Live and let die
With the dust settled on E3 2021 and Nintendo’s hand well and truly played, we now enter the phase where we once more, wildly speculate on what Nintendo showed us (BOTW2, we’re looking at you), express joy at the surprises that truly captivated us and filled us with DREAD and bemoan the fact that some titles simply will never see the light of day. Before we continue, let’s pour our collective liquor to the curb for Captain Falcon and Pitt, who were unceremoniously dumped into an active volcano by the latest celebrity Smash participant, Kazuya. RIP to F-Zero and Kid Icarus. By the same token, save a little bit of that sweet, sweet Hennesy for Pikmin 4. It’s been SEVEN years now since Miyamoto said that the game was nearly ready:
While not the crux of this piece, a quick recap of the Direct will help set the tone. If you’re just looking for a concise rundown of the titles announced, check out our recap piece here.
Something for everyone, but E3 is for the gamers
After Kazuya had tossed a load of Nintendo’s forgotten heroes off to their demise, (mad props to Kirby for refusing to go the way of the good Captain. Something new from the pink puff incoming?) we were treated to some news tidbits. Maybe it’s me but the announcement of Life is Strange, Guardians of the Galaxy (through a cloud version), Worms Rumble, Astria Ascending and Two-Point Campus felt a little bit meh. Don’t get me wrong, there’s something for everyone there which is clearly Nintendo’s marketing mantra of the moment, but for me, an E3 Direct should be blockbuster announcement after blockbuster announcement after blockbuster announcement.
When bananas appeared on-screen and an anniversary was mentioned, I immediately thought of Donkey Kong. Alas, it was nothing more than an announcement for an, admittedly, quite competent looking entry in the Super Monkey Ball franchise. The first reveal for a new Nintendo title followed and with it we were treated to Mario Party Superstars, an eclectic collection of remastered mini games from Mario Party games of yonder. The most pleasing aspect of this reveal is that the title will be online ready from day one. Nintendo’s recent addition of online functionality to Super Mario Party was, at the time, surprising but in hindsight makes sense as it has allowed Nintendo to get the servers operational, to a Nintendo degree of functionality at least.
Filled with DREAD
Next up, Nintendo did something truly wonderful and shared an update on Metroid Prime IV. It’s progressing well. That’s all they had to say. Nonetheless, it’s reassuring. But not as well as Metroid 5, which was immediately shown off in a slick new trailer. Lo and behold, Metroid DREAD!! It looks marvellous, like a modern-day 2D action-adventure. Like some of the roguelikes and Metroidvanias that have made their name on the indie scene. Except that this isn’t an indie game. This is a product polished to the nth degree. A Nintendo title made in collaboration with the highly talented Mercury Steam team; the team that pushed the 3DS to its limits and produced one of the systems best-looking titles in Metroid: Samus Returns.
More than anything Metroid DREAD is hugely important. It was an idea that Nintendo had fifteen years ago but due to technical limitations, were never able to realise their vision. Now, with the aid of Mercury Steam, the dream of DREAD has been fully realised and built upon. This interview gives a fascinating insight and is well worth a watch. Also, ‘miiiiiiiiibo!
More titles via a sizzle reel. This section once again felt like filler and out of place for an E3 Nintendo Direct. Like, do we need to see more footage of Just Dance 2022, Mario Golf and Monster Hunter Stories. Not on my watch, fella! Certainly not in Nintendo’s E3 Direct.
Remember that survey that was doing the rounds a while ago, asking if you’d pay full price for a Wario Ware game on Nintendo Switch? Surprise surprise, we’re getting a new Wario Ware game on Nintendo Switch. WAHHHHHHH! Wario Ware: Get it Together looks like a bona-fide classic Wario Ware game but the addition of a co-op mode will really turn the insanity dial up to 11. And, for the record, it will cost £39.99.
