Well, we got new Zelda, we even got a new IP, and Reggie squared off against Iwata in the thunderdome! Nintendo's E3 Direct was a wonderfully charismatic, effortlessly charming affair, a stark contrast to the business-like boredom of EA's yesterday. But did they steal the show?
That was almost everything I was hoping for from Nintendo at this year's E3. The opening was fantastic -- Nintendo Robot Chicken, Reggie vs Iwata, Miis in Smash Bros -- the whole thing was just pure fan service, and it only got better when Reggie moved out of the way fairly swiftly and allowed the games to speak for themselves.
Yoshi's Woolly World looks like a hug. It looks like someone took a hug and turned it into a video game. That whole section was so stuffed with whimsy that my cheeks started to ache from smiling. The same goes for the Amiibo announcement -- we've long said that a Nintendo Skylanders initiative that took advantage of the WIi U's underused NFC capabilities would quite possibly print money, it's good to see that finally happening. I will want all of them.
This was the presentation that we'd called on Nintendo to deliver, and boy did they do just that. Mario Maker is an outstanding idea that seems perfectly pitched towards community involvement and fostering a real spirit of creativity on the Wii U. The only question around that is how on earth no one thought of the idea sooner. Xenoblade Chronicles X is still looking absolutely fantastic, though given it was announced back in January 2013, it would have been nice to have seen a bit more of it, and the same can be said of the new Zelda reveal. It's exactly what we wanted, with a drop-dead gorgeous unveiling and the promise of a truly open world, but I desperately wanted them to show me more.
The star of the show for me was probably Splatoon. How rare is it to see a new IP like that announced by Nintendo?! The premise appears gloriously simple, but across the generous demonstration it was clear that there's a lot to this game. In a presser schedule once again dominated by super serious, highly familiar gunfests, this was a brilliant reminder that there's so much more to be had even within the TPS genre. Trust Nintendo to be the ones to point that out.
But there was one slight problem, and we've had this across all of the press conferences in fairness, but (as with Sony) it proved a little more pronounced here: "coming 2015". That we're getting double the Bayonetta we'd anticipated is nice, but this was supposed to be Nintendo's opportunity to really grab the end of this year by the scruff of the neck and they failed to do that completely. As it is we're left saying the same thing we've been saying for ages...I like the look of the Wii U, but I'll have to wait and see.
The depth to Smash Bros is certainly tempting, mind, and I do love a bit of Platinum Games.
Well, that was fun.
I think what Nintendo have always managed to do with their presentation is keep is rather light, but this year they really trimmed the fat and got on with showing us the games whilst not repeating what we’d just seen 30 seconds before. Ultimately we go one of the best pressers Ninty have put on in years, but I wouldn’t say it was a unanimous victory in terms of claiming the E3 crown.
Adding Mii’s to Smash Bros. will be fun to see your virtual self beating up Kirby (or being swallowed… oh god) and the Amiibo figurines are going to pave the way for franchise crossovers moving forward (and bring games such as Skylanders and Infinity to the Wii U) but they weren’t the true highlights for me. No, it was the reveal of the new Zelda that surprised me the most, with the reveal of the open world addressing one of my biggest complaints with the Zelda series in terms of its linearity. Of course, we only got to see a small segment, and we don’t even know if the character who was shooting arrows at that mechanical spider was even Link, but it got my attention and I look forward to seeing more about it at next year’s E3.
What? We all know we’re going to be waiting that long to see more. Anything sooner would break the trend.
Elsewhere, announcing that Bayonetta 1 will come with Bayonetta 2 was a stroke of genius, as it now means fans of the series can replay it, and newcomers don’t have to find a second hand copy to get up to speed with the story. While I personally am not a fan, I think it’s great the option is there. Plus it’s Platinum, and they very rarely do anything wrong. Otherwise, my favourite bit of the show was the reveal of Splatoon. It took a few minutes for me to appreciate it, but once I did it made me want to start firing paint and turning into a squid as soon as possible. It also showed Insomniac Games how to do colourful and fun gameplay without resorting to turning your ambiance into a dude-bro-smug-fest.
The biggest issue with the Nintendo presser is that the things I am most looking forward, including Xenoblade Chronicles X, to are set for 2015, and so begins my latest round of saying “I’ll consider the Wii U next year.” I will say this though – I am certainly more interested in the Wii U now than I ever have been, but annoyingly the jury is still out on which current-gen console I’ll get first, if any of them at this point.
All that’s left to be said is “Well done Nintendo for not screwing it up.” Yay!
Not bad, Nintendo. Not bad at all. You nearly nailed it.
After the hilarious Robot Chicken intro, they showed us Super Smash Bros. without getting bogged down in the details, revealing some slick new Mii features and getting us excited for NFC functionality... but then moving on before we had chance to get bored. It took him long enough, but Reggie finally realised that the best way to work a room is usually to leave and let passionate developers talk about the games they're making.
And they did just that. Yoshi's Woolly World looks absolutely fantastic; the sort of game I can loose myself for hours in with a big silly grin on my face. Bayonetta 2 X Bayonetta will be utterly ridiculous in all the best ways; Platinum Games really are the best at what they do. Mario Maker is a long-overdue idea that I can't wait to try out. Hyrule Warriors? Go on then. Also Squids. Splatoon has a great name and a simple yet engaging premise: Nintendo's bread and butter. Hopefully the territory control mechanic will be neatly balanced.
However, the Zelda tease was bittersweet. Don't get me wrong: it looks lip-smackingly stunning and the promise of a truly open world could make Aonuma's latest project the best Zelda game to date. But the lack of a name or release date beyond 'probably 2015' was galling; this was Nintendo's big chance to really bring it home, yet they just stopped short of winning E3 outright.
Xenoblade Chronicles X, too, caused me to start shivering with excitement. This was the big one for me, and as a fan of both mechs, space combat and anime, the new mood piece was probably my highlight of the show so far. And yet... it wasn't quite enough. We needed to see more gameplay, preferably narrated by Monolith Soft, to really get our juices flowing. Especially given yet another 2015 release window.
And Miyamoto probably should have actually showed us some of those GamePad games, one of which has already been outed as StarFox. Why wasn't the presentation 60 minutes long with enough time to flesh out the missing details?
Ultimately, though, the digital presentation was a joy to watch and more importantly than that, I'm dead chuffed to own a Wii U. We'll have to wait until 2015 for many of the big hitters, but Mario Kart, Smash Bros and Bayonetta 2 will tide us over for a while.
Nintendo nearly nailed it. And that, frankly, isn't something we get to say often enough - unless we're talking about the 3DS. Game on.