Last year’s E3 revolved around two things and two things only: PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. The battle between Sony and Microsoft reached all new heights at E3 2013 as both companies prepared to debut their new generation of consoles. Sony and Microsoft traded blows, with Microsoft handing Sony plenty of ammunition leading up to Sony’s press conference. Those that attended last year’s E3 flocked to Sony and Microsoft’s booths to check out the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One while Nintendo sat quietly with Mario Kart 8, Super Smash Bros. teasers, Pokemon X and Pokemon Y, a trailer for Monolith’s X and The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds. But at E3 2014, that’s all changed. If you knew absolutely nothing about the gaming industry and walked through the West Hall of the Los Angeles Convention Center, you’d think Nintendo was the biggest of the three gaming companies.
Who saw Splatoon coming? Anyone?
That’s because unlike Sony and Microsoft’s booths, Nintendo’s booth was filled shoulder-to-shoulder with lines forming at every one of its kiosks for attendees to check out the upcoming Wii U and 3DS games. Sure, Sony and Microsoft clearly have more games on display – Sony has over 70 at its booth – but it’s Nintendo that has the crowd buzzing and excited. Even more telling were some of the empty kiosks at both Sony and Microsoft, while you’d be testing your patience at Nintendo to check out Splatoon hands on. So what’s changed? Has the buzz behind the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One already died off?
Not quite. Both Sony and Microsoft have strong showings at this year’s E3, revealing numerous exclusives with plenty to be excited about for both consoles. But as Nintendo’s Reggie Fils-Aime put so eloquently during the company’s E3 2014 Digital Event, “those of us who love Nintendo know that no matter what’s going on in our lives, we can always count on these games to deliver fun and great gameplay. Because it’s Nintendo.” And that’s exactly what the company has filled its booth with this year: fun games with great gameplay.
Only Nintendo and its developers can make you smile ear-to-ear with a dinosaur made from yarn
It’s really little surprise that there’s so much excitement surrounding the release of Super Smash Bros. for the Wii U and 3DS, but this sort of excitement is exactly what Nintendo needs to have faith that its Wii U console isn’t on life support, despite poor sales since its debut. The company is well aware that third-party developers aren’t entirely sold on the idea of the Wii U’s GamePad, so they’ve tasked Shigeru Miyamoto with innovating the GamePad and showing the world the cool things it can do. Even though Star Fox wasn’t on the show floor, Miyamoto’s other two projects, Project Guard and Project Giant Robot were. And from a firsthand experience spending time with both concepts, you’d walk away convinced that with a little ingenuity, the Wii U’s GamePad could really change how we game. During one session of Project Guard, it’s as if Nintendo watched its concept come to life: the crowd was yelling at the player different numbers and cameras to focus on, while the player himself was busy trying to manage everything that was going on. Those waiting in line were “playing” the game without actually playing the game.
You know Nintendo is having a strong show when its upcoming Pokemon games and the latest Mario Party installment isn’t even the focus of its massive booth. In the corner was a giant display for Splatoon, a game no one saw coming, but now has everyone buzzing. Splatoon does what many would argue only Nintendo can do: spin a competitive game to a fun-filled, lighthearted experience that won’t cause frustration, but rather creates laughs and smiles for everyone competing in the 4 vs. 4 mayhem. Splatoon is a bit Counter-Strike and a bit Team Fortress 2 but offers an entirely different experience. That’s because instead of using guns, we’ve got colored ink; and instead of soldiers we have squidlike creatures. Again, it’s Nintendo doing what Nintendo does best with family-friendly fun.
Project Giant Robot might just be a concept, but its ideas could be applied to numerous future games from Nintendo
Anti-Nintendo fans would call the game a casual take on the shooter genre, but Splatoon has layers of depth that will surely make it a competitive game, especially if the online play is robust. As you coat the ground with your team’s ink, you can dive and swim through it at high speed or slip under obstacles. Spray the walls and you’ll be able to climb them, or while standing still on your ink, you can effectively become invisible to the enemy. Head onto your enemy’s inked territory and there’s a sharp contrast in playstyle. Your character will be bogged down, moving at a sluggish pace, and if you get sprayed by the enemy’s ink, you’ll “die” and respawn after a few seconds. The goal is to capture the most territory through inking before time runs out, making Splatoon not about who scores the most kills, but rather which team works together to achieve its goal. What makes Splatoon so amazing is that no one heard about it before E3 2014 and now it’s one of the most exciting games for 2015.
