Nintendo @ E3 2015 Preview & Analysis

Speaking in retrospect on Nintendo’s 2010 E3 presentation, IGN described being there as like “being a kid at a candy store.” Things have changed since then, but Nintendo’s presence at E3 has not dipped, it has evolved. They no longer put on a big E3 presentation, instead opting for their cheaper and more controlled online presentations a la Nintendo Direct.

To maintain presence, they spend the three days following streaming their games live from the show floor. Fan reaction was ecstatic, with many in the press and watching elsewhere, suggesting Nintendo had dominated E3 2014. Nintendo returns with the same game plan as last year– streamlined with another year’s experience.

Nintendo at E3 2014

So the obvious BIG game from Nintendo’s press event last year was Zelda for Wii U. We didn’t see any gameplay (we assume), but the action in the trailer was well enough to get us pumped, even though we knew it was coming. The other game on everyone’s tongue, even though it wasn’t even in the Digital Event, was a new Star Fox.

Other big announcements included Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, Kirby and the Rainbow Curse, and Mario Maker. But the most significant announcement thus far in the year has been Splatoon, Nintendo’s first big, internally developed online shooter that released to raving reviews last week. The Inklings featured in the game were the first new internally developed characters from a new IP in over a decade from Nintendo.

We finally got to see gameplay from Pokémon OmegaRuby and AlphaSapphire as well as Yoshi’s Wooly World, a game we hadn’t heard from in over two years before it popped up in all its adorableness with its new title. Meanwhile, Nintendo padded out its Digital Event with several second party and cooperatively developed games in Bayonetta 2, Hyrule Warriors, and Xenoblade Chronicles X.

While not shown in the actual Digital Event, Nintendo also announced Project Guard, a camera-based tower defense game that at this point will likely draw some comparisons to Five Nights at Freddie’s, Project Giant Robo, a giant mecha fighting game, Mario Party 10, Codename S.T.E.A.M. from Intelligent Systems, and Devil’s Third, the Itagaki game long thought suspended after the death of THQ.

The Nintendo Digital Event was bookended by the game fans likely cared the most about after Zelda, which was Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS. Two new characters and many features were announced at the event, with a third at a later date.

Unlike Sony and Microsoft, all games shown in Nintendo’s Digital Event last year were first or second party titles, or games published or co-developed exclusively by Nintendo. It’s likely that trend will continue this year.

Games We Know About

Many games from last year’s Digital Event and several from more recent Nintendo Directs have left many games still on the table for this year’s E3. Many big games with expected releases this year are all but confirmed at this point, such as Mario Maker, Xenoblade Chronicles X, and Yoshi’s Wooly World. Alongside those, Nintendo has already confirmed that the Star Fox game for Wii U will definitely be at the show.

One of the bigger questions will be whether Zelda Wii U is shown. We already know that the game will not be at E3, but the Digital Event technically isn’t at E3, so they may still show it– and most fans would tell you that it would be well worth their time to do so, too. I’m not expecting anything, but I like the “not there” joke too much.

Without many 3DS on the docket once again this year, Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon may need to try carrying the system, but there are other games we’ll likely see for the 3DS, such the previously announced Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer, which should come out sometime this year. The latter is especially likely, as Nintendo will want a game to show off their NFC reader tech for older 3DS models. Monolith Soft, who should have just passed off Xenoblade Chronicles X to the Nintendo Treehouse, are also working on Project X Zone 2, which we likely won’t see in the Digital Event, but it will probably make an appearance at the show.

Not to leave it at that, Nintendo announced today that Hyrule Warriors, which released last year for Wii U was coming to 3DS with additional characters and could interact with the home console version.

With another year to have worked on them, Miyamoto’s side projects Guard and Giant Robo, which are also targeted for this year, should make some sort of appearance. As for weird second and third party titles, you have to wonder if Itagaki’s Devil’s Third will make an appearance as we haven’t seen from it since last E3.

Two of the games I’m looking the most forward to come from Intelligent Systems. Fire Emblem If and Shin Megami Tensei x Fire Emblem will hopefully both be there, specifically the latter, as the prior is coming out soon in Japan and so we just know more about it at this point.

