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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

E3 2013: Nintendo Direct review

Edge Staff at 08:31pm June 11 2013

Nintendo’s E3 briefing lacked the pomp and gawky humour of its usual stagebound theatrics, and not just because Iwata transmitted it from an empty hall on the seventh floor of his headquarters through a Nintendo Direct missive. This time he had no hardware to announce, no partnerships to celebrate, no pricepoints to slash. He ripped through all that months ago.

Instead, like Microsoft, this presentation was all about the games. And boy, there was barely an aiming reticle or reload in sight. We can at least hold to that. Nintendo’s 45 minutes of irrepressible colour and light was a counterpoint to the grit and flame of Sony and Microsoft’s game rosters, a testament to its firm, unshakable, implacable resolve to do things its own way.

Which also gave its procession of games a sense of overfamiliarity that failed to connect with the passion so many hold for Nintendo in its prime. Put it this way, we just saw a new Mario game for a home console! A Mario game that follows the tightly inventive masterclass that is Super Mario 3D Land on 3DS. A Mario game with a cat suit and Super Mario Bros 2-style character abilities.

There’s little question that Super Mario 3D World will turn out to be anything less than superlatively polished and skilfully designed, its multiplayer riotous and levels thick with secrets. But it looks awfully safe. Wii U is still lacking its Mario Galaxy, its Mario Sunshine, its Mario 64, its Mario World. A Mario game which from its announcement hints to Nintendo ascribing the creative limits of its generation. Because that’s what a Mario game is for, right?

With a brevity that seemed to promise a storm of revelation to come, Iwata hurried on to show off Mario Kart 8 for Wii U, its new feature an anti-gravity capability that allows looping, twisting tracks in 3D space. You’ll forgive us for getting a little weepy at all-too distant memories of F-Zero GX rather than a quickened pulse at the prospect of another Mario Kart.

Again, Mario Kart is safe, as is Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze and Super Smash Bros. Nintendo’s E3 2013 roster isn’t a show of creative strength but a retreat to base principles, amid a sprinkling of apologies for the delays of Wii Fit U and Wii Party U into 2014 that had Iwata breaking out that heartbreaking bow again. At this critical stage in Wii U’s life its release schedule is startlingly quiet, a deep disappointment for those who’ve bought one, and complete failure to compete with the bright oncoming lights of PS4 (oh, and Xbox One).

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