As we head into another weekend we're just days away from E3, the gaming and technology bonanza in LA. Nintendo's opting for a different approach this year, focusing live streams on demonstrating games without the accompanying Digital Event (and separate live event). It's a scaled back effort on paper, but will nevertheless keep us tuned in for a lot of hours as we see upcoming games like The Legend of Zelda for Wii U and Pokémon Sun and Moon.
The shift in approach does mean that this year may not have as many memorable moments, as there will likely be less pre-recorded segments or executive-level jokes as in years gone by. Hopefully we'll be proven wrong on that, but in any case we thought we'd start our warm-up for E3 with some of our favourite memories from past years. Quite a number of the team have pitched in, so let's get to it.
I'm going to go over a couple of memories as briefly as possible, and I'm picking some smaller moments (the one you're expecting is further down the page, multiple times!). I'm thinking back to 2014, when the first 'Nintendo Digital Event' opened with a dramatic dust-up between Satoru Iwata and Reggie Fils-Aime (to promote Super Smash Bros. and amiibo) in which CG effects had them punching very quickly and pulling off some athletic moves. It was delightfully silly, and a great way to kick off the video and get fans excited from the off.
Another funny memory that springs to mind is actually from our office get-together in the UK. We always have two core teams during E3 - those on the ground in LA and those of us at 'HQ'. Going back to 2013, before Nintendo's 'E3 Direct', we were chatting over our hopes for the presentation. The conversation turned to Retro Studios, and we all said Metroid IV, of course. Then a team member (who should probably remain anonymous) piped up and joked that, knowing Nintendo and what it would give Retro to do, it would be another Donkey Kong game but with a playable Dixie Kong. Surely not, we thought. It had to be HD Metroid. Surely?
Then Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze was announced with Dixie as the headline feature. We just looked at each other, shrugged and laughed. (I think Tropical Freeze is a fantastic game, though...)
The year was 2009. An eager-eyed, 12-year-old boy and many of his peers were at last released from the dampening, fluorescent-lit halls of school to attend the glorious annual festival that is summer vacation. The boy had recently bought himself a Wii after months of diligently doing chores around the house to scrape together enough money, marking his first Nintendo console since the GBA. He knew from vicarious experiences through friends that there was much to catch up on, and he'd taken to reading issues of Nintendo Power at his library to stay up to speed on what was happening in the world of Nintendo. Through his studies, the boy caught wind of a conference that happened around this time; a conference where new games for his shiny, new console would be revealed for the first time. Without a doubt, the boy made sure to tune in to see what there was to look forward to.
Obviously, that boy was me, and my most memorable E3 was in 2009. Not only was it the first E3 that I ever watched, but in hindsight it was one that had quite a number of megaton announcements. To open it up, Nintendo revealed that it would be doing a sequel to the smash hit New Super Mario Bros. with New Super Mario Bros. Wii, and that this one would support four players simultaneously. Following this there was the announcement of Wii Fit Plus, Wii MotionPlus, and Wii Sports Resort.
The DS wasn't left out of the fun either, and we were shown Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story, and Golden Sun: Dark Dawn. But the two announcements that really kicked the show up to the next level were that of Super Mario Galaxy 2 and Metroid: Other M. One was the sequel to one of the most well-received games for the Wii, and the other was the product of an unprecedented collaboration with an action-oriented third party studio.
I have to say that I'm kind of bummed Nintendo doesn't seem to be gearing up for many new announcements at this year's E3, as each conference since 2009 has always managed to recapture at least part of that initial magic. That being said, it'll be interesting to see what form this new Zelda is taking, and I still hold onto hope, however misguided, that Nintendo's got a lot more planned for this E3 than it's letting on.
Whenever you mention Nintendo and E3 in the same breath, I'd wager that it's near impossible not to conjure up the image of one of the company's greatest reveals to date. Back in 2004, at a notably smaller event with even fewer lucky attendees, Nintendo's program was just about to draw to a close when Reggie gleefully teased yet another reveal. One final trailer was shown, pulling the crowd's attention back to the screen while lush forests gave way to a dark horizon. As a lone hero rides out to face the oncoming horde, you can actually hear the crowd slowly realise what they're seeing, and collectively ignite with excitement in a surge of loud cheers. On-screen was the first ever footage of Twilight Princess, and the reveal was crafted with such pitch-perfect precision that it whipped the room up into a frenzy that could only be capped off by the timely arrival of Shigeru Miyamoto himself.
This was off the back of Wind Waker, which infamously met with quite a mixed reception upon release. A large portion of Zelda fans were left craving something comparatively mature, something darker and grittier. All of these buzzwords and more were pooled into that one trailer, resulting in one of the most memorable finales to any Nintendo event and a crowd so hyped up that it's still contagious to this day. Now that we're on the cusp of another E3, and another Zelda title yet to be fully revealed, it's fair to say that things have changed. Nintendo's focus has shifted from these staged events with live audiences and towards snappier digital presentations to get its message across. These trim the fat, so to speak, and offer a concise burst of information without many of the theatrics we normally associate with E3 itself. It's been hit or miss so far - Nintendo most recently having absolutely nailed it in 2014 but dropped the ball one year later in 2015 - and so this time around I honestly have no idea what to expect.
