Nintendo has been riding the fence recently, with the 3DS continuing its reign over the handheld market while the Wii U continues to falter and fumble. Things started looking up for the home console with the massive surge of Wii U sales thanks to Mario Kart 8‘s release, but there’s still a lot of work to be done before they’re back on the right track, and E3 is just the place to lay down the groundwork for such change.
Here’s a look at what we can expect to see and hear in Nintendo’s corner of the E3 world this year.
The Obvious Stuff That We Know
When Nintendo made their big E3 event announcement, it was full of incredibly vague information like “Nintendo Treehouse” and “Nintendo Digital Event,” detailing the ways in which they will be working the show this year, with no real confirmation on the kinds of games or updates that will be shown there. The only real news let out was that they will be hosting a Smash Bros Invitational Tournament, and that the new Smash Bros for the Wii U will be playable at select Best Buy locations across North America in addition to the show floor. Other than that Ninty has been fairly tight-lipped.
One other bit we know is that the next proper console Legend of Zelda, following the Wii’s swansong Skyward Sword, will be presented in some way, shape or form; likely just a title card and brief cinematic demo. Still, series producer Eiji Aonuma teased late last year that they would have more information on the Wii U Zelda game at E3, and we fully expect him to keep his word.
Aside from that, all of the 100% confirmed Nintendo tidbits we know come from the few outside developers working with the Wii U and 3DS, which is an incredibly short list, to put it lightly. We know Theatrhythm Final Fantasy Curtain Call will be playable in the Square Enix corner, and recently received its release date and E3 trailer to be shown.
And according to the recently announced SEGA line-up, we will be getting further looks at upcoming hedgehog adventures Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal for the 3DS, and Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric for the Wii U. Uh… get hyped?
Yep, that’s about it. That’s all we KNOW know. Now let’s look at what we’re PRETTY SURE we know. This is where speculation gets very beefy.
The Likely Stuff
Back to Smash news, we know they are splitting up the releases of the 3DS and Wii U versions, and we know that the two versions will connect in some way. All that’s left to say, aside from new character confirmations (which, to be completely honest, would be nice to have a few unannounced surprises to unlock upon the game’s release), is a solid release date for each game and the way the two games will interact. It’s safe to say we’ll get those answers, likely resulting in a mid-July 3DS release, with the Wii U counterpart to drop in November, just in time for a Black Friday Wii U bundle including a limited edition Super Smash Bros-branded GameCube controller and necessary router. Oh yeah, and the solo-GameCube controllers will undoubtedly be given a price point and release date alongside the game.
On the back of that we’re likely to be introduced to Nintendo’s first line of NFC figures, which according to Nintendo of France‘s Stephan Bole, will be utilised in the Wii U version of Smash. I reckon we’ll see the likes of Mario, Link, Pikachu and Kirby on display, with the possibility of Samus, Yoshi, Donkey Kong and Luigi. Surely, then, we will also be given more specific details on how they plan to integrate the NFC figures with this as well as future titles.
Another solid bet is that we’ll get concrete release dates for upcoming potential-hits Hyrule Warriors – the Zelda-meets-Dynasty-Warriors amalgamation, and Bayonetta 2 – the long-awaited Wii U exclusive whose predecessor never made it to a Nintendo console, each with new trailers sure to make fans drown in salivation.
Things would seem pretty amiss without updates on other titles announced last year, but barely touched upon since then. Monolith’s Xenoblade successor X is due for an update, potentially a proper name, and hopefully a release window (especially since we were told at E3 2013 that the game would be releasing in 2014 and we’ve heard nary a peep since January’s trailer), and some Shin Megami Tensei X Fire Emblem news would feel right at home as well. And does anyone remember how adorable Yarn Yoshi looked? Unless they canned the idea, I expect we’ll see more on that in a couple days as well.
What Won’t Be There
A couple months ago Nintendo announced a sort of 10-year business plan outside the realm of video games, with which they hope to improve our quality of life. It only seems logical, when you think about it. Sony was an electronics business well before it brought us the PlayStation, and Microsoft of course gave many of us our first computers a decade before the Xbox was conceived. As such it only seems sensible for the masters of Mario to enter a greater world than that of side-scrolling platformers and fantastical role-playing adventures. And while the Electronic Entertainment Expo doesn’t explicitly limit them to just showcasing new games, the fact of the matter is that’s what people follow E3 for. It is essentially a video game announcement centre, and they won’t be opening up about their future plans outside of games department just yet. No, that will surely merit an announcement all of its own, separate from an expo such as this.
