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Nintendo’s E3 Recap: A Month of Game Reveals Pt.2
Welcome to part 2 of our Nintendo E3 2015 recap! If you missed out on part 1 where I went over the MiniDirect, The Nintendo World Championships 2015, and more, then you can find that right here Nintendo’s E3 2015 Pt.1.
Nintendo’s presence at E3 2015 was an extremely light-hearted affair that was first and foremost focused on the fans.
With the Nintendo World Championship 2015 and the release of EarthBound Beginnings, to the 30th anniversary celebration video for Super Mario that housed thousands of the Italian plumber’s admirers; there was love from “The Big N” at almost every turn. However, with the Wii U currently in the state that it’s in, by having less than 10 million units sold worldwide, Nintendo understands that they have a mountain in front of them that they need to ascend rather quickly. And that’s because their current strategy isn’t working, nor is it resonating with millions of potential Nintendo gamers. In saying that, if there was anything to take away from their 2015 Digital Event, then it would be that Nintendo is currently undergoing a state of transformation.
“If there’s a secret to the longevity of Nintendo franchises, it is transformation.” Reggie Fils-Aime explained. Change is always a good thing, and if something clearly isn’t working then you must find a way to make it better. Fils-Amie is commendable for telling it straight to the fans, and I respect him a little bit more because of it. He continued by saying “We never let [our IP] stand still. There always has to be something new, something compelling.” And he’s absolutely right. Change is an imperative aspect to longevity, and Nintendo knows it better than anyone. Fils-Aime spoke briefly of Nintendo’s new console code named NX which they plan to reveal next year, the newly announced theme parks they are currently building, and the development of Nintendo games for smart phones. Nintendo’s presence this year may have been guided by the admiration that they have for their fans, but the true nature of this E3 was felt amidst the appreciation that fans have for the company that taught them how to game.
The Digital Event began like any episode of Sesame Street would have, and it felt like it came fresh out the 80’s. Seeing Muppet versions of Reggie Fils-Aime, Satoru Iwata, and Shigeru Miyamoto, courtesy of Jim Henson, take over the show and make game announcements was really humbling as it changed the pace of E3. It was nothing out of the ordinary to see the three main figure heads of the House of Mario take the stage and dance around to classic Nintendo tunes after days of explosives, hunting dogs, guns, and chainsaws. Nintendo’s Digital Event began on a relatively high note as each member of Nintendo’s elite began to physically transform into the Star Fox heroes Fox McCloud, Peppy Hare, and Falco Lombardi. Star Fox Zero then immediately engulfed the screen and we were instantly looking at the first ever gameplay footage of the newest Star Fox game.
Star Fox Zero
I was immediately relieved to find that not a single member of the Star Fox fleet ever left an Arwing. The game looks largely towards its blissful Nintendo 64 predecessor, and that’s because Star Fox Zero leaves out the lesser valued game mechanics found in tittles like Star Fox Command and Star Fox Adventures. It turns out that Nintendo had been listening to the Star Fox fans all along, and especially to their growing disapproval towards the direction of the franchise. Miyamoto announced that Star Fox Zero is not really a sequel, nor is it a reboot of any sort, and essentially it’s more of a re-imagining of what a Star Fox experience should play like. Interestingly enough, Miyamoto also declared that Star Fox Zero was directly influenced by the canceled Star Fox 2 on the Super Nintendo, and though that game is unlikely to ever see a release, it will live on in this newest addition to the Star Fox franchise. The best part of Star Fox Zero is that it takes many of Star Fox 2’s gameplay mechanics, like transformations of the Arwing that you can now control at will with the push of a button. Literally, the Arwing can transform into a tank or gyrocopter at any moment and it adds a lot to the gameplay options offered. The control scheme may take a bit of time getting used to, because you have to combine two modes of play with the TV and the Gamepad. The TV is used for aimless blasting, and the Gamepad will be used as a cockpit view with gyroscope capabilities for precision firing. Star Fox Zero brought the excitement that Wii U owners had been longing for and it will be the Wii U title to own this Holiday season.
One of the biggest announcements from the Digital Event was that the The Skylanders franchise is getting its own versions of Donkey Kong and Bowser Skylanders. Whats even more interesting about these toys is that both of them will also function as amiibo by simply turning the base to the required mode. By allowing a third party like Activision to use Nintendo characters in their game, it will move more units for fans unaware of what the Skylanders franchise is and vice versa. I would expect to see more amiibo-Skylanders hybrid NFC toys down the road, however only the two previously mentioned were announced. Skylanders Superchargers is releasing on 9/20 and when it launches, the Bowser and DK Skylanders will only be available as a pack-in with the game, with no plans for a separate release at the moment.
