Last week, the video game industry’s largest North American tradeshow event, Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3, descended upon Los Angeles. As is the case every year, all of the major video game publishers and developers spent the better part of a week showing off new video games. And every year, everyone from industry pundits to average Joes debate about who left E3 as winners.
This year’s show was highly anticipated, as gamers were eager to see what new games will be coming to next-generation consoles. This year would be another year where Microsoft and Sony would duke it out for home console supremacy and Nintendo would sit off to the side, avoiding the confrontation.
Only no one expected Nintendo, a scrappy contender, to step out of the shadows and into the fray with news and announcements from its own digital event. Staying true to form, Nintendo marched to the beat of its own drum and showed the video game industry that the struggling Wii U is far from dead.
Nintendo chose not to present at a conference on-site in Los Angeles for a second year in a row which has been viewed with disappointment and has come to symbolize Nintendo throwing in the towel, but it was a smart move, especially this year. In letting Microsoft and Sony take center stage, Nintendo was able to separate itself from the conversation on the day of E3 conferences. This allowed Nintendo to stay out of the posturing and arguing about whose conference won the day. Nintendo created its own center stage with its pre-produced digital event the following day.
I, like so many other long-time gamers, grew up playing games on Nintendo consoles. Nintendo has been a bastion of creative and fun video games for many generations. Although many of Nintendo’s games don’t appeal to me anymore, it doesn’t change the fact that I respect and admire the confidence Nintendo has in the Wii U’s future. 2015 will be a banner year for the Wii U, provided all of the major titles Nintendo showed at E3 will arrive on time.
Nintendo spent a good portion of its presentation on the upcoming “Super Smash Bros.” which should still arrive in late 2014 for both the 3DS and the Wii U, but the most obvious blockbuster announcement was a new Legend of Zelda game. The teaser showed very little beyond a slightly different graphic style and a seemingly more open world that calls back to the original game, but Nintendo assured the public that the footage shown in its E3 reveal was actual gameplay.
It is fair to say that Nintendo has struggled with taking advantage of new trends since its success with the Wii console. E3 showed that Nintendo’s finally ready to capitalize. The amiibos, Nintendo’s answer to Activision’s Skylanders and Disney’s Infinity games utilizing toy figures, were revealed and it makes complete sense. The Skylanders and Disney Infinity series have been massive hits for their respective publishers and amiibos should do the same for Nintendo. It also revealed “Mario Maker,” a design-your-own Mario game, catering to the desires of video games that focus more on world building.
Nintendo didn’t stop there. “Yoshi’s Woolly World,” “Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker,” and “Xenoblade Chronicles X” were all revealed as 2015 releases. “Yoshi’s Woolly World” features the same yarn-based art style that “Kirby’s Epic Yarn” employed. “Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker” is a 3-D Mario-style platform game, giving Mario a break for 2015. And finally, “Xenoblade Chronicles X” is the follow up to one of the best role-playing games that no one played on the Nintendo Wii.
Nintendo established it is still a creative force to be reckoned with at E3. The Wii U may not be in the same class as the Xbox One and PS4, but it doesn’t have to be. Nintendo just needed to show it is still invested in its hardware. They accomplished that and more, making the Wii U 2015 lineup far more impressive than anyone expected it to be.
Reach the reporter at Michael.Jerome.Martin@asu.edu or follow him on Twitter at @Bizarro_Mike