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Nintendo may not hold full stage presentations during E3 these days, but the Japanese powerhouse is more than capable of huge surprises that have the whole show talking.
This year it’s expected to show off the Switch’s upcoming Animal Crossing game, and has already confirmed it’ll be featuring Luigi’s Mansion 3 too. But despite that, fans are still hoping they’ll get another trademark Nintendo bombshell out of left-field.
To help you prepare for that possibility, we offer to you our five favourite Nintendo moments from E3 history, and none of them feature a guy pretending to play the drums with Wii Remotes.
A Prime Candidate (2004)
Let’s be honest, Nintendo fans are the ones who lose their minds the most when one of their favourite franchises gets another new game. Almost every time Nintendo announces a new Mario, Zelda or the like at E3 there’s a minor meltdown on Twitter.
A good example of this, though, was in the pre-Twitter days: 2004, to be exact. Shortly after the Nintendo DS had been shown off for the very first time, Nintendo’s Reggie Fils-Aime then casually said “here’s a new Metroid running on Nintendo DS”.
Cue immediate cheers and whoops from the crowd. And cue even bigger ones when Reggie then said “and you’ll be playing it tomorrow”.
Granted, it ended up being Metroid Prime Hunters, which was only half-decent. But at the time nobody knew this, and it still goes down as one of the biggest reactions in E3 history.
Twi, Twi, Twi Again (2004)
The DS reveal wasn’t the only big moment of Nintendo’s E3 2004 conference. It also ended with the reveal of a game that nobody expected, especially because of what had come before.
When The Legend Of Zelda: The Wind Waker was previously revealed years before, fans were divided. Many were livid that their beloved series had turned cel-shaded and looked ‘kiddy’, their dreams of a beautifully detailed, realistic Zelda using the power of the GameCube were shattered.
However, as E3 2004 was drawing to a close, Reggie stated: “Before you leave, I’d like you to step inside one more world.”
A new trailer started, showing various countryside environments. Suddenly, the camera cut to a realistic Link riding on a horse, and the room erupted in screams of glee as The Legend Of Zelda: Twilight Princess made its debut.
Shigeru Miyamoto then took to the stage for the first time in that conference, but at that point it may as well have been Dolph Lundgren: Zelda was back, and it was serious again.
Chickening Out (2014)
In 2013, Nintendo decided to ditch its traditional E3 on-stage conferences and instead chose to switch to pre-recorded video presentations. This allowed it to try some more left-field ways of announcing games.
By far the best example of this was the following year, in which Nintendo teamed up with the Robot Chicken team to create a series of animated segments making fun of itself and its fans.
Set up like a fake E3 conference, an action figure version of Reggie introduced new games while getting heckled from the crowd. As one loudmouth gamer in the audience shouted “Come on Reggie, give us Mother 3!”, an angry Reggie ate a Fire Flower and throw fireballs at him, setting him ablaze.
Later on, another fan shouts “what about Star Fox?” and is reduced to dust by Reggie’s laser beam vision for his trouble.
Take My Breath Away (2016)
It had already been known for a while that there was a new Zelda game on the way: it was very briefly shown at E3 2014 (when it was originally just a Wii U game), and so fans already knew roughly what sort of art style it was going to have, but not much else.
The game skipped E3 2015 entirely, because Nintendo wasn’t ready to show it off, so fans wouldn’t get to see it properly again until the 2016 presentation.
Perhaps sensing that we had waited long enough, Nintendo kicked off by jumping straight into a trailer that showed off the game’s stunning landscapes and finally revealed its full title, The Legend of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild.
It was the perfect way to get everyone talking, and when the E3 show floor opened later Zelda was the one game everyone wanted to see.
The Revolution Will Be Televised (2005)
The DS reveal in 2004 was a massive deal, but in the grand scheme of things it was nothing compared to the following year.
After showing off more of the DS and introducing the Game Boy Micro, Satoru Iwata took to the stage again. “We gave you DS, a new Game Boy and new games to play on them,” he recapped.
“And now you say you want a revolution?” he asked, pulling a small black box out of his jacket pocket. “Well, we’ve got one.”
This was the first glimpse at the Nintendo Revolution. The gasps were for how small it was (bear in mind it was competing with the much larger Xbox 360 and PS3), but little did people know what they were looking at.
The Revolution, which would become the Wii, wasn’t just another console. It completely changed the face of gaming in a way that wouldn’t be seen since.