Shin Megami Tensei V finally got a detailed trailer and a release date. Considering that this title was announced during the initial Nintendo Switch reveal back in October 2016…. Well, by the time it drops, it’ll have been SIX years in the making…
Another sizzle reel and the inclusion of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 & 2 Remastered just seemed unnecessary. More filler! Danganronpa was first up, followed by a port of Fatal Frame: The Maiden of Black Water, which is also coming to PlayStation, Xbox and PC. If you’d asked me to wager on which Wii U game would be next to be ported to Nintendo Switch, I likely would have gone with Xenoblade Chronicles X. That’s probably why I don’t gamble! Those were both fine inclusions. DLC for Doom Eternal, the aforementioned Tony Hawk titles, the previously leaked (by Nintendo, nonetheless) and subsequently revealed (by Ubisoft) Mario and Rabbids however, not so much.
Advance Wars followed and it’s been rebuilt from the ground up for Nintendo Switch. I’m interested to see how this one translates as, while the aesthetic looks charming, it doesn’t half look derpy. Hopefully, the gameplay has been given some QOL touches and it plays well as a modern video game.
Dear The Legend of Zelda, sorry we forgot about our anniversary
The Direct ended with a Legend of Zelda section. I hate to be pickety but I’m so on the fence with all of this… The DLC for Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity looks pleasant enough, but is there more story content coming at any time? Then there was another little plug for Skyward Sword. It didn’t show us anything new and it still failed to really sell this HD version to me, personally. With every new trailer or screenshot, it just looks like the original. Textures are still blocky and lines are far too edgy. Surely they could have smoothed out the outlines on the character models?
So, Game and Watch units are going to be a regular thing, huh! To celebrate the Legend of Zelda’s 35th anniversary, Nintendo announced a new tiny handheld which will come with The Legend of Zelda, The Legend of Zelda II: Link’s Adventure and Link’s Awakening. And that’s it. No more titles are planned for the anniversary. Never mind an Ocarina of Time remake, we’re not even getting Twilight Princess HD or Wind Waker HD ported. Not this year, anyway…
At the close, we FINALLY saw some actual footage of the sequel to Breath of the Wild. It’s short, but there’s a lot to take in here, with the parallels between Skyward Sword apparent; from music, to skydiving, to enemies. A 2022 release date aim has been given but I’d take that with a tablespoon of salt, considering BOTW was originally touted as a 2015 title. Regardless, it looks mighty impressive and I for one am already itching for more information. I can see this being Nintendo’s E3 2022 showstopper, if of course it is ready for release next year.
Big hitters and little critters
So, with the rundown complete what would we say were the killer announcements? In my opinion you’ve got the Smash reveal, Mario Party, Metroid DREAD, Wario Ware, Shin Megami Tensei V, at a push the AOC DLC, the Game and Watch (although Nintendo indeed lied to us all when they said it would be a software only presentation) and the sequel to Breath of the Wild trailer. In all honesty this could have fit comfortably into a twenty minute trailer that delivered hard, fast information directly to us. I for one would have preferred that. The nature of an all-digital E3 would have allowed Nintendo to do an Indie World Direct as well as a Partner Direct, or perhaps merged those two together to create an all-encompassing conglomerate Direct without detracting from a rapid-fire Nintendo Direct focusing solely on Nintendo published heavy-hitters.
While the announcements of other titles weren’t overly negative, they certainly took something away from the ebb and flow of proceedings. Nobody was expecting Nintendo to come out guns blazing like Xbox and Bethesda did. They didn’t need to. Nintendo have exclusives, their IPs are the very essence of their DNA. And every single rational person can respect and understand that game development has been impacted by COVID. Only the most irate of internet fan babies would get uppity about a lack of reveals. A quality over quantity approach would have been refreshing.
At the same time, it begs the question: Is E3 even relevant anymore? Nintendo aired a Direct on July 15th simply because that was the Tuesday that E3 fell on. While we waited 530 days leading up to the February 17th Direct, I’d put my mortgage on another one within three months. If there hadn’t been a necessity for a digital presentation, due to an archaic and outdated expo, we’d likely have bore witness to a Direct of greater magnitude down the line.
Nintendo’s E3 Direct of 2021 wasn’t bad; it gave us some truly remarkable reveals and laid out the blueprint for the Big N heading into the second half of the year. But, at best, it was a seven out of ten due, in no small part, to its over reliance on filler.