E3 2014: Nintendo Direct

Posted by Euan 10 June 2014

Nintendo not appearing at E3 last year was, to many, and admission that they couldn’t compete with the next gen consoles head on. Their plan instead was to show what they feel is their biggest strength, IP that everyone can latch onto, while changing the game itself under that IP. In a year that they need to pull something out the bag to remind people why they own the flagging Wii U (or more importantly pick one up). It really looks like they are starting to turn stuff around this year.

After a surreal Robot Chicken intro (something repeated throughout the presentation, with pretty well done interstitials) they dropped right into the Wii U Super Smash Bros show, introducing Mii support with unique move sets, and a new character in Pauletena from Kid Icarus. It looks a lot like more Smash Bros, and I understand that is what a large majority of Nintendo fans are looking for. It’s just not anything new. I’m sure it will do incredibly well this Holiday when it comes out.

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One of the other features for Smash Brothers, and indeed the Wii U, is support for NFC figures a la Skylanders or Disney Infinity. These figures, called Amiibos, are designed to be read by multiple Nintendo titles, and allowing them to write data back to figure. Technical issues aside (how much “memory” can those figures have if multiple games is going to store data on it) it’s not really surprising Nintendo are jumping into this market, considering their main demographic. If anyone is going to be creative with this stuff, it’s going to be them.

Yoshi is back in the first half of 2015 in Yoshi’s Wooly World. Take Kirby’s Epic Yarn, make it 3D and adding stuffing to all the characters, and you have a rough idea of how utterly incredible this game looks. Every character and bit of scenery is made of wool and cloth, and looks like it’s been taken straight out of an Etsy store.

Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker spins a side activity from Super Mario 3D World into it’s own title, a puzzle game in a block based world. Having never played 3D World I could not tell you how promising this is, but the title certainly looked interesting.

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New Zelda! Kinda. Eiji Aonuma announced a new open world title in the long running series, with a very painterly style and cel shaded characters looking pretty incredible in the pre-rendered footage that was shown. There is no actual title given, but we will know when it appears in 2015. Speaking of Zelda, September will bring the Zelda themed spin off of Dynasty Warriors, Hyrule Warriors, to the Wii U. Lots of playable characters and recognisable bad guys.

I had completely forgotten that Bayonetta 2 was coming exclusively to Wii U until the new trailer. Honestly it looked a bit rough, but that may just be my being spoilt on the bevy of next gen footage I had seen up to this point. When it drops in October it’s also going to have the original game packaged in, as well as Peach, Zelda and Samus costumes for the heroine.

Kirby and The Rainbow Curse, the sequel to the DS’s Canvas Curse, will drop next year for the Wii U. The world has a very plasticine look to it, keeping the hand crafted look of the more recent Kirby games.

There is a new Xenogears game, titled Xenogears Chronicles, coming in 2015. I am under the assumption that this is the game simply announced as “X” back at the time of the Wii U launch, and it retains the big stompy mech stylings from those original screenshots. If a JRPG with robots sounds like your thing, keep an eye on this.

An unfortunate leak from just before the show started ruined the impact a bit, but Mario Maker looks like a real interesting concept coming next year. Providing an editor with sprites from the SNES era games, you can make your own Mario stages. The feature I didn’t expect was the ability to move from 2D sprites to something closer to New Super Mario Bros. 3D, all running from the same source data. Potentially really impressive if people latch on to it and make something more creative that just green shell penises.

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The final title shown was a totally new IP called Splatoon, and is a fantastic example of what happens when Nintendo starts to get real creative with established ideas. It’s essentially a 3rd person 4v4 arena shooter, but with ink rather than bullets. Each team fires a different colour that hinders movement of the opposite team, with the aim of covering the arena with your teams ink. Oh, and you can turn into a squid and swim really quickly through your own colour ink. This is Nintendo after all.

I really enjoyed seeing Nintendo being crazy again with titles like Splatoon, and even the IPs we know have been given some new visual spins that seem uniquely theirs. While this year still looks remarkably bare aside from Smash Brothers, 2015 is shaping up to potentially start to get Nintendo back on track.