The second we walked into the Convention Center, we made our way to Nintendo's booth. Even if it was the last day of E3, there were still massive crowds still trying to get their last chance at making the line for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate before it was closed. We were directed to the back of the Nintendo booth by a representative named Julie. This secret area was well-guarded, perhaps due to previous attempts by attendees to steal demos? Plush white carpet was laid out in front of us, while security guards to the side held up a sign saying "VIP Media Only".
We waited for a few minutes, being told that another Nintendo representative would be there to give us a tour and interview. Her name, coincidentally, was also Julie. Before she greeted us, a giant costumed Eevee and Pikachu made their way down to the show floor, looking absolutely adorable. I question if they could even see in those costumes, though, as multiple Nintendo staffers were trying to guide them, telling them where to walk and when to turn. Regardless, fans excitedly surrounded both Pokemon, trying to take pictures with them. On the other side of the booth, I saw large glass display cases that held prop weapons from various Nintendo games, such as Fox's blaster, Dedede's hammer, and Shulk's Monado! This is when the second Julie walked us into an area that was far calmer than the show floor. You could still hear the bustling of the crowds, but only a few people were milling about, some with microphones interviewing Nintendo workers, most of them excitedly playing the demos. We were given a chance to play three of the games there; Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Mario Tennis Aces, and Pokemon Let's Go!
With the Smash Bros. demo beckoning us, we couldn't refuse, and immediately chose to play it first. Julie set it up for us, being very careful to not show the Switch tablet when it was out of the dock on the home menu. She placed it into the dock and the title screen of the game appeared on the TV in front of us. Two Switch Pro Controllers were provided and @Hells Malice and I quickly chose our characters. He went with the new character, Ridley, and I went with Link, in his new Breath of the Wild redesign. As we began playing, another Nintendo rep walked past, pausing to watch us. Julie and her were incredibly nice, animatedly talking to us as Malice and I tried to punch each other off the stage. They then began pretending to be our "commentators", mimicking how one would talk over an intense e-sports match. This moment here was probably my absolute favorite part of E3, laughing as the two Nintendo staff members cheered when we entered a sudden death round. I couldn't stop grinning at how much fun it all was. That's when Ridley flew up with a massive attack, sending Link clear out of bounds. I lost, but it was still amazing.
We played a few more rounds, trying out Charizard, Inkling, Marth, Mario, and Ridley. One of the biggest changes to the game compared to the one on Wii U was probably the fact that boundaries have been expanded massively. An attack from Charizard that would normally KO Marth at 150% now merely sent him to the edge, allowing for a recovery. It caught us both off guard, multiple times. Ridley was a very interesting new character, with moves that could easily devastate enemies if you were skilled enough. At times, it feels a lot like Smash for Wii U...but at times, it really feels different. It's definitely some sort of hybrid game, but it doesn't take away from how fun it is.
Hells Malice said:Probably the game I was most hyped to play after Valkyria Chronicles. Smash Bros is definitely up there as one of the series i've put the most time into. Getting to skip the massive multi-hour lines to play a single 4-player round was wonderful. As Chary mentioned, I decided to try out the brand new characters Ridley and Inkling. Despite basically spawning from a meme, Ridley is really interesting character. He's very powerful with tricky moves that seem to leave him open. I probably wouldn't spend much time playing him as he's not my style, but i'm glad he actually seems to be a good character. Inkling on the other hand was just very jarring. It seems to be more of a highly technical character, so it's pretty hard to judge it based on a single match. My initial thoughts were negative, but i'll certainly try the character more in the full game.
After that I decided to try a couple characters i'm familiar with (since they didn't have any of my mains in the demo). Marth was an easy pick since I typically use Lucina. I'm not sure if it's just the game in general, but everything felt a lot snappier and more responsive than 4. Marth handled incredibly well, and the change to dancing blade has made it a much, much more viable move.
Overall i'm very happy with the new Smash Bros. It's clearly very similar to the previous title mechanically, but there is a wealth of improvements and new content to certainly justify grabbing it on the Switch.
Plus it'll have the massively overpowered Pichu. Really, what other reason does a person need to get a game.
