Remembering Nintendo’s worst E3 presentation
With no E3 this year, and possibly no Nintendo Direct for June, I started on an article to round up the best and worst E3 moments Nintendo has had and found some gold. But in the process of researching this realised something much worse. Worse than the Wii Music demo, worse than Cammy Dunnaway talking about puppies or this Animal Crossing ‘commercial‘.
Nintendo’s 2015 ‘Digital Event’ was the absolute low point of Nintendo showings at E3. It was the year we knew they had given up trying to make a spectacle out of its presentation.
Nothing demonstrates just how bad things were at Nintendo at the time like the 2015 ‘Digital Event’. We knew the NX, the system that would become the Switch wouldn’t be there, we knew the new Zelda game wouldn’t be, Breath of the Wild didn’t even get named until a year later. But even knowing that, it didn’t prepare us.
But before we can get to 2015, we have to look at E3 2014. Things were pretty average in 2014, it’s amazing how bad things went in a year.
E3 2014 opened with amazing Robot Chicken intro, the one where Reggie roasts a game journalist for asking about Mother 3. It has a fantastic reveal of what would be Breath of the Wild with Eiji Anouma; there are trailers for new Pokemon remakes on the 3DS, Bayonetta 2 had a release date.
We got an update on Yoshi’s Wooly World (which would still take a year to come out) and the big ones, Splatoon and Super Mario Maker were revealed to the world. Splatoon is now Nintendo’s most significant new IP and Super Mario Maker, while it didn’t come out until the year later was a perfect 30th anniversary for the game series. It was an excellent presentation, and E3 2015 looked like it could have started strong as well…
It’s June 2015, The Jim Henson puppet Iwata, Miyamoto and Reggie open the show, wow this great – hopefully the whole presentation will be this good!
Narrator: It wasn’t.
The entire presentation was just under 50 minutes, and for the first 20 minutes of that, we got to see only a couple of new games. Nintendo stretched and padded this whole presentation out, a projection perhaps of the line up of the Wii U. The first game was Star Fox Zero, the game so divisive it put Star Fox and friends on ice until Nintendo let Ubisoft put him into one of their games. Before we got to the second new game, we got to look at the Bowser and Donkey Kong Skylander toys for a good five minutes. Wowee.
Next up, Tri Force Heroes. The Legend of Zelda game no one wanted but was kind of alright depending on who you ask. (For me, not so good)
Nintendo’s 2015 E3 event is also home to three of the most infamous games of the era from the company.
Metroid Prime: Federation Force, Animal Crossing Happy Home Design and Animal Crossing: amiibo Festival. These games will have their defenders, but there’s no doubting how much it hurt to see the Metroid Prime attached to a game decidedly not Metroid Prime. Before Federation Force, the last game was Metroid: Other M in 2010. It wasn’t a good half-decade for Metroid fans.
Then this, the Animal Crossing pair of games, one of them not terrible but also not Animal Crossing and the other one a boring board game that required amiibo. Animal Crossing: amiibo Festival is still on shelves to this day, littering the bargain bin. Even with New Horizons out, no one wants it.
We got a bit of a look at Yoshi’s Wooly World that after two and half years released a little over a week later after the presentation. We’d seen this before – a lot.
The Digital event finished strongly. There was a sizzle reel of Yo-Kai Watch, Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam, Mario Tenis: Ultra Smash. A great developer story with Shigeru Miyamoto and Takashi Tezuka showing how Mario games were developed 30 years ago. But that was it, everything else was known about for some games – a year or more.
Nintendo was out of steam by 2015, they tried with the Wii U, but too many games took too long, were revealed too early, and 2015 was just was whatever was left lying around. The year later Nintendo devoted their entire E3 showing to just Breath of the Wild, other games did feature, but there was no big blowout of games. Everything was held back until October 2016 when we saw the reveal of the Switch.
Other Nintendo E3 conferences and Directs might have terrible cringe moments, technical mishaps and companies promoting unprecedented partnerships, but 2015 will always be the moment where Nintendo hit the bottom.
Thankfully we’re a long way away from that now place now. There isn’t an E3 this year, or even a Nintendo Direct for June – but it could still always be worse.