Nintendo at E3 2017: What to expect
While Nintendo has taken a step back from the world of live E3 press conferences the Japanese giant is in no way disengaged from E3. In fact, as other companies have waxed and waned their level of commitment Nintendo has been pretty loyal to the show outside of the live conferences.
They always have a massive stand with a few big games on offer, and the live show slot has in recent years been replaced by a Nintendo Direct or 'digital event' - a pre-recorded show that holds similar sort of content to a traditional live conference that goes out a little before the show opens.
While Nintendo has ruled out a traditional press conference as with the past few years, they're still going to have an enormous presence at the show. This year that presence is driven by the Nintendo Spotlight: E3 2017 event, a digital showcase of sorts that'll have all the content you'd expect from a press conference but in a pre-recorded fashion. That'll be streamed live Tuesday morning LA time right before the E3 show floor opens, making Nintendo the last company to go live with a press conference of sorts. You can find out when and how to watch it over on our page of all the E3 press conference and livestream times and dates.
Out on the show floor Nintendo once again has one of the biggest stands on the E3 show floor, and the company has everything to prove this year: after strong performance from the Nintendo Switch out of the gate at launch, Mario's creators now have to prove that it can keep up that momentum with a steady string of new games.
But what should we expect from Nintendo at E3? Here, we go into the announced games we expect to see more of at the show - plus speculate about what unannounced gems could be revealed at E3 2017.
Super Mario Odyssey
Let's get the obvious one out of the way right out of the gate: Nintendo has already confirmed that we'll learn more about Super Mario Odyssey, the recently announced latest adventure for the king of Nintendo's varied and overwhelmingly famous suite of characters and properties.
Mario Odyssey is particularly exciting because after many years of 2D New Super Mario-style titles and 3D-but-linear games in the vein of Super Mario 3D World, Odyssey is set to be a return to the original 3D Mario formula, with the hub worlds and open-ended design of games like Super Mario 64, Sunshine and Galaxy set to make a return.
Fans currently have a lot of unanswered questions about the game, such as the setting, which at least for one stage sees Mario outside of the Mushroom Kingdom and in a more realistic-looking pastiche of New York City. Given that place is called New Donk City, will Donkey Kong and crew appear? Will Luigi be playable? Just how will the level structure work?
There's a lot to answer, and E3 is really the pefect time to start talking about Mario Odyssey as it ramps up to its Holiday 2017 launch window. After the revelation that was Breath of the Wild, I'm very excited to see if Nintendo can reinvigorate Mario in the same way.
Splatoon 2 and Arms
I've actually decided to group these two together, since they have a bit in common: they're both competitive games from Nintendo featuring new characters, and I think 3D fighter Arms has a pretty strong chance of becoming this generation's Splatoon, sharing in the same sort of success the first Splatoon did back on Wii U.
Splatoon 2 is a new package that seems to be a pretty standard iterative sequel on the Wii U title's content. One can hardly argue with that when Splatoon was so good - more of the same is fine by me.
Arms meanwhile is an all-new and interesting take on the fighting game genre that's like half Punch-Out!! and half Tekken, or something. I really enjoyed it when I played it. You can play it with motion controls or with a regular pad, though tellingly Nintendo is yet to actually show the latter off properly. That'd be a good thing to show off at E3.
Both are due out relatively soon after E3 - Splatoon 2 is due out on July 21 and Arms is being released right after the show on June 16. Whatever events Nintendo holds, you should go into them fully expecting one last marketing pitch for these two games - and honestly, they're both pretty damn fun, so you should pay attention.
Xenoblade Chronicles 2
Xenoblade is a well beloved series and for good reason, though I have to admit... I was a little disappointed with Xenoblade Chronicles X in some places. I loved it, but there was just something about it that didn't quite capture the magic and wonder of the first game on Wii, and so I'm pretty glad to see the series returning to that setting for a proper sequel with Xenoblade Chronicles 2.
We don't really know much about Xenoblade Chronicles 2 yet. Back when it was first announced at the pre-launch Switch presentation I had the same reaction as many: That's nice, but it won't be out for ages. Come on now. This is being made by Monolith, who also had to dedicate resources to helping with Zelda, after all.
Nintendo is sticking to its guns, however: it keeps saying, over and over, that the Japanese RPG is due out some time in 2017. So, huh.
If that's the case, time is running out to show it. E3 would be the ideal time - we still know extraordinarily little about what Xenoblade Chronicles 2 will actually be.
Fire Emblem Warriors
This one seems to be getting forgotten in the grand scheme of things - but then again Fire Emblem is no Zelda. Fire Emblem Warriors follows on from Hyrule Warriors, though this time Tecmo Koei's musou team is giving the Fire Emblem series its unique hack-and-slash treatment.
In a little twist compared to most Switch games, it's multi-platform - there's a New 3DS version too.