More on the topic of games, we won’t be hearing more news on Pokemon Alpha Sapphire and Omega Ruby just yet. They apparently already have plans to give the upcoming 3DS remakes time all to themselves the following week. Perhaps we’ll hear a confirmation or denial or the rumored Delta Emerald at the same time? Regardless, they won’t be at E3 in any substantial form.
Now comes the really fun part. The potential greatness, the wishful thinking, and the maybe-just-maybe.
Since the 3DS HD remake of Ocarina of Time, fans have been yearning for Majora’s Mask to receive the same treatment. Instead we were given the very different, but still extremely quality Wind Waker revamp for the Wii U. Surely the inclusion of Skull Kid as a new Smash assist trophy and last year’s best Club Nintendo Platinum reward being the complete Majora’s Mask soundtrack have been clues leading up to the eventual announcement of Majora’s Mask 3D. Right?
And speaking of HD remakes, it would come as no shock at all if we were presented with more GameCube classics coming our way with a shiny new makeover, such as Super Mario Sunshine or Star Fox Adventures. I mean, they already gave Star Fox 64 the 3D remake treatment like Orarina; if they’re not going to do anything new with the series, the least they can do is update an old favorite for us.
Another old favorite series we’ve yet to see on the newest Nintendo home console is Mario Party. We saw the mildly successful Mario Party Island Tour come to the 3DS late last year, but it’s been two years since Mario Party 9 hit shelves near the end of the Wii’s life. We know Nintendo firmly believes in living-room multi-player, and Nintendo Land showed us the potential of 5-player mini-games, and it just seems like now is the right time to bring Mario Party into double digits. I’m calling it now – Mario Party 10 will be revealed at E3, with a release window of early 2015.
On a separate note, Nintendo has slowly entered the world of DLC in the last couple years, bringing new levels out for games like Pikmin 3 and Sonic: The Lost World, along with new songs in Theatrhythm Final Fantasy and an entirely different take on Super Mario U, with Luigi as the protagonist. This leaves the door of possibilities WIDE open for bigger titles, sure to bring them a bit of extra income that we all know they need. New Mario Kart 8 tracks and racers? Extra fighters and levels for the new Smash Bros games? It could happen.
As much of a love-hate relationship I have with downloadable content, I think it would be the perfect way to bring new and exciting options to the games well after their releases. Let’s say Mewtwo didn’t quite make the cut – bring him out next year as DLC. Bayonetta’s just a tad too racy for the children playing Smash? Give her a price tag of $3-$5 and let her fans download her. Mega Man replaced Snake as the big new third-party member? Bring him back as a cross-promotion when the next Metal Gear game comes out. Even if it doesn’t come to the Wii U, Nintendo can still profit from the excitement of the new game. Think about it. It’s just as likely as it is unlikely.
Finally, since Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire aren’t getting the attention at E3, surely there needs to be SOME sort of representation of these monsters at the event. They’re just too huge a part of Nintendo’s success to ignore. And with the Wii U struggling like it is, it needs more heavy-hitters like Kart and Smash. But no, they’re not ready to bust out the open-world Pokemon title everyone’s been begging for, not just yet. What to do?
Pokemon Snap celebrates its 15th anniversary this year, and a sequel announcement would be the best way to both attempt a more open-world Pokemon title without it being the big game-changer they need and we want, as well as turn that cult favorite into a fully fledged classic with an army of new fans. When the original game released two of the major complaints were the lack of levels and lack of Pokemon. Of the 151 creatures then known, a mere 63 of them (or 42%) made it in. With a whopping 719 Pokemon now listed in the complete National Pokedex, the same percentage would get us a roster of AT LEAST 300 in the follow-up. As for the levels, they could let us travel to the Kanto region to snap out early favorites, Johto for the sophomore champions, and work our way through select parts of the many regions right up to X and Y’s Kalos in order to catch ‘em all on camera. I mean, X and Y’s very first gym leader, Viola, is an avid Pokemon photographer. Just try telling me with a straight face that there’s no way they could tie this in with Pokemon Snap 2. You can’t do it, can you? You can’t do it, because it’s a damn lie.
Is this my dream game? Yes. Is it likely? No. But is it possible, and would it be the best for Nintendo to do in the last decade? In this grown man’s eyes, absolutely. It would make my E3, and it would make my year.
What would make yours?