By Kyle Holmer. I think it’s safe to say 2016 will go down as one of the most precarious years for Nintendo in the last decade. The Wii U is clearly on its way out (and, if we’re being honest, has been since the day it was released), and with the 3DS, while still moderately successful, Nintendo’s handheld division is in need of a brand new console of some sort to supercharge gamer interest.
While the rumors of that next great console, currently titled the NX, have been circulating for months, Sony and Microsoft have appeared steadfast in their commitment to update their consoles. While at first it seemed that if Nintendo released a mid-gen console, they were clearly going to release the most powerful platform out of the bunch, but with other major developers entering the fray that’s no longer a safe assumption to make.
So here we are. It’s E3 once more, and Nintendo has arrived… with not a whole lot. It’s clear they’re pinning all their hopes on the NX (at least based on their meager “press conference” showings), and the likelihood that it will actually be a roaring, transcendent success seems more and more unlikely the more we hear from Sony and Microsoft.
I suppose those are all concerns for the future. Nintendo does have a history, after all, of releasing products we didn’t even realize we needed. And today the only thing we can actually do is speculate and discuss what they’re actually showing. It just so happens that while their lineup is just a tad on the pathetic side (a Treehouse Event for just two games?!), they’re representing two of Nintendo’s largest franchises. So here we go.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Here’s something that’ll melt your brain. From a distance it looks like a 2016 version of Legend of Zelda crossed with Skyrim and just a tad of Don’t Starve sprinkled in for good measure. This thing is downright stunning; aesthetically it looks as though Nintendo has taken all of the cell shaded glory of The Wind Waker and smashed it together with 2011’s Skyward Sword.
The graphic treatment alone is exciting but after watching the 30+ minutes of gameplay shown during Nintendo’s Treehouse Event, it’s pretty clear Nintendo is making some pretty massive changes to their flagship franchise. The world looks absolutely massive and the player has complete traversal control. While this has definitely been done before (I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard “you see that mountain, you can go to that mountain” in my lifetime), the added elements to find and use various weapons in the world, along with the typical harvesting and crafting elements, are completely new to this series.
There are some pretty serious RPG and Survival game elements in this gameplay footage that seem surprisingly at home within The Legend of Zelda, and there’s an unprecedented amount of world control and interaction that’s not only new to this series, but just seems downright new. All in all there’s a lot to take in, but this game looks absolutely incredible. Sifting through all the gameplay footage is worth it just to see all of the new systems they’re adding to the already proven Zelda formula.
There has yet to be an official release date. But you know it’s coming.
Pokemon Sun and Moon
Unlike Zelda, the latest Pokemon games had a lot less going on. The graphics have been updated, there’s a whole swath of new Pokemon (including Legendary), and there’s some new characters and story, which remains a big deal to those intimately familiar with the Pokemon mythology.
While most fans of the series have already made up their minds about buying these games, there was a marked disappointment in the lack of footage Nintendo showed off. While Zelda provided a sweeping gameplay demonstration, Pokemon Sun and Moon had a trailer up front and then an extensive interview with the developers with some extra gameplay footage shown throughout.
Also, a new Pokemon, in the form of a shellfish-lookin’ thing called Grubbin:
The trailer (seen below) has new details about Magearna, a Mythical Pokemon whose special ability is Soul-Heart, which I’m sure is quite impressive.
The only actual takeaways from the Treehouse Event are a solid release date for Sun and Moon (November 18th, 2016) and the inclusion of an all-new four player battle royale system which will allow people to have massive battles with their friends or other people they find online. Also that we may never truly catch them all.
Be sure to check out DoomRocket’s LOAD FILE coverage of E3 2016 throughout the week!