Let's be honest: yesterday's E3 presentations are tough acts to follow.
Heck, even if you discount everything but the Sony conference, Nintendo had a tough road ahead of them in terms of capturing the attention of E3 obsessives. Even though they couldn't drop bombs quite as explosive as the return of The Last Guardian, or the resurrection of Shenmue, Nintendo's E3 offerings definitely didn't disappoint. So, let's cut to the chase, shall we?
I've had a lot of anxiety over this upcoming installment of the Star Fox series—now called Star Fox Zero—simply because any attempt to tamper with the rail-shooter formula usually leads to a sub-par experience. So, with the original and 64 standing as my all-time favorites, it was definitely reassuring to hear Zero won't divert far from what people like me—and presumably many others—want to see in a new Star Fox game.
Miyamoto directly stated this won't be a sequel or prequel, but rather, a spiritual remake of sorts—sort of like how Star Fox 64 did the same for the series' SNES debut. Based on the gameplay segments shown, Zero doesn't push the GamePad's features too hard, though; it's actually used pretty naturally. While the TV screen shows the perspective from the typical third-person angle, the GamePad shows a cockpit view, presumably good for hitting targets beneath your Arwing. All in all, it looks like classic Star Fox fun, with some ideas taken from the unreleased oddity, Star Fox 2: The ability to transform instantly into a bipedal robot figured heavily into that unreleased SNES game. And it's coming from Platinum, a fantastic studio who's yet to take a crack at the series—based on their track record, this bodes well.
The kinda-sorta return of The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures definitely struck me as a long time coming. With the phenomenal sales of the original Wii and DS, I always wondered why Nintendo never released a sequel for a console/portable generation that didn't require all of those extra accessories. Thankfully, they didn't abandon the idea entirely, and The Legend of Zelda: Triforce Heroes is definitely proof of that. It may subtract a Link from the four-player formula, but the removal of the largely meaningless competitive angle and the addition of ability-giving costumes definitely makes up for it. And this time around, it'll be online as well, so you won't even need friends this time around. Ah, the advancements of the future.
Nintendo trod some pretty familiar ground during their presentation, but the upcoming Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer seems pretty revolutionary for a series that's satisfied to stay in its little rut. Though the video didn't do much explaining, it seems the emphasis on Happy Home Designer can be found in customizing the entire town, rather than just your space within it. Really, the most fun I have in Animal Crossing is designing my dream home, and Happy Home Designer looks like it'll give me the chance to do this over and over again—most of the video showed the player character taking a hands-on approach to interior design for the sake of helping other characters. I bowed out of Animal Crossing after realizing I could only have that experience so many times, so hopefully, this new one will shake things up without rocking the boat for fans who love the series' reliability.
The amalgam of the Paper Mario and Mario & Luigi RPG series came as a surprise, but with the "anything goes" atmosphere of those two brands, I'm definitely psyched to see the results. I could be in the minority with my opinion, but I think these two RPG brands have kind of lost their way with their last two 3DS entries, but blending their different styles of play could definitely rejuvenate both series. All I know is that the short video Nintendo showed made the game look like an absolute blast, so hopefully the final release of Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam will be just as interesting.
As with any conference, we got a chance to see some things we already knew about: Xenoblade Chronicles X, Yoshi's Wooly World, and Hyrule Warriors Legends. And while the revamped Mario Maker looks even more ambitious than the proof-of-concept I played at last year's E3—it now features power-ups and customization options you'd only see in the most ambitious ROM hacks—Nintendo had a few not-so-exciting titles to show off. The Wii U's Animal Crossing Amiibo Festival looks like a cheap excuse to bring out a line of plastic figures from that series, as it looks like nothing but a laid-back Fortune Street or Monopoly clone—not the most exciting thing out there.
We also have the return of Metroid, and one that doesn't look very promising. It's not clear if Metroid Prime: Federation Force and Metroid Prime: Blastball are part of the same package, but regardless, these things look more like reskinned Bionicle games than anything from the Metroid universe. It might be a little unfair to immediately judge these games based on the tiny amount of footage Nintendo had to offer, but the trailer didn't look very promising—especially because we've been hurting for a proper Metroid game.
Again, Nintendo couldn't have possibly topped Sony's showing from last night, but their E3 presentation managed to show off a healthy selection of great-looking games for the Wii U and 3DS. And, especially at an event where pomposity reigns supreme, Nintendo's approach definitely feels refreshing. I honestly can't think of another major console manufacturer that would frame their presentation using Muppet versions of powerful executives, and the brief look at Super Mario Bros.' original design documents certainly was a treat—can't you throw all of these into a nice, hardcover book, Nintendo? So yeah, no new proper Mario, no showing of the Wii U's Zelda, but still, a whole bunch of reasons to stay excited about Nintendo, at least into the near future.