Last year, Nintendo’s major announcement for Super Smash Bros. was the addition of Mega Man to the roster. This year, the company announced the addition of Pac-Man to Super Smash Bros. casually, as if it was just another item it had to cross off its E3 2014 to-do list. To be clear, this isn’t the same Nintendo that was at last year’s E3. This year, Nintendo came prepared with an onslaught of announcements that will certainly leave consumers wondering if they should be investing into a Wii U or 3DS if they haven’t done so already. Best of all, the show isn’t over yet and Nintendo still has a major announcement to make for its 3DS console, which is rumored to be The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask remake. That announcement will come shortly, but don’t be surprised if Nintendo has something up its sleeve for tomorrow as well.
The crowd at Nintendo’s booth really got into Project Guard
Here’s what the company has announced or is showing off at E3 2014: Splatoon, Mario Maker, Fantasy Life, Bayonetta, Bayonetta 2, Hyrule Warriors, Art Academy for Wii U, Captain Toad Treasure Tracker, Devil’s Third, Mario Party 10, Yoshi’s Woolly World, Mario vs. Donkey Kong, Affordable Space Adventures, Xenoblade Chronicles X, Kirby and the Rainbow Curse, Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright, Pokemon Art Academy, Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes 2.0 Edition, The Legend of Zelda Wii U, Star Fox Wii U, Wii Sports Club, Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition, Just Dance 2015, LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham, Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate, Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse, Siesta Fiesta, Shovel Knight, Skylanders Trap Team, Sonic Boom, Swords & Soldiers II, Theatrhythm Final Fantasy Curtain Call, 6180 the Moon, A. N. N. E, Armillo, Blast ’em Bunnies, Chariot, Chromophore: The Two Brothers Director’s Cut, Citizens of Earth, Cubemen 2, Gunman Clive 2, Nihilumbra, One Piece Unlimited World Red, PAC-MAN and the Ghostly Adventures 2, Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy, Pier Solar and the Great Architects, STARWHAL: Just the Tip, Tappingo 2, Tengami, Teslagrad, Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL World Duel Carnival, Watch_Dogs, Woah Dave! and Wooden Sen’SeY.
That’s a lot of titles to be excited about for two consoles that many believed were on life support before they were even released. The 3DS was mocked and laughed at when it debuted, but is now one of the best-selling consoles worldwide. Even more telling are all the people walking around with their 2DS or 3DS in their hands at E3 2014, not only taking advantage of StreetPass, but passing the time while waiting in line to check out other games. That’s right, people are playing Nintendo games while waiting in line to play Nintendo games… or even better, Sony games or Microsoft games.
It’s strange to see this franchise not at the center of attention
Perhaps in a way Nintendo has finally embraced the fact that it doesn’t need to appeal to so-called hardcore gamers in order to be successful. Those third-party “mature” titles such as Tom Clancy’s The Division, Call of Duty and Battlefield series might not even belong on the Wii U. That’s because Nintendo has always been synonymous with fun and great gameplay, and sometimes it’s easy to argue that cross-platform games doesn’t offer either. Over the decades that Nintendo has been a competitor in the video game industry, it’s always taken the safer, more family-oriented route. Back in the Super Nintendo Entertainment System vs. Sega Genesis days, teenagers would laugh at pro-Nintendo gamers because Mortal Kombat lacked blood. Instead, Nintendo’s version had… sweat. Yes, sweat. A series that was known for its vicious violence was toned down to to a vanilla fighting game. But fast forward all those years and Nintendo is adamant to sticking to that family-fun formula and finding a way to make it work.
And all this doesn’t even touch on the company’s Amiibo announcement. If the Skylanders and Disney Infinity franchises are any indication, Nintendo is potentially growing money on trees with its new Amiibo figurines. Of course the success of Amiibo depends on the development and implementation into current and future Wii U games, but let’s face it, money will be spent on those figurines – and lots of it. Imagine a world where there’s a Pokemon game on the Wii U and there’s Pokemon Amiibos. You’re gonna want to collect them all in the game and in real life.
Nintendo’s Amiibos are going to be wildly successful
The reality is, the current generation of consoles is no longer a Sony vs. Microsoft, PlayStation 4 vs. Xbox One battle. Both of those consoles have to look over their shoulders for the Wii U. The most unfortunate thing? Many of the games on display at E3 2014 for Nintendo will be released next year, but Super Smash Bros. should do more than enough to tide gamers over until 2015. Now if Nintendo can only figure out how to make online play more user friendly and intuitive…