E3 2017 Impressions: Nintendo Spotlight

nintendo spotlight

Woo-hoo!

Just like years past, Nintendo didn’t hold a formal conference at E3. Instead, it aired Nintendo Spotlight, a series of pre-recorded segments that highlight whatever games they have coming down the pipe. Personally, I’m not mad at the break from the norm. The conferences are just overly-choreographed bullshit shows anyway. At least with Nintendo, the bullshit is rehearsed and edited. That way, the cringe is intentional.

Surprisingly for me, Nintendo actually had more than just two games to talk about. As with the other summary pieces, I’ll be talking about the games they showed in the order they appeared.

Xenoblade Chronicles 2

The sequel to 2012’s Xenoblade Chronicles is meant to follow Final Fantasy’s theme of similar worlds but completely different stories and characters. The only common thread is the world, a mix of medieval fantasy and science fiction. It reminds me a bit of Skies of Arcadia, but there are huge flying fortresses instead of airships.

The gameplay is like a free-roaming JRPG, though it does not have the open-world elements that the Wii U’s Xenoblade Chronicles X had. No mechs, either, which is a bummer. What Xenoblade Chronicles 2 does have are Drivers and Blades. Drivers are the human characters, like the game’s protagonist Rex. During the course of the game, players will find Core Crystals. When touched by a Driver, the Core Crystals produce another lifeform called a Blade. That Blade endows the Driver with a weapon and power. It’s through the swapping of Blades that players can equip Rex.

Past that, there isn’t much info. From the few gameplay bits seen in the trailer, combat looks to be a turn-based hybrid. I’d like to see more of it to get a feel for how it plays. The Blade system is shown as well, as Rex is accompanied by a female character that performs magic attacks. It looks interesting enough to me.

Xenoblade Chronicles 2 has a tentative release date of Holiday 2017. It will be available for the Nintendo Switch.

Kirby

Everyone’s favorite overeating puffball makes his appearance on the Switch. Kirby, which may be a working title, is a traditional side-scrolling affair. AS usual, Kirby gets to do battle with – and ingest – the usual myriad of baddies. Of course, Kirby still retains the ability to inhale enemies and assume their abilities. New to this game is the ability for co-op play. Up to four players can team up and do battle. If you’re playing solo, you can “recruit” enemies by tossing hearts at them. Once struck by your Valentine, they become your followers.

Kirby is expected to release sometime in 2018 for the Nintendo Switch.

Metroid Prime 4

I’m reluctant to even mention this here. Yes, Nintendo did announce Metroid Prime 4 during their Spotlight. But the announcement was LITERALLY a clip showing the title, with a blurb saying it’s in development for the Switch. That’s it.

Really? That’s how lazy they’ve gotten? Just a title?

Nintendo, get back to me when you have real information to share about the game. Sheesh!

(Oh yeah, and I’m REALLY FUCKING EXCITED that they’re working on a Metroid Prime game. As long as Team Ninja aren’t allowed within 40 light-years of the title, we should be good.)

Yoshi

Another working title? Wow, Nintendo is pulling out all the stops for this Spotlight. What’s next, a Donkey Kong game just named Donkey Kong?

Snarkiness aside, Yoshi is another charming side-scrolling game featuring my daughter’s favorite dinosaur. It looks to be somewhat similar to the Wii U’s Yoshi’s Wooly World in that Yoshi attacks with several eggs that trail behind him. Instead of a world made of yarn, Yoshi’s world is one of cardboard. Occasionally, he’ll use cardboard objects that give him abilities. And with a stomp, Yoshi can flip certain levels, revealing hidden areas. The trailer also shows co-op gameplay. Everything is presented in the same saccharin-sweet style that makes my daughter screech in delight despite her insistence that her heart is blacker than tar.

Yoshi is scheduled for a 2018 release.

Fire Emblem Warriors

Koei Tecmo and Nintendo have teamed up again for a Dynasty Warriors-style remake of another staple Nintendo franchise. This time, Marth and company take a turn at cleaving through hundreds of enemies with aplomb. Fire Emblem Warriors is being developed by Hyrule Warriors veterans Omega Force and will feature the same gameplay. Joining Marth are other Fire Emblem characters, including Chrom, Corrin, Ryoma, and Xander. They offer their help to new twin characters in their attempt to thwart an evil dragon that has appeared in their world.

Fire Emblem Warriors has a tentative release window of Fall 2017. It will be available for the Nintendo 3DS and Switch.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild DLC

Nintendo announced in February that they would be releasing two DLC packs for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. The first DLC pack, The Master Trials, will release on June 30th. The second DLC, The Champions Ballad, only has a “Holidays 2017” release date.

The Master Trials will give players two new modes. The first, “Trial of the Sword”, has players fight waves of enemies with whatever weapons are strewn about. Completing the trial will grant the Master Sword a buff that doubles its damage. The second mode is “Master Mode”, a hard mode meant to punish players. Enemies are tougher and can ride flying rafts. The mode will also include armors and costumes from previous Legend of Zelda titles.

