Ever Oasis: Early Impressons

Image From Nintendo UK

Last year, Nintendo casually announced that it was developing “a new role-playing IP for Nintendo 3DS,” making fans salivate over the prospect of yet another incredible IP in Nintendo’s stable. That IP turned out to be Ever Oasis, an RPG/city-building combination that’s one part Secret Of Mana, one part Animal Crossing. While the game has gotten a bit lost in all the recent Switch hype, Nintendo dropped a (really) short demo of the game during this year’s E3 to let players test drive the game before it releases next month tomorrow?! Geez, this one really did up sneak up on me…

I’m a sucker for RPGs in general, but I wasn’t the biggest fan on Secret Of Mana’s real-time combat system (trying to coordinate my characters was always a nightmare), so I was curious to see how Ever Oasis iterated/improved on the concept. What I found, unfortunately, was that Ever Oasis actually took a few steps backwards when compared to its spiritual predecessor. My detailed thoughts on the game are as follows:

  • The biggest differentiator between Ever Oasis and Miitopia is how much control the player has: Miitopia‘s segmented, automatically-traversed worlds and autonomously-combating allies limits the amount of control the player has, while Ever Oasis‘s open-world design and real-time battle system gives the player much more freedom to explore and strategize. I’m split on which one I like better: I prefer the open world of Ever Oasis, but found the methodical combat style of Miitopia much more enjoyable.
  • So what’s wrong with Ever Oasis‘s combat system anyway? I have three specific complaints:
    • I usually find real-time combat systems to be overly hectic, and prefer to have time to catch my breath and plot my next move. In previous real-time RPG combat games I’ve played (Secret of ManaBaldur’s Gate II), I was able to create this space by just pausing the game to survey the field and decide who to attack, what spells and items to use, etc. Ever Oasis, however, only lets you pause the game to use healing items, and doing so takes you to a separate menu screen that blocks you view of the battle. Despite the additional control Ever Oasis gives you over Miitopia, the game doesn’t seem to give you the fine-grained control I need in combat.
    • Secret of Mana‘s overhead POV, in contrast, let you see enough of the surrounding area to know where enemies were positioned at all times. In contrast, Ever Oasis‘s third-person behind-the-back camera gives you a very limited view of the battlefield, and if you’re dealing with multiple enemies, it’s all too easy (and incredibly frustrating) to be surprised by enemies attacking from beside or behind you because you just don’t see them. I found myself frequently fleeing from a fight and then spinning the camera around to get a wider view of the terrain and see who I should attack next.
    • The button-mapping for switching between party members made the maneuver more awkward than it should have been, as it required pulling your thumb off the analog stick to make the switch. Mapping that control to the R button (which didn’t seem to do anything in the demo) would have been a better choice, since your finger is already positioned to use it. (While this change would mean losing the ability to choose which party member to jump to, you only have a 3-person party, so one extra button click wouldn’t be much more of a hassle.)
  • I also had an issue with how restrictive the equipment and experience systems were in the demo: Experience points and levels are only awarded to your party after returning to the oasis after a campaign, and equipment can only be switched by walking all the way to your house in the farthest corner of the oasis. This bizarre setup means that the game seems to encourage aimless grinding, as you get no benefit from the journey to beat a boss until after you beat it, and thus need to make sure you’re already strong enough (and have good enough weapons) before you set out to find it!
  • On the plus game, the developers absolutely nailed the atmospheric aspects of the game. The areas are well-designed, the graphics are solid, and the music is so epic it sound like it was pulled from a movie score. (Unfortunately, we don’t a huge glimpse of the story in the demo.) It’s easily one of the most-immersive worlds I’ve seen on the 3DS.
  • While the demo gives us a little insight into how to build your oasis, it doesn’t give us much of an idea of its importance, and thus it comes off as a bit trivial and unimportant. I would have liked to see that fleshed out a bit more.

Ever Oasis wasn’t nearly as compelling as I had hoped, but the demo was also very short and combat-focused, and it glossed over some important mechanics (especially with regards to growing the oasis). I’m going to need more information before deciding whether or not to take the plunge on this game, but as it stands, I would recommend grabbing Miitopia if you’re only planning on buying one of the two.

Song Review: Luke Combs, “When It Rains It Pours”

Ever since I gave Lauren Alaina’s “Doin’ Fine” a 7 out of 10 nearly a month ago, I’ve been stuck in a rut of musical mediocrity. The moment I heard the opening of Luke Combs’s “When It Rains It Pours,” however, I knew that things were about to change.

