E3 2014: Nintendo Direct

Date Posted Author
16th June 2014 Richard Pilot

Nintendo had a lot to live up to this year. The general consensus is that whilst being a pretty good machine, the Wii U is failing to engage with the majority of gamers and in general has a lack of support, notably its third party lineup. In its defense it had a hard task, with over a hundred million units sold, its predecessor, the Wii, did exceptionally well. Once again Nintendo is sticking to its Nintendo Direct approach, streaming videos rather than having a live event. What exciting announcements did they have in store?

The show opened with two Nintendo bigwigs fighting Smash Bros-style. In the last moments of the battle, Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata retrieved a Mario figurine from his pocket and placed it on the Wii U gamepad prompting Mario to appear in the fight. Not only was this an amusing intro for the show, it also serves to show off Amiibo. That's the name for Nintendo's entry into the "toys to life" genre made popular by the Skylanders and Disney Infinity games. Amiibo makes use of the relatively unused NFC chip in the Wii U gamepad. Nintendo figures have a chip in them that can store and transmit data. This data will allow for little extras in upcoming Nintendo titles starting with Super Smash Bros and Mario Kart 8. Over time these characters can be levelled up across games, although there's no word yet about what these characters will do with their 'powers'.

Over the course of the stream, Nintendo revealed new titles featuring familiar characters. Toad gets his own Wii U game, Captain Toad Treasure Tracker, a platformer set on really small, tightly-focussed vignettes, due out in the holidays. We also saw a new Kirby game, Kirby and the Rainbow Curse, and much like Epic Yarn before it, Kirby has another visual gimmick, this time being presented in the style of claymation. Speaking of Epic Yarn, there was an in-depth look at Yoshi's Wooly World, a game featuring our favourite green dinosaur where everything is comprised of wool. It is 3D-focussed compared to Kirby's 2D outing, but offers some interesting yarn-based gameplay mechanics. Rather than carrying eggs behind him, Yoshi carries balls of wool and can throw them to destroy enemies (which burst into strands of thread) as well as to throw a second player, if playing cooperatively. The game is due out in 2015.

It should be no surprise that Nintendo are hard at work on a new Zelda game and we got a brief look at what they're working on it. Speaking about the game, they looked at the game's roots and liked how the earlier games felt connected unlike more recent titles like Wind Waker which felt like isolated islands (which they were). The new game features a large open world where the player could explore everything in sight including the distant mountain tops. We saw a brief battle cinematic before the reveal that the game will be out sometime in 2015.

A bunch of other games made an appearance including Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, dated for 21st Nov, Bayonetta 2, due in October with a copy of the first game, and Xenoblade Chronicles, due next year. Hyrule Warriors, the Zelda hack-and-slash, was given a date of 26th September. Gameplay footage of the game was also shown and will feature two player co-op, one playing on the gamepad and the other on the TV. The penultimate game reveal was for Mario Maker, a game that allows you to create your own Mario Bros. levels (presumably to share with friends). The game even allows you to switch art style between classic Mario Bros and the 3D style of the series' most recent Wii U outings. Like many of the titles we saw, it's due out next year.

Nintendo saved the best till last when it revealed it was working on a new IP in the form of Splatoon, a four versus four online multiplayer game. Players are equipped with paint guns which they use to literally cover the entire arena in paint. The team who has covered the most area at the end of the game wins. The level will quickly get covered in the two teams' paint and that's where players' second ability comes into effect. They can take the form of a squid and dive into the paint they've just used. This allows for a number of interesting gameplay mechanics like hiding from enemies or quickly swimming around the arena. The catch is that paint from the opposing team slows you down allowing opponents to block off sections of the arena forcing you to come out of hiding. An overview map on the gamepad gives hints to the locations of enemy players by looking for the changing colour of the map. It looked like a smart and innovative new game and we look forward to getting our hands on it when it comes out next year. Other titles were shown off on Nintendo's YouTube channel, and other E3 coverage included the reveal that Miyamoto is working on two new IPs, and there's also a Wii U StarFox game in the works, although this was strangely omitted from the Nintendo stream itself.

Nintendo has proved with this year's E3 showing that they still have the capacity to produce new and exciting titles as well as traditional Nintendo hits. However, the lack of any references to third parties means that the Wii U will still be a secondary console for most players.

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