Nintendo has taken a non-traditional approach to E3 over the last couple of years, preferring to release a Nintendo Direct video prior to the opening of the show floor instead of holding a press conference on site. That said, the company’s announcements each year have still generated a lot of excitement among the Nintendo faithful, and the argument could be made that a livestreamed video sent directly to the fans is a better distribution model for these kinds of reveals in 2015.
At any rate, this year’s E3 is less than a month away, and the Big N has already started building hype for its upcoming slate at the show. Among the many announcements of announcements made in the last couple of weeks, we learned that the company is bringing back the Nintendo World Championship at this year’s event, an homage to the company’s past.
We also know, unfortunately, that The Legend of Zelda Wii U will not have much of a presence at the show, with the game delayed until 2016 so that Nintendo can expand the scope of the title even further. The absence of what was the most anticipated Nintendo title in development is a big blow, but Nintendo should still have some big reveals up its sleeve.
Here’s what we expect (and hope) Nintendo will announce at this year’s Super Bowl of video games:
New Zelda Trailer
Yes, Nintendo said the game wouldn’t be playable at E3, and some took the announcement to mean the game is being pulled entirely. But it’s hard to believe the company would just go radio silent on a title this anticipated. The developers were quoted as saying that the game is being retooled to include even bigger and better ideas. It would be nice if we could get even just a brief glimpse into some of the things they have in mind. I’d put my money on a surprise trailer at the end of the Nintendo Direct. Heck, even a 30 second clip will be enough to get ardent Zelda fans frothing.
Star Fox for Wii U
Speaking of surprise game reveals, the fact that Shigeru Miyamoto was working on a new Star Fox for the Wii U was one of the biggest reveals at last year’s show. The game is expected to release this year, and with Zelda now off the calendar, this could arguably be the company’s biggest holiday release. Nintendo loves to let their developers talk about their games in these Nintendo Directs, and it would be great if we could watch Miyamoto himself play the game. Let’s also remember that even though Nintendo doesn’t have an official press conference, they will have a booth on the show floor. Expect a Star Fox for Wii U demo in all its glory and more in-depth coverage from the Nintendo Treehouse.
Pokemon is one of Nintendo’s most popular and also profitable franchises. The games have come the closest to hitting an annual release schedule like one might see from the likes of Call of Duty or Assassin’s Creed. Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire were released last year, but those were remakes of already existing games. Expect an entirely new set of games, most likely once again for the 3DS.
With that said, don’t forget that Pokken Tournament, a fighting game by Bandai Namco and The Pokemon Company, is in development for Japanese arcades and will be released later this year. It’s probably too soon for a North American release date, but we could at least get confirmation that the title is getting a Wii U console port.
Nintendo’s consoles have never been known for third party support, but every once in a while, they snag a good one. Bandai Namco teased Project Treasure as a free-to-play 4 person co-op game exclusive to the Wii U that was announced back in January. It’s being helmed by Katsuhiro Harada, the famed director of the Tekken series. Nintendo usually doesn’t give a lot of screen time to games made by other companies at E3, but if Project Treasure is shaping up nicely, expect a presentation from Harada himself.
Bravely Default 2 and Bayonetta 3
We’re grouping these two games together because the franchises in question were arguably two of the better exclusives developed by a third party on the 3DS and Wii U respectively over the last couple of years. Bravely Default 2 just released last month in Japan, so expect an announcement about localization.
Bayonetta 3 is more of a pipe dream, but hopefully Nintendo executives paid attention to the stellar reviews the Wii U exclusive Bayonetta 2 received, and will green light some more over the top, overly sexualized, crazy combat.
We’ve known for a while that Retro Studios has a game in development for the Wii U, but we have no idea what it could be. Please be Metroid, please be Metroid, please be Metroid…Then again, perhaps the studio is more inclined to come up with an entirely new IP this time around.
The DLC release of new tracks and characters in Mario Kart 8 has been a great success, and we wouldn’t be surprised to see some new packages announced. You can also bet all of your coins and 1-Up Mushrooms that we’ll get some reveals for new characters in Super Smash Bros.