I was lukewarm on Combs’s debut single “Hurricane,” and greeted the news of its topping the charts with a shrug. I’d watched enough artists struggle to repeat the success of a smash hit debut (does anyone remember A Thousand Horses, or William Michael Morgan?) to know that maintaining radio momentum can be harder than earning it in the first place, so I was curious to see if Combs could repeat his debut feat or just fade back into obscurity. After hearing “When It Rains It Pours,”  I think he’s end up closer to the former option, because this is the most flat-out fun song I’d heard in a while.

The production here has a distinctly neotraditional edge to it, with a rollicking 90s-era electric guitar doing the heavy lifting for the melody. The percussion is real, and there’s both a steel and an acoustic guitar floating around in the background (and maybe a fiddle in spots? It’s hard to tell), but the lead guitar is the big draw here, as it establishes a fun, positive atmosphere, builds and maintains energy on both the verses and chorus, and even turns in a Brad Paisley-esque solo on the bridge. (Seriously, the guitar’s tone and the player’s technical skill makes you wonder if Paisley might actually be playing on this track.) It’s the kind of uptempo, energetic track you want to blast from your car speakers as you’re flying down the highway with the windows down.

Combs delivers a great performance here, and while his range and flow are not showcased much, he does a great job selling the song through his enthusiasm and energy—he sounds like he’s having an absolute blast! While I wouldn’t say Combs offers anything unique with his delivery (give it to any other male country singer, and it would probably sound about the same), it’s his earnestness and believability that let him really connect with his listeners and take this track to another level, much more so than on “Hurricane.” Combs demonstrates the sort of populist appeal on this song that makes me think he’s got a bright future in this league.

Lyrically, the song takes the usual post-breakup heartbreak trope and turns it on its ear, and instead describes an incredible streak of post-breakup luck that the narrator attributes to his ex’s leaving. (As a side note, the title’s use of rain imagery is a great head fake that makes the listener think they’re about to hear a sad song.) The song starts a bit slow, as the writing on the first verse isn’t terribly sharp and forces Combs to overstretch some syllables, but it quickly tightens up starting with the first chorus, and while some of the imagery is a bit generic, other scenes are refreshingly unique—how often do songs mention winning a radio contest or a Moose Club raffle? (Also, the “ex future mother-in-law” phrase is a personal favorite of mine.) While the writing hints that the narrator is a bit too fond of nightlife and may not really deserve their good fortune, Combs’s charisma and energy makes the narrator a sympathetic, relatable character, ensuring that the track maintains its fun, lighthearted vibe.

Overall, “When It Rains It Pours” is a great song that features classic production, interesting lyrics, and a strong delivery from Luke Combs. It’s a step or two above “Hurricane,” and makes me more optimistic about the future of both Combs and the country genre as a whole. After a month-long dry spell of mediocre music, this song was truly a refreshing blast of rain.

Rating: 8/10. Definitely check this one out.

Miitopia: Early Impressions

Avengers assemble! …Assemble the goofiest costumes you can think of, that is.

While the Nintendo Switch is riding high off of its incredible sales numbers and exciting E3 game reveals, the 3DS has quietly positioned itself to have a nice little 2017 of its own. Much like its younger, more-expensive brother, the 3DS has quite a few quality titles coming out this year, including a pair of new intriguing first-party IPs from Nintendo itself. The one I’m most excited about is Miitopia, the customizable RPG adventure that lets you cast anyone you want as the heroes, villians, and even random NPCs.

I blasted through the Miitopia demo Nintendo released in just two sittings (not because it’s short, but because I’m easily hooked by anything RPG-esque), and found it to be engaging, charming, and above all a ton of fun. My more-detailed thoughts on the demo are as follows:

