[Feature] [email protected] 2014: A Roundup of the Digital Event and My Thoughts
Posted on June 14, 2014 by Spencer(@spencerstevens) in Features, Previews
Another E3 has come and gone, and now it’s time to round up the news of what was announced at video gaming’s biggest show. The Big N was there once again to show off some great new games. Let’s take a look at what they showcased this year, and I’ll give my thoughts along the way.
In 2013, Nintendo shocked everyone by choosing not to have a press conference at E3. Instead, they opted for a special E3 version of their Nintendo Direct series. However, they still brought us news about lots of new games, just as we’d expect if they had done a live press conference. With lots of news about the new Super Smash Bros., as well as announcements of several 3DS and Wii U games coming out that fall, they did not disappoint. This year, they again opted out of having a live press conference, and had a roughly 45-minute-long“Digital Event.” Here’s what they had to show.
Mii Fighter, Palutena, Pac-Man, and Mr. Game & Watch in Super Smash Bros.
After an entertaining special-effects-driven introduction scene featuring Nintendo President/CEO Satoru Iwata and Nintendo of America COO Reggie Fils-Aime facing off in hand-to-hand combat, the two sat down to fight in a different way: through their Miis. Following the inclusion of Mii as a playable racer in Mario Kart 8, players can now fight as their Miis in Super Smash Bros. There are three unique fighting styles players can choose from: the Brawler, a quick, close-quarters fighter; the Swordsman, a weapons-centric fighter; and Gunner, a long-distance projectile fighter. Players will be able to tailor their fighter even further with the option to choose between three different attacks for each of their specials (commonly referred to as “B,” “Up-B,” “Down-B,” and “Side-B.” This focus on customization is one of many ways Nintendo is trying to make Super Smash Bros. a more dynamic and new experience from previous titles. Whether I’ll enjoy playing as the Mii characters has yet to be seen, but I can’t deny that I’d like to get creative with Miis and play as them for some novelty value!
Later in the Digital Event, an anime short produced by SHAFT (Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Bakemonogatari) was shown, featuring Link and Pit facing off against each other. When Lady Palutena entered the scene, it was revealed that this was an announcement for her inclusion in the Super Smash Bros. roster. It was also hinted at the end of the anime clip that Dark Pit might have some inclusion in Super Smash Bros. as well.
Later at E3, it was announced that Namco’s classic character Pac-Man would be a new playable character, as well as Mr. Game & Watch returning to the roster.
Nintendo announced their foray into the NFC toy world (like Disney Infinity and Skylanders) with a new series of products called amiibo. amiibo figures work with the Wii U GamePad’s NFC chip to import relevant data to compatible games. It also works both ways, so data can be sent from the game back to the figure and saved for later use. Nintendo used Super Smash Bros. as an example of amiibo’s functionality, as it will be the first game to be compatible with amiibo. An amiibo figure of a Super Smash Bros. character can be placed on the Wii U GamePad to send it into battle, either against another amiibo, against a computer, or fighting alongside you. Its stats and abilities can improve as it continues to participate in fights, and this evolution is kept on the figure itself, for use elsewhere, like at a friend’s house. I was excited about the idea of Super Smash Bros. collectible toys alone, but this functionality that they have with the game is even better. Mario Kart 8 was also mentioned as a game that will have amiibo compatibility down the line. amiibo will launch alongside the Wii U version of Super Smash Bros. this holiday season.
Yoshi’s Woolly World
In January 2013, Nintendo announced that a new Yoshi game was in development in the style of Kirby’s Epic Yarn. In the Digital Event, one segment featured the developers discussing the game in much more detail. Rather than the more “2D”-centric aesthetic of Kirby’s epic yarn, Yoshi’s Woolly World will feature a world of three-dimensional yarn and fabric-made characters, objects, and environment. To be more specific, in Kirby’s Epic Yarn, Kirby was simply made out of string, almost as if being laid on a flat surface, whereas in Woolly World, Yoshi looks like a three-dimensional toy made out of yarn. This new visual style looks perfectly executed, with realistic textures and vibrant colors to create a truly hand-made aesthetic. It may just be the cutest Yoshi game ever! One part of the discussion stood out to me, and that is when one of the developers said, “I wanna make it a game that brings a smile to your face just by owning it.” Amongst all the violence and bloodshed of other games announced at E3 (and don’t get me wrong, I love a lot of those games), I feel like this quote and ideal is truly what makes Nintendo stand out from other game companies. Yoshi’s Woolly World will be released in 2015.
Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker
In Super Mario 3D World, there were several small mini-game levels where you take control of the character Captain Toad. In these mini-games, the player would move Captain Toad around an isometric playing field, while trying to collect all the Green Stars in the level. Maneuvering Captain Toad around the level was very puzzle-centric, as he could not jump or attack, only walk. Personally, I loved these mini-games. As great as the gameplay was in 3D World, it was nice to take a break from time to time and play something different. So, in what felt to me like a surprise announcement, Nintendo has announced that they are making an entire game of Captain Toad levels with Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker! All that was shown was a trailer, but I can already tell that Nintendo has expanded the gameplay a lot to take this simple idea and give it a much richer feel. Levels already look like they have much more depth, detail, and diverse visuals than those found in 3D Land. Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker will be available this Holiday season.
The Legend of Zelda Wii U
Eiji Aonuma came on to discuss the new Legend of Zelda game for the Wii U. To many fans’ pleasant surprise, the next title will be an open-world game. The Legend of Zelda series seems more than fit for an open-world three-dimensional setting, because it’s an adventure series, and now players will be able to truly go on an adventure to explore the world that awaits in this new game. Some footage from the game was shown, featuring a cloaked figure on a horse moving through the land, with a deadly-looking robotic enemy in hot pursuit. The robot was shooting lasers that were setting fire to grass, running into rock formations on the landscape that would break and crumble, and eventually breaking a bridge the character is trying to escape over, potentially showing the new game will feature destructive environment elements? The character then confronts the enemy, removing their cloak to reveal a semi-long-haired person with a ponytail. The character leaps from the horse, charges up a very powerful-looking arrow, and releases it as the camera pans around to reveal the character’s face.
Now, it was obvious to everyone watching that the character shown was Link, and Aonuma even confirmed it. However, what created a lot of buzz was the way Link looked in that short reveal. Too many, including me, it appeared that Link had very obviously feminine features, leading many to believe that the character is a girl in this game. Aonuma did confirm that it was Link, and even used a “him” pronoun when speaking about him. However, he also made other intriguing comments, like, “I don’t want people to get hung up on the way Link looks because ultimately Link represents the player in the game.” In a later interview, he said that he has seen the fans’ reactions and speculations, and made even more interesting comments, saying, “That might be something that consciously we kind of did, but not to say anything specific – I am not saying anything specific – but, I am hoping people continue to comment, and I will continue to follow the fan comments and reactions to the trailer. I am certainly curious, and I am sure there are things we as developers can glean.” To be honest, I really hope that there could be a female Link in the new game. Before Aonuma’s confirmation that it was Link, some people had initially thought, “could it be Zelda?” but I think that would have been too easy. Making Link a female would arguably be more progressive and boundary-breaking, in my opinion. There are so many different Links in the Zelda lore, and what defines Link is the character’s heroism, not gender. So, it makes perfect sense that there could have been a female Link somewhere in the Zelda timeline. Just my two cents, but color me stoked for the possibility of a female Link. The new Legend of Zelda game will be out in 2015.
Pokémon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire
A few weeks back, Nintendo announced that Pokémon Ruby & Sapphire would be receiving the remake treatment, similar to Heart Gold & Soul Silver. This time, however, the games are being fully remade with the new graphics and gameplay featured in last year’s X & Y. This was a huge announcement for many fans of the 3rd Generation, myself included. In the Digital Event, Nintendo finally showed footage from the game, showcasing gameplay, new Mega Evolutions, and plenty of glimpses of what the world of Hoenn will look like when brought to new life on the 3D platform. The two titles will be released this fall on November 21st.
Bayonetta 2 had already been announced by Nintendo a long while back, being touted as a Wii U exclusive. They released a trailer for the game in the Digital Event, showing some of the game’s premise as well as some gameplay. At the end of the trailer, it was shown that an added bonus of this being a Nintendo exclusive would be alternate costumes for the main character being available, the costumes being based on Nintendo characters such as Princess Peach, Link, and Samus. The physical version of the game will also include the full version of the first Bayonetta game. Bayonetta 2 will be available this October.