With a quick micro-direct this past week, Nintendo announced quite a few games. Chibi-Robo! Zip Lash, Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, Little Battlers Experience, Art Academy Home Studio, Dr. Mario: Miracle Cure, and Bravely Second: End Layer were all discussed at the event. Until the direct, I had assumed the last of those games could make some sort of appearance at the show, but I get the feeling that most if not all the games showed off in this direct were done so with intention to get them out of the way two weeks before E3 so there would be room for their big titles. That being said, I think we’ll see them all at the show floor, and I’d guarantee that for Project Treasure, whose trailer all but confirmed we’d be getting more information about it at E3.

Finally, we’ll hopefully see more information or announcements of English ports from two games that will have been out in Japan long before we ever see them in the west with Rhythm Heaven: The Best and Fatal Frame: Oracle of the Sodden Raven.

Expected Announcements

Despite how Nintendo has been known to drop new games without warning at every E3 in one way or another, over the past few years, it’s been the games we already expect to see at the show that have brought the most hype– be it Zelda Wii U last year, or Super Smash Bros. and Mario Kart the year before. There is definitely some uncertainty as to which of the expected games will exactly show up– as I don’t exactly expect all of them, but assumedly whatever does will be big news either way.

It’s been two years since Super Mario 3D World was released for Wii U, but it doesn’t seem quite like much of a gap as Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker followed it up just a year later. Due to that, and the knowledge that the team behind both games aren’t exactly known for putting out a big game three years running, one could question whether they’d follow up Treasure Tracker with another new game. However, this is also Mario’s 30th anniversary and Captain Toad did not use any new assets, so I could see how a new entry–perhaps even a 3DS iteration– could be in order.

Speaking of Mario, rumors have been circulating over a new Paper Mario game from Intelligent Systems. It’s not exactly that hard to believe they could be working on a new game even though they just released Codename S.T.E.A.M. and Stretchmo and are currently working on Fire Emblem If and have a hand in Shin Megami Tensei x Fire Emblem. In three different instances within the last decade (2004-2005, 2008, 2012-2013), the developers have released three huge name games within the same twelve-month period.

Something else for Mario that we theoretically could see at E3, but likely won’t release until 2016 is a new Mario Tennis or Golf game from Camelot Software Planning. They have a long history of releasing big games like clockwork on a two year schedule, meaning there’s a small chance we see a new game at E3 for an early release next year. That being said, either game they could put out– or even a new Golden Sun game– is a more likely announcement for a future Nintendo Direct later this year, or at E3 next year.

But the most anticipated announcement likely will come from Retro Studios, who have been working on a new game since before the release of Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze early last year. With a full year to focus on a new title, many are expecting to see whatever game they have in store at E3 this year. And with job listings looking for those with experience with shooters, and knowing Retro’s past games, many are expecting that game to be from the Metroid franchise. If it is, it will be all anyone can talk about.

But they’re not the only studio working with Nintendo IP that we expect to see. Next Level Games, makers of 2013’s Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon and the Super Mario Strikers games, have been working on their new project since Dark Moon’s release. Virtually nothing is known about the game to this point, with only small hints of leaks about the game possibly being on the Wii U, and having online capabilities. Many fans are hoping this means a new Strikers game, but it will be interesting to see what they come out with.

DLC is also expected to make a showing. Lucas as DLC in Smash releases on Sunday and many are expecting new announcements for DLC either during the 20 minute presentation Masahiro Sakurai is putting on that morning or in the Digital Event two days later. The question many are asking, though, is if Nintendo keeps releasing DLC for Mario Kart, simply considering the runaway success of the last two packs.

The thing about Nintendo right now is that there are so many different developers that are part of, or owned, by the company. AlphaDream, who makes the Mario & Luigi games, last released a game in 2013, Creatures Inc.’s last game was PokéPark 2: Wonders Beyond in 2011, Treasure Co., known to Nintendo fans for Sin & Punishment, last game was Gaist Crusher God, which released only in Japan in 2014, and three of Nintendo’s internal development teams– those responsible for Animal Crossing, Nintendoland, the Wii Series, and Splatoon, Nintendogs and Mariokart, and Big Brain, New Super Mario Bros. and Pikman, respectively– all only have a single if any game on the docket and have shown the capacity to develop multiple titles at a single time in the past. So all kinds of surprises are possible.

