If during E3 2016 Nintendo did not have much to show other than The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, which was pretty understandable given the colossal impact the game had, E3 2017 was a quite different scenario. Looking to power the Switch through its first year of life while keeping the flame of its sales phenomenon pretty well-fed with oxygen, and trying to show gamers that the 3DS is still a system that will receive their support, the company gave fans quite a bit to look forward to. Games that were still unknown to the general public were revealed, and upcoming projects whose names have been written on people’s calendars for quite a while were further detailed.
Fire Emblem Warriors
Nintendo and Tecmo struck a pretty nice, albeit not extremely deep, gold mine with Hyrule Warriors; one that is mutually beneficial for both companies. Nintendo is able to throw their fans a bone by outsourcing straightforward spin-offs of their favorite sagas, and Tecmo slaps the names of extremely famous franchises to their Dynasty Warriors series, therefore making it rather appealing to markets outside Japan, which wouldn’t – in general – pay much attention to entries of their hack and slash saga. It is a good synergy, and it is arguable the Fire Emblem property is more suitable to be adapted to the Dynasty Warriors format than The Legend of Zelda was, given it is filled with the epic-scale combats Tecmo’s game builds its gameplay around.
Given Kirby fans – at least the ones who are more inclined to the character’s traditional gameplay style than to his most recent experimental ways – have had a knack for complaining many of his latest outings have run away from the franchise’s characteristics, Kirby Switch comes as a rather pleasant sight. With looks borrowed straight from Kirby’s Return to Dreamland, and a brief video that gave the world a glimpse of returning – and long-missed – skills such as The Crystal Shards’ mixed abilities and Kirby Super Star’s helpers, Kirby Switch is one of the examples shown during this year’s E3 that indicate Nintendo has been listening to its audience.
Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle
Rumors about Kingdom Battle had been circulating for quite a while before it materialized, and it is not hard to understand why so many dismissed them as fake; after all, pairing up the main characters of the Mario universe with Ubisoft’s polarizing Rabbids and giving them guns to shoot at each other is one of those concepts that is a bit too far-fetched to be true. As it turns out, though, the information that had been spreading through the web is true; and, even more shockingly, the game actually looks like it is a blast. Kingdom Battle is a clear indication that Nintendo is becoming slightly less protective regarding its core properties and giving them freedom to branch out – which has been the greatest mark of Kimishima’s tenure as president. The fact it looks so great and that the idea of turn-based shooting with Mario, his crew, and wild Rabbids is so appealing and fresh is a testament that such strategy is paying off.
Metroid Prime 4
Metroid Prime 4 was long overdue, and nothing makes it clearer than the fact that out of all great reveals and announcements Nintendo executed within thirty minutes, it was the one that created the most buzz. More impressively, it did so with the most absurd teaser trailer of all time: one that showed nothing but a logo while the series’ theme song played on the background. Retro Studios’ absence from the project may come off as a disappointment to some, but the bases of the saga have been so firmly established (and the release of its most recent entry is so far into the past) that just respecting them will go a long way towards the delivery of a classic. Furthermore, a new staff will most likely mean plenty of refreshing ideas. It is in the combination of that long absence with the possibility of added twists to the formula that lies the potential of Metroid Prime 4. And if the game is going to be as great as everyone expects it to be, having a load of potential is the only start it could have had.
Metroid: Samus Returns
It is arguable Nintendo has been way too keen on remakes lately. During the past years, the company has built new versions of Ocarina of Time, Majora’s Mask, Twilight Princess, The Wind Waker, Star Fox 64, Super Mario 64, Mario Kart 8, Yoshi’s Woolly World, Xenoblade Chronicles, Donkey Kong Country Returns, and more. However, Metroid: Samus Returns feels both welcome and necessary. Not only was the Metroid franchise in dire need of a sidescrolling handheld entry, given the last one (Metroid Fusion) came a whopping fifteen years ago, but Metroid II: Return of Samus was also crying to be rescued from the black-and-white obscurity of the original Game Boy. Samus’ second adventure will become available – in brand new shiny visuals and gameplay enhancements – to an audience that never had the chance to play it, and the Nintendo 3DS will receive yet another strong release, one that will fill the void of the system’s lack of a decent Metroid title.
