First came Microsoft, then came Sony. Now it’s time for my biggest challenge yet: The Nintendo E3 Digital Event, which is basically a bigger “Nintendo Direct” held in place of a traditional press conference.

While I’m a gamer first and foremost and will play any platform that has good games, I freely admit that I have a soft spot for Nintendo. Simply put, more of their stuff resonates with me than anyone else (I loved last year’s showing by leaps and bounds over the others), which is what makes this so challenging. I could just paraphrase Kaiba from Yu-Gi-Oh Abridged and say “screw the rules, it’s my website” and just make a Top 10 or something, but where is the fun in that?

So, without further ado, here are the Top 5 things I loved most out of Nintendo’s event.

5) Mario Maker

This one is awkward, as this spot could have gone to almost anything else in the “Honorable Mentions” section below. That could probably be said of the bottom two or three here, even, but after naming “Project Spark” and LittleBigPlanet 3 in the #5 spot on the other two Top 5s, I kind of felt obligated to put there here– especially since it is Mario.

Ever since the likes of Mega Man Powered Up, LittleBigPlanet, Mario vs. Donkey Kong, and others with level editors began popping up years ago, I’ve felt like Nintendo should do the same with Mario. I figured maybe an updated remake of Super Mario Bros. in a modern style with a level editor might be a good way to ease into the idea, with subsequent remakes evolving the concept as it goes so people aren’t overwhelmed.

I don’t know about a Super Mario Bros. remake, but here we are. I’m looking forward to seeing not only what people can create here, but how much freedom Nintendo will allow, too. Will people be able to design a full (though possibly short) game of their own? Will you have more choices than playing as Mario or rescuing Peach? Will you be able to fight various bosses, like Koopalings or Wario? I am certainly intrigued; I don’t know how many levels I’ll try to make on my own, but I definitely look forward to seeing what people can do with this.

In addition, I just want to point out that I love how the interface is being treated almost like a sequel to Mario Paint, something that’s been long overdue for any type of new installment– the Wii U is practically made for it. I also want to note that we’ve only seen two in-game art styles so far: Super Mario Bros. for the NES (with a slight upgrade) and New Super Mario Bros., and I hope we’ll see more, such as Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World, Super Mario All-Stars, and maybe something along the lines of Super Mario Land and Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins.

4) Yoshi’s Wooly World

This feels like an odd inclusion for me, but I think it goes back to Yoshi’s New Island. If you read my review, then you know that while I didn’t dislike the game, it felt kind of flat to me.

But now we have Yoshi’s Wooly World, which looks much more intriguing and captivating than the recent Nintendo 3DS adventure. Admittedly, I liked Kirby’s Epic Yarn (what I’ve been able to play, anyway), and others agree that this looks more like what we were wanting out of Yoshi’s New Island. I guess in that sense, it’s helping to fill a hole that game left open, and that’s why I added it to the list.

That, and it’s Yoshi, and clearly needs merchandising. In addition, while I was hoping for the return of Prince Fluff and/or Yin-Yarn to tie this loosely to Kirby’s Epic Yarn (less tying the two worlds together as having a group of characters that can go from one to the next), I will say that I’m quite happy to see that Player 2 gets to use a red Yoshi, one of my favorites. I might even make my wife be Player 1 so I can use the red one… or at least I would, but she like the red one, too.

3) Hyrule Warriors

This one has sparked my imagination a bit, thanks to the inclusion of Zelda and Midna as playable characters. What’s more, they’re promising still more from across the franchise, and I’m hoping we’ll see different incarnations of Link (NES style, please). I’m also hoping they might fulfill some dreams and allow us to play as characters from Zelda II, such as Horsehead, Helmethead, Ironknuckles, and Rebonack (the jousting boss version of Ironknuckle; just imagine running through an army and impaling everyone on the front-mounted spikes of your hovering horse). It’s not like they were bad guys, per se, so it could happen.

That said, I prefer more action and exploration in my Zelda games than heavy puzzle solving (I’ll play Professor Layton if I want puzzles, thanks), and while I don’t know how much Dynasty Warriors gives in terms of exploration, I do know the action is plentiful, so I’m looking forward to this.

2) amiibo

This is another case where I hope Nintendo can match my imagination. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t.

That notwithstanding, I love toys (you should see my desk, never mind the rest of this place), I love Nintendo, and these will probably be the end of me after narrowly missing the Skylanders movement thus far. I like the idea that you can build up a custom amiibo figure for Super Smash Bros., and I’m hoping you can pit yours against another person’s without actually being involved in the fight. On top of that, you just do not get merchandise based on Super Smash Bros.– it’s extremely rare, and to have figures of these characters in this style is a big plus.

Moreover, while it wasn’t during the show (so this might be cheating, though they did allude to it then), Nintendo confirmed the cross-game compatibility with the figures, noting that not only would Super Smash Bros. use them, but also Mario Party 10, Yoshi’s Wooly World, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, and Mario Kart 8.

That last one resonates with me, as I’m hoping these can be used to obtain new characters to race as. That way, if R.O.B. is in Super Smash Bros. and R.O.B. gets an amiibo figure, then maybe I can finally use R.O.B. again in Mario Kart 8! At least, that’s the hope.

One thing I don’t get, though: What’s with the name? They don’t seem to have anything to do with Miis, and it sounds like “amoeba.” Weird.

Oh, but that just gave me an idea: Can you imagine if you could somehow get an amiibo figure of your own personal Mii? Like through a Club Nintendo program or something? That would be beyond awesome.

