E3 2016: Nintendo takes back seat, but should aim high in 2017

Legend of Zelda

There is no disputing Nintendo will pop open many eyes at this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo by allowing those attending to get the first opportunity to play the brand new title in the storied Legend of Zelda franchise. It is a game Nintendo has been teasing for two years at E3, and they will continue to tease it at E3 for one more summer. The problem for Nintendo is this is pretty much all that they will have to offer this year. E3 does not open its doors for another month, and many are already speculating Nintendo has swung and missed in the grand scheme.

Timing is unfortunate for Nintendo this year at E3. Nintendo recently announced its new home console, going by the code-name NX for now, is slated for a release next March. With the release date so far away, and at an unorthodox time for a new console as it misses the coveted holiday season, Nintendo will have no new hardware to show off at this year’s E3, again. To make things even worse, this new Legend of Zelda game being shown off to the public will not be released until 2017. Nintendo has confirmed the new Legend of Zelda title will be released on both the WiiU and the NX, similar to how the company released slightly different versions of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess in the final days of the GameCube and the early days of the Wii.

Nintendo has a history of coming up small at E3, and all signs are pointing to another down year at E3 for Nintendo. This is particularly stunning because a brand new Legend of Zelda game should be one of the big winners at E3, even if it is not to be released until next March on either a home console few have much interest in (WiiU) or a console nobody has laid eyes on just yet (NX). This is especially rough for Nintendo given the highly-anticipated Star Fox title recently released for the WiiU has drawn a good amount of criticism for sticking to the basic formula of past titles in the franchise a little too closely in some respects and having difficult controls.

I am now my own virtual pet, I guess. #miitomo

A photo posted by Kevin McGuire (@kevinmcguire) on

Of course, while Nintendo has laid out the basic agenda for its E3 event, Nintendo is also known for throwing a few curve balls and surprises along the way. It is likely Nintendo will actually have a few more cards to play at E3. With Nintendo pushing into the mobile market with its recent launch of the Miitomo social network and upcoming mobile projects related to Fire Emblem and Animal Crossing, Nintendo may have a bit more to share with the masses than it wants you to know.

Nintendo came through with some very pleasing surprises for the WiiU last year with Splatoon and Super Mario Maker. Updates to either would not be unexpected from Nintendo at E3 (for example, could we please get a Super Mario Bros. 2 tile set for Super Mario Maker?), but updates to older titles could just as easily be put on the shelf for their next incarnation on the NX. Again, that leaves a bit of an empty feeling for Nintendo loyalists.

For Nintendo, this year’s E3 will be a bit more low-key, which is odd considering they are going all out with Zelda. But with no new hardware on the agenda and few titles to look forward to coming to the WiiU, Nintendo will look to the bigger picture and focus on a big 2017. Next year at E3 should be a much bigger event for Nintendo.

Check out The McGuire Code on Twitch. I also co-host The Hyrule Huddle on Twitch.

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