  • The Mii characters are the true draw here, and their interactions with each other are just adorable. From their emotive expressions to their wacky conversations, the game is less about saving the world and more about seeing what sort of hijinks you characters get into as their relationships grow. (While characters can antagonize each other in theory, this rarely happened during my playthrough, and things tended to trend towards positive relationships.) All of the personalities you can assign have both positive and negative attributes that can affect them in battle (for example, a “cautious” personality will sometimes take longer to attack, but will deal extra damage when they finally unleash their fury). The only trouble I ran into was when my “kind” fighter refused to strike an enemy on consecutive turns (dude, you’re my only source of consistent damage! Just close your eyes or something!).
  • You only have a limited amount of control of your party, but it doesn’t detract from the gameplay—in fact, I thought it enhanced some interactions. You can’t help but chuckle when a character asks to buy a super-cool new weapon, but ends up coming back with an HP banana instead.
Occasionally your characters will test out different hair styles, although the change doesn’t persist past the initial encounter.
  • You also only have direct control over your initial hero in battle, but the AI is pretty smart and tends to make good decisions based on the situation. Your allies gang up on enemies to take them down quickly (and seem to take cues from you when there are multiple potential targets), they make good use of their magic to blast foes or heal allies, and generally play to the strengths of their class.
  • The inn-based shenanigans are by far the most fun part of this game, and since there’s an inn at the end of every level, you get plenty of chances to mess around with your characters. The feeding mechanic (giving food to party members to boost their stats) is really fun to play around with, as each character has a specific set of tastes which must be learned through experimentation. Also, the outlandish outfits that characters ask for when it comes time to upgrade their equipment is just hysterical. (My fighter ended up looking like a bee, while my cleric decided to rock the “Victorian-era maiden” look.)
Callie is definitely not on Team Goblin Ham.
  • While the character interactions are the key draw of the game, I wish the game featured a bit more combat. While feeding your party members and giving them gold to buy items is one of the best parts of the game, I constantly found myself short of the food and money necessary to drive these interactions. More fighting would mean more gold and more food, which in turn would show off more character personality through meals and spending sprees.
  • Although enemies seem to make a habit of distributing their attacks across your party, the fights still offered a decent challenge, especially when facing a larger group or a boss. The battle system reminded me a bit of Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam in that you have a ton of options in battle (attacks, magic, sprinkles, safe spot management, etc.), but the battles are a bit more difficult to account for these options. Luckily, there’s also an inn at the end of the every area that lets you heal and upgrade your party.
  • While the story is interesting by itself (a Dark Lord has stolen people’s faces), the presence of an omnipotent dues ex machina that randomly grants you powers and summons new party members feels kind of awkward, at least in the early stages of the game. Nevertheless, things progress smoothly and naturally once the stage is set in the beginning.
  • The game takes a page from Animal Crossing with its amiibo compatibility, with specific characters granting you special costumes for your characters. While the costumes are all sorts of awesome (they range from cute to hilarious), they also take the place of your regular armor, and since the costumes don’t give you any sort of defensive boost, you’re likely going to have to abandon them pretty quickly in favor of the regular equipment. Still, it’s nice to see the amiibo play a noticeable role in a game, because it seems like that doesn’t happen as often as it should.
Saving the world’s faces is a tiring business.

Overall, I really enjoyed the Miitopia demo, and can’t wait to try the full game when it drops next month. It’s a fun, quirky game with a lot of personality, yet it still has the heart and soul of a full-fledged RPG. The demo is available now from the 3DS e-Shop, and I’d encourage anyone who is interested in the game to download it and give it a try.

Song Review: Shania Twain, “Life’s About To Get Good”

This song’s title is ironically appropriate, because “git gud” is exactly what I’d tell everyone associated with it.

Shania Twain was the unquestioned queen of country music in the late 90s, and rode her success all the way to becoming the highest-selling female country music artist of all time (in fact, Wikipedia claims her total record sales rival those of Beyoncé). Twain abdicated her throne in the mid 2000s, however, and has stayed mostly out of the public eye ever since. “Life’s About To Get Good” is the leadoff single for Twain’s first album since 2004’s Greatest Hits, and I’ll be frank: Everyone from Twain to the producers to the record label should be embarrassed that this song saw the light of day in its current form, because it sounds awful, and it didn’t have to be this way.

Production-wise, this is the most artificial-sounding song I’ve heard in a long time. The song opens with some bizarre synthetic tones (which plague the listener throughout the track) and a bass drum, and slowly adds more instruments as it goes along: First an acoustic guitar, then a drum machine, and eventually even a banjo, organ, and fiddle. The problem is that everything here, including the background vocals, is buried under a mountain of strange and unnecessary effects, which makes the whole thing sound hollow and contrived. The overload of audio filters detracts from the fun, optimistic atmosphere the song tries to establish (which honestly feels a bit too light and fluffy given the lyrics), and whoever produced this junk needs to be put into time-out and forced to think about what they’ve done.

