Nintendo E3 2018: 5 best and 5 worst reveals

Good news, Nintendo fans: the Switch is here to stay. Going into E3 2018, Nintendo's riding high after one of its best console launches ever, and with Super Smash Bros., Metroid, and a brand new Pokémon on the way, it doesn't look like the Switch is going to shed momentum any time soon.

So, what did Nintendo have in store for E3? Before the show, the company promised a lot of Super Smash Bros. It wasn't lying. Nearly half an hour of Nintendo's 45 minute event was devoted to its fan-favorite fighting game as series creator Masahiro Sakurai detailed a few of the many, many changes coming to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

Before that, however, Nintendo managed to sneak a few other announcements into its stream, and while we didn't get to see everything that we wanted to, the Nintendo Switch looks like it's going to have another excellent year in 2018. Fingers crossed.

BEST: Every. Fighter. Ever.

You want some Smash Bros.? Nintendo's got some Smash Bros. for you. Nintendo's bizarre and uber-popular fighter has always put a premium on fan service, and from the looks of things, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is going to live up to its name.

Most importantly? Super Smash Bros. Ultimate features the return of every single character that's ever appeared on a Smash Bros. roster. Yes, every single one of them. The Ice Climbers? They're back. Solid Snake? After skipping the latest Smash Bros. outing, he's returning too — and he's even going to be played by David Hayter, his original voice actor. Ryu, Cloud Strife, Sonic, and Pac-Man? Getting the rights sorted out couldn't have been easy, but they're all here. All that, and Sakurai and his team even found the time to introduce a couple of new players to the madness: Splatoon's Inklings will be around to mess everything up, while Metroid villain Ridley — a character that fans have wanted in Smash for a decade — is finally making his playable debut.

Nintendo also spent a lot of time detailing the changes and improvements coming to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, and while there are way too many of them to list here, suffice it to say that things seem to be changing for the better. Mario and Link sport updated looks based on their recent Switch outings, while a number of mechanical tweaks should keep Super Smash Bros. competitions fresh for years to come.

WORST: That is a lot of Smash

On the other hand, if you're not into Super Smash Bros., you probably didn't have much use for the bulk of Nintendo's E3 presentation. The pre-recorded video was well-made, of course, but the deep dive into Super Smash Bros. Ultimate was also highly technical. Given how enthusiastic the Smash community is, that makes a certain amount of sense, but if you're not up on your Smash Bros. metagame, all of that detail couldn't help but leave you cold.

For Nintendo's fans, it's always fun to see which characters join the fray, but smaller things like the frills-free Omega Stages, directional air-dodging, changes to shield timing, UI tweaks, and the rest appeal to dedicated players only. Even if you're a causal Super Smash Bros. player, some of that is probably going to go over your head. Some people are very into Smash Bros.' competitive side; the rest of us just like to see Nintendo characters beat the crap out of each other. Nintendo's E3 presentation was mostly for the former, and not the latter.

That'd have been easier to swallow if Nintendo had more big games to show, but its E3 presentation was really all about Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. If that's your thing, you probably dug it. If not, it's hard to imagine that all of that time couldn't have been better spent elsewhere.

BEST: Dive right on in

Forget 2019. Nintendo's E3 presentation was all about the here and now. If you want to play Fortnite: Battle Royale on your Switch, don't bother checking your calendar. The most popular game in the world arrived on Nintendo's latest console just a few minutes after its official announcement. Hollow Knight, the critically-acclaimed "Metroidvania" that tore it up on PCs last year, joined the eShop immediately. In fact, most of the games that Nintendo showed during E3 will be available before the end of the year. Even Super Smash Bros. Ultimate will hit on December 7, 2018.

That's a lot better than the other publishers' presentations, especially Sony's, which focused primarily on games that are still years and years away. It's also a perfect approach for the Switch. The big hook behind Nintendo's portable console is how it lets you play when you want, when you want, and it's becoming increasingly clear that that ethos applies to the Switch's release schedule in addition to the hardware.

Would it have been nice to know what Nintendo has planned long-term? Of course. On the other hand, Nintendo's montage of upcoming, previously announced titles proved that the Switch isn't exactly hurting for content. Let the future stay in the future. For now, we're busy with what we've already got.

