Disappointing, but far from the worst...

After Nintendo’s monumental success at E3 2014, there’s been little doubt that fans were clamouring for another explosive showing from the Big N this year. So, did they deliver? Well, no. Not exactly. To say Nintendo’s 2015 Digital Event was underwhelming would be somewhat of an understatement, with many gamers protesting with salty breath that it’s not only been the worst conference this year, but also Nintendo’s worst ever conference in the history of E3. But is that really the case? I don’t think so. Not by a long shot, actually.

Checking Our Expectations

We were all hyped for Nintendo’s event this year. I mean, how could we not be? They were widely considered the “winners” of last year’s E3, and the return of the Nintendo World Championships spearheaded the company’s presence this year. For them to follow up with a rather disappointing Digital Event, while not exactly the end of the world, did certainly serve as an anti-climax for what could be the last year we see the Wii U as the centre piece console. But was it really that bad?

Let’s take a look at the games they showcased. Opening with Starfox Zero (and a pretty damn hilarious sketch that featured Reggie, Iwata and Miyamoto as Muppets), things got off to a great start. The game looks like the return to form Starfox fans have been asking for. It looks gorgeous, familiar characters and locations return and they’ve even brought back what sounds like the voice actors from Starfox 64.

Starfox Zero

Starfox Zero is looking great, and is being co-developed by Platinum Games.

From here, things start to get a little sour with a silly Skylanders/Amiibo crossover, “Metroid Prime” but not really Metroid Prime at all, some bizarre Animal Crossing announcements and no shortage of games we’ve seen before, such as Yoshi’s Woolly World, Xenoblade Chronicles X and Super Mario Maker. Things certainly perked up with a new Mario Tennis reveal (seriously, you just can’t go wrong with Mario Tennis, it’s wonderful) and Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam, a fantastic looking crossover blending together two incredible Mario RPG series.

Let’s face it, the planets aligned last year for Nintendo. They were in a very much in a “right place, right time” situation and they had the content to back it up. Now we have most of those games they talked about last year, it’s still to this day a great time to be a Nintendo fan. But perhaps because we already have them, Nintendo has found themselves with much less to show off as they prepare us for their NX console reveal next year. As such, we didn’t get a bad E3 conference from them; we merely got a very standard Nintendo Direct.

Checking the Competition

Both Sony and Microsoft showed us plenty of games that will see gamers safely through the rest of this year and the next. Both also had several aces up their sleeve, whether that be backwards compatibility on Xbox One, the Final Fantasy VII remake or Sony’s blatant piggybacking of Shenmue III’s Kickstarter. Fair enough, they brought the Kickstarter to light, but in what world would Shenmue III not meet its Kickstarter goal? And it’s very unlikely to be a PS4 exclusive anyway. Hell, Final Fantasy VII is only “first” on PS4, implying it will eventually make its way to other platforms. Even still, both companies had conferences that had several impactful announcements, something Nintendo’s event sorely lacked.

Other companies often get a free pass for their missteps and wrongdoings, but never Nintendo.

But that’s not to say it’s all doom and gloom for Nintendo. Other companies often get a free pass for their missteps and wrongdoings, but never Nintendo. So this time, I think they’ve earned that pass for a change. They’ve more than delivered upon the promises at last year’s E3, and this year they still had some pleasant announcements. 2015’s Digital Event was certainly more muted, as if they took a year off almost. The real challenge for Nintendo comes next year…

Towards the Future

Whatever Nintendo’s NX is going to be, it’ll have a lot to prove if it wants to establish itself as a competitor in a market where the PS4 and Xbox One will have solidly established catalogues. But I’m more than confident they can pull it off. There’s probably a reason we haven’t seen a “main series” Mario title on the Wii U, same with Metroid and F-Zero. There’s even speculation that The Legend of Zelda for Wii U might jump ship to the NX. It’s highly likely Nintendo are biding their time; bringing all our favourite franchises to a more up to date console that will hopefully have more features and better online integration.

Zelda Wii U

Will we see Zelda U make the jump to the NX?

I predict that Nintendo will take what they’ve learned from the Wii U and make it right or even better with the NX. Not only is it a chance to bring back the franchises the fans have been asking for, it’s a great opportunity for them to pull back that third party support the Wii U annoyingly missed out on. At this year’s E3, they’ve likely done all they can to keep their install base happy. It’s going to work for some more than others, for sure, but let’s instead look to the future; Nintendo know they’ve got one hell of a battle ahead of them, but if they get the NX right, it could be truly glorious. Just like last year’s E3, only even more explosive.