E3, at least in the years I've been following it, has been at its best when focused on the future and full of surprises. Nintendo's plans only fulfil one of those criteria, and partially at that. The latest breakdown of Nintendo's efforts contains a day devoted to games that are rather close, due typically within the next three months. On another day we'll see a game that - by the time it comes out - will perceivably be a last-gen version, while a notable plus comes with the thought that this year's biggest 3DS title will be shown off.
On paper, and considering the expectations of a standard E3, there's an understandably muted sense of hype among plenty of Nintendo fans. In recent polls here on Nintendo Life half of participants said they were disappointed with the big N's E3 plans but plan to watch regardless, or even worse opted for the more blunt "I'm not happy" option. Considering that's the state of play after Nintendo reacted and improved its offering, that's rather telling.
If I were a betting man I'd predict that the switcheroo in the E3 plans last week was a reaction by Nintendo to the overwhelmingly negative reaction when it first confirmed The Legend of Zelda on Wii U as the only playable game and - more importantly - the only subject-matter in a single day of live streaming. I understand the argument that Nintendo may have always been planning more, and that may have been the case, but if that's the case it was a bizarre strategy. I can't imagine a board meeting where someone said "let's annoy our online fans, then throw them a bone or two shortly before the event".
The additions, too, play into what Nintendo could feasibly make happen with a rapid strategic rethink. A second full-day of the Treehouse team showing games is most definitely welcome, though the games on show will be those that are either complete and good to go with localised commercial builds - Monster Hunter Generations and Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE - or likely to be well on their way to being finished - Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past. That's easy to organise, from that respect, as the live broadcast team have the task of plotting out that extra day but perhaps don't need to worry too much around the logistics of preparing specific game builds or demos.
That said, I think it's possible the Pokémon Sun and Moon and Pokémon Go additions could have been pre-planned gotchas to add a little buzz. The Pokémon Company only recently did its most recent major batch of reveals for Sun/Moon, and its Japanese social channels and website were quick to announce the E3 details. New Sun and Moon footage - and perhaps details - will actually kick off Nintendo's E3 on day one, while the Pokemon Go Q & A on day two may have also been in the plans for a while. It's difficult to tell, but these events are welcome however they've come about, and we're rather curious as to what form the so-called 'Pokémon Special' will take on the third day.
Looking at the line-up, then, we have streams to follow across all three days of the main show.
Nintendo Treehouse and Developer Broadcast - 14th June at 9am Pacific / noon Eastern / 5pm UK / 6pm CET
Pokémon Sun and Moon, then The Legend of Zelda on Wii U for most of the day.
Nintendo Treehouse and Pokémon Go Q & A - 15th June at 10am Pacific / 1pm Eastern / 6pm UK / 7pm CET
E3 2016 Pokémon Special - 16th June at 7am Pacific / 10am Eastern / 3pm UK / 4pm CET
Though this is an improvement, there's no doubt that there's still frustration, disappointment or apathy for a number of people that follow Nintendo. It doesn't help that the company had a poor E3 in 2015, with a Digital Event in particular that drew ire for reveals such as Metroid Prime: Federation Force and Animal Crossing: amiibo Festival. Beyond that there's the simple truth that after a couple of years where Nintendo went all out it's scaling back - in 2014 and 2015 there were the Digital Events as reveal showcases, live events (Smash Bros. Invitational then World Championships) and then three full days of a broad variety of demonstrations from the Treehouse team. We're lacking (pending further announcements, though I'm not holding my breath) the information blow-out of a Digital Event (or Nintendo Direct) and the pre-E3 fun of those live shows.
With NX being kept locked away and with Nintendo making that choice to step back a little at E3, we're getting a lot less big N in LA than we're accustomed to. I also think some of the negativity goes beyond that, and is a manifestation of a build-up of frustration among some followers. The Wii U's struggles in particular have been demoralising, not least as game releases have increasingly dried up. Throw in spin-offs not many have welcomed, experimental releases for classic franchises and arguments over localisation (and debates over censorship), and there have been unhappy periods in the past year. So much hope had gone into NX bringing excitement and a breath of fresh air; the fact that reveal is coming later has soured some opinions further.
All of that said, I'm more excited about E3 following the additions of the past week. One day focused on nothing but Legend of Zelda never seemed enough, in my view, considering the value and attention that fans and media pay to the LA event. At least now there'll be something to watch over each day of the show, and on a personal level I'll also be following pre-E3 broadcasts from other platform holders and publishers. I don't have the same tingle of excitement of previous years, times of greater contentment and optimism in the world of Nintendo, but I'm looking forward to it nevertheless.
That, perhaps, is the best that could have been wished for. With the year Nintendo's had, in which it lost Satoru Iwata, faced falling sales and some damaging controversies, a reasonable few days at E3 is something to savour. I still believe an NX reveal and blow-out could have kickstarted an extended build-up to launch, but whether that was made impossible by rumoured production delays or is merely being held back strategically is now irrelevant. Nintendo's had to make do with what it has to offer in the here and the now.
I have my fingers crossed for some small but satisfying surprises, but if we only get what's advertised I'll still be soaking it in. Let's not forget, there'll be a whole day looking at the latest Legend of Zelda game - that's something to enjoy. Beyond that it'll be nice to spend a few days just thinking about some high quality and interesting games - the megaton reveals will just have to wait.
If you need a reminder of what's happening at E3, Nintendo and beyond, check out our guide to the press conferences and events.