Nintendo doesn’t play E3 by the same rules as its rivals, but its E3 2016 showing was its most radical departure from the formula ever. Its booth featured a single game, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and it replaced its big pre-recorded digital event with a series of livestreams that ran throughout E3 week. But it still had some announcements and promises, which it mostly delivered on.
Nintendo’s Eiji Aonuma and Shigeru Miyamoto at the company’s E3 2016 booth. Courtesy Nintendo.
The promise: Two months prior to E3, Nintendo had delayed the as-yet-untitled Wii U Zelda into 2017, but also said that it would come to the Nintendo Switch, then known as the “NX”. At E3, Nintendo of America chief Reggie Fils-Aimé appeared live from the Treehouse set to discuss how the company would use its E3 booth as an immersive Zelda experience. The game’s name was revealed to be The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
Did they deliver? Yes. Nintendo’s E3 Zelda booth was indeed an elaborate display that was met with long lines of E3 attendees trying to get their hands on the demo. In January 2017, Nintendo announced the game would be a Switch launch title in addition to its final Wii U release. The game arrived at the Switch’s launch and has been heralded as one of the best Zelda titles to date.
The promise: Pokemon Sun and Pokemon Moon, the next big adventures for the 3DS were introduced by Fils-Aimé, with gameplay demonstrations and discussions by a couple of Game Freak’s developers. The games would release on 18 November 2016 and would feature new styles of animation.
Did they deliver? Sure did: New starters Rowlet, Litten and Popplio brought the RPG adventures to the new Alolan region in November, with new mechanics and cute reinventions of some familiar pocket monster friends.
The promise: Various trailers for indie-developed games were also on tap for Nintendo’s E3 2016 news. These included a Runbow Pocket edition for 3DS (coming 2016), Axiom Verge for Wii U (winter 2016), Jotun Valhalla Edition for Wii U (winter 2016), and Severed for Wii U and 3DS with digital cross-buy (winter 2016).
Did they deliver? Not quite. Runbow, which was a great 2015 Wii U game, did not meet its Pocket launch edition for 2016. It was just announced that it will be released on June 20. Axiom Verge and Jotun: Valhalla Edition made their promised winter windows: Axiom launched on September 1 for Wii U. Jotun launched on Wii U on September 8. And Severed arrived in spring, missing its winter window, on Wii U and 3DS on September 22.
The promise: As E3 stretched on, Nintendo just kept announcing games. On day two, 15 June 2016, the featured games announced included Ever Oasis, a new action-adventure RPG from Grezzo coming to the 3DS.
Did they deliver? Not yet, but it should be noted that no release date was provided at the time. As of now, Ever Oasis has a release date for June 23. Here’s some recent hands-on impressions.
The promise: Also to the 3DS, with a promised US release date of September 30: The sequel to Level-5’s Yo-kai Watch series with two offerings: Bony Spirits or Fleshy Souls.
Did they deliver? The release date was provided before its E3 2016 reminder, and both versions of the game did come out on September 30 in the US. They were released October 15 in Australia. A third and final edition of the game is slated for a spring 2017 release under the title Yo-kai Watch 2: Psychic Specters.
The promise: Monster Hunter Generations would arrive on the 3DS and Nintendo eShop on 15 July 2016. The developer interview revealed a demo would be available on the eShop beginning June 30.
Did they deliver? Yep, the demo arrived on eShop on June 30. And the game released in July alongside a themed 3DS system (July 16 in Australia).
The promise: In the next big Treehouse developer interview, the focus was on the mobile application Pokemon Go. The premise of Go was that players would be able to go out into the world in real life and capture pocket monsters through use of location data on their phones.
Did they deliver? Big time. Though the game had to temporarily pause its global launch soon after its US July 6 rollout, it quickly turned into a worldwide phenomenon.
The promise: The Dragon Quest 7: Fragments of the Forgotten Past remake would be coming to the 3DS on September 16, and received a new trailer and a spot at E3’s Treehouse presentation with a gameplay demonstration with its Square Enix developers. Multiple vocations (job classes) were shown in the trailer and gameplay demo as part of the huge JRPG to uncover (and rediscover).
Did they deliver? Indeed it did. It met its targeted release date (September 17 in Australia), even if it took a long while in getting here initially.
The promise: A new Mario Party game for the 3DS would be headed to the system. Mario Party Star Rush (featuring so many Toads!) would launch on 4 November 2016 in the US and hey, wouldn’t you know it? A new Mario Amiibo line to accompany the release would also be available, including Waluigi — finally!
Did they deliver? Yes. Star Rush launched on that fated day in November as did the Amiibo line. The Boo amiibo glows in the dark because Boo is the cutest. Australia received it earlier, on October 8.
The promise: BoxboxBoy! The sequel to the clever puzzle game from Hal Laboratory would arrive for the 3DS eShop on June 30. The first Boxboy would be discounted in preparation, with My Nintendo members receiving an extra discount.
The promise: Tokyo Mirage Sessions FE had a trailer and a gameplay demonstration to remind everyone that the Fire Emblem mash-up with Atlus’ Shin Megami Tensei series would be launched on 24 June 2016 exclusively to Wii U.
Did they deliver? Another yes. The game launched on the Wii U (June 25 in Australia) and Kotaku‘s early impressions of it noted a good game. In its localisation process, some racy stuff was cut out, however.
The promise: A Rhythm Heaven Megamix trailer and announcement snuck into Nintendo’s E3 line-up with a 3DS digital launch in the US that very day on 15 June 2016.
Did they deliver? a weird game that you really should play if you haven’t. Australia got it on October 22.
The promise: Paper Mario: Color Splash, received a gameplay demonstration on the E3 showfloor by its Assistant Producer Risa Tabata. The game would feature Paper Mario and his companion paint bucket, Huey, on their quest to restore colour to the world. It would be out in October.
Did they deliver? Yes, even earlier than planned: Paper Mario briefly went on sale on the eShop two weeks before its October 7 (Australian October 8) release date. Whoops! And that wasn’t the only time the weird, hilarious title was mixed up in controversy of some kind in 2016.
As we now know, Nintendo’s content-light E3 was all about clearing the decks for the announcement and launch of Nintendo Switch in 2017. Nintendo loves grandiose promises as much as the next company, and it has now made a great many of them regarding the games and services that it plans to launch for its new console. It just didn’t make any of those big promises at E3.
And that’s all, folks. E3 2016 proved, as always, an interesting time for the three console making giants. Now that we’ve looked at Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony, it’s time to look forward to the leaks and future promises of E3 2017. Just remember: If it’s said at E3, take it with a big grain of salt.