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E3 2015: Sean's thoughts on Nintendo's Digital Event

by: Sean Colleli -
More On: Super Mario Maker E3 2015 Yoshi's Woolly World

Nintendo E3 press shows tend to be like Star Trek movies—with rare exception, every other one is good. Since we got an amazing show last year I was silently dreading a disappointing one this week, and unfortunately that came to pass. While Nintendo’s E3 Digital Event wasn’t a total wash it still left a lot to be desired, especially compared to all the surprises from Sony and Bethesda. There’s a lot of ground to cover so let’s get into it.

Their big push for Wii U was Super Mario Maker, which is appropriate considering this is Mario’s 30th anniversary. They announced Amiibo functionality which makes sense and allows Mario to appear like various other Nintendo mascots. All that said, Mario Maker feels like a fun eShop downloadable bonus that should have been out months ago, not a headlining fall release. That it’s still not out and Nintendo is talking it up so much is a little troubling.

Yoshi’s Wooly World is still coming, but on freaking October 16th in America. This is particularly galling considering Europe gets it this month and Japan gets it in July. The game looks fun but once again it’s something we’re waiting way too long for considering it’s another rote 2D platformer.

Xenoblade Chronicles X is finally making it's way stateside on December 4th, just in time for my birthday. This is one of the few Wii U games I’m really excited for, and if reports out of Japan are any indication it’s one of the best RPGs in years. I know localization takes a long time with massive games like this but we should have gotten a solid release date a while ago.

The only big Wii U surprise we got—and it wasn’t really even a surprise—was Star Fox Zero. Codeveloped with Platinum Games, Star Fox and team finally return in their first adventure since the 2006 DS game. The new Star Fox has a bizarre control scheme that uses the GamePad for gyro movement while keeping traditional gameplay on your TV. Miyamoto’s vague “it’s not a sequel, but it’s not a remake” comment about the story just served to confuse and annoy me. What it is then? A prequel? The last game had 9 possible endings, so I want to know what Fox and his buddies have been up to in the last 9 years. Star Fox Zero should be out this holiday.

The 3DS got a few more surprises, although I’m not sure all of them are good. The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes is a three-player cooperative title slated for a fall release. It sounds a lot like 4 Swords Adventure from back on the GameCube. Fire Emblem Fates is coming early 2016 and in two flavors as per Pokemon tradition, and I’m not sure I’m happy about that. Hyrule Warriors Legends is bringing the frenetic action to the 3DS in Q1 next year, with all of the Wii U’s DLC plus some Windwaker extras.

The weirdest 3DS surprise, however, was Metroid Prime: Federation Force. Now before you get excited, understand that this is a 4-player co-op, mission-based shooter where you and your team play as cutesy chibi-fied Galactic Federation troopers. It also includes a bizarre three-on-three multiplayer sport called Blast Ball, which sounds like Metroid Soccer. Samus isn’t mentioned in any of this. To be honest I’m glad Nintendo hasn’t completely forgotten that the Metroid series exists, but this is not the triumphant return to form I wanted after the disappointment of Metroid: Other M five years ago. All I’m saying is Retro Studios’ next game better damn well be Metroid Prime 4, starring Samus Aran.

Sadly, there wasn’t much else to get excited about in this year’s Digital Event. For the most part it was updates and release dates for games we’ve been hearing about for two years (or longer), many of them way past due. It’s nice to finally get solid dates for a lot of these games, not to mention a clear look at Star Fox, but E3 isn’t for showing off what we already know about. E3 is for huge surprises, standing ovations. With Zelda Wii U a no-show and Metroid veering off in a truly strange direction, the whole thing left me with a sick feeling. I can’t shake the suspicion that Nintendo is just killing time until they reveal the NX next year, slowly cutting down Wii U support as they plan to kill off the console. Wii U was never the success they wanted, and it will be five years old in 2016; way past its prime.

With Nintendo’s troubling shift to mobile development and a lack of huge, steady Wii U software, the future is rather murky. The decidedly bleak release timeline below just says “too little, too late” to me. Satoru Iwata is already apologizing after the backlash this year’s event is getting from the fans, so we can only hope for some more substantial surprises later this year. That said, it’s hard to not feel like the Wii U is slowly transitioning onto life support.

