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.
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: Pokémon: Sun and Pokémon: 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 November 18, 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 (Summer 2016), Jotun Valhalla Edition for Wii U (Summer 2016), and Severed for Wii U and 3DS with digital cross-buy (Summer 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 Summer windows: Axiom launched on September 1 for Wii U. Jotun launched on Wii U on September 8. And Severed arrived in the Fall, missing its Summer window, first on Wii U on September 22 and then on 3DS on October 13.
The promise: As E3 stretched on, Nintendo just kept announcing games. On day two, June 15, 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 release date of September 30th: 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 the 30th. A third and final edition of the game is slated for a Fall 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 July 15, 2016. The developer interview revealed a demo would be available on the eShop beginning June 30th.
The promise: In the next big Treehouse developer interview, the focus was on the mobile application Pokémon 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.
The promise: The Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past remake would be coming to the 3DS on September 16th, 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).
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 November 4, 2016 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.
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 June 24, 2016 exclusively to Wii U.
The promise: A Rhythm Heaven Megamix trailer and announcement snuck into Nintendo’s E3 line-up with a 3DS digital launch that very day on June 15, 2016.
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 color 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 7th 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, services, and more 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.