Let me tell you a story, if you’ll indulge me. There used to be a gaming event held in Derry every two months or so that I used to go to with an old friend from school. It was there about five or six years ago I was introduced to the world of Super Smash Bros. I played Melee for the first time and I completely fell hook line and sinker for it. So much so, Brawl was the reason why I traded in a good chunk of my games collection at the time to get a Wii so I could get Brawl.
How times have changed, evidenced by today’s announcement of Smash Bros for Wii U and Nintendo 3DS. It just didn’t grab my attention. Nor did a majority of Nintendo’s content today. And that was it’s problem – a lot of it was very disappointing or just didn’t captivate. Admittingly, there were freezing issues that might have had a part to play in all of this, but the record still somewhat remains the same. Nintendo had a cold Direct at a time where it had to bring its A game for an ailing Wii U.
We got to see Pokemon X&Y for 3DS, now with a confirmed date and a new Pokemon type, Fairy. All well and good, no complaints there (though the last time I watched Pokemon, pretty sure Maril was a water type).
But the creeks started showing when we got our first look at the 3D Mario for Wii U – Super Mario 3D World. The game may have had four-player multiplayer co-op, a cat powerup for Mario and a December release confirmed, but this was otherwise a very disappointing reveal. We were expecting a big pow akin to Super Mario Galaxy or even Mario 64, especially when the former is easily one of the best Wii games this generation (probably itself a GOTG contender). Will it be good? Sure, we’ve come to expect greatness from any Mario game, but this still feels very weak in comparison to Galaxy. Especially when a lot of what was shown from 3D World seemed to be taken from Super Mario 3D Land on 3DS.
A new Art Academy was announced for Wii U, with an advance demo releasing later this summer for Miiverse artists, as was Just Add Water’s remake of the original Oddworld, subtitled New ‘N’ Tasty. You might argue they add a little balance to the delays given to Wii Fit U and Wii Party U to later this year and winter respectively.
Metroid Prime developer Retro Games’ new effort was finally shown as a new Donkey Kong Country title, Tropical Freeze with the return of Dixie Kong. Again, like Mario, this was a bit of a disappointing announcement, but this time for the developer. We were expecting something big, a new IP perhaps, from Retro and not a Donkey Kong Country Return (forgive the pun for the Wii/3DS game).
And then we come to Smash. As well as a series of returning characters, two new entrants were confirmed: The Villager from Animal Crossing and Mega Man. While the stream’s stuttering issues may have a part to play in this whilst the trailer was premiering, I wasn’t at all excited for the return of Smash. I’ll rewatch the trailer with no issues later on and I’m sure I’ll be excited then, but for first impressions, there was no hype.
But to their credit, Nintendo had some good stuff too. It was before Smash that we got a look in at two of the titles that really got me excited: the first proper look at Bayonetta 2 and X, first announced in January. I bloody loved Bayonetta 1 and the gameplay tease shown today was great. The same could be said of Xenoblade developer Monolithsoft’s new RPG X. The game screamed at me Zone of the Enders vibes (and anyone who knows me knows how much I love ZoE). It’s shaping up really nicely as we get set to see that next year.
There were other things of note that looked at the least interesting. Mario Kart 8 looked fine in its debut, showing anti-gravity racing for the first time with hovercrafts. And for someone who hasn’t played the GameCube version, The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD looked gorgeous and looks set to be a game I’m gonna pick up in October and The Wonderful 101 was The Wondeful 101 – looked in good form, nothing to worry about ahead of its August release.
Otherwise, it’s only consolation for Nintendo on what had to be a showstopping Direct for Wii U. There were no big, surprise announcements – everything was known ahead of time. And with the exception of Bayonetta 2 and X, nothing massively caught my attention. This would have been the perfect time to show a new Metroid game or art from the upcoming Zelda Wii U game as a surprise. Alas, no. Nintendo was very disappointing today at a time where it couldn’t afford to be.
As Mario would say, ‘oh no’.