E3: Nintendo Plays It Safe

Lineup includes franchise-based titles "Super Mario 3D World," "Mario Kart 8" and "Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze."
"Mario Kart 8"

After Monday's E3 press conferences, during which Nintendo's name was not invoked once, the video-game giant put on "Nintendo Direct," an event designed to reveal its new lineup directly to consumers.

True to recent form, Nintendo hewed close to its old template, updating and revamping long-running first-party franchises such as Donkey Kong Country, Yoshi's Island and Mario Kart.

This is in stark contrast to Sony and Microsoft, both of which rely on outside studios to produce new signature franchises for the launch of new consoles.

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Nintendo's new lineup includes Pikmin 3, Super Mario 3D World, Mario Kart 8, Yoshi's New Island, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, Wii Party U and a new version of Super Smash Brothers that will come out for both Wii U and 3DS. As part of its Nintendo Direct concept, the company has set up demo kiosks in Best Buy stores across the U.S., allowing the public to play demo versions of Mario 3D World, Mario Kart 8, Wind Waker HD and Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze.

Nintendo announced that Wii Fit U, the sequel to the smash hit fitness software Wii Fit, would be delayed until December. The company also showed trailers for third-party games Bayonetta 2 and a large-scale open-world game called X, being made by Monolift Soft.

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This is not a terrible showing by any means for the venerable video-game pioneer. Many crowd favorites are here with new twists. All of Nintendo's games look beautiful and seem to play well. But it's hard to escape the feeling that Nintendo is ceding ground on novelty, allowing Microsoft and Sony to take chances on new technology or ideas, while Nintendo is content to churn out safe (and probably strong-selling) new versions of the same old games.