Coming into E3, many people were considering a move to the Wii U as it was the only console that was confirmed to not be actively battling its consumer’s rights. Then Sony came out on Monday night and destroyed everything that the Xbox One stood for.
Nintendo has a lot to gain at E3 this year despite not being there. That relied on Sony falling flat on its face. They were very prepared for that with a line-up of the expected first-party franchises and a third-party sizzle reel. The problem was that they were missing the big guns that were needed to pit them strongly against the PlayStation 4.
Pokemon X and Y opened up the presentation with a look at gameplay including battles and revealing the addition of the fairy type of Pokemon. There is additional Pokemon companion interaction with Pokemon-amie that brings the cartoon’s “aww” factor through feeding and petting your Pokemon and making faces at it. Yesterday, I mentioned how the PS Vita is missing a killer app. Pokemon is that killer app for the 3DS.
The 3DS is also getting new Legend of Zelda and Yoshi games. The Zelda game is The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between World because Nintendo can’t get enough of the Link puns in the title of their Zelda games. It looks like an old-school isometric Zelda game but in 3D and complete with platforming which looks like it’ll be difficult to get a hang of. The other game is Yoshi’s New Island which is a lot like Yoshi’s Island for the SNES but upgraded from 16-bit.
Over on the Wii U, Nintendo brought the heat with the first-party franchises. There is a new Wii Party game imaginatively called Wii Party U. DK is back with Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze. Super Smash Bros. isn’t getting the moronic naming convention. It’s just called Super Smash Bros. Interestingly, it will be available for both the Wii U and 3DS. Could a PlayStation All-Stars style cross-play setup be in the works for the new Smash Bros. game.
The most exciting first-party game that Nintendo showed off in their E3 edition of Nintendo Direct was Mario Kart 8. The gameplay has been changed to allow for transforming karts and anti-gravity karts that lets you drive on walls and ceilings as you desire which (literally) adds a new dimension to multiple route courses.
That description for MK8 might be a disservice to the new Super Mario game Super Mario 3D World for the Wii U. It’s a 3D Mario game that allows for four-player co-op starring Mario, Luigi, Peach and Toad. Each character is supposed to come with some unique abilities to differentiate them. Apparently this is a concept borrowed from SMB2 but I pretend that game never happened. It does have a new cat suit power-up which means that Mario cat memes are going to be a thing soon.
Third-party games were also represented. Bayonetta 2 got a gameplay trailer which might be most noteworthy for her new hair-do. Monolith Soft teased a new RPG codenamed X that includes Gundam-style suits which is always awesome. There was also a sizzle reel featuring a bunch of third-party games coming to the Wii U, including major fall releases like Assassin’s Creed IV, Watch Dogs, Batman: Arkham Origins, Splinter Cell: Blacklist, Just Dance 2014, Skylanders Swap Force and more.
On the bad news front for Nintendo, Wii Fit U is being delayed into 2014. Wii Sports and Wii Fit were probably two of the biggest sellers for the original Wii and missing out on the updated fit game is a problem for Nintendo. The OG of fitness games getting an updated version for the next-gen Wii U would have helped sell the system to the casual gamers who saw Wii Fit as a killer app on the original Wii. The delay won’t kill Nintendo or the Fit franchise but it would have been a big boost to have in the run up to the holiday shopping season.
Overall, this was a decent presentation from Nintendo. Perhaps you could call it the a safe presentation. They got their core franchises out there with new games. They might even be close to getting a killer app out there with the likes of Mario Kart 8, X and Wii Fit U all likely to be very popular or critically acclaimed.
Perhaps the biggest coup that Nintendo scored is that, while EA isn’t publishing games for the Wii U (or, at least, weren’t on the sizzle reel), Ubisoft is loading the console with third-party games with Activision and WB not giving up on Nintendo yet either. My concern is that this will change when games for the Xbox 360 and PS3 start drying up and the Wii U is horribly underpowered compared to the XB1 and PS4 making ports next to impossible.
So the E3 Nintendo Direct presentation wasn’t a massive win for Nintendo but nor was it a massive loss. Considering the first eight months of the Wii U’s life, an upward trend in the console’s fortune is all that was really possible as it had nowhere to go but up. Fortunately, Nintendo leaves E3 in better shape than it entered and probably in better shape than Microsoft.
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