WORST: Pay-to-Pokemon

Pokémon: Let's Go is a funny thing. It's not the next official entry in the Pokémon franchise. That's not coming until late 2019. Instead, it's a spin-off that looks like what'd happen if the main Pokémon games were dropped off at the Day Care with Pokémon Go, producing some kind of bizarre hybrid of both.

It's hard to complain about that, especially since we know that more Pokémon is on its way. Besides, Pokémon: Let's Go can import the creatures you've caught in Pokémon Go, meaning that we can finally justify all that time we spent wandering around with our phones out, putting ourselves in mortal danger. We can complain about having to pay to complete our Pokedex, however. If you want to capture Mew, a perennial fan favorite and the very first legendary Pokémon, you're going to have to shell out for Pokémon: Let's Go's special Poke Ball Plus controller, which'll set you back an extra $40.

Ouch. That's a lot of money, especially considering that the point of Pokémon games is to, as the catchphrase goes, catch 'em all. Nintendo hasn't said whether or not Mew will be available via other means, but during the E3 presentation, it didn't sound like it. Completionists were probably tempted by the Poke Ball Plus anyway, but not everyone can afford to dish out for yet another Switch peripheral. Making us pay for additional Pokémon just isn't cool, and we're hoping that this is both the beginning and the end of the trend.

BEST: JRPG Heaven

Kingdom Hearts III aside, E3 2018 wasn't a particularly strong year for Japanese role-playing games. There was a Tales of Vesperia remaster here, a Final Fantasy XIV and Monster Hunter cross-over there, and a quick look at the North American edition of Dragon Quest XI, which has been out in Japan for almost a year. That's it. No surprise Final Fantasy VII Remake footage. No Persona to be seen. If you were hoping to catch a glimpse of the next big thing in the JRPG world, E3 2018 left you high and dry.

Thank goodness for Nintendo, then. None of the Switch JRPGs featured during Nintendo's conference were big surprises, but at least the genre seems to have a steady presence on Nintendo's latest console. Early on in the presentation, Nintendo played a trailer for Xenoblade Chronicles 2's upcoming DLC pack, Torna the Golden Country. It devoted a little bit of time to Octopath Traveller, Square Enix's retro-tinged RPG, and announced a demo's imminent arrival. We got our first look at Fire Emblem: Three Houses. Pokémon is on its way, as is a Switch port of The World Ends With You, one of the most criminally underrated JRPGs of all time.

That's enough content to keep RPG fans busy for years, and it's comforting to know that the genre has a home on Nintendo's platform. Not that we should be surprised, of course. The Nintendo 3DS has been the go-to platform for JRPGs for quite a while.

WORST: 3DS RIP

Raise your hand if you saw this coming. See, the Nintendo Switch isn't just a console. It's also a handheld gaming device, making it easy to play games both on the road and at home. Unfortunately, Nintendo already has a handheld. The Nintendo 3DS got off to a shaky start, but over the years it's become one of the most interesting and reliable gaming machines on the market. If you like games — any games — the 3DS' incredible library has something for you. We guarantee it.

But now, it looks like the little machine's days are numbered. Not only did Nintendo focus exclusively on the Switch during its E3 presentation, but the 3DS was only mentioned a few times — and even then, it was only in the context of Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS, and how Super Smash Bros. Ultimate was going to improve on the game.

At this point, the 3DS is over seven years old, and it's certainly starting to show its age. Still, it's had an amazing run, and it deserves a better ending than simply fading away. We're not asking for a huge send-off, but one last game would make the 3DS' eventual ride into the sunset a lot easier to take. C'mon, Nintendo. We know you've got it in you.

BEST: Amid all the old, something new

Nintendo gets a lot of flack for relying on its tried and true franchises, and E3 2018 didn't do much to dispel that notion. Super Smash Bros., Mario Party, and Pokémon are all solid franchises, but we've seen them before. When Nintendo tries something new, the results are often great (see, for example, Splatoon), and it's always exciting when the developer adds a fresh property to its stable.

