Making The Grade: Nintendo’s E3 2016 Press Conference Review

Nintendo didn’t even try to hide the fact that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was their prized show horse for this year’s E3 (our coverage of that can be found here) but Link’s next grand adventure didn’t come alone at the biggest event in gaming. Even while they played the most definitive role of “second fiddle” ever, several other Nintendo titles were demo’d  at E3 and promised Nintendo fans some entertaining experiences for the rest of the year and beyond.

If you missed any of the trailers and gameplay sessions that Nintendo streamed across their social media channels last week, your resident Geekiverse Nintendo Expert has a rundown of thoughts and reactions to the games that caught my eye—for better, or worse.

 

pokemonsunmoonPokemon Sun/Moon (3DS)  – For the game[s] that Nintendo decidedly boasted about the most aside from Breath of the Wild, they didn’t show us all that much that was new with our next Pokemon journey. A few new Pokemon were revealed, mostly little dudes that are surely the first in evolutionary lines, as well as a brand new multiplayer mode that lets four players duke it out in a battle royal with their Pokemon. At least everything looks good in these new titles. The camera is by far the most dynamic that we’ve seen in a flagship Pokemon game—we’ll actually see the trainers standing behind their Pokemon in battle. This goes for your wanderings, as well, where you can see more of the environment than ever before and move with more freedom than in the past. Earlier this gen, Pokemon X/Y largely felt like a 2D game with 3D models; Sun/Moon’s in-game world looks like the closest thing we’ve ever seen to a fully 3D Pokemon adventure game. We’ll get to experience that November 18th when the game’s launch on the 3DS.

 

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Paper Mario: Color Splash (Wii U) – One of the painfully few Wii U titles still on the way doesn’t seem ready to do much to spur the dying system. For some inexplicable reason, Color Splash seems to continuing the trend found in the last Paper Mario title, Sticker Star, which was a very underwhelming game that stripped away many of the features from the first Paper Mario and The Thousand Year Door. Those games were RPG classics, but Sticker Star, and now Color Splash as well, apparently, dismissed RPG elements like leveling up, upgrading abilities, and selecting partners to do battle with. Also like Sticker Star, Color Splash’s appears to base the majority of its design based on single gameplay function, the talking paint bucket that you use to colorize your surroundings, which is sure to feel gimmicky and become repetitive as the game wears on. Color Splash launches on October 8th in America, but I see it going largely ignored.

 

tokyomiragesessions.pngTokyo Mirage Sessions  ♯FE (Wii U) – Speaking of “largely ignored”, here’s a game that has been woefully under-marketed. This unique RPG was one of the very first titles mentioned to be in development for the Wii U, and it’s only being released now long after the bell has tolled for the system. It didn’t exactly fly off the shelves in Japan, and it certainly won’t be a big seller in the West when it releases later this month, but at least those Wii U owners who give it a chance will get an extremely inventive and solid title that was brought to life by combining ideas from the Fire Emblem and Shin Megami Tensei franchises. The demos and new trailer that Nintendo showed off at E3 let us take a further look into its wild battles, where you’ll face off against all manner of monsters and ethereal figures upon flashy stages in front of roaring crowds.

 

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Monster Hunter Generations (3DS) – This game is a real sign that the Monster Hunter franchise has found a foothold in the West. Capcom must be confident that it can succeed beyond Japan if they’re bringing now a third title on the same system, and they’re bringing one that boasts some serious strides for the series. With the addition of Hunting Styles, battles against the great beasts are more dynamic than ever, thanks largely to the boost in movement and speed that the combat had been missing up until this point. New videos and gameplay clips made it a priority to highlight enhanced versions of popular monsters from across the years,  including the Silverwind Nargacuga, the Thunderlord Zinogre, and Grimclaw Tigrex. While the game will release in America on July 15th, fans can get a headstart by downloading the demo from the 3DS eShop starting June 30th. I know I’ll be jumping on that!

 

everoasisEver Oasis (3DS) – This was a pleasant little surprise. Developer Grezzo, best known for The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes and the 3D remakes of Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask, are apparently putting together their own take on the Dark Cloud formula. The reveal of Ever Oasis showed us a colorful, charming title where you set up shop in the barren desert and slowly build up your settlement as you gather resources and venture into the desolate wilds (as well as dungeons) to battle enemies. We won’t be able to get our hands on this until next year, but that gives Nintendo lots of time to show off more of what is already a very promising new IP in the strategy/RPG genre.

