Nintendo's E3 Digital Event has concluded after the usual hype and build up, and as expected it contained a number of surprising twists. Some of our predictions were on the right track, but Nintendo also left out some releases and IPs that were much anticipated while, intriguingly, other brands we wanted popped up in unpredictable ways. Whether they're the blockbusters or new iterations we want, however, is another matter entirely.
To start off with some major positives, Star Fox Zero gave us a dramatic start to the broadcast. After a year of mystery the new title finally emerged, and it certainly brings us back to the simple action enjoyed in the SNES and Nintendo 64 days, albeit with modern visuals. The confirmed co-development with PlatinumGames bodes well, and the transformation element looks terrific. Level designs will clearly be relatively dynamic, as it's confirmed that switching out vehicles will shake up how you approach the challenge; the GryoCopter and ground-based vehicles will all shake up the experience.
There was also the now-standard humour, this time incorporating puppets for the key Nintendo executives. We enjoyed these, and there were memorable moments in the Star Fox Zero introduction, a puppet Iwata staring at bananas and brief snippets of dancing to Mario music, all suitably anarchic.
As you may have picked up in the headline, though, the initial reaction here is one of slight bafflement. Treasured franchises were confirmed in peculiar forms - we have a Metroid game where Samus isn't the focus in Metroid Prime: Federation Force for 3DS, and Animal Crossing amiibo Festival on Wii U which is a board game driven by the NFC figures. Both Metroid and AC were high on pre-broadcast wishlists, but not in those forms.
Not all of the surprise twists on franchises are necessarily a bad thing - Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam serves up a clever cross-over of the AlphaDream franchise with Paper Mario, with the latter evidently being used for a range of quirky power-ups and attacks. The game engine from A Link Between Worlds is also being incorporated into The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes, which brings back the co-op gameplay of the Four Swords titles, this time with three players and a Totem mechanic; that'll support online play, too.
Unfortunately, though, the overall reaction online is generally negative, partly as a result of large sections being dedicated to familiar games - like Super Mario Maker and Yoshi's Woolly World - and the fact that, as indicated above, big franchises like Metroid and Animal Crossing were shared in unfamiliar, perhaps underwhelming, formats. Games like Federation Force and amiibo Festival may turn out to be entertaining in practice, but as diversions away from the core of their IPs they've caused a great deal of frustration. Also, significant announcements like unique amiibo / toys for Skylanders Superchargers are a commercial coup, but that's not content to thrill a Digital Event audience.
When you combine too much time on well-known games, off-cue returns for franchises and a general limit on new Wii U games, in particular, the reaction is understandable. Perhaps the passing of time and dust settling will ease the hostility towards the Digital Event, but it seems that Nintendo will have to face up to the fact that a number of dedicated fans are unhappy.
The theme was transformation, and Nintendo will point out that we got a number of franchises that had been in demand. The trouble is that these may not be the blockbusters that Nintendo's fans expected.