Just as quickly as E3 2018 arrived, so too did it pass. “That’s a wrap,” as it says on the Electronic Entertainment Expo’s main web page. Call it whatever you’d like, but I tend to look forward to what Nintendo has to bring to the table with each passing year. Some of the major press conferences seemed to have this air of change lingering about. You could definitely tell when Sony had its turn. While I enjoyed what they shared with the audience, their format just felt sloppy. The E3 2018 Nintendo Direct felt a little lacking in some ways. When the Super Smash Bros. coverage ended and the Treehouse segment began, I actually said to myself, “Oh, that’s it?” It took me awhile for this mindset to settle in: that I’m more excited than ever for Nintendo’s 2019.
When you reflect over the games that the Nintendo Direct featured, in terms of exclusives, you could probably count them with your fingers. Nintendo Switch is getting a lot of third-party this year. That’s all well and good. Our thirst for Super Smash Bros. was beyond quenched, and I was on the edge of my seat after that presentation waiting for my girl Samus to show up for at least another Metroid Prime 4 teaser trailer. That didn’t happen. Okay, well, how about some Animal Crossing? That rumored Star Fox game from Retro Studios? The Pokemon RPG for Nintendo Switch?
While I was itching for more, I still wound up happy with what Nintendo did announce at E3 2018. Super Mario Party is a return to the series’ four player competitive roots. When the trailer showed that two Nintendo Switch consoles can be used for mini-games, with haptic feedback supported between each screen, I was thinking that this is what the Wii U GamePad should have been. I’m definitely picking this one up on release day. With each Joy-Con acting as a single controller, now more people have access to play.
Fire Emblem: Three Houses is the first Fire Emblem game on home console since Radiant Dawn in 2007. With seamless transition between map movement and battle sequences, it’s a no brainer. Three Houses is also aided, in part, with a beautiful art style and maps that you can traverse on-foot with a surprising amount of freedom.
Nintendo even took me by surprise when Splatoon 2’s Octo Expansion went live during E3. It was always promised sometime in the summer, with some thinking July as a probable launch date.
With the exception of Fire Emblem, Nintendo’s announcements end up rounding out the remainder of 2018. Suddenly, I’m thinking of all the exciting possibilities that could head our way next year, and the announcements Nintendo can make at E3 2019. Have you noticed that Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is launching very early in the lifespan of Nintendo Switch? The game will be out just over a year and a half since the console launched. It’s similar to when Super Smash Bros. released on Wii U. The key difference here is that the Nintendo Switch is far more popular and successful than Wii U, not to mention that is has a bountiful future ahead of itself.
When you consider how well Nintendo Switch has sold since it launched in 2017, coupled with the fact that Super Smash Bros. Ultimate launches this year, Nintendo has fashioned the perfect springboard to sweep the competition in 2019. How so? Think back to when Super Smash Bros. Melee released for the GameCube. There were two unlockable characters from a game series that had never come stateside: Marth and Roy from Fire Emblem. Today, Fire Emblem has become a successful brand in North America.
Given the Nintendo Switch’s success, and its immersion into the mainstream, any future first-party titles have to be guaranteed to be announced at E3 2019. Smash will be an instant success, and when summer 2019 arrives, it will be time to experience that game’s characters in their own solo adventures. Kind of like a reverse Avengers approach. Like the Nintendo Direct mentioned, it’s the biggest crossover event in gaming history. Release the floodgates for the standalone software: Metroid Prime 4, F-Zero, Star Fox, Mother, Animal Crossing, and so on.
Another way to look at it is Pokemon. A few weeks ago, when Pokemon: Let’s Go Pikachu! and Let’s Go Eevee! were announced, there was some utter confusion among the masses. Was this really the Nintendo Switch Pokemon game? It’s practically identical to Pokemon Go. Thankfully, this wasn’t the case, and the true Pokemon RPG experience for Nintendo Switch is coming next year. Therein lies Nintendo’s pathway to success.
A significant amount of casual Pokemon fans will see this for Nintendo Switch and pick it up. These Let’s Go games could be interpreted as gateway games so that, when the true Pokemon RPG lands on Nintendo Switch next year, the casuals could be conditioned to take that plunge then. We know the hardcore gamers are going to do it. I’m sure Nintendo is anticipating it.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate could have that same effect on the casual market. You liked Samus from Super Smash Bros. Ultimate? Good news, Nintendo could say, here’s our reveal trailer for Metroid Prime 4 at E3 2019. Captain Falcon fans, it’s time for F-Zero’s return, here’s our new racer coming to Nintendo Switch in 2020. At that point Nintendo will have given us our cake with even more cake to eat too.
Nintendo’s E3 2019 could prove to be its most anticipated in years. It’s understandable that they held their punches this year. Super Mario Party, Mario Tennis Aces, and Pokemon Let’s Go are the appetizers coming our way. If Nintendo is planning to let loose come same time next time next year, we could be looking at the main course, and maybe a little tease at what they have for dessert.
That being said, what do you want to see from Nintendo at E3 2019? Do you see how exciting the possibilities are? I held out for so long for Metroid Prime 4. That trilogy, especially the first game in it, leads my favorite games of all time. Year after year I had hoped for some kind of tease, a flicker of hope that there was something out there. My heart dropped when Retro Studios showed a sequel to Donkey Kong Country Returns a few years back. I even came up with a way the Wii U GamePad could have been utilized for Metroid Prime. Don’t even get me started on its uses for the scan visor (missed opportunity on that generation if you ask me). Yet during Nintendo’s presentation at last year’s E3 my wish was granted, and I began freaking out over a title card and background music. That’s what Nintendo did for me a long time ago. That’s how much of an impact they’ve made on my life as a gamer. Super Mario Bros. was my immersion into gaming, but little did I know that Nintendo offered a whole lot more beyond the Mushroom Kingdom. Nintendo’s passion for gaming, which has admittedly stumbled throughout the years, is still as profound and important as it was in the 80s. It’s for that reason that I love to collect every amiibo. They’re not just collectible figurines, they’re also a piece of Nintendo’s legacy. It’s a legacy that I can feel in my bones that I’m a part of.
Nintendo can captivate the industry again by bringing that legacy back in the form of new software and new experiences. I have a good feeling that can happen at E3 2019, perhaps not dump it in our lap at once, but definitely in healthy increments. Where the Wii U lacked third-party support and estranged its audience, and the Wii, while profitable, suffered from an oversaturated market of motion-control shovelware, the Nintendo Switch has found its footing. It’s not the most powerful console out there, but it has that third-party support again, you can take the thing on-the-go, and, most of all, you can have a lot of fun with it.
In that regard, Nintendo’s E3 presentation can’t come soon enough. What do you want to see next year? A new Mario Kart? The Legend of Zelda? Oh, how about a new Kid Icarus or Earthbound? Come on, Nintendo, show me your moves.