For me, Nintendo’s presentation encapsulated E3 2017 as a whole. Many of the games shown in this brief 25-minute presentation we either already knew about or in some cases, already owned. What few new titles were shown were so minimalist in detail they were better described as teasers than full reveals. In this sense, it felt like both Nintendo and E3 were taking mid-steps rather than the big leaps and reveals we hope for. But as we will later see, exciting new things can still emerge.
Though a variety of Switch games were shown, they each had a distinct reason for lacking in impact. Yoshi and Kirby games haven’t exactly been a rarity and, whilst the new instalments certainly boasted some pretty visuals and look set to be quality products, there was nothing substantial in the gameplay which made them really stand out from their predecessors or other platformers.
“I can’t shake the feeling of being somewhat underwhelmed”
Neither was Nintendo exempt from this year’s apparent running theme of presenting DLC as being on-par with new titles. This is not to say I don’t look forward to playing the new Zelda: Breath of the Wild content packs. On the contrary, what they showed has made me more confident we’re getting more than simple shrine challenges. But, given how short the whole showcase was, I can’t shake the feeling of being somewhat underwhelmed for what is supposed to be the biggest gaming event of the year.
Third Party support again follows this pattern of welcome but not truly exciting. Besides the usual FIFAs, the biggest news came from a Switch version of Rocket League complete with the ability to connect with players on other platforms. Neat, but even with the addition of portable play on the Switch and exclusive cosmetic content, this is still a two-year-old game and no amount of exclusive cosmetic content can change that. The same plus more can be said for Skyrim, which has the added pain of being outdone by the PlayStation VR version.
It’s a shame then that the two biggest announcements were not given any detail at all. First was confirmation of a new core Pokémon game being in development for the Nintendo Switch, marking the first time a home console entry in the series hasn’t been a spin-off. But perhaps even bigger than this was the reveal of the long-awaited Metroid Prime 4, but only in title form. Though it has been confirmed long-time series developer Retro Studios will not be at the helm of this new instalment, this will likely be the most intensely followed Nintendo title of 2018. Metroid fans will still get a fix this year thanks to a new 2.5-D game for the 3DS, however, bizarrely, this reveal was not included in the main presentation.
“It still feels as though Nintendo was holding back a bit this year”
Indeed, coupled with the number of expected games which ended up being no-shows, it feels as though Nintendo was still holding back a bit this year. Monster Hunter XX currently has no plans for a Western release following a statement from Capcom and we’re still waiting for news on Smash Bros. One can only hope that it won’t be too long before another Nintendo Direct comes along to clear up some of this fog.
But to end on a brighter note, two standouts did emerge which showed Nintendo can still do business. Xenoblade Chronicles 2 kicked things off with a confirmed release in Winter 2017, and a new story trailer which is about as anime as you can get. We saw our first extended glimpses of gameplay for this new massive JRPG, showing a new interface and weapons system which looks to make combat more streamlined and manageable without losing the complexity which made past instalments so enjoyable.
Then there was Super Mario Odyssey which may become the best game in the series since Galaxy. Besides showcasing an open New Donk City to explore, we also saw enticing new mechanics including the ability for our favourite plumber to take control of any creature or enemy with his hat. Did I mention this includes dinosaurs?
If you dig a bit, Nintendo and indeed E3 did have plenty to show this year. But with big and unexpected reveals lacking in number and detail, it’s clear there is more to come. The question is, how long will they make us wait?