On…Nintendo Direct @ E3

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Ah Nintendo. Whilst the Xbox 360 vs PS3 console wars were waging a few years ago, I was one of the few who held out for Nintendo. Not that I thought the Wii was any good, but because Nintendo first party titles will always have a special place in my heart. I grew up playing Zelda, Mario, and Pokemon, and I just can’t get over how magical those games were. Even though I’ve taken on new favourite games since then, I still think I would vastly enjoy a new Pokemon title more than most games. It’s funny, how they’re basically the same game every time but with slightly new tweaks, but that’s really the joy of it. I love the familiar, the nostalgic and I love being able to re-experience that with better graphics, more mechanics and a whole new story/world. So watching Nintendo’s E3 Direct (not a presentation, but a video essentially) was a reminder to all those feelings I had, all those warm fuzzy memories and really rekindled the younger gaming spirit in me. I had become jaded from all the gritty, brown and dusty shooters of recent years, so the Nintendo showing was a joy to watch in its technicolour explosion of light and sound.

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First, they showed off Pokemon X and Y. Now I’ve been following Pokemon X and Y news for a while, and Facebook’s Pokemon page constantly posts things which are clearly aimed at people at least 10 years younger than I am. But I’m not discouraged by this for I am still a diehard Pokemon fan, so the announcement of a new type Fairy which would be super effective against Dragon monsters was a pretty huge piece of news for me. Dragon pokemon have long been super overpowered, only being weak to ice and other dragon types which were relatively rare compared to other types. And you’d only ever have to fight Dragon trainers usually towards the end of the game, where their dragons would be incredibly high levels and could two-shot most of your less hardy pokemon. Now, the new fairy type goes some way to counteracting that, although they didn’t show many pokemon of that type. It looks like Jigglypuff, Marill and Gardevoir will become fairy-types…kinda wondering why Clefairy isn’t on that list if Jigglypuff is, but maybe that’s just unannounced. The new Eevee evolution called Slyveon is fairy type, and it looks so cute that it might replace Espeon as both my favourite Eevee evolution and my favourite overall pokemon of all time. Also, the games are being released on my birthday this year, so for those close to me…hint hint.

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Next game shown was Super Mario 3D World, which looks fantastic actually. Very much gives off that Mario 64 vibe of a fun and bright open world to explore. As good as Mario Galaxy was, there wasn’t as much scope for open world exploration as there was in Mario 64 and Mario Sunshine, and I hope they bring that back for Super Mario 3D World. The addition of multiplayer and other characters to play as is interesting, though I don’t think I could really play seriously with my friends seeing as we’d spend all our time trying to kill each other. Still, being able to play as Toad or Peach or Luigi looks pretty cool. They also announced the new upgrade for Mario…Cat Mario! Cat Mario can climb up walls and jump like a cat, as far as I can tell. Super cute stuff.

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Mario Kart 8 looked spectacular. The upside-down driving and the emphasis on diverging paths and tracks for each race level was a really welcome addition. I loved the maps in previous Mario Kart games where you could pick different ways to go and it looks like they’re really expanding on that in this new title. They also promised more online multiplayer modes, and to be fair, Mario Kart Wii actually had a fairly competent online system, so I think it’ll be a lot of fun. Hopefully they’ll bring back all the classic side-games like balloon racing and include interesting maps for those.

Wii Party U is pretty much what you’d expect. I never played Wii Party but I heard it was like Mario Party. Now, Mario Party pretty much went down the drain after like 4 or 5, when the minigames just took so bloody long and the AI was so retarded and each animation took 5 minutes to complete. Wii Party U promises 80 new minigames and a new type of game they’re calling ‘table-top’ games which you can play using just the gamepad. Nothing too revolutionary here.

Wii Fit U was mentioned, but only to say that they’re adding new features so it’s been delayed from its summer release date until December. I did actually play a lot of Wii Fit for a while, and I quite like it as a game to make it seem like I’m being productive. Again, nothing revolutionary it sounds like but fans of the previous games will enjoy this new title I’m sure.

They also announced there’s an Art Academy for Wii U in the works, but in the meantime, they’re adding new art features for the Miiverse drawing stuff. They featured a lot of cool art that people had drawn on Miiverse and I was pretty impressed. To be fair, they left out all the penises that people drew which is all I ever saw on Pictochat on the DS.

Next up was a long montage of 3rd party games for Wii U, 3DS and the Nintendo eShop. Nothing too exciting, though I’m looking forward to a new Shin Megami Tensei for 3DS.

