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E3 is an event that’s gone through many fluctuations in the past. There have been good years and bad ones, for both specific companies and the industry as a whole, but the expo is always treated with a sort of reverence about it. No other gaming event draws the same levels of hype and speculation year after year without fail. Which is why it’s rather interesting that Nintendo has slowly started to draw away from the event over the past few years – first in 2013 by not holding a traditional press conference in favor of a Nintendo Direct, and this year choosing not to hold a news-oriented event in favor of only a Treehouse stream and floor show. While Microsoft, Sony, and others seem to be step up the big guns each year, Nintendo’s presence seems more and more muted over time in favor of their own separate events.

Is this a bad thing? Was Nintendo’s presentation at E3 pointless and lackluster compared to the competition’s? Not necessarily.

True, it was far from the greatest showing the company had ever given. The lack of a direct conference of any sort meant that news tended to be interspersed throughout the two Treehouse streams. Expectations were low for most going in, as Nintendo denied any talk of the NX and claimed they’d only really be showing the new Zelda. And for the most part, they stuck to their word – though there were a few pleasant surprises littered throughout the show.

Day 1 – The Return of the Legend

After a brief moment of silence with Reggie for the victims of the Orlando tragedies last week, the Treehouse stream launched straight into a beautiful trailer for the new Zelda game, now with a title – The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Quite a bit of information was shown off in the first trailer alone, enough to send social media abuzz with anticipation – voice acting, cooking, and the immense world were all highlighted immediately, and large portions of the day were devoted just to showing off different aspects of the game’s world.

After that, the Treehouse team briefly moved to Pokémon Sun & Moon, which showed off both a new mode- Battle Royale – and some new Pokémon, namely Yungoos, Pikipek and Grubbin. Also, discretely off-stream, two new forms for Solgaleo and Lunala were revealed online. Besides that, the footage showed off the little touches in the UI for the game, which seemed very colorful and versatile. Not a ton of new Poké-info, but certainly enough to raise some buzz.


But after that, it was Zelda – all day long, segment after segment was devoted to the new open-world title. Nintendo was betting big on Zelda being a show stopper, and it appears to have paid off – praise for the game appeared nearly universal, with only a few doubts or worries cropping up amongst the social media sphere. Between the new inventory system, the various shrines scattered throughout the land, and the massive arsenal Link can acquire, the game seems immediately impressive and vast in its scope, and a promising new title for fans to sink their teeth into. The extra hours really afforded them great opportunities to show what they’ve created, and each new detail seems more impressive than the last, such as the game’s openness. You can check out a full summary here.

It was also announced that Breath of the Wild would have amiibo functionality, and a new Zelda line of amiibo was announced to coincide with the game’s release. In addition more Mario amiibo are on the way – including, at last, the great and glorious Waluigi amiibo we all desire. Praise be to the WAH. Finally in peripheral news, Miitomo was alight with Zelda events, including new items, new drop stages, and new My Nintendo rewards.


There were also some announcements before Day 1 concerning Indie games on Youtube Gaming’s steam. Specifically, Wii U title Runbow would be receiving a physical and New 3DS release and Drinkbox Studios’ Severed would be making its way to both Wii U and 3DS. In addition, they took some time to talk about upcoming titles Jotun: Valhalla Edition and Axiom Verge. While not major bombshells, it’s still good to see the Big N devote some time to their indie games.

Otherwise, Mario Party: Star Rush was announced, Paper Mario: Color Splash got a release date of October 7th, and the E3 eShop sale went live. A fairly eventful day, despite Zelda’s dominance.


Day 2: All the odds and ends

The second day kicked off with a Pokémon GO developer Q&A session. Besides details about the app’s AR functions, catching mechanics, and how evolving Pokémon works, the developers also detailed the Pokémon GO Plus device, which allows players to play without looking at their smart devices. The app is free, while Plus will cost $34.99, and both will hopefully launch before the end of July. While the game will only have Kanto Pokémon at first, and no trading to start off, many await it with eager anticipation.


