Now that E3 2014 has come and gone, it's time to reflect on the big games from the show. Some we only caught glimpses of, while others were displayed in glorious, playable detail. This year Sony focused on the new features of the PS4, while Microsoft redeemed themselves of last year's showing and showing that the Xbox One is indeed a gaming machine. Then there's Nintendo. The Wii U console has had a rough first year and a half, to say the least. So Nintendo's entire presence at E3 this year seemed to be a statement that, while their console may not be the most powerful or have the most technical features, it should be the place to go for some honest to goodness gaming. People could joke about Wii U all they want, but after E3, I think gamers would have to start making up excuses as to why they haven't bought one. The following titles are the games that have me most excited for future of Nintendo's console.
Super Smash Bros. for Wii U/3DS:The obvious choice. Super Smash Bros. has one of the most ludicrous staying powers and replayability of any game out there. After having spent a good deal of time with it at E3 (and winning more than a few t-shirts for my efforts), I can safely say that this fourth entry has the potential to be the best in the series. It feels faster than Brawl but more controlled than Melee, and so far looks to be doing a great job at catering to all types of players. The 3DS version admittedly needed some getting used to, but I would imagine it shouldn't take too long to get used to it. The 3DS version does kind of seem to be an appetizer to the Wii U's main course, anyway.
The Wii U version will also be the first game to utilize Nintendo's Amiibo figurines, which could help launch a whole new side to Nintendo's HD console.
AND PAC-MAN! How about that?! I admit, the Palutena reveal was a bit underwhelming (she makes it in and we still have yet to hear of Dixie Kong?), but the Mii Fighters and Pac-Man more than made up for it, with both adding a new spin on Super Smash Bros.
Possibly best of all is Super Smash Bros. will be Nintendo's headliner for 2014, so the wait is quickly diminishing.
Legend of Zelda Wii U:Oh my! Them visuals! Obviously, there's not too much to say about the new Zelda, since Nintendo only showed off a quick tech demo. But what we got was a beautiful glimpse of the future of the Zelda series, with a few promises of what changes will be made for the series. It will be a bit of a wait, with the game being promised for sometime in 2015. But given the history of this series, it will probably be more than worth the wait.
Mario Maker:Praise the sun! Nintendo has finally decided to create a Mario level editor, after years and years of fan demand. It's another wait for 2015, sure, but we've waited this long already. The creation tools on available on the show floor were few and simple, but you'd be surprised at just how much you can do with them. And the ability to switch between Super Mario Bros. and New Super Mario Bros. U visuals on the fly makes things all the more interesting. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that Nintendo fires on all cylinders with the final product.
Seriously, it's a Mario level editor! The only things I ask are the ability to join created levels together to create something of your own game, and the option to switch things to Super Mario World visuals. That would be just perfect.
Splatoon:Can people now officially get off Nintendo's back about making a new IP now? At least for a while? Splatoon is a rarity in today's gaming world. A new game that boasts a genuine sense of newness. Yeah, it's an online shooter, but leave it to Nintendo to make the first-ever non-violent online shooter.
You play as weird, squid/human hybrids, who shoot colored ink all over the place, with your goal being to cover more of the terrain with your team's color than the opposing team. It's simple in concept, but when your enemies start to cover your previously colored ground, and splatting you into a gush of their colored ink, things really heat up.
It's yet another 2015 release, but the sheer fun of the demo alone was more than convincing that that this could be one of next year's most fun and original games.
Bayonetta 2:Finally, another 2014 release! Bayonetta 2 looks to be Nintendo's big third-party game of the year, but seems to be an even bigger game than we once thought. This October release will also come with the first Bayonetta in its entirety right out of the box, with added Nintendo costumes and powers for Bayonetta herself.
Bayonetta seems like such an odd-duck on Nintendo's console, but that's all the more reason why its presence on Wii U is appreciated. Nintendo themselves excel in platformers, party games, and colorful adventures, but Bayonetta can provide the Wii U with an all-out action extravaganza. Hopefully, Bayonetta might be able to persuade a few more such games over to Nintendo's side.
Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker:Another 2014 Wii U release is an unlikely Mario spinoff. Captain Toad, who had his own set of mini-game stages in Super Mario 3D World, is taking that concept and blowing it up into a full-on adventure. Toad still can't jump, but he can now fight bosses, ride mine karts, and search every nook and cranny for treasure.
We'll have to see if the Captain Toad concept can become as versatile as 3D World itself, but no doubt the game promises to be fun at the very least.
