58.8% Smash: A Recap of the E3 2018 Nintendo Direct.

After some great and not so impressive conferences at this year’s E3, Nintendo was highly anticipated to bring us some juicy news. With the potential for some much wanted first-party titles for Switch, I stayed up until past 2am with high hopes for news on Pokémon, Animal Crossing, and more. With caffeine and sugar in my system, my body was ready.

Like previous years, this year’s presentation followed the Nintendo Direct format,. The show began starting on a less colourful note with Demon X Machina, a mecha game for the Switch. Following this was Xenoblade 2 Story DLC ‘Torna – The Golden Country’, starting off strong with some footage of the DLC’s gameplay as well as a release date of September 2018.

Shortly after, we were invited back into Reggie’s living room, a familiar place for those who follow Nintendo’s E3 presentation each year. What did the big man have in store for us? What funky peripheral was he here to sell us now?

Say hello to Pokémon: Let’s Go and the Pokéball Plus Controller. You can play the whole game with it alone, not requiring a second controller unless you want to play co-op. We were told Nintendo doesn’t want to ship the Pokéball Plus ‘empty’, which I thought was a very cute inclusion for the younger players, allowing them to experience the excitement of taking a Pokémon home to put it in your game. However, the Pokémon that comes with the controller is Mew, an exclusive legendary. So far this seems like the only way to get Mew in your game, which won’t make the paywall haters happy.

We then got our first look at Super Mario Party, which showed new mini-games and some fascinating ways of playing that utilise two Switches together. It will be released on 5th October.

Up next was Fire Emblem: Three Houses, the newest main line entry in the Fire Emblem series. Mostly showing off cutscenes of war, as well as some gameplay footage, it’s already far more reminiscent of the Gamecube/Wii Fire Emblem games than the recent 3DS ones, which a lot of fans will be pleased about. I’m still on the fence about it until I see more, but the trailer definitely made me curious, and gave me high hopes for the rest of the presentation. The game was given the loose release date of Spring 2019, so it’s still a while away.

The next section of the direct was dedicated to showing off the third party and indie games coming to Switch. Fortnite, which has already conquered every other gaming console and platform, is now readily available on the Switch. Most of the next titles we’d already heard about, either in announcements or leaks. Some of the more notable titles were Overcooked 2, Hollow Knight, and Killer Queen Black for the indies; Just Dance, Dragon Ball FighterZ, Sushi Striker, Minecraft, Arena of Valor and FIFA 19 and more titles are also being brought to the Switch. Regardless of what you want to say about the Switch, you can’t deny that Nintendo is really pushing to have a lot of games available on the system, which is very welcome.

Masahiro Sakurai then tagged in, with a new fancy shirt and looking younger than ever, to talk about the newest Smash game: Super Smash Bros Ultimate. This was a nostalgic dream, with the huge announcement that the game would contain every previous Smash character — yes, even Snake and Pichu. The character selection screen is probably going to be a wild experience to navigate. While it mostly looks and plays the same as Super Smash Bros for Wii U, the game boasts new graphics, character designs and stages. New outfits have been added and many characters have had their gameplay changes. It’s too much to write up here, but with “over 10,000 changes”, there’s something in this new version for everyone. Even Kirby gets a new skill for every character that’s been added; as we’re reminded, “the more characters, the harder Kirby becomes to develop.”

Notably, there are completely new Final Smashes and animations, making that final hit feel even more epic to land. Transformational Smashes have been completely reworked, mostly making them easier to use or giving them more utility. Clone characters have been officially dubbed Echo Fighters, such as Daisy, one of the newly announced characters and an echo of Peach. New and old stages are here, with all stages having Battlefield and Omega options, a welcome addition for more competitive players. Sakurai has also given us new techniques and mechanics including new dodge mechanics, perfect shield timing and damage increase for 1v1 battles.

Of course, the presentation wouldn’t be complete without a new peripheral. In this case it’s a new line of Smash GameCube controllers and adapter, without which the newest Smash wouldn’t be complete.

And… another who character? Who could it be…?

I watched in disbelief as the newest character came up on screen, and the internet was blown away. Yes, that’s Ridley, and yes, meme magic is real — he’s no longer too big for Smash! I guess it’s true that if the fans hassle Sakurai enough, he’ll finally give them what they want. Just don’t ask him for anything ever again. Super Smash Bros Ultimate will be coming out 7 December 2018.

Though the announcement of Ridley was an appropriately mind blowing moment to end the presentation on, it was unfortunate that there wasn’t any news on the next Pokémon RPG and Animal Crossing. Overall, the direct was a good way to recap some information we already knew and focus on Smash, but with more than half the presentation dedicated to Super Smash Bros Ultimate, it felt a bit skewed in terms of what I was expecting, and I feel sorry for any Nintendo fans who aren’t keen on it. I found this year’s E3 Direct a bit more disappointing and less creative than previous years, which is a shame, though it’s clear that Nintendo has cemented a strong lineup for the Switch going into 2019.