1) Miis/Palutena in Super Smash Bros.

I’m not sure there is any way that this couldn’t be #1. Aside from the inclusion of Palutena, what blows me away are the Miis. They’re an example of Sakurai doing what he does best: Exceeding expectations.

I’ve felt like Miis should be a part of Super Smash Bros. ever since Super Smash Bros. Brawl. At the time, I thought they were the next logical step from the Fighting Polygons and Fighting Wireframes of the previous games; imagine Miis from your Mii Plaza on the Wii just pouring in and being smacked around in a cartoonish fashion. From there, it felt like a playable character Mii’s moveset would make sense, consisting of things from games they’ve appeared in, from Wii Sports Resort to Pilotwings Resort and more, using a variety of wacky attacks.

Instead, Sakurai does none of that. Instead, he’s allowing us to choose from three distinct fighting styles and customize costumes for them. There’s even a screenshot from the Nintendo 3DS version which shows male and female Miis in differing western attire for the Mii Gunner style, complete with turning the cool arm cannons into revolver-styled arms. If that wasn’t enough, you get to choose four special moves from a set of 12 for each class.

I’ve always loved the opportunity to play as “me” through Miis and Avatars, along with my favorite characters in games like this. And while Mario is my main and Mega Man may even take that spot soon (unless there’s a way to get rid of F.L.U.D.D., and we got just the slightest glimpse of that possibility), just the prospect of tweaking and customizing my Mii into an ideal fighting machine holds huge appeal to me.

The one downside? The Nintendo 3DS version was delayed until October 3rd, 2014, so I won’t be squaring off against anyone at Otakon this year. Oh well; if it makes the game better, it will be worth it.

Honorary Mentions

  • Robot Chicken: As I’m a longtime fan of the show, this was so close to being part of the list, but I wanted to save it for actual announcements and news.

    Nonetheless, Nintendo hit a home run here, taking full advantage of the all-video format, which led to an overall much more polished and entertaining presentation than any of the other guys. Poking fun at everything from not having a press conference to Reggie memes to the divisiveness of Toon Link, this basically bolded and underlined the idea that Nintendo isn’t afraid to poke a little fun at themselves in the broader name of entertainment, and it was good.

    Plus, we’re now left to wonder if Robot Chicken might do an all-Nintendo special; one tweet from their Twitter seems to indicate it could be in the cards.

  • Star Fox: I want to keep this to things which were actually revealed during the press conferences (or equivalents thereof) to keep things fair, and this wasn’t there. Not that there’s much to see of it yet, anyway.
  • Project Big Robot/Project Guard: See above.
  • Splatoon: To people saying Nintendo never releases new IP… well, here’s another new IP for you to conveniently ignore. That said, my feelings on this are mixed: It looks like a lot of fun and is full of cool ideas, but it seems to be exclusively online multiplayer, a field I’ve dabbled in very, very little.
  • Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker: I loved these bits in Super Mario 3D World, and I’m really looking forward to playing this. And to everyone who says “Super Mario Bros. 2” doesn’t count? Those turnips clearly disagree. My only question is if they can take the concept we saw and flesh it out into a full-blown title which makes more sense at retail than in the Nintendo eShop.
  • Bayonetta 2: I have a feeling this will come my way for review, since it’s published by Nintendo, but I never got to play the first one, and that’s left me with some mild apprehension. But hey, they’re doing the logical thing and including the original with the sequel, so you now get the entire Bayonetta experience! I like what I’ve seen, and I dig the fact that I can give the entire series a full look and decide if I dig the entire package.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles X: A tough choice to make, and this missed out on the Top 5 by only the slimmest of margins. Xenoblade Chronicles was more my wife’s thing to play while I watched, though, so as awesome as this looks… well, we’ll see. Make no mistake, though: I am looking forward to this one.
  • Mario Party 10: A shame this wasn’t during the press conference, because it might have made my list then. I love how this seems to follow more in the footsteps of Mario Party 9 than Island Tour and others, feeling more like actual Mario-themed mini-games and maps, rather than mini-games which simply have Mario and friends playing them.
  • Kirby and the Rainbow Curse: Kirby and the Canvas Curse is said to be really good, but it’s a bit tough to find now, and a bit pricy, at that. Seeing a return to that gameplay style, though, certainly has my attention.
  • The Legend of Zelda for Wii U: Shocking, huh? It was a close call between this and Hyrule Warriors, but we’ve only seen the tiniest snippet of this, while some of the things said and shown about Hyrule Warriors are fueling my imagination, as noted above.
  • Pac-Man in Super Smash Bros.: This would have made the list… but it was revealed after the press conference. Dangit.

    That said, I love what they’re doing with him here– and people said it couldn’t be done. A surprising number of Pac-Land references, too. I just hope his Ghostly Adventures look is available as an alternate costume; given the way Bandai Namco is pushing that show, I’m surprised they didn’t make it his main.

—–

So, there we have it: My Top 5 moments from Nintendo’s E3 2014 press conference, and that wraps up my Top 5 moments from everyone’s E3 2014 press conference!

This one is admittedly a little bit weird for me: I saw a lot of stuff I really like here, but at the same time, I’m not ready to beat my head against the wall for not actually being at E3 like I was last year (that one hurt). It’s kind of a nice feeling, but I wonder what it means. Were things not as impressive this time? Or am I just getting used to not going? Well, it’s probably better not to dwell on it.

That said, it seems like a really solid show. I don’t think anyone outright blew anyone else out of the water, and I’m happy enough just to see lots of cool things and strong offerings coming from all fronts.

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