Well, E3 is complete and the Big Three (Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft) have laid out their case to consumers about why you should buy into their consoles (and games) for the rest of 2015. While this isn’t the only big conference of the year, and certainly not the only time we hear big announcements, E3 is a Big F***ing Deal. So how did they do?
Sony won, Microsoft wow’ed, but Nintendo underwhelmed.
E3 2015 was highly anticipated this year and I think it ended up being a fascinating show to dissect. There were no new consoles announced. (Sad.) We saw one major accessory (HoloLens). And we saw a lot of new games.
Sony’s presentation had a lot of meat to it and, I believe, was the best in show. They unveiled several exciting new games one after the other: The Last Guardian, Uncharted 4, a Final Fantasy VII remake, and Shenmue 3. Now, we all know that Sony has little to do with FF VII (it isn’t even a PS4 exclusive) and the Shenmue 3 announcement was just for the Kickstarter, but these titles have been long-awaited by gamers and including them in their presentation was Sony brilliance. Gamers associate these games with who announced them and they’ll sell PS4’s regardless of the facts. Sony won.
Nintendo’s presentation managed to disappoint many fanboys for its lack of substance. They started with the unveiling of StarFox Zero which, while it looked pretty, did not look like a huge leap forward for the franchise. The Arwing seemed small, the gameplay too familiar, and the trailer didn’t have any “WOW!” moments. The rest of the presentation seemed to highlight games we’d seen before, such as Super Mario Maker and Yoshi’s Wooly World, and both Tri-Force Heroes and Hyrule Warriors Legends failed to carry the torch as they were 3DS games. (The reduced resolution of the 3DS makes it hard for it to wow on the big screen.) Above all, the presentation was simply poorly delivered with certain big releases not being highlighted like they should’ve been.
Between those two, Microsoft found itself without as much to showcase as Sony but able to present it much better than Nintendo. The highlights were so-called “Backwards Compatibility” with the XBox 360 (which is a fraudulent claim) and the HoloLens (which featured a deceptive demo). Each announcement illicited huge applause from the crowd! Sprinkle in the fantastic-looking Cuphead and the Dark Souls 3 reveal and you end up with a memorable presentation even if it was actually fairly thin.
Still, I can’t help but think…how did Nintendo fumble so badly?
Nintendo’s Fabulous E3 of 2014
It was just a year ago that Nintendo won E3. In 2014, they unveiled the next Legend of Zelda for the Wii U in such a way that we went crazy over the sight of swaying grass before our heads exploded by a mere 30 seconds of game footage. They shows us the gorgeous Yoshi’s Wooly World for the first time, a game that looks like nothing we’ve ever seen before. Mario Maker was introduced and our imaginations have been firing ever since. Amiibo were unveiled and, while we didn’t quite know what to think at the time, it sparked a ravenous frenzy last December.
And that was just the half of it!
Nintendo unleashed Bayonetta 2 on us and, as a bonus, announced they were including the first game along with it! There was Xenoblade Chronicles X, a new Kirby game and none of these were the best game that came out of that E3…it was Splatoon! Splatoon is currently ruling Nintendo’s world right now.
Nintendo not only won E3 in 2014, they squished Microsoft and Sony like bugs. So, where did 2015 go so wrong?
What Went Wrong in 2015?
The major problem with 2015 can be deduced by re-reading that list of games from the 2014 presentation. Xenoblade Chronicles X, Mario Maker (now Super Mario Maker), Yoshi’s Wooly World, and the next Legend of Zelda have yet to be released and were featured (again) at this year’s E3. It’s safe to say that Nintendo over-reached by including them last year, but the Wii U was struggling and they tried to pack as much buzz into it as possible. By doing that, though, it pulled the punch out of their announcement list this year.
StarFox Zero was the only big new announcement this year, but can you imagine if you saw Yoshi’s Wooly World and Xenoblade Chronicles X for the first time, too? What if they opted to show more Zelda footage as well?
Clearly there’s room for improvement, so let’s take a cue from Microsoft and re-mix Nintendo’s E3 presentation into something great!
The New Nintendo E3 Presentation!
9:00 AM – Nintendo’s Digital Event begins. The muppets were cute, but we don’t see those anymore. Instead, a techno beat plays with pulsating images of Nintendo classics appearing in and out on the screen. We hear the sounds of Super Mario Bros., Metroid, along with lesser-renowned but familiar favorites of old such as Anticipation, Contra, Castlevania, and more. It all culminates with some epic Legend of Zelda music that comes straight from a full orchestra on stage. Did I mention this was live and not a pre-recorded video?
9:05 AM – Reggie Fils-Aime appears on stage while Satoru Iwata remains absent. He’s not what the American audience wants to see. Cocksure, Reggie reminds us that Nintendo has been making fantastic games for 30 years now, but questions what they have done for us lately. “Let me show you,” he says sinisterly. The stage goes dark and silent for several moments.
9:06 AM – Fox McCloud breaks the silence: “Let’s do this!” Suddenly, AC/DC’s For Those About To Rock ricochets off the walls as we see the Arwing launch. Intense footage of firefights appear with huge bosses and incredible speed! Nintendo provides close-up and high-res visuals and leaves no doubt this game will be the best in the series. All of this culminates into a final encounter of an Arwing in trouble. Silence. Defeat. Then, the transformation! It’s a fuckin’ Transformer!
9:08 AM – Cut to black! (The crowd roars!) Reggie is standing there. He provides more details on StarFox Zero. He doesn’t talk about its low-level details, but rather describes it as “the biggest and toughest” StarFox game to date. Then he takes it once step further: “You think you’re the best? Strap in, because if you think you can 100% this game then give it a try, because we’re offering THESE if you do.” Behind him appears a set of trophies that harkens the crowd back to both Atari’s legendary Swordquest competition and the recent Ready Player One. Nintendo gamers are all in while XB1 and PS4 owners are now ready to buy-in on a wild contest soon to come.
