Nintendo followed up on last year’s genuinely funny claymation presentation for their E3 Direct with Shigeru Miyamoto, Reggie Fils-Aime and Satoru Iwata reimagined as muppets in a cheesy throw to WiiU Starfox (now Starfox Zero) footage. Judging by the negative reaction the presentation would receive from the general populace, it was an apt metaphor, but Nintendo’s offering was a case of dipping into the well that has served them so effectively in the past (mainly children) and was an adequate transition show that will pave the way for much more interesting stuff next year.


First, WiiU, which seemed all but dead at this point. With the new Zelda absent, and NX on the horizon, but not being talked about yet, it was in a tough spot. A new Mario Tennis (mega mushrooms, but still tennis), Yoshi’s Wooly World (adorable, but with a poor modern track record)  or Animal Crossing Amiibo Festival (just terrible looking), which appears, staggeringly, to be a less interesting Mario Party variant will not make a case for people to finally pick up a system. They will appeal to the younger demographic already with a system though, and those kids would be the same ones interested in Mario themed Skylanders, muddying the toys to life waters further on Nintendo’s platform.


For those skewing slightly older, it was a mixed bag. The Shin Megami Tensei/ Fire Emblem cross over, a prospect that had fans of both salivating is now something completely different, albeit with concepts from each. Genei Ibun Roku #FE (that’s a musical sharpe, not a hashtag mercifully) seems so undercooked at this point that even the trailer wasn’t localized or subtitled into English. It’s entirely divorced, it appears, from the initially announced project, instead being an RPG about… Pop idols? Characters’ musical aspirations abounded in the trailer, itself backed by an ear bleeding vocaloid track and the declaration that the soundtrack is being supplied by artists on ear bleeding Jpop label giant Avex. It’s definitely still early, but it really does seem that this will anger fans of either of its inspirations rather than delight.

Ryu’s appearance in Smash was one of gaming’s worst kept secrets when it was unveiled during the Nintendo World Championships (itself a very light, but respectful and actually pretty watchable affair), but welcome was news of how he handled. Standard Smash style easy input is complemented by proper quarter circles and sweeps to perform his signature moves, and going the more challenging route will see damage buffs.

The aforementioned Starfox Zero disappointed somewhat though. Footage showed a lot of typical Startox stuff, with on rails and free roaming sections and missions built around tanks and walkers. It seemed a bit Starfox 64 Again, and was visually uninspired considering how much Nintendo has squeezed out of the Wii U of late. Platinum are co-developing though, so nothing can go wrong, right?

If WiiU was a bit of a mixed bag, 3DS showed Nintendo’s laser focus. Unfortunately for the E3 following public, that focus was decidedly in the under 15 bracket. The possible exceptions of Fire Emblem If, renamed Fates for the western market, and Zelda Triforce Heroes, emphasizing three player co-op a la Four (well, Three) Swords Adventures in a fashion obsessed land are looking fantastic, but the rest of the release slate skews very young.

Yokai Watch was given high billing, old hat in Japan of course, where the Yokai phenomenon is just starting to taper off, but about to take over the west if Level 5 and Nintendo have anything to do with it. Animal Crossing Happy Home is there for the girls with Zelda Musou 3DS (Hyrule Warriors Legends) scaling back on scope but bundling in DLC characters for the boys.

Chibi Robo Zip Lash is a 2D platformer focussing on whipping the little robot’s extension cable about, which just makes it seem as if the series’ twisted and slightly dark humour may be absent. Mario & Luigi Paper Jam, merging the two pseudo RPG explorations of the Mushroom Kingdom has similar cynicism attached to it after the tame Sticker Star of a couple of years back.

Then there was Metroid Prime. Or to be more specific, Metroid Prime Federation Force. Metroid being the decidedly moody, adult series under Nintendo’s umbrella, the prospect of a new Metroid had older fans of Nintendo’s products salivating. Whether it was an in house 2D affair a la the excellent GBA outings, or a Retro developed first person Prime game, we were in for a treat.

Except this is a Next Level game (the respectable studio behind OK we suppose Mario Strikers, and the well received Wii Punchout!). It’s a chibi spinoff of Metroid Prime with super deformed characters. With four player co-op. In a series takes for its sense of isolation and solo discovery. But there’s also a football minigame if you want that.

Federation Force in itself was fine as part of Nintendo’s overall direction at present (hook people young, position the 3DS as the kids platform while adults can play the upcoming smart phone offerings) but the ensuing backlash had to have been anticipated long beforehand. A petition to cancel the whole affair is at over 17,000 signatures and growing at time of writing, and seems harsh (the game itself might be fun, who knows?) but is indicative of how poorly Nintendo reads its audience at times.

It would all be enough to hand in your Nintendo fan club badge, were it not for the splendid looking Super Mario Maker. A year on from its debut, it’s now an accomplished toy box, with easily shareable levels with creator spotlights, themes comprising SMB 1,3, World and New that actually make a difference to how the levels handle and not just how they look, and most importantly, absolute chaos. The Treehouse levels knocked up for the Nintendo World Championships showed insane tests of skill, and the potential to create nightmarish challenge and surprise and discovery with easily dragged and dropped tiles. If Federation Force was a display of a kuuki yomenai Nintendo, SMM was decidedly kuuki yomeru, a Nintendo that sees what fans want and gives it to them in spades. The game of 2015 might be on a format I don’t own, and that’s annoying for me, but good for the big N.

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