zelda

The Big N really needed to knock it out of the park at this year’s E3, after another year of lackluster WiiU sales and slashed profits had the doomsayers chattering like never before.  Fortunately, they came into the event with a bit of momentum from their latest big release, the critically well-received (and meme-generating) Mario Kart 8.  After their big day today, it seems like they have been able to keep those good vibes going.

There have been many big announcements, and while I am not going in to all of them in great detail, here are some of the projects that I think look the most promising.

We barely saw anything from the next entry in The Legend of Zelda series, but the promise of an open-world game is certainly an exciting premise for the series. As I recently noted, the latest handheld game, A Link Between Worlds, shook up some conventions of what a Zelda game is made of, and it appears that Nintendo is looking to take that idea even further.  Color me intrigued.

There had already been news that Nintendo would be rolling out their own line of NFC-enabled figurines a la Skylanders and Disney Infinity, and today we got the details.  The figures are called amiibo, and they will be integrated into games like Super Smash Bros., Mario Kart 8, Mario Party 10, and more.  Now a skeptic could look at these toys as just another way for video-game companies to separate you from your hard-earned cash.  And that is definitely true.  But the counter-argument is spending a few bucks on a new figure can extend the shelf-life and value of a game you already bought, as opposed to having to buy a new game at full retail price.  I don’t have much experience with Skylanders or Disney Infinity, but I can certainly see why gamers – kids especially – are drawn to them.  And something tells me that Eli and I will become fans and devoted amiibo collectors.

There were no new Mario games announced, but two of his pals have some promising titles on the horizon.  Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker takes the unique Toad levels from Super Mario 3D World and gives them a game all their own.  The levels that were shown today seem pretty clever, and it looks like the game will be an interesting mix of platforming and puzzle-solving. 

Yoshi’s Woolly World looks beautiful, giving a whole new sense of texture to the Yoshi series.  Those games have become somewhat formulaic, so adding the new dynamic of making the characters and the world out of yarn could breathe some new life into the franchise.

And speaking of new life for old games, Mario Maker lets you build your own custom Mario levels.  That’s a pretty cool concept, though I personally could see myself getting bored of it fairly quickly.

Another game that looked fun is Splatoon, a team-based shooter with a Nintendo twist – the characters are squid that shoot ink.  The action seems frantic and fun, and I am ready to make a BOLD PREDICTION: this game will be a big hit at a future Nick’s Marathon.

There were other announcements made today, like news of upcoming games in the Star Fox, Pokemon, and Xenoblade franchises, and there will likely be even more drips and drabs over the next few days.  But so far it looks like Nintendo has recommitted itself to making the WiiU a console that people just HAVE to get their hands on.  (The 3DS has already proven itself.)  Only time will tell how successful they will be, but right now we know one thing for sure: there are a lot of great-looking games on the way for us Nintendo fanboys.