Yoshi's Wooly World:I've said in the past that Kirby's Epic Yarn was probably the most charming video game since Yoshi's Island. Well, Yoshi's Wooly World is basically just slapping those two games together, to create one freaking adorable game!
Sure, some will gripe because it probably won't be a particularly difficult platforming adventure (that's DK's department), but neither Yoshi's Island or Kirby's Epic Yarn were about brutal difficulty, but had their own sense of exploration. But both games excelled in putting smiles on faces, so expect the same from Wooly World.
Two players can partake in co-op and gather as many treasures as they can find, and Yoshi seems to take even more advantage of the yarn mechanics (throw a ball of yarn at a Piranha Plant and it will get tangled up, for example. Or throw a ball of cotton to create cloud-like platforms). Another 2015 release.
Kirby and the Rainbow Curse:Kirby Canvas Curse was one of my favorite DS games, so the fact that it's finally getting a sequel is great! Plus, the new clay inspired visuals give the game a whole new sense of personality. I didn't get a whole lot of time with Rainbow Curse, but what I did play proved that the Canvas Curse-style gameplay still feels as fresh today as it did back in 2005. And the ability to turn into a tank doesn't hurt either. Another sign that Nintendo has a bright 2015 ahead of them.
Hyrule Warriors:The other 2014 Wii U release. Hyrule Warriors looks to take the Dynasty Warriors gameplay and shape it in Zelda's image. What I played of the game could admittedly feel a little repetitious, but there's no denying that fighting vast armies of enemies is a good time. The ability to play as characters such as Zelda or Impa also means the gameplay will get some variety, with many more characters being promised to be playable in the final game. Still keeping my fingers crossed for Beedle.
Star Fox Wii U: There's only so much to be said about Star Fox Wii U, because only so much was said about Star Fox Wii U was said. Basically all we know is this: Star Fox on Wii U is being made. The Gamepad is used to view things from Fox's cockpit. It's in the vein of Star Fox 64. 2015. That's about it.
But the fact that we know Star Fox is back, and that it's going back to the series' roots is cause for celebration. No more distractions from leaving your vehicles. Just classic Star Fox gameplay made new on Wii U. That's all we've wanted from this series, isn't it?
Suffice to say, the Wii U looks to have a strong future ahead. Will any of these games ascend the Wii U to being the success the Wii was? No. But they will make the Wii U a formidable force as far as game design is concerned, and it will make it hard for gamers to justify why they have yet to buy a Wii U of their own.
Nintendo once again went the digital route for E3 this year, and the results were mostly successful.
Nintendo’s digital event (are we not calling them Nintendo Directs now?) began with a Robot Chicken-style stop-motion segment, with other such segments sprinkled throughout the show. They were good fun, and thankfully on the short side as to not take too much time away from the games. Not sure how well some Nintendo fans will take to them though, since demanding fanbases seemed to be the butt of most of the jokes.
Nintendo then moved onto Super Smash Bros., and the revelation of Miis joining the game as playable fighters. Miis will come in three varieties: Brawler, Swordfighter and Gunner, and players can use their own Miis for the characters (allowing you to “play as anyone” as Nintendo put it).
We then got information on Amiibo, Nintendo’s new Skylanders/Disney Infinity-style figures that will be used for various games for Wii U (Smash Bros. will be the first to use them, though Nintendo also announced the recently-released Mario Kart 8 will also take advantage of them). The Amiibo figures will be able to transfer data to and from the games for customizable purposes.
After that came the game formerly known as Yarn Yoshi, now known as Yoshi’s Wooly World. Wooly World looks to continue the style of gameplay from Yoshi’s Island, while adding new twists to the formula inspired by Kirby’s Epic Yarn. The game’s re-announcement was welcome, but the reveal that it won’t be released until 2015 became a bit of a recurring downer throughout the presentation.
Nintendo rebounded a bit with games like Captain Toad’s Treasure Tracker (a spinoff of Super Mario 3D World that looks to expand the concepts introduced in the Captain Toad levels) and Kirby and the Rainbow Curse (a Wii U sequel to the 2005 DS game Kirby Canvas Curse that has a “claymation” aesthetic). The new trailer for the Pokemon Ruby and Saphire remakes was also welcome, but suffice to say the biggest new reveal was the new Legend of Zelda, which looks to bring open-world gameplay to the series, while also changing up the nature of Hyrule itself (Link’s bow and arrow now seems to have a somewhat sci-fi feel to it). The Wii U Legend of Zelda won’t be released until 2015, but suffice to say it looks great.