Nintendo Transforms Iconic Franchises to Give Players Unique Gaming Experiences

Play Levels Designed by Others or Create Your Own in Super Mario Maker for Wii U

LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- This year Mario reaches an impressive milestone in video gaming: 30 years as a leading man in Nintendo’s timeless Super Mario Bros. series. At E3, Nintendo celebrates Mario’s longevity with a new installment in the franchise called Super Mario Maker, one of many games at the show that transforms familiar characters and their games with unique new looks, styles and game-play features. Players will see new installments of beloved franchises like Star FoxYoshi,Animal CrossingMario & LuigiXenoblade and Metroid, and enjoy the reimagining of Bowser and Donkey Kong as Skylanders figures that also have amiibo functionality with compatible Nintendo games.


During the Nintendo Digital Event video on the opening day of E3 2015 in Los Angeles, Nintendo annou ...

During the Nintendo Digital Event video on the opening day of E3 2015 in Los Angeles, Nintendo announced games launching in the near future, with a focus on what fans can enjoy in the second half of 2015 and early 2016. (Photo: Business Wire)
During the Nintendo Digital Event video on the opening day of E3 2015 in Los Angeles, Nintendo announced games launching in the near future, with a focus on what fans can enjoy in the second half of 2015 and early 2016. To view the Nintendo Digital Event in its entirety, visit http://e3.nintendo.com. Nintendo will continue to share information on future games and initiatives in the months ahead.

“Millions of video game players worldwide look to Nintendo to deliver surprises and smiles,” said Nintendo of America President and COO Reggie Fils-Aime. “That’s what we have on display at E3 – familiar characters and franchises transformed in unexpected ways that can only be found on Nintendo systems.”

Here’s a roundup of some of the news and games Nintendo is showing this week:

