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Nintendo press conference review: Show-stopping

Amid worrying headlines, Nintendo is disobediently cheerful

Yet another new Zelda game, released habitually and surprising to virtually no one, still manages to be the most captivating game reveal at E3. If you're trying to define what the fabled 'Nintendo Difference' is, look no further than that.

Nintendo's fleeting demonstration (a sixty second slice of a game expected to last that many hours) was a masterful exhibition of Zelda Wii U's boundless promise. The game has gone open-world, as intended when first written into code some 26 years ago, and its sprawling fields are bold, beautiful and bursting with life.

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Yesteryear's debates about the Wii U's hardware limitations seem rather silly when you gaze at this enthralling, utopian depiction of Hyrule. Being shown in-game footage too, having already gone through Sony and Microsoft's parade of CGI teasers, was a breath of fresh air.

Again and again Nintendo revealed new Wii U and 3DS titles but always maintained a focus on how these games played, and this was indicative of the company's whole approach to its E3 showcase - focus on nothing but strengths.

That philosophy was apparent throughout the whole event. Rather than appearing weakened without a stage and live E3 audience, Nintendo instead demonstrated the unique benefits of pre-recorded press conferences. There were genuinely funny Robot Chicken stop-motion vignettes and an extraordinary Neo-vs-Agent Smith style brawl between executives Satoru Iwata and Reggie Fils-Aime.

This was a Nintendo that dared to have fun amid the ghastly headlines; one that made fun of Mario, flirted with profanity and teased game journalists. Considering the position the company is in, it was delightful to see.

Perhaps the best news for investors was the reveal of Amiibo - Nintendo's new line of toys that can interact with the Wii U. Figurines of Mario and friends can be purchased and - when touching the GamePad - will upload a new characters into certain games.

Each figure can also function as a physical manifestation of its owners progress, and contain their bespoke character configurations and customisations.

"Nintendo's [Zelda Wii U] demonstration was a masterful exhibition of boundless promise"

Nintendo's decision to spread Amiibo across its slate of titles, adding value to both the games and the toys, could feasibly turn any future game into a Skylanders-like success story. The overall commercial potential here lies somewhere between significant and staggering.

Equally stupefying - though a pleasant surprise - was the reveal of new IP. Splatoon may not stand out among Nintendo's line of icons, but it deserves to. It's an online 4v4 arena shooter from Nintendo that swaps chasing kills for controlling territory by spraying colourful ink. And you play a character that shifts between human to fire, and octopi to swim through your own ink. This is a game overflowing with neat ideas and promise.

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Though it's easy to forget about them amidst the bigger names, the plastercine world of Kirby and the Rainbow Curse was undeniably charming and Yoshi's Wooly World looked a delightful return to creative platforming that was sorely lacking from Yoshi's New Island.

Of course these won't light up the message boards. The curse of Nintendo E3 events is the sheer weight of expectation from the die-hard masses who want a new Metroid, a new F-Zero, a new Starfox, a new Pilotwings and a new Mario Galaxy all at once.

Meeting such demands is out of the question, which is why many Nintendo fans, deep down, will feel this E3 event didn't go perfectly.

But considering the position Nintendo is in - with virtually no third-party support, with its dev team stretched thin over two systems, with the immense pressure placed on its executives - it couldn't have gone any better either.

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