Third Party Games

There’s nothing here. Go home.

…well, to be honest, that’s not entirely untrue. Anything Nintendo would show at their Digital Event will either be first party, second party, or third party, but specifically funded by or using IP from Nintendo themselves. After the last two years, it’s become painfully obvious that even Nintendo realizes that the 3rd party support they could get won’t raise any headlines during their presentation.

This is why we saw so much third party support from the micro direct rather than the actual presentation. Bravely Second: End Layer, Project Treasure, and Little Battlers Experience all fit the bill. The only game that didn’t fit was Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games, which while having Nintendo IP in it, isn’t all that mind-blowing anymore.

These games won’t be in the Digital Event, but they’ll be at the show, and really that’s all that is important.

Unless rumors of a Platinum Games project being a Nintendo exclusive are true, whereas it’s entirely possible that shows up. Platinum has an appointment with IGN later that day as well.

Bold Prediction

There’s so many big predictions I could make for Nintendo at E3. Most are games I would personally want made– a new F-Zero from a cooperation with SEGA like with F-Zero GX, an Endless Ocean game taking advantage of the HD graphics, or a personal favorite, a home console Pokémon game like Colosseum or XD: Gale of Darkness for the GameCube. Some, however, are more tactical– such as the thought that the Super Mario World team might continue a trend and put out another Remix game in the form of SNES Remix, or how the Pikman and New Super Mario Bros. team currently working on Mario Maker who have shown the capacity to make multiple games at the same time might also be working on a Pikman game for 3DS.

But when I think about it, there’s only one game that Nintendo just needs to put out as soon as humanely possible. And that is Nintendoland 2.

I’m joking, of course– but only to an extent. Three years after the release of Wii Sports, the pack-in for the Wii, Nintendo came out with Wii Sports Resort. The Wii U released 3 years ago alongside the original Nintendoland, which theoretically sets the stage for a sequel this year. But the significance of Wii Sports Resort was that it showed off the use of Wii Motion Plus and sold it to consumers, whereas there hasn’t been any significant hardware upgrades since the Wii U’s initial release– or so I originally thought. There was one big physical retail release in the past year that fits the bill almost perfectly: amiibo.

And that’s where my line of thinking goes on a Nintendoland sequel: there needs to be a game, if any, completely built around and for amiibo, preferably for free. Theoretically, a Nintendoland sequel would be free to download, with attractions unlocked through the ownership of amiibo. Hell, it could just be free DLC for the original Nintendoland where boatloads of extra content are unlocked through the use of amiibo. (I wanted more Mario Chase levels anyway).

But like I was saying, I was joking to merely say a Nintendoland sequel is what is needed. The game could be anything that doesn’t exist without amiibo and makes use of ALL amiibo released thus far, and well into the future. It could be a MOBA, where the champions in the game are only unlockable through the ownership of the amiibo. It could be a crossover-platformer that takes advantage of all character’s abilities to change how the player gets around the levels. It could be a sandbox like Disney Infinity. It could preferably not be a Skylanders clone because I trust Nintendo to care about the gameplay. But it sells well, so maybe try that.

Hell, they could even team up with Skylanders or Disney Infinity. In Giant Bomb’s recent Beastcast, Jeff Gerstmann noted that when asking a Skylanders representative about using amiibo in their game, the rep somewhat hinted that such an announcement may come at E3.

The point is that there needs to be something that sells the amiibo as important to playing games as much as they are for collecting, because it’s only the latter at this point that is actually making sales. The prior merely acts as incentive, and only the promise that it will be there. Nintendo needs to make that happen, and that’s why I’m making it my bold prediction for their E3 showing.

Nintendo’s 15 Game Lineup Prediction:

  1. Yoshi’s Wooly World
  2. Mario Maker
  3. Xenoblade Chronicles X
  4. Star Fox Wii U
  5. Fire Emblem If
  6. Shin Megami Tensei x Fire Emblem
  7. Retro Metroid title
  8. Next Level Games new project
  9. Yokai Watch
  10. SNES Remix
  11. New Paper Mario
  12. Pikman 3DS
  13. Home Console Pokémon Game
  14. Nintendoland 2
  15. amiibo-centric game
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