Friday, 1 June 2012

Feature: My Predictions of Nintendo's E3 Conference [2012 Edition]

It's that time of year once again - E3. On June 5th of this year, only a few weeks away, many of us will be witness to Nintendo's press conference both online and, for those who are particularly lucky, in the seats of the Los-Angeles Convention Centre. Whether a gamer is only mere metres away from the likes of Reggie Fils-Aime, Shigeru Miyamoto and Satoru Iwata among others, or on the other side of the world, E3 is always a fantastical experience. Last year's conference was something of a disappointment. Following the mesmerising spectacle that was the announcement of the 3DS, alongside a massive line-up of brilliant looking Wii games back in 2010, the reveal of the Wii U, Nintendo's new home console, wasn't handled well at all. The entire conference was something of a shambles, with practically no new announcements (with the exception of Luigi's Mansion 2 and the full-on reveal of Super Mario 3D Land) and only new gameplay footage of titles we were already aware of. 2010 was so brilliant because of how utterly surprising it was. While many rumours surfaced before the show, nobody expected a new Kid Icarus, a brilliantly revolutionised Zelda game and a GoldenEye reboot among other brand-new, fantastic-looking titles. E3 2012 was very much the opposite.

Thankfully, similarly to the build-up to Nintendo's E3 2010 conference, we barely know what we're going to get this year. A number of rumours have found their way onto the 'net in the past few weeks (some more ridiculous than others, but more on that later) and we do know to expect what Nintendo are referring to as the 'true' reveal of their latest hardware, but other than these two factors we aren't enlightened of what is going to be revealed on the 5th day of next month. I, for one, am wholly excited about this. As aforementioned, it very much feels like it's going to be a repeat of the conference two years ago that was oh-so brilliant, and that's blatantly no bad thing. Yes, there is the chance that this year could be another disappointment, but let's not get all doom and gloom, especially on the run-up to the biggest gaming event of the year. In case you didn't deduce from the title of this post, the following paragraphs will make up the third edition of my E3 predictions, specifically regarding the Nintendo conference I've been banging on about up until now. In case you didn't catch the last two posts on this topic, you'll find them in the post archive to the right, but if you're looking to the future then read on. In the space of several paragraphs, I'll be discussing my thoughts on what has been predicted for Nintendo's conference this year, as well as my own silly predictions. Sit tight and start reading, and after that, share this post and drop me a comment regarding your own predictions! Now, let's start with the obvious, shall we?

The True Announcement of the Wii U
I don't want to keep going on about this, but the Wii U reveal of last year was ridiculously underwhelming and didn't get me too excited about the hardware. It's a clever idea, and visually the console seems like it's going to be a stunner (according to rumours, three times as powerful as a PS3) but I couldn't help but feel a little cheated, especially after the brilliant 3DS reveal one year prior. At their 2012 E3 conference, Nintendo are undoubtedly going to be showing off the hardware and its software properly, and the one way that they could have me develop excitement for it is to show some brand-new, first party games. The following suggestions might seem a bit ambitious, because they are, but regardless these titles would practically make my E3. First off, some of you may know that I've been playing F-Zero GX on GameCube recently, after abandoning it for a fair while. For a game on its platform, it looks obscenely good graphically, and while I don't consider visuals to be the number one aspect of game design as many others do, a new arcade racer starring the tight-suited Captain Falcon and his chums would be brilliant on Nintendo's new system. I reckon it would show off the visuals of apparently technically amazing Wii U, and prove to be a much-anticipated release if they do end up revealing it. Similarly, Mario Kart is perhaps the big N's most popular racing franchise, and a new iteration of that would be superb too. While I'm swerving in the direction of so-called 'casual games', a new edition of Wii Sports (or in this case, Wii U Sports) would also be great, as long as they don't waste too much time showing it off. Not everything should be about what are widely viewed as harcore titles, you know.

F-Zero's GameCube iteration really showed off the power of its system, and I reckon a Wii U version would do the same. Plus, it would please countless fans, for sure.
Moving into even more ambitious territory, I'd also like to see some of the new Smash Bros. game Sakurai was confirmed to have started work on last year. Granted, I do realise that these titles take years to develop and eventually release (not to mention the fact that Masahiro's team have only just finished Kid Icarus: Uprising), but a video-based demonstration, much like Brawl's debut, would be an absolute dream, despite the fact that the game might only be in early stages of development. This alone would warm up the chestnuts of my hype to near-perfect levels. At least some more word-based information; new characters, concepts and the like would still be an appreciated move from Nintendo. And now, we find ourselves on the most controversial grounds of all, namely being the fictious locale that is the recent rumour regarding a certain, unexpected Wii U game. Of course, I couldn't be referring to anything other than the Starfox and Metroid crossover that Retro Studios are apparently working on. To be perfectly honest, I don't believe this rumour in the slightest, despite the fact that it comes from a very trusted source (they rumoured the Playstation Vita's name before it was confirmed) but that doesn't necessarily mean I don't think it's a good idea. With Retro Studios behind the wheel, or rather intergalactic joystick, this odd crossover could prove exciting. The problem is that I for one can't imagine the slapstick, light-hearted StarFox universe seeping into the bleak, lonely franchise that is Metroid, at least in the form of a full game. A cameo would be much more realistic, so I'll state here and now that I believe this rumour might have some truth to it in that sense. We'll see in a few days time...

