The few times that Nintendo surprised us at E3 this year

Polishing a toadstool.

This year’s E3 probably isn’t one that’s going to go down in the history books. From Sony’s poorly-executed and ill-conceived press conference, to the lack of those precious E3 megatons, E3 came and went without much of its usual pomp and circumstance.

That said, there were some new announcements and bright spots: The fantastic Cuphead is getting DLC next year, and the also fantastic Overcooked is getting a sequel later this year. Fans of cups and cooking, best get ready for those.

But what of Nintendo and its newest super star console, the Switch? Well, much like the competition, Nintendo didn’t come out guns-a-blazing. Instead, Nintendo stuck to focusing most of E3 on one title, as it has in the past few years. Nintendo shone the spotlight squarely on Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, without really peeling the curtain too much into what else its developers are working on over in Kyoto.  

That doesn’t mean that Nintendo didn’t bring any surprises, though -- just that they weren't that big. So, let’s recap and take a look back and what Nintendo did manage to bring in the surprise department this year.

Sky Skipper

While fans have been clamoring for a Virtual Console on the Switch, Nintendo has quietly released deep cuts from its arcade history. One of them – Sky Skipper  – I don’t think was on anybody’s E3 bingo card this year.

According to the Treehouse Live stream, it's the first official time the arcade version has been released in North America. I don't think it's going to do anything to quiet the fan cries for GameCube games coming to the Switch, though.

Ridley (finally) showing up for Super Smash Bros.

He isn’t too big… at least anymore. After getting passed over time and time again, the dragon-esque villain from the Metroid series is finally getting to duke it out with the rest of Nintendo’s high-profile stars in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

Ridley probably would have taken a higher spot on this list, but him finally showing up was rumored (or leaked, since it turned out to be true) earlier this year, so his appearance wasn’t something that was totally out of the left field of Zebes.

But for me, Ridley showing up in Smash means that years of dreaming are now finally fulfilled, and it was enough to save what honestly was one of the worst Nintendo E3 showings in recent memory. Maybe Nintendo has been saving Ridley for such an E3 when they didn't have a lot else to show off... which could finally bode well for them breaking the "In-Case-of-Lack-of Games Emergency Glass Case" they are keeping Mother 3 in.

Mario Party has online this time

Since Mario Party first hit the Nintendo 64 back in 1999, the minigame meets board game battle royale has been a staple of Nintendo’s four player, in person, couch local multiplayer strategy.

While that made sense a few decades ago (and I do buy into the argument that a lengthy game like Mario Party isn’t the best suited for online), the series has continued to chug along, not adding any modern online multiplayer options.

Until now. Super Mario Party adds online to the series for the first time, though in different modes than the classic board game mode. But at least it's something.

The lack of any other real surprises

In an E3 that felt subdued and lackluster in most regards, it's even more telling that Nintendo suffered from the same fate, given that the company is still only in the second year of the Switch. The direct broadcast spent almost all of its time on Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, with only a few other announcements sprinkled in.

Games like Yoshi, Metroid Prime 4, and whatever it is that Retro is working on (cough, Star Fox racing, cough) were all absent, as was any inkling of what Switch owners can expect to play further into the console’s future.

We got lots of Pokemon though?

The Switch still had a pretty loaded year in front of it, but given that both the Wii and the Wii U were plagued by software draughts, it would have been nice for Nintendo to show a little further out into the future to help alleviate the fears that Switch owners might have that it will suffer the same fate.