E3 Predictions Part 1: Nintendo

The easy thing to do here would be to list the much wanted F-Zero/Metroid/Pokemon MMO etc etc pipe dreams. A good place to start would be to rule out possibilities.

Firstly, there will be no new Zelda. Obviously Breath of the Wild dlc will be present but a stand alone title is out of the question. Speculation on the next Zelda is a story for another day but don’t expect Link to have any surprises at E3 2017. Secondly, anything with the word ‘Wii’ in it. Recent Switch releases like a Boy and his Blob have simulated Wii-mote pointer controls with the Switch joy con. As exciting as this precedent being set is, Nintendo really needs to distance itself from the zeitgeist of the Wii and all it stood for. 

Finally a Switch price drop is out of the question. Why would they with the console perceivingly selling like hot cakes?  The only related announcement may be for Wii U – still retailing at £240 in some places, only £40 less than a Switch – however we’d imagine this would be done stealthily without an online event to keep focus on the new console.

Time to rule some in. We know Mario Odyssey will be there as will Splatoon 2. But what about surprises from the house of Mario?

1. Online 

We’ve explored Ninty’s potential strategy for the virtual console component of Switch previously at pennilessdads. At this point, there are a few points to note. We already know there will be a free trial component including a NES and SNES game each month – which will include online features. If the virtual console service was going to exist in its Wii/Wii U/3DS form it would have been ready at launch. The expected rebranding as ‘Nintendo Classics’ moves away from the indication of retro releases remaining untouched. Expect the price to be considerably less than PS Plus and Xbox Live Gold subs. Voice chat on smart devices will be highlighted along with a possible UI update to facilitate a wider range of online features. 

2. Smash Bros for Switch

Following the success of Mario Kart 8’s port to Switch, expect more to follow. This is an easy win for Nintendo and would represent more value for existing Smash owners if the Switch version combines the Wii U and 3DS versions. All dlc would be included too along with the return of the Ice Climbers. The question would be timing. The Summer is already filling up (odd to say that about Nintendo..) with Arms and Splatoon 2 which would only leave the holiday season. Mario Odyssey is out around this time too. At best, expect a September – November dovetail between the two games. With the delay of Red Dead 2, there is room for other games to muscle in just before Xmas.

3. SNES Classic 

Much rumoured and following on from the in demand NES Classic of last year. This is another easy win for Nintendo but is not dead cert. They need to significantly increase Switch production – seemingly a reason the NES Classic was discontinued – yet this may distract. A curveball may be releasing the NES Classic content as a retro collection akin to Rare Replay on Switch. Another point to consider is; is the SNES as ‘retro-chic’ as the NES? Will the general public have as much nostalgia for a machine from the 90s as the 80s?

So there are the big 3 announcements we expect from Nintendo at E3. We’ve gone with conservative optimism yet it is worth noting that this is Nintendo’s to lose. Although not in the market lead, they have an awful lot of buzz surrounding them following a surprisingly positive Switch launch. No doubt Sony and Microsoft R&D are exploring their own hybrid, portable prototypes (Switxbox? PlaySwitchOn?). Nintendo should take a leaf out of Sony’s book though with the ‘year of dreams’ announcements. Just once it would be great for Nintendo to give us what we want; loan Metroid to Yacht Club Games, get SEGA on F-Zero GX 2, give us Mario Sunshine HD and solve world hunger. You never know…

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