Bayonetta 2 got a new trailer and, along with the reveal of Nintendo-themed costumes for Bayonetta, the game will also include the original Bayonetta straight out of the box. And thankfully, a release window for this Fall was announced for the game. There was also some more news on Hyrule Warriors. Notably, the ability to play as multiple characters from the Zelda series. Along with Link, you can also play as the likes of Zelda, Impa and Midna, along with the promise of many other characters (am I asking for too much for Beedle to be playable?).
The long-teased ‘Project X’ was officially revealed as Xenoblade Chronicles X, making it a sequel to the Wii cult RPG, and those who keep clamoring for Nintendo to make a new IP got their wish with Splatoon, a kind of Nintendo take on online multiplayer action shooters in which teams of players shoot colored ink at opposing teams, and can turn into squids and travel across your team’s colored ink. No release dates were given for either, unfortunately.
Possibly the unsung hero for Nintendo’s E3 sowing was Mario Maker, which is exactly what it sounds like. A Super Mario level editor. This is a game I’ve been dreaming of. You can make your levels in the vein of the original Super Mario Bros. or New Super Mario Bros. U (I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a Mario World option). Though again, 2015.
The show ended with the reveal of Palutena from Kid Icarus as a playable character in Super Smash Bros. Definitely a surprise addition to the roster, and the trailer was great, but the news that the 3DS version of the game has been delayed until October was a little sour.
Strangely, Mario Party 10 and a Wii U Star Fox were announced after the digital event, but are definitely nice announcements.
Overall, Nintendo pulled out a lot of stops with their games, and there’s definitely a lot to look forward to. It would just be nice to have a little more of an idea when to expect them.
Sony’s sowing at E3 included some strong games and maybe a surprise or two, but it also could feel overly stretched out and slowly paced.
The opening moments of Sony’s E3 conference were a sign of things to come. The first two trailers, showcasing Destiny and The Order 1886, seemed to take a good while to get kicking. A little build up is always nice, but these trailers felt like they were all about the build up. We didn’t exactly see a whole lot of gameplay, and they took a few minutes before they really got to the point. I don’t know, maybe I’ve just grown jaded with modern game trailers, but I’m getting to the point where I just want to see the game in action. No cinematic build up required.
This was echoed later in the show, when Sony took a break from talking about games and instead talked about the console itself, Project Morpheus, and Playstation TV. All of which made perfect sense to take time on the show, and all of which have a lot of promise. But I feel, for the sake of interest, they maybe should have been a little spread out. As big as these announcements may be, it started to feel like a different show than Sony’s more game-centric moments.
Now, we still got to see some awesome games showcased (some of which in previously leaked trailers), such as Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain and Mortal Kombat X, which were highlights of the show, along with the reveal of a new game by Hidetaka Miyazaki (of Dark Souls fame), BloodBorne. Blood Born looks to have a similar atmosphere and setting to Dark Souls, but given the lack of actual gameplay footage (surprise!), it’s hard to give too much of an opinion.
One very big surprise was the announcement of Grim Fandango remastered for PS4, which has no doubt already caused a big splash with its cult-like fanbase. Another (little)big announcement was LittleBigPlanet 3, which looks to bring the series’ trademark charm and user created games to the Ps4, though unfortunately, the slip ups the presenters made while playing the game has me fearing the control issues that have plagued the series in the past are still unaddressed.
Perhaps the best trailer of the show was Batman: Arkham Knight, which showed off some gameplay elements, not least of which being the Batmobile, and a menacing segment featuring the Scarecrow.
We also got a brief glimpse of the Ratchet and Clank movie, which can hopefully break the curse of videogame-to-movie adaptations. And after we got some more info on Playstation TV, a slew of Indy games and the PS4 re-releases of The Last of Us and GTAV, the presentation ended with the debut trailer of Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End.
Overall, Sony had a lot of strengths to show off for PS4 (and to a much lesser extent, the Vita), but the presentations themselves could have been a bit more satisfying. The trailers shown off probably succeeded in creating hype, but they also didn’t tell you a whole lot about the games themselves. And the non-game bits maybe should have a little more spread out. But still, it looks like Sony has a lot going for them.
But seriously, can we get some info on The Last Guardian?
Microsoft's E3 press conference had some solid games, unfortunately, it also lacked any real surprises and played things a bit too safe.
One of the highlights were Halo: The Master Chief Chronicles, which will bring most of the entire Halo series to the Xbox One. The original Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 2, Halo 3 and Halo 4 are all included in one package. So it's a great compilation for any longtime Halo fan as well as a good means for the uninitiated to catch up. It's only a shame that Halo Reach is absent (I get that it's the Master Chief Chronicles, but come one! Reach might just be the best of the bunch).
