Nintendo Conference Round-Up
The Nintendo Press Conference is the event I have been looking forward to the most for this year’s E3. While I was expecting some great reveals from the other conferences, I felt that Nintendo was the publisher that could bring the big surprises. They have been struggling with Wii U sales for a long time and rumors of a new console has surfaced. Nintendo has also revealed that they want to move into the mobile market with their games. What does the future hold for Nintendo’s new strategies? We dive into the Digital Event to hopefully get some answers.
The conference focused on games releasing in 2015 and early 2016. This meant that a certain fan favorite was missing from the presentation. Of course I’m talking about the highly anticipated The Legend of Zelda for Wii U. I found this a bit surprising as the game was supposed to be released in 2015, but was later pushed back to 2016. You would have thought that they would at least have something to show by now, but apparently they decided to keep the game under wrap for a while longer. Their new gaming platform, codenamed NX, was briefly mentioned. It was just a confirmation that the platform is in the works and that we could expect more news next year. Fortunately, there were some other reveals to get excited for.
Nintendo’s handheld seemed to be the focus of this year’s event. It is no surprise. Nintendo is not only dominating the handheld market, but with the low Wii U sales it only makes sense that their focus would be on their main money maker.
Zelda: Triforce Heroes
The Legend of Zelda Wii U might have been absent during the presentation, but the franchise got some love on the 3DS. First off was the new Zelda Triforce Heroes. It’s a co-op game where 3 players work together to beat puzzles and defeat bosses. It looked a lot like a continuation of the Four Swords franchise, but now with one less hero. It shares the same graphic style and viewpoint as A Link Between Worlds. A new gameplay mechanic introduced is the ability for the characters to stand on top of each other like a totem, thus being able to tackle puzzles and enemies on different levels. The game also takes a new direction for the franchise with the focus on clothes and fashion. That’s right, you can now dress up Link in clothes you can find and collect in the game. Different outfits will give you different abilities. It’s an interesting way to keep the gameplay fresh and experiment with new ways of beating puzzles. I’m sure many of the outfits will resemble those in older Zelda games.
The game looks like a lot of fun if you’re playing together with friends, but with limited appeal. I was never interested in the multiplayer Zelda games, and this one is no different. While I do see the fun in playing these games with friends in the same room, I don’t feel any desire to pick up this game and play with an anonymous stranger via Wifi (that said, Wifi function was not mentioned in the presentation). This will most likely be a pass from me, but should be a lot of fun for fans of Zelda and multiplayer games.
Hyrule Warriors 3DS
The second Zelda game to be ‘revealed’ was the 3DS version of Hyrule Warriors. The game has enjoyed success on the Wii U, so it is no surprise that Nintendo would like to get more sales by releasing it on a more popular console. The game looks to be fundamentally the same, but more optimized for a handheld experience. The DLC for the Wii U version will be included with the 3DS game, as well as two brand new characters from the Windwaker game. I have spent many enjoyable hours with Hyrule Warriors, and I’m excited that more people will be able to experience the game. I only hope that the new Windwaker characters will be available on the Wii U eventually because I need that boat. Like, right now!
I do wonder a little bit about the decision to make this game multi-console, though. Hyrule Warriors has been a very popular game for the Wii U, and it can be argued that it is one of the strongest arguments for investing in the console. By making the game available for 3DS, the Wii U might lose a little of its appeal. Has Nintendo given up on the console all together?
Fire Emblem: Fates
Another highlight for 3DS is the new Fire Emblem game, officially titled Fire Emblem: Fates. The new trailer consisted primarily of scenes from the anime-style cut scenes. These look gorgeous, but I would have liked to see more gameplay. The little we did get to see looked a lot like the gameplay from the very successful Fire Emblem: Awakening. I loved Awakening and I am super excited for the sequel. However, this presentation didn’t do much to create hype. There were no introduction to new gameplay elements, new classes, or any tweaks to combat they might have done. Have they evolved the game at all or will it be just a clone of the previous game with a new story? I would really have liked to see some more depth in the presentation of this game.
This game stood out to me for some reason. It might be because it’s a new ip or maybe it’s because it’s developed by Level 5, one of my favorite JRPG developers. This new trailer didn’t give away much information, but it seems like gameplay that revolves around finding and recruiting creatures to fight for you in turn based battle. Pokémon comes to mind as an obvious comparison, but it also reminded me of the Shin Megami Tensei games where you must defeat and recruit demons to fight for you. The graphics of the game makes it look like it’s intended for younger audiences, but so did the artstyle in Ni No Kuni, a game I spent well over 100 hours with. Ni No Kuni also had a very fun system of recruiting monsters to aid you, building friendships with them, and evolving them. If Youkai Watch is an evolution of the system Level 5 used in Ni No Kuni, then color me interested.
A few other games were revealed as well: Metriod Prime: Federation Force, Animal Crossing Happy Home Designer, and Animal Crossing Amiibo Festival. The Metriod game is a multiplayer game set in the Metriod Prime universe, but has nothing to do with Samus or her adventures. The game also comes with a sport mode, so you can play sci-fi football with your weapons (wait, wtf?). Happy Home designer is just what it sounds like: You help people decorate their homes. Amiibo Festival looks like the love-child of Animal Crossing and Mario Party, but without the intense minigames of the latter. All three of these spin-offs seems like really shallow attempts at a quick cash in. Just slap the title of a well-loved franchise on the box and hope that people will blindly buy it. For shame, Nintendo!