What we can definitely expect is something I've been predicting for the past two years: Pikmin 3. Last year, Miyamoto himself confirmed that his team were quite far into the development of this much-anticipated, albeit deceptive release as a Wii title. However, Nintendo's main man himself was so intrigued by the Wii U that he decided to move it over to that, to which I responded in my mind; Clever move, Shigs. Not only does this mean that we'll most definitely finally see Pikmin 3 with our own two eyes at E3 2012, but it also might end up a launch title for Nintendo's latest home system. Also to be expected are a number of third-party titles, the ones that completely filled up the Wii U rafters at last year's conference. Battlefield 3, Lego City Stories, Ninja Gaiden Sigma 3 - I don't have any love for these titles, but we might well hear them mentioned during the conference, among other previously un-announced titles from outside of Nintendo. One particular Wii U game that had me excited last year was Killer Freaks from Outer Space, a B-movie-esque shooter with a unique vibe from Ubisoft, which got a fair bit of coverage at the time. I expect we'll see or hear about more of this, too. Oh, and I can't discuss third-party Wii U titles without mentioning No More Heroes 3 - That's right, the third instalment in one of my favourite franchises of all time, the very same release that Suda51 himself stated that he'd love to develop for Wii U soon after the console's initial reveal. Not to rush the man, but I'd love to see what he's got in the pipeline quite soon.

Pikmin 3 is finally set to be revealed at this year's Nintendo E3 Conference. Despite having not played the first two games, I can't wait.
In short, the first-party titles that were frustratingly absent from last year's Wii U announcement would more than make up for the disappointing slip-up that was 2011's confusing and ultimately underwhelming console reveal. F-Zero, Smash Bros., Mario Kart, perhaps some brand-new Mario and Zelda titles... anything would be appreciated in my view, as long as it has come out of the big N themselves. As I mentioned in the introductory paragraphs, it's the unexpected, unannounced aspects of the Wii U that have me most excited for Nintendo's conference. Like shoving your mitts into a randomised pick 'n' mix, we don't know what we're gonna get, and that's exciting. Naturally, Nintendo themselves have had the Wii U dev-kits longer than any other developer, so they've surely had enough time to prepare something special for us at their conference this year. We'll just have to find out what delectable software-based treats the world's biggest name in gaming have in stock for us in the coming days...

The Future of the 3DS
Moving onwards, we find ourselves at the set of paragraphs in which I discuss what I reckon we'll see at Nintendo's 2012 conference in relation to the 3DS. Naturally, the 3DS has been out for a while now so we have a better idea of what to expect. The world's first stereoscopic handheld gaming device that doesn't involve looking through headache-inducing goggles has certainly gained momentum, particularly over the past half year, but can it keep it up? I certainly think so. We've still got a fair few exciting titles incoming, the likes of which include Heroes of Ruin, the English version of Professor Layton and the Mask of Miracle (or whatever they'll rename it, as per tradition) as well as many other third party releases that will most definitely have their own space in the LA convention centre, but what about the 3DS-related stuff we'll see on the show floor? What indeed. With the exception of the recently revealed New Super Mario Bros. 2 (which we all know I'm not too excited about), Nintendo's upcoming 3DS line-up is almost as elusive as that of the Wii U. Fortunately for me, this leaves room for more ridiculous speculation and cautious anticipation. It's blatantly obvious that we're going to see 3rd-party 3DS releases poured in by the bucket load into the rafters of E3 to start up some hype trains; namely for titles like Kingdom Hearts: Dream, Drop, Distance as well as the aforementioned Heroes of Ruin and Professor Layton's first 3DS iteration, all three of which Nintendo are backing, so they might well be mentioned at the conference. But what about the games developed by Nintendo and their subsidiaries?

