Friday, 19 June 2015

So Nintendo's E3

We know this is late and E3 is now over but we thought between Sony's (in our view) highly suspect Shenmue 3 kickstarter and Nintendo's bizarre E3 we thought it best to let calmer minds prevail.

Nintendo certainly is known for doing it's own thing and their Digital Events certainly set them apart. Whereas Microsoft and Sony's big press conferences felt very much like management speeches Nintendo turned themselves into literal Muppets (with help from the Muppets creators Jim Henson Studios).

Barrel Roll
Nintendo jumped straight into their event with Star Fox Zero, we got to hear a little bit behind it's development (but not who was actually doing the development). Despite a generally warm reception the internet quickly called foul on the game's graphics, comparing it to an N64 or 3DS game. The graphics was later explained that the game is has two separate view points running at (targeted) 60FPS at the same time, effectively meaning the game was permanently split screen.

You Asked They Listened, Kinda.
This year after Legend Of Zelda was delayed into next year and then confirmed to be a no show at E3 there was 2 big games on everyone was asking for, Metroid for 3DS/Wii U and Animal Crossing Wii U. Nintendo heard that and announced two new games but they wasn't what anyone had been expecting. Metroid Prime: Federation Force, A co-op action shooter set in the same universe as the cult GameCube series, and Animal Crossing Amiibo Festival, a Amiibo powered Mario Party styled game.

Obviously this quickly annoyed fans who was expecting core entries, there is even a petition by bitter fans for Nintendo to CANCEL the Metroid games purely because of the name believing it to be an "insult" to the brand. Teasing it as an eSport title "BlastBall" a day before certainly didn't help.

Though thanks to Nintendo's Treehouse broadcast (more on that in a minute) we know it was always intended to be a Metroid game (not a conversion), It was meant for the launch for the New 3DS (not rushed), Samus will feature, The producer of the Prime Trilogy is also handling this and wanted to flesh out the Federation before making the next core game. Honestly Federation Force is a non-issue for me as I have been asking for more Luigi's Mansion style spin offs and this title is being handled by Next Level Games, the team who brought us the brilliant Luigi's Mansion 2

Animal Cross Amiibo Festival looked slow and seeing as it was Amiibo entirely powered there was concerns about how much it was going to cost the player and just how much "game" there was going to be. Everyone including us here at Game Knights expected an full Animal Crossing game that interacted with the upcoming Animal Crossing Happy Home Designer on 3DS (another Amiibo powered game). To us this was the bigger gut punch of the two because we had only recently got Mario Party. But again thanks to the Treehouse it seems likely that AC Amiibo Festival will be free and the store pre orders are for "starter packs" that feature two figure Amiibo and 3 Amiibo cards (the figures being player pieces and card unlocking Mini-games).

Deflating The Event
This has to be the weirdest thing about Nintendo's E3 2015. Over the two weeks before E3 Nintendo dropped a Micro Direct announcing several all new 3DS titles, A Devil's Third presentation confirming its August release date, A Smash Bro's Direct that showcased two (leaked) characters (Ryu and Roy) and the next wave of DLC costumes including 3rd party crossovers, and The Nintendo World Championships teased "blastball" and announced that Mother 1 would see a western VC release as Earthbound Beginnings.

This left the event with no BIG announcements and a fair amount of stuff we have already seen. With three large third party exceptions Bravely Second, Devil's Third and Project Zero/Fatal Frame and even the Indies was all absent from the main show.

Then the Bizarreness continued when the Treehouse broadcast dropped more information. Such Platinum Games are co-developing Star Fox Zero and Project Guard (not the one of the "Projects" I expected to move forward) and Project Zero/Fatal Frame hitting the west in September. Even the missing Indies appeared, With news that Steam-world Heist will be hitting the 3DS first not due to some contract but out of loyalty.

Why did Nintendo announce so much outside of its event, When it was so light on new content? pre-E3 we assumed it was down to big announcements such as Nintendo's new membership service.

The Shadow
The light content certainly did not help the shadow that hung over Nintendo's E3, the NX. Nintendo's next system was as promised absent, But NoA president Reggie fils-Amie did bring up the mysterious device at the start of the Digital Event explaining it will not be seen till next year (in a later interview he referred to the NX as home console). This brought Nintendo's new system to our minds as Nintendo showed us upcoming games and announced new B-list games, plenty of stocking stuffs but no real presents.

This isn't uncommon for Nintendo ever since they started their Directs, Usually they tend to focus on the next 4-6 months and tease something new. However next year will be the Wii U's 4th year and Nintendo consoles tend retire at 5. It's understandable that Nintendo's fans are worried that the struggling system has all ready started to wind down. Metroid Prime's producer didn't help matters saying that any follow up would be on the NX and that a Wii U versions of MP:FF was scrapped. The NX's shadow was so prevalent is prompted Miyamoto to RECONFIRM Zelda Wii U is still happening and it hadn't been shifted over to the new system.

Abe's Take
We said ourselves Nintendo had the biggest battle at this years E3. Big N had to prove the Wii U was still a console to keep/buy and ultimately the Digital Event failed. The new games they announced needed explaining better (why didn't a divisive title like MP:FF not get a better intro) and the baffling choice to strip announcements for when they needed them most just cannot be explained. Now after E3 we know a lot more about the games, they are shaping up to be quite good but there was no "tent pole" title, no "look at this" games. I'm sure there will be directs to flesh out more content in the months to come but for now things are looking... down for Wii U.

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