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Nintendo E3 2018 Impressions

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Another year of E3 has come and gone. Some cool new games were announced; gameplay and release dates were plentiful. Many members of the press, including myself, had the opportunity to demo some upcoming games on the E3 showfloor. These are my thoughts on Nintendo's E3 2018 presentation and lineup.

When Nintendo stopped doing a traditional press conference at E3 a few years back, it was met with some rather harsh critical reception. I was on board with that. After being wowed by a great presentation the first year, most fans began to prefer the Nintendo Direct presentations over live press conferences. It meant less awkward presentations, unnecessary guests, and overall fluff. Now it's all about the reveals and gameplay, and 2018 was no different.

The presentation this year involved a few new game reveals but mostly focused on Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Pokémon: Let's Go Pikachu and Eevee to a lesser extent. We got lots of exciting news on the Smash front: every character is returning to Smash (including Snake!) and Ridley was revealed as a playable fighter. As perhaps the most requested character in the past twenty years, it's awesome to see another Metroid representative and a character as downright badass as Ridley.

Super Smash Bros Ultimate

My personal expirience playing Super Smash Bros. Ultimate on the show floor was great, albeit brief. I played in a "competitive" mini-tourney (which was really just free-for-all matches without items) that netted me 4 total 3 minute matches. I was going for the gold, so I didn't have a lot of opportunities to try out new techniques, but I did notice a few things.

My immediate observation when playing for the first time was that the game feels far more different from Smash 4 than I expected. While it certainly shares more similarities to Super Smash Bros. for Wii U than any other Smash title, it's definitely not a port. I played as Ness, who I mained in Smash 4, and his combo game clearly works a little bit different. I was missing some bread-and-butter combos that I would always get in Smash 4. In general, vertical movement seems to be much quicker and some basic defensive options like roll and shield seem to be nerfed quite a bit.

These changed mechanics in addition to directional air-dodging make the game feel a little bit faster. It seems like combo strings connect together more naturally and quickly, but people still live forever, perhaps even longer than before. The blast zones are the biggest they've ever been, and every character that I saw had a recovery that almost guranteed they could make it back to stage from the edge of the blast zones.

If you're a competitive Melee player like myself, it's not Melee. Don't go into playing Smash Ultimate thinking that it is. Rather, it feels like a natural evolution of Smash 4 that quickens things up and will make competitive play a little more exciting. With every character and most stages coming back, this will also be the best Smash game yet for casual play. Hopefully we'll see a robust story/adventure mode as well. Either way, I can't wait to get my hands on the game (again) in December.

Pokemon Let's Go Pikachu

When it comes to Pokémon, we got some new details and information, mostly in the followup treehouse live segments, but not anything too revolutionary. The pair of games had of course already been revealed and there weren't too many surprises from the presentation. We saw some new footage and learned that the Pokéball Plus controller would come pre-loaded with Mew at launch.

I also had the chance to play Pokémon: Let's Go Eevee for ten minutes using the new Poké Ball Plus controller. The demo was set in Viridian Forest and allowed me to battle trainers and catch wild Pokémon in that area. I also attempted to explore the menus and see what options were available there, but I was quickly told off by a Nintendo rep for that. I guess we aren't supposed to know how the menus work yet.

It was pretty awesome to see a bunch of different breeds of Pokémon running around the overworld in the forest. The game looks beautiful, if nothing else. But after catching three or four, I was rather bored of it. Keep in mind the entire demo was only 10 minutes long, so to be bored by perhaps the game's core mechanic in less than 10 minutes isn't a great sign. Catching Pokémon just seemed rather slow and mindlessly easy. Maybe there's further depth to the system when coming accross stronger wild Pokémon, but I'm not impressed with what I've seen.

Battling trainers felt a little more familiar and largely works just as it has in every Pokémon game to date. Nothing particularly new or exciting here, except for the pretty visuals. It's a solid system though, and one that Pokémon fans like myself know and love.

I understand that I'm not really included in the target audience for these pair of games, so it make sense that I have some gripes with the changed mechanics. I think players who came back to Pokémon for Go will love these games and it will give them a reason to buy a Switch. Long time fans of the series like myself will have enough to enjoy to tide us over until the core RPG hits in 2019.

Super Mario Party

Pokémon and Smash are huge titles, perhaps the two biggest system sellers Nintendo has to offer, but there wasn't a whole lot else to see from Nintendo at E3 this year. Super Mario Party and Fire Emblem were great announcements and both seem like they'll be solid entries, but aren't really heavy hitters or things that the general public will be too excited for. Fortnite and Dragon Ball FighterZ coming to Switch is great, but neither were suprises or new games.

Some DLC, indies, and the new giant robot mech game are pretty much everything left from the presentation and showfloor. We didn't hear anything about Metroid Prime 4, Animal Crossing (yet to be announced), or Pikmin 4, which was revealed to be in development five years ago. Pokémon and Smash were great and definitely worth getting excited for. But as a whole, Nintendo's E3 2018 can be best described as underwhelming.

About the Author: Rial Johnson

Rial Johnson founded Nintendo Castle in 2011 with hopes to build the largest collection of Nintendo walkthroughs, guides, and content on the web. He is an avid gamer with a special place in his heart for Nintendo, but often finds himself writing about games more than actually playing them. You'll likely see him around Nintendo Castle and on social media, mostly managing the front-end content of the site.

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