Originally published on Trevor Trove on June 14-15, 2016
As Nintendo once again avoided going the traditional E3 conference route, instead focusing on longer live streams over the course of today and tomorrow, I won’t tackle my Nintendo predictions until after seeing what tomorrow has in store. So instead, let’s take a look at the two big showcase pieces from Nintendo today: Zelda and Pokemon.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Nintendo kicked off the morning with a brand new trailer for the latest The Legend of Zelda, showcasing just what a vast world they’ve created in this large, open-world Hyrule. The trailer featured a diverse range of ecologies and wildlife; showcased Link climbing, jumping, and fighting baddies; and delving into some shrines and temples; all while underscored by a beautiful orchestration that started subtle and grew more intense and dramatic as the trailer reached its climax with a look at the Master Sword. Then, while looking out upon the world of Hyrule, The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild appeared onscreen to announce the formal title.
After a brief aside for Pokemon Sun and Pokemon Moon, the Nintendo Treehouse spent most of their 8 hours dedicated to exploring the initial opening area of the map. Seemingly starting with the very first moments of the game, a female voice told our hero “Open your eyes…wake up Link” as he lay in a shallow pool of water. The water drained away and Link awoke in the “Shrine of Resurrection” before discovering the “Sheikah Slate” which appears as though it will be a guiding tool for this game. Opening a few chests, Link discovered a shirt and pants (as he was only in his underwear to start) and this new gear was equipped. Link then ventured out of the shrine, running out into the world for the very first time. This moment definitely struck me as reminiscent to the first time leaving the Vault in Fallout 3.
Over the course of the gameplay I watched, it is very apparent that this is a very new Legend of Zelda. Gone are the days of finding hearts in the grass to recover health. Now Link will find food in the wild that can heal him, and even cook the food to increase the amount of health recovered. Weapons and shields degrade over time and use, meaning there will be a lot of time spent managing inventory but these tools are plentiful in the world and new weapons can even be claimed from your foes in the middle of a fight. It feels as though the team at Nintendo are taking cues from Minecraft (this “survival” and crafting element), Skyrim (the expanded RPG sensibilites, item collection, and equipment), and possibly even the Dark Souls series (combat and large interconnected expanses).
Another newly touted featured showcased throughout the day was traversal. With such a larger world to explore, Link is now an avid jumper and climber. The developers have expanded the conventional world of Hyrule to incorporate far more verticality into this title. As such, Link spent a lot of time scaling mountains and ruined shrines in this showcase. Additionally, they showcased an item that allows Link to float over the world, hang glider-style.
I also watched as they explored a couple ruins in the world. Not full blown dungeons or shrines in the traditional Zelda sense, these mini-dungeons feature a couple of puzzles to solve and you are typically rewarded with a few treasures, as well as perhaps a larger reward that can be used elsewhere and traded in for items like the aforementioned hang glider-type thing. Much of what was showcased seemed to support the idea that this Legend of Zelda is very much a return to its roots in that a lot of this world can be experienced in any order you choose. They confirmed the game featuring over 100 of these ruins, shrines, dungeons, etc. in the game.
I skipped the last two major console installments in the The Legend of Zelda series (Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword). I played a little of the 3DS A Link Between Worlds game, because A Link to the Past is my favorite entry and I was excited to return to that world. But even that game failed to capture my attention the way this series used to and I abandoned it fairly early on. With that baggage in mind, I had largely written this game off as something that I had outgrown or just wasn’t interested in anymore. What I saw today very much changed that line of thinking. I find myself more excited about The Legend of Zelda than I have since The Wind Waker nearly fourteen years ago. Going into this conference, I said that a Mother 3 localization was probably the only thing that could get me to turn on my Wii U again. That is no longer the case.
Pokemon Sun and Moon
Pokemon Sun and Pokemon Moon on the other hand spend the first hour of today’s stream going through so many of the same motions I’ve seen from this series for its 20 years. They highlighted a few of the characters you’ll encounter, showed off a few new Pokemon throughout the live gameplay demo, and explained some of the adjustments made to the UI that will make the game even more accessible to new players (once you have fought a Pokemon, in future battles with that Pokemon there will be indicators of how effective your moves will be against it, for example).
The biggest new feature they showcase was a new 4-Player Battle Royale mode. Each player can bring in up to three Pokemon and players can attack any of their opponents until one player loses all of their Pokemon. Then points are allotted to each of the four based on how many Pokemon they defeated vs. how many of their Pokemon were defeated. This just comes as the latest in the long line of new Multiplayer modes that have never appealed to me in the series.
We’ll see tomorrow in the in-depth Pokemon GO developer interview if it has what it takes to bring me back to Pokemon but right now, I find it highly unlikely I’ll be picking up Pokemon Sun, Pokemon Moon, or any other Pokemon title for the foreseeable future.
Nintendo continued their digital presence at E3 with day two of their Treehouse event.
Day two kicked off from the E3 show floor with about 45 minutes of Pokemon GO conversation. The sound mix wasn’t the best as they had nine people onstage and whoever was running the board wasn’t always able to catch the new speaker, meaning a lot of questions and discussion wound up happening off-mic.
