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Nintendo Direct E3 2019: The Good, the Bad, and the etc.

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Nintendo of late have flattered to deceive during their E3 Directs. Last year’s effort, through its 25-minute Smash instruction manual, painted something of a worrying picture for Switch owners. Where were the rest of the games? February’s Nintendo Direct was pretty huge in terms of new announcements and exciting games, so how would Nintendo build on that to keep the hype train rolling into the summer? I’m sure you already bloody well know, so let’s just get to the good, the bad, and the rest.

The Good

Nintendo don’t generally tend to do logical. The delivery of their current paid online service (coming in after being free for the first year of the Switch’s life cycle), the online voice chat through a mobile app, the (until yesterday) baffling choice to remove online co-op for Super Mario Maker 2, and cloud saves working on only some Switch games (despite working without issue for the same games on other platforms) — these are just some of their nonsensical missteps on the Switch alone.

Took me ages to twig it was Zelda.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is an incredible game, one built around a framework that other open world games have arguably never bettered, and one that would, in most other company’s minds, be ripe to re-use for a quick sequel. But Zelda doesn’t really do sequels. Not since Majora’s Mask back in 2000 has Nintendo realized that the Hylian wheel doesn’t need to be reinvented every time if it’s working more than fine as it is.

In one of the very few actually surprising moments of E3 as a whole — let alone Nintendo’s relatively safe presentation — the sequel to Breath of the Wild was revealed with a cryptic and mysterious teaser. It was the type of saving grace that I can’t believe Nintendo hasn’t done in previous years. Those E3s where so little was expected of Nintendo that an HD port of Mario Sunshine would have been huge news are hopefully dead and gone now. They’ve finally realized that giving people more of something incredibly popular is as efficient as it is obligatory.

Wakey, wakey!

We know this game will play brilliantly, and the fact that it’s been set up with Link and Zelda exploring together and coming across spooky evil hopefully means we’ll see even more of a connection to Majora’s Mask if this game focuses on a darker, more narrative-heavy experience. We’ve enjoyed running around fields and dungeons; now it’ll hopefully be even better to care why.

The Bad

Doug Bowser really isn’t Reggie is he? Can you imagine him kicking ass and taking names? I think I’d prefer actual Bowser as head of NoA, because this guy sucks. His flat, unfunny introduction and nervous screen time was pretty embarrassing, and set the tone for a somewhat drab 45 minutes mostly filled with games we already knew about. The whole thing was very nearly a complete rehash of February’s Direct, but while the games were more unsurprising rather than bad, Bowser was just bad.

No, not him! You! You’re better!

The Hero

Nobody should have been surprised to see Nintendo open their E3 Direct with a new Smash Bros. character. I probably shouldn’t have been as surprised as I was when it was revealed to be The Hero from Dragon Quest. I can hear the sword-haters’ piss boiling from here. While the character is a ‘mainstay’ from one of the most renowned RPG series in the world, it’s hard to see his inclusion (in various guises) as anything other than a way for Nintendo to promote sales of Dragon Quest XI and Builders 2 in the West. Hey, it worked for Fire Emblem.

I legit didn’t know he was just called The Hero. Cool.

The Mansion

Luigi’s Mansion 3 will definitely be good. I don’t really need to see any trailers of it to know that and, frankly, I don’t want that much of the content to be revealed over finding it out for myself. It was nice to see some of the new features given a bit of a nod, proving that Nintendo have got plenty more ideas up their sleeves to make a third iteration viable. As good as the game’s going to be, this segment of the Direct was definitely more engrossing for my dog than it was for me…

“The hell are watching me for? It’s Luigi, man!”

The Expensive

Will someone please tell me why Switch games have to be quite so damned expensive? Why must I have my nostalgia glands tickled by an announcement of Collection of Mana, and then almost inevitably have them stomped on by a $40 price tag. I will remind you, one of these games is a Game Boy title. Forty sodding dollars.

Why must I want this so much?!

The Unlikely

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt for Switch had been rumoured, but I never believed it possible. I still don’t, to be honest. That game had a crap ton of issues and wonkiness when it first launched on PS4 and Xbox One — you know, the consoles that are vastly superior to Switch in terms of hardware specs — back in 2015. Having resolved most of them, CD Projekt Red’s masterpiece stands tall as one of the greatest games of this generation, and I’m super annoyed that if it actually ends up miraculously working well on Switch that I’m going to have to buy and play it again.

