News on the Next Smash Bros. Game
Ask any die-hard Nintendo fan what their most anticipated game on Nintendo Switch is and Smash Bros. would probably come up in the conversation. The franchise-blending fighter is a perfect fit for Nintendo’s new hybrid given its versatile multiplayer functionality and portability. After the successful port of the Wii U Mario Kart 8 game, it seemed a shoe-in that we would see Super Smash Bros. Wii U follow suit. It’s likely that the time has come and gone for an announcement of a Wii U port on Nintendo Switch so instead we look to the future of the franchise.
It’s reasonable to predict that Nintendo has some plans for the next entry in the series and that we will at the very least hear some details this year. Whether that is just a name announcement like Metroid Prime 4 received last year or a full reveal is anyone’s guess. It’s worth noting that previous Smash Bros. games have featured a lengthy marketing campaign in which each character is announced one by one so even if the game is a while out, Nintendo is likely to get the ball rolling in 2018.
Labo Will Sell Like Hotcakes
Say what you want about Nintendo but they never do what you’d expect. Last month’s announcement of Labo, Nintendo’s foray into the toy/build kit market, was met with equal parts head-scratching and pure childlike wonder. While some questioned the durability of the cardboard-based designs, others simply saw Labo as being a great toy which kids will undoubtedly love. The toy-con sets launch Apr. 20 worldwide and are expected to sell in great numbers. This strange toy/gaming hybrid is a veritable shotgun blast at multiple demographics and markets. Kids love to build things, they also love video games. There’s also the arguably larger market of Nintendo fans, now parents, who will purchase the kits in the hope of igniting a passion for gaming within their little tykes.
As new details continue to be revealed, and the imaginations of Nintendo fans everywhere run wild, there’s a palpable excitement growing as launch day approaches. Additional experiences and support will largely be based on the sales successes of the first two Labo sets so there’s no doubt that Nintendo will put a lot into the marketing and promotion in the coming months.
Shiny New Joy-Cons
If Nintendo is smart and wants to literally print money in 2018, new Joy-con variants seem a smart way to go. Last year saw the release of a few new colors in the Splatoon and Mario Joy-Con editions but this is just a small piece of the pie. Fans will obviously still go crazy for new controller colors, they always have, but Nintendo finds itself in a very new unique position in that it has a back-catalogue of beloved legacy controllers to pull designs from. Imagine GameCube Joy-Cons featuring that signature yellow C-stick, or even an N64-themed line donned with bespoke buttons. From purely cosmetic themes to more in depth configuration options, there’s a lot the company could do with the humble Joy-Con.
Nintendo can make subtle design changes to the Joy-Con and in turn do what they do best, turn nostalgia into cash. Being that each side of Joy-Con can be different, the possibilities for different combinations are endless. 2018 will absolutely see new designs in one form of another, most likely tied in with the launch of whatever flagship titles Nintendo has up their sleeves for this year.
The Indie Gold Rush Will Continue on Switch
Of all the business strategies Nintendo employed when launching the Switch, its focus on indies was arguably one of the most important. Many games have been given a second chance on Nintendo’s hybrid console, with many developers reporting that their game’s sales on Switch have eclipsed those on other platforms. The lure of being able to take a library of high-quality of indie titles on the go is a powerful one which has no doubt helped pushed many units during the Switch’s dry periods.
2018 will continue this gold rush of acclaimed and quirky indies on Nintendo Switch, which will likely continue to be a lucrative platform for developers looking to reach a new audience. This year has already seen a number of fantastic indie games releases in the form of Celeste, Night in the Woods and Shu, so if the rest of the year carries on at the same pace, we could be in for another awesome year with Nintendo Switch.
