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Nintendo 2014 E3 Presentation: Enough for a Resurgence?

Because Nintendo had chosen to once again omit itself from the conference competitions at this year’s E3 and conduct their own pre-recorded presentation, it’s made many wonder if Nintendo would soon be bowing out of the Console Wars and just submitting to becoming a Third Party Developer much like its partnered company and former competitor, SEGA.  I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t particularly like Nintendo, mainly because I feel as though they have not introduced anything monumentally new for some time now. I’m always hopeful for Nintendo though because I really want to like them, especially since I have to credit Nintendo with much of my childhood joy, as well as it being part of my continuous drive to develop games of my own someday.  While I don’t even own a Wii U – making it the only console in 20 years I have not purchased or owned, I still watched the event to see if Nintendo has what it takes to make me want to invest in them once again.

Cutting to the chase and detailing just why later, I think they may have won me over.  I’m not going to go through the whole event as I think most have either watched the event themselves or have read the list of things they mentioned, but more why I think they have recaptured my interest.

One of my biggest complaints about Nintendo’s developments over the past 10 years is that they consistently reuse their mascots with the same games over and over again.  Friends of mine love the likes of Mario Kart & Mario Tennis, and while its fun in a party setting (with a few drinks) it doesn’t carry with my interest other than something very simple to play while I’m a tad intoxicated.  You can’t play Need for Speed, Forza or even Burnout effectively after a few beers, but I can sure behave like a fool playing Mario Kart after sharing a couple of tall glasses with friends.

Mario Golf, Mario Baseball, Mario Tennis and Mario Kart are all sports titles in truth and the thing about sports titles is that they can become boring very quickly.  These are competitive style games, but they don’t do much in terms of challenging the player because it tries to place everyone on a more simplistic level of play.  Nintendo has always done well to bring a simple balance to games so players of all ages can enjoy them.  Though this design has made me feel as if it’s more like getting a participation trophy when you played sport as a kid.  Everyone gets a trophy, no real winners, just have fun.  I’m not telling you to play Mario Kart with your child and completely brutalize them because the objective is to have fun.  What I am saying though is that with so many instalments of the same game, it really shows that either you’re just trying to bank on a sure enough cash cow  or just capitalise because games with the name Mario on it will sell regardless.  There’s no deviation from the norm where these Mario games are concerned just like they’re not expected with games such as Madden, MLB The Show, or FIFA. However, now there does appear to be some new adventures on the horizon.

Nintendo is great at taking risks, but that’s why they are called risks as a majority of the time, they don’t pay off.  Seeing this conference gave me a bit of hope for what is to come though.  Super Smash Bros. has always been a huge seller on Nintendo consoles but it’s never been one for me to buy because it has always been a button masher to me, but I don’t declare it to be a bad game.  Of course there is a measure of skill that can be involved in any game, so I give Super Smash Bros. its credit for being a competitive game too.  There is something that does capture my interest with SSB coming to the Wii U and that’s Mii Fighter. Mii Fighter is a simple little game where we as players can take our Mii avatars and train the to fighter in a Smash Bros. type of fashion.  It’s not just that peeks my interest mind, the fact that they can be imported into Smash Bros. brings a sense of individuality to SSB that I hadn’t seen previously.

Super Smash Bros. has also introduced a partner assist with the Mii Fighter where your Mii avatar can fight by your side as you play as one of your favorite SSB characters and it still doesn’t there.  The introduction of Nintendo’s amiibo characters is a fascinating thing. The amiibo characters are a take off the popular Activision series Skylanders which also gave us the rival title Disney Infinity as well.  These figures will cater to the stars of Nintendo’s library of games such as Link, Samus, and of course Mario.  There are many characters in the Nintendo universe so there is the thought that these characters would all be the same and again there’s more.  Taking a page from their Pokemon series, these amiibo characters can be trained like Pokemon to develop a particular pattern of skills that will suit your means better as your assist character, so essentially, no two amiibo characters would be the same.  Of course there is the competitive spin that you can place on this where those that thrive on the competition of the game will dissect and triangulate what makes the best amiibo assist character as possible.  With all this happening, there is still more.  These amiibo characters also have the potential to be imported into other games and will start with Mario Kart 8.  It’s not known what these amiibo characters will do in other games, but it has a lot of depth for expansion on this idea as to where these characters will be able to go.

The Skylanders phenomenon is not something I have gotten behind just because the story of the characters is not something I find interesting.  It caters to more of the modern cartoon era, of which I don’t find fascinating or interesting and that’s probably just because of my age since I grew up with G.I. Joe and Transformers cartoons, not to mention others like He-Man, She-Ra, Rainbow Brite, M.A.S.K., and other cartoons of my youth’s era.  The creation of these amiibo gives me the impression, one that I expressed to Nintendo on Twitter, that they should immediately partner with every 3rd Party Developer they can to help develop additional amiibo figures based on their creations.  Imagine if you will Ezio from Assassin’s Creed, Solid Snake from Metal Gear Solid, Heihachi from Tekken, Scorpion from Mortal Kombat, Optimus Prime from Transformers, Batman from the Arkham series, and so on.  Obviously this would not come to be for all of these characters but I could see some of them joining up.  With Disney joining up with Activision along with Marvel characters, it would make for interesting competition in this market.  I knew it wouldn’t be long before when Disney Infinity was released that not only Marvel would join the ranks but also Star Wars character to follow suit when Disney had purchased the rights to the Star Wars Franchise.  The Star Wars characters list to be released for Disney Infinity has yet to be released or fully determined but I believe we can bet that it will involve something of the Star Wars animated series characters such as Yoda and Obi Wan, or dare I say Jar Jar Binks.  Still though, the amiibo figures present a huge opportunity for Nintendo in sparking new experiences in their library of game franchises.