Following that was perhaps the most pleasant surprise of Nintendo’s presentation: the new IP Ever Oasis. Developed by Koichi Ishii, the man who brought us Moogles, Chocobos, and Secret of Mana (all of which are great things), this new Action-RPG revolves around building your oasis, exploring the desert, and traversing perilous dungeons. The cutesy style mixed with the Egyptian aesthetic give the game a unique flair, and what was shown of the game seemed like a mix of Zelda and the Mana series, with fast party switching and weapon versatility key to both puzzle solving and combat. No hard release date was announced, it’s simply slated for 2017, but Ever Oasis was one of the most charming and adorable titles shown during the stream.


Another surprise was BoxBoxBoy!, the sequel to HAL Laboratories’ cute yet difficult 2015 puzzle-platformer. Now players will be able to use two sets of boxes to solve puzzles, and they can transfer old costumes from the first game over if they have the save data. It releases June 30th, and the first game is on sale in the eShop as of this writing.

While announced the day prior, Mario Party: Star Rush was shown off for the first time. It contains several shake-ups to the traditional Mario Party formula – the main game mode this time is called Toad Scramble, which has players take control of several Toads as opposed to other Mario characters. But by going around the checkerboard-like levels, you can recruit these classic characters for your own use. Stars are now won by defeating bosses around the board, and minigames no longer occur at the end of every turn but rather in special circumstances. Other modes are to be in the game, but details are still sparse. It’s due on November 4th, and looks to be an interesting entry in the franchise.


Yo-Kai Watch 2 was featured next, and the Treehouse team showed off time travel to the past, an expansion of exploration elements, a four-player co-op mode, and two different versions of the game to buy (a la Pokémon). While it came out in Japan many years ago, westerners will get the game on September 30th.

After that was Monster Hunter: Generations. In this entry, players will be able to play in “Prowler Mode” as a Felyne, which have unlimited stamina and can mount enemies in the same fashion as normal hunters. There will of course be new monsters as well. In addition, while the demo drops later this month, players can pick it up early either through a) the Humble Bundle E3 digital ticket or b) select emails. It’s due out July 15th, and will have a small bonus for players of MH4U in the form of a Felyne costume.

Dragon Quest VII is a remake of the 2000 PS1 classic, brought West after massive fan demand (particularly from France, apparently.) Besides an extensive job system with 54 different vocations is the ability to mix and match abilities between them to form party strategies. The franchise is celebrating its 30th anniversary in Japan, and hasn’t had its core team members changed in all that time – an impressive feat. This one is out on September 16th.


Following that classic RPG was the new and upcoming Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE, the quasi-crossover between Shin Megami Tensei and Fire Emblem. While the game’s release is right around the corner, the Treehouse stream showed off several Fire Emblem easter eggs, basic sidequests, and the reward for said sidequests (J-pop music videos, interestingly enough.) With hundreds of hours to play through, fans can pick up the title in a little over a week, on June 24th.

Next was the controversial Paper Mario: Color Splash, which definitively showed off the game as an action-platformer as opposed to an RPG. Besides revealing Mario’s new paint-bucket sidekick Huey, the demo also showed how Mario’s paint hammer can color the environment, the basics of an admittedly slow looking card battle system, and – most importantly – the appearance of Paper Luigi. Out November 7th, only time will tell how the game will be received by fans.

After another brief Zelda showcase was the final game of the day: Rhythm Heaven: Megamix. Now featuring hints to help figure out the beat, as well as all new minigames to play along with, the most surprising part of this segment was the announcement that the game was out right away on the North American eShop – though Europeans will have to wait a bit longer (in fairness, they have the option to buy it physically).


And then, after a brief farewell from the Treehouse team, the presentation was over.


Closing Thoughts

E3 2016 likely won’t go down as one of the greatest in Nintendo history, but it also won’t be viewed as one of the worst. Zelda looked amazing, there were a few pleasant surprises such as Ever Oasis and the release of Rhythm Heaven, and no game looked outright awful. Nintendo may not have competed with the spectacle Microsoft, Sony, and the other companies put forth, but that doesn’t mean they can’t impress and amaze in their own right. And while I’m sure the NX reveal is right around the corner, and may very well blow E3 out of the water in terms of impact, right now this event accomplished all that it needed to.

From all of us here at Nintendo Inquirer, thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more Nintendo news moving forward.

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Written by Amelia Fruzzetti

A writer and Nintendo fan based in Seattle, Washington. When not working for NinWire, she can be found eating pasta, writing stories, and wondering about when Mother 3 is finally going to get an official localization.