Last December, Nintendo announced a collaboration with Tecmo Koei to create a Dynasty Warriors-style game set in the world of The Legend of Zelda. The Digital Event took the opportunity to have the developers discuss the game, as well as show off some gameplay footage. Graphically, the game brings a level of detail and aesthetic not found in any title of the series thus far. The action is bursting with intensity, and the character designs are immaculate. There are many characters to choose from, and those featured in the footage shown included Link, Zelda, Impa, and Midna. I haven’t enjoyed a Warriors title since Dynasty Warriors 4, but I think I will definitely pick this up just for the new way they’re bringing the Zelda world to life.
Kirby and the Rainbow Curse
One of the first games I owned for the Nintendo DS was Kirby: Canvas Curse. It was the first unconventional Kirby game I had played in a while, but the mechanics worked great to fully utilize the DS’ touchscreen capabilities. Now, 10 years later, Nintendo has announced a spiritual sequel with Kirby and the Rainbow Curse on the Wii U. Players will use the GamePad and stylus to create rainbow paths to navigate Kirby through levels, seemingly the same way as in Canvas Curse. However, the striking difference in this new title is the visual aesthetic. The entire world looks like it is made of clay! It’s almost hard to believe that you’re playing a video game, because everything looks flawlessly like stop-motion clay animation. I’m really excited about games like this and Yoshi’s Woolly World that have a realistic design and look to them. Kirby and the Rainbow Curse will be out in 2015.
Xenoblade Chronicles X
In a January 2013 Nintendo Direct, Nintendo announced an exclusive Wii U title by Monolith Soft tentatively titled X. The game was a visually incredible open-world game full of gargantuan super-detailed monsters and lush, expansive landscapes. Aside from a couple gameplay trailers, nothing much more was said about X, until now. The game was given a full title, Xenoblade Chronicles X, a debut trailer featuring cinematics and voice acting, and a scheduled release of 2015. I was already very excited for this game even when I had minimal details about it beyond the gameplay, and this new trailer has got me even more excited for the world and story behind the new title.
Does it count as a Mario game announcement if the game they announced is one where you make the game? Regardless, Nintendo has announced a Mario Paint for the next generation with Mario Maker. As the name implies, it is a game where you can create your own Mario levels and games, with tons of environments, items, and enemies at your disposal. You can also choose between the classic look of Super Mario Bros. on the NES, or the modern look of New Super Mario Bros. U. With all of the custom Mario levels I’ve seen people make on YouTube, ranging from hyper-difficult ones to ones that play themselves, I can’t wait to see what people come up with in this new game. Mario Maker is set for release in 2015.
Another developer discussion in the Digital Event simultaneously was an announcement for a brand-new IP, Splatoon. Splatoon is an online, team-based, competitive arena shooter being developed for the Wii U. However, when I say “shooter,” I don’t mean like Monday Night Combat, Unreal Tournament, or Team Fortress, because this is Nintendo! The only thing you are shooting in Splatoon is paint. Lots and lots of paint. The goal of the game is to shoot as much paint around the map, so that your team’s color covers the most surface area of the map. The “paint” is actually ink, as your players are cute little characters that can turn into squids. You can toggle between human mode and squid mode, using squid mode to swim through your team’s ink to move around the map swiftly. Splatoon is honestly not the new IP I was expecting from Nintendo, but you can color me excited about it! (I’ll see myself out…) Splatoon will be out in – you guessed it – 2015.
Overall, I was very pleased with Nintendo’s Digital Event. Aside from Bayonetta 2, which is just a game I don’t personally have any interest in, I felt really good and very excited about every other game Nintendo had to offer! That’s more than I could say about some of the other big game companies. It’s a shame that most of the titles won’t be ready until 2015, but I think Nintendo gets a pass on that after announcing several games at E3 last year that were then released in the Fall. In the end, it was very refreshing to see Nintendo make a big E3 comeback with announcements that seemed to please everyone so much and get people excited about the Wii U.
Nintendo had plenty of offerings in the Digital Event, as well as on the show floor at E3 and their YouTube page. You can expect to see previews of many of them from yours truly here on Nintendo Everything.