Nintendo at E3 - Predictions & Fantasies
By Vishaal Bedi
Friends, as we approach E3 and our excitement hits a fever pitch, it’s time to start dreaming big about what the Big N has up it’s sleeves for the rest of 2018 and beyond.
E3 is by far my favorite time of year on the video game calendar of events – all the top gaming companies in one place showcasing the latest and greatest to leave us salivating about their upcoming releases. The last few Nintendo E3s have been dedicated to specific games (Breath of the Wild in 2016 and Super Mario Odyssey in 2017), and the company have announced that the big focus this year is Super Smash Bros.
Personally, I would love to one day go to E3 now that the general public is allowed to attend certain parts of the conference but until that time, I will continue coming up with all sorts of speculation and crazy ideas for what we can expect to hear about and see at the conference. Ready?
As already mentioned, we know Nintendo’s event and booth will be themed around the upcoming Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo Switch. There will also be Smash Bros. and Splatoon 2 tournaments as part of the festivities. This will be our first real look at Smash Bros. for Switch, including gameplay, characters, the different game modes and (hopefully) the inevitable release date.
We’ve already started hearing details about Nintendo’s online service, the associated costs and that will continue into E3 with the announcement of new games and how the whole ecosystem will work together. It’s not unrealistic to believe that Smash Bros. will release alongside Nintendo’s new online platform.
Outside of this, everything is up for speculation and debate – which is where our fun begins!
Nintendo 64 Classic Announcement
We've previously talked about predictions for any N64 Classic Mini’s games lineup. It was around June of last year that we received official confirmation of the SNES Classic Mini, and it's possible that we will hear a similar announcement during E3 about it's follow up. Just include four colourful controllers in the package and I’ll be a happy camper!
Prediction: Will be announced during E3 and released in September.
Since the early days of the Switch, there have been talks of a true open-world Pokémon RPG. Rumours have been swirling around whether a Pokémon RPG game will spotlight Nintendo’s holiday lineup. Last week, Nintendo finally unveiled their plans for the latest entry in the Pokémon series – and it’s a familiar one. After several weeks of speculation, Nintendo confirmed Pokémon Let’s Go Pikachu and Pokémon Let’s Go Eevee. Both are essentially a reimagining of the 1998's Pokémon Yellow, though we’re told that a brand new Pokémon will show up when connected to Pokémon Go.
Another title, Pokémon Quest was also announced for Switch and mobile, involving cube-ified Pokémon. This game only features first generation Pokémon for the time being. On the back of these announcements, Nintendo confirmed that the brand new core Pokémon RPG announced at last year's E3 is coming sometime in late 2019.
A true open-world Pokémon RPG would be incredibly appealing. In my head, I’m visualizing the beautiful anime art style and vast open-world of Breath of the Wild, but in a Pokémon universe.
Prediction: Will see more hands on gameplay for Pokémon Let’s Go Pikachu and Pokémon Let’s Go Eevee but no new information about a brand new core Pokémon RPG game until sometime in early-mid 2019.
Since the release of Animal Crossing for mobile, there have been talks of a dedicated Switch title. The last we really saw of the franchise was New Leaf on 3DS - the Wii U didn't get any love from Tom Nook and co at all! As of yet, we haven’t heard anything definitive about a Switch entry, and it’s possible Animal Crossing could be pegged as a this year’s holiday game. Though given that Pokémon Let's Go Pikachu/Eevee are now slated for that release window (and Pokémon is the bigger sell after all), I’m not expecting to see both of these games come out this year.
Prediction: Possibly discussed as part of a 2019 release window.
Super Mario 3D Maker
Did you notice the subtle difference in the title? Yes, you guessed it – 3D! Super Mario Maker fulfilled our childhood dreams when we would tell our parents and friends that we too could make amazing, fun Super Mario levels. At least that’s what I used to think until I started making my own ill-fated stages, forming a newfound appreciation for Shigeru Miyamoto and all the designers at Nintendo who’ve ever made a Mario game. Super Mario Maker has since been released on the 3DS and there’s no doubt in my mind that it will come to Switch sooner or later.
