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CORRECTION: The last user blog was factually incorrect. What was being described what Day 0, not Day 1. This is the real Day 1. Those responsible have been sacked. Then we rehired them because we realized we were a one man operation.
I'd like to start by saying something you already know: Nintendo won E3 2014.
When I made my first pre-pre-report I said Nintendo was going to be coming out swinging this year, and I was right. Sony and Microsoft might have had the big traditional industry-wide theater presentations, along with flowing milk and honey. All we Nintendo fans received was a stream of Nintendo Direct - at least on the surface. One would think that abandoning the traditional presentation with industry bigwigs communicating to a live audience while outlining grand plans for industry domination is a retreat. But Nintendo isn't retreating from the console wars, they're merely a different war. The Nintendo Direct this morning was by far the greatest presentation (and forgive any hyperbole I might sneak in, I'm a little drunk on Nintendo fanboyism and some Sierra Nevada brand beer). And they didn't not have a live presentation. Nintendo did, and I attended it, and it was awesome. But we'll get to that in a moment.
What's happened this E3 was that Nintendo has completed something they've really been struggling with for several years now: pivoting out of the AAA market. Microsoft, EA, and Activision would have you believe that the only elements of the industry that really matter are the gigantic overpowered CG multibillion masterpieces. Call of Duty, Battlefield, Dragon Age, Assassin's Creed, they're all one tone of gaming. And the discourse has been for nearly a decade now that Nintendo cannot compete in this realm, the realm of "real gaming", the gaming that really matters. That somehow Mario, Zelda, and our other beloved franchises are frivolous, aged, and childish. The only people who could still believe that Nintendo is behind the times or no longer relevant are those who have forgotten how to have fun. You see, Nintendo wasn't fighting the AAA battle. Perhaps because it couldn't win, but also because it is not that kind of gaming company. This is a vast medium of infinite possibilities, which even Sony acknowledges in their own slightly pandering way. Nintendo has a niche to fill, and it filled that niche awesomely this E3. Nintendo won, and they won big.
My day began, as your day did, with watching the Nintendo Direct stream. This was especially awkward since I needed to be downstairs to meet the other Admins and Wikia Staff for a breakfast, meaning I had to watch some moments with my laptop perched perilously on the edge of a sink while trying to see through clouded shower glass. This stream was no BS, no industry talk, no hardware nonsense, just game after game after game. We got to see the new additions to Super Smash Bros 4 with a new power to add in Miis, to carry over character data with little dolls, with new game modes. Smash Bros seemed to grow constantly through the day, with new modes appearing hour after hour. Then there was finally a Toad game! Peach's little phallic-shaped retainer is going on his own adventure with Captain Toad: Treasure Hunter. There's another Yoshi game. There's Bayonetta 2. Mystwalker's mysterious project X has turned into Xenoblade Chronicles: X, the sequel to their landmark Wii JRPG, now with robots. We got to see some gameplay footage of Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire. Team shooter games had a colorful reinvention with Slaptoon, an amazing-looking reverse Super Mario Sunshine where you cover the world with paint. If you have a genre of game that you love, Nintendo had it there.
Oh yeah, and Zelda WiiU. Bleh. Nobody really cares about that, do they?
NO, EVERYBODY CARES ABOUT THAT. IT IS THE MOST AWESOME THING EVER. OPEN WORLD. EXPLODING ARROWS, CEL SHADING, I HAVE LOST ALL RATIONAL THOUGHT! WHEN DO I PLAY THIS GAME AND HOW CAN I LIVE WITH THE PESKY MONTHS THAT SEPARATE ME FROM THIS GAMING BLISS???!
Unfortunately, very little of my day was actually playing games. I had a rather busy schedule visiting the Ubisoft area, which if nothing, makes for an interesting contrast to what Nintendo was offering. Most of my way was waddling through crowds in a massively crowded zone while Ubisoft representatives screamed through microphones whose Gain very desperately needed to be turned down, or while awful pop music played to help shill out Just Dance Whatever Who Cares?. The purpose of my visit though was to enjoy some developer presentations from within small convention rooms. Unfortunately most of what I saw was more or less exactly what was shown on the livestreams yesterday. It is hard to feel very warm and fuzzy about the world after being led around to three separate areas before getting pushed into an Assassin's Creed: Unity demo room only to see exactly the same footage as shown at the Ubisoft show yesterday.
That is not that Ubisoft is not trying or even making great games. The Division looks truly amazing, you aren't even getting half of the possibilities of that game just from the trailers. Far Cry 4 has war elephants! But so much of what Ubisoft was offering was... how do I say it? Gray. Military. Sterile. The worst of these was the new Rainbow Six: Siege, an insanely loud game which seems solely about destroying perfectly fine houses to either rescue or protect a suffering lady gagged and weeping by a bedside while angry men in black armor destroy her home. I actually managed to play that one and as I suspected, got murdered instantly. There's a great deal of strategic play and coordination involved, and easily a great skill curve, but this is not the kind of game I want to play. It seems brutal and artless. Where's the joy?
I hear over and over again that Nintendo just makes the same games over and over again. But after two hours in the world of the AAA, I was having trouble telling things apart. It's dizzying, all these publishers but yet only one tone.
Well, I know the joy was. In the other hall, at Nintendo's booth. But specially the happiest crowd of people, perhaps in the entire world, was at the Super Smash Bros Invitational Tournament. Just like Sony and Microsoft, it was hosted at a huge theater. But this wasn't a crowd of reporters or industry money men, it was a crowd of fans. Real fans. The kind of people who make signs saying "My body is ready" and who weep openly when Reggie Fils-Aime shows up. With the Sony conference you got respectful applause. With this show, you got the roar of true love. It might have just been about thirty people all stuffed around a TV fiddling with four Gamecube controllers, but the energy in that room met or exceeded the wildest crowds that traditional sports has ever generated. People were booing openly at the final champion, I have no idea why. The voting system that was put in place to pick crowd favorites was quickly hyjacked by a small collection of trolls who insisted upon voting Pikachu every time.
I came alone to this event. I was there, pretty much as a reporter in everything but salary and proper editing oversight, so I came with a professional outlook. That outlook ended pretty rapidly. Nobody was going to sit in that room for long with a measured sense of detached judgment or even cynical objectivity for long. Just all these kids playing Smash Bros, hitting homeruns against Fox's face, or the long-awaited moment that Megaman finally gets his Final Smash, that was enough to make me cheer with the rest. E3's highlight was definitely reached today in that room. Not for a new game, not for some revolutionary new VR system, but for good old reliable Nintendo, doing what they do best.
Looking here, you forget entirely that the WiiU is a clear third in the console race, that Nintendo has been losing money for years. Because forget the damn console race or the AAA press or even the stock figures. Nintendo is going to cite stock figures. Stocks??? We don't care about stocks! We're gamers! We're here to have fun, goddammit! And Nintendo is bringing the fun, fun in every color, every variety. They're even making a new Star Fox, I can't believe it myself. If you want colorful, original, or even unoriginal adventures that are going to make you happy, Nintendo is there. And they won E3 this year. I'm not attacking AAA in anyway. There's a lot of great games coming from that direction. But we don't need one direction. We don't need to measure success that one way. What we should do is measure success but how big of a grin are on our faces. And Nintendo made me happy this year more than any other company. So it won. Congratulations.
Anyway, faithful readers of Nintendo Wiki. I will be back tomorrow around the same time to discuss the games themselves. I think I have a more open schedule tomorrow, so I'll try to actually get some gaming in. I did play a few titles, but I'll save them for the next time. All I know is that I get my Smash on. These E3ers need to know the fear of Toon Link.