 

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Mario Party: Star Rush (3DS) – A game this obviously slapdash probably doesn’t even deserve as much exposition as I’m going to give it. The bland cover art alone signifies how run-of-the-mill this new entry the long-running party series is, and what we’ve seen in-game isn’t anything to get excited about. Ever since Mario Party 4 way back on the Gamecube, Nintendo has had a ridiculous habit of over-complicating the Mario Party games, adding in unnecessary and clunky new game mechanics with every new title. Star Rush, which sees you run across a game board as Toad (simultaneously with your competitors) as you recruit other characters and pick up items, barely even resembles a proper Mario Party!

 

dragonquestviiDragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past (3DS)– To no one’s surprise, this remake of the original Playstation classic looks like all the old-time RPG fun you could ask for. It was a brilliant title back when it released in 2000, and it should be brilliant yet again when it launches Stateside for the 3DS on September 16th. With new 3D models, new backgrounds, visible enemies in the overworld, and unique attack characteristics, it should be a fantastic upgrade of what was an iconic RPG in one of the genre’s most beloved franchises. Its journey to the West may also lead to another Dragon Quest game finally coming to America. Square-Enix mentioned at this E3 that, with enough fan support, Dragon Quest X, the series’ MMO, may one day see a localization in the West.

 

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Pokemon GO (Mobile) – Ironically enough, the game that Nintendo dropped the most new information about beside Breath of the Wild was a mobile game. Between the developer Q&A and subsequent game demonstrations, we got a further understanding of Pokemon GO and what it’ll bring to our smartphones. Real-world landmarks and buildings will represent different establishments like Poke Centers, Poke Marts, and Gyms, the latter of which are actually controlled by other Pokemon GO players. You’ll have a choice to join one of three worldwide teams when you begin, and various establishments, such as the Gyms, will be run by one of the teams. Another intriguing tidbit was the reveal of the Pokemon Go Plus wearable device that allows you to play the game while your phone isn’t at the ready. That device will be priced at $34.99, although the game itself is free-to-play. Most exciting of all was the news that the game, which is currently undergoing public beta testing, will release next month. We still don’t know an exact date, but it’s impossible not to be eager now that we’re steadily closing in on its launch!

 

rhythmheavenRhythm Heaven Megamix (3DS) – Nintendo closed out their showings with the announcement that the latest entry in their rhythm-based franchise got a bit of a surprise release. As in, out of the blue, Nintendo made it known that the game is now available in America on the 3DS eShop for a discounted price of $30. We won’t get a physical release, it seems (European fans will get that when it finally launches across the Atlantic in October), but it’s great, nonetheless, to see another one of the terrific Rhythm Heaven games get localized here in America, and for a lower price, at that.

Other games shown off for Nintendo platforms at E3 included – Yo-kai Watch 2 (3DS), Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice (3DS), Box Box Boy! (3DS), Severed (3DS and Wii U), Axiom Verge (Wii U), Jotun: Valhalla Edition (Wii U), and Runbow Pocket (3DS)

Overall Grade

C+

Nintendo’s E3 presence was what it was this year- a one-man show for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. The main act was astounding, but what little else they did have was basically swept under the rug, even the software that appeals to more than just hardcore Nintendo fans.

+ The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. All day, every day.

+ The 3DS is still going strong, sporting a great lineup of software for the next year or so

+ Pokemon GO coming in just a couple of weeks!

– The Wii U is all-but dead and buried

– With upgraded Playstation 4s and Xbox Ones only getting mentions and not reveals, the NX could have made a huge impact being shown off at this E3

– Can we get an actual press conference next year, Nintendo? Even just a Direct!?

 

Jeff Pawlak is the Nintendo Expert on the Geekiverse, and he’s been exploring dungeons as Link and leaping across obstacles as Mario for the past 23 years. You can find him on Twitter @JeffreyPavs, where he’ll definitely share more thoughts in the near future on all of Nintendo’s software and hardware updates.

 

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