Nintendo (NASDAQOTH:NTDOY) had a lot to prove heading into this year's E3 show. The company's presence at the show in recent years has been the subject of frequent criticism, and its 3DS and Wii U platforms are in clear need of some spark. What did Nintendo have to show during its pre-recorded E3 Digital Event? Was the format successful?
Animated figurines abound
The Nintendo Digital Event kicked off with an animated segment that resembled the popular animated show Robot Chicken. This introduction gave way to demonstrations of Smash Bros. Wii U. President Satoru Iwata and Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime then squared off in the game. This was followed by the debut of Nintendo's Near Field Communication figurines. The interactive toys will play a big role in the "Smash" series.
Nintendo's Digital Event continued with a spotlight on Super Smash Bros. for 3DS. The release date for Super Smash Bros. Wii U was also confirmed for a holiday 2014 release. Smash Bros. for 3DS has been moved from a summer release to October 3.
Fils-Aime reassumed presentation duties and continued describing the company's budding NFC figurine business. The figures are called "amiibo." The fundamental principle is very similar to Activision Blizzard's Skylanders, and Disney's Infinity. Super Smash Bros. Wii U will be the first game to use the amiibo figures.
The amiibo platform looks to be a major focus for Nintendo, with updates to the company's hit Mario Kart 8 coming by way of Nintendo's NFC figurines.
Upcoming and previously unannounced Wii U games
Next up for Fils-Aime was the presentation of some upcoming and previously unannounced games. He segued into the presentation by detailing his love for the original Mario games, before the focus switched to Nintendo's developers. The first game shown was Yoshi's Wooly World. The title looked appropriately full of cheer and color, but the presentation of the game dragged a bit; this part of the show seemed to lingered too long.
The next game up was a new reveal, and revolved around Nintendo's Toad character. Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker will be available on Wii U this fall.
Zelda and Pokémon return
This announcement was followed up by a "Robot Chicken"-esque short featuring Bowzer and Zelda. From there, Zelda helmer Eiji Anomou took center screen to talk about the series' history and the upcoming Zelda Wii U game. Anomou then showed footage of the upcoming game, starting with Link and his horse looking out across a vast, lushly rendered field. The game looks great and will have more of a focus on open world gameplay. The title is set for a 2015 release.
Nintendo's next game on display introduced itself with a live-action segment that saw an adventurer making his way through jungles and caves before revealing hidden Pokémon. The promo led into footage of Pokémon Omega Ruby and Pokémon Omega Sapphire. The games will hit the DS on November 11 this year.
Team-ups and collaborations
The Pokemon game was followed by another "Robot Chicken"-style segment, which led into a presentation of Bayonetta 2 from Platinum Games and Sega.
From there, focus returned to the realm of Hyrule, with developers from the Hyrule Warriors team taking some time to detail the project. The game is a collaboration between Tecmo Koei and Nintendo.
Kirby, Mario, Xenoblade, and Splatoon
Next up was a sequel to DS game Kirby's Canvas Curse, this time for the Wii U and titled Kirby and the Rainbow Curse. Viewers were then treated to footage from Monolithsoft's expansive RPG, Xenoblade Chronicles: X, followed by another brief animated comedy short, and a first look at Mario Maker, a game that lets you build your own levels in the famous platformer.
The next game was Splatoon, which looks similar to a 4v4 paintball match featuring cartoon squids as characters, except the goal involves covering the environment in ink, rather than opponents. Players can switch between human and squid forms. The title will launch in 2015.
A new character and new games
Reggie resumed presentation duties and promised more gaming news to follow, before introducing a new video segment. A new character for both 3DS and Wii U versions of Super Smash Bros. was revealed, followed by a brief segment featuring game creator Shigeru Miyamato. The legendary designer promised new games to show in the remainder of the conference, while footage from his new Star Fox game played on a television in the background.
How did Nintendo do?
Nintendo's show did not match what was put forth by Microsoft or Sony in terms of high-profile software, but the format was a good fit for the company. Zelda Wii U looked very promising, but footage was in short supply. The biggest takeaway from the show is that Nintendo plans to give the Wii U considerable support well into 2015. The new games announced for the struggling console didn't look particularly high-budget, but there was certainly some interesting content.