After a wait of nearly two months since the previous Nintendo Direct, the big N caught us off guard with its announcement of the next broadcast — for one it gave a lead-in time of four days, well beyond the standard 24 hour notice. Not only that, but after the wait for the follow-up to the presentation on 13th February, it's surprising that it's dedicated to a single game, two if you consider the fact it's multi-platform on Wii U and 3DS. Perhaps it's simply because that subject matter happens to be Super Smash Bros. that there's not been more disappointment expressed that, unless the broadcast goes off topic, a number of projects lacking firm release dates will go ignored.
We'll see soon whether this Direct will have a laser focus on Super Smash Bros., but assuming that will be the case it needs to deliver — coming out so early with a presentation on these games raises expectations, after all. The positive is that much is still a mystery about these new titles, with so much unknown that Nintendo has a real opportunity to blow the doors off and grab attention.
We certainly hope this Direct will have a major impact, so below are some details that we want to be revealed, should Nintendo be successful and knock this one out of the park.
This is arguably the most vital piece of information, especially with the combination of eager fans and the internet already churning out loose rumours of these releases being delayed into 2015. It seems highly unlikely that Nintendo would even contemplate dropping this game out of this year considering the daily screenshots and the fact this Direct is even happening, but the company needs to quash baseless speculation once and for all.
It's also needed due to the uncomfortable reality that — once Mario Kart 8 arrives — very little is actually dated for the Wii U beyond loose '2014' windows, with the 3DS also having limited options from May onwards. If a Summer / Q3 release is possible the level of anticipation may explode, but even a confirmed Holiday release would assuage fears. This is a must for the presentation.
Update — a post on the official Japanese Twitter account for Smash Bros. suggests a firm release date is unlikely, but rough release windows are possible, based on a web translation. Thanks @shibbyduckegg
Update 2 — Nintendo of America has now tweeted a message that it hopes we'll "tune in to learn about the launch window for the next #SmashBros., and much more!".
Cross-Platform Features and a Price Promotion
It can be argued, with some justification, that Nintendo would be wise to release both the Wii U and 3DS versions at full price and count the profits. The demand is such that this would likely work well in a financial sense, but we also want to see the big N make good on its promises earlier this year that it'll reward loyal, enthusiastic gamers with discounts and new pricing schemes.
We already know that, barring a major reverse in course, cross-play between the two versions won't happen, by which we mean multiplayer between one player on a 3DS and another on the Wii U — we can dream that this will change, of course. However, with character lists matching across both and customisation supposedly on the agenda, it's not beyond possibility that characters could be buffed up and customised (maybe even Miis?), with progress shared between versions of the game using a simple process of online synchronisation; we have the Nintendo Network and IDs, after all. We find it hard to believe that some hook won't be included to tempt us into buying this title on both the Wii U and 3DS.
With that in mind we hope for a unified price promotion — across all regions — to reward the loyalty of those that buy both. The eShop is an obvious option, using our ID accounts so that when we buy one of the versions we get the other at a heavy discount — buy the Wii U version for $60 and get the 3DS entry for $10, as one example. It's extra incentive that tempts gamers that may not feel they can stretch to both at full price, while rewarding those that intended to do so anyway. Regional teams could naturally arrange physical retail deals, perhaps including a software bundle with both titles in the box at a cheaper rate than the separate items.
Not only would this scheme tempt those on the fence into owning both — in addition to perhaps influencing some 3DS-only owners to consider a Wii U system, too — but would be a thank you to those already on board.
Final 'Initial' Character and Stage Line-ups
We'd be surprised if there aren't any additional character reveals, and we'd like it to be the final 'initial' lineup. We'd certainly like to propose that Nintendo considers DLC to maintain intrigue and interest beyond the initial frenzy when this game arrives. It doesn't have to be paid DLC — though it could be — but extras that drop in the months after launch to keep owners excited. Characters could be part of this, with more arriving later on in the manner of Sonic Lost World's Nintendo-themed stages. Fighting stages could also be added to this, naturally.
We appreciate that some purists may baulk at this idea, but this is a game that needs to deliver big sales numbers over a sustained period of time, whether it suits the most hardcore fans or not. It could also be fun that, weeks and months after mastering the roster and stage progressions, we could have new content to dive into with fresh eyes.
Single Player Modes
At the moment it feels like we know more about what's not in the game than what'll be included for single players. There won't be a Subspace Emissary-style story, Sakurai-san has explained long ago, so we can perhaps anticipate a less demanding — from a development perspective — Adventure mode. Classic Mode — fighting through multiple foes in plenty of rounds — will surely return, while Brawl on Wii also included a host of fun challenges and twists on the formula. As well as the core challenges we'd hope for quirky extras that can occupy time while enhancing skills, alongside the usual Training Mode, of course.
Brawl on Wii deserves credit for bringing online play to the series, but a combination of some having weak home connections and a creaky infrastructure made matches an exercise in frustration. Lag was a serious problem with online play in the Wii title, and it was miles off the performance of the online component in Mario Kart Wii.
That should be a thing of the past, however. Both the Wii U and 3DS — particularly the home console — have a stronger online setup, and we expect that Nintendo will use its Network system and infrastructure investment to make online play strong. Alongside MK8 this is the online gaming event of the year from a Nintendo perspective, so all the stops have to be pulled to make it worth player's time.
We're also hoping for interesting modes to accompany solid online performance. Communities would be terrific, as first seen in Mario Kart 7 and confirmed for Mario Golf: World Tour, while we love the idea of officially organised online tournaments. Ultimately, the online component can be so much more than a simple random-match generator.
Round-up of Items With Additional Reveals, Highlighting Innovation
We suspect a segment of the presentation will consist of Masahiro Sakurai providing an in-depth demonstration of in-game moves, mechanics and character-specific moves. Not only will it be a delight to watch should it be included, but it could be an opportunity to show off some new items and gameplay changes from the three previous titles. We have little doubt that a project leader with the attention-to-detail of Sakurai-san has improved and tweaked aspects of previous entries, and we look forward to seeing what these changes will be in action, rather than in Miiverse screens.
In addition there may be additional reveals of hooks and ideas that distinguish this game from others in exciting new ways. While the core brawling may only have minor improvements in order to keep fervent and experienced players happy, the Wii U and 3DS have multiple features that can be tapped to shake things up in fun ways. We'd expect Miiverse, SpotPass and StreetPass to be mentioned — also NFC toys for the Wii U version, perhaps, with a special docking peripheral (Skylanders-style) for the 3DS entry?
Let's file this one in the "awesome but unlikely" category. We'd love it if Nintendo released a demo to give us an early taste of the game. If only...
An Updated Name
While it's apparently been suggested that these releases may stick to the simple Super Smash Bros. name, we're still hoping for a change to follow the examples of Melee and Brawl — remember those rather old rumours of the new entry on Wii U being called Super Smash Bros. Universe? While keeping it simple may have some appeal, it would mean we'd have to start calling the original Super Smash Bros. 64 to differentiate it, which may cause fist fights at gaming conventions.
Silly comments aside, give us a new name for these games, Nintendo.
Those are some of the features and details that we want to see in Nintendo's Super Smash Bros. Direct. We'll be giving it the usual substantial live stream, blog and post-broadcast coverage here on Nintendo Life, but until then let us know what you want to see in the comments below.