The annual Electronic Entertainment Expo, better known as E3, is well underway out in sunny southern California, and everyone is bringing their best. We gave the goods on Microsoft’s and Sony’s lineups for the coming gaming year, but Nintendo took a approach to their press conference, which is appropriate for a video game company that refuses to adapt to the status quo. And that’s just fine, because The Big N’s E3 showing is anything but routine. Here’s the rundown.
While Nintendo elected for a video segment that used Robot Chicken style animation segments and prerecorded interview segments, the departure worked quite well considering the same boring press conference tactics used by other console companies and developers came off just as bland as they usually do. The move really put the focus on the games, helped avoid the always clunky live English translations for the interviews, added a unique way for Nintendo to better control their overall message, and helped showcase Nintendo as a company full of gamers, who just want to have fun making and playing great games. And, man, those games look great.
Super Smash Bros. for Wii U
Nintendo’s showcase video began with more news from the game that is going to make Nintendo’s year, and make the Wii U a must-have console: Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. New character announcements abounded, with Lady Palutena of Kid Icarus fame, the legendary video game icon Pac-Man, and – wait for it! – YOU! It was announced that SSB for Wii U will incorporate a radical new take on the entire idea of the Nintendo Mii (the digital avatars that act as a players persona), making these Miis playable characters for SSB. Players will be able to choose from three character types for their Mii Fighter – Mii Brawler, Mii Sword fighter, and Mii Gunner – and while these are pretty self-explanatory, players will also be able to choose from tons of available moves for their characters, taking the combo-building to new heights, and making online play something truly spectacular as players see firsthand just how much these new combos can lead to ultimate beat downs. Compatibility with Nintendo’s new Skylanders and Disney Infinity-esque toys-to-games product – dubbed Amiibo – was also showcased, but I doubt any Super Smash player cares that much about it, and the creative nature of Nintendo’s games didn’t end with Smash. Super Smash Bros. Wii U is due out by year’s end.
Mario Maker is a game that plays exactly like its name suggests: You build a level of Super Mario Bros., and then you play it. While the idea of being able to create, test, play, and challenge my family to levels of Mario that I made is so full of possibilities that my brain reels, players will also be able to upload and download levels created by other players! There is simply no end to the hours of creativity and gameplay that Nintendo has, not really built themselves, but only tilled a field for players to sow and reap whatever the hell they want. It’s a singular Nintendo take to games like Minecraft and Little Big Planet that have found success in letting players build, play, and do things their own way. Look for Mario Maker in 2015.
Yoshi’s Wooly World
By far the most beautifully different game of the entire show, Yoshi’s Wooly World takes Mario’s dinosaur mount, puts the undeniably cute character into his first starring role, and makes for a beautiful looking platformer a la Kirby’s Epic Yarn. The game looks to be using similar gameplay tactics to the Kirby game, with a lot of influence added for the tongue-lashing, air-walking dino, but the amazing approach developer Good-Feel Company is taking with the yarn-centric graphics looks outstanding. Everything is made of yarn. The hero is made of yarn, the baddies are made of yarn, the entire world is made of yarn! Just look at those graphic. Yarn also plays really big in the overall gameplay, and as fun as this game is going to play, and as awesome as it’s going to look, the best part may end up being all the cool Etsy.com creations that end up for sale. Yoshi deserves some love, and he’s finally getting it, but he’s not the only B-List Nintendo character getting his own game. Yoshi’s Wooly World is due out early in 2015.
Captain Toad Treasure Tracker
A company announcing a third platform game may lead to grumbling from some gamers,but not when that company is Nintendo, and not when those platformers are so different from each other. Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker take Mario’s less acrobatic buddy and throws him headfirst into a slower, more deliberate, but amazingly fun looking platform game. Nintendo’s theme for this E3 has definitely been different, and it continues with this new game starring a fan-favorite original character. The Super Mario 3-D World’s Toad levels are pretty much just being translated to its own game, but there ain’t nothing wrong with that! But this isn’t the only new property Nintendo showed gamers this week. Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker will be out before the end of the year.
Nintendo continued their different take on games with the first party-shooter game ever, Splatoon. You and a team of friends tries to take possession of a majority of the play-area by painting more of the world with your team’s corresponding color. The twist? You can also change into a squid to add a different level to the gameplay, like moving through a painted area as a much faster speed. But, look out, because moving through your opponents’ color hinders your movement. It all sounds kind of complicated but the gameplay video speaks for itself.
I see some online multiplayer mayhem, last second victories, and demands for rematches in my future, but the true King of Nintendo’s E3 announcement was from Hyrule. Splatoon will be out in 2015.
The Legend of Zelda
Nintendo showed off their latest installment in The Legend of Zelda series, and it looks simply amazing. The demo was short, but it really showed off the size and scope of the new look to the venerable series, and the Wii U graphics never looked better. This game is due out sometime in 2015, but it’s not the only Zelda love we got from Nintendo.
By far my favorite announcement from Nintendo at this year’s conference, Hyrule Warriors takes two great things – like peanut butter and chocolate – and turns it into something so unique and fun that only a company like Nintendo would produce a game like this. Hyrule Warriors take The Legend of Zelda with all of its amazing characters, and combines it with the outlandish and over-the-top brutalization of badguys that is Dynasty Warriors, and what comes out the other end is players driving characters like Link, Zelda, and Impa through armies of badguys. Dynasty Warriors is one of those games you play after a bad day at work. Killing hundreds of death-deserving members of an evil army’s horde was so relaxing, and doing is with Link and the gang is going to be so much fun. Look for this one to hit on September 26th.
While other game develops continue to give gamers what gamers think they want, Nintendo continues to be the Tony Stark of the gaming universe by giving gamers what they want before those gamers even know they want it. Sure the usual suspects of Nintendo characters are all there, but the creative gameplay, innovative use of unique peripherals, and huge middle finger to the status quo that Nintendo showcased at E3 is beyond spectacular. Super Smash Bros. is still THE reason to buy a Wii U this year and remains the game to buy from the publisher before 2015, but The Big N isn’t resting on its laurels with it’s blockbuster fighter. Nintendo’s lineup shows a lot of imagination and creativity on all sorts of levels. Nintendo’s latest console may have been deemed “the second console” early on in its release, and their “hardcore” and 3rd part lineup may still be lacking, but Nintendo has won the argument about the Wii U being a must have console.