The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes
A new online multiplayer Zelda game for the 3DS was announced and focuses specifically on three players working together to get through typical Zelda dungeons. Tri Force Heroes is reminiscent of A Link between Worlds mixed with Four Swords, and it also throws in a new fashion element that allows the gameplay to evolve by gaining new outfits. Each new garb gained will grant new abilities that mix gameplay to create a hybrid of Animal Crossing and Bravely Default. The main objective is to collect the garments which will allow players new ways to complete dungeons and will grant them various abilities like the skills of a ninja. A new gameplay tool called the “Totem mechanic” was illustrated, and it works by having two of the three characters carried on the shoulders of one player so that they can reach higher platforms and interact with objects just out of reach. Another interesting mechanic was mentioned where one player per team would be granted a weapon and then the team must rely on that player to accomplish tasks relevant to that specific weapon. Tri Force Heroes will release in fall 2015 on 3DS.
Hyrule Warriors Legends
A port of the Tecmo Koei and Team Ninja collaboration is coming to 3DS which brought the Wii U a very action oriented Zelda game. Its best parts were highlighted by adding in Dynasty Warriors combat to the mix, and it made for a remarkable Zelda experience like none other. It was announced that all of the content that is available for the Wii U version will be included upon purchase of Legends, as well as two exclusive characters from Wind Waker, Tetra, and the King of Red Lions. Hyrule Warriors Legends will release in the first quarter of 2016.
Metroid Prime: Federation Force
The first Metroid Prime game since 2007 is coming to the 3DS which focuses on an online multiplayer component. The game resembles Metroid Prime: Hunters on the DS, except this time around 4 players must work together to overcome obstacles and complete missions. Kensuke Tanabe the director of Metroid Prime: Federation Force announced after the direct that the game was intended to be a launch title for the New 3DS XL however, it wouldn’t be ready until 2016. Nothing was officially announced at this time but it is likely to be released exclusively on the New 3DS XL.
Fire Emblem Fates
The newly renamed “Fire Emblem IF” received a fully localized trailer this time around, and the new content shown looks to capitalize on the glorified portable SRPG that was Fire Emblem Awakening. This will be the fourteenth game in the Fire Emblem series, and it’s going to be the first time that a Fire Emblem game will be released as two separate titles. Both are planned for a 2016 release. FE Fates: Conquest will follow a story of darkness in which the player will join the House of Nohr, and FE Fates: Birthright is focused on a story of light where the player will join the House of Hoshido.
Genei Ibun Roku #FE (SMTXFE)
Which translates to “Illusory Revelations # (pronounced sharp) FE” is coming to the Wii U in 2016. Formally known as SMTxFE, this is the cross over game being developed by Atlus and Nintendo that bridges the worlds of the Fire Emblem and Shin Megami Tensei series. The game itself is a pretty interesting concept and reminds me of the Persona games. Take a look at some gameplay above from the Tree House Live event.
Xenoblade Chronicles X
This time the game was shown with a full localized trailer and we were finally given a release date! The game was released in Japan in April and since it has already been shown in length at Nintendo’s past two E3 Digital Events, they decided that didn’t want to spoil anymore of it for Western Audiences. But, you can experience it for yourself on 12/4.
Animal Crossing Happy Home Designer
More collecting, more bells, and more home designing gameplay to lose plenty of nights of sleep over. For the first time ever the largely discussed amiibo cards were finally shown, and they act as the NFC figures do but are more accessible for people not wanting the figures and only wanting the benefits. The cards were used to gain unique items to fashion their homes with exclusive amiibo content. Animal Crossing Happy Home Designer will launch on 9/25.
Animal Crossing amiibo Festival
This time Animal Crossing is coming to Wii U and the game looked like Mario Party with amiibo. Players move around the board by touching their upcoming Animal Crossing amiibo to the Gamepad which will roll a dice and allow them to jump ahead. Animal Crossing amiibo Festival is coming Holiday 2015.