Wii U Games and Other News

  • Super Mario Maker: The next evolution of the Super Mario Bros. series lets people’s imaginations run wild. For the first time ever, friends can have fun playing through levels they create for one another. The Wii U GamePad controller makes it so easy for anyone to create levels; it may feel like simply sketching out ideas on paper. Players can enjoy a seemingly endless supply of inventive Mario levels from players around the world. The game includes a book totaling about 100 pages that illustrates the boundless possibilities in Super Mario Maker. Nintendo will also release two special Mario amiibo figures to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the original Super Mario Bros. game. Tapping these amiibo inSuper Mario Maker adds a Big Mushroom power-up to your course, allowing Mario to grow big and bust blocks from any direction, as well as adding a retro visual filter to the game, reminiscent of older cathode ray tube televisions. In addition, many other amiibo will also be compatible with Super Mario Maker through the use of a new item called the Mystery Mushroom. This item allows Mario to take the appearance of many other characters, such as Link, Kirby or Wii Fit Trainer, complete with character-specific animations and sound effects. These character costumes can be unlocked by completing the 100 Mario Challenge mode and many can also be unlocked if the player taps the amiibo of the character to the Wii U GamePad. To coincide with the Super Mario Bros. anniversary, the Super Mario Maker game and the 30th Anniversary amiibo launch the 11th of September.
  • LetsSuperMario.com Website: To continue the celebration of Super Mario’s 30th anniversary, fans around the world are encouraged to create personal “Let’s Super Mario!” video tributes that showcase their love for the legendary franchise. The videos can be submitted to a dedicated website (http://www.LetsSuperMario.com) starting today and might be shared by Nintendo on the website. Whether it’s through song, dance or reliving favorite moments, Nintendo will honor Super Mario by showcasing the creativity of our fans. In the spirit of Nintendo’s mission of putting smiles on the faces of everyone that experiences our products, Nintendo’s share of any ad revenue generated from the Let’s Super Mario 30th Anniversary videos will go toward a donation Nintendo is making to Operation Smile, a global surgical charity dedicated to healing the smiles of children around the world suffering from cleft lip and cleft palate. For more information, visit http://www.operationsmile.org.
  • Yoshi’s Woolly World: Collect, cooperate and get crafty with Yoshi in a world made completely from yarn, felt and other fabrics and textiles. Pulling on strings in the game usually leads to discoveries, while new transformations include a motorcycle, mole and airplane. The game’s simple platforming adventure challenges players to find hidden secrets. Tapping select amiibo characters to the GamePad creates new patterns for Yoshi, while new Yarn Yoshi amiibo let players control two Yoshis at the same time. This first-ever two-player co-op Yoshi game includes Mellow Mode, which gives Yoshi wings, and is perfect for players who just want to hunt for treasure, or newcomers who want to get the hang of the game. The game launches Oct. 16.
  • Star Fox Zero: Fox, Falco, Peppy and Slippy are back in a new adventure. Players pilot an Arwing in the traditional style of TV game play and, in a new twist, players can use the cockpit view on the GamePad to aim and shoot enemies using the gyro controls. Having two unique viewpoints offers distinct gaming advantages and frees up the TV for more cinematic moments in the title’s new all-range mode. Scheduled to launch during the 2015 holiday season, Star Fox Zero includes a new Walker transformation for the Arwing, a new Gyrowing vehicle and the return of the Landmaster Tank.
  • Skylanders SuperChargers from Activision: Both Donkey Kong and Bowser guest star in the next Skylanders game complete with their own vehicles and move sets that celebrate the lore and legacy of their 30+ years in the video game universe. As an added bonus, the Turbo Charge Donkey Kong and Hammer Slam Bowser Skylanders SuperChargercharacters also work as amiibo in compatible Nintendo games, so players can store their save data in both modes with a simple twist of the figure’s base. The game is anticipated to launch Sept. 20.
  • Just Dance 2016 from UbisoftJust Dance 2016 is the latest installment in the best-selling music game franchise of all time. Launching Oct. 20, 2015, on both Wii and Wii U, the game features tracks from artists like Jason Derulo, Meghan Trainor and Lady Gaga. This year, the free Just Dance Controller app enables Wii U players to use their smartphones to play.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles X: Amid an intergalactic war between aliens and human survivors, players fight for survival while exploring the massive expanses of an unknown planet. Weaponized mechs called “Skells” let players access every location they see. Players also can customize a lethal skill set of combat and defensive skills, called Arts, to strengthen their strategies and defeat enemies efficiently. The game launches Dec. 4.
  • Animal Crossing: amiibo FestivalAnimal Crossing amiibo figures and cards get their own party game. Players are challenged to collect the most Happy Points by the end of a dynamic board game. The board layout can remain the same, but the spaces and even the environment change, depending on which month players choose for their game. As in other Animal Crossing games, players can buy turnips and use strategy to decide when to sell them for big money. Scheduled to launch during the 2015 holiday season, Animal Crossing: amiibo Festival will launch as a bundle that includes the game, two amiibo figures and three amiibo cards.
  • Genei Ibun Roku #FE (name not final): Set in modern Tokyo, young people come together to weave an epic tale alongside heroes from an alternate world. This brand-new RPG, developed by ATLUS, is infused with elements of the popular Fire Emblem series. In the struggle between the worlds of glamour and darkness, these young heroes rise to face the challenge. The game is scheduled to launch in 2016.
  • Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash: Up to four players can compete in tennis matches that could only take place in the Mushroom Kingdom. With the addition of Jump Shots to hit high balls overhead, or Giant Mushrooms that when picked up make characters bigger, this Mario Tennis is reborn with features enabling players to aggressively go after higher balls. The game is scheduled to launch during the 2015 holiday season.