(We weren't allowed to take our own pictures of any of the games on display. For Smash's case, though, Nintendo reps took my camera and snapped a few pictures of us playing)
Mario Tennis Aces
We kept tying in Smash, so we actually went over our time limit we had to play, but the reps were nice, and let us finish the match. We were then ushered to pick between Overcooked 2 or Mario Tennis Aces. We went with Tennis, because we had both played the demo, and I have to say, If you had fun playing the online tournament demo for the game that Nintendo had a few weeks ago, then the full game is just more of that greatness. I've played every Mario sports game except the Golf ones, and I find myself to be very picky with how they play. After Camelot created the abomination known as Mario Sports Superstars on the 3DS, I was a bit wary of their latest game, but Aces feels right out of the GameCube era of stellar Mario Sports games. The controls are easy enough, but get pretty complex when doing trickier shots, meaning anyone can play, but if you want to get really skilled at it, you can. I played as Chain Chomp, because the novelty of playing as a giant Chain Chomp who has to hold the racket with in his mouth is amusing to no end. I was already pretty convinced that this game would be solid, but playing the full version only gave me more reason to be hyped when it launches.
Our last game, was of course, Pokemon. As someone who loves Pokemon Fire Red/Leaf Green, and considers Kanto to be one of the best regions, I was overjoyed when this game got announced...at first. When more information spilled out about the game during the briefing in Japan, I couldn't help but be skeptical. There appeared to be too many Pokemon Go connections, but at the same time, having actual drop-in multiplayer outside of battle sounded really interesting. Let's Go: Eevee was queued up for me, and I was given a PokeBall Plus to play the game with. At first, I was confused, I thought it was just a simple Pokewalker object, but it was actually a real-deal controller, too. The button on the PokeBall is a sort of analogue, and you can press the top of the ball to open the menu. It was awkward, but as I kept using it, it felt more and more natural. The rumble feature was quite impressive, too.
The demo started me off in Viridian Forest, with a full team of the 3 Kanto starters, Eevee, and Pikachu. The Pikachu sat atop the trainer's head, as a Charmander trailed behind me. Having Pokemon follow you again like in HeartGold/SoulSilver is a welcome feature, and the charm of it made the whole experience more enjoyable. Running around Viridian Forest, all the usual suspects were there; Caterpie, Pidgeys, Metapods, but it was plain weird to see the actual Pokemon hanging out in the tall grass. One of the first things I noticed about Let's Go, were the graphics. If you've ever emulated one of the mainline 3DS Pokemon titles through Citra and pumped the resolution filter up, then that's just about what this looked like. The lighting effects in the forest were a nice touch, too. It reminded me of playing Colosseum/XD way back when.
Overall, I'm still mixed, though a little more positive after trying the game, but in the end, it's Pokemon--specifically the era of Pokemon I'm familiar with--so I'm more than satisfied by this. We were notified that our time in the booth was almost over, however, so it was time for the interview. We turned back towards the lovely reps from Nintendo, not expecting much to be answered, but still eager to hear what they had to say. Our interviewee was one of the communication managers for Nintendo, and has been working with them since 2010.
Nintendo rep: Hey there!
Chary: I can't believe I get a chance to interview Nintendo, this is exciting! I know we ran a little late with the Smash demo, so I'll try to be quick. I'm a writer for GBAtemp, have you heard of the site?
Nintendo rep: (She pauses here, for a few seconds longer than necessary) No, I'm afraid I haven't, but it sounds like from the name that you must be from a site that are huge Nintendo fans!
(I pass her a business card here, and she smiles)
[Question credit to @link64uk, many more] Chary: Nintendo has so many franchises that people love, especially ones like Animal Crossing and F-Zero. For those waiting on a new game in either of those series, do you think people that love both of those franchises will be pleased by what Nintendo has planned for the future?
Nintendo rep: We're always listening to our fans, no matter what. The Nintendo Switch has been highly successful so far, and I think anyone who picks up a Switch will enjoy the system's library, especially going forward.
[Question credit to @sarkwalvein , @linuxares , more] Chary: There's been rumors about a new hardware revision for the Switch, due to a system flaw. Is there any possible way you could tell us if that's true, or what Nintendo plans to do about it?
Nintendo rep: No comment.
Chary: Is Nintendo/Nd Cube itself developing Super Mario Party, or is there a co-developer working on the game?
Nintendo rep: We can't say at this time.
Chary: Metroid Prime 4 wasn't at the show this year, is there any reason for that?
