After Sony’s blood-soaked E3 press conference Monday night, I was looking forward to Nintendo’s more colorful and friendly Direct on Tuesday. The Big N is sometimes derided as being “too kiddie,” but I’ve come to appreciate their take on gaming in an industry that feels like it’s constantly pushing the envelope on showing gruesome deaths in 4K resolutions. There were no big surprises out of Nintendo at this year’s Direct, although what Nintendo showed still looks promising.
The show kicked off with trailers for a new game, Daemon X Machina, a mech combat game, and new DLC for Xenoblade Chronicles 2 called Torna: The Golden Country. The concept for Daemon X Machina looked cool enough, but without actual gameplay footage, it’s hard to judge.
Nintendo also showed some more footage for Pokemon: Let’s Go Pikachu/Let’s Go Eevee, which was announced last week ahead of E3. This is Nintendo though, so, of course, they’ve come up with a cutesy way to separate you from even more of your money. This time, it’s the Pokeball Plus, a controller shaped like a PokeBall which, of course, is sold separately. The controller also comes with Mew, the legendary progenitor of Mewtwo.
Nintendo also showed the friendship-ending fun of Super Mario Party, the latest entry in the franchise which destroyed the analog sticks on my Nintendo 64 controller. Prepare to be frustrated this October.
Next was Fire Emblem Three Houses, slated for a Spring 2019 release, and the worst kept secret of E3 2018, Fortnite for Switch. Nintendo also showed off a trio of indie games with Overcooked 2, Killer Queen Black and Hollow Night, and confirmed the release date for Square Enix’s new original RPG, Octopath Traveler, for July 13th.
The next part of the Direct was the sizzle reel, giving us a brief glimpse of about two dozen games coming to the Switch between now and early next year. There were few surprises here, with most of the games having already been announced earlier this year. Many of the games were cross-platform offerings such as FIFA 19, Dragon Ball FighterZ, Dark Souls Remastered, Minecraft and Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, bringing the Switch onto some level of parity with the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Others were ports or sequels to Nintendo exclusive games like Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, Donkey Kong Adventure, Splatoon 2 Octo Expansion, The World Ends With You: Final Remix (one of my personal favorite games of all time) and Mario Tennis Aces. Nintendo did manage to squeeze in a few brand new games, such as SNK Heroines Tag Team Frenzy, a fighter featuring the women of SNK‘s fighting franchises in embarrassingly skimpy outfits.
However, the star of the show for Nintendo was Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, the fifth generation of Nintendo’s popular take on the fighting game genre. More than half of the Direct was dedicated to SSBU, with director Masahiro Sakurai formally revealing the game to the audience.
Full disclosure: I’m a huge Smash Bros. fan, and I’ve been playing competitively since Melee (please come @ me, I’m better than you). We’ve known all year that Smash was going to be discussed at E3, and somehow Nintendo still managed to exceed my expectations. Sakurai revealed that every character in franchise history would be returning for SSBU, including my main from my Melee days, the Ice Climbers, and everyone’s favorite cloned mercenary, Solid Snake. The roster has ballooned to over sixty characters, with newcomers the Inklings and “Echo” character Daisy joining the squad.
And oh yeah, the impossible finally happened: RIDLEY.
All in all, it was a solid showing from the house that Mario built. E3 will be running for the rest of the week, so there’s still a chance that Nintendo will pull out something surprising. Check back for our coverage of the rest of the gaming festivities.
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