Poor Nintendo. They were the biggest name in gaming through the Nintendo 64 but just lost traction along the way. Sure, the Wii was a sales success but they lost third-party support along the way and that hasn’t changed with the underpowered Wii U. That being said, Nintendo was probably the top first-party developer and publisher last year and this year’s E3 presentation hopes to help them retain the title.
In terms of system sellers, with Zelda Wii U being pushed back to 2016, Star Fox for Wii U will be the big title that Nintendo will release in time for the 2015 holiday shopping season. While the series has been effectively on hiatus since the GameCube’s Star Fox Command in 2006, the goodwill left over from Star Fox 64 nearly 20 years ago means that this should still be a big mover for Ninty.
One trap that Nintendo might fall into is using the Wii U’s GamePad a bit too much and Star Fox turning into more of a tech demo than a game. Last year’s teaser of Star Fox showed the cockpit view on the GamePad and the GamePad being used as a motion controller. Hopefully some options are shown to use the thumb sticks and to show the cockpit view on your TV rather than the GamePad.
What I haven’t heard about is multiplayer for Star Fox Wii U (or a better title but Star Fox anything will sell). If there’s some multiplayer, a little pre-recorded demo would be welcome here.
Xenoblade Chronicles X is already out in Japan but we still don’t have a release date for the rest of the world. Considering that Xenoblade Chronicles for the Wii was a critical smash hit, I can’t imagine the sequel will go as unnoticed by gamers this time.
What might be interesting to watch is how much emphasis that Nintendo puts on Xenoblade. With Zelda pushed back to 2016, that might move Xenoblade into the #2 slot for Nintendo this holiday shopping season.
While this year might be the 30th of the release of Super Mario Bros., Nintendo doesn’t have much planned for Mario. There is a planned launch of Mario Maker (a spiritual successor to the SNES’ Mario Paint). It’s just a creation tool to create your own Mario levels.
For those of you looking for something a little more M-rated, Devil’s Third should be getting an update after debuting at E3 last year. The third-person shooter was salvaged by Nintendo as part of the THQ bankruptcy and will be a first-party exclusive.
One what-if that has people talking is whether Pokken Tournament will leave the Japanese arcades and make its way to consoles. The Pokemon fighting game made as a collaboration with the people behind Tekken certainly looks cool. That and the home consoles always seem to lack Pokemon content. Any sort of Pokemon game on the Wii U is likely to sell like hotcakes.
A few regular Nintendo franchises could be making an appearance at E3. The most likely is an Animal Crossing game on Wii U. Considering how wildly popular New Leaf was on 3DS, it’s not hard to imagine that Nintendo would be working on a Wii U Animal Crossing with the expectation of coming close to the near 18% attach rate that New Leaf has on 3DS.
The other vintage Nintendo franchise that’s being suggested as due for a Wii U revival is F-Zero. If you thought it was a long time since we last saw a Star Fox game, it’s got nothing on an F-Zero game. That franchise hasn’t had a release since 2004 but has been kept in mind though inclusion in the likes of Super Smash Bros. and Mario Kart. At some point, a revival is bound to happen. I’d imagine that they wouldn’t want it getting too close to Mario Kart to avoid any risk of MK overshadowing F-Zero.
But if anything is going to make headlines, it would be a surprise reveal of a new Metroid game. The Metroid series has long been a staple franchise of Nintendo but I’m not sure that it’s ever been thought of that way by the general public. The last Metroid game (Other M) was actually the worst reviewed Metroid game since Metroid II on Game Boy in 1991.
Two things not to expect from Nintendo at E3 are new consoles and mobile games. While Nintendo has openly talked about working on their next-generation console, they won’t be talking about it here. I suppose that would be similar to Sony and Microsoft not talking about the preliminary work they’re certainly doing on their next-gen consoles.
The deal with DeNA and the prospect of Nintendo IP and games on mobile devices won’t be talked about either. While gamers are certainly interested in what we might get from Nintendo/DeNA in the mobile world, I’d imagine we’ll see that as part of another Nintendo Direct when there is a bit more to announce.