Nintendo Reveals Splatoon, Next Zelda, And Many More New Games At E3

Posted by Bob Muir on Jun 10, 2014 in Videogames |

Zelda Wii U

While Microsoft and Sony had solid press conferences yesterday, Nintendo’s E3 Digital Event on the first day of E3 was much more impressive to me because it captured the self-awareness mixed with new hype of E3s past. Robot Chicken produced the opening (and various interstitial skits) in which Nintendo of America CEO Reggie Fils-Amie definitely ate a fire flower and lit a press member on fire. Then, Reggie and Nintendo of Japan CEO Satoru Iwata began fighting each other.

It was a all a lead-in to Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS, with their Miis fighting each other in-game. Miis are a new playable character in Super Smash Bros., available in three variants: Mii Brawler, Mii Swordfighter, and Mii Gunner. In addition, each Mii has a choice between 12 different specials for their four special attacks, meaning between there are 36 potential special attacks available between the three characters.

Nintendo is entering the NFC arena currently occupied by Skylanders and Disney Infinity. By buying a Nintendo figure called “Amiibo,” the figure’s chip is recognized by the system. For instance, in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, putting a Mario figure on the GamePad allows you to level up that specific figure, letting its abilities grow in the game. You can improve its stats, customize its special moves, and even fight against your own figure. Fighting against Amiibo levels them up faster. (Presumably, you can still play all these characters in the game regularly; this seems like a way to add additional functionality to those characters.) This will also work in Mario Kart 8 in the future, which amusingly used a shot of the Luigi Death Stare. There will be a peripheral released next year that allows the 3DS to use Amiibo as well.

And of course, it wouldn’t be a Masahiro Sakurai game without a ridiculous amount of content. It seems like there are a million different modes, minigames, and bonus elements. Most footage was shown from the 3DS game, which has a launch date of October 3, 2014. The Wii U version will be releasing Holiday 2014. Those are a bit closer together than previously announced, so I wonder if people will just hold out and buy the Wii U version, even though each game has a bunch of exclusive stages.

Next up was Yoshi’s Wooly World, which is something of a semi-sequel to Kirby’s Epic Yarn. The game looks crafted out of yarn and is surprisingly detailed. It looks like a fusion of collecting gems like in Kirby’s Epic Yarn, but with the mechanics from Yoshi’s Island (minus the crying Baby Mario), which are used for more exploration. There’s a two-player mode that allows you to eat the other player, then toss his egg to unreachable areas. This is unlikely to attract many “hardcore gamers” raised on more explosive games, but for the rest of us, it looks utterly charming. It will support Amiibos in some capacity.

Next is a Wii U game all about Toad, inspired by his levels in Super Mario 3D World. Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker has Toad exploring small 3D worlds with an emphasis on verticality. There’s a first-person mode using the screen on the GamePad. It will offer Amiibo support whenever it comes out.

Zelda head honcho Eiji Aonuma came out to talk about the next Zelda game. First, he showed us a vast world, full of color and slightly cartoony, a bit like Skyward Sword. You can even travel to the mountains in the distance, entering “any area, from any direction,” so the puzzles are based on where you will go, how you get there, and what you will do once you get there. Basically, the game is far more open-ended and somewhat non-linear, similar to the first Zelda game on NES and very unlike the most recent games. Suddenly, Link on Epona is chased by a strange monster shooting lasers; he defeats it by shooting a glowing arrow. Unfortunately, whatever this Zelda is, it’s not coming until 2015, but at least we know that this is all running in-engine, which is pretty impressive.

Up next was a very hype-tastic trailer full of CG for Pokemon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire. As expected, it’s running on the same engine as Pokemon X & Y. All three Hoenn starters and the two legendaries (Groudon and Kyogre) have new Mega Evolutions. (Only Blaziken had one in X & Y.) Both games will launch November 21, 2014.

Next was Bayonetta 2 from Platinum Games. It looks like more incredibly stylish action featuring crazy monsters destroying buildings and Bayonetta zipping about to destroy them. What’s more exciting is that Bayonetta 2 will include all of the first Bayonetta game, plus various Nintendo costumes for the titular character to wear. The game is finally coming out in October 2014.

