Nintendo at E3 2017 – Quirky as Ever

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Nintendo has always been a bit of an oddball when compared to Sony and Microsoft, and E3 2017 was no exception. While Microsoft was screaming about the promises of 4K gaming and more powerful consoles, Nintendo is still releasing big-name titles on the 3DS. While Sony is championing lifelike graphics and deep narratives, Nintendo’s main offering is a lighthearted affair with Super Mario Odyssey. More than ever, Nintendo is feeling very “Sega” in their lineup with downright crazy games, such as Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle (developed by Ubisoft).

As in recent years, Nintendo showed their games off in a pre-recorded Nintendo Direct. We saw some surprises, including a pair of Metroid announcements that set the Nintendo fan base into a hype frenzy. Metroid Prime 4 is coming, but we have no details on it aside from the fact that it won’t be developed by Retro Studios. Metroid: Samus Returns is a modernized remake of Metroid II: Return of Samus. Simply put, it looks fantastic, though I have to echo the sentiment that I wish it was happening for the Switch instead.

Indies aside, Nintendo is still struggling to get compelling 3rd party support. Skyrim looks good, but not any better than it looked last generation. Yes, it’ll be on the go, and yes, it will have exclusive content. But still, it’s a little disappointing that Skyrim is one of the 3rd party highlights and not just a complimentary release. Where Nintendo is doing a great job is with internal development and with indie development. Both Nintendo’s own efforts and partnering with indies is producing a lineup for the Switch in 2017 and into 2018 that will keep the system seeing a good stream of releases.

As we look forward to 2018, I really can’t wait to know more about Metroid Prime 4 and what Retro Studios is up to. Placing the next Metroid game in the Prime series is interesting, as Prime 1, 2, and 3 were always viewed as a complete trilogy. As for Retro, they could easily be working on another entry in the Donkey Kong Country series. After Tropical Freeze, I’d be happy to see another DKC game from Retro, but am quietly hoping for new IP or an updated take on a more classic franchise.

Nintendo did enough at E3 2017 to ensure that the Switch continues to be a success, but it remains to be seen if they can get back on the radar with the casual gamer. Hardcore gamers still love and revere Nintendo, but it’s been since the early days of the Wii that the casual has really cared. Sales of the Switch are showing a casual interest, but it remains to be seen if that can be maintained throughout the generation.

Overall it was a pretty standard showing for Nintendo. Things were appropriately weird, they gobbled up a ton of E3 awards for Super Mario Odyssey, and they had the most crowded booth at the show. But still, there’s not much to point to that shows much progress is being made to firm up 3rd party support. Let’s see what 2018 brings.

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