If you listen hard enough to the vocals, you can hear just enough of the classic Twain sound here to know that she still has the charismatic, emotive delivery and sound that she rode to fame over a decade ago. For some reason, however, the producers decided to bury her underneath the same unsubtle mountain of filters as the rest of the production, making her sound blatantly auto-tuned and garbling her vocals to the point that you have no idea what she’s saying at times. I don’t know whose bright idea it was to take a proven performer like Twain and mess with her vocals like this, but it was a bad, bad, bad idea.

Lyrically, the song is a power anthem from a narrator who is finally ready to move on from a failed relationship, and proclaims that their future is bright and that “life’s about to get good.” It’s not a particularly deep or sharply-written song (the “life’s about to get good” hook is repeated a million times and get old quickly), and the pain of the past breakup is glossed over by the sunny production, but it’s no less cheesy than some of the romantic tunes Twain sung to great effect in her heyday. My biggest problem here is that the listener is forced to look up the lyrics because of the vocal effects, undermining whatever meaning the song had and keeping the focus on the sound rather than the writing.

Overall, “Life’s About To Get Good” is an aggravating track that grates on the listener’s ears like sandpaper, and should be placed in every recording studio on Earth as a warning about the dangers of overproduction. While here are pieces of what could have been a decent song here (Shania Twain’s voice, the traditional instrumentation, the passable writing), it is completely ruined by the sausage factory that in the modern production process. If Twain was looking to make a grand comeback, she isn’t going to pull it off with this garbage.

Rating: 3/10. Avoid this track like the plague.

Song Review: Lee Brice, “Boy”

When I listen to Lee Brice’s “Boy,” I can’t help but feel like something’s missing. The question is, which one of us is missing something, Brice or me?

I’ve had mixed feelings about Brice’s singles in the past: For every enjoyable track like “I Drive Your Truck” or “I Don’t Dance,” there’s a clunker like “Parking Lot Party” or “That Don’t Sound Like You.” “Boy” is Brice’s first new release in two years and serves as the leadoff single for his upcoming album, and it’s been getting some pretty decent critical buzz, even from the country traditionalist crowd. To my ears, however, the song is lacking that one critical piece that keeps it from resonating with me, and ends up sounding just okay as a result.

The production is incredibly sparse and restrained, with only an acoustic and electric guitar to carry the melody and a quiet (real) drum set keeping time. Despite the presence of a steel guitar that provides some background tones and a nice instrumental on the bridge, there’s a distinctly modern tone to the instruments here: The electric guitar is moody instead of meaty, and the snare drum sounds about as synthetic as a real drum can get. However, the mix succeeds in setting a calm, reflective tone that is easy on the ears while also matching the song’s subject matter very well. It’s easily the best part of the song.

I wouldn’t call Brice the strongest vocalist in the world, but he really seems to struggle on this song. He runs into trouble a few times on the verses when the song seems to drop below his range, but when he tries to infuse some power into his performance during the choruses and bridge, his delivery becomes labored and his voice sounds more hoarse and raspy than usual (thankfully, he doesn’t quite reach Kip Moore levels of raspiness). While Brice has delivered some charismatic, believable performances on his past material, he doesn’t quite reach the level of earnestness needed here to really sell the track, and he doesn’t compare favorably to his competition (Zac Brown sings circles around Brice on “My Old Man”). While Brice’s performance here is still passable, it detracts from the sort of impact the song is trying to make.

The lyrics of “Boy” depict a father telling his newborn son what to expect from his life in the future, and touching on the cycle from being a boy to being the father of one. While the writing features some confusing lines (if the kid is supposedly an infant, can you really tell him that “That fire in your eyes is twenty counties wide” and “you weren’t built for backing down?”), it’s a nice story overall and a huge step up from the lyrics of a lot of songs on the radio today. However, the song is obviously aiming for an emotional reaction (either via nostalgia or current experience), and while it might hit a parent right in the feels, it completely misses the mark for anyone else. This is where my initial “missing” question comes into play: As a childless adult, I’m know I supposed to feel all mushy and sentimental when I hear this song, but…well, I just don’t. Is this because Brice doesn’t do enough to covey the song’s emotion, or because I simply don’t have the life experience to properly relate to the song? In the end, unfortunately, it’s Brice who pays the price for not connecting with his audience, regardless of the reasons why.