Pokémon for Switch Will Be Announced, but Won’t Be What Everyone Is Expecting
During a Nintendo Direct last year, Nintendo confirmed that a mainline Pokémon game would be coming to Switch. Further evidence from an earning’s call pointed towards a 2018 release date, with rumors circulating that the pressure is on Game Freak to get the game ready for launch this year. It’s nothing new that Nintendo fans are hyping up a game release but this one seems particularly tricky to pin down. Many have pointed to the reinvention that Breath of the Wild brought to the Zelda series as a possible direction for this first ever home console Pokémon game. There’s little argument that we will hear more details on the new entry into the series this year but what form it will take remains unclear.
It might be more accurate to look at the way the series has iterated in the past. Generally, each new release builds upon the game before, tweaking and improving certain systems instead of re-inventing the wheel. Games like Diamond and Pearl debuted on new hardware and made use of the new features available, but didn’t represent a quantum leap. It is much more likely that we will see this incremental step this year rather than the mind-blowing open world Pokémon game certain fans are expecting. It’s important to note that while the Switch is indeed a home console, it is still a handheld, a factor which will no doubt factor into the scope of Pokémon Switch. One thing is for certain though, this beloved series sells incredibly well and is particularly good at pushing new systems, probably why Nintendo is so eager to get it out sooner rather than later.
A Multiplayer-Centric Game Will Launch Alongside the Nintendo Switch Online Service
The end of last month saw Nintendo finally set a date for the launch of Nintendo Switch’s online services. The service will be mandatory for players wanting to access the online functionality of their games, something which has been free up until this point. Problem is, Nintendo Switch has yet to have a killer app in regards to online play. New games like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Splatoon 2 had healthy player numbers at launch and still continue to attract a substantial proportion of players but are unlikely to attract anyone new to the service. To coincide with the launch of the online service, it would be smart, crucial almost, for Nintendo to have a new online-centric experience to lure new players in and keep current players around.
People have speculated that Smash Bros. is a likely candidate for said launch game, given its popularity among the competitive fighting scene and its multiplayer functionality. Unless Nintendo comes up with a new game or collection to warrant the service’s $3.99 a month price tag, the online service will upset and splinter the player base, placing even more pressure on them to deliver.
Continued and Increased Third-Party Support on Switch
The last decade or so have been a rocky ride for Nintendo in terms of third-party support. Both the Wii and Wii U suffered from under-powered processing resulting in poor third-party ports or games being completely absent. Nintendo Switch is still under-powered but to a lesser extent this time around, something which has shown to bolster its library in terms of third-party support. Bethesda in particular has shown Switch some love, bringing Skyrim and Doom to the platform, with Wolfenstein II coming in 2018. As more companies take note of the strong sales of Bethesda’s titles, along with old games like LA Noire from Rockstar, we will see more and more third-party support for the platform.
Rockstar seems to be the one to watch, having seen fairly decent success porting LA Noire. GTA V previously ran on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 so it could definitely run well on Switch. Of course, not all ports are created equal, something which 2017 proved in the form of several sports franchises. WWE 2K18 was marred by performance issues and FIFA 18 launched without many features included in the versions released on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. For better or worse, we are going to see more and more third-party games on the Switch in 2018, let’s hope that they fall more in the Skyrim category than in the WWE camp.
A New Retro Console Will Be Released
Nintendo has always been able to profit on the nostalgia of its fans and nothing proved this more than the release of the NES Classic back in 2016. Widespread scarcity and a holiday release ensured that this new version of the beloved classic was the hot ticket item on launch day. One year later, Nintendo released the SNES Classic to even greater sales success, once again selling out everywhere and leading to many angry op-eds from frustrated fans. Following this trend it seems that Nintendo is primed to release another retro console this holiday season. The obvious contender is an N64 Classic. Goldeneye, Mario 64, Ocarina of Time would all come built in and ensure yet another success story for Nintendo.
Another option is a Gameboy Classic Edition. Packaging 25 or so of the greatest Gameboy games into a tiny little emulator would be truly awesome and perhaps appeal to a larger audience, given the handheld nature. There isn’t really a good reason for Nintendo to stop the trend of dipping into their back-catalogue of legacy consoles, the only question is what comes next.