Besides this part of the presentation, there were three other parts that interested me about Nintendo’s Digital Event. The first is that Nintendo is giving two characters a new game.  Yoshi returns with a new game, Yoshi’s Yarn that is a lot like the style of Kirby’s Yarn but obviously with Yoshi’s own flare.  It’s not a game I feel I would buy because I don’t find much interest in that art style, but perhaps if it was a cheap deal I would.  The second is that Toad appears to get getting his own little stand-alone game as well to give the Mario Universe some added depth from the Toadstool people’s perspective.  For myself, since Super Mario Brothers 2 was my favorite of the earlier Mario games, this makes me a little happy to see.  Super Mario Brothers 2 was seen as the least favorite of the series yet for its day showed to have one of the later sales releases of its day at that time.  Though Yoshi has enjoyed being the star of his own small collection of games, he is a character I feel was just a support character.  Luigi has had his own games as well meeting with little success from what I believe is just poor execution.  They were nice ideas, like Mario Sunshine was, but they felt like unfinished games or just a segment of larger game.  Mario 2 was a favorite of mine because it was the first of its series to bring forth the use of different characters carrying different skills that allowed players to play the game in a variety of styles.  I think Nintendo fans have been crying out for a beat’em up style Mario for years now and with the advantage of online play, it would make for a fantastic co-op game.  It’s not something I do see coming to be though anytime soon where these words are just wishful thinking on my part.

The next item comes from a game called Splatoon that follows along the path of a 3rd person shooter in which players battle in a crazy paintball battle where the characters are, ingeniously, squid characters morphing from a human to a squid form and vice versa.  Players shoot ink all over the map to help their teams move about the terrain with the action of transforming themselves to a squid and swimming through the ink.  When trying to move through an enemy team’s ink though, it yields negative attributes to players such as moving slow through the enemy ink.  What interested me about the game is that it takes the fast pace action of Call of Duty and puts it into a cute fun world.  Being a more mature player, this game is not a one I feel I would buy right away either though as it could be for young players and parents looking for a game that their kids can enjoy with friends, this one appears like a solid recommendation.  They didn’t make any indications towards the game’s story but it has the potential for large expansion and lots of replay value.

The last item that excites me was the presentation of the next Legend of Zelda game in the works.  It wasn’t determined that what was shown was actual gameplay, but it definitely looked a lot like of what I always wanted it to look like.  So many friends of mine cannot believe that I did not enjoy Ocarina of Time or Majora’s Mask, or even Windwaker.  They just didn’t do it for me.  The Nintendo 64 had the worst controller in my opinion, but the design of it was made for a child’s hands.  At that age I was in my late teens…hardly a child really.  That same design carried over to the Nintendo GameCube where again the controller was literally difficult for me to grasp, but wasmore comfortable than the N64 controller.  It still wasn’t enough for me to invest much of my time in so many other games coming out for PlayStation and Xbox at that time.  The Nintendo Wii controller took us back more towards our roots with Nintendo’s rectangular controller and paying homage to the original 2 button set.  Obviously the design of the Wii Mote was for it to be gripped in one hand for the purpose of motion control with the added effect of turning it on its side to be used in the classic style.  Perhaps its just because I grew adjusted to the two analog stick system developed by the original PlayStation that had me feeling dejected with using the Nintendo controllers of old.  The Wii U now has what some would call an absurdly large controller.  Honestly I think they should have just integrated the 3DS into its use but there’s a reason for everything Nintendo does where the Wii U GamePad has a unique use to it.  Lightweight and durable, it’s also much more comfortable in my hands.  It gives me a sense of wanting to play Nintendo games again though its hard to really get into as the Wii U still doesn’t carry with it much of a strong 3rd party support.

I want to believe Nintendo has what it takes to shoot back up into the big 3 instead of leaving it to a one on one battle between Sony and Microsoft.  I have been searching for a reason to buy a Wii U for a long time now.  My Nintendo Wii has sit abandoned for so long now but I can’t bring myself to get rid of it because of my collector instinct.  I only ever purchased 7 games for my Nintendo Wii and I only finished 1 of them.  The Wii U has presented a few strong titles, but nothing that has that bought to pull the trigger and get one.  Looking at this year’s presentation, there resides my troubled side once again, eager to want to purchase the Wii U.  While I don’t know if I will, these options certainly have given me the itch to once again.

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A video game fiend and enthusiast that has pretty much owned nearly every possible gaming console that has existed. Graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Game Art & Design with aspirations to become a full fledged game designer at some point in my life. I push for the evolution of games with no definitive winner to the console wars because if there were only one means to develop for, what would the fun be in that?