Our Thoughts on E3 2015

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That's a wrap! With E3 2015 over, we take some time to reflect on Nintendo's presentation. Did we love it? Hate it? Were we terrified by those Muppets? (Yes.) Read on to find out our thoughts!
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The Legend of Wii U: Twilight Years
by: Paul Cunningham

Quick question – what do Kirby and the Rainbow Curse, Mario Party 10, Splatoon, Yoshi’s Woolly World, Mario Maker, Xenoblade Chronicles X, Devil’s Third, Project Guard, Project Giant Robot, Star Fox, and The Legend of Zelda have in common? They were all “2015” Wii U games showcased by Nintendo last E3. In fact, “2015” was practically a running joke during
Nintendo’s 2014 Digital Event. But what’s coming in 2016? Not much, as of right now. Zelda was delayed out of 2015 and SMT x FE will take a while to localize. Outside of those two games, however, the 2016 Wii U lineup is… well, nonexistent. Besides the lack of known 2016 games, the few newly announced 2015 Wii U games should also tell you something about the state of the console. Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash is another Mario tennis game. Mario & Sonic at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games is another Mario & Sonic Olympics game. Animal Crossing amiibo Festival is a party game spinoff. All fine games in their own right, but all safe, relatively small scale projects. We may not learn anything about NX until 2016, but boy is its presence being felt right now.

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Keep dreaming, Nintendo

Similarly, the 3DS doesn’t seem to have much left in the tank. Though a slew of new titles were announced for 2015 and early 2016, the nature of these games is telling. There’s a new Zelda title, but it’s a multiplayer spinoff running on the ALBW engine. There’s a new Metroid title, but it’s a multiplayer spinoff running on some variation of the Hunters engine. Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam is utilizing assets from both Mario & Luigi: Dream Team and Paper Mario: Sticker Star. Fire Emblem, Bravely Second, and Yo-kai Watch are either nearly or completely developed games going through the localization process. Hyrule Warriors Legends is a port. There’s a new Pokémon Mystery Dungeon game, but not a new mainline Pokémon game.

Before I go any further, let me clarify that I don’t think any of the aforementioned games will be bad or disappointing. In fact, I’m excited for and will undoubtedly enjoy most of them. But even though I haven’t provided a fully comprehensive list of upcoming Nintendo games, I think I’ve highlighted enough of them to support my “end is nigh” theory. Clearly there are more unannounced Nintendo games launching in 2016, but I bet we won’t hear much about them until the NX is fully unveiled next year. After all, why show an NX game before the NX itself?

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Which do YOU think is scariest?

Unfortunately for Nintendo, E3 success (or at least positive public perception) hinges on crazy, unexpected announcements (Shenmue 3) or major franchise reveals (Uncharted 4). If you’re like me, you’re glued to a Twitch stream or Twitter feed throughout the week because you don’t want to miss a single thrilling E3 moment. Sure, Nintendo showed off some cool games during this year’s Digital Event, but their presentation as a whole was too conservative to generate the level of excitement E3 demands. So, even though I’ll be playing great Nintendo games from now until next June, I’ll be eagerly anticipating what the company has in store for us NXt year.


Surprises Still Matter
by: Matt Paczkowski

If I look back at my favorite Nintendo E3 press conferences, they all share a common thread: they surprised me. If I were to grade Nintendo solely on their Digital Event, with its considerable lack of surprises, I’d have to consider 2015 one of the company’s worst E3s in recent history (trumped by the awful E3 2008). However, it’s worth remembering that E3 is not just a one-hour press conference. It’s a week of events, and Nintendo did a lot right outside of last Tuesday’s presentation. So let’s start off with some positives before moving into the criticism.

The week started off strong with the Nintendo World Championships, an impressive five-hour live stream showcasing Nintendo’s very best IP… oh, and Balloon Fight. NWC 2015 was not only fun to watch, but also a smart way to show off new titles. The Earthbound Beginnings reveal was a fantastic opening, and the excitement culminated with a Super Mario Maker finale. We’d seen snippets of Mario Maker before, but never to this extent. The Treehouse-designed levels oozed personality, and seeing the newcomers react to the challenges in front of a live audience showcased the game much better than any demos in prior Nintendo Directs.

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The next NWC is slated for 2040.

The continued Treehouse Live at E3 stream brought the conference to our homes once again through twenty-minute segments showing off demos and developer interviews. The live stream was considerably improved this year – more streamlined and less awkward. I liked the added emphasis on indie titles and lesser-known franchises (such as a super-spooky Fatal Frame V demo), but I suspect Nintendo only included these indie titles because they didn’t have enough of their own content to show off.

Nintendo has really turned E3 into a fan’s conference, which needs to be commended. It’s just too bad that
their Digital Event was so lackluster. It’s funny, because I never dreamed that I’d use the word “lackluster” to describe an event featuring Mario, Zelda, Metroid, Fire Emblem, Mario & Luigi, Paper Mario, Yoshi, and Animal Crossing, as these are some of my favorite series ever. Yet it was lackluster – for two reasons. First, most of these games had already been covered in depth in prior Nintendo Directs. In fact, Yoshi’s Woolly World and Super Mario Maker were titles from last year’s E3, titles that should have been out by now. The fact the games were pushed into this year’s Holiday lineup (without many other releases) is a shame.

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Jeeze, isn't 94 lives enough!?

The second and more pressing matter regards the new titles. When I think of a new Zelda, I do not see a handheld online co-op title; when I think Animal Crossing for Wii U, I do not see an amiibo-style board game; when I think Paper Mario, I do not see a Mario & Luigi crossover that looks exactly the same as Dream Team; when I think Metroid, I do not see an online co-op FPS; and when I think Metroid Prime, I certainly do not see a soccer match in space. I can go on, but I’m sure you notice the trend, and I suppose you can argue that it’s unfair to fault a press conference for not living up to my expectations. But in the case of the aforementioned titles, it was only hearing the IP names (ie: “Metroid Prime”) that grabbed my attention, not the games themselves. That’s a strange reaction from a Nintendo fan, one I haven’t really experienced before.

I suppose E3 will always be a time of obnoxious CEOs using every superlative imaginable, but Nintendo continues to make their content more accessible, pushing the fun factor over the “exclusive content.” Yet, in the end, it’s still the surprise factor that keeps me coming back each June. I’ll be back next year, waiting to be wowed.

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What did you think of E3 2015? Share your thoughts in the comments!
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