Project: Giant Robot, Project: Guard, & Whatever Other Crazy Stuff Miyamoto Comes Up With
It was also announced last year that Miyamoto was working on a couple of smaller games that would take advantage of the Wii U Gamepad, in addition to his work on Star Fox. Perhaps these ideas have been fleshed out in the past year, and we’ll get a new collection of small games to download off of the eShop.
Xenoblade Chronicles X and Fire Emblem
Some Xenoblade fans in North America are probably still playing through the port of the Wii’s Xenoblade Chronicles for the New 3DS, which released earlier this year. But they will definitely want to find time to watch Nintendo’s E3 announcements as additional details on sequel Xenoblade Chronicles X are sure to come out. A release date is likely, as the game is already out in Japan.
RPG fans who aren’t in love with Xenoblade might still have something to chew on, as Nintendo may also reveal details on Shin Megami Tensei X Fire Emblem, as well as Nintendo’s upcoming Fire Emblem sequel for the 3DS. Details on both games are scarce at the moment, but E3 will likely change that dramatically.
Animal Crossing: New Leaf was a massive hit for the 3DS, which is why plenty of fans are looking forward to more details on Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer, even if it’s not quite a full sequel. Happy Home Designer is more of a spinoff when compared to the rest of the series, as the player will spend most to all of their time decorating and designing homes for various villagers.
The house decorating aspect has been a fan favorite part of the Animal Crossing series for years, but it will be interesting to see how much depth or longevity the game has when the focus is narrowed down like this. Happy Home Designer will also be the first game to support Amiibo in card format, and will be released alongside the game.
Speaking of Amiibos, E3 seems like an opportunity for Nintendo to address the worldwide shortages that collectors have been dealing with pretty much since the toys were released. There’s no question that Amiibo has been a huge success, and we fully expect some announcements regarding new figures to be made, but what a lot of fans will be looking for is some kind of indication from Nintendo that they are going to try harder to meet the massive demand.
Mario Maker was one of the hot topics coming out of E3 2014, but most of the demos were controlled by Nintendo employees at the Nintendo Treehouse. This year, the game is expected to be fully playable on the show floor, and Nintendo is also showing off the game at Best Buys around the country. Mario Maker has the potential to be a real killer app for the Wii U Gamepad, something the system really hasn’t had yet. If it’s a massive success, it might even open the door for an entire “Maker” line of games.
We have to categorize these last two entries as “wishful thinking” simply on the fact that Nintendo has stated that it will not talk specifics about their new mobile games or NX console until 2016. Still, it’s really hard for us to imagine that the Big N won’t even mention their new projects. Right?
A Glimpse at Mobile
Much was made about the fact that Nintendo has partnered with an outside company to develop mobile games based on its IP and characters. That relationship is still in the early stages, but don’t be surprised if someone mentions some concepts or possibilities for upcoming titles. Nintendo’s stock took off when the mobile announcement was made, and investors will be looking for at least something from the company in this area before the show is over.
Calm down, it’s not going to be a big reveal. Nintendo President Satoru Iwata won’t even be at this year’s show. But we do know that Nintendo has talked about wanting to expand its audience and has frequently mentioned that “health” will be involved in its future plans. It’s also been said that NX will be a “new concept” and not just a simple replacement for the Wii U or 3DS. We also know that despite some stellar games released over the last year, the Wii U is still struggling and investors are getting impatient. Moving some Nintendo mascots to smartphones will help, but the company has reason to push forward towards the next big thing.
Iwata once teased the original Wii by asking the E3 crowd if they were ready “for a revolution,” a full year before anyone ever heard of the Nintendo Wii. The Nintendo Revolution ended up being the Wii’s codename while in development. Perhaps we’ll get an appearance from Iwata on the Direct, planting another similar seed for what’s to come at at E3 2016.
What do you think of our predictions? What games do you think will be announced? Let us know in the comments.
Follow Jason Gallagher on Twitter @MuckrakerJG.