I recommend you re-watch that initial Twilight Princess reveal trailer in the lead up to this year's event, simply to feed off the excitement it generated one more time. While it won't be live on stage, I'll still hold my breath as soon as the show begins on June 14th. What we've seen so far hints at something larger, not grittier. Grander, not darker. With social media sites like YouTube and Twitter, everyone can have a voice, and we can share in the surprise, joy, confusion, disappointment, or whatever else we end up feeling next week. It's almost as if we're all in the one room, waiting to be whipped up into a frenzy yet again.
I think one of the greatest E3 moments from Nintendo was when Reggie confidently walked out on stage in 2004 and pulled out an early prototype of the Nintendo DS from his coat pocket.
Having only been recently appointed as the Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Nintendo in 2003, Reggie's appearance at the 2004 E3 Expo marked the beginning of a new era for Nintendo.
His famous line, "My name is Reggie. I'm about kickin' ass, I'm about takin' names, and we're about makin' games." revamped Nintendo's public image then and there.
He declared Nintendo's new portable device at the time would not only transform Nintendo as a company, but change the future of the video game industry for the better - citing the futuristic touch screen interface and online wireless capabilities as game changers, not to mention 3D visuals on the go.
Upon reflection, the DS opened up a whole world of interactive possibilities never-before associated with home or portable video game experiences. This specific E3 moment from Nintendo truly did transform the company for the better and has provided it with a clear vision moving forward in regards to the game experiences it aims to offer consumers.
For many, the exciting season that E3 entails was almost non-existent before the popularity and rise of the internet. Once the internet reached the masses and gaming news and video transitioned to the online ecosystem from paper, E3 really became the juggernaut of news and announcements in the gaming calendar. It was at this moment when E3 became a part of my gaming life and solidified itself as one of my favourite times of year.
With that being said, my stand out E3 moment from Nintendo must be the E3 2006 convention, which can be summed up by one small word: Wii. The GameCube was and is one of my favourite gaming consoles of all time, and word of a successor made the wait even less bearable. Then the press conference happened, and the gaming industry was changed forever in a few hours.
On stage, the Wii demoed fantastically, especially to those outside the gaming bubble. The idea of playing golf in the living room, or bowling with nothing but a remote and TV was astounding to everyone who laid eyes on the thing. But not only did the Big N please the casual fans, but topped it off with announcements of Twilight Princess getting Wii support, and new titles like Metroid Prime 3: Corruption & Excite Truck (a criminally underrated game in my opinion) launching alongside the console. Oh, and the Wii would launch less than 6 months later in November 2006.
Not only did the Wii shake up the gaming world and flipped on its head was conventional gaming could be, Nintendo dropped another bomb with the redesigned DS Lite, a design that became the definitive DS model and would propel the system to the top of the charts. In addition, a new Super Smash Bros. game was coming, which in any other year, would be the show highlight.
Nintendo's E3 2006 changed the gaming industry ten-fold. A new console redefining the way people experienced games and massive game announcements alongside an ecstatic fan base of both new and hardcore fans foaming at the mouth for this new console. Nintendo has yet to match this level of the excitement at E3 in recent years, and with the NX en-route, they could very well learn from their past on how to sell a console to the masses.
Nintendo has had a handful of epic E3 announcements, but my favourites of all time are tied to the Zelda franchise. Of course, one moment in particular stands tall above the rest - Miyamoto's Twilight Princess reveal.
Sure, at the time I didn't know it would be inferior in nearly every way to its predecessor, but that's a discussion for another time. In 2004, fans like me were unsure of where the series would go after Wind Waker's left turn, and seeing a realistic Link in a realistic setting felt like home. E3 that year was pretty much all about Twilight Princess. The roof blew off the Kodak Theatre, and even Miyamoto being a bit goofy with his Master Sword and Hylian Shield wasn't enough to silence the cheers. In those short moments, Nintendo won the whole show.
Honestly, Nintendo's best announcements ever happened at SpaceWorld, the long-abandoned Nintendo-centric show that took place on its home turf, but it has done some good stuff at E3 too, like revealing the Wii (then codenamed Revolution) hardware and showing off Mario Galaxy for the first time. Nintendo has always saved its best stuff for times when it has its audience's undivided attention.
Everyone remembers their first time, right? The anxiety. The anticipation. That funny feeling down below…
Well I remember my first E3, and not only because it was only one year ago, but because Nintendo, along with the majestic powers of the Jim Henson Company, gave me the most hype-inducing intro I could ever dream of:
Puppet Iwata puts his 3DS into sleep-mode and swaggers out of his office, before walking in on Puppet Reggie pumping out Nintendo 64 push-ups (whenever I count reps now, I count in Nintendos).
Then out pops Puppet Miyamoto from his warp pipe, and the treasured trio strut down the corridor into a studio. Miyamoto checks his lines… then their tantalising transformation begins. The music rises. Iwata sprouts Peppy ears; Reggie coughs up Falco feathers - I could feel something building up inside of me… and then we were into the Star Fox footage, as I rode the crest of the most almighty OMGIneedthisgamenow climax I could ever hope for. Unforgettable, and now my enduring memory of the late, great Iwata-san.
My most memorable E3 moments stem from the great year of 2014! Not only was this the E3 in which amiibo was announced, but we saw the first gameplay of the stellar Splatoon. Nintendo venturing into the online multiplayer market? Fantastic! You mean you can be both a squid and a kid? Even Better! Splatoon is a landmark game for the Wii U, and I certainly hope we see a sequel on the upcoming NX platform.
Those are some of our favourite moments - share yours in the comments!