A new IP.
Doesn't that just feel good to read? A new IP. Pikmin was proof enough that Nintendo has enough creative juices left to wow us. Earthbound's likely not coming back – just ask Shigesato Itoi – nor does it have Mario's mass appeal, and we're not confident that a new evolution for Balloon Fight or Ice Climber would do the trick (but we're willing to let you prove us wrong, Nintendo!) So, why not create a new IP?
Think back, if you can, to a time before Mario. Yes, it existed. It's even been documented. What if the present day was like that time, but for a new IP that can exist alongside Mario? Nintendo can make that happen. It would certainly excite many if instead of trying to continue re-inventing old franchises – not that we're complaining about Donkey Kong Country Returns or Kirby's Epic Yarn — Nintendo created a brand new set of characters. Those and many more titles made 2010 the year of retro revival. Will we remember 2011 as the year that, instead of Nintendo breathing new life into something old, the year that Nintendo brought something altogether new to life?
Nintendo should, and will, show off plenty of great games for the 3DS at E3 2011. Perhaps it'll announce a brand new Zelda game, perhaps footage of the next Super Mario title will look to contain heretofore unknown levels of fun, and perhaps Star Fox 64 3D will continue to show us that it's more than the re-make its title implies. These are all things that it can, may and ought to do. These are all things that we would love to see.
But what Nintendo should do this year is a slightly different story.
Nintendo should, and can, recapture the magic of the Nintendo 64 era by advancing titles in exciting and imaginative new directions like Mario 64 and Ocarina of Time did, not just by taking those modern classics and giving them a new coat of paint – no matter how great that paint looks or how few pairs of glasses you need to see it.
The Big N can save its well-loved and well-worn franchises like Mario Kart from stagnation by evolving them at their cores, by ascertaining their essences, what makes them great, and improving them in ways that only the 3DS can.
Nintendo should create a new and exciting IP and make Kid Icarus: Uprising into a system-defining title instead of simply a great on-rails shooter. The only face that consumers associate exclusively with the 3DS as of now is the steely front section of a submarine. The small but mighty Pit would fit perfectly as a mascot for the 3DS, and perhaps there's something brand new up its sleeves that would suit it even more.
Nintendo surprised and enchanted us with the 3DS one year ago. Hopefully, at this year's E3, it will enchant us once more. It should, and it can.
But will it?