The Nintendo E3 2017 Spotlight presentation took place earlier today, with Nintendo adopting its usual stance of delivering a short show peppered with only a few key announcements, abstaining from producing the grandiose spectacles staged by their peers. However, with both Microsoft and Sony struggling to blow attendees’ socks off with their distinct lack of new exclusives, Nintendo used all 25 minutes of its presentation to make a series of the most exciting announcements of the “big three,” concluding with arguably the best game of the entire show, Super Mario Odyssey.
Nintendo’s seemingly ambivalent approach to E3 over the past few years has been questionable to say the least. Throughout the Wii U’s troubled life cycle, Nintendo’s clear view of the expo as an afterthought was baffling considering the console’s struggles with its Western audience, and as both first- and third-party support for the system dried up, their E3 Nintendo Direct presentations became increasingly dull. While I miss Nintendo’s full-blown, on-stage presentations complete with rapturous audience reactions and Shigeru Miyamoto taking to the stage to awkwardly waggle Wiimotes, for those who just want all of the game footage with none of the filler, the Nintendo E3 2017 Spotlight event served its purpose very well, outlining Nintendo’s strongest line-up in years.
The presentation lacked the sheer quantity of games revealed during the Sony and Microsoft press conferences, though it was never expected that Nintendo would compete in this department. Instead they opted to make a bunch of announcements regarding new releases from some of its most beloved franchises, including the shocking revelation that Metroid Prime 4 would be making its way to the Switch, and confirming that Game Freak is working on a core Pokemon RPG for the home console.
Both of these announcements routinely rank highly on the list of things fans want Nintendo to announce at E3, and that they both came during the same presentation is great news for Switch owners. While it’s unfortunate that we didn’t receive a snippet of gameplay or a trailer for either of these games, Nintendo has proven over its past few E3 presentations that they will only discuss games firmly on their radar, so it’s unlikely that both of these games will follow in the path of the Final Fantasy VII Remake and Shenmue III by dropping jaws at E3, then promptly vanishing into thin air. All that Nintendo needed to do was reveal that a new F-Zero game was on its way, and they would have completed the trifecta of games that their fans never stop bleating about.
Nintendo followed up its E3 2017 Spotlight with its Treehouse Live stream, in which they made another huge new announcement: a brand new, side-scrolling Metroid game was making its way to the 3DS. Metroid: Samus Returns is a throwback to the series’ beginnings, with it being a modern reimagination of the classic Game Boy Color title Metroid II: Return of Samus. Nintendo almost completely overlooked Samus throughout the Wii U’s lifetime, so Metroid: Samus Returns once again places the iconic heroine back in the driver’s seat, reintroducing her to a modern audience before Metroid Prime 4.
The portability of the Switch even made more mundane announcements infinitely more exciting. Rocket League, which more or less everyone owns now, immediately began trending worldwide after it was revealed that it was making its why to the Switch, with viewers excited to be able to play the hugely popular car soccer game while on the move. Similarly, FIFA 18‘s Switch version has been making waves since its reveal, with fans of the franchise looking forward to being able to take their Ultimate Team with them wherever they go. The Switch has truly transformed how we experience games, and the excitement Switch owners have for these reveals is evidence of this.
But it was Super Mario Odyssey that was the star of the show, with the platformer’s new trailer surprising at more or less every turn. It felt like Nintendo was running on auto-pilot with the Wii U, and this was no more apparent than in Super Mario 3D World, a competent Mario game that nonetheless was missing that magic spark the series is known for. Super Mario Odyssey looks like it has that magic in abundance, with Nintendo returning to its innovative self by making significant changes to not only its setting — there are actual, non-Yoshi dinosaurs in the game — but also its gameplay. Mario’s new hat-throwing ability allows him to possess a variety of enemies and objects, taking him to unexpected places and providing the series with its biggest fundamental alteration to Mario’s abilities since Super Mario Sunshine‘s F.L.U.D.D. The end result is the most exciting Mario game since Super Mario Galaxy, and it’s arguably the highlight of this year’s E3.
Nintendo’s presentation wasn’t perfect — the lack of third-party games they had to show was disappointing, as was the lack of footage for its core reveals — but in under 30 minutes they’ve given viewers more to talk about than most of the other E3 2017 press conferences, save for perhaps Ubisoft. The Switch has completely revitalized Nintendo as a home console manufacturer, and E3 has been evidence that owners of the hybrid console have plenty to look forward to in the future. Good stuff, Nintendo.