It’s certainly been an eventful week for Nintendo fans. After months of impatient waiting, we finally got a look at the upcoming Wii U installments of Mario, Mario Kart, and Smash Bros. during this past Tuesday’s Nintendo Direct broadcast (as well as a whirlwind of information on Pokémon X and Y). We also got our first glimpse at the secret project that Retro Studios has been toiling away on for the past couple of years, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze. There’s no doubt that a lot of exciting announcements came out of Tuesday’s broadcast, but did it live up to our expectations? A few of the staffers weigh in.
Let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way first (or should that be cat?). I’m sure most of us were a little sad that Super Mario 3D World wasn’t something more in the vein of Super Mario Galaxy, but I simply can’t wait for Mario’s next 3D adventure. I’ll admit I was rather sceptical about Super Mario 3D Land when it first came out on 3DS as I’ve never been much of a NSMB fan or its 2.5D perspective, but now it ranks as one of my all-time favourite Mario games, so I have high hopes for what lies in store in 3D World.
Naysayers will probably also be disappointed that the super secret project by Retro Studios was, in fact, just another Donkey Kong Country game, but I say, “Bring it on”. The world can never have enough DK in my books (even if it seems like we’re swimming in bananas at the moment thanks to Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D), especially when it features jaw-dropping new worlds and funky dynamic camera angles.
Another show-stopper for me was the new trailer for Monolith Soft’s X. This is easily my most anticipated Wii U game at the moment, and the more we get to see of it, the better. It may have been a rather “safe” announcement, yes, but let’s not forget what these Nintendo Directs are fast becoming all about. They’re windows into the near-future, not adverts for games that are two, three years down the line, so I think we need to get out of the mindset of expecting huge, far-off announcements– Miyamoto said himself that Nintendo Directs let Nintendo make more announcements more frequently, and that they actually held back the announcement of their Wii U Zelda so it didn’t overshadow all the excellent and exciting stuff I’ve just mentioned, so I think we could all do with a lesson in learning how to dial back the hype train.
And, of course, Super Smash Bros. knocked it out of the park with that epic double-whammy of sheer trailer greatness. Both platforms look absolutely gorgeous and the wacky addition of the Wii Fit Trainer is just the icing on the cake. 2014 can’t come soon enough.
God, I love E3. Covering Tueday’s news was hectic and insane, but I think it helped sell me on a few games that I had zero interest in before. Sure, I knew I was buying the new 3D Mario going into today, but X? Mario & Luigi: Dream Team? I might have to check both of these out after seeing those trailers.
Nintendo did go a long way towards getting me excited about the things I was already sold on, though. Mega Man, Villager and the Wii Fit Trainer in the new Smash Bros.? That’s insane and awesome. Looks like my predictions of Pac-Man and Lloyd Irving were far too normal for this game.
Then you’ve got the new Donkey Kong Country which already looks stunning. The lack of water levels in Donkey Kong Country Returns was a letdown, so it’s nice to see Retro Studios bringing them back for this next iteration.
I know some people will always want a megaton, and heck, I do too, but today was a good showing for Nintendo. I can’t really complain.
Oh, and Cat Mario is gonna make the Internet explode.
Maybe I’m cheating a little by going beyond the Nintendo Direct itself, but after watching it and some interviews with Reggie afterwards, it seems like Nintendo has adopted a rather simple and blunt approach to what they are doing with this E3. Rather than chasing the competition or courting third parties, Nintendo is embracing the fact that regardless of what any other company is doing they alone are ultimately responsible for what happens on Wii U. Nintendo knows many gamers buy their consoles for the stable of Nintendo exclusives and those games are what will ultimately drive the consoles success. If these titles result in a broader base of consumers that attracts more developers then that’s just a nice bonus.
Yes, this approach resulted in a rather safe showing, but it was also very realistic and grounded. The only game Nintendo showed that I wouldn’t say was a known quality was X, nothing has been said of story or gameplay but the trailers have clearly communicated that this is a gorgeous game from a developer with an amazing pedigree that clearly incorporates giant enemies, massive worlds, and giant mechs. Everything else is much more blatant, abandoning needless subtlety. When we see Super Mario 3D World, Mario Kart 8, Pokémon X/Y, Wind Waker, and Donkey Kong we pretty much know what to expect, regardless of the tweaks and twists to separate each game for their respective predecessors. This doesn’t really generate a lot of E3 excitement, but if we look at it from a more practical perspective what we really have are about ten or twelve games between 3DS and Wii U are are almost guaranteed sales to serious fans like us and have varying levels of potential to attract new gamers who have been waiting for the next Smash Bros. or Mario Kart.
I would like it if Nintendo had given us look more than a year or so into the future, but that can’t rob me of the excitement I am feeling for the games they did show. When Nintendo showed us Super Mario 3D World, I was just as excited as I was for any of the many great looking games on the competitors’ new consoles, but they excitement Nintendo has given me isn’t tied down with concerns of DRM, $400 or $500 consoles required to play them, the uncertainties of untested hardware, or even a general sense of confusions as to what the game is about. For example, Quantum Break for Xbox One. This game is made by Remedy, the studio behind Max Payne and Alan Wake, two games I thoroughly enjoyed, so it makes sense that I would be looking forward to it. However, that interest is diluted by the fact that I have no idea how the game will play, and all that has been shown of the game are snippets of live action and in-engine sequences that set up only the tiniest bit of explanation for a few aspects of the story and setting. In other words, the footage shown for this game effectively told me less about the game than what a title like Mario Kart 8 or Super Mario 3D World tells me.
So we can fuss about the lack of big, earth shattering, standing ovation worthy announcements like Sony had with the Final Fantasy XV trailer, or we can be happy that we got to learn more about exciting games coming in near future and remember that Final Fantasy XV already had a big, celebrated reveal when it was known as Final Fantasy Versus XIII… in 2006.
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