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I remember saying at last year’s E3 that 2014 was going to look good because so many games were launching then, and I may be correct. The 2014 games for Wii U at least look pretty solid, and that’s just the games we know about.
And the system needs it. Nintendo just released their forecast for 2014 and after selling only 6.17 units since launch and they only predict to sell 3.6 million more Wii U consoles in the next year. Though I predict that low number is to make themselves look good when they reach that milestone thanks to games like Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros., 3.6 million is still not a great number. With E3 around the corner, we’re hopeful that we’ll see something that’ll help the system out.
That brings us here. What should you expect from Nintendo at E3, and what kind of mystery projects should we expect to see unveiled there?
What Will We See At E3?
Super Smash Bros.
Nintendo’s been pretty obvious about what their biggest focus titles are, and that’s Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros. With Kart out soon, that only leaves the multiplatform Smash for 3DS and Wii U, and they are making it a big deal. Nintendo is having a Smash Bros. Invitational at the Nokia Theater and everyone who attends the Best Buy event also gets first dibs at trying the console version out. The thing is other than new fighters and perhaps the unveiling of the Wii U exclusive mode, if any, there’s not much to discuss. We all know what Smash is and there isn’t much that can be said about it.
There isn’t much to learn from Bayonetta 2, other than when it’s coming out, but Nintendo and Platinum have been very quiet since we saw the story trailer earlier this year. It shouldn’t be long for this one since they promised a 2014 date.
Monolithsoft’s Next RPG (dubbed X for now)
This is my most anticipated title since Xenoblade was one of the best RPGs I have ever played. This new title, X, seems to stick to the same style that made Xenoblade fun, but with bigger monsters, mechs and beautiful scenery. Maybe there will be some sort of push that’ll make good use of the Wii U, whether that’ll be online co-op or perhaps some neat GamePad usage, but I’ll be excited either way. I hope you RPG fans are too.
This spinoff of both Zelda and Dynasty Warriors has many excited since it’ll be a very different take on the adventure series’ traditional puzzle/defensive combat formula, and it’ll serve as an intro to the Warriors franchise for those who never thought they’d be playing a hack-n-slash. It probably won’t be Nintendo’s focus title, heck they aren’t even publishing it in Japan, but it’ll serve as a nice distraction and another game on Zelda fans’ shelves. It should be launching in the west this year since it’ll be out in the summer in Japan.
Other Announced Wii U Games
Right after the Wii U released, Nintendo started making these Nintendo Directs a regular thing, and the first big Direct happened in January 2013. We saw a massive amount of info on future Wii U games get announced like X, Wind Waker HD and two titles that we haven’t heard from since: Yoshi’s Epic Yarn (or Yarn Yoshi) and Shin Megami Tensei X Fire Emblem.
They’re still under Nintendo’s release schedule, with TBD (To Be Determined) as the date, but it’s strange that well over a year and still nothing new to discuss is pretty odd. Yoshi is being developed by Kirby’s Epic Yarn-dev Feel Good, and has been their only known game in development since Kirby back in 2010, so there’s almost four years for this studio to pop out a platformer. SMT X FE is being developed by Atlus, who was recently bought be Sega, but I doubt that the game halted during any of the buyout purchase. If they aren’t here at E3 in some way, a year and a half later, then maybe we should be worried.
Nintendo 3DS Games
Now to many of you this may be a surprise, but we should all predict that the 3DS version of Smash will sell much more than the Wii U one. First of all, there’s a heck of a lot more 3DS owners, plus each person needs a copy for multiplayer (and one Wii U copy can satisfy a few); so though the Wii U version seems to get a lot more screen time, expect Smash to be a bigger deal on 3DS.
Other than that, we only have the recently announced Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire to keep the system relevant, though that will only satisfy current 3DS owners since Pokémon fans bought it last year for X/Y.
Other than these, despite being big titles, we got nothing. Hopefully some gaps, like new and different franchises, will be filled so that the 3DS user base can expand, because there’s not much other than what’s already out to satisfy people.
What Surprises Should We Expect?
Last year, The Pokémon Company teased something that looked like a HD Pokémon installment, but with Lucario and Blaziken squaring off. Well apparently it might be a Pokémon version of Tekken if these latest trademarks are to be believed. It would make sense with the teaser that perhaps the game would star Pokémon’s primo fighting types like Hitmonchan or Smash Bros. newbie Greninja.
Animal Crossing Wii U
Last year, we saw the Animal Crossing Plaza launch fro free on the eShop, and they were very blunt stating that it’ll only work between launch and the end of 2014. Makes one think why they bothered rendering all the 200+ characters available in Animal Crossing: New Leaf on Wii U tech just for this little, and in all honesty, useless app?
Zelda Wii U
And of course there’s Zelda. Other than Hyrule Warriors, we’re expected to see the first Wii U-original Zelda sometime soon since both Wind Waker HD and Link Between Worlds have been squared away last year. I won’t be afraid of admitting that I’m worried about this because after the beautiful tech demo we saw in 2011, I extremely doubt that we’ll see this Zelda using that artistic style. It’s sad because Americans want that style too, and it’d be nice if Aonuma catered to a western audience with it, especially after Skyward Sword left a weird taste in everyone’s mouth.
The game is also slated on Nintendo’s release schedule, so perhaps it shouldn’t be much of a surprise.
There have been rumors, mainly by IGN’s Nintendo team on Twitter, saying that Nintendo will have some new hardware to show at E3. Because of the vagueness, we have no idea what it could be: if it’s the non-wearable QOL (quality of life)-enhancer Iwata hinted at earlier this year, a new 3DS iteration, or something different entirely. While people were guessing, Nintendo did sent out a tweet stating there will be no hardware announcements at E3. So who are we to believe?
The thing is that I don’t think, at least where I’m getting at with the QOL tech, that E3 is the place to unveil something of that style. If it’s a non-gaming device, it’ll be safe to believe that they’ll make their own event like Apple’s WWDC. Either way, the last thing Nintendo should do is distract people from the Wii U.
If there’s any hardware announcement to be had at E3, it’s the unveiling of the NFP, which stands for either NFC Featured Platform or Nintendo Figurine Platform. Announced tonight, this will be a “platform” of sorts to expand gameplay onto NFC-chipped devices, much like Skylanders or Disney Infinity. Unlike those games, Nintendo has a wider focus on the usage of the NFC tech than to just have it for gaming purposes. For example, this diagram Iwata showed had a Mario figure being used for several different games to exchange data of sorts, including save data. This tech is to be used on the GamePad’s NFC reader by year’s end, and a 3DS portal that’ll be transmitted via IR (again much like Skylanders on 3DS) is in the works for a 2015 release.
Yes, this could wind up being a Skylanders-like game for Wii U that attract that audience to the console, and thus to similar third-party titles like Skylanders Trap Team and Disney Infinity 2.0, as well as other games like Smash and Sonic Boom. On the other hand, it could be the start of something bigger with the tech, but we’ll have to wait until E3. Though if it is, and it’s some sort of Nintendo Land-like successor with the ability to buy Mario, Link and Samus figures as playable characters… my wallet will cry this holiday.
Again, Nintendo has a lot of ground to make up, and single-handedly since much of the third-party support dried up quickly. Will Nintendo continue struggling this generation or will they launch a killer app that’ll save the Wii U? Sadly we have to wait a few weeks until E3, so make sure to keep an eye out here when we cover Nintendo’s E3 Direct and beyond.