It's the end of the week that was, and what an E3 we had. Your humble writer, in his relatively short history of actually covering the event, has never had to tackle a Nintendo showing quite like it. Some are comparing the big N's E3 2015 unfavourably with other notably bad years, and after the general positivity of 2014 this year has been on the other end of the scale. Yet that's not the full picture as, for a spell, E3 actually went rather well for Nintendo - well, before the expo began, that is.
It's been a funny old week, then, one with some lovely highs - yes, really, cast your mind back a bit! - some horrible lows and quite a lot in-between. With that in mind we've pinpointed five key moments - or broader segments of the show - that highlight the general trends we saw with Nintendo's E3, and which could become definitive moments when we look back in the future.
Masahiro Sakurai Kicks Off The Week With a Super Smash Bros. DLC Bonanza
In internet time Sunday 14th June is an age ago, but it did see Nintendo kick off the week with a Special Video Presentation from Masahiro Sakurai on Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS. The reveals had largely been leaked beforehand - while firm evidence popped up in the 48 hours before the stream, the actual detail had been found in the game's code a good couple of months ago. Nevertheless, there was a thrill in seeing Ryu (plus a stage) and Roy make their entrance, along with the previously confirmed Lucas.
There were some surprises in the form of new confirmed and planned amiibo, along with a whole load of Mii character outfits and the free Miiverse stage on Wii U. The biggest surprise, though, was that much of the content announced arrived in a pile of DLC goodness right after the broadcast. If you wanted to you could splash the equivalent of just under $30 on all of the content for both systems, and such was the initial surge that the eShop temporarily had issues with high traffic.
There was huge buzz around this presentation, which has since prompted some to wonder whether its key reveals should have been saved for Nintendo's Digital Event. Perhaps, but let's not forget how thrilling it was to start the week with some trusty and reliable Smash Bros. hype.
Super Mario Maker Steals The Show at the Nintendo World Championships
We used that same turn of phrase in an editorial, as we do feel that Super Mario Maker really seized the moment in the Nintendo World Championships. It wasn't the only high point of the event, but it was a brilliantly chosen finale - that hour+ of the final round turned this writer from being a bit keen on this game, to wanting it badly right now.
This finale was so effective for multiple reasons - first of all, great credit should go to two finalists who were not only skilled gamers, but competed with a terrific spirit and sportsmanship. Then we had the four stages created by two members of the Nintendo Treehouse, each showing off a different visual template and being devious, delightful levels. Combine those two factors with just how far Super Mario Maker has come in development, and you have a winning formula.
It's evident that, as a level creation and sharing tool, Super Mario Maker could be truly exceptional. The stages we saw in the NWC event - which will be included in the shipped game - truly showed what it can do; stages were lengthy, designed with careful precision, while any complexity found in a full 2D Mario title can seemingly be recreated. In fact, such is the playful cross-generation design and the quirky new innovations - such as Stiletto Boots, Shell helmets and bizarre possibilities never seen in a Mario game - you can arguably go well beyond established Mario platforming.
We'd never known an hour of a live event to fly past so quickly - Super Mario Maker stole the show.
Metroid Prime: Federation Force Goes Viral In All The Wrong Ways
There have been plenty of post-mortems on Nintendo's Digital Event, and we'll be considering some angles in the coming days, but one moment seemed to stand out above all others. It took us by surprise, so much so that we simply had to write about it.
We're referring to the reaction to Metroid Prime: Federation Force, which went beyond normal disappointment and went further. As we highlighted in that aforementioned editorial, it delivered a perfect storm for maximum opprobrium - a short, confusing initial reveal trailer, as well as the spin-off use of a treasured brand that has been dormant for a number of years. The reaction was staggering, from the anger we saw in the live comments section on Nintendo Life as the stream was happening, to the game being targeted and having a 90% ratio of Dislikes on YouTube, to silly petitions demanding it be cancelled and going viral on Reddit. It even popped up in the 'wider internet', with non-gaming social sites having threads and posts dedicated to it.
Every game company hopes to 'go viral' during E3, but this became a problem for Nintendo that it simply had to try and ignore and allow to fade. The dust will settle, but the reaction to Metroid Prime: Federation Force will live long in the memory and go down in E3 history - in years to come it'll inevitably pop up in "Least Popular E3 Announcements" lists.
Still, we'll give the game a fair chance when it arrives in 2016.
Damage Control of Damage Control
In a slightly stranger part of Nintendo trying to 'manage' the message, we had damage control of damage control. It began with Satoru Iwata posting a tweet shortly after the Digital Event, saying "we take opinions of this year's Digital Event seriously and will work to better meet your expectations." Like many sentences it can be interpreted in many ways - as far as we are concerned the translator in question has an exceptional record - but was considered by many as an apology, of sorts. In our report we simply noted that Iwata-san had promised to work on meeting expectations as a reaction to the maelstrom of negativity online. Apology or not, it felt like an acknowledgement that there wasn't a great deal of celebration in the Nintendo community.
In truth, as it wasn't a blatant apology it seemed like a good message, but we were a bit baffled when Reggie Fils-Aime decided to attempt some unnecessary PR spin.
It was not an apology. It was not a statement about the content we're showing, essentially it was an 'I hear you' message.
Mr. Iwata is in Japan and what he's trying to do is help explain to consumers in Japan what's going on at E3. The correct translation of his message was: 'Thank you for your feedback. We hear you and we are committed to continuing to meet your expectations,' was essentially his message.
A minor tweak of a translation, but in our view a slightly petty riposte to suggestions that Iwata-san had acknowledged that not all were happy with the Digital Event. While we know that Fils-Aime's job is to spin positives and promote a particular message, at times he can be too blinkered and attempt mind-tricks on fans. His appearance on the Treehouse on Day 3 typified this, as he didn't even give a hint that Nintendo needed to win fans over in any way following the company's showing. He used practically the same terminology as in 2014, except last year he was right to talk about a "strong" - as in positive - reaction from fans.
A little forthright honesty in these matters from the Nintendo of America President, and less blinkered spin, would be welcome on occasions.
Nintendo Treehouse Finally Matures With Fatal Frame, and Deserves Overall Credit
The Nintendo Treehouse team was once again, for this writer's money, truly excellent in this show. Perhaps hamstrung by some negativity in the Nintendo community after the Digital Event and seemingly required to plug some games a little too much, the team nevertheless set about its many hours of live demonstrations with a good spirit and an eagerness to please. There have been criticisms that they're not always slick in terms of production values, for example, but there's an argument that we learn far more about games from these skilled localisation employees than we would from highly paid internet personalities or presenters.
One slightly disappointing aspect, however, was that the team seemed to shy away from some mature titles a little more than last year. In 2014 we had multiple Bayonetta 2 sessions and saw some Devil's Third, both mature games - this year the latter bizarrely made no appearance despite its upcoming release, and it was the last day before we saw Fatal Frame: The Black Haired Shrine Maiden, which looked intense and intriguing. Another niggle was that some eShop games could have been given more of a spotlight - FAST Racing NEO looked fantastic, but only had a 15 minute slot.
In general, though, the Treehouse team once again did itself great credit. It's easy to pick on the occasionally technical hiccup - the sudden "Damn" that was heard out of context before we saw a Xenoblade Chronicles X trailer will surely be immortalised as a meme - or the fact a number of the staff are programmers and localisation experts first and presenters second. Yet we'd soon bemoan it if phony, barely knowledgeable presenters or reps with only a fact-sheet of information to share took their place.
Here's to more Nintendo Treehouse sessions in E3 2016.
Those are five key moments and factors from E3, from our perspective. Share your views, as always, in the comments below.