Our Thoughts on E3 2014
E3 is a strange beast. I spend the whole year drooling over every morsel of Nintendo news right up until the hour of judgment, only to experience Wii-plash as soon as it’s over… but not this year. This year I had the daily drip-feed better known as the Treehouse Live @ E3 to keep me going. While the other conferences slowly faded into E3 memory, I stayed glued to Nintendo’s Twitch stream as developers and Treehouse employees provided a more in-depth and personal look at the company’s upcoming software lineup. The stream kept me well informed and even piqued my interest in games I might have otherwise overlooked.
Vandalism has never been this fun!
Case in point: Splatoon. I wasn’t overly impressed with Splatoon’s showing during the Digital Event, partly because Nintendo spent too much time showing it and partly because it was a somewhat anticlimactic game to end the presentation with. Luckily for me (and probably Nintendo as well), I watched some multiplayer matches between the Treehouse guys and the game’s developers on Twitch and, after just a few rounds, was completely sold. Splatoon not only separated itself from the ever-growing pack of military/space shooters on the market thanks to its non-violent, vibrant gameplay, but also from Nintendo’s own lineup of predictable franchises by focusing on a new genre and cast of characters.
Speaking of those predictable franchises, I couldn’t help but smile watching the footage of both Kirby and the Rainbow Curse and Yoshi’s Woolly World. The former, a follow-up to an underrated DS gem, sports a claymation Kirby and a clever touch-screen gameplay design. Though I think the game would probably work better on the 3DS, I’m excited to see Nintendo take full advantage of the Wii U’s visual capabilities using that art style. Yoshi’s new game was equally as visually impressive – how cool was it when that Shy Guy burst into strands of yarn after getting pelted by one of Yoshi’s eggs? Though I’ve never been a huge fan of Yoshi platformers, I’m rather excited to play this next installment.
Would life flash before your eyes while wearing that mask?
To wrap up: Zelda looked amazing, of course. I’m thrilled that Eiji Aonuma and his team are drawing inspiration from the original game in terms of overworld accessibility and freedom of exploration. Smash Bros. demoed incredibly well; I wish I could have been in the Nokia Theater to watch the tournament live. I need to see more of Codename: S.T.E.A.M. before I form any concrete opinions about the game, but given that I loved Fire Emblem: Awakening, I’m confident another turn-based strategy RPG from Intelligent Systems won’t disappoint. And lastly, even though I still have no idea what an amiibo is, I can’t wait to spend my life savings collecting them all (assuming they’re priced reasonably).
I have to admit it. When Nintendo first announced a “Digital Event” for this year’s E3, I was disappointed. It seemed like Nintendo was throwing in the towel and admitting defeat against heavy-hitters Microsoft and Sony. But Nintendo’s strategy had the opposite effect; this year’s E3 was a breath of fresh air that provided a fun, in-depth look at numerous games on the horizon without falling back on the stuffy, awkward discourse of live press conferences.
Go ahead. "Save Image As Desktop." We won't judge.
My biggest takeaway would have to be that amazing tease for Zelda Wii U. The presentation was perfect: Eiji Aonuma sitting in front of a white screen, discussing a return to the original title’s sense of freedom, all before that stunning cut to a living, breathing Hyrule. The open world atmosphere, the emphasis on exploration, the gorgeous art direction – the brief trailer had it all and pushed my hype to unhealthy levels. I’m counting down the days until Nintendo announces their inevitable Zelda-focused Direct.
I was also quite interested in the amiibo platform. Nintendo’s 3D design models look great, but I don’t think the platform’s functionality was clearly conveyed. There are tons of unanswered questions involving pricing, logistical issues, and gameplay mechanics, and this tease did little to articulate the true vision of amiibo’s capabilities. And are they really making these for all the Smash Bros. characters? If so, may God have mercy on my bank account.
The year Nintendo learned to print money.
Admittedly, I had a few minor issues with this year’s E3. I thought that there was far too much time spent on Splatoon and not enough time spent addressing the scarce 2014 lineup. Really, what is coming out this year besides Smash Bros. and Captain Toad? Furthermore, Miyamoto’s projects didn’t demo especially well on the show floor. Project Robot looked downright clunky, and Project Guard seemed like a minor tech demo – a terrifying one – but a tech demo nonetheless.
Overall, I’d say 2014 was one of Nintendo’s stronger E3s. From the well-produced Digital Event (complete with Reggie and Iwata fighting it out a la Smash Bros.), to the constant coverage of the Treehouse Live @ E3, to the fan favorite Smash Bros. Invitational, Nintendo brought more fans to their press conference than ever before. Sure, not everything went perfectly, but at the end of the day, Nintendo connected with fans across the globe and delivered on their promise of fun gameplay experiences through unique and colorful IPs.
The treehouse trying to determine if this is actually what Miyamoto has been working on.
Did you think this year's E3 was a massive success? A depressing failure? Somewhere in between? Share your thoughts in the comments!