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 Skyrim, Rocket 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 Odyssey, Metroid, 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.