It’s been a few years now since Nintendo ditched the traditional E3 press conference. Since then, the Nintendo Direct-style of press release has reigned dominant for the oldest company in gaming. Some prefer this more, well, direct style to video game announcements. Others like the spectacle of a company renting out a theater. Whichever you prefer, there’s no denying that Nintendo always marches to the beat of their own drummer.
We knew Super Smash Bros. for the Switch would be the focus of Nintendo’s E3 efforts. Smash ended up dominating most of Nintendo’s conversation. But, there were other announcements to get fans excited over. But in a year full of top-notch press conferences, did Nintendo do enough?
Smash, Smash, and More Smash
Some complained over the dominance of Smash. To those, I ask, did you not know what you were getting into? Nintendo made us fully aware Smash would be the cornerstone of the E3 direct. Thankfully, the true reveal of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate did not disappoint.
Ultimate is essentially Super Smash Bros. for the Wii U, but it’s not a complete port, per se. Thousands of changes have been made, from the character roster to the gameplay itself. The game is now much faster than both Brawl and Smash 4, and Final Smashes have been tweaked to be faster and less disruptive, as well.
These are great changes. The last two (three, if you count the 3DS version) Smash games have been generally criticized for being slower-paced. This alleviates this problem, appeasing the hardcore fans. In general, a more fast-paced Smash game is something we all need. Despite its constant tournament presence, Super Smash Bros. games are also quite popular as party games. A faster-paced game will certainly make playing it with a crowd extra frantic.
But when it comes to mechanical changes, I think it is the tweaks to the final smashes that excite me the most. I’m generally pro-Final Smash, but I do understand that they can seriously break the momentum in the fight. While making them all quick, heavy-hitting moves that don’t linger, it does a lot to keep the pace of the fight going. I’m not sure if it will be enough to quell the concerns of the hardcore fans who are very much against them, but they are definitely a step forward for the controversial addition.
Everyone is Here!
Without a doubt, the biggest news story from Super Smash Bros. Ultimate was that it would include every single fighter from the series’ history. So not only will the entire Wii U roster show up again, Ultimate will also showcase the return of fighters like Snake, Ice Climbers, and Pichu.
It’s a cool inclusion for sure, and one that will satisfy both hardcore and casual Smash players. Ultimate is paying respect to the series’ past, but there is also a feeling that this look to the past is in favor of looking ahead.
Sakurai has stated that there won’t be as many new fighters this time around, in favor of bringing back veteran entrants. Part of the fun of a new Smash game is the speculation and wish lists over which characters will make their fighting debut. One of the highlights of Super Smash Bros. Wii U was all of the characters reveal trailers. Ultimate has kept up that trend a bit, with the Inklings, and most recently, the Ridley reveal, but it seems like we won’t be getting much more (if any) than that.
Ultimate has the biggest roster of any Smash game thus far with 68 fighters. For this round, characters known as “Echo Fighters” are fighters who share many similarities as another fighter, differing only in appearance and slight changes in movesets. For example, a character like Princess Daisy is an Echo Fighter for Peach, though there are some differences in their abilities.
There’s also three versions of Link. Young Link, Toon Link, and Breath of the Wild Link. To be fair, they all have their differences, and players will have a preference for one over the others. But it is a little disappointing to have such an overwhelming roster, but not as much variation as it could have had.
There’s always the possibility that future characters will be introduced via DLC. In fact, considering the support the Wii U Smash got, it’s likely we’ll see even more additions to the roster in the future.
As was heavily rumored, Fortnite was released on the Switch the same day as the Direct. As Fortnite is the biggest game in the world, its inclusion on the Switch was a no-brainer. Thankfully, it wasn’t a Minecraft-like situation, when the pop culture sensation arrived on the Wii U much later than it should have.
