E3 Week: My Highlights from the Nintendo Direct

I usually always look forward to the E3 Nintendo Direct. While Nintendo were the first company to  get away from having a live presence on stage, changing to a pre-recorded format, this has usually meant they can put out a snappier and more produced briefing. It meant they could have some fun with it and give us something memorable outside of just announcements.

After the past 12, very strong, months for Nintendo, with the release of the Nintendo Switch and games like Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey, expectations were pretty high as to how they would follow up their second year for their new platform. I was expecting a lot of big things from this direct, what we got was something a bit different.

Daemon X Machina

The direct starts off with an unusual kind of bang. Showing a decidedly Un-Nintendo mech game, accompanied by a heavy metal soundtrack and giant kaiju style enemies.

It’s a weird game that looks like something from that would have been announced for the PS1, with an excess for gritty action, destroyed cityscapes and quick-time events. I was hesitant to even talk about this one because it looks like such a nothing game.

But it was the thing that Nintendo chose to kick off their show with, so I had to at least mention it. Plus, as you’re about to find out, there isn’t a whole lot else to bring up. It has a look, I’ll say that at least. but I wouldn’t be surprised if I never hear anyone talking about this one again.

 

Xenoblade Chronicals 2

Nintendo showing off a Xenoblade game during their E3 show is a tradition at this point, and I don’t know a single person who plays these games. A systems heavy JRPG is the type of game you’re completely up for not interested in at all.

You can probably guess where I fall.

The one thing I couldn’t help to notice about this game was the look it had, specifically when it came to its character models. While all the characters are polygonal models, some of them had regular polygonal faces, while others had flat, almost traditionally animated looking faces. It was weird enough already, but the fact that we different charters interacting with very different art styles is jarring.

 

Pokemon Let’s Go Pikachu and Eevee

I’ve spoken about the console version of Pokemon Go already, shortly after it was announced. This segment didn’t introduce any new information about the game and showed pretty much the same game play that the reveal trailer did a few weeks ago.

The major highlight for me here was seeing Reggie Fils-Aimé handling that little Pokeball controller in his giant meaty paw.

I am a big Pokemon fan, but there is little that interests me about this one. A diet remake of the original Red and Blue games with a lot of core features replaced with those of Pokemon Go. It’s not something I’m going to pick up.

 

Super Mario Party

I’ve never been that fussed about the Mario Party games, not because I dislike them or anything, I just have no friends to play them with. From what’s on display here though, Super Mario Party seems to be the most innovative and interesting thing Nintendo have shown so far.

Returning to the traditional style of Mario Party after the departure that was the Wii U game, the game seems to make full functionality of the Nintendo Switch. When the Switch was first announced, there was a long list of all the different features the device had, features many developers have mostly ignored.

There was a lot of interesting things to see here. It’s easy to forget how much they packed into those little Joy-Cons, including “HD rumble” and some pretty precise motion controls.

The other feature which seemed cool was the ability to place two Switch devices next to one another to extend the play area in certain games. Its a feature that will probably see very little practical use when the game comes out, but it’s always nice to see the Nintendo innovation at work.

 

Fortnite

It’s Fornite one the Switch, what more is there to say. It’s the biggest game in the world right now, the ability to play this on the go, but with a controller rather than on your phone, seems like a no brainier.

It’s also a big game to try and push the paid online service that Nintendo are activating come September. After it being free for so long, it’s going to be a bit jarring for some to have to start paying to play online.

It’s a very popular game, it’s just that it already exists on every other platform already. I just wonder if we’ll start seeing Nintendo branded cosmetics in the game.

 

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Now we get to the main event of the Nintendo Direct, and quite frankly the most bizarre thing about it. Nintendo didn’t have a lot to show during this stream, but one thing they were adamant to dig into was the new Smash game, and boy do they dig into it.

I feel bad for poor Masahiro Sakurai, every time he makes one of these games it seems like it destroys him. Each time he finishes one he announced that he’s done making them. Then get shows up to direct the next one anyway.

Looking at this game, it doesn’t seem like it has the graphical jump that existed between the other games in the series. It’s part of the reason so many people were confused as to the exact nature of this game when it got first announced. It’s definitely a brand new Smash, but at a glance it doesn’t look a whole lot different than the Wii U game.

In a drawn out sequence of announcing which characters we’d see in the game, the Direct eventually got around to saying that every character that has ever appeared in a Smash game will be playable in this one. This includes the likes of Pichu, Solid Snake and Bayonetta.

Additionally, we got to see more of the Inkling (squid kid) in action after their announcement a few months back. It appears that this game is going back making you unlock the characters too, with the original Smash cast being the only ones available from the get go. Which is something I enjoyed about the older games at least.

They also announce that they’re reworking final smashes. Now they’re all powerful smash moves rather than some being transformations or passive effects. No more Landmaster or Negative Zone here. Plus, they’ve made Super Sonic less terrible.

This whole section of the direct is odd, because they spend significant time going through pretty much every character in the roster, which is a lot at this point, and show their final smashes. It’s cool but it drags on for a hell of a long time.

People wanted to see Smash, well they sure as shit got to see some smash here.

They go into a lot of depth about characters and changes to the actual fighting mechanics, something that would really only mean anything to competitive players. But they don’t really get into any of the single player modes or soundtrack. It feels like a lot of the information here really is intended for the competitive scene.

They end the extended look at the game by introducing a new character. And it looks like they’re going full meme by putting “he’s too big” Ridley into the game, and shrink him down as a consequence.

I mentioned before that I don’t live Smash as much as I used to. So this isn’t a guaranteed purchase for me any more. I’ll look forward to any further announcements though, specifically when it comes to the single player aspect of the game.

My verdict on Nintendo’s 2018 E3 Direct Stream

I was hoping there would be a lot more here to get excited about going forward. It feels like after releasing a big Zelda and Mario right after launching the device, they’ve ran out of steam when it comes to their first party titles. Don’t get me wrong, there are a ton of indie and 3rd part games coming out that look pretty good, but that’s not the reason I buy a Nintendo console.

There was no mention of the new Metroid Prime, no utterance of a new Animal Crossing and, most painfully for me, no nod to the new mainline Pokemon game that is supposedly coming out at the end of 2019. Hell, just announcing the titles would have been enough for me.

They only game of any significant note here was Super Smash Bros, to the point they maybe should have just called this Smash Direct. There was a lot omitted, including any mention of the 3DS or their upcoming paid online service. I expected more out of Nintendo after they’ve been in a pretty strong place after the release of the Switch, I just hope that they don’t slink back into old ways only only release one or two games worth buying a year.

 

And that’s my E3 week. I was going to do a roundup of the whole show, but I’m exhausted enough already from these seven posts back to back. Word to the wise, don’t start a new job on the same week you intend to commit yourself to a full week or updates. It was a good E3 I feel, Bethesda, Microsoft and Ubisoft stood out hugely for me, with Sony’s four pillar games looking fantastic. It seems like we’ve got a lot to look forward to in the next 12 months, just not on a Nintendo device.

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