Nintendo’s E3 Spotlight (AKA Direct) stream was just what the doctor ordered, a short and sweet presentation showing off games coming to their platform in both the short and long term.
Again, PlayStation’s winning press conference formula was on show, with Nintendo borrowing their form and presenting a barrage of gameplay snippets and quick fire announcements, but unlike with Microsoft and Sony’s show, there were plenty of surprises. The main highlights were the announcement of a Pokémon RPG adventure being developed for the Switch, the long-awaited return of Metroid Prime 4 for Nintendo Switch, a new Kirby game and a new Yoshi game for the Nintendo Switch. Hell, even Rocket League scored a place on Nintendo’s new platform for later this year.
But it wasn’t all about new announcements, as we were also treated to new gameplay footage and release dates for previously announced games in the likes of Super Mario Odyssey, Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, Xenoblade 2, FIFA 18, Fire Emblem Heroes and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild’s two new expansions – all of which were beautiful in their own Nintendo-esque glory.
Capping all of this off, Super Mario Odyssey looks suitably crazy, opening with a T-Rex stomping into view, before we realised that, wait a second, it’s wearing Capy, Mario’s new cap with eyes? Amidst all the madness, Mario rode a scooter round New York – sorry, Donk – City, we saw new hat throwing attacks, had Mario possess a frog (which then got a Mario moustache), a Goomba, a Bullet Bill, rockets, lava balls, and basically every other imaginable thing in the game. It looks fantastic.
All of this plays to Nintendo’s core fanbase and their rather familiar stable of franchises and IP’s, though. One thing that Nintendo has deserved recognition for of late has been their willingness to create new IPs, such as Splatoon and ARMS. Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battles is a huge departure, as it smashed Ubisoft’s Rabbids into the Mushroom Kingdom and gives us XCOM-like tactical battles, but it fits into the Mario IP, and while Kirby and Yoshi can be welcomed back with open arms, they’re both side-scrolling platformers. In that regard, it could be seen that Nintendo are playing it safe.
Similarly, Nintendo did little to showcase the indie games coming to their platform. Rocket League is huge news, but not even featuring a montage with the likes of Stardew Valley and Overcooked to remind us of the breadth and depth of games on the way was a surprise and not in a good way. The presentation would have been a little bit longer, but would have reminded people of the games they might play between all those AAA first party games. Nintendo is seemingly trying to entice people to its newest console with new AAA games and with good reason, but may be a little oblivious to the gap between each of these anticipated releases on the Switch.
What we got here was a more confident and relaxed Nintendo than we’ve seen since the Wii U’s demise. Nintendo has made some good choices in showcasing its AAA titles and designing a distinct variety of games. It would have been great for them to detail some of the main Switch features we’ve been waiting for, such as the online functionality and Virtual Console. The latter in particular is something that people have wanted for some time and Nintendo still hasn’t hinted at any date or plans, which is a bit disappointing when considering we’re half way through the year. However, Direct streams aren’t just for E3, and just as with the impromptu Pokémon stream last week, Nintendo could so easily host another next week to talk about something completely different.
For that reason, Nintendo’s jam packed half hour of familiar names and faces makes a lot of sense. Instead of dwelling on the smaller things Nintendo are yet to talk about, the company delivered a bunch of pleasant surprises and have given players much-needed reassurance that both the Switch and the 3DS will be even better in months to come.
People scoffed at the Switch’s admittedly tiny launch line up, but a steady release of major exclusive games through the end of this year and into 2018 show the system is quickly coming into its own. It’s amazing that Nintendo have managed to pack so much in and reassure their early adopters within 30 minutes. Not only that, but more game announcements have followed in Nintendo’s E3 Treehouse alongside plenty of gameplay demos, so Nintendo’s still got a few tricks up its sleeve over the next coming days.