Editorials

Post E3 2019 Interview With Nintendo Canada’s Andrew Collins

Nintendo once again held a jam-packed E3 Direct show during the week of major conferences. The publisher detailed new updates on upcoming titles such as Luigi’s Mansion 3, Pokemon Sword and Shield, and Animal Crossing.

On top of that, Nintendo blew the internet away by announcing that the iconic duo from Rare, Banjo-Kazooie, would be coming to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate late this year. As if all that wasn’t enough, Nintendo capped the show off with announcing that a sequel to 2017’s The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was in development.

Afterwards, Bobby Pashalidis and I were able to speak to Andrew Collins, the Communications Manager for Nintendo Canada. We had the opportunity to pick his brain on the recently announced games lineup and discuss the position Switch is in more than two years after release.

Bobby: Nintendo had a solid showing at E3 this year, but the last reveal blew the roof off E3. How did you feel about the Zelda sequel reveal and keeping that secret from the press?

Andrew: I’m going to have to be absolutely honest, I didn’t know about it. It’s all about keeping the biggest surprises and making surprises for fans and even for staff. When I saw it myself, I was a gamer again for those two minutes and I got those chills. It was nice to be able to be in fans place for a few minutes and experience it at the same time as everybody else is experiencing it.

Bobby: What did you feel when you saw Link and Zelda together again?

Andrew: Seeing them together is always a very special thing. Even if you look at when it came to Cadence of Hyrule: Crypt of the NecroDancer and you’re seeing them together there. There’s something very special about that partnership.  

Bobby: The running joke around the web is the Nintendo Switch is a port machine and lacking in first-party titles, however, the portability is a major factor and key to the success. Do you think it’s a fair take?

Andrew: I think you just need to look at the robust lineup of new games that we’ve shown. I think of some of the games coming out in the next few months. We’ve got some amazing first-party games like Super Mario Maker 2, Fire Emblem: Three Houses, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, Luigi’s Mansion 3, Pokemon Sword and Shield, and Animal Crossing coming next year.

I think that’s a very solid list of just first-party games and then we’ve got some games coming from partners. Some of them are games people have played, but there are a lot of very news games. One of the benefits the Nintendo Switch has at the moment is to play it anywhere you want.

Whether you want to play it online, with friends, on a plane, on a bus, or at home on the big screen. The flexible nature of the Nintendo Switch is really proving to be popular with developers and gamers.

Steve: A ton of third-party games were revealed in a sizzle reel. Are there any that caught your eye?

Andrew: You’ve got New Super Lucky’s Tale, it’s a great game. If people have played the original version, it offers a new version which features new levels, new visuals, and new characters. It’s a great new treatment of that game. You look back and you’ve got Resident Evil games coming out. You’ve got Wolfenstein: Youngblood which if you guys have had a chance to check out any videos, it’s a phenomenal looking game.

Bobby: From your time at E3, what titles are people flocking to? What kind of chatter have you heard from the floor?

Andrew: I think one of the best ways to gauge the popularity is through the time people spend waiting to play a game…We’ve seen three-hour waits to play Pokemon, maybe 90-minutes to play Luigi’s Mansion 3. That’s a testament to how popular they are. You’ve got Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order and that’s proving to be a popular game.

Then you got my favourite game, Link’s Awakening, and there’s a good line to play that one as well. That one is such a great version of a game from many, many year’s ago… When you get a chance to play the new version, it’s such a beautiful take on that game. It basically turned what was obviously simple visuals––a black and white game––into a real-life cartoon that you play.

Bobby: It looks like a diorama!

Andrew: It’s a spectacular game. Luckily it comes September 20th, so it’s not too long for that.

Steve: In your own eyes, how has Nintendo Switch changed gaming since launching in 2017?

Andrew: The greatest strength of the Nintendo Switch is the flexibility that you can literally play anywhere you want. Personally, in my house, it gets played on the big screen a lot but then when I travel, I’m playing on a flight… you know, playing Zelda, or Super Mario Odyssey, or Smash.

What’s interesting is that when you put the Nintendo Switch on the table on a plane, people start to ask you questions. I’ve had multiple times where I’ve ended up playing four-player Mario Kart because people wanted to join in.

Steve: The Switch is very inviting, I’ve had people come up to me when I’ve travelled and they ask “Oh, what are you playing?” It becomes a conversation piece.

Andrew: Nintendo Switch is very popular and seems to be everywhere. One of my kids has sports on the weekend and I’ll see some of the other kids who aren’t playing. They’ll be sitting offside and playing Nintendo Switch. When they are playing, they’ll hand it off to their mom or dad and they’ll keep playing.

Not only is can play a game anywhere, but there are so many people playing––moms, dads, kids, grandparents. Everyone’s playing together or maybe people are playing online. It’s really strong and really positive for us to see things like that.

