Nintendo at E3 2014: Nintendo Digital Event Impressions

Initial thoughts on what Nintendo showed during the presentation.

The Nintendo Digital Event has ended just a few hours ago, but I would like to give my thoughts on the very many great announcements that took place during the presentation. As we all very well know, E3 is a time for every major video game publisher to pull out their big guns and show them off to each other and the onlookers beyond. What Nintendo accomplished this year was create a presence at least on par with their competitors, while giving fans what they want and pushing forward in their strategy for both Nintendo 3DS and Wii U.

For off, I would like to say that I am very pleased that Nintendo decided to take a different approach to the Digital Event relative to how they usually do their Nintendo Directs. The Digital Event had a distinct feel to it, especially considering the delightful Robot Chicken animations thrown into the mix here and there. It made the whole thing actually feel like an event, which is undoubtedly what Nintendo wished to accomplish when they named their E3 presentation. They also learned plenty of lessons from last year as well by allowing media outlets to stream the Digital Event themselves and allowing viewers to choose whichever way they best desired to consume the flood of new information.

This year, Nintendo decided to open with arguably their biggest title of the year, Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U. Some new details about the game included the inclusion of Miis as playable fighters (and eventually Palutena at the end of the presentation) as well as details about how the 3DS version is played. Speaking of the 3DS, the Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS has unfortunately been delayed to October (unless October constitutes as a “Summer 2014” release as Nintendo had previously announced), although the Wii U version of the game is confirmed to be coming “Holiday 2014.” In terms of announcements, I was surprised by the lack of surprises and new reveals this time around, but given the games are now a few months out, there will still be plenty of time to reveal stuff in the future.

Next in line was Nintendo’s figurine platform, which is now called “Amiibo.” For those unfamiliar, Amiibo uses NFC technology to scan wirelessly into supported Wii U games using the Wii U GamePad. Depending on which games you scan them into, the Amiibo will do different things. So far, the only confirmed games to use Amiibo are Super Smash Bros. for Wii U (with which it will ship this holiday season) and Mario Kart 8. More details will come at a later date, but in the meantime it still does not seem to be clear exactly what these figurines do and, perhaps most importantly, how much they will cost.

Then, on to the games… almost. Reggie spent about a minute giving a speech arguably no one cared about, but after he was done it was time to show off what Nintendo does best. Yarn Yoshi was the first game to be shown off, and it looks very good. Though I really should not have been, I was sort of surprised to see how far development had gone since the game’s reveal a year and a half ago, and is now on track for the 2015 release. Nintendo followed up their discussion on Yarn Yoshi with the surprise announcement of Captain Toad Treasure Tracker – a spinoff of the bonus stages found in Super Mario 3D World – which is arriving later this year.

Speaking of Mario, the plumber was no where to be seen at the Digital Event, much to my surprise. I thought for sure we would see a glimpse of the new 3D Mario game, but perhaps development has just not gone far enough, or Nintendo finally decided that this was the year Mario needed to take a break. That is not to say they ignored their other franchises, however, especially when it comes to Zelda. Hyrule Warriors looks to shape up quite well, and new, in-game footage of the next Legend of Zelda game was shown for the first time ever – and it looks amazing. A combination of Wind Waker’s and Skyward Sword’s  art styles, the new Legend of Zelda games is an open-world, action adventure that Aonuma promises will change up the Zelda formula quite a bit. It may be a while before we see more of this game, but it looks to arrive just in time for the holidays in 2015.

Nintendo gave a couple of updates on games that we already knew were coming. Bayonetta 2 received a new trailer, and it was announced that the retail version would come with a free copy of the first Bayonetta game. Footage of Pokémon AlphaSapphire and OmegaRuby were shown at length for the first time today, and it looks very similar to how X and Y played last year complete with new mega evolutions. Finally, X was given a new trailer along with its final name – Xenoblade Chronicles X – though unfortunately it was delayed until 2015, creepy anime eyes and all. In fact, this has been a recurring problem with all three major platform holders this year. Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo all had fantastic games to show, but most of them are coming out in 2015. I hate to be the one to say this, but 2014 looks to be the weakest year in video games we have had in a while.

Nintendo closed their presentation with a few more announcements. Firstly, Kirby’s Canvas Curse is getting a sequel on Wii U called Kirby and the Rainbow Curse, which sports a unique art style. Also, Mario Maker is real, and it indeed does exactly what the name suggests – it allows players to create their own Mario levels. They also made a big deal out of Splatoon, Nintendo’s newest I.P., which is an action-shooter game that focuses more on territory capturing than actual combat. The final announcement was a new Star Fox game created by none other than Shigeru Miyamoto.

Some interesting things occurred after the show, and seemed to coincide with Nintendo’s desire to announce things throughout the entirety of E3. Among these announcements included Devil’s Third (which is exclusive to Wii U), a new Mario vs. Donkey Kong game, Mario Party 10, the localization of Fantasy Life on 3DS, two more Miyamoto projects, and a Wii U Super Smash Bros. bundle complete with a GameCube controller and adapter.

Overall, I thought it was a decent showing by Nintendo and most definitely an improvement over last year’s Direct. It was a bit disappointing to see so many games slip into 2015 and so few coming out in 2014, but seems to be a trend throughout the industry so I am not too worried. It is interesting, I think, that some of the things I for sure thought would appear at the conference this year – namely a new Mario and Monolith Soft’s 3DS project – did not make an appearance, and even stranger that the new 3DS title scheduled for a major roundtable conference later in the week is still largely unknown. Do not be surprised to see more and more new announcements in the coming days, and remember that have a wonder E3!

How did you feel about the Nintendo Digital Event? Discuss in the comments below!


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