The most exciting part of the Fortnite reveal was the fact that it would include cross-play from the start. Considering similar moves were included with Rocket League and Minecraft, this isn’t terribly surprising. But it’s a welcome feature, and truly shows how Nintendo is really hitting a new stride this generation.
Indies Continue to Reign Supreme
One of the surprise successes of the Switch has been its commitment to showcasing indie titles. E3 2018 showed no indication of that slowing down for Nintendo. Overcooked 2 promises to be as much (if not more) of a frantic party game as its predecessor. Killer Black Queen will be a huge get for the system.
Indie games probably aren’t going to move systems. But Nintendo showing its commitment to making the Switch a home to these smaller titles is admirable, and only helps make the Switch library that much more interesting.
Best of the Rest
The new Fire Emblem game was finally revealed, along with the announcement that it was being moved back to 2019. Fire Emblem: Three Houses is the first Fire Emblem game to be on a home console in some time, so it is a significant title. It’s a series that has quickly become one of Nintendo’s cornerstone franchises, so to see it make its proper Switch debut is exciting.
Xenoblade Chronicles 2 got some support with the announcement of upcoming DLC. The most noteworthy bit of information was the return of Shulk and Fiora from the first game. Fighting sensation Dragon Ball FigtherZ will be coming to the Switch later this year, as well. Seeing it’s gorgeous visual style in handheld mode will be a treat, for sure.
Naturally, Pokemon had a pretty significant presence this year. We got a deep dive into Let’s Go Pikachu and Let’s Go Eevee, showing that the games are sticking fairly true to the core mechanics of the mainline games, with some key differences.
Another announcement was Daemon X Machina and it is looking to be a riot and unlike anything else on the system.
What Was Missing?
There were a few noticeable absences from Nintendo’s E3 briefing, however. (We’ll have a deeper look into some of the conference’s most glaring omissions soon.) Metroid Prime 4, first revealed last year, was nowhere in sight. Neither was next year’s mainline Pokemon title, though considering we have a Pokemon game coming out in November, that makes sense.
The rumored Retro-produced Star Fox Grand Prix didn’t get a reveal, either. To be fair, we’re still not sure if that game exists. But overall reactions have been positive, so it would have been a great moment to see it get confirmed. Despite the wishes of many, Animal Crossing did not even get a mention this year. We’ve heard a new Pikmin game is in development for years now, but still no word. Yoshi, now delayed to 2019, was notably absent as well.
Sure, we probably should have expected to not see much in the way of big reveals. Nintendo even said as much. But Nintendo is also a company that likes to surprise. Just look at last year’s briefing. It was a little disappointment we didn’t get updates on Nintendo’s other big franchises.
Some were disappointed by Nintendo’s showing at E3 this year. They’ve definitely had better years, that’s for sure. But that’s not to say Nintendo didn’t have a lot of goodness to show us. We knew going in that Super Smash Bros. would be the central focus of their E3 efforts. If you’re disappointed by what they showed us, maybe it’s because of skewed expectations.
On the other hand, the fact that a lot of Nintendo franchises still have not appeared on Switch led to hope that maybe this would be the year we see them. Nintendo didn’t show a heck of a lot this year, but don’t let that fool you into believing that the Switch is already doomed. 2018 has already been another high for the company, and with Super Smash Bros. and Pokemon still on their way, the system is sure to be a hot item this holiday season.
Really though, this year’s E3 has been notable for not having a lot of unexpected reveals. Outside of Microsoft, the other conference mostly comprised of games we’ve, at the very least, already known of. The future is still bright for the Switch. Pokemon and Metroid are coming for sure. A new Animal Crossing is likely for next year. And at this point, it’s likely we’ll see new The Legend of Zelda and Mario games in the next couple of years.
If you’re disappointed by Nintendo’s showing at E3 this year, that’s fine. Understandable, even. But don’t take that to believe the Switch is doomed. In fact, it’s far from doomed. There’s one thing for sure. The next few years will be an exciting time to be a Nintendo fan.