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After that, they showed off Wind Waker HD Remastered. Now, Wind Waker is actually my all-time favourite Zelda game. I mean don’t get me wrong, I love Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask, but they just don’t come close to the magic of Wind Waker. And it’s far superior to Twilight Princess, and I didn’t like the emphasis on motion control in Skyward Sword. I’ve 100% completed Wind Waker at least 3 times, an accomplishment I’ve never repeated for any other Zelda game. It’s just such a beautiful, interesting and exciting game with so much charm. I know a lot of people hated the art style but honestly, looking at the HD version now, the game has aged fabulously well. I loved the cel shaded art style, it’s just so refreshingly simplistic yet beautiful. They promised some improved features such as faster sailing (to be honest, I never got tired of the sailing aspect, I just loved exploring and fishing and dredging up treasure). Also replaced Tingle Tuner with the Tingle Bottle which basically lets you send messages to the Miiverse and you’ll receive random bottles with messages too. Kinda disappointing, I thought they’d just move Tingle Tuner features to the gamepad or even to the 3DS but it looks like they’ve omitted it entirely. I actually did use the Tingle Tuner stuff on the Gamecube and it was pretty innovative stuff back then. I’m pretty excited for it, if I get a Wii U, it’ll be time to 100% complete it a fourth time.

Next up was a game called The Wonderful 101, which looks to be an action game where you control a large group of heroes who can band together and unite morph into giant weapons. Honestly, it looks a bit gimmicky, and nothing really stood out about it. Probably aimed at a young market and just capitalising on how big super heroes are at the moment.

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Then they announced for the first time Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze. Man, that title…and each line is in a different style/font…pretty garish all things considered. Anyway, the game is Donkey Kong Country, so side-scrolling platformer with barrels to explode out of. The selling point was new and improved camera angles to show off the beauty of the world and I must say, it is visually gorgeous. A great showing for the Wii U whose graphical potential haven’t been commented on much.

Bayonetta 2 was next on the list. I quite enjoyed Bayonetta for its goofy humour and fantastic light show combat. Bayonetta is back in the sequel with shorter hair and a complete makeover. Obviously there was a lot of debate back then wherever Bayonetta is a feminist icon or a misogynistic depiction of women, and to be honest, I err towards the side of being favourable to Bayonetta as an empowered female figure in gaming. I know, I know, there’s a hundred close up shots of her bottom and the angles she’s put at in cutscenes are incredibly sexualised, but I didn’t see her as a negative victim of misogyny. To me, she’s a stalward, kick-ass liberated woman whose sexuality is a positive character trait, not a negative. I’m sure some feminists will disagree, but having played through the game, I honestly felt like her fairly weird and quirky personality shines through and the game is overwhelmingly positive towards her as a female character. Her sexuality isn’t the point of her, it’s part of her, and she embraces it because she wants to. She’s a million leagues away from the plastic glazed over expressions on the Dead or Alive girls. So yeah, I am kind of excited about Bayonetta 2 and I look forward to the debate on feminism in gaming being opened up again, as I’m sure will inevitably happen.

Then there was a game enigmatically titled X. Pretty risky title to be honest, searching for ‘X game’ in google doesn’t turn up anything specific to this title which is a bummer. Anyway it looks to be a game about mechs! Or as Satoru Iwata calls them, ‘human shaped robots’, which is just adorable. It promises to be a large scale open world kind of game. Personally not a fan of mechs but I’m sure there’s people out there who are, considering that I’m pretty sure every major presentation at E3 this year has contained mechs at some point. Apparently 2013 is the year of mechs in gaming.

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Last, but certainly not least, was the exciting announcement of Super Smash Bros for 3DS and Wii U. Introducing the new challenge: Villager from Animal Crossing! He can put you in a net or shovel you into a hole. Hilarious stuff. I hope Tom Nook makes some kind of appearance too though. Also a new challenger: MegaMan! He shoots you with explosives! I’m so excited that it’s coming to 3DS as well, and I hope the online multiplayer support is put up to scratch with other games on other consoles.

Overall, for me, it was a strong showing from Nintendo. Plus, Satoru Iwata’s Nintendo Direct style is just so adorable, the way he bowed when he apologised after announcing the delays for Wii Party U and Wii Fit U, was just so sincere. I love the way they do business, unlike a certain other big name console giant…ahem. I realise a lot of gamers have grown out of the Nintendo hype of their younger days and have moved onto bigger, grittier and more realistic titles. I know, I enjoy those too, but still, my heart is with Nintendo and I look gleefully to this upcoming fiesta of games the same way I did when I was 10 years old and waiting for Christmas presents. I don’t own a Wii U currently because there’s no games for it yet, but if this line up of upcoming titles lives up to its hype, I might consider getting it. Anyway as a 3DS owner, I’m incredibly excited about the 2013 titles for the device because it means I can finally play something other than old DS games and Ocarina of Time. It looks like Nintendo were a bit of a slow burner for this generation, but they’re really hitting their stride with all these latest editions in the iconic Nintendo character wagon.

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