Overall, “Boy” is a decent song, but your mileage may vary based on your own experience. If you’ve raised a son, or are currently raising a son, this song will probably move you. If you haven’t, well, it’s still above-average compared to the rest of the songs on the radio today, but it’s nothing special.

Rating: 6/10. It’s worth a few listens to see how it impacts you.

ARMS: Is It Worth Buying?

ARMS is a rare beast from Nintendo, albeit one that’s becoming more common in recent years: A brand-new IP that takes a well-worn, well-understood genre and twists the idea in new and unexpected ways. When it clicks, as it did when Nintendo released Splatoon back in 2015, you get a fun, refreshing take on an old concept that appeals to both casual and hardcore players. When it doesn’t quite stick the landing, however, you get something like ARMS.

To be fair, there’s a lot to like about the game’s design. The characters are unique and memorable, the different “arms” (hands, really) allow you to customize your character to best suit your playstyle, and the online lobby setup may be the best that Nintendo has ever developed. The inclusion of both ranked and unranked (“Party Match”) also allows players to take the game as seriously or casually as they want.

Despite all this, however, there are a couple of glaring issues that detract from the game’s fun:

  • Even with the wide variety of controller options, I never found one that felt truly comfortable while playing the Global Testpunch. The motion controls, while much improved from the Wii era, are still a bit too awkward for prime time: I ended up ‘flicking’ the Joy-Cons more than actually punching, and trying to move them in tandem to block or strafe never felt natural enough to pull off in the heat of the moment. Several traditional controller options exist (single Joy-Con, both Joy-Cons in their grip, the Pro Controller), and while they felt more familiar for some moves, other techniques (such as curving punches) became harder and more frustrating.
  • The available battle modes varied a lot in quality. One-on-one and team battles were exciting and well-balanced, but V-Ball (volleyball but with explosives) seemed to devolve into flailing at the ball as past as you could, and the three-player free-for-alls were an absolute nightmare due to the game’s poorly-placed and poorly-explained targeting controls. I didn’t play the B-Ball (like basketball, except you’re grabbing and dunking your opponent instead of a ball), but it didn’t look to be any more engaging than V-Ball.
  • The single-player gameplay looked to be about as thin as most other fighting games: You fight your way up a ladder of challengers, defeat a boss at the end, and…you do it all over again at a higher difficulty. While other Nintendo games admittedly do the same thing (Mario Kart cups are just repeated races, after all), ARMS just didn’t hold my interest in the same way that MK8D did. Part of this is due to the environment’s limited role: Where MK8D tracks fundamentally changed the way you drove, there wasn’t enough variation in the ARMS stages to vary your fighting style.

In the end, ARMS just doesn’t interest me the way a lot of recent Nintendo games have. If you’re already a fan of fighting games, it’s worth a look because of its unique take on the genre, but if you’re not, I’m not sure there’s enough here to hold your interest. That may change in the future, however, as Nintendo has committed to a Splatoon-like release of free new content over the new few months. I would recommend that non-fighting-game fans avoid picking this one up on day one, and instead keep an eye on it for a while (and try it before you buy it, if you get the chance) and see if Nintendo adds some new modes before taking the plunge.

As it is, I’ll be saving my money and waiting to join my fellow Inklings on Salmon Runs in Splatoon 2.

My Reaction To The Nintendo E3 Presentation

Nintendo’s E3 presentations have gotten mixed reviews in recent years, but this year’s seemed to have a lot of promise and momentum behind it. The Switch has been selling like hotcakes, the pre-E3 2017 game lineup was already stocked with anticipated titles, and the 3DS had already seen its support guaranteed through the end of the year, so it seemed like the company was assured of a solid presentation just by giving us more information about the games we knew were coming.

Instead, Nintendo decided to shoot for the moon in 2017 and drop a few new surprises on us in addition to extended looks at the already-announced games. The decision paid immediate dividends, and the presentation is already being hailed as one of Nintendo’s strongest E3s in recent memory. I’ll gladly echo that general praise, but I wanted to dive a bit more into the details of the specific games:

