E3 2019: Nintendo Direct report card — Impressions and announcements

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Once again, Nintendo gets the final say before the E3 2019 doors swing open in Los Angeles with their annual Nintendo Direct. How did they do?


Nintendo didn’t necessarily have a high bar to clear in this regard, at least in comparison to the other conferences. Yet, they went above and beyond once again compared to everything else that’s happened over the past few days.

Instead of a press conference full of audience shouting and awkward banter, they opted for their Direct format with a 45-minute, pre-recorded presentation. It suited them very well again this year, as the stream was concise, to the point and didn’t slow down during its duration. Nintendo also did a solid job in showing actual gameplay in each of its trailers, even the ones with more cinematic elements.

There was even a slice of comedy when formally introducing new Nintendo of America president Doug Bowser, as he had to explain to a CG render of the famous Mario antagonist that he wasn’t scheduled to appear despite a similar name. The real-life Bowser’s presence was pretty minimal, as Yoshiaki Koizumi and Shinya Takahashi were the primary hosts cutting in between games.

Luigi's Mansion3
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Games Quality

Here’s where things faltered a bit, but not too much.

While Nintendo’s overall presentation was good, many of the games presented were ones we already knew about or were updates to existing content.

Big first-party titles like Luigi’s Mansion 3 got a decent 5-6-minute chunk of gameplay confirming multiplayer. Animal Crossing: New Horizons was also finally shown off, with a deserted island premise and a March 20, 2020 release date that sets it back from its previous 2019 window.

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They didn’t spend much time on games releasing reasonably soon, such as Fire Emblem: Three HousesMarvel Ultimate Alliance 3, Daemon X Machina or Astral ChainPokemon Sword & Shield were also mentioned and confirmed a new water gym, but Nintendo pointed folks to their Treehouse streams for more info and gameplay on 2019 titles. They also confirmed that a sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is in development in the form of a teaser at the end.

On the third-party front, the official word on the long-rumored port of The Witcher 3 and the announcement of No More Heroes 3 were both standouts, as was a look at Sega’s latest Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games, which will arrive in time for the 2020 games in Tokyo.

Banjo-Kazooie Smash Bros. Ultimate
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The Best of Nintendo at E3: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (again)

So yeah, this might be a bit of a hot take, but Smash once again stole the show.

Unlike last year, it didn’t take up over half the Direct, but its presence was still the strongest out of everything Nintendo showed.

It got going pretty early too, as Dragon Quest protagonists (known as “The Hero”) were shown off to kick off the entire presentation. While it showed Dragon Quest XI‘s main character at first, it turned into three other heroes from previous entries, including the long-rumored Erdrick, as what appear to be palette swaps.

That wasn’t all they had up their sleeve, though.

A second trailer popped up towards the end of the Direct after a sizzle reel, revealing none other than Banjo-Kazooie. After being in the rumor mill for years (and in consideration for Melee back in the day), the Microsoft-owned bear and bird are finally back on a Nintendo system for the first time in ages with all of their familiar moves, a Spiral Mountain stage and their jiggies intact.

It’s not only a reunion but a big demonstration of goodwill between Microsoft and Nintendo, who have been quite chummy here recently. These announcements brought the most hype and excitement to the show, which is a good or bad thing, depending on who you ask.

Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild sequel screenshot
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The Worst of Nintendo at E3: Nothing really new

And while that was great and all, Nintendo’s E3 Direct didn’t show us anything new necessarily.

Most of, if not all, of the titles presented, had already been announced either by Nintendo themselves or by third parties. While it was great to finally see the new Animal Crossing and get a Sept. 20 date for the reimagining of Link’s Awakening, most of everything was a little too familiar.

Luigi’s Mansion 3, on the other hand, still has no hard 2019 date and this feels like it would have been the opportune time to announce something like that. Nintendo’s other releases for the year look solid, but nothing was shown to take anyone by surprise.

Nintendo Direct @ E3 2019. B+. While Nintendo’s Direct-style of presentation was really strong again this year, it couldn’t overcome a lack of anything new or unexpected aside from Smash Bros. Ultimate DLC. Still, it was leagues better than any of the other E3 2019 conferences we saw this week and should leave most Switch owners and fans pretty satisfied.. .

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Save for the reveal that a direct sequel to Breath of the Wild is in development, which came out of left field to end the presentation. When it will arrive and what it has in store seemed pretty cryptic, and following up a game that practically redefined the Zelda series will be no simple feat. It’ll be interesting to see what comes next.