Opting out of a normal E3 Press Conference like Microsoft and Sony, Nintendo instead chose to do one of their Nintendo Direct shows in order to hype up their E3 offerings. I had the pleasure of watching this with dozens of other Nintendo fans at the Nintendo World Store in NYC; and they seemed to enjoy every second of it.
Mr. Iwata started off the Direct with a new trailer for Pokemon X/Y, to be released for the 3DS October 12th. The big reveals were the confirmation of the long-rumored fairy-type, which balances out the over-powered dragon type; and the addition of the Pokemon-aime: what looks to be like “Hey You, Pikachu” 2, and with every Pokemon that can fit on two screens. We also got a look at two new Pokemon: Vivillon, a bug/flying type that looks like a pink Butterfree; and Noivern, a dragon/flying type with speakers for ears.
In a developer roundtable later the same day as the Nintendo Direct, we were introduced to three more Pokemon: the Water/Poison-type Skrelp, the Water-type Clauncher, and the Fire/Flying type Talonflame; as well as 5 vs. 1 “Hoard battles” and flying-type only “Sky battles.”
Moving right along in the video, Iwata announces a brand new Mario game: Super Mario 3D World for the WiiU, a sequel to the 3DS’ 3D Land. The trailer shows off the new bell power-up, which gives Mario a Cat suit that allows him to scratch enemies, climb up walls, and pounce. 3D World also allows for 4-player co-op, and just like in Super Mario Bros. 2 for the NES, each character plays slightly differently: Luigi jumps higher, Toad runs faster, and Peach can glide short distances. I actually played a demo of 3D World after the show and can pass along that it is coming along great. I played an early level that made good use of the new cat-suit with three other people, and we all had a blast. The game has a scheduled December release date.
The next game to be announced was Mario Kart 8 for the WiiU. This iteration brings back bikes from Mario Kart Wii; and gliders and underwater segments from 7. In addition to returning mechanics, 8 introduces anti-gravity to the series, which looks insane. Seriously, Rainbow Road will be ridiculous. However, the biggest selling point for this sequel has to be that this is the first game in which Waluigi’s stunning countenance will be shown in full 1080p. You’ll be able to gaze upon his HD magnificence Spring of next year.
Giving the now ecstatic crowd at Nintendo World a little time to calm down, Iwata announced the development of a new Wii Party and Wii Fit for the Wii U to be available in October and December, respectively; as well as a downloadable Art Academy that can be used with Miiverse, due sometime this summer.
Nintendo then showed off a 3rd party sizzle-reel which featured Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, Just Dance 2014, Splinter Cell: Blacklist, Watch_Dogs and
Following this was another sizzle-reel, this time for the e-shop, featuring Ballpoint Universe by Arachnid Games; Cloudberry Kingdom by Ubisoft; Coaster Crazy Deluxe by Frontier Developments; DuckTales: Remastered , and Dungeon and Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara by Capcom; Mutant Mudds Deluxe, by Renegade Kid; Oddworld: New ‘N’ Tasty by Oddworld Inhabitants; Scram Kitty & His Buddy on Wheels by Dakko Dakko Ltd.; Shovel Knight by Yacht Club Games; Spin the Bottle: Bumpie’s Party by KnapNok Games; and A World of Keflings by Ninjabee.
Mr. Iwata continued with an update on The Legend of Zelda: The Windwaker HD, and showed a brief trailer. Honestly, if there was ever a game that I thought would never need a graphical update, it was Windwaker, but damned if it doesn’t look good. And because I already played through this one many times before, I can assure you of its quality. The remake comes out in October.
Next on the docket was more news on Platinum Games’ The Wonderful 101; a game I’m personally very excited to play purely because of how different it looks from every other game on the market, barring the wonderful Viewtiful Joe games, developed by many of the same people. Looking like what would happen if Pikmin were more about beating things up than scavenging; the game looks like a ton of fun from the trailers. I’m pretty sure this is the first time we’re hearing about Co-op for the title, and in the spirit of things, the more the merrier. We should learn more about The Wonderful 101 in another Direct closer to the game’s release date, September 15th.
Next came one of the biggest surprises from the Direct; Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze for Wii U by Retro, a sequel to the brilliant Donkey Kong Country Returns. It looks just as a great sequel should, building on the previous game’s foundation with a more cinematic camera, new enemies, and the return of underwater sections as well as fan favorite Dixie Kong. I had high expectations from the trailer alone; and after playing a demo of the game I feel comfortable raising them because what I played felt just as great as Returns did. The game has a November release date.
Taking a turn for the mature, Mr. Iwata re-introduced us to Bayonetta 2. A CG trailer gave us a look at Bayonetta’s new design and sweet new hairdo; as well as introducing us to who could be the main protagonist of the game; a seemingly angelic being with the ability to stop time and summon big creatures, much like Bayonetta herself. We also got a small tease of actual gameplay and it looks just as extreme and crazy as the original game. Bayonetta 2 should be coming out in 2014.
The penultimate game on display was the still untitled RPG from Monolith Software for WiiU. The game seems to be a sequel, at least in spirit to the excellent Xenoblade Chronicles. It’s taking the wide-open world, huge creatures, giant robots, and improbable swords from that game and turning it to 11. The robots (Mechon from Xenoblade?) are now ride-able and can transform and fly! X looks immense in every sense of the word; and if any game can live up to the challenge presented by Xenoblade Chonicles; I believe it’s this one. It sure looks the part anyway.
And now the game everyone was waiting for. We knew the trailer was coming; I don’t think anyone quite expected it would go down as it did. The crowd at Nintendo World went wild as the Smash Bros. “+” logo crossed the screen; was confused for a second as we flew into an Animal Crossing town before realizing that it meant that Villager was joining the frey; and proceeded to double their excitement. The crowd only got louder as Mario showed off his new painterly look, like out of Street Fighter IV or Okami for the 3DS version of the new Super Smash Bros. Awe dropped over the audience as Mario transitioned into HD for WiiU brawling; and a quiet, satiated hush fell over the crowd as “2014” appeared on the screen before turning to black – followed by tense apprehension at the “New Challenger Approaching” alarm. And when the camera raced up the mountain to show us who that new challenger was, that the spiky-haired silhouette was indeed Capcom’s Mega Man; the crowd went ballistic. I literally had to hold down my best friend, and the biggest Mega Man fan I know, to prevent him from hurting himself or his neighbors out of pure excitement. We also got a really long look at Mega Man’s moveset, which utilizes a lot of the weapons he gained over his long history of defeating various Robot Masters. Arguably the biggest and best surprise of E3 was unleashed unto an unprepared world; and our bodies were not ready.
And with that the Direct was all but over. And a few hours later we found out that the Female Wii Fit trainer would also be joining the new Smash Bros. and it’s safe to say I am thoroughly hyped.