Written by D. Matthew Beyer // Edited by Andrew Busch // Header Image Courtesy of Nintendo.com
Choo-choo, everybody! The E3 hype train’s roaring full steam down Rainbow Road, bringing exciting news, reveals, trailers, demos, and so much more. Strap yourself in because I’ve got a ton of content to cover.
1. Breath of the Wild Expansions
First, we got a slick trailer for the Breath of the Wild expansions. Release date for the first content pack, called The Master Trials, is June 30th, which also happens to be the day after my birthday. Coincidence? I don’t think so.
Based on the trailer, I confess I’m a little underwhelmed by Trials. Though I also confess I’m biased, as my review makes it clear that I love the narrative of Breath of the Wild more than the mechanics (though make no mistake, the mechanics are incredible). So the gameplay-focused expansion isn’t quite as exciting to me because it doesn’t look like it will expand the lore. While most of the new features are theoretically amazing (like the challenge mode, the combat gauntlet, and the mode that tracks 200 hours of Link’s travels), nothing revealed in the expansion made me want to dive back immediately into Breath of the Wild having beaten Ganon. Well, except the wearable Majora’s Mask. I’m definitely going to run amok for at least an hour or two, living out my Skull Kid fantasies.
However, the second expansion— coming “holiday 2017”— is exactly what I want, as it promises to expand on the lore of the champions through “a new dungeon and an original story,” according to the official Nintendo website. It sounds like The Champion’s Ballad will be a prequel, but that’s just my educated guess. The champions are some of the most interesting characters in Hyrule despite limited screen time, so I’m curious to see how Ballad fleshes out their stories.
2. Metroid Prime 4 and Samus Returns Remake
Perhaps the most shocking news of the day is Nintendo finally throwing us Metroid fans the bone we’d been hoping for in the form of not one but two new Metroid games, Prime 4 and Samus Returns. The differences between the two only sweeten the reveals, as Samus Returns is a side-scrolling remake of the 1991 gameboy exclusive Metroid II while Prime 4 can be assumed to be another FPS. Nintendo is listening to both factions of Metroid fans, looking to please both the old school 2D crowd and the fans who got introduced to the adventures of Samus Aran through Retro’s incredible 3D Prime trilogy.
The trailer for Samus Returns looks positively stunning, bringing SR388 from 1991 to 2017 through gorgeously rendered 2.5D. The colors are bright, the aiming is fluid, and it’s full of all the little details that make Metroid, Metroid — like morph-ball-bomb-jump-chaining and suit upgrades. Assuming Samus Returns is to Metroid II what Zero Mission is to the original NES Metroid, we have good reasons to be optimistic.
The Prime reveal didn’t come with a trailer but it did come with a big, pulsating, parasitic asterisk latched onto it, as it appears Retro studios will not be reprising their role as developer. In fact, Nintendo hasn’t attached a developer to the title, only a producer, Kensuke Tanabe, and the vague promise of “a talented new development team.” While Tanabe’s resume certainly impresses, the idea of a non-Retro Prime is a little less exciting after the spectacular failure to launch that was Team Ninja’s Other M. Metroid as a series seems surprisingly tricky for developers to get right, but here’s hoping that the new team upholds Retro’s commitment to quality.
Oh, Nintendo’s also making a gnarly Metroid amiibo, so soon you will be able to adorn your desk with everyone’s favorite interstellar abomination.
3. Mario Odyssey
Possibly moving away from space— though I’m not discounting the possibility of space levels— we also got a serious look at Super Mario Odyssey, which looks incredibly bizarre in the best possibly way. Apparently Mario’s sentient hat allows him to possess other creatures in the game, a power which manifests in the trailer as a surprisingly photorealistic T-Rex and a Goomba rocking Mario’s signature ‘stashe. The juxtaposition of art styles still hasn’t quite sold me, even with this latest trailer, but the gameplay looks absolutely phenomenal.
Nintendo bills the game as a “sandbox style 3D Mario adventure” in the vein of 64 or Sunshine, which I consider excellent news. While I love all the more recent 3D Mario games like Galaxy or 3D World, the sandbox style holds a special place in my heart and I know I’m not alone. Fans— myself included— have been clamoring for an HD remaster of Sunshine for years, so the idea of a spiritual successor is welcome. This is more evidence that Nintendo is actively listening and trying to cater to their core fanbase, a trend which I hope continues into the foreseeable future. The Wii’s emphasis on casual gaming alienated many people who grew up with Nintendo, and it looks like Nintendo is aiming to win them back through these familiar-yet-new games like Prime 4, Odyssey, and Samus Returns.
The Odyssey trailer also comes with the surprisingly close release date of October 27, 2017, which means thankfully we don’t have too long to wait before jumping back into the Mushroom kingdom. But even before then there’s yet another Mario adventure on the horizon, and it might be even weirder than Odyssey.
4. Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle
Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle pits Mario and company against Ubisoft’s raving rabbits with what looks like laser guns in tactical (espionage…?) action. Honestly I’m not entirely sure what Kingdom Battle is, only that it’s being released on the Switch on August 29th and Grant Kirkhope of all people is composing music for it.
Rabbids cosplaying as Mario, Luigi, Peach and Yoshi join actual Mario, Luigi, Peach and Yoshi to achieve… something? We basically know nothing about the story at this point beyond the concept of the crossover. Luckily enough Ubisoft provided a twenty minute example of gameplay, which looks bright, colorful, and incredibly strange. The player controls the main party in an overworld until they encounter an enemy on the map, which shifts the gameplay into a turn-based strategy that blends elements of Fire Emblem, XCOM: Enemy Unknown, and the Mario & Luigi RPGs. The demonstration features Mario taking cover, shooter-style, which is something I personally never thought I’d see. Color me intrigued, if nothing else.
Well, suffice to say I’m fully on board the Nintendo hype train, even though I barely covered half of today’s reveals! We have a Mario and Luigi remake to look forward to, along with Fire Emblem Warriors. Mr. Ishihara is teasing a core Pokemon RPG for the Switch, a new multiplayer Kirby game, Xenoblade Chronicles 2, the next installment in Yoshi’s unbelievably adorable solo career, and so many new amiibo. The future is bright, Nintendo fans.