christmas, along with Super Smash Bros and Hyrule Warriors, which was also shown off and will feature multiple characters to control from the Zelda universe.
Other surprises shown off by Nintendo included an innovative title called Mario Maker. Whether or not this will be a downloadable game, or available through retail is unknown at this point, but Mario Maker allows you to construct your own devilish Super Mario levels, and presumably share your creations with other players. In a nice move, you design levels on your game Pad using an 8bit looking interface, before seeing them play out on-screen using the New Super Mario Bros U engine. Again we will see plenty more of the game before its release next year.
Splatoon was perhaps created with a certain type of Nintendo fan in mind, one who is regularly asking for a new IP, and enjoys shooters. Ticking both of those boxes but keeping Nintendo’s individual style – Splatoon is a multiplayer shooter where players control squid people who fire ink at each other. As unusual as it sounds, the game seems like a lot of fun, and looks wonderful when different colored ink is splattered all over the levels. At present it is unknown whether or not there will be a single player component, but regardless it is a title that should do well on Wii U.
All of these games were great of course, but there was one title that Nintendo fans REALLY wanted to see… other than Metroid. That game was the Legend of Zelda. And Nintendo showed off a brief trailer which blew most people’s socks off. Promising an open world environment, and a kind of realistic cell shaded or artistic look, what we saw of the game looked stunning, with a boss battle demonstrating some amazing fire effects. 2015 is a long time to wait for what could be Wii U’s defining game…
But Nintendo wasn’t done just yet. Appearing on-screen to promise more upcoming Game Pad mini-games, the legend that is Shigeru Myamoto was playing a certain title on a screen in the background of the shot, a game which was later confirmed to be a Wii U Starfox! THAT’S how to tease a game!
As much as I am a PlayStation guy right now, every gamer should hold a place in their hearts for Nintendo. I can honestly say hands-down that the announcements during the Nintendo E3 Direct conference have probably excited me more than anything else shown by either Sony or Microsoft. Nintendo might be down, but on this evidence they are certainly not out.