NINTENDO AT E3
The 20th annual Electronic Entertainment Expo kicked off last week at the Los Angeles Convention Center, where game developers from all over the world converged to showcase their wares. As usual, Nintendo had a large presence on the show floor, but for the second year in a row, they skipped their usual pre-convention press conference in favor of releasing a digital media briefing online. This conspicuously cost-cutting move doesn’t bode well for the Big N’s struggling Wii U console, which has suffered slow sales and a dearth of third-party content since its release twenty months ago. Nevertheless, Nintendo emphasized its greatest strengths: an overly nostalgic software lineup and a continuing affinity for quirky peripherals.
Nintendo’s newest hardware comes in the form of a line of character figurines called Amiibos. Resembling the company’s various mascots, these figurines also carry character data, and when used in conjunction with the Wii U gamepad, they can insert their corresponding character (along with their custom movesets) into compatible games. It seems like a lot of effort for what simply amounts to unlockable characters, and it feels redundant considering Nintendo’s upcoming games tend to already include most of these same characters. The long awaited brawler Super Smash Bros. will pretty much contain Nintendo’s entire roster, Yoshi’s Wooly World will render the long-tongued dinosaur in yarn a la Kirby, and even longtime Mario cohort Toad will finally be getting his own puzzle platformer in Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker. Here are a few of the more interesting games on Wii U’s horizon:
Release Date: 1st Quarter, 2015
The most original IP on Nintendo’s show floor was this competitive third-person shooter, which tasked two four-player teams to spray the landscape and each other with multi-colored goop, corresponding to the color of their team. Orange sludge is a hindrance to blue players and vice versa, but players can transform into squids and rapidly swim through their own colored goop or even camouflage themselves and wait as snipers.
Release Date: 2015
You’ll never have to buy a 2D Mario platformer ever again after the release of Mario Maker. This surprisingly user-friendly level editor lets players design their own Super Mario levels from scratch, using all the items and obstacles that the Mushroom Kingdom has to offer. And with the press of a button, the visuals instantaneously upgrade from the 8-bit era to modern 3D graphics. Put this in the hands of a few ambitious amateur designers, and there will be no end to the creative and challenging maps available online.
Release Date: October, 2014
This title was announced a long time ago, but it’s still by far the best third-party exclusive for the platform and a much needed adult-oriented game in Nintendo’s overwhelmingly kid-friendly lineup. The action is spectacularly over-the-top, and the combos are as flashy as they are inventive. Best of all, we’ll be seeing the return of the stylish titular witch before the end of the year, because if you’re not a fan of Smash Bros., the Wii U’s holiday release schedule is looking pretty sparse.