Well, let's start with the obvious as opposed to the former paragraphs on the Wii U. As I mentioned, New Super Mario Bros. 2 is one of the few Nintendo-developed titles we know about that will undoubtedly pop up at their conference this year. As a matter of fact, I'd struggle to think of any handheld Nintendo titles that are set to come straight out of the company other than Mario's upcoming escapade. If you want to hear more about it, read my thoughts on the game as of a few weeks back, but in the case of this post let's just say you don't have to be a genius to predict that we'll see the game on June 5th. Expect a trailer, and maybe even some playable demos on the show floor, following the conference. And now, it's time to venture, once again, into more controversial grounds. As stated by Iwata last year, Sakurai was beginning work on a new Smash Bros. game for both Wii U and 3DS. As I mentioned in the Wii U segment of this post, a teaser trailer for the game would be an absolute dream, but some actual gameplay would be nothing short of the presumption that I've died and gone to heaven. Okay, that's a slightly excessive description, but you get the idea. Once again, I'm hoping we get at least a little bit of info regarding the game in a few days time.

As for 3DS-exclusive content, once again I'm going to go nuts with speculation since I don't have any leads to follow. Quite frankly, a new Zelda title for Nintendo's stereoscopic handheld would be mind blowing, especially among all the expected hype that would regard the Wii U judging that they show off a solid software library for that system. Back to the 3DS, I'd love it if Nintendo created another cel-shaded adventure for Link in the same ilk as Wind Waker and its two DS sequels. Like Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks, the game would have to make use of the 3DS' exclusive functionality; the 3D visuals (which could be cleverly implemented into puzzle solving in some way), the gyroscope, the built-in microphone and of course, the touch screen. The latter element was a big part of the two Zelda titles that appeared on the 3DSs father handheld, although, with the Circle Pad, I'd prefer it if the game didn't 100% rely on the touch screen, although the prospect is still welcome considering how solid the two titles that relied on it previously were. But alas, as proved by Ocarina of Time 3D, a fully-fledged 'over the shouler', traditional polygonal Zelda game would be brilliant. Here's hoping we see something like this at the conference.

Continuing the Zelda theme, I wouldn't at all mind it if they did another remake for the beefed-up handheld - specifically of Ocarina of Time's disturbing direct sequel, Majora's Mask. Operation Moonfall, a fan movement with a strong following, has proved that gamers do indeed want Ocarina's sequel revamped on the 3DS, just as the former was in such a slick, successful fashion last year. Back to brand-new 3DS software, we haven't heard much of Paper Mario nor Animal Crossing's 3DS iterations since they were first unveiled oh-so long ago. Of course, these two titles are still in development, but it would be nice to finally see some light shed on them at this year's E3, and if we're lucky, the announcement of a release date for both. I've never played a Paper Mario game, nor have I had the gumption to get into an Animal Crossing release, but I'm hoping to get into both with the upcoming iterations. Now, I don't want to stretch out this post too much, so I think it might well be time to wrap things up. This isn't that last you'll here from me regarding E3, however. Expect my thoughts on Nintendo's conference, as well as posts on individual titles from all three of gaming's major names in the coming days. For now, I bid you all adieu, and if you're treating yourself to a watch of any of this year's conferences, have a superb time!

Note: During the process of (swiftly) proof-reading this post, the Starfox-Metroid crossover was confirmed to be an idea considered by Retro Studios some time ago, but they decided not to work on it. However, this news confirms that the developers are working on something else that, at this moment in time, we don't know about. Exciting.


Kezz said...

I'll agree, last year's conference was a bit of a disappointment. The Wii U's reveal was handled rather poorly. Would be nice to see some first-party games this year.

A new F-Zero would just be brilliant, would really make my year. A new Mario game would be cool, too. And I think it'd be nice to see a new franchise, really. Also looking forward to seeing Pikmin 3.

As for the 3DS, I'd like to see a new Donkey Kong game, preferably a Country game. Would love a new Zelda title, and yeah, it would't surprise me if a Majora's Mask remake was revealed. I'd also like to hear more about Animal Crossing and Luigi's Mansion 2.

Anyway, great post. It's got me even more hyped for Tuesday. :3

Donkey Kong Jr. said...

Personally, I felt last year's show was incredible because of the games announced. I am rather indifferent for the Wii U. I just have a feeling it is going to be one generation behind , rather like the Wii was. What I am looking to see is some Zelda games for the 3ds.

Noodle said...

"I felt last year's show was incredible because of the games announced"

What games? With the exception of Luigi's Mansion 2 and Lego City Stories (neither of which were particularly major) there was absolutely nothing brand-new last year, and one of the strong points that makes a good E3 conference is by far the sense of excitement and anticipation you gain from the sheer surprise of unexpected titles. E3 2010 was mental because almost every game was brand-new, and the 3DS was more than the icing on the cake. As opposed to this, 2011 was frustratingly tame, and the Wii U reveal was a shambles.

Noodle said...

Well folks, it seems I got a few things right once again this year. I was disappointed by the lack of Starfox, F-Zero or anything like that, but the more I think about the possibility of either of those games being announced this year, the more I doubted it. And I was right to doubt it, I guess.

However, that was a thoroughly enjoyable conference for the most part, and you'll find out why later on in the month when my E3 Impressions land...