Ubisoft's E3 press conference has gone down as one of the best in recent memory, even if the big reveal - Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle - wasn't really that much of a surprise.
During the conference, Ubisoft boss Yves Guillemot was joined on stage by someone who didn't make him look tiny for once: Nintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto. The two then goofed around with plastic guns, much to the delight of the assembled crowd.
Kingdom Battle was leaked quite extensively prior to E3, with official artwork and other details hitting the web in such a rapid fashion it seemed that someone at Ubisoft was being a little too open with the company's confidential information.
Speaking to Eurogamer, Guillemot insisted that the leaks were not intentional, or part of any campaign to build hype:
First, I want to reassure you - we are not part of that [laughs]. We combat it, because we think it's not a good way to present a game. What we're happy with is a few games were still not known by the public [at E3] so you could discover Beyond Good & Evil 2 and the others. It's good we are managing to still keep... some secrets.
Miyamoto - sitting in on the same interview - went into detail about how the collaboration came to be:
Shigeru Miyamoto: It started out when launching Just Dance in Japan - and the idea to have Mario in there. Ubisoft has provided a lot of support for [Nintendo] hardware and they understand how it works. They've made products which are very satisfactory and fit the market we're shooting for. We've had a relationship now for over 20 years, but this is the first time we're operating at the level where we're sharing characters.
In terms of major games in both companies - Ubisoft has Rayman, it's a similar sort of platformer. We thought about ways of collaboration and then Rabbids came up - and that them collaborating with Mario might be a fun idea. We also wanted to create a new genre with this collaboration.
Yves Guillemot: We admire what Nintendo does. We also thought we could learn a lot from this collaboration. Our teams did Just Dance together - Nintendo published Just Dance in Japan, and they reworked the core concept to make it fit with the Japanese market.
Xavier [Poix, Ubisoft's French studios manager] and his team made a proposal to Nintendo to put those two worlds together, and Mr. Miyamoto reacted strongly - three years ago actually, at E3 - saying 'I'm ready to see more'. So Xavier's team went to Japan to show more of that possible collaboration.
The sight of Mario brandishing a firearm has surprised some people, but Miyamoto points out that it's not all that shocking, and even cites the fact that Splatoon almost featured Mario characters at one point:
In terms of Mario wielding a gun, it's something which was talked about for a while within Nintendo to work out what the appropriate way to do that would be. There was a time in the development of Splatoon where it could have been a Mario-based game. But we decided that a new style of weapon would work. We had a lot of discussion between Ubisoft and Nintendo to make what you see today.
Guillemot also stated that the game will be supported by extra content post launch, but he couldn't say for sure if Ubisoft and Nintendo will collaborate in such a fashion in the future:
It's too early to say - we're finishing the game and we'll see what it does. For sure, we'll analyse if we can do other things, but the first step is to make sure this one is coming along well. And there will be some extra content coming along after... It's already a long-term partnership on this one.