Bobby: Aside from Zelda, was there any particular announcement that’s stuck out to you?

Andrew: The Witcher 3 is one that I am really looking forward to. That’s the Complete Edition so it will feature all the DLC and all the extra stories that came with the previous version. That’s one that you’ll see on my system and I will be playing on some flights. Hollow Knight, that’s proved to be very popular. One of the games which interested me is The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance Tactics. That’s got tactics-like gameplay about it.

Bobby: It reminds me of Final Fantasy Tactics.

Andrew: Exactly, that’s exactly what I was thinking when I saw it. That for me is a great example of a game to wrap yourself in, in a corner and dive deep into.

Steve: A lot of buzz is surrounding Pokemon Sword and Shield, have you had any hands-on time with it?

Andrew: Fortunately, I’ve played through the demo we’ve got at E3 a couple of times. I’ve watched many, many people play through it as well. It’s fun to watch people experience it for the first time. The demo itself takes you through one of the gyms. It has a little bit of a puzzle with other trainers that you battle against and then you go into a larger battle.

I’m sure you’ve seen the videos, literally one of the big features is the Dynamax Pokemon. I’m getting a real kick out of people’s reactions when that triggers in-game. Visually, it’s very, very stunning. You see what’s a normal-sized Pokemon turn 20-30 times the size of the original.

Steve: Are you aware of the following Yamper has after revealing him during the Treehouse segment?

Andrew: (Laughs) Yes, you know, what’s not to love? It’s funny, what we’ve found is that as Yamper is getting more and more love, you’re seeing people using Yamper in the Dynamax and that’s a cool sight.

Pokemon Sword and Shield are going to be interesting games because there are lots of new features. It’s a very interesting new region. It’s the Galar region, which I’m particularly interested in because it is based on the British Isles. So we’ve got big snowy mountains, we’ve got the Wild Area which is this massive, expansive land.

The interesting thing there is you’ll find a big range of Pokemon living in the Wild Area. They will change depending on the weather, or the location, so it’s going to be an area we keep going back to because we will get these different experiences each time we go there.

Bobby: I love the design. They’re proving to be a little more of the classic, first two/three generations. They’re resonating, people are loving the designs.

Andrew: When you get a chance to try the demo, there is a range of six different Pokemon available within the demo. They all have their own strengths and weaknesses. It’s a good introduction of what will be a new generation of Pokemon.

Steve: I’d like to draw attention to Luigi’s Mansion 3. One part that really stood out to me was Gooigi and the emphasis on optional co-op. Can you talk to us about how much of a role does Gooigi play in the game?

Andrew: Gooigi? Oh, he’s essential. He’s your big partner in the game! As an example, in the demo we have on the show floor, you get to a certain point where there is a walkway covered in spikes. There’s obviously no way Luigi can walk through that. Once Gooigi pops-up, Gooigi can walk through spike without a problem. He’s, you know, made out of goo. He can squeeze through gaps, walk through spikes. Once you control him through the spikes you can maybe trigger something to pull down those spikes.

There’s another puzzle in the demo where Luigi walks into an elevator. Then needs to use a Poltergust tool to blow wind onto a spinner, which will allow the elevator to go down. He can’t be at two places at one time. With Gooigi, now he can. Gooigi is an essential part of the game. You won’t be able to complete it without him.

From how Gooigi works in a gameplay perspective is you and I could be playing together, you could be Gooigi and I could be Luigi. Or I could play by myself and tap the right stick which would summon Gooigi.

Within the ScareScraper mode, up to eight players can take part in that. You’ve got four Luigis and four Gooigis and that promises to be very frenetic gameplay. It’s been very fun to watch people play Luigi’s Mansion. The game has a real personality about it. There are really small but cool moments. Like once Gooigi is done and you are summoning him back to the Poltergust, he gives you a little thumbs up. It’s a beautiful game full of character which I’m sure people will enjoy.

Bobby: Final question. Let’s talk about the Banjo-Kazooie reveal, what can you tell us about getting the approval for the cameo and the process to get this in Smash Bros Ultimate.

Andrew: I don’t have a lot of insight into how those decisions happen. Banjo-Kazooie, the original game, was a long time ago. There’s so much love for the characters and that’s a testament to what a great job Rare did when creating those characters. Banjo-Kazooie has become the classic non-Mario platformer. Everyone has such a strong feeling about Banjo.

When I knew Banjo would appear in the Direct I knew people were going to lose their minds. I’ve got to admit, I was excited myself. My gamer side came out.

Steve: I was going to ask, what was your reaction when you found out this was happening?

Andrew: I quietly punched the air.

Bobby: Thank you so much!

Steve: Yeah, thank you, Andrew.

Andrew: Always happy to talk.

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Steve is based in Toronto, Ontario. His enthusiasm and adoration of the video game industry go back to the days of SNES. Find him on Twitter and join in on the escapades.

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