A bit like Xenoblade Chronicles 2, Fire Emblem Warriors was announced alongside a slew of other Japanese games at the pre-launch Switch conference that Nintendo held.
Since then word has been quiet, but official Nintendo channels around the reveal slated the game for an Autumn 2017 release. There's been no argument otherwise as yet. E3 would be an ideal time to lift the curtain.
The 3DS Lives On
While the Switch appears to be doing pretty well for itself, Nintendo isn't yet quite done with the 3DS.
They of course just announced the New Nintendo 2DS XL out of pretty much nowhere - that's out in July, so no doubt E3 will be used to show the new hardware revision to fans.
Aside from that, however, the 3DS actually has a load of stuff coming up and a fair number of them are almost sure to show up at E3. These include:
An action RPG from the creator of Square Enix's Mana series. Out June 23.
Miitopia is a Japanese RPG that stars Miis. Yeah, really. It's out July 28.
A new Pikmin game with a new 2D style, this might not quite be the Pikmin sequel you're looking for, but it's a new twist on a now-classic Nintendo IP hitting on July 28.
Layton's Mystery Journey
There's a new Professor Layton game - and it's actually not strictly speaking a Nintendo exclusive, since it's also coming to phones. The 3DS version is out in Japan in July and will come West sometime this year.
Nintendo's going to publish Capcom's Monster Hunter Stories in the West later this year.
Aside from these there are other titles - and Nintendo is rather likely to announce all-new 3DS games, too. Some classic Nintendo series' could easily support a new 3DS entry - we're already getting a new Fire Emblem, but how about something like a new low-budget 2D Metroid?
New Switch games: the 1st party games and port speculation
Arguably the most important mission for Nintendo now is to ensure a steady and impressive flow of software for the Switch to keep up the impressive launch momentum it has already built. That goes for first and third party titles, but Nintendo arguably has to lead from the front with a strong first-party suite of games.
Rumours have remained strong about certain Nintendo games possibly set for a rerelease for a while now - Wii U titles that didn't find as large an audience as they deserved on that struggling console but might find a new lease of life if improved and put out on the Switch.
That seems to have worked tremendously well for Mario Kart 8 Deluxe - the game netted Nintendo its first UK number 1 in several years and generally seems to be selling incredibly well. Splatoon 2, another game that builds heavily on a Wii U release, shows all signs of being on track to do well, too.
But what's next? Well, we have three ideas of games that are likely to be ported and could well show up at E3...
Pokken and Pokemon Ultra Sun & Ultra Moon - but is there more to come?
Pokemon Sun & Moon are a pretty excellent Pokemon package and have pretty much everything you'd want - but it'd be easy to make the argument that the duo were mildly held back by the ageing 3DS hardware. Luckily, one rumour has persisted pretty much since the games launched: that they're coming to Switch as Pokemon Stars.
Nintendo appeared to squash those rumors just days before E3 when they announced Pokemon Ultra Sun and Pokemon Ultra Moon - enhanced versions of Sun & Moon, yes, but with one crucial caveat - these are Nintendo 3DS games. Meanwhile, fighter Pokken tournament is coming to Switch, but that's hardly what fans were hankering for.
Pokemon Sun & Moon included files that when data-mined pointed to cut features, and even an early trailer for the game depicted a developer working on a 3D model way too detailed for the 3DS to handle. GameStop's initial listing for the Switch hardware mentioned Skyrim and Pokemon for the machine - and of course, the former was later announced. Finally, the chaps over at Eurogamer managed to source even more details on the port - it's from them the Pokemon Stars name comes.
So - will some form of Pokemon Sun & Moon come to switch, or is Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon the be-all, end-all? Time will tell, but maybe E3 would be a nice place for a surprise.
Mario & Rabbids RPG
While this is just as likely to show up at Ubisoft's E3 festivies, one of the current worst-kept Switch secrets is a Ubisoft and Nintendo tie-up that sees Mario cross-over with the Rabbids, who of course began as characters in the Rayman games but quickly become a popular character in their own right.
The RPG is supposedly called Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, and is said to be a turn-based RPG in the style of the Mario RPG series of games and is coming from Ubisoft but with Nintendo's supervision. This title was rumoured months ago from some of the same people who called out things like Smash Bros, Skyrim, Pokemon Stars and Splatoon for Switch, but the rumour has recently been raised again and corroborated by outlets including Kotaku. There's an awful lot of smoke around this one, so it's very likely true.
Super Mario Maker
Seriously, if Nintendo don't put this out on Switch with improved online sharing and the like they're actually mad. It's one of the best games ever made, for god's sake.
Super Smash Bros. for Switch
Look. Nintendo needs to do this - it's no-brainer, and it honestly seems like it might already be on the way. Nintendo of America boss Reggie Fils-Aime acknowledged there was a strong desire for Smash Bros on Switch back in March.
