Up until the official start of E3 on Tuesday, Nintendo’s presence has been limited to appearing on the stages of other companies. Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, confirmed with an appearance from Shigeru Miyamoto himself at Ubisoft’s press conference, is being produced by that publisher. Downloadable Zelda-themed Skyrim items appeared during the Bethesda event. And a giant Switch showed up in Microsoft’s presentation on Minecraft.
No wonder Nintendo didn’t bother with a big stage show at E3. Once again, the company opted for a prerecorded 30-minute Nintendo Direct stream, filled with announcements and gameplay footage.
The idea that E3 can be “won” grows more dubious every year, and comparing Nintendo with the likes of Sony or Microsoft is a fool’s errand. Those two companies go toe-to-toe over 4K, console exclusives, and who has the most teraflops of processing power in their latest machines. Nintendo’s announcements often feel more like the company is in competition with itself. Which announcement features the cutest stuff? Is it the amiibo? An old franchise reimagined with clay or yarn? Mario’s personified hat?
Nintendo doesn’t care about having the most powerful console ever; it just wants to rekindle childlike glee.
And, it works. Sometimes.
Right: Embracing E3 as a playground
Nintendo’s presence on the E3 show floor is impossible to miss. Following in the footsteps of last year’s Breath of the Wild-themed exhibit, Nintendo has opted for a re-creation of New Donk City — the New York knockoff featured in Super Mario Odyssey.
By opening its doors to the public for the first time ever, E3 is on its way to becoming more of a show about fan service than ever before. The event now seems to be competing with fan conventions like Comic-Con or PAX. Lavish installations are not new to E3, but they’re increasingly extravagant. And Nintendo might just have the most impressive one at the show this year. It helps to have a strong new franchise like Mario preparing for another launch; it’s even better if fans consider your decked-out booth a must-see.
Right: Pokémon and Metroid are heading to the Switch
Nintendo was tight-lipped about its two most exciting announcements ahead of the show. Now we know Gamefreak is working on a “core” Pokémon RPG for the console. Nintendo also announced a new Metroid game — Metroid 4 — the first game in the Prime series in a decade. And it showed a remake of Metroid 2 for 3DS.
The first two games appear to be early in development, and Nintendo gave no clues as to when either would be released.
Wrong: Nintendo’s 2018 teases were sparse
Nintendo will finish out the second half of 2017 with the launch of Arms, Splatoon 2, Pokken Tournament, and Super Mario Odyssey. Today, we learned that we’ll also get Metroid: Samus Returns on 3DS in September, while Xenoblade Chronicles 2 and Rocket League launch this holiday. DLC for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild will launch at the end of this month.
In 2018, fans can expect new Kirby and Yoshi games for the Switch. That leaves a lot of question marks for the future of the console after the holiday season. Though we expect Nintendo to reveal more in the coming months.
Wrong: No Smash Bros. for the Switch
Pre-E3, it was believable that Nintendo would boost the Switch’s lineup with a new — or at least ported — version of Smash Bros. But, no such luck. Nintendo is trying to push into the competitive gaming scenes with Splatoon and Arms. No Smash Bros. on Switch feels like a missed opportunity.
And, while we’re on the subject of MIA games: where is the new Animal Crossing?
Wrong: A lack of third-party game announcements
Nintendo has had little to say about its third-party support. Sure, we’ve got the Rabbids gaming coming and some Zelda-themed gear in Skyrim when the game launches for Switch, but the company has yet to reveal a killer exclusive beyond its own properties.