9:11 AM – “And now, I’d like to introduce a special friend of mine…Yu Suzuki!” The crowd is going wild as the newfound Sega-Nintendo partnership never gets old, but here’s Yu Suzuki, creator of Shenmue. The false rumors (planted by Nintendo themselves) that Sony would reveal Shenmue 3 suddenly come to a head because is…is Nintendo going to do this? People are going nuts.
9:12 AM – Yu quickly summarizes the Console Wars, a time that even the new generation can bandy about. And Sega left the console game and released many of their games on Nintendo and other consoles: “There was a time when Nintendo and Sega ruled the video game world. That’s why I’ve decided to create Shenmue 3…and it’s exclusive to the Nintendo Wii U!” The lights go out immediately. The crowd erupts! They’d seen their system land Bayonetta 2 a year earlier, but Shenmue 3 is legendary title that’s been desired by gamers for years! Nintendo has funded it completely and oh…my…god…Ryo’s jacket is on screen while Metallica’s Enter Sandman plays during the trailer!
9:16 AM – As the trailer ends, we don’t go back to Yu or Reggie. Instead, the 3DS appears on screen. We see it rotate in and out while the best moments of its greatest games play on its screen: the finale of A Link Between Worlds, big boss battles in Super Mario 3D Land, Fire Emblem Awakenings, Phoenix Wright, Luigi’s Mansion…we’re reminded of who the portable champ is as the games pop in and out one after another every quarter-second and then inhallllle annnnnd…BOOM!
9:17 AM – The orchestra plays again as Tri-Force Heroes pops on to the screen. We see frantic multiplayer action occur and then we move into Hyrule Warriors Legends as the orchesta moves to the great new Zelda score we’ve heard on the Wii U version. We see game action never imagined on the 3DS before moving on to Mario & Luigi Paper Jam. X, Y, A, Y, X, X, A, Y…that frantic twitch of these great RPG games is shown on screen with footage of players having a blast with the new controls. As the third trailer ends, the stage is dark again before a lone spotlight falls on the conductor.9:21 AM – The beautiful music of Bravely Second begins as game footage of Square Enix’s latest 3DS exclusive appears. The wonderful backdrops of each area are displayed while new heroes are introduced. Bravely Default was a huge release a year ago, and now the sequel is here and it’s better than ever!
9:23 AM – We come back to Reggie now so the crowd can take a breath. He talks about past troubles attracting third-party support. He’s open and honest and he promises Nintendo will do better. That’s when he reveals Xenoblade Chronicles X for the first time! The game looks incredible! When it’s over, we remember that Monolith has been working with Nintendo for some time, so what’s changed?
9:27 AM – The Konami logo rolls on to the screen. And then…
9:28 AM – Nobody sees it coming, but the Contra V trailer is now playing. It’s 2D and looks GORGEOUS! It scrolls right, and up, and re-installs the magic of the original Contra in our hearts! The game features twelve stages, allows the player to take multiple paths ala Hard Corps, and features the biggest boss battles the series has ever seen! Konami has delivered and it’s exclusive to the Wii U and 3DS!
9:31 AM – The trailer ends and Reggie is back on stage. He reviews Nintendo’s history some more, but says there’s one game everyone came here to see. That’s when he introduces Shigeru Miyamoto.
9:32 AM – Shigeru’s on stage and we all expect a translated speech. NO! Instead, Shigeru is speaking English, having rehearsed for weeks to make this reveal. And here it is, The Legend of Zelda: End of Ganon. The trailer is amazing!
9:36 AM – Stunned silence. Reggie appears and calls out Microsoft and Sony, “For too long, we’ve been called a company for kids. Well guess what? We make the best games in the world for families. Kids love em, and grown-ups love em! Let’s see you do that!” The last 9 minutes are a rundown of existing games for the Wii U along with other new games being released that weren’t highlighted before: Terraria, Super Mega Baseball (in my dreams), Earthbound Beginnings, and even Starfox 2 is announced for the Virtual Console! AND SUPER MEAT BOY! FINALLY!
9:44 AM – Reggie stands there and runs down everything we’ve seen. StarFox Zero, the epic StarFox quest to get 100%, Shenmue 3, Tri-Force Heroes, Hyrule Warriors Legends, Legend of Zelda: End of Ganon, Contra V, Xenoblade Chronicles X, Fire Emblem Fates, Super Meat Boy…and all this…
9:45 AM – …for $199! The Wii U Console is now under $200. Lights out. Presentation over!
Doesn’t that sound better? Yeah, it’s some fan fiction for sure, but it’s not too far fetched is it? We’re presenting games like Xenoblade Chronicles X and Bravely Second in more dramatic ways than they were. (Deservedly.) We spiced up the StarFox Zero trailer and introduced a contest that will captivate the gaming world for months. We tap into Nintendo’s billions of dollars and bribed Shenmue 3 exclusivity out of Yu Suzuki. (The Wii U Pad would go great with Shenmue’s quirky mini-games, too!) We kept Platinum Games going on Bayonetta 3 (a game that won’t appear until 2017 in all honesty) and funded Team Meat to finally port Super Meat Boy to the Virtual Console! And how hard would it be to convince Konami to make a Contra V considering what just happened with Bloodstaind?
Given effort and cash, it’s not far-fetched. And with a price drop to $199 (and Super Mario 3D Land included), the system is more affordable than ever. All with techno and rock music that’s attractive to the kind of audience who’s watching E3. It’s not kids. It’s grown-ups.
Now, how does that sound?