As the final major press conference of the show, Nintendo certainly had some hard acts to follow. Then again, given the increasingly bizarre (yet watchable) videos Nintendo has put out recently, you would think it has got a few things up their sleeves.
And guess what? Nintendo certainly did.
Heck, the “Digital Event,” as Nintendo called it, kicked off with animation from the animators behind Robot Chicken featuring press-types asking about Mother 3 and lots of snarky humour. Once that was out of the way, we kicked off with arguably the biggest game Nintendo have for 2014: Super Smash Bros For 3DS & Wii U. Game director Masahiro Sakurai delivered a smattering of information about the game, showing off three new characters.
The first was the Mii Fighter, the most customizable Smash Bros character to date. The way Mii Fighter is set up is that you can create a Mii, import them into Smash, and decide upon one of three styles of combat: Mii Brawler (close-quarters), Mii Swordfighter (mid-ranged) and Mii Gunner. From there, you’re able to set 4 special moves out of 12, totalling 36. The idea behind the Mii Fighter was that Sakurai would constantly receive requests for all sorts of characters to include in the game, but couldn’t find ways to implement them. So with this system, you’ll finally be able to include whoever you want, provided you can make them. Nintendo also revealed Lady Palutena from Kid Icarus and Pac-Man (who was revealed at a roundtable event later in the day) as playable characters.
Immediately following this, Nintendo America President Reggie Fils-Aime began to explain something that’s closely related to Smash, but also to Nintendo as a whole. He went into detail on Amiibo, Nintendo’s entry in the ‘Toys to Life’ category (similar to Skylanders: Trap Team & Disney Infinity 2.0 — both of which will receive exclusive Wii U content). By tapping the Amiibo figurine on the Wii U Gamepad, you can download content into the game and back into the figurine. Super Smash Bros For Wii U will be the first game to use this system, with other Nintendo games to follow, including Mario Kart 8 (introduced with a Luigi deathstare clip). In the case of Smash Bros, the idea is that Amiibo fighters can be customizable and will have their own levelling system; the more they fight, the stronger they get.
From here, Nintendo dedicated a bunch of time to several different Wii U games. These included Yoshi’s Wooly World (a spiritual successor to Kirby’s Epic Yarn), Hyrule Warriors, Captain Toad’s Treasure Trackers (an isometric platformer starring Toad), The Legend of Zelda for Wii U(which is attempting to feature an explorable open world, similar to the original Legend of Zelda), Bayonetta 2 (which will feature the original game as a bonus), Xenoblade Chronicles X (formely known as just “X”), Kirby & The Rainbow Curse (a sequel to 2005’s Kirby’s Canvas Curse, with a claymation visual style) and Mario Maker (a game where you create original Mario levels in either the New Super Mario Bros or Super Mario Bros styles). With the exception of Yoshi’s Wooly World and Captain Toad’s Treasure Trackers, all of these games are 2015 releases. A later Nintendo event also unveiled Mario Party 10 (which will also be an Amiibo game) and the reclusive Devil’s Third (now a Wii U exclusive).
Nintendo closed out with a look at a new IP. Splatoon is an 8 player, 4v4 online action game where you play as human/squid hybrids. The goal of each match is to spray ink all over the map, and the team whose ink has coloured the most of the map wins. What defines this game is two-fold. Firstly, your human avatar can transform into a squid to not only recharge your ink, but to also navigate through the map faster by swimming in your own ink or up walls. Secondly, the game follows through on Nintendo’s desire to make the Wii U Gamepad more relevant: Not only does it allow you to see the complete map and position of enemy players, but it will also allow you to launch your character towards teammates by simply tapping on them. The game is set to be released in 2015.
Overall, Nintendo closed the 2014 E3 press conferences with a bang — plenty of announcements, plenty of gameplay and a generally strong lineup. With fortunes turning around slowly for the Wii U, this certainly was the press conference to show where Nintendo’s going with its still-struggling console.