Feature: Nintendo Moments You Never Saw Coming
Posted by Marc Zablotny
Expect the unexpected at E3
With Nintendo, some things are always certain. Mario and friends will get together for a platforming or sporting excursion, the number of Pocket Monsters will gradually increase, Princess Zelda will find herself kidnapped, Samus will inexplicably lose all of her abilities at the start of another adventure and the F-Zero and Star Fox series will both see regular instal- oh...er...scratch that last one.
Nintendo's modus operandi is deeply rooted in tradition, which is oddly comforting. We're always safe in the knowledge that particular games, elements and announcements are bound to be around the corner, and many of us wouldn't have it any other way. Take the recent announcement of Pokémon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire — remakes of the GBA's Pokémon Ruby & Sapphire — as a prime example of this. The long-standing prophecy of its arrival has finally been fulfilled!
But that isn't to say Nintendo isn't capable of throwing a curveball every once and a while. The Big N has dished out quite a few surprises over the years, some beautifully imaginative, some downright bizarre. With the E3 period on the horizon and people's minds anticipating both the expected and unexpected, we reflect on a small collection of relatively recent Nintendo moments that we just never saw coming.
Mario and Sonic officially meet for the first time...at the Olympic Games
Given the current state of affairs between the moustachioed plumber and the blue hedgehog, you'd have to forgive younger gamers for ever doubting the duo previously locked horns as the powerhouses of two fiercely competing companies. Nintendo vs. Sega arguably defined at least two generations of videogames consoles. It was a rivalry so great that it's been immortalised in book form, with a film to follow.
However — as we all know — Sega's grip on the home console market began to weaken with the commercial shortcomings of the Sega Saturn. The similar failure of the Saturn's successor — the Dreamcast — proved to be the nail in the coffin, and Sega withdrew from the console war to produce software as a 3rd party developer. Since then its relationship with Nintendo improved significantly, to the point where it was providing exclusive titles for the Nintendo GameCube and even entrusted with co-developing F-Zero GX, a Nintendo IP.
It seemed only a matter of time before Sonic - who had now been relegated to appearing in sub-par multiplatform releases — would appear in a game alongside Mario. Super Smash Bros. was the prime candidate, with rumours of Sonic's super secret presence in Melee persisting for years. Gamers the world over could only dream about an epic crossover title that was surely in the works. What could it be? An adventure game? A fighter? An RPG? Well, in 2007 they finally got their answer...
Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games. The first official crossover between Super Mario and Sonic the Hedgehog...was a sports party game technically set in China. Confusion and disbelief was rife across the internet and beyond, with many people calling it a cruel, cruel hoax or early April Fool's joke. Despite how insane it sounded, it was completely real; Sega possessed the license to create a Beijing Olympics game and figured the best way to appeal to a wider audience was to feature Sonic in place of real athletes. The company approached Nintendo and suggested Mario and friends should also join in, and it was agreed that that would be a splendid idea. Three subsequent sequels tells us the consumers en-masse thought it was too.
Reggie Fils-Aime pretends to be a robot that murders fellow employees
When he's not preparing his body or kicking ass and taking names, Reggie Fils-Aime is often busy running Nintendo of America. His penchant for odd antics is well known among the gaming community, so it was always going to be a matter of time before his next quirky one-liner, facial expression or other activity came about and was subsequently fast tracked to memehood. Surely enough, such an event occurred during Nintendo's E3 announcement video and it's safe to say no one could have mentally or physically prepared for it.
Collaborating with the folks at Mega64, Nintendo got Reggie to play the part of his robotic doppelganger — the excellently-named Reggie Fils-A-Mech — and march around NoA HQ like the next iteration in the line of Terminator units. Within the 'story' of the announcement, Fils-A-Mech is being piloted by Mega64's Rocco Botte in order to find out exciting new info on new Nintendo games. However when a run-in with one of Nintendo's employees makes an awkward situation, Fils-A-Mech is forced to utilise his laser beam weapon and vaporise her into nothingness. While the whole affair was largely entertaining, we'd just never anticipated remarks like "Remember when Reggie said that funny thing at E3?" would be replaced with "Remember when Reggie acted as a robot that could shoot death lasers from his eyes?" any time soon.
Ivysaur appears as a playable character in the Super Smash Bros. series
Nothing fosters intense speculation from Nintendo fans quite as much as the roster of a future Super Smash Bros. game. Arguments, debates and predictions concerning Nintendo (or 3rd Party) characters potentially worthy of becoming a playable fighter are abundant across the internet's forums and gaming sites. With the latest instalment - Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U - coming out this year and the final roster still to be nailed down, the latest period of conjecture is currently in full swing.
But let's cast our minds back to the last time we found ourselves heatedly quarrelling whether or not Ridley's true size actually mattered, the period prior to Super Smash Bros. Brawl's release. Character reveals in the early days were a pretty standard affair, with Pit, Meta-Knight and Wario finally making their début. Zero Suit Samus was a mild surprise but requests for her were not unheard of. Then in August 2006, Sakurai-san revealed Pokémon Trainer, who used three Pokémon with full movesets to fight in his place. Squirtle, Ivysaur and Charizard had entered the big leagues.
Now, Charizard we could have believed if its reveal had been preceded with strong rumours. Heck, even Squirtle was within the realms of possibility; for all we knew its popularity in the East could have seen a recent surge to rival that of Jigglypuff's. Ivysaur? Pokémon #2? Never in a million years would any of us seen that coming. Granted, it makes sense when you consider the formation of Pokémon Trainer's team — he has a representative of both the type and evolutionary stage of the Kanto starter trio — but there's no doubt that had someone approached you while you were playing *Super Smash Bros. Melee all those years ago and said "Hey, you know Ivysaur is going to playable in the next game?", you'd have told them where to shove their dirty lies.
Nintendo names its new console the "Wii"
It's strange to think that there was a time where the term "Wii" was completely unheard of. Thanks to Nintendo's prominent efforts to appeal to the casual market, it is now a household name. Like some of its rivals, Nintendo had never really been particularly creative with its console names in the past; the "Nintendo 64" is called so because it has a 64-bit CPU, while the "Nintendo Entertainment System", "Nintendo GameCube" and "Nintendo DS" are essentially just exact descriptions of what the consoles are.
Back in 2005 Nintendo announced its new home console, codenamed the Revolution. It was stressed that this name was not just there to look pretty; Nintendo truly believed it would revolutionise the gaming industry and many of us were slightly wary of such a confident claim. Despite its strong belief in the consoles' ability to live up to the title, Nintendo opted not to keep the codename (while it had done with the Nintendo DS) and christen it anew. On 27th of April 2006, the Revolution officially become the "Wii". We still remember that day. We remember how that one word created an impact so great that if it manifested as physical energy it would have wiped out the dinosaurs twice over. People were bemused, frightened, angry and suddenly extremely prone to making toilet jokes.
Much-needed clarification soon followed. "Wii" was meant to be interpreted as "We", as in "me and you" or "us", and so on, with the two i's representing two people standing side by side. It was a nice sentiment that reflected Nintendo's secondary belief that the console would bring people together, but the explanation did little to quell the rage of many critics in the short-term. Nevertheless, over time came acceptance and now "Wii" is - as we said - a household name.
That's all for now! Naturally this is only a limited selection of many wonderfully unexpected Nintendo moments. What have Nintendo done / announced that took you completely by surprise?