Nintendo 3DS

  • The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes: Three players take on the role of individual Link characters and team up to solve puzzles and battle bosses in dungeons. The game features the same top-down view and visual style of The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds. Players must work together, as the group shares all hearts. All three Links can stack on top of one another to create a Totem to reach new locations and solve puzzles or fight enemies. Different outfits offer unique abilities. The game is scheduled to launch this fall.
  • Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon: The player transforms into one of 20 Pokémon as he or she sets out on an adventure in a world inhabited solely by the 720 discovered Pokémon, including Legendary and Mythical Pokémon. This game boasts hours of replay-ability by randomly generating each dungeon, so players will never explore the same dungeon twice as they unravel this tale of adventure and mystery. The game is scheduled to launch during the 2015 holiday season.
  • Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer: One of the favorite activities in the Animal Crossing series now gets a full game. With more options than ever, players design interiors and exteriors of homes for hundreds of animal characters, and can even design a garden. They can choose where to place the home, and then pick out a house style and colors for the roof, door and fence before getting to work on the interior. Tapping compatible amiibo character cards brings favorite Animal Crossing characters with their separate personalities and design requests into the game, which launches with a complimentary amiibo card on Sept. 25. A bundle will launch the same day and include the game, one amiibo card and the NFC Reader/Writer accessory.
  • YO-KAI WATCH: This game sold millions and became a cultural phenomenon in Japan. Now U.S. players get to experience the fun of hundreds of sometimes cute, sometimes spooky, and usually mischievous Yo-kai that inhabit our world. Players explore using their Yo-kai Watch to find Yo-kai, then befriend them and turn them into a team to battle other Yo-kai. The game is scheduled to launch during the 2015 holiday season.
  • Fire Emblem Fates: Two versions of the franchise’s new installment offer players an unprecedented choice: fight an opposing force or join the other side and try to make changes from within. For the first time in the series, players take on the role of the main character and command an army, while struggling to decide which path to follow: helping blood relatives or the family that raised him or her. The game is scheduled to launch in 2016.
  • Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam: Paper Mario jumps out of the book and into the bizarre adventures of Mario & Luigi, resulting in hilarious and dangerous hijinks. Become the superstar team of Mario, Luigi and Paper Mario to take on quests, take down enemies and untangle these two unique universes in this playful new entry in the Mario & Luigiseries. The game is scheduled to launch in spring 2016.
  • Hyrule Warriors Legends: The Wii U version of Hyrule Warriors comes to the Nintendo 3DS family of systems. In the portable version, experience new story elements and playable characters inspired by The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. New features allow players to enhance their tactics and switch between different characters on the fly as they explore and battle in Hyrule’s most famous locales. The game is scheduled to launch in Q1 of 2016.
  • Metroid Prime: Federation Force: Up to four players can connect online or locally to take on co-op missions in this first-person sci-fi adventure set in the Metroid Prime universe. Players don a mech suit and work together as a team to clear out enemy-infested bases and complete objective-based missions. After completing the missions, up to six players can compete in Metroid Prime: Blast Ball, a three-on-three game that requires players to shoot a ball into their opponents’ goal. The game is scheduled to launch in 2016.

Additionally, select Nindie developers will feature exclusive content and reveals on Nintendo Treehouse: Live throughout the week of E3. Titles include Runbow (13AM Games), FAST Racing Neo (Shin’en) and Typoman (Headup Games and Brainseed Factory) for Wii U, SteamWorld Heist (Image & Form) for Nintendo 3DS, and Mutant Mudds Super Challenge (Renegade Kid) for both Wii U and Nintendo 3DS.

For details about these games, the Nintendo Treehouse: Live programming and other Nintendo activities during E3 2015, visithttp://e3.nintendo.com.

As a treat for fans watching all the E3 action from home, the Nintendo eShop is hosting its biggest sale of the year for both Wii U and Nintendo 3DS games. Players can get up to 30 percent off select games related to some of the top franchises featured at the show, including Super Mario Bros.The Legend of Zelda and Yoshi. The sale runs now through June 23 at 8:59 a.m. PT. For full details, check http://e3.nintendo.com/offers.

Remember that Wii U and Nintendo 3DS feature parental controls that let adults manage the content their children can access. For more information about this and other features, visit http://www.nintendo.com/wiiu or http://www.nintendo.com/3ds.

About Nintendo: The worldwide pioneer in the creation of interactive entertainment, Nintendo Co., Ltd., of Kyoto, Japan, manufactures and markets hardware and software for its Wii U and Wii™ home consoles, and Nintendo 3DS and Nintendo DS families of portable systems. Since 1983, when it launched the Nintendo Entertainment System, Nintendo has sold more than 4.3 billion video games and more than 680 million hardware units globally, including the current-generation Wii U, Nintendo 3DS and Nintendo 3DS XL, as well as the Game Boy, Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS, Nintendo DSi and Nintendo DSi XL, Super NES, Nintendo 64, Nintendo GameCube and Wii systems. It has also created industry icons that have become well-known, household names such as Mario, Donkey Kong, Metroid, Zelda and Pokémon. A wholly owned subsidiary, Nintendo of America Inc., based in Redmond, Wash., serves as headquarters for Nintendo’s operations in the Western Hemisphere. For more information about Nintendo, please visit the company’s website at http://www.nintendo.com.