Nintendo was full of surprises during their digital broadcast at E3 2014. Many of the games they featured were previously announced, like Super Smash Brothers and Hyrule Warriors, while others, such as Mario Maker and Splatoon, have only been rumored, but the biggest surprise of all was the show-stopping hilarity and light-heartedness of their presentation.
Unlike the massive stage presence of Microsoft and Sony, Nintendo brought a digital presentation to E3 this year. It was a move that further separated the company from their two major competitors, but also served to Nintendo’s strengths: This is an altogether unique combination of hardware and software that has marched to the beat of their own drum for better or worse and defined the industry in their doing so. And with this E3, Nintendo proved that by switching things up, a press briefing and marketing expo like the Electronic Entertainment Expo can be incredibly fun and charming.
Nintendo’s broadcast began with what would soon be established as a recurring theme: a Robot Chicken-esque short that featured stop-motion versions of Nintendo executives and icons. Jokes fly about Link being the new face of Nintendo much to Mario’s humiliation, we hear a plea for rebooting the Earthbound series (YEAH MOTHER 2!!), and marvel in the pleasant imagery of setting an E3 reporter on fire. It’s whimsical, self-effacing, and totally unlike any of the previous conferences’ antics.
The meat of the presentation got going when Reggie Fils-Aime and Satoru Iwata, two major Nintendo bigwigs, threw down in a melee combat that would make Neo and Mr. Smith stop and gape, in order to announce that Miis will be able to fight in the new Super Smash Brothers. Players will be able to customize both their character’s facial features and fighting style.
Nintendo also teased a new product line called Amiibo; plastic figures that will store individual player data, a little bit like Wiimotes did in the early days of the Wii. Amiibo take the shape of recognizable Nintendo characters and communicate with the game simply by sitting on the game controller. It’s not entire clear just what kind of content Amiibo will add to the content already on disc, but we do know they can operate as NPC co-op characters in Smash Bros. for Wii U, and be pitted against human players.
After the ice was broken with Amiibo, the presentation continued with a largely uninterrupted string of game trailers and behind-the-scenes reveals. In keeping with the impish mood, humorous stop motion shorts bookended the footage.
The audience saw trailers for Yoshi’s Wooly World, a pseudo-sequel to Kirby’s Epic Yarn, followed by Captain Toad’s Treasure Tracker. Both are adventure-driven platformers with cute graphics. Wooly World will come out in 2015, and Treasure Tracker is slated for this holiday season.
And then a wild Zelda game appeared. It’s been rumored that the Legend of Zelda franchise would take a dramatic turn, but fans didn’t expect the bombshell that series producer Eiji Aonuma dropped: the next iteration of Zelda will be completely open world. Past Zelda games have created a facsimile of open-world gameplay, but those restrictions have been lifted with the much more powerful Wii U. The artwork looks like a combination of Ocarina of Time and Twilight Princess, moving far away from the Toon Link territory.
While no plot details have been revealed, we do see Link and Epona tearing away from a monster in a lush, green environment. Important details like antagonists, setting, and the nature of chicken battles are still to come, but considering that much of the presentation was devoted to examining the logistics of the earliest Zelda games, it will likely be a predictable storyline.
It looks to us like pre-rendered footage, but hopefully the teaser is a good indicator of the art style and graphics we can expect from the actual product. Nintendo announced the new Legend of Zelda will release in 2015.
Next, Nintendo debuted trailers for two Pokemon games, Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, both releasing this November. Then Bayonetta 2 (October 2014), Hyrule Warriors (September 26, 2014), Xenoblade Chronicles X (2015) and Kirby and the Rainbow Curse (2015).
Mario Paint nostalgia followed suit as Mario Maker was announced for launch in 2015. Mario Maker gives players the ability to create their own Mario levels in a sandbox, and level creators can opt for a more retro NES look or something more current.
The presentation ended with a completely new game, sharing no characters or likenesses with any other Nintendo titles. It’s called Splatoon and is an online multiplayer game in which players collaborate in teams to cover an entire map in colored ink, each team trying to cover as much territory with their color as possible. Gameplay seems equally focused on covering the map in your team color and playfully destroying your opponents with your paint gun. The techniques are varied, allowing players to participate as squid or humans, both having advantages and weaknesses.
Splatoon‘s big appeal is that the charming, bright paint fight is more than just an aesthetic choice – Paint adds to the strategy of the game, allowing for faster traversal and providing access to areas unreachable otherwise. It looks like the game harnesses ideas from Mario Party’s best mini-games. Splatoon, which looks refreshingly new while still being delightfully Nintendo-flavored, hits store shelves in 2015.
The broadcast wrapped up with information on how to stay connected with Nintendo at E3 via the webpage and the Nintendo Twitch station. A rather disjointed Easter Egg concluded the stream, revealing Palutena as a playable character in Smash Brothers, and featuring Miyamota, himself briefly suggesting that he has even more to show-off throughout the conference.
As E3 continues, follow GEEK on Facebook and Twitter for updates! What games excite you the most? Are you tired of a franchise that just won’t die? Let us know in the comments section below or on Facebook!
Watch the entire broadcast here!