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By 11 June 2014 | Categories: news

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One of the biggest surprises of the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) so far has come from Nintendo. Considering the difficulties that the House that Mario Built has had over the past year or so with sales of its Wii U, and in the wake of the launch of the Xbox One and the PS4, many gamers may well have written Nintendo out of the E3 equation already. That, apparently, would have been a huge mistake, as Nintendo’s digital launch event released one solid, tantalising surprise after the next.

First off, Nintendo’s presentation was decidedly Wii U heavy (as opposed to announcing a bulk of new and forthcoming 3DS titles). Clearly, the company has thrown its weight behind reinvigorating the console in gamers’ eyes, with its main infantry in this quest being the games themselves.

For example, leading the charge was none other than a new The Legend of Zelda for Wii U game. Admittedly, this has been a nebulous plan in the pipeline for a while, but at this E3, Nintendo not only showed a trailer, it also spilled more details and gave a release timeframe (next year).

Another Hyrule game that is coming sooner rather than later – 26th September in fact – is Hyrule Warriors, which sees Link, Princess Zelda and Midna facing off against encroaching armies, Dynasty Warriors style.

Also announced was a new Star Fox Wii U game, similarly slated for release next year, while Bayonetta 2 bewitched with a new trailer, and the announcement that we will be able to spend time with the sassy witch  in October (and yes, it is still a Wii U exclusive). The game will apparently come with Bayonetta 1 as well. Then, another action game was confirmed as a Wii U exclusive as well, this one being Devil’s Third, and from the creative force behind the likes of Ninja Gaiden and Dead or Alive, Tomonobu Itagaki.

It wouldn’t be Nintendo without at least one allusion to Mario, although it looks like Nintendo is doing something different on this front too, with the launch of Mario Maker. This apparently will let players create and play their own Mario courses, and switch between rendering them in classic 8-bit era style or the more modern New Super Mario Bros U aesthetic.

Nintendo then carried on with its surprises and its own distinct take on what games should be like, unveiling Yoshi’s Wooly World for the Wii U, which is set to release in the first half of next year and looks like it is firmly aimed at the same crowd that laps up Mario games, Little Big Planet and Puppeteer.

Finally, the company showed its answer to the likes of the Skylanders and Disney Infinity games, which ingeniously (from a sales perspective) meld together collectible toys with gameplay. Called Amiibo, Nintendo’s approach departs from that of the competition as these figurines will apparently be applicable to multiple games across the board, rather than a single title, and bring additional features to each game. The first game the Amiibo figurines will affect will be a new Super Smash Bros Brawl, but apparently the aforementioned Yoshi’s Wooly World will also benefit from the figurines, as would Mario Kart 8. Clever.

Wrapping up, Nintendo also announced Splatoon, a third person shooter which pits teams of four against one another. The hook though is that is seems to take inspiration from an extreme version of paintball, tasking teams with capturing territory by splatting their colour over areas in the game, which they can then more easily traverse.

In short, Nintendo really showed that the company has been hard at work in a bid to recapture gamers’ attention, time and imagination, while staying true to its vision of games being fun and often family friendly. Right now, the Wii U – whose destiny was always tied to its exclusive games – has gotten a major shot in the arm.

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