This is a difficult article to write after all the disappointment Nintendo arguably brought to the table with their digital E3 event this year, but ultimately after some thought I still believe quite deeply in the points I want to make with this article.
The Nintendo World Championships are something I didn’t originally have a lot of interest in watching when they were originally announced, and like many I was brought in by the promise of the reveal of a new game or two, but quite honestly I ended up staying for the pure fun they provided. Sure, in a lot of ways it was advertising the big Wii U games the company offers but I’m not sure that matters too much at the end of the day. The championships neatly showed off Nintendo’s past and their present and how the company hasn’t actually changed all that much in what they provide: A range of fun games for everyone.
The show kicked off with some Splatoon, Nintendo’s newest multiplayer online shooter that has take the world by storm, by Nintendo standards anyway. Perhaps the game right now doesn’t make the best game for viewers to be watching, it’s certainly more fun to actually play, but overall it was a decent start. After Splatoon the championships brought out some of the other big name games like Mario Kart 8, Super Smash Bros. Wii U, and their next big creative game, Mario Maker which is being released later this year.
Of course that only really covers the main championship games, as the underground section of the tournament went for a retro feel by making the competitors play classic Nintendo games like The Legend of Zelda. It was a nice nod to Nintendo’s past, even if some of the competitors were a tad confused by the games they were playing, having likely not played them before. Most of all though, the Nintendo World Championships showed that from start to finish the company has a rich history of games that anyone can pick up and play.
Some of the games are quite heavily skill-based, such as Super Smash Bros., and even Splatoon to a degree, but the championships weren’t about having the best players in the world on show. Rather than playing Super Smash Bro. with a certain amount of stock, flat stage, no items, the matches were timed with all items on and no stock which made for some crazy fun matches. Mario Kart 8 was too perhaps not played in the most demanding of fashion as the game was played in 200cc mostly for the fun of it. The Mario Maker levels our two finalists had to play weren’t really built for skill either as in a lot of ways they’d been built to show off the fun of the game, and while the players were getting frustrated with the difficulty and their own failings you could tell they were also enjoying themselves a fair bit.
In truth what the Nintendo World Championships really did was show off the brilliance of their games and why we love Nintendo so much, not just because the games stand out and do something a little different, but because they don’t need a massive amount of skill and overall will leave you smiling and wanting just a little bit more. I especially felt this when watching the finalists play through Mario Maker as you could really feel the love (and evil intentions) of the treehouse staff that built the stages the players were having to make their way through. You never quite knew what was around the next corner and I think in a lot of ways this works for Nintendo themselves as the company is ultimately at its best when showing off something none of us could have seen coming, like the crossover between the Mario & Luigi and Paper Mario games.
No one but Nintendo could have come up with a shooter as fun as Splatoon, even if the game is slightly flawed. No one but Nintendo would have you shooting through such crazy levels at an insane speed which the original race tracks weren’t really built for in Mario Kart, and no one but Nintendo would have you race through a course with your main character inside a high heel trying to survive in a crazy level design in something like Mario Maker. Nintendo may not have done a lot of things right this E3 but the world championships definitely left me with the feeling that we truly have something special in the games they offer, even if they don’t always do everything right. Was I disappointed in the digital E3 event? Definitely. Was I disappointed in the Nintendo World Championships? No, because they left me with the kind of smile on my face that only Nintendo can give us and quite honestly I hope they never lose that magic.