I watched the Nintendo E3 press conference. I actually missed the first few minutes because I lost track of time, so if they started with a bombshell announcement then I’m hilariously out of the loop. But assuming they didn’t lead off with anything world-shattering, the show was about what we expected. While the other publishers treat the gaming press to flashy 90-minute extravaganzas with pyrotechnics, dance numbers, celebrity guests, smoke machines, and booming Hollywood-style trailers, Nintendo keeps things simple. Their show is only half an hour. It isn’t even live. It’s just some company officers talking into a camera, followed by some trailers.
The presentation showed us exactly what you’d expect from Nintendo: Some Kirby, a bit of Pokemon, some Fire Emblem, a reminder that Skyrim is coming to the Switch, a portion of Zelda, a dash of Rocket League, a few Amiibos, and a bunch of Mario. There was even a brief acknowledgement that Metroid 4 exists in some theoretical sense and we might see a frame of it someday.
Nintendo is so relentlessly conservative and risk-averse that there’s not much to write about. They usually do exactly what we expect, whether we like it or not. The only surprises they have are things like, “Which of their decades-old properties will get a release this year, and which ones will wait until next year?” Every few years they might shock us with an unconventional bit of hardware and we think, “Wow! Something new!” But then we see the hardware is a bit under-powered, third party developers stay away, and Nintendo doesn’t make nearly enough devices to meet demand and we settle back down into the familiar rut.
It sounds like I’m being negative, but I like that Nintendo is doing their own thing. (Aside from the hardware shortages. Those are inexcusable.) There’s a lot of value in making fun, affordable hardware and not getting into a pissing contest with Microsoft and Sony over who has the biggest FPS. I think it’s smart to aim their products at families instead of fighting over the crowded gritty action shooter / brawler market. There’s a lot of value in using the established Mario formula to make this series of endlessly inventive (in terms of gameplay) series of platformers. (And sometimes RPGs, fighting games, racers, etc.) This Game Maker’s Toolkit video on Mario’s 4-step level design gives a pretty good idea of what I’m talking about when I say “inventive”:
In a lot of ways my relationship with Mario et al. is a lot like my relationship with Dark Souls. I don’t really enjoy playing the games, but I’m glad they exist because they represent such a magnificent technical and artistic achievement.
So that was the Nintendo show. I didn’t see any games that I wanted to play, but I saw lots of stuff that will be fun to watch on YouTubeOr would be, if not for Nintendo’s unforgivable iron-fisted YouTube policies.. I can’t wait to see the clever kids trivialize these games in an upcoming Awesome Games Done Quick.
 Or would be, if not for Nintendo’s unforgivable iron-fisted YouTube policies.
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