It was time to show Hyrule Warriors, a Zelda game being co-developed with Omega Force, the makers of Dynasty Warriors. There is a two-player mode, with one person playing on the TV and one person playing on the GamePad. (This is a very good idea, because two-player split-screen co-op in previous Dynasty Warriors games is mostly awful.) Link, Zelda, a newly redesigned Impa, and Midna from Twilight Princess are all playable, though it seems there will be many other playable characters as well, in keeping with Dynasty Warriors games. The game is releasing September 26, 2014.

In a pleasant surprise, there is a sequel to Kirby: Canvas Curse coming for Wii U. Kirby is once again a ball, and you draw rainbow lines with the GamePad’s touch screen to guide him through areas. The art style looks like everything is made out of clay. Kirby and the Rainbow Curse will launch in 2015.

MonolithSoft’s next RPG was the next game shown. After the great reception Xenoblade Chronicles got, the game only known as X has been highly anticipated. There are lots of robots flying around, giant environments, huge space battles, and more. It turns out this game is actually called Xenoblade Chronicles X, and it won’t be out until 2015.

As was previously leaked, Nintendo has a new user-creation game called Mario Maker. It allows you to create your own Mario levels, based mostly on the mechanics from the original Super Mario Bros. But the levels shown are much more like later games, and it seems that you can easily flip the art style to New Super Mario Bros. if you actually like that uncreative style. (A SMB3 or Super Mario World sprite would be much better.) Mario Maker is coming in 2015.

Splatoon is a new four-against-four online battle game. It’s all about using paint guns to cover the arena more than the other team. The playable characters can switch back and forth between a squid and a person. As a person, they can shoot ink to expand your territory. As a squid, you can travel quickly through paint, though you travel more slowly through enemy ink. There’s an overhead view of the map on the GamePad, and you can tap your allies’ icons to quickly jump to their location, even across the map. It’s an original take on paintball that looks really unique, something that can’t be done with usual team games. The game isn’t coming until 2015 though.

Nintendo chose to end their presentation with an anime short featuring Link fighting Pit (Kid Icarus) in the clouds, until Palutena steps in to block the attack and join the fight. Palutena will be another new fighter in Super Smash Bros. Using the powers of a goddess seems a bit over-powered in theory, but she looks fun to use.

But it wasn’t really the end, as Miyamoto appeared to talk vaguely about games he was working on that use the GamePad. While the screen was blurred out, it seemed like it could potentially be a new Star Fox game!

In the post-show, the hosts discussed two 3DS games. The first was a new announcement: Fantasy Life by Level-5, a colorful action-RPG with life-sim elements. The second is Professor Layton vs. Ace Attorney, which was previously announced but is now launching on August 29. The hosts promise that there will be an entirely new 3DS game announced tomorrow night.

Next was a reel showing off a bunch of indie games coming to the Wii U and 3DS eShop. They all look interesting, so it’s best to just watch the video.

And finally, while it was only mentioned during the post-show, here’s some footage from Mario Party 10, which also includes Amiibo support. You’re still riding around together in a car like the last game, but this installment has a “Bowser Party” mode, which lets a fifth player using the GamePad play as Bowser against the other four players. There’s no release date, but I’d expect this one in 2014.

While lasting only 45 minutes and then an additional 20 during the post-show, I think Nintendo managed to accomplish quite a lot with their event this year. The Wii U is simply not selling well right now, and third-party developers are either not interested in developing games or are holding off until the user base rises. (Ubisoft is reportedly sitting on unannounced, completed Wii U games until more systems are sold.) I think Nintendo managed to show off a lot of fun, unique games this year, many of which make use of the Wii U GamePad to do things not possible on other console games. And of course, there was even a completely new IP thanks to Splatoon.

While I would have liked to see more third-party offerings, I think Nintendo showed a lot of reasons to buy a Wii U this year (or if not in 2014, at least in 2015). Those looking for games with solid stories, cutting-edge graphics, and stronger violence may not find much to like outside of a few games like Bayonetta 2 and Xenoblade Chronicles X. But those who simply enjoy games should find plenty to like, especially with the tendency for many AAA games to bleed together into some unrecognizable sludge. I’d keep an eye out over the next few days to see what else is announced, including new 3DS games, which didn’t get much attention during this event.

Of course, if you want to watch the whole event, you can do so below. It’s quite entertaining to watch these executives talk and participate in the hype, so I think it’s worth seeing!

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