After some middling but ultimately exciting press conferences from Microsoft and Square Enix, and some complete whiffs from Bethesda and Ubisoft, I have been wondering – with many others – “Is E3 a tired event?” Well, after seeing Nintendo’s online-only Nintendo Direct E3 2019 keynote address, my faith in E3 has been restored.
Nintendo brought some enormous guns to E3 2019, with more details on games we already knew about, tied with release dates and surprise announcements tapping into nostalgia not just for old games, but classic movies. About 97% of these games are coming out in 2019 – and before the holiday shopping season.
Of course, that leftover 3% belongs primarily the teased sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, which has been announced to be in development alongside a flashy trailer. We also now know that Animal Crossing for Nintendo Switch will be out on March 20, 2020 as Animal Crossing: New Horizons.
Finally for 2020, Square Enix will be bringing a 3D remake of its cult classic role-playing game (RPG), Seiken Densetsu 3, the third game in the Mana series of RPGs, as Trials of Mana in early 2020 exclusively for Nintendo Switch.
Mining that sweet, sweet nostalgia
Nintendo spent much of its 45-minute address announcing games that are lush remakes and entirely new entries in storied franchises – like a remake of Panzer Dragoon, a remaster of the Sypro trilogy, a brand-new Contra game, Rogue Corps, and a strategy game based on The Dark Crystal franchise: Age of Resistance Tactics. (The latter ties in with the new Netflix prequel series to the 1982 film of the same name.)
Alongside these announcements, Nintendo used this occasion to drop same-date releases on its eShop digital store of two classic retro game collections: Konami’s Contra Anniversary Collection and Square Enix’s Collection of Mana. The latter game collection brings the original Seiken Densetsu 3, first released in Japan way back in 1995 for the Super Famicom, to the west for the first time as – you guessed it – Trials of Mana.
Of course, I’d be remiss not to mention Nintendo’s ultimate nostalgia drug for 2019: its remake of The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening. This gorgeous reimagining of the Game Boy classic is not only after long-time fans’ hearts, but brings a new game mode in Build-a-Dungeon. This allows players to build their own Zelda dungeons by combining rooms from the game’s existing content, likely with the ability to share them with friends.
With these announcements, Nintendo has reminded people that the Nintendo Switch is the best place for long-time video game fans that are suckers for nostalgia (like this guy). However, the company is clearly paying respect to those fans with not just phoned-in re-releases, but gorgeous remakes and brand new takes on those classic franchises.
A sprinkling of fresh ideas and stories
Of course, Nintendo could have just left it at that and made me happy, but the company is taking things a step further in 2019 with brand-new games in both new and existing franchises. Games like Fire Emblem: Three Houses and Marvel’s Avengers: Ultimate Alliance 3 – both due out this July exclusively for Switch – will take those game worlds to the next level.
Likewise, Pokémon Sword and Shield will elevate the storied series to a whole new echelon that it’s never experienced before, to be likely the ultimate Pokemon game to date.
Then, you have Daemon X Machina, a brand new mecha action game franchise and Astral Chain, a new action beat-em-up property from Platinum Games, ringing out the summer with new ideas and stories never seen before. Naturally, both are exclusive to Nintendo’s console.
We’ve yet to even touch on Luigi’s Mansion 3, which brings plenty of new ideas to the series, like two-player cooperative play and up to eight-player competitive play either in-house or online. Not to mention an entire haunted hotel to explore rather than just another house filled with ghosts to suck up.
Finally, we saw entirely new games from Nintendo third parties due out for 2020, like the ‘20s-era top-down shooter Empire of Sin.
Nintendo is using its unique position with the Switch as both a handheld and home console to please the widest array of gamers possible, which no other console can do. The remakes and re-releases excite long-time gamers with new ways to play games they’ve loved, or never had the chance to, while on the move. Meanwhile, brand new games give existing players something entirely fresh to chew on and potentially lure in new fans.
All told, Nintendo restored my faith in E3 as the annual event to which game publishers and developers bring out all of the stops to excite gamers for the year(s) to come – far better than even Microsoft did with its tease of the next Xbox. Boy, am I glad to have the Nintendo Switch as my only game console this time around.
E3 2019 is the biggest gaming event of the year. TechRadar is reporting live from LA, telling you all about the biggest announcements of the week, from epic game trailers to shocking release date reveals. Follow our expert analysis of the keynotes and what we see on the E3 show floor.