The panel featured a mix of Pokemon GO playtesters who are experiencing the ongoing field tests, some developers of the game, Shigeru Miyamoto, and some translators. They talked about the game a bit. Pokemon exist in the world and are assigned to different areas accordingly through geo-caching (near the ocean, you’ll probably find more water Pokemon; near a forest, you’ll find more grass and flying-types; etc.). Players will be encouraged to go out to public places to find new Pokemon. The Pokemon GO Plus accessory is the little bluetooth device that looks like a cross between a Pokeball and a google map pin and will be available for $34.99, alongside the game itself, starting in July, according to Miyamoto.
I might end up picking it up for something else to do on my ever-increasing number of trips around the country. Maybe it’ll replace my addiction to 3DS Street Passes. The game will be launching solely with Kanto region Pokemon but they did allude to the idea that they hope to support the game to the point where people can “catch ’em all.” Because of course they were going to. Who doesn’t want piles of money?
The next title shown during the stream was a new 3DS title called Ever Oasis. This RPG from developer Grezzo is produced and directed by Koichi Ishii, known for his work on the first three Final Fantasy games. The game looks like a mix of a world-building sim and dungeon-crawling RPG. Don’t know that I’ll wind up following the game but it’s nice to see that there’s still new IP out there coming to Nintendo.
A follow-up to the critically acclaimed puzzle game BoxBoy for Nintendo 3DS, BoxBoxBoy launches June 30 with new puzzles. I didn’t play the first one but I’ve heard good things about it. And now, Box Boy can create two sets of boxes. It looks like a cute, simple little puzzle game. Maybe something work picking up for the aforementioned travels. The original game is also on sale. So maybe I’ll go grab that now.
Mario Party: Star Rush
A new Mario Party game for the 3DS. Launching November 4, all four-players play simultaneously. No more turn-based moving. That will at least make the game go a bit quicker. Additionally, the boards are less linear now. But for the most part, I stopped having people to play Mario Party games with quite a while ago so I don’t foresee this making its way into my catalog.
Yo-Kai Watch 2
Yo-Kai Watch 2: Bony Spirits and Yo-Kai Watch 2: Fleshy Souls, released in Japan in 2014, follows November’s North American release of the original game, when they come to the Nintendo 3DS on September 30. I don’t even have time in my life of a Pokemon game anymore, so there’s no way I’m going to fall down the rabbit hole of this series. Next.
Monster Hunter Generations
Launching July 15 on 3DS, it seems like another Monster Hunter. A new trailer focused on a new monster type: Deviant Monsters. I know virtually nothing about these games either. This recap has got to be getting old for you…
Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past
Finally, a game I care/know about.
Dragon Quest VII is one of my favorite entries in the series and it looks like they’ve done an amazing job modernizing it from it’s original PlayStation version. It’s a hell of a long game. As I’ve repeatedly said, I put 100+ hours into it back on PlayStation and still never beat it. If you haven’t played the game here’s the basic premise: you start on a tiny island that is the only land in the world. But eventually use start finding these shards that lead you to visit new lands in the past. Experiencing these smaller, often self-contained stories, when you solve the problem of a given island in the past, you restore it to the world in the present-day. These individual stories make the game ideal for the occasional pick-up and play nature of gaming on something like the Nintendo 3DS.
Buy this game when it comes out September 16.
Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE
Aaaand we’re back to games I know nothing about… JRPG from Atlus. A mix of Fire Emblem and Shin Megami Tensei. Super Japanese game. Comes out June 24th on Wii U. Enjoy Xyger!
Paper Mario: Color Splash
The newest Paper Mario game comes to the Wii U October 7. Still the same delightful art style of the Paper Mario series. The new catch this time out is that an evil force is removing color from the world and Mario and friends need to restore it with a magical paint hammer. I used be a huge fan of the series but haven’t really felt any urge to return to it in recent years. If the game reviews well I might give it a look but seeing something like the card-based combat doesn’t really instill me with confidence. I do appreciate that it seems to be featuring the Koopalings (Morton was shown in the gameplay demo).
Rhythm Heaven Megamix
After a couple more sessions of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, they came back with one last demo for Rhythm Heaven Megamix. A mini-game-filled title with lots of cute little rhythm games in the mix. The 100+ new and old minigames within the title are available now. Looks cute. Probably not anything I’ll pick up myself but it you’re into rhythm games, it might be for you.
So…mostly a day of games that aren’t really up my alley. Oh well. It’s still nice to see Nintendo exploring so many different ideas (even if it still feels like they’ve mostly given up on supporting the Wii U at this point).
Now that the two-day stream is done, let’s check in with my predictions.
- Mother 3 finally gets localized for Wii U Virtual Console. Nope. 0 points.
- Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past and Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King will get Western release dates. Dragon Quest VII will be available next month. Dragon Quest VIII will be available December. Dragon Quest VII is coming in September (not July). And no word on Dragon Quest VIII. .25 points.
- Pokemon GO release date announced for July. Nailed it. My only full 1 point of the week.
- Link has a voice. And we’ll see and hear from Zelda and Ganon, too. No? There was voice acting and it’s likely that the girl in the trailer/opening telling Link to wake up is Zelda, but unconfirmed. 0 points.
- The Legend of Zelda gets a proper title. Releasing March 24, 2017. It will likely coincide with the NX launch but Nintendo will stick to their guns and NOT announce NX details here at this event. The event did, indeed, kick off with the new title Breath of the Wild but no release date was ever announced. .25 points.
So once again, I wound up with 1.50 / 5.00 points for Nintendo, tying Bethesda and Ubisoft.
Overall, that leaves me at 7.67 / 30.00 points – or just over 25%. Not bad for a bunch of complete nonsense.
Thanks for reading!