Besides giving Kirby fans the full-fledged traditional game they had been long claiming for, reviving the Metroid Prime series, and allowing Samus to have another shot at the sidescrolling gameplay, Nintendo – like an overly generous Santa Claus – decided to go ahead and also please Pokemon lovers who had been dreaming, for a good portion of the last two decades, of a console RPG entry. Ever since 1996, the company had been pretty adamant about keeping the major Pokemon games restricted to handhelds, leaving everyone to wonder in sad amazement about the unbridled greatness the franchise could achieve on more powerful machines. After this year’s E3, those dreams can be accompanied with joy rather than hurting, because the Pokemon games will take that long-awaited leap to home consoles, and if Nintendo goes all out when it comes to freedom (like they did with Breath of the Wild) and online features, the game and the Switch will most likely become unstoppable worldwide phenomena.
Splatoon 2 does not really need to do much to make those who fell in love with the original happy. The formula is so solid, the premise is so fresh and universally appealing, and the game’s embedded charm is so irresistible that the addition of new stages, characters, weapons, and gameplay modes will most likely guarantee that the game will be as well-received and commercially successful as its predecessor. What is most appealing about Splatoon 2, though, is how it perfectly captures the spirit of the system that houses it. The ability to take it anywhere to play alongside friends, and the ease with which LAN parties can be organized with the Nintendo Switch can make the borderline overly utopic world that Nintendo envisioned in the console’s introductory video become a reality. If Splatoon 2 cannot do it, no other game can.
Super Mario Odyssey
With the Super Mario Galaxy games and Super Mario 3D World exploring linear 3-D platforming gameplay to the last inch of its extent, and yielding astonishingly great results, it was clear that it was time for Mario to go back to his free-roaming days of Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine. Given the technological jump that has occurred since the release of those two last titles, it is no wonder Super Mario Odyssey looks absolutely astonishing. It is quite delightful to know, though, that Nintendo is not solely relying on Mario’s return to open worlds in order to make Odyssey stand out from recent releases. The travelogue format Odyssey seems to have has given its worlds ridiculously varied themes, and Mario’s ability to take control of other objects and creatures will make the game’s platforming possibilities both nearly endless and infinitely entertaining. Super Mario Odyssey is already looking like a classic.
Xenoblade Chronicles 2
Xenoblade Chronicles was a JRPG with MMO elements sprinkled onto its surface; meanwhile, Xenoblade Chronicles X inverted that recipe, taking the form of an MMO game that flirted, on certain occasions, with JRPG tendencies. On its title, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 had always indicated it was leaning more towards the former than to the latter, as the number attached to its name nodded it would be more of a sequel to the Wii’s masterpiece than X was. And the trailer shown by Nintendo seems to confirm that tendency, which is good news considering how Xenoblade Chronicles X – despite its undeniable quality and achievements – could indeed seem purposeless and soulless from time to time. Xenoblade Chronicles 2, with its beautiful cartoonish character models, is built out of the same bricks that turned the inception of the series into a classic, and if the track record of the saga is a sign of what is to come, then Nintendo may end up having – for the third time in a row – one of the best JRPGs of the generation.
Quietly, Yoshi’s Woolly World was not only one of the best recent sidescrolling platformers (which is quite a feat considering the genre saw a huge revival during the past decade), but it also easily ranked as one of the top games to ever star Nintendo’s charming green dinosaur. It oozed with so much charm and creativity (of the visual and game design kind) that it was hard to imagine a title could ever be so delightfully adorable. As it turns out, Yoshi Switch may surpass it on those categories, for besides cleverly replacing the fabric-related tricks of its predecessor with paper-like materials that open up wide gameplay possibilities, it also opts to play around with the depth of its 2.5-D scenarios. It is still too early to know if the Switch, like the Wii and Wii U before it, will be proficient in delivering a stream of great sidecrollers. But regardless of how many of those games may show up, Yoshi Switch looks like a strong early contender for the throne awarded to the very best one.