I am still skeptically excited for Project Spark. Excited because its ambitions for players to create their own games looks astounding. Skeptical because these kinds of games have a tendency to have disappointing gameplay that doesn't justify the time-consuming process of it all. Hopefully Project Spark can break that trend. Oh, and for some reason, Conker the Squirrel is in the game, claiming that it's been "almost ten years" since he's been in a game, so players may as well make one for him. So there's that.
The reveal of Rise of the Tomb Raider was another highlight. Although, like all too many games during Microsoft's presentation, we didn't really see any gameplay, just enough cinematics to show off the Xbox One's technical power.
An exception to this was the Indy game Ori and the Blind Forest, which looks simply beautiful. 'Ori' is a 2D platformer for Xbox One, 360 and PC that looks to bring some charm and atmosphere to its platforms.
The downside to Microsoft's conference, as previously stated, was the lack of 'newness.' The show opened with the reveal of the newest Call of Duty (that in itself is a bit of a red light). But while the presenters promised that Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is the future of the series, the problem is that this 'future' looks a whole lot like, well, basically any other futuristic FPS. I'm not going to condemn the game, but it's a shame that this supposed 'reinvention' still looks pretty by-the-books.
From there we got a sequel to Forza, a Dragon Age sequel, a Witcher sequel, an Assassin's Creed sequel, and so on. Again, not necessarily bad. But E3 is usually the time we see something we didn't already know about or suspect was coming from a mile away. A solid lineup of games that will no doubt sell well, but just about anyone could have predicted these games would make an appearance.
The other problem with Microsoft's conference was that most games were either presented mostly or entirely through cinematics. It felt more like watching a series of movie trailers (of various qualities) as opposed to a showcase of upcoming video games. Sunset Overdrive looks like it has potential, for example, but the trailer that showed the game off was a bit too obnoxious and snarky, to the point of being off-putting.
Overall Microsoft's E3 showing was a bit too safe to really standout. And for a presentation that opened with the promise that the next hour and a half was going to be all about the games, it ended up feeling like it focused too much on how pretty the Xbox One's graphics are.
I'll be going to E3 again this year, and I'm really looking forward to it. Tomorrow we'll be seeing the majority of presentations, with Nintendo's "digital event" (are we not calling them Nintendo Directs now?) happening earlier on the first day of E3.
This year I'm at a bit of a personal advantage, because there's nothing too specific I'm looking forward to. Last year we knew Smash Bros. and a 3D Mario would be shown off, we kind of knew Kingdom Hearts 3 would be revealed, etc. In a nutshell, I went into last year's event with a few things already in mind.
This year, on the other hand, I just want to be surprised. I don't really care what with. Sure, there are some games we know will be there that I'll be dying to get to (Smash Bros! Though hopefully they'll have it available for people who don't want to partake in the tournaments as well), some games we hope will be there (if The Last Guardian is cancelled consider me angry), and games of that nature. But it feels like there's more of an air of mystery to this year's show. And while there are plenty of announced games I'm hoping to jump into, I'm really looking forward to what surprises await in the upcoming presentations and on the show floor, playable or not.
For Nintendo, it seems everyone wants to see (expected), F-Zero and Star Fox, but frankly, I'd be happy seeing any of Nintendo's franchises make a surprise appearance. Even if it's another 3D Mario or another DKC, that'd be great. It would be nice to see Shigeru Miyamoto's long-promised new IP, but I'm not getting my hopes up on that again. With Bayonetta amd Smash Bros. making return appearances at the show, and Zelda already promised to show up, Nintendo could have a strong showing with a few other big announcements (is asking for a brand new Mario RPG asking too much?).
I expect we'll be seeing more of Halo 5 from Microsoft, and Halo's always a good time (well, except maybe Halo Wars), so that could be a highlight. Aside from that I expect Microsoft to focus on a lot of third-party titles. But the good news is I can't say as to what (again, surprises!). The same could be said for Sony. I'm guessing Metal Gear Solid 5 will have a strong showing, probably more highlighted on Sony's console than Microsoft's due to the series' history, and I imagine we'll see plenty of multiplatform and exclusive third-party releases between the two.
I'll be watching all (or at least most) of the presentations tomorrow and Tuesday morning, so I guess I won't be walking into the LA Convention Center's doors with a complete blank slate. But at least I'll be watching said presentations without too much of an idea of what to expect. Hopefully the surprises will deliver, it will make the show floor that much more enjoyable.