Prior to that, prominent Switch leak reporter Laura Kate Dale from Lets Play Video Games also claimed that sources had informed them of a Smash port that'd arrive within a few months of the Switch. Dale has a mixed record with Switch leaks but nailed a number of major things, and we're inclined to believe that Smash is on the way.
Smash 4, or Super Smash Bros for Wii U and Super Smash Bros for Nintendo 3DS, is a weird game. For a start its content is split between those two different platforms. While they share the same cast of playable characters, the games feature different stages and different single-player offerings with a little overlap here and there. I was distraught to discover that Corneria, one of the best classic Smash levels, was 3DS exclusive.
On top of this the existence of a 3DS version of Smash 4 meant that the game made some sacrifices. The Ice Climbers duo who've been present in every Smash game since Melee were cut, for instance, because the 3DS couldn't handle that many characters on-screen at once. The game has also changed quite a lot thanks to DLC - and more people deserve to see and experience the madness that is Ryu, Bayonetta and Cloud in Smash Bros.
The competitive scene for Smash 4 is also growing more vibrant, with the game set to appear on the main stage at the EVO fighting game championship this year. Smash is always a major seller for Nintendo, and so putting out a 'definitive' version of this game that unites the content from both versions and perhaps adds in a few extra characters and stages (the return of the Ice Climbers is a no-brainer, as would be a Splatoon Squid Kid) seems like a natural next step. This game has been rumored since the Switch was announced, but it'd certainly be a quick and easy way to get Nintendo fans even more excited for the holiday season.
Virtual Console Rumours: is it finally time?
One major Nintendo staple is missing from the Switch: The Virtual Console. This has been a feature on every major Nintendo system since the Wii, and it seems unlikely that it's going to stop with the Switch. In fact, the system's on-the-go nature makes it all the more perfect for some of the live pausing and save state action most of the Virtual Console emulation allows.
It's clear from some of the system updates that have been adding in fairly rudimentary functionality that the Switch had elements of its user interface rushed to get it ready for a launch before the end of Nintendo's 2016/17 fiscal year, but now the machine is beginning to look more complete it might be time for the virtual console to finally resurface. The most recent statement from Nintendo simply said "more information" on the feature would be available in the future.
Before the Switch launched there was a major rumour that had fans hot under the collar: a report from the folks over at Eurogamer that suggested that GameCube games would be arriving on Switch via the Virtual Console. While there are issues to work through such as the lack of analog triggers on the Switch (something which theoretically makes Super Mario Sunshine unplayable, for instance) it does seem like the next natural conclusion for the virtual console. Gamecube discs are only 1.5 gigabytes in size, so Gamecube games are perfectly reasonable downloadables in this day and age.
Eurogamer's report suggested the service would launch with Super Mario Sunshine, Luigi's Mansion and Super Smash Melee, with Animal Crossing to follow. This is the perfect line-up, and in E3 hype terms would blow some people's minds. But, guys: Don't forget F-Zero GX, please.
Switch & Third Parties: Nintendo must send the right message
The first-party ports and new games are one thing, but Nintendo does have another, much more difficult task ahead of them in order to secure the future of the Switch: they have to convince third party developers to join them on the machine.
There's already some token support coming from companies like Bethesda and some franchises that are a perfect fit for Nintendo are locked in from SEGA and others. What Nintendo needs to do more than anything, however, is nail down even more support. EA, for instance, needs to provide more than just FIFA (a Mass Effect Trilogy remaster on Switch would be a dream), one hopes Ubisoft will deliver more than their Rabbids RPG and Just Dance - and this sort of thinking goes for a lot of publishers.
There are a few games we're sure will pop up at E3 to keep an eye out for reveals around and impressions of if you're a Switch owner, though. These certs aren't exactly exciting, which is why we hope to see all-new stuff. Likely stuff to appear from 3rd parties includes:
Since being shown in the Switch reveal video and later announced properly at Nintendo's blow-out event, Skyrim on Switch still remains a bit of a question. Will it be the remastered PS4/Xbox One version, or the original? Will it have mod support so we can have singing bears? (Pictured) We need to know. E3 is the time to show us.
Sonic Mania & Sonic Forces
To be honest I think one of these (Sonic Forces) looks crap, but the other, Mania, seems to be everything I've wanted since 1994 - a Sonic the Hedgehog game in the style of the first 5 entries in the series, built as a sort of 'what if' - what if we'd gotten a traditional Sonic game on the Saturn, using the Saturn's power? It looks amazing, and is a perfect fit for Switch.
Dragon Quest Heroes & Dragon Quest 11
Square is bringing Dragon Quest to Switch, and while the series is still growing in popularity in the West it's massive in Japan. Nintendo has supported Dragon Quest greatly in the past, so I wouldn't be surprised to see them support and push this Japanese RPG hard.
Ubisoft announced a Switch port of their middling extreme sports game ages ago, but everything has gone quiet. After the game's so-so reception on the other machines, is it still happening? Will it be improved?