The Champions Ballad doesn’t have many details but focuses on the four Champions of Hyrule: Daruk, Mipha, Revali, and Urbosa. Nintendo has hinted that they will also release amiibo based on the champions. We will find out what the DLC contains soon enough.

Both DLC packs for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild will be available for the Wii U and Switch versions of the game. A season pass containing both of them will also be available.

Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle

I gave the Ubisoft/Nintendo collaborative effort a mention in the Ubisoft Conference Impressions. Short version: it’s a really fun-looking strategy game in the vein of X-Com featuring Mario, Peach, Luigi, and Yoshi, along with a team of rabbids cosplaying as Nintendo’s main four. I’m looking forward to its release on August 29th despite the fact that I don’t have a Switch.

Rocket League

Rocket League makes its way to the Nintendo Switch. In addition to local wireless multiplayer and exclusive new cars and customization items, the game introduces a welcome new feature: cross-play! Switch owners will be able to play with Xbox One and PC players. Unfortunately, Sony won’t be joining the cross-play bandwagon because it’s afraid of mean people. Their loss.

Rocket League is set to launch during the 2017 holiday season.

Super Mario Odyssey

The final game announcement was the big one: Super Mario Odyssey. Before I go on, though, I want to mention something to Nintendo:

Uhh…guys? That whole mind-controlling-hat-on-dinosaur thing? Yeah, Meet the Robinsons did it first. Just saying.

Now that I got that out of the way, let’s talk about the game. In my opinion, despite the Sonic the Hedgehog flashbacks that everyone got when they saw Mario running around a real city, Super Mario Odyssey looks GORGEOUS!

The gameplay trailer shown during Spotlight showed off the typical spate of varied worlds we’re used to in Mario games. This game has the same free-roam sandbox vibe of Super Mario 64, only the worlds are much more detailed. All of them are extremely dense and look to have lots of nooks and crannies that are just begging for exploration.

New to the Mario games is his hat. Here, it is sentient. It also has a name: Cappy. He has two key functions. The first is the ability to take control of enemies it latches onto. When Cappy lands on an enemy, Mario jumps into the enemy’s body. When the enemy is dispatched, Mario pops out of Cappy. It’s a bit creepy, but it’s effective. The whole body-snatching power also gives Mario different abilities. When he inhabits a Bullet Bill, for example, he’s able to fly over areas he wouldn’t be able to normally traverse. Cappy’s ability also extends in innovative ways. If Mario throws Cappy on a lamp post, Mario is able to travel along the power lines.

The second function is as a weapon. The player can fling Cappy at enemies as a weapon using the Joy-Cons’ motion controls. That allows Mario to throw Cappy as a projectile. The attacks include a circular one that dispatches numerous foes. Cappy can also be used as a platform to navigate past chasms.

Gameplay promises to be typical Mario fare, which is to say it’ll be amazing. In addition to the regular desert and ice levels endemic to platformers, the trailer shows a 2D-inspired area. Along the way, Mario dons a plethora of outfits, including a white suit with tails, a Mexican sarape with a sombrero, and what looks like his golf get up from NES Open Invitational Golf.

I’m really liking what I see from Super Mario Odyssey. It releases on October 27th for the Nintendo Switch.

Odds and Ends

  • During Spotlight, Tsunekazu Ishihara of the Pokémon Company spoke about Pokkén Tournament Deluxe for the Switch. He also mentioned that Game Freak is working on a mainline RPG in the Pokémon series for the Switch.
  • After Spotlight, Nintendo’s Treehouse event gave a reveal for Metroid: Samus Returns for the Nintendo 3DS. It is a remake of Metroid II: Return of Samus, which was originally released on the Nintendo Game Boy.
  • Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime waxed rhapsodic about Nintendo’s sudden commitment to e-sports. He announced tournaments for Splatoon 2, Pokkén Tournament, and R.M.S. Still no work on a Super Smash Bros. tournament. It seems that Nintendo’s signature fighting game still gets the short shrift.

Conclusion

While Nintendo’s Spotlight didn’t have the weight of a Microsoft or Sony conference, they still showed off a decent amount of games. Although one of them – Metroid Prime 4 – was nothing more than a glorified poster, all the others were rather substantial. Thankfully, Nintendo has more than two games in the works. That’s great news for Nintendo fans and Switch owners. I’m still sitting out of the Switch frenzy, but my son is looking to jump in. A mainline Pokémon game will definitely make him pull the trigger. I think Super Mario Odyssey is a better reason for him to grab the console. Whatever the game is, he and other Nintendo fans should be optimistic.

Me? I’ll just wait for the SNES Classic Edition to come out and be completely unavailable so I can laugh at everyone who can’t get one while I play Star Fox 2 on my Pi. Remember: I’m THAT guy!

He has been playing video games for longer than he would like to admit, and is passionate about all retro games and systems. He also goes to bars with an NES controller hoping that entering the Konami code will give him thirty chances with the drunk chick at the bar. His interests include vodka, old-school games, women, vodka, and women gamers who drink vodka.

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