With many of the recent Wii U ports, Nintendo has been trying to include additional features to help entice those gamers who may have already played these games during the Wii U era. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe added the much needed battle mode, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze added Funky Kong, so it follows that Nintendo would add something to Super Mario Maker to make the game feel new and fresh again.
How do you do that? Well, having the ability to now make 3D Mario levels or at least use the art style from Super Mario 64 would certainly be a refresher. Super Mario 64 is more than 20 years old now, and the Switch should be more than capable of allowing the creation of 3D Mario levels.
Prediction: Will be announced during E3 and released for fall 2018.
Metroid Prime 4
We can’t talk about E3 predictions and not mention the bounty-hunting elephant in the room. Nintendo fans lost their minds just from seeing a logo last year. Not much is known about the latest entry in the Metroid Prime series and how it links - if at all - to the previous games in the series. I don’t expect this game to release at all in 2018, more likely this is going to headline Nintendo's 2019 holiday lineup. Given the hype around this game, I do expect to see some screenshots or cut scenes from the game at the very least, though a bit of gameplay would be really nice. You can’t just drop a Metroid Prime 4 logo and then not talk about it at all for two years right!?
Prediction: Will be discussed in some form at E3 but no firm release date.
Metroid Prime HD Trilogy
Another confession from me – because I never owned a GameCube when it was originally on store shelves, I never played any of the Metroid Prime games, nor did I grab the Wii edition since I bought a Wii at the latter stages of its life cycle. The Nintendo 64 was my first Nintendo console, and because there was no Metroid game for that era, I never really experienced it the way others who had a Super Nintendo before me.
A Metroid Prime HD trilogy makes perfect sense for those who never had the opportunity to play the original releases. They'd also serve as a great refresher for those who did play them, to get us 'primed' and ready for the next instalment in the franchise.
Prediction: Will be announced and given a 2019 release window.
Mario Party 11
I still remember my first Mario Party game when the series launched in 1999. That game kept me busy for hours and was especially fun with friends. However, the Mario Party franchise hasn’t fared as well with its recent iterations. The Switch though, is a new era, and I’m hoping we hear about a new Mario Party game sooner or later that returns to the roots of the original trio on the N64. It would be interesting to see if there is any Labo integration e.g. a cardboard board game setup and/or something in conjunction with amiibo.
Prediction: Announced at E3 with a fall 2018 release.
Yoshi Switch was announced at last year's E3 as a 2018 title. We've heard nothing about it since, so I fully expect we will be receiving all the details related to this game and its release date during Nintendo's presentation. The Switch needs games for the summer, so I can see this game releasing during July or August. It will be interesting to see more gameplay of this game as it’s a departure from the yarn art style used in the Wii U's Yoshi's Wooly World.
The cardboard art style raises the spectre of possible Labo integration. The game also reminds me a lot of Kirby All-stars in the sense that it looks to be a simple game that tailors for the younger demographic – not that I wouldn’t have fun with it.
Prediction: Released during summer 2018.
Mario Kart Tour
Thus far, Nintendo’s foray into the mobile gaming world has produced mixed results. Super Mario Run was a good example of what Nintendo can do with their popular franchises on mobile, and I had been waiting to hear about a Mario Kart or Smash Bros. related mobile game. Well, Nintendo delivered with the announcement of Mario Kart Tour during January's financial results briefing. It remains to be seen what exactly the business model for this game is – whether it’s free to play with micro transactions to get upgrades or new karts etc. or just a one-time purchase a la Super Mario Run.
The announced release window is anywhere between now and March 2019. Nintendo has had issues with delays for their mobile games and given the broad release window, I’m not expecting to hear much about this game - especially if it isn’t launching in 2018. It's pretty easy to build hype on a Mario Kart game, so announcing all the details shortly before the release would work well enough.
Prediction: Will not be discussed at E3.
As an aside, there have been rumblings of when we will see Mario Kart 9 given that Mario Kart 8 Deluxe was mostly a pure port of the Wii U version with the added battle mode. I would love to hear an announcement for Mario Kart 9, but Nintendo has so much in the pipeline for the rest of this year that I don’t see them giving us more karting action until sometime next year.
