PrE3: Nintendo Gains Focus
Pikmin 3 represents Nintendo's current direction. While hardly one of Nintendo's premier franchises, Pikmin garners respect from anyone who's lucky enough to play it. The first Pikmin also proved that Nintendo could still create brand new franchises, even 20 years after its first hit. In the time since Pikmin 2, however, Nintendo hasn't been as creative with its software as it once was; it's a well worn argument, but not without reason. Nintendo's strategy these days gives fans what they want with an abundance of quality, but it doesn't look much further. That's why Pikmin 3 is the first landmark first party title on the console, and that's what will guide Nintendo through E3.
Granted, this approach improves on Nintendo's 2012 E3 showing. Its capstone, NintendoLand, evoked a confusion between casual and hardcore games. Nintendo knows how to make great casual minigame collections—just take a look at Wii Sports or Wii Sports Resort—but NintendoLand sought to capture a more serious experience by featuring familiar franchises like F-Zero and The Legend of Zelda. While it had fun games, NintendoLand split its direction between a hearty hardcore experience and an accessible casual title, in the end grabbing neither.
By contrast, Nintendo Directs cut right to the experienced Nintendo fan. These internet broadcasts share informative propaganda for Nintendo consoles and almost exclusively feature games from fan favorite franchises, whether it be Monster Hunter or Fire Emblem. (I enjoy them a ton, and I consider each one just as satisfying as an E3 presentation.) These videos offer a bevy of information and gameplay footage with a fraction of the pomp and circumstance of an expo, and their use in Nintendo's E3 conference will lend it focus.
So, Nintendo will most likely rely heavily on old standbys during E3. Already, Nintendo has stated that gamers will see a new 3D Mario game, a new Mario Kart, and a new Super Smash Brothers. Furthermore, questions linger in the air regarding the recently announced Yarn Yoshi, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past 2, and Yoshi's Island 3DS.
But a select few new experiences wait in the wing courtesy of third parties. Monolith Soft's X game remains a mystery, while Platinum Games' The Wonderful 101 has earned attention with its intriguing gameplay. Both developers took the Wii seriously, Monolith Soft with Xenoblade and Platinum with MadWorld—both unique and worthwhile experiences.
Neither X nor The Wonderful 101 is confirmed to appear in Nintendo's E3 presentation, but both games have been highlighted by Nintendo in the past. These and other third party nuggets show the most creative promise and hold the key to Nintendo's E3. With any luck, they won't be squandered in the same way that ZombiU was during Nintendo's 2012 E3 conference.
Nintendo isn't just making its message more exclusive, though. Many Best Buy stores will display special E3 demos for play. No longer confined to Los Angeles, Nintendo's E3 demos will reach a broader audience, spreading the experience of upcoming games without going through journalists. Granted, this means seeking out the demos rather than happening upon them in the Wii U eShop, but it's something.
For better or worse, the surprises will
be few and far between, but they'll be worth it. At the very least,
you can look forward to low-key presentations and some gameplay you
can actually get your own hands on. You can keep an eye on Nintendo's E3 page here.