Nintendo had an interesting showing at this year's E3. While its video conference was arguably one of the highlights of the week, what it physically had on the showfloor wasn't as impactful. No Zelda, no Starfox, no R.C Pro AM... Much like the event itself, there was a very real disconnect between big game reveals and what was ready to be dished out to the public.
Nintendo, of course, still had a major presence in the LA Convention Centre. Here's a rundown on what we saw, how it played and if it made us feel like heroes...
Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker
This is not a joke: Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker was the best game I saw while playing through Nintendo's offerings, and one of my favourite titles at E3.
An extension of the mini-game that featured in Super Mario 3D World, it's an incredibly stripped back experience: guide Toad to the end of the level, collecting items as you go and avoiding any oncoming obstacles. There's little more to it than that, but each course is so well designed and thought out it's hard not to enjoy Treasure Tracker's loving embrace, from both an aesthetic and challenge perspective.
As has happened on countless occasions, it's more evidence to remind you where the company shines. Few others could design something like this and make it so entertaining. Nintendo does it with ease.
Super Smash Bros. For Wii U
Before we get started, heed my words: Super Smash Bros. is a very good fighting game... if you can get along with it. I simply can't.
For one reason or another - namely that I'm stupid - the format just doesn't sit with me, and such thinking hasn't changed after going a few rounds with the Wii U version. It obviously builds on the blueprint that has been laid down by the series previously, tweaking without overreaching, revolutionising without butchering the format entirely. As it should be, this is being made for its fans.
That's not to say there aren't obvious positives to see. Visually it's taken a nice leap up from previous iterations and the roster - arguably the main appeal here - is growing bigger each and every month. With the likes of Mega Man, Wii Fit Trainer, Rosalina and Luma already making up the numbers, E3 also brought the announcement of Pac-Man… whose reveal got a pop worthy of Stone Cold Steve Austin circa 1999. Depressing…
An idea so simple you wonder why it's taken this long to come to fruition, Mario Maker is brilliant. Nothing more than a tool for you to create your own levels in the style of Nintendo's mascot - be that in an original or New Super Mario Bros. mould - there's something incredibly moorish about the whole concept.
This mainly stems from the fact you can make proceedings incredibly hard. Stacking goomba after goomba atop of each other before hurling a couple of hammer bros. in for good measure will test anyone, and not in a fair, or logical, sense. Being able to share these monstrosities is just another way to keep it relevant for a significant amount of time.
It's disgustingly accessible as well: levels can be created within minutes. It's unfortunate that at this time underground sections ('dunna dunna dunna… dunna dunna dunna…dunna dunna dunna… dunna dunna dunna... der der dun dun dun dun dun dun dun dunklenmsdfndsfnkd dun dun dun...') can't be built, but hopefully that'll find its way across soon enough.
Kirby And The Rainbow Curse
A sequel to the very good Canvas Curse on DS, Rainbow Curse picks up exactly where that left off and carries on with the formula, almost verbatim. Thankfully that formula is very good and continues to be so on the Wii U. So little has changed, though - you draw platforms for Kirby to roll across - that it's almost too similar, but it remains a very pleasing spin on the platforming genre.
It looks nice as well, a theme Nintendo was dedicated to throughout the event. I assume E3 was the time Iwata and co. decided to flip off those who accused the Wii U of not being able to compete in the visual stakes.
I have nothing against Splatoon. I think it's a pleasant idea, made all the better by Nintendo's insistence that it does things by its own rules. With that said, its take on the third-person shooter feels very lightweight at best.
With all the usual shooting rules in place - such as trying to wipe out your opponent - Nintendo has thrown territory-esque rules into the equation asking that as well as splattering enemies with your own ink, you use said ink to cover the map in goo. Whoever has coloured most of the map when the clock runs out wins.
There are some very nice ideas - reloading your weapon and achieving an element of stealth by hiding in your own ink, for example - and it's the definition of welcoming, and intentionally so. After a few rounds, however, I felt like the concept was starting to run a little thin - there was nothing here that enticed me to keep playing and any sense of progression I'd need to stay interested seemed absent. Admittedly it's still early days, and if Nintendo releases this as a cheap downloadable title then it's stock could rise.
The fact it has squids in it does not make it an instant classic, mind...
I love The Legend Of Zelda. I do not love Dynasty Warriors. I certainly respect the latter and understand why it has managed to obtain the following and success it has, but mashing 'X' till the end of time is not really my cup of tea. I don't much like tea either…
So, simply applying a Zelda skin to that experience isn't enough to all of a sudden make me think everything is going to be alright in the world. The way it's been applied here is certainly decent, and how items - such as bombs - have been worked in will please anyone affiliated with Nintendo's second biggest franchise.
If you're not up for linear slaughter, or RSI, though, this won't drastically alter your feelings. It's nice that it exists, even nicer that it means, in some sense, the Wii U finally has a unique Zelda title. But it's not Zelda. Nor will it ever be.
Yoshi's Woolly World
There is one standout feature to Yoshi's Woolly World and it's one that many have stopped associating with Nintendo over the last few years: it's one of the best-looking games I've seen in some time. Mostly down to art direction and textures, of all things, Woolly World is so damned nice to stare at you'll continually pick up on tiny touches Good-Feel have added in. It may not be as powerful as its rivals, but with the right team, the Wii U can easily compete.
Unfortunately, that's where the positives end. If you were a fan of Yoshi's New Island on the 3DS you're in luck, but if you happened to think that was one of the most boring games ever made - hello! - think again.
Clearly I'm not the target audience for this, but the foundations are so straight-laced and by the numbers proceedings become dull within seconds. It's like going for a lazy drive on a Sunday… but that drive lasts for 8 hours. And Yoshi is in the passenger seat*.
*That would be a better game…