Given the immense popularity of this game, It makes perfect sense for Nintendo to capitalize on it's success. It's already available for every other platform, including mobile, so getting it onto Switch shouldn't pose too much of a challenge. Given that the game recently showed up on the Korean ratings board, this one is a fairly safe bet I reckon. We'll soon be hunting down those Victory Royales on Nintendo's hybrid system, just you watch.
Prediction: Switch release date announced for 2018.
With the recent release of the Labo kits, I have to believe that there is going to be more Labo integration with Switch games going forward. That or possibly new kits, so I expect to hear some Labo related news at E3.
Prediction: More Labo kits announced for 2018.
So, we’ve spent a lot of time talking about some of the safer predictions we're likely to see at E3. Now it’s time to go into a few of the more edgier ones, and indulge a few fantasies of games we'd love to see. Get your popcorn ready.
Final Fantasy Tactics (Square Enix)
For anyone who’s played the original Final Fantasy Tactics on the original PlayStation, or the updated version on the PSP back in 2007, you’ll have fond memories of this classic grid-based RPG game. Over the past decade we’ve seen stronger ties between Nintendo and Square Enix. Two Final Fantasy Tactics games were even released on the Gameboy Advance and Nintendo DS, albeit not with the same gritty tone as the original.
Given the upcoming release of Square Enix’s Octopath Traveler this coming July, E3 would be the perfect time to announce a new Final Fantasy Tactics game exclusively for the Switch. Personally, I’d love to see that classic 16-bit art style mixed in with the 3D effects that are being used for Octopath Traveler.
Super Mario RPG 2 (Square Enix)
Yes, you heard it here first at Nintendo Village. It’s been over 20 years since Square and Nintendo collaborated on Super Mario RPG. Nintendo’s decision to stay with game cartridges for the N64 over the increasingly popular CD-ROM’s cost Nintendo their relationship with Square Enix (Squaresoft at the time). Although that relationship has long since been mended, we’ve never really heard anything about both companies partnering up for a true sequel to Super Mario RPG.
The reason why I bring this up today is because of the most recent success of Nintendo and Ubisoft for Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle. That partnership worked very well and I think Nintendo is increasingly comfortable letting other companies work with their franchises. I’d love to see Square Enix take another stab at a truly deep, Mario-based RPG game today given their strong expertise in that genre.
Batman: Arkham Series
This is personally something I would love to see, especially Arkham Asylum and Arkham City. Both were on previous generation consoles (PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360) so there’s no reason why the Switch can’t handle at least these two games.
I remember playing them for the first time and being in awe of what I could do as Batman. It really made me feel like I was the caped crusader roaming around Arkham, and choosing between when to be stealthy and when to use brute force.
The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD
This is another game that many people may have missed out on during the Wii U era and would be perfect for on-the-go gaming. It's an easy win, being a straight port of a game that was perfected with it's last gen release. Following the success of Breath of the Wild, more Zelda would easily sell like hot cakes, especially a title as revered as Wind Waker.
This is a no brainer for me. Mario Tennis is the bigger sell between the two, and I think Nintendo would like to see how Mario Tennis Aces fares before committing to a Mario Golf title, but this would be another great addition for the Switch. Add in a story mode and an overall deeper golfing experience (no gimmicks!) and I can see a new Mario Golf game doing very well.
There have been rumblings that a new Wave Race game could be in the works for the Switch. Wave Race has always been a hugely fun jet-ski racer and would make for another great party game to supplement those Mario Kart battles. This and/or a new 1080 Snowboarding game would make a tonne of sense.
Dragon Ball FighterZ
This is an interesting game. Dragon Ball FighterZ would find a decent home on the Switch, but given that Nintendo is focusing a large part of their conference and booth to Smash Bros, I don’t know if they want to show or talk about a competing fighter that could impact on sales for Smash Bros. this fall. It’ll be interesting to keep an eye on this one, but we'd still love to see it.
There you have it, my somewhat predictable and outlandish predictions for this year’s E3. I would love to hear your thoughts on which games you’d like to see announced for the Switch so fire away down in the comments!
Vishaal has a background in Engineering, advocating for users through design research and storytelling. The Nintendo 64 was his first Nintendo console and he’s been a Nintendo kid at heart ever since. His favorite Nintendo game is Super Mario Galaxy 2.