That's why we were pleasantly surprised to see Nintendo's E3 conference kick off with Daemon X Machina, a fast-paced mech combat game from Marvelous Entertainment. If that crazy trailer didn't get you excited, well, you should be. Not only is Daemon X Machina produced by Kenichiro Tsukuda, one of the men behind From Software's mech-based shooter Armored Core, but Macross and Escaflowne artist Shoji Kawamori will help out on the design end. Those names may not mean much if you're not heavily into mechs, so trust us: that's a big deal.

On the downside, Daemon X Machina isn't due until sometime in 2019, but we're reasonably confident that it'll be worth the wait. Nintendo wouldn't put a game at the very top of its E3 presser unless it had a fair amount of faith in the title. Besides, the name Daemon X Machina is perfect. With wordplay as cringeworthy that, how bad could it possibly be?

WORST: O Metroid, Metroid! Wherefore art thou Metroid?

You can't just drop a bomb like Metroid Prime 4 one year and then completely ignore it the next. Well, you can — and at E3 2018, Nintendo did. In 2017, Nintendo shocked fans of video gaming's most iconic bounty hunter by announcing not one but two new Metroid titles: a Metroid 2 remake called Metroid: Samus Returns for the 3DS, and a brand-new installment in the Metroid Prime series for the Switch.

Fans were eager to hear more. They still are. The big focus on Super Smash Bros. Ultimate meant that Nintendo didn't spend much time talking about its other franchises, and while Metroid was the most notable absence, it wasn't the only one. There's a Yoshi game that's supposedly coming sometime this year, but don't look for it at E3: you won't find it. Bayonetta 3? The future of Nintendo Labo? None of it made the cut.

There's something to be said for playing it safe and not showing games until they're ready for public consumption. There are also benefits to keeping the hype train going. With Samus and her friends skipping E3 2018, it looks like we're going to have be patient before we learn what they're up to. Waiting this long has been hard. Enduring for another year is going to be even harder.

BEST: Multi-Switch gaming gets weirder and we're all in on it

There are two kinds of people in the world: those who love Mario Party, and those who can't stand it. For every person who gets a kick out of lounging on the couch with friends while competing a grabbag of silly mini-games, there's someone else who gets frustrated by the game's topsy-turvy competition and relatively shallow mechanics. Super Mario Party doesn't look like it'll change anything. It is what it is. You either like that, or you don't.

And yet, some pretty neat tricks popped up in Super Mario Party's E3 trailer, especially when it came time for more than one Switch to join the party. You can play Super Mario Party with a single Switch, of course, with up to four players free to join in as long as everyone has their own Joy-Con. When you put two Switches together, however, the real magic happens. Not only can you put the Switches side by side in order to create one extra long stage that stretches across multiple screens, but the way that you position the devices affects the level's layout. It's very, very cool, and something that's only possible on Nintendo's console.

With any luck, that technology will pop up elsewhere, too. There are tons of uses for that kind of thing beyond Super Mario Party, and could help the Switch become the console of choice for local multiplayer. We'll just have to wait and see.

WORST: Nintendo's biggest surprise happened at someone else's conference

Ostensibly, E3 is a trade event, but over the years the various pre-conference press event have become increasingly fan-focused. By now, viewers have certain expectations. They want to see what's up with the biggest series in gaming, and they want to be surprised. If both of those things happen at once? So much the better.

Unlike E3 2017, however, Nintendo didn't have any major twists in store. In fact, Nintendo's biggest surprise wasn't unveiled during the company's own presentation. It came a day earlier, during Ubisoft's annual press event. Nobody expected the Star Fox cast to show up in Ubisoft's upcoming toys-to-life game Starlink: Battle for Atlas, and while the crossover makes perfect sense — Starlink looks like a better Star Fox adventure than the crew's last official outing, the Wii U's Star Fox Zero — the big reveal was greeted by shocked gasps and delighted applause.

We can't wait to (literally) get our hands on Fox's Arwing when Starlink arrives later this fall, but the announcement did take some of the wind out of Nintendo's sails. Compared to Ubisoft's event, Nintendo played things awfully safe. Too safe, really. For many fans, E3 is all about hype. Nintendo did a great job setting the stage for the rest of 2018 and gave Smash die-hards tons of information, but it wasn't exactly exciting, and the lack of true surprises can't help but make Nintendo's E3 2018 outing feel like a bit of a letdown.