  • Remember when I was talking about Mario’s Teflon shield a while ago? Its presence was never more apparent than in this year’s Nintendo’s presentation. Not only did Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle look incredible and produce a lot of “oh snap, this game actually looks really good” reaction from early doubters, but Super Mario Odyssey introduced unexpected new twists like costumes, the dumping of the extra-life mechanic, and even possessing enemies, and stuck the landing on every last one. (The dense sandboxes of Super Mario Odyssey also struck a nice contrast to the vast open world of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild.) I’m super excited for both games at this point, and don’t have to wait too long for either one (Kingdom Battle drops August 29th, while Odyssey got a surprisingly-early release date of October 27th).
  • The success of the Switch means Nintendo has no reason to hold back on using its IPs, and its presentation was a clear indication that the company is ready to empty the warrens in 2018 for the new console. Yoshi is getting a papercraft/Paper Mario makeover for his upcoming 2D platformer, Kirby is getting his first mainline console game in three years, and most importantly of all, after years of waiting, Metroid fans are finally getting a bone thrown their way in the form of Metroid Prime 4 and Metroid: Samus Returns. The Switch’s Year-2 strategy is starting to become clear, and it looks to be nearly as strong as Year 1. (My suggestion: Toss in one more tentpole franchise like Animal Crossing or Mario Maker, slap a Holiday ’18 release on whatever Smash Bros. Switch turns out to be, and kick back and watch the money roll in.)
  • The Switch’s increasingly-crowded 2017 game lineup was stoking fears that Xenoblade Chronicles 2 would get bumped in 2018, but Nintendo put these fears to rest with a new trailer and a Holiday ’17 release date. While I’ve never played an XC game before, I’m a fan of RPGs in general and this one looks interesting enough to give a second look.
  • While third-party support for the Switch will probably never reach the level that people want, the console is getting at least a few key players on board, with a Zelda-flavored SkyrimRocket League, FIFA 18, and an Ubisoft collaboration with Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle. The Switch may not have the pure horsepower to run some of the AAA behemoths on the PC, PS4, and Xbox One X, but it has enough to run the less-intensive titles, and the console’s portability is becoming a bigger selling point than I predicted (a lot of people are saying, “Hey, I want game XYZ on the go now!”).
  • The “y u no Switch?” backlash to Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon was apparently concerning enough to Nintendo for them to include a brief statement confirming that a mainline Pokémon RPG is in development for the console. Based on their statement that “it may not release for more than a year,” my guess is that it will signal the beginning of the eighth Pokémon generation, and will be released sometime in 2019 (which leaves an intriguing hole for a potential Pokémon Diamond and Pearl remake to fill in 2018…).
  • The 3DS didn’t get a whole lot of attention this time around, with only a pair of remakes (Metroid: Samus Returns and Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser’s Minions) getting much of a mention. The 3DS’s 2017 lineup was fleshed out a while ago, however, and with those games plus Pokémon on the horizon, there’s still a lot to like about Nintendo’s older handheld console.
  • I’m not a fan of fighting games, so Fire Emblem Warriors falls into the same “meh” category as ARMS and Pokkén Tournament DX for me. I’m sure fans of both the Fire Emblem and Warriors series will find something to like here, but I’ll likely pass on all three games.
  • On the flip side, my hype level for Splatoon 2 is maxed out at this point,  so the available demos and the tournament didn’t affect my opinion of the game. Nintendo tended to focus on the medium- and long-term lineup, as ARMS and Splatoon 2 are mostly known quantities that will be in our hands fairly soon (in a few days, in ARMS‘s case).
  • Who said the toys-to-life market was dying? Nintendo announced a few fresh sets of amiibo for Super Mario OdysseyMetroid, Fire Emblem Warriors, and Zelda: Breath Of The Wild (and why those Mario + Rabbids figurines are not amiibo is beyond me), and they all look pretty cool. I just wish these were integrated into more games in unique manners, instead of the generic “oh, here’s an helpful item/power-up” manner we’ve seen in a few prior games.
  • While not a Nintendo announcement, we got to see a bit more of Sonic Mania and Sonic Forces from Sega, and both look like interesting games that I want to play (although I wouldn’t say the demos increased my hype level much). My only concern is on the Forces side, where you could just feel the awkwardness of the custom avatar’s jumping mechanic coming through GameXplain’s gameplay video.

On the whole, I agree with the consensus that this was a strong presentation. Nintendo showed off the great games that were imminent, pulled out some surprises for their fall/holiday lineup, and assured gamers that their favorite franchises were not being neglected via their long-term reveals. They did everything I expected and a whole lot more, and clearly outshined their rivals at Sony and Microsoft.

Brace yourselves folks, because I’ve got a feeling this Nintendo hype train will be running at full speed for a long time.