Yoshi’s Wooly World
Nintendo showed off how amiibo functionality works in the game, and although it is purely aesthetic, it is pretty darned cute if you ask me. If you touch “any amiibo” at any time to the Gamepad, Yoshi will then magically turn into a yarn version of that character. Mario and Samus were shown, and keep in mind that Yoshi doesn’t get any enhancements like Kirby does, but it will be available to try out on 10/16 in North America.
Level 5’s extremely successful Yo-Kai Watch is finally coming westward. The game resembles a kids take on Shin Megami Tensei IV gameplay mixed with Pokémon for good measure. The main idea is to find and catch little monsters called Yo-Kai, and then the player must use their Yo-Kai Watch to help train their monsters to win battles. Yo-Kai Watch is coming to 3DS Holiday 2015.
Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam
Paper Jam mixes both RPG Mario worlds into one game. Its the crossover that no one was expecting, but is now one of the most anticipated 3DS games for 2016.
Mario Tennis Ultra Smash
Mario Tennis is getting crazy with super mushrooms and other Super Mario power-ups this time around. Whacking a ball too hard for your opponents to catch will be ridiculously fun in co-op this Holiday.
Super Mario Maker
Shigeru Miyamoto and Takashi Tezuka revealed their 30 year old inspirations for the title that put Nintendo on the gaming map, and they both went back to the root of what made the first Mario game so magical. Watching them thumb through their old hand drawn levels was inspiring, and I simply can’t wait to get my hands on this game. When I was a kid I lost countless hours to Mario Paint as I have always been partial to creation kits such as this. Super Mario Maker puts the power of the creator into your hands and allows you to upload, and download new 2D Mario levels. Need I say more? Super Mario Maker is coming to Wii U on 9/11.
Post Show Reveals
After the Digital Event, Nintendo showed off an extended look at their upcoming games during the Tree House Live @E3 Event and also revealed a few more titles coming to Wii U and 3DS on their YouTube and social media channels.
Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water
A YouTube video was released detailing that Project Zero: Maiden of Black Water will be finally making its way to North America this fall. Better known as Fatal Frame V to fans, this will be the fifth main numbered game in the franchise which will use the Gamepad as the Camera Obsucra to defeat spirits. Wielding the Camera Obscura rather than just holding down the shoulder buttons on a controller will bring a new level of immersion to the franchise. It’s an element that makes perfect sense for the Wii U capabilities and its reminiscent of Zombi U in the sense that you absolutely need to use the Gamepad with the TV to survive.
Zelda Wii U
Even though it was widely known that Zelda Wii U would not be making an appearance this year, Shigeru Miyamoto was interviewed after the Digital Event and announced that Zelda Wii U is in fact coming to Wii U in 2016. According to Miyamoto “We have really good footage of the game” however they didn’t want to show any of it because it isn’t likely to come out until the later portion of 2016.
Rodea The Sky Soldier
Now this game was announced a few months ago for a 10/13 release date, but any game from NIS needs more love in my opinion. Directed by the former head of Sonic Team Yuji Naka, whose resume includes the original Sonic the Hedgehog games on Genesis, Sonic Adventure 1 & 2, and NiGHTS: Into Dreams, Rodea The Sky Soldier is a spiritual successor to NiGHTS: Into Dreams and looks to capitalize on many of Sonic Team’s earliest accomplishments. The game itself was planned to release on Wii but had trouble finding a publisher until now. Rodea The Sky Soldier is coming exclusively to 3DS and Wii U, and as a bonus for picking up the first print of the Wii U version, you will get the original unreleased Wii version on a printed disc. So you can play the game the way it was intended to be played.
Fast Racing Neo
F-Zero mixed with Wipeout and its racing onto the Wii U in 2015.
A puzzle platformer by Sierra and Rocket Pocket Games about two cosmonauts connected together by their space suits. The game reminds me a bit of Chariot, but the use of expandable space suits is endearing.
A game about space adventures and shoot-outs, where you scavenge a demolished landscape. Coming in 2015.
Mario & Sonic At The Rio 2016 Olympic Games
Mario and friends take on Sonic and pals in the latest edition of the Mario and Sonic sports titles.
There is a bunch of amiibo on the way ranging from Duck Hunt to Yarn Yoshi. Take a peek at the video above to see if your favorites are on the way.
Nintendo has shown more than anything during E3 2015 that they are willing to change. Change to better meet the needs of their fans and change to better meet the trends of the gaming market. Wherever the next year may take Nintendo and whatever gaming platform the NX turns out to be, we are sure to have fun while we wait in anticipation for the next big thing from Nintendo.