Mario, Hyrule, Splatoon: Here’s How Nintendo Won E3 2014

E3: the world’s biggest annual gaming event. General consensus: Nintendo knocked it out of the park.

E3 challenges console competitors to showcase their coolest games for the next year or so. It’s the place to be if you want to get previews of Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo’s upcoming heavy-hitters. With shaky sales since the launch of the Wii U, very few expected it – but this year’s stand-out company is Nintendo.

Here’s why.

New Ideas

Many companies are retreading old ground, releasing sequels in abundance. Nintendo is too. But this year’s crop of games features some brilliant concepts.

The giant has clearly observed how popular franchises like Call of Duty are. Shooter games are in. Later this year, Nintendo delivers Devil’s Third, an “over the top” third-person shooter based around the Kessler effect which leaves us all without artificial satellites. The Earth descends into war and the player has to battle it out not only with weapons but also hand-to-hand combat.

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They’ve countered that with Splatoon. Instead of bullets, glocks and sentries, you’ve got ink, paintguns, and grenades… full of paint!

But it’s not just a poor substitute for paintball. You can switch between playing as a human and a squid, the latter of which allows you to travel through the ink. Like Mario Kart, it focuses on the joy of multi-player. Maybe it’s just the paint talking, but it’s also got something of Pikmin about it.

Splatoon is what Nintendo does best: accessible, bright, and colourful fun for everyone.

Old Dog; New Tricks

The creative ideas aren’t limited to new franchises either. Nintendo could easily fall back on established characters like Mario, Luigi, Toad, and Yoshi without major advancement and not get criticised too heavily. Mario Kart 8, for instance, doesn’t showcase massive progression (adding 16 new tracks and the ability to drive on walls and ceilings), but frankly, it’s awesome. It’s that mix of new and old that Nintendo excels at.

That’s why we’ve got Yoshi’s Wooly World, Mario Party 10 and Mario vs. Donkey Kong all coming to the Wii U over the next year or so.

But many are over the moon about an unlikely release – Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker.

It’s about time that Princess Peach’s most faithful attendant (who, too, gets kidnapped) got his own game, and this looks to combine Mario’s beautiful style with the strategy genre made popular by games like Professor Layton (a franchise which also will segue onto the 3DS alongside iOS and Android).

A further spin-off comes in the shape of Hyrule Warriors, taking us back to the world of The Legend of Zelda. While you can battle through the familiar climes as Link, for the first time ever, you can also play as Impa, the loyal bodyguard of the series’ titular character. Unbelievably, it’s been over a decade since the visuals of The Wind Waker stunned players; Hyrule Warriors sees another jump in beautiful graphics. It’s due out in Japan at the end of August.

Getting Hands On

Nintendo’s been praised for their presentation countless times on the Internet, so let’s not go over that ground again – except to note the irony that Sony and Microsoft pampered largely to the press, but Nintendo, whose style feels like a warm, friendly hug, is the one who has racked up the column inches!

They really know what they’re doing – and that’s why Mario Kart 8 was alluded to via the now-famous “Luigi Death Stare.”

For some bizarre reason, the Wii U didn’t set the world on fire. There are some incredible games on it and some largely-ignored features that make it stand-out from the crowd. Even if there aren’t a massive number of games available (yet!), there’s plenty to tide you over.

Frankly, the Wii U is an absolute joy and – dare I say? – my favourite console. Well, okay, the SNES shares that crown for sentimental reasons, but still.

Our review was very favourable, noting that “it’s a blast to use the GamePad.” People are actually ‘getting it’: the Wii U is fun and innovative.

What helped them make up their minds, of course, was Mario Maker, perhaps the most notable game to be announced at E3. And that’s exactly what you get: the ability to make Mario levels and easily switch between not only editing and gaming but also at least two distinct visual styles. It looks to be a dream for any Nintendo fan.

Further hands-on experience was provided in the form of the sure-to-be-a-hit Super Smash Bros., which is due for release later this year on the Wii U and 3DS. How the gameplay will translate onto a smaller screen should be interesting, but we’ve been starved of Marth vs Charizard vs Ice Climbers vs Mr. Game & Watch action for far too long regardless.

Power Off

Super Smash Bros

Perhaps this is the reason Nintendo will continue to thrill millions: they know their brand inside-out. They know what they’re after and they’re not afraid to stick their neck out whilst also delivering new installments of IPs.

Scott Moffitt, America executive for sales and marketing, recently said:

“I think we are right at that tipping point where we have a lot of great content that is about to be released for that platform that’s going to tempt gamers into buying the [Wii U].”

And it looks like he’s right.

What was your favorite thing Nintendo had at E3? Tell us your thoughts in the comments!

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