E3 2014: Thoughts And Words Part I

Following the sales boost Mario Kart 8 gave to the Wii U, this year’s E3 was a clear display that Nintendo is fully bent on turning their latest home console into a profitable and appealing machine. During a forty-five minute show, the Big N unleashed a wave of great Wii U titles – some of which were already known to the general public, and others that were complete surprises – to make it clear to everyone that the system will receive a consistent stream of quality first-party titles during the next twelve months.

In that regard, their show was a resounding success, so let’s have a look at the pieces that made this year’s E3 such a big victory for Nintendo.

ImageBayonetta 2

Bayonetta 2 is undoubtedly Nintendo’s biggest bet to bring gamers from the systems of its rivals into the Wii U. The sequel to the commercially and critically successful Platinum Games’ hack and slash, the game only exists due to the company’s support of the project and, consequently, on a rare feat for Nintendo, the third-party title will be released exclusively on.

The unexpected masterstroke, and one that will bridge the gap between longtime fans of the franchise and those who have yet to play Bayonetta, is the fact the original game – in a remastered form – will be packed with the retail version of the software. Players will receive two games for the price of one, and that great deal, paired with the likely high quality of the games, will serve as the entry point for numerous gamers who will become a part of the Wii U’s install base.

ImageCaptain Toad: Treasure Tracker

Captain Toad’s full-fledged solo debut can be described in a few words: glorious fan-service. The cubic levels that seamlessly blended platforming with puzzle-solving were one of the highlights of Super Mario 3D World, and a pleasant break from the traditional Mario levels. In fact, Captain Toad’s little adventures were so well-received that many gamers were left hoping Nintendo would create a DLC package or a downloadable game with the jump-less hero as its star.

Realizing the incredible potential of the concept, Nintendo opted to, instead, deliver a complete game. Many question Treasure Tracker’s value as a full game, but doing so is both doubting Nintendo’s capacity to spring varied and clever ideas from simple scenarios, and overlooking how fun Toad’s levels were on Mario’s grand Wii U outing. The game will allow developers to focus on the novelty of the cubes to create challenges to a character that cannot jump, and the results will most likely be delightful, charming and creative.

ImageCode Name: S.T.E.A.M.

In the midst of the Wii U extravaganza, S.T.E.A.M. emerges as Nintendo’s big 3DS project. As a company that has worked to produce the amazing Fire Emblem and Advance Wars titles, Intelligent Systems knows how to create engaging strategy gameplay. This time around, though, by stepping away from those consolidated franchises, the developers will be able to tweak the traditional recipe.

Set on a steampunk London and powered by cell-shaded visuals inspired by comic books, the game promises to be accessible and deep at the same time. Players will be able to switch between the perspective of numerous characters to get better glimpses into the action or hide from enemies’ sight, hence creating an interaction between the scenario and the characters that is rarely seen on the genre.

ImageHyrule Warriors

Given how pretty much all newly announced Wii U games are set to release in 2015, Hyrule Warriors has solidified its position as one of the biggest releases the system will get on 2014’s second half. As if the weight of carrying the Zelda brand were not enough, the game will now hold the added pressure of keeping fans entertained until the 2015 flood of games moves in.

Visually, the game seems to show some improvements since its original unveiling, and the fact Zelda and Midna are playable will definitely appeal to fans of the two strong female characters. In terms of gameplay, it remains to be seen whether the game will fully embrace the Dynasty Warriors style – something that could spell some degree of trouble for it on the West, or if any influences will be extracted from Zelda games.

ImageKirby and the Rainbow Curse

Since the Nintendo DS had an unbelievable amount of great games that made use of its key functionalities, it is sometimes easy to forget some of its highlights. Kirby: Canvas Curse is one of the system’s most overlooked gems, and – aside from being a stellar effort by HAL Laboratory – it was also one of the first games to show how game-changing the touch screen could be.

It could be argued that its sequel, Kirby and the Rainbow Curse, would make more sense on the 3DS, but launching it on the Wii U is a wise move by Nintendo. The handheld already has a great Kirby game in the shape of Triple Deluxe, whereas the Wii U is still lacking on that front. Additionally, the title could do wonders to validate the system’s poorly used Gamepad and – much like Canvas Curse originally did for the DS – it could serve to inspire other developers to take advantage of the tablet.

ImageMario Maker

Nintendo is not one to envy the creations of other companies. They, after all, aside from holding an impressive set of franchises, tend to aim for games that are quite distinctive from those produced by other studios. However, if there is one recently created well-regarded franchise that some developers on the EAD department wish they had thought of, it has got to be LittleBigPlanet. Mario Maker is, clearly, the Big N’s response to Sackboy’s universe.

The idea of being able to easily switch between old-school and modern visuals whilst crafting a level is incredible, and so is the possibility of playing through fan-made Mario gauntlets that will probably range from inventive to downright brutal. Sadly, despite the sheer awesomeness, it is impossible not to wish Nintendo had adopted more unique visuals, especially for the modern look of the game. The New Super Mario Bros assets have already been used in a whopping four games, so a revamped modern look (perhaps one that would highlight the game’s do-it-yourself ways) would have given Mario Maker a great deal of personality.

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