Oh, and there is a cross-over game between Super Paper Mario and 3D Mario called Paper Jam. Did we really need this?
Star Fox Zero
First of all: THERE IS A NEW STAR FOX!! I literally screamed at the screen in pure joy because of this reveal. This will be the first Star Fox game for console in 10 years! Star Fox 64 is a childhood favorite of mine and I’m already looking forward to inviting my brother over for some more sibling rivalry action in the Lylat System. The planet Corneria looks just like I remember it! The gameplay has gotten some interesting tweaks as well: Now your ship can transform into a land-unit at the touch of a button. Three different ships with new shapes and abilities were shown in the presentation. It looks like there will be a new, deeper type of gameplay that makes it possible to include puzzles or even tricky collectibles. I can’t wait to try it! And the best part? Star Fox Zero will be out this holiday, so the wait isn’t even that long!
The one thing that I am a bit skeptical about with Star Fox Zero, is the new controller scheme. Apparently, you will have to use the screen on the pad to aim. The screen is designed to be the ship’s cockpit. On your TV you will be able to see the action taking place outside your ship in a standard third person mode. I’m a bit worried about how well this will be balanced. Will I be staring down at my pad all the time I’m playing? Then won’t the action on the TV be wasted if I’m too distracted to see it? Will it be confusing to play a fast paced game like that while having to focus on two screens? Only time will tell, I suppose. But I do wonder how well (or not) this will work.
Xenoblade Chronicles X
Nintendo also showed off a new trailer for Xenoblade Chronicles X. Xenoblade Chronicles for the Wii is hands down one of the best games from our previous console generation in my opinion. I would get a Wii U just to be able to play the sequel. That is my hype level for this game. However, in the same manner as with Fire Emblem, the new trailer didn’t show anything new. There was an official release date revealed, but nothing new was done to showcase the game at all. The game will be released on December 4th 2015 in the US. For those of us living in the EU, the date is still TBA 2015. I wouldn’t be surprised if it gets pushed back to early 2016 at this point.
Yoshi Woolly World
Let’s just be honest about this: This game is too cute for its own good. Like puking rainbows level of cute. I love the quirky graphics. I love the new look of the creatures. You can also change Yoshi’s look by scanning your Amiibo’s. Want a Yoshi with a knitted Mario skin? No problem! The developers also promised that the game would be fun for all ages. If you want to play through it for casual fun, you can. If you want to get a real challenge while finding all collectibles, you can have that too. I have to admit that I’m pretty intrigued by this game after seeing the presentation. I haven’t played a good and fun platformer in quite some time, and this might be the game that get’s me back to it. My weak spot for Yoshi doesn’t help either.
Even the developer story behind the game is cute:
Super Mario Maker
Mario is celebrating his 30 year anniversary this year, so it’s only natural that Nintendo brought us something special to mark the occasion. To celebrate the evolution of Mario and how he has changed and defined the platforming genre over the years, Nintendo is letting us in on the fun of creating our own Mario game levels. It’s not really a game, but a level editor that lets you share your creations with others. I’m thinking it will be something similar to Little Big Planet. The editor will feature creatures and set pieces from all the Mario sidescroller games, so you can mix some Mario 3 with Super Mario World if you like. You can also use your Amiibos to change Mario’s look. The possibilities seem endless here. Those of you that enjoyed LBP and have a love for Mario should find many hours of fun with this one.
Genei Ibun Roku #FE (Working Title)
Seriously… The biggest disappointment of the presentation to me. Remember way back when, when Nintendo announced that Fire Emblem and Shin Megami Tensei were going to merge into one game, and got me REALLY excited? Well, this is it. I don’t even know what that trailer looked like. Some kind of pop idol showdown between some teens in Tokyo and people from a different dimension. Where is the dark, occult themes of SMT? The demons? Where is the turn based strategy battles from Fire Emblem? Why are people dancing and singing on a stage? Why is there so much glam? Why are they so skimpily clad? WHY?!
I… I can’t talk about this anymore…
Nintendo talked a bit about Amiibos. I know people are really into collecting these, but I never saw the appeal. Nintendo and the developers of Skylanders are now working together to create figurines that will be compatible with both games. So now you can get your Bowser in your Skylanders, if you so desire. New Mario Tennis was also released. It showed what you would expect: Nintendo characters playing tennis with some absurd power ups. I’ll stick to Mario Kart, thank you.
I left the Digital Event feeling very underwhelmed by Nintendo’s presentation. There is no display of a will or attempt to compete with Sony or Microsoft. It’s just Nintendo doing their own thing: re-using their characters in several new games. Most games are not even new, but sequels or spin-offs. While I was excited about Star Fox, nothing else really stood out. Some big games that could have done an impact were barely showed at all. Most of their reveals were for the 3DS, so the future of the Wii U is looking dim. Isn’t a presentation supposed to make you want a console and not see it as doomed. I am very disapointed by Nintendo this year. I was hoping for some innovation, but there was none to be found.
2 out of 5 stars.