Nintendo rep: When we showed the teaser for Metroid Prime 4, we "wowed" everyone watching the Direct. The game's development has been going steadily, but we felt we had a strong enough library of upcoming games to show off that would get fans excited for this year's releases. The next time we show it [Metroid Prime 4], we want our fans to be impressed like they were the first time.
Nintendo rep: I'm sorry, but that's all the time we have, but I want to thank you for coming down to our booth. I hope you enjoyed the games you played, and that you have a wonderful E3!
Chary: Thank you so much!
We had one last stop before our E3 adventures came to a close. Our final destination was with Frostkeep Studios' booth, located far in the back of the South Hall, hidden to most. At first, you might brush off the company as just another indie dev, but if you look up their company, you find some interesting information. All three of the co-founders of the studio worked at Blizzard, on games like Overwatch and World of Warcraft. Some of them also worked on League of Legends, too! Though I'm not very familiar with Blizzard's games, there was some clear talent working at Frostkeep.
Their game, Rend, is a mix of survival-adventure, while focusing on social aspects, like needing to use teamwork in order to take over bases and keep your own bases safe while growing your faction. We met with Michele Cagle, the Executive Director of Global Communications, who explained Rend to us. I've never been interested in this genre of game, but the whole idea of being able to tame any animal, take it with me to help carry resources, and get a friend to help me build bases and go off adventuring and harvesting things with while fighting off enemy factions just sounds really pleasant.
It'll be entering early access alpha when "the game could potentially be considered finished", as they want to make sure the game they provide to players is an experience worth the early access price. It's admirable, and I have high hopes for it when it eventually launches.
Hells Malice said:Honestly I had never heard of Frostkeep Studios, or Rend. After seeing their E3 email and looking into the game, I had to wonder how I had managed to miss it. It's right up my alley in terms of gameplay and theme. Typically when I see a survival game, I just pass it by. At this point it seems to be every month a new survival game pops up, sporting the same mechanics and same themes. Rend however, seems to be very mindful of what has been done, as well as many of the issues present in the genre. I was blown away watching and listening as Frostkeep seemed to just systematically slaughter almost every shortcoming currently in the Survival genre.
A big problem Survival games have, is that so many players are 'solo' or small groups. Rend solves this problem in a remarkably simple way, by adopting a three faction system. This effectively means that you will always be a part of a big clan to support and defend you. You are however, able to split off into groups and solos as you would normally within your own faction. Oh, and there's a faction reputation system that makes it quite difficult to sabotage or troll your own faction. Even if they manage to, they had to put in a hell of a lot of effort helping the faction to build the reputation to do it. A rather simple and elegant solution to a pretty difficult issue.
Another problem survival games often have is a lack of purpose, and stagnation. Often you'll eventually find yourself well geared and ready to take on anything, or in games like Conan Exiles you find yourself at the 'end game' and without any real purpose or threat as all of your time is devoted to fortifying your defenses and crushing your enemies. Rend has a goal that each faction works towards, and then wipes to begin anew. Somewhat similar to Rust, but with an actual end goal other than just gathering resources to blow up a group and steal their resources.
Rend even has simple character progression to diversify yourself from others, without bogging the game down or making it overly complicated.
I went from not knowing the game, to being completed invested in its growth and future. It's a very promising game, and a real breath of fresh air for the Survival genre. It looks beautiful too. I could keep going on about it, but I suggest looking it up if you're even remotely interested in Survival games, or hell even just faction vs faction type games. It's a good game to look out for.
Hells Malice said:That about sums things up. E3 was about as crazy as I expected, but it was still very surreal actually being there in person. It was incredible to get a glimpse of upcoming games to help know and understand which ones to be hyped for. I also really realized the importance of appointments, truly the only way to get things done. Skipping some massive 4 hour line for a single round of Smash bros and instead spending 20 minutes in an epic 1v1 showdown against Chary was significantly more fun and satisfying. I'll certainly be pursuing them more fervently should I be lucky enough to be able to go next year as well. Even so, just wandering the convention center and seeing all there was to see was incredibly cool. It was a hell of a journey.
And that was E3, from GBAtemp's perspective! I'm so glad and grateful that I got to attend again. There's no experience quite like the frenetic madness that E3 has, and it's something I look forward to every year, now that I've gone three years in a row. Thanks so much for reading, everyone! I hope you all had as much fun reading this as I did writing it!
Last edited by Chary,