I just don’t believe this. It has to be an optical illusion.

The Other Mansion

“You could play Resident Evil in a scary abandoned house!” Yes, Nintendo, that’s exactly the type of thing to encourage. This whole segment was almost totally pointless and insultingly cringey. Who, I ask, thought this was good? This managed to actually top the terrible influencers trailer for Life is Strange 2, and I didn’t think that was possible.

“Here, you do it,” says this absolute wrongun. Look at his face, he knew!

It did have a vague point of existence, which was to announce that Resident Evil 5 and 6 — the two worst ones — are coming to Switch, following closely in the wake of REmake, Resident Evil 0, and Resident Evil 4’s release earlier this month. Assuming 5 and 6 are as much of a shameless ripoff as those three games are, we’re basically being given the privilege of paying just $150 to have the majority of the Resident Evil games on Switch.

The Motion Controls

No More Heroes 3 looks like it has motion controls. I’m not sure how I feel about this (no pun intended). To be fair, if anything is going to force me to go all 2008 on my controller and start waggling by myself on the bus (just kidding, I’d never take the bus), then it’s going to be suplexing some fool.

Am I still not allowed to reference Chris Benoit for this type of thing?

The Speed Limit

What’s going on here? Did my stream slow down? Did someone hit the half speed button? I swear Panzer Dragoon is meant to be faster than this. If this comes anywhere near the fantastic Panzer Dragoon: Orta, we are all in for a bloomin’ good time, but this version needs to pick its heels up and get a move on.

I dunno, it just seems slow to me. Am I crazy?

The Return of the Kings

Platinum Games are back, baybee! It may look anime as hell, but Astral Chain can shut up and take my money right now. The eponymous chain mechanic looks all kinds of splendid, even if the premise and story is bound to be mad as a box of frogs. It’s not far off either, which reminds me…

I’d Tweet Hideki Kamiya to tell him how cool this looks, but he’d probably block me for it

The Impending

My word, there were a lot of games in this Direct that are coming out really soon. By the time this month is done, we’ll have our hands on Cadence of Hyrule, Crash Team Racing: Nitro Fueled, Bloodstained, and Super Mario Maker 2, with Fire Emblem: Three Houses and Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 arriving in July. It’s been a slow year, but the summer bounty, she is plentiful.

The Cheek!

I cannot believe Nintendo got us with this again. I absolutely fell for it like the total sucker I am. I kid you not, I punched the air in time with the moment Duck Hunt Duo was unveiled, and then went absolutely radio rental when the real surprise quite literally landed. It’s Banjooooooo! I love the visual style they’ve given the bear and bird for Smash Ultimate, I love the moveset, the stage is perfect, the Jinjo final smash is perfect. Ahhhhhhhh, it feels good to finally get what you want, doesn’t it?

From that height, right on the neck. That dog’s probably dead.

The Verdict

Man, this was a tough thing to decide upon, and I think I’ve actually softened on it in the course of writing this. On the one hand, if you’re not a Smash player then you got one surprise here, and had to wait through over an hour of what was effectively just the same Direct as February’s, only with different trailers. It doesn’t denigrate the excitement for the games Nintendo re-showed off, as there is so much quality heading to Switch for the rest of the year, but there are those constant holes that Nintendo fans hope will be plugged each year, and each year we’re disappointed. At this stage, are we ever going to get another F-Zero game?

Nintendo has, to its credit, hit a ton of high notes on Switch already, but it would have been just glorious to see the next Mario Kart announced here, the unveiling of the long-rumored new Switch models, or something, anything, on Metroid Prime 4. Having said all this, it’s pretty hard to complain about a direct that had a new Luigi’s Mansion, Pokémon, Animal Crossing, Fire Emblem, and two new Zelda titles, but only one of those was a blockbuster surprise announcement we hadn’t heard before. It’s best to think of the whole Direct as a solid confirmation that the Switch is being heavily supported this year — both by Nintendo and third parties — and then dwell on those glorious last few minutes over and over.

Lads and lasses. Banjo. In Smash. Seriously.

7/10 would breathe in the wild again

Crotchety Englishman who spends hundreds of pounds on video game tattoos and Amiibo in equally wallet-crippling measure. Likes grammar a lot, but not as much as he likes ranting about the latest gaming news in his weekly column.

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