Nintendo is pinning its year on a pilot and a plumber.
During the company’s quirky Nintendo Direct digital event at the annual E3 video game trade show in Los Angeles, Nintendo laid out its plans for 2015 and beyond. And while a few notable new announcements will make die-hard fans happy, it’s clear that the company is biding its time for its next system, codenamed NX.
That particular device was only mentioned in passing, leaving the bulk of the event to focus on several titles key to 2015.
What’s new, Wii U?
Featured game Star Fox: Zero, the latest in the colorful space dogfighting series, lets players fly a ship from a third-person perspective on the TV and in a first-person cockpit view using the Wii U Gamepad. The ship also transforms into a mech-like Walker at the touch of a button. It’s due out this holiday.
The company’s other big Wii U holiday release, Super Mario Maker, will let gamers celebrate the 30th anniversary of the iconic mascot by building, sharing, and playing platforming levels based on several popular Mario games. It’s set for release on September 15.
Both of those games were already revealed at last year’s E3, however, leaving the biggest new reveal to come in the form of toys for Activision’s upcoming Skylanders: SuperChargers based on Nintendo icons Donkey Kong and Bowser. The hybrid Skylanders-amiibo figures are the first of their kind, and should shake up the lucrative toys-to-life category.
Only a handful of other Wii U games were on hand, including previously announced gamesYoshi’s Wooly World and Xenoblade Chronicles X. The amiibo-driven Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival looks to combine the company’s toy line with a Mario Party-esque board game, whileMario Tennis: Ultra Smash brings the arcade sports series to the system.
The biggest no-show? The Legend of Zelda Wii U. Nintendo had previously announced it wouldn’t be at the show, but that didn’t stop fans (and me) from holding out hope.
One for the money, 3DS for the show
But Nintendo did trot out a new Zelda game on their 3DS handheld. The Legend of Zelda: TriForce Heroes, due out this fall, is a co-operative take on the classic top-down Zeldaexperience delivered beautifully in 2013’s A Link Between Worlds. The new game lets up to three players explore Zelda dungeons together, even forming ‘totems’ by standing on each other’s shoulders.
A new Metroid game was also unveiled, though it isn’t the big, bold Wii U game most fans were hoping to see. Metroid Prime Federation Force is another co-operative 3DS game, letting four players take on missions set in the Metroid Prime universe. It’s due out in 2016.
A new Animal Crossing was also unveiled, though it’s more of a spin-off than a big new world.Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer lets players play architect, designing home interiors for characters in the Animal Crossing universe. It’s out later this year.
Other 3DS games mention at the event include a 3DS version of the Wii U game Hyrule Warriorscalled Hyrule Warriors Legends, a new Fire Emblem, and the playful Mario and Luigi Paper Jam.
Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime used the word “transformation” to describe the company’s plan to expand to mobile devices, theme parks, and eventually release a new system in the NX. He probably should have used the word “transition,” because by revealing only two new Wii U games at their event — and zero third-party games — the company is making a pretty strong statement about the limited lifespan of that console.
Good lineup for the 3DS, though.