The Highs And Lows Of Nintendo's E3 2015 Digital Event
It's officially day one of E3, but the press conferences aren't quite over. Nintendo is the last of the big three to step up and take its swing at titles on offer for the near and slightly distant future.
The House of Mario's showing was as casual and amusing as last year, but it lacked some of the bigger punches of 2014's presentation. Last year gave us Splatoon, Amiibo, a first look at The Legend of Zelda, Yoshi's Woolly World, Kirby and the Rainbow Curse, and Hyrule Warriors. There was a marked shift away from Wii U announcements this year, with the 3DS carrying the bulk of the excitement.
A company in flux
Nintendo did the right thing by acknowledging that it is currently in a transition period. Its recent theme-park deal, the plans to bring its properties to mobile for the first time, and the looming "NX" hardware of the future will be discussed more next year. Nintendo seems to be backing off the Wii U a bit, though that isn't to say there aren't titles coming.
The rest of 2015 brings us Star Fox, Yoshi's Woolly World, Super Mario Maker, Animal Crossing Amiibo Festival, Mario Tennis Ultra Smash, and Xenoblade Chronicles X. Star Fox and Xenoblade are the clear headliners, with Yoshi's Woolly World potentially reaching that top tier. There will definitely be things to play on the Wii U, but Animal Crossing and Mario Tennis feel like filler.
While watching the digital presentation, we noted that all of the Wii U games unveiled are slated for this year. With the exception of The Legend of Zelda in 2016, the future for the console is cloudy. Compared with other platform holders and third-party publishers, this contrast is stark.
We don't know what form "NX" will take, so it's not a given that this is a shift in focus to new hardware. That said, we can't shake the feeling that Nintendo itself isn't quite sure where the Wii U goes from here.
The 3DS continues to show a bright future, but just how important is the New 3DS?
Nintendo showcased a number of 2015 and 2016 titles for the 3DS, painting a bright picture for the handheld. This year brings Triforce Heroes, Animal Crossing Happy Home Designer, and the long-awaited arrival of Yo-Kai Watch. We also have Etrian Odyssey Untold 2, a Hatsune Miku title, Rodea the Sky Soldier, Chibi Robo: Zip Lash, Mighty No. 9, Pokemon Super Mystery Dungeon, and others. Between first- and third-party support, there is a steady stream.
A number of 2016 titles were also shown. Hyrule Warriors Legends, Fire Emblem Fates, Shin Megami Tensei x Fire Emblem, Mario & Luigi Paper Jam, and Metroid Prime Federation Force make for a solid start to next year. Oddly though, Nintendo didn't mention a single game that requires the New 3DS. The smaller version of the console still hasn't been confirmed for North America either.
In fact, Nintendo didn't even acknowledge the newer version of the handheld in its presentation. There are reasons to upgrade to a New 3DS XL, but if you don't have interest in Xenoblade Chronicles 3D, software isn't one of them.
There were some notable 3DS absences, though Nintendo's Treehouse presentations throughout the week might reveal their status. We didn't hear anything about Bravely Second or anything related to Pokemon.
We might not have been specific enough about Metroid.
Partway through the digital presentation, you may have heard a thundering crash. That was the sound of Metroid fans around the world simultaneously flipping their tables.
Metroid Prime Federation Fighters isn't the Metroid game that fans have been clamoring for. That's not to say it won't be fun. It's just not the traditional Metroid that's been missing from the lineup for so long.
We're not giving up hope that we'll see Samus return to the Wii U, but another year gone by without this announcement means the flame is starting to flicker.
No one was surprised that Nintendo announced that more Amiibo would be released this year. Unfortunately, the company still hasn't successfully dealt with supply issues.
Walk into a store that carries toys-to-life games, and you'll see a healthy supply of Skylanders and Disney Infinity figures going back to those series' first entries. While we don't expect Nintendo to flood shelves, having a way to secure figures that doesn't involve scalpers would be appreciated.
Let's just say we're terrified about what it's going to be like to nab a Ryu Amiibo. And the 8-bit Mario? Wear football pads to pick yours up.
One thing is a safer bet, though. We suspect that the four Amiibo x Skylanders figures will be in healthy supply. This is an important third-party relationship for Nintendo, and the company won't want to mess it up.
Nintendo is finding its pace with these digital presentations. The added opportunity afforded by the Nintendo World Championships also gave the company room to pepper in a few announcements. The Treehouse Live streams will also certainly reveal some new information. Hopefully the gaps we identified in the presentation are filled in throughout the week.