Chris: Is this possible? Is this real life? Could Nintendo actually be paying attention to its media presence?
Think about it. A lot of what we saw in Nintendo’s conference was specifically for fans of their games. There was a Luigi Death Stare sighting. There was a cute little reference to Mother 3. There was a screenshot from Brawl with Mario, Sonic, Mega Man and Pac-Man duking it out — who would have thought those franchises would ever come together?
Nintendo is never going to change certain things about its core principles. They’re going to continue to focus on couch co-op over online play, for example. But to me, I appreciate that stubbornness most of the time. I like that I can depend on the company to deliver a couple A+ first-party titles every year.
Let’s break this down a little.
— Zelda: You don’t need me to tell you how pretty that demo looked. I’m sure there will be a handful of people who will bitch about how this game (in which Link seems like a hybrid of his Wind Waker and Skyward Sword iterations) isn’t at all like the tech demo they showed at last year’s E3. Those people can shut up. An open-world Zelda might be the ultimate game in this series, and I ended up liking the ability to pick the order of my dungeons in Link Between Worlds.
— Smash Bros.: A couple cool reveals, a big tournament, and a metric TON of potential game modes for the 3DS version. Can’t really complain. The release date delay doesn’t surprise me — in fact, the portable version coming out so many months ahead of the Wii U one seemed silly, especially with the U’s struggles. Can we please get a full-length anime like the first minute of Palutena’s reveal trailer? That’d be super.
— Star Fox: I’m cautiously optimistic. A rail shooter shouldn’t be that difficult to put together, yet here we are without a true successor to Star Fox 64 and it’s been 17 years. If the two-screen control scheme works as intended, this could be a lot of fun.
— Mario Maker: Maybe my favorite reveal because we didn’t really see it coming. The debut trailer was cute, and by all accounts the interface is extremely easy to use. Nintendo is slowly but surely embracing more created content like this (think back to the stage builder in Smash Bros. Brawl) and it will only improve their accessibility with fans. I loved the goombas on trampolines, the pyramids of turtles and the blocked exit path. Some creative people are going to make some very clever stages.
There were plenty of other things to like. Yarn Yoshi. Mario Party. More Xenoblade Chronicles. More Kirby. Some unique new IPs like Project Guard. I don’t really care about Amiibo or Captain Toad, and it’s a tiiiiny bit disappointing not to see anything for Metroid. But other than those minor gripes? Nintendo delivered in just about every way I could have expected. Grade: A
Shaun: Thank you, Nintendo. Thank you for restoring my faith. Thank you for not making me feel like I’m not crazy when I continued to defend you year after year. Most of all, thank you for making my purchase of a Wii U feel completely comfortable and justified now.
Obviously, the big news was the new Zelda. And holy cow, what an announcement it was. Taking a queue from Mass Effect’s “announcement,” Zelda’s involved producer Eiji Aonuma (aka the next Miyamoto when it comes to Zelda) chatting about how the series is moving forward. Except there were a few differences. Like it wasn’t just developers talking in a dark room while sharing stuff we already know. And it offered a fascinating glimpse into the thinking process that goes behind every new Zelda game. And it actually offered a clip.
And, the clip was stunning. A (admittedly feminine) Link riding a horse through a lush, beautiful mountain landscape. A….spider thing running behind him, shooting explosive lasers. Link going all Legolas on it and firing a variety of arrows, including a futuristic looking one like it was pulled straight from Tron. That, combined with the idea that every piece of the world can be entered from any direction (rather than set points of exits and entries like previous Zelda games), make this easily among my most anticipated games right now. I doubted Skyward Sword, and it was amazing. I won’t make that same mistake again.
And, for the record, if they decided to make Link a girl, I’m down. Do it Nintendo. You need to prove you can promote female empowerment again after your recent handlings with Metroid.
Speaking of which…so I get that Chris was disappointed by no mention of Metroid, and honestly, I am too. But the silver lining here, and my hope, is that they’re really taking their time, and completely rethinking Metroid, both from a gameplay and story perspective. Let this one gestate. I think we’ll all be better for it.
Meanwhile, another old, beloved franchise, Star Fox, is again seeing the light of day, and I’m stoked. The idea that the gamepad is going to represent the cockpit from a first person view sounds so cool to me, and really, it’s just been too long since I’ve delved into the world of Fox and co., and I’m so excited to return.
Two of the all time greatest franchises announced sequels, and we’re not even done yet. We’re getting more Kirby. More Smash Bros. And the Devil’s Third being a Wii U exclusive, along with Bayonetta 2? The Wii U is becoming the console for great action games. If the Devil’s Third delivers anywhere near the level that Ninja Gaiden attained (one of the greatest action games ever made), then the Wii U is in very good shape.
My only disappointment? No mention of a new Fire Emblem. I know Awakening really didn’t release all that long ago, but the fact that it’s now in the discussion for one of the greatest RPGs of all time makes me crave some affirmation that another one is coming.
Still, can’t complain too much about what wasn’t there when so much was delivered. Nintendo has ignited their fanbase again, right when they needed to. Now they just need to keep that momentum going. Grade: A