Much to the surprise of everyone, Nintendo decided against holding a formal E3 press conference this year as they have, along with Microsoft and Sony, in years past. While many declared this a mistake, that it would only hurt Nintendo’s mindshare, others defended them saying that having launch their next-gen console, the WiiU, last year, they were just getting out of the way of Microsoft and Sony. No matter how you frame it, it was a decidedly Nintendo decision, who have always bucked the major trends in the industry and gone about things their own way. However, despite being deprived of a proper press conference with all its opulence and showmanship, we were treated with a special episode of Nintendo Direct, Nintendo’s direct-to-consumer webshows, for E3.
The show was hosted exclusively by Satoru Iwata, president and CEO of Nintendo, and was held in their offices in Kyoto. Iwata commenced the show by announcing a couple of 3DS titles, Pokemon X & Pokemon Y, and Super Mario 3D World. Pokemon X & Pokemon Y introduced a new fairy type of Pokemon, bringing the total now to 18 different alignment types of pocket monsters for you to battle. The series, which commenced with the contemporaneous release of Pokemon Red & Pokemon Blue, has apparently run out of colors to distinguish their series, which is a testament to its longevity. Super Mario 3D World is the sequel to Super Mario 3D Land, and despite the title, is actually a 2D side-scroller. The game will introduce cooperative play, with Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach and Toad all featured as playable characters. The titles will be released on October 12th and in December, respectively.
Mario Kart 8 was announced for the WiiU, the first entry of the series on Nintendo’s new console. Changes to the franchise included hover cars with anti-gravity features that allowed for racing on sideways tracks, hang-gliders, and underwater racing. Not much else was said on the title other than it would be launched in the spring of 2014.
In case you were looking for more mini-games on your WiiU, Nintendo’s got your back with a new Mario Party for WiiU. Iwata-san said that despite in January promising that the game would come out this summer, that there would be delays in its release which would be pushed to October. Wii Fit U, which was also targeting the spring/summer release window, would also be delayed to December include more features.
Iwata then apologized generally for the less-than-ideal software release flow since the WiiU’s launch, addressing concerns of a dearth of titles from the system, specifically the lack of 3rd party support. To rectify this, a sizzle reel was shown to demonstrate upcoming 3rd party releases featuring quick cuts of:
- Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag (WiiU)
- Batman: Arkham Origins (WiiU)
- Batman Origins: Blackgate (3DS)
- Deus Ex HR Directors Cut (WiiU)
- Disney Infinity (WiiU)
- Just Dance 2014 (WiiU)
- Rayman Legends (WiiU)
- Scribblenauts Unmasked: A DC Comics Adventure (WiiU, 3DS)
- Shin Megami Tensei IV (3DS)
- Skylanders SWAP Force (WiiU)
- Splinter Cell: Blacklist (WiiU)
- Sonic Lost World (WiiU)
- Watch_Dogs (WiiU)
Furthermore, Iwata-san highlight the strength of their upcoming digital titles coming to the WiiU eShop. A Sizzle reel of upcoming eShop games was shown featuring:
- Ballpoint Universe
- Cloudberry Kingdom
- Coaster Crazy Deluxe
- DuckTales: Remastered
- D&D Chronicles of Mysteria
- Mutant Mudds Deluxe
- Oddworld: New ‘N’ Tasty
- Scram Kitty & His Buddy on Rails
- Shovel Knight
- Spin the Bottle: Bumpie’s Party
- A world of Kieflings
Sure to please Zelda fans everywhere, the HD remake of The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker for the WiiU was shown next. Notable for its unique art direction and stylization that was a notable departure for the series, it’s transition to 1080 graphics seems to be doing an incredible job of bringing the charm, beauty and warmth of its art. Other graphics features reported included improved shaders and refined textures, all of which brought clear improvements to the game to make it look contemporary. Iwata also hinted at some minor changes to enhance the experience, and announced that the title would be debuting October 2013.
Two titles from developer Platinum games were shown next. First up was The Wonderful 101, to be released September 15. A decidedly cute game in keeping with Nintendo’s core aesthetic philosophy, the eponymous 101 will ‘unite’ and form together to create giant weapons using the WiiU pad. Up to five players will cooperative control the 101 to fight off giant monsters.
Next up was a game whose tone was decidedly incongruous with what one usually expects from Nintendo. Bayonetta 2, the sequel to the cult classic, was given a trailer after a slightly odd introduction from Iwata-san, wherein he expressed excitement to. “show us a little more of Bayonetta”. We were shown a two-part trailer, with the first segment being a fairly gratuitous CGI trailer followed up by footage of same gameplay. Upon conclusion Iwata-san complimented Bayonetta’s new short hair-style and noted that the game would be coming in 2014.
Next up was a trailer and announcement for Xenoblade 2 by developer Monolithsoft. The game appeared to essentially looks like a cross between Monster Hunter and Gundam. A beautiful open world was shown through which your character could experience via a third person view, which periodically at times would be explored within a giant mecha. It was revealed to be coming in 2014.
Arguably saving the best for last, a teaser trailer for the highly anticipated next entry in the Super Smash Bros series was show. Simultaneous entries for both the 3DS and WiiU were announced coming 2014. However, adding onto the excitement was the announcements of the addition of Megaman to the character roster. A glorious reveal trailer set to the theme of Dr. Wiley’s Castle was shown focusing on Megaman pitted against the veterans of the Smash Bros series. His various special abilities acquired from bosses in the Megaman series were highly featured, leaving us with the question of how in the world Nintendo planned to properly balance this character for the game.
After some closing comments, Iwata-san closed out the show. While the Nintendo Direct lacked the flash of the other major E3 press conferences, and at times felt fairly perfunctory, it clearly showed Nintendo’s commitment to supporting their platforms, even if they struggle to get outside developers to join them.