The build-up is almost over and Nintendo's Digital Event is just hours away. After E3 leaks last week this broadcast appears to have escaped too many leaks, and as a result anticipation is starting to build nicely. We've had shots fired by Microsoft, Sony and third-party Media Briefings, all with their merits and exciting reveals. Perhaps most intriguingly some of the biggest Sony and Microsoft reveals tackle two of Nintendo's biggest strengths - nostalgia and beloved, established brands.
Now it's Nintendo's turn, and once again it'll be a pre-recorded - and presumably slick - presentation that'll have the luxury of employing cut-aways to multiple locations, and we hope the same level of humour enjoyed last year.
Ultimately it's about the games, though, and we already have some knowns and unknowns. Some of those we expect are below, and as usual we've applied what we think is logic to consider what we can reasonably expect to see - this is Nintendo, though, which has an impressive knack for surprising us. We do know - assuming Nintendo was on the level - that we won't see the NX platform or any smart device games, so they're not in our list. We do reference some early leaks that have previously been reported on the site in the past week, so be warned.
So, here are some of the exciting details and reveals we expect to feature - we look forward to seeing whether any of them are proven right.
Lots of Mario
It's a big year for Super Mario, and this writer is rather pleased that the incredible final hour of the Nintendo World Championships brought some hype around Super Mario Maker. While the "oh no, more Mario" attitudes are justifiable, we saw little of the plumber in 2014 and - let's not forget - some of the greatest games of all time and recent years are Mario titles. Lots of Mario may not be such a bad thing.
It's the 30th Anniversary of Super Mario, of course, which drives speculation that we'll see new titles featuring the mascot. Super Mario Maker is looking rather impressive, but there's a clear desire for a fully fledged new entry from the development masters at the big N - examples on our wishlist include Super Mario Galaxy 3, Super Mario Sunshine 2, or even Super Mario Sunshine HD, while made-up rumours have also plugged the possibility of Super Mario 3D Land 2. All have some logic behind them, while the desire for a 2D Mario is perhaps less reliable as a wish due to the aforementioned Super Mario Maker.
Of course, like in the 'Year of Luigi', some other franchises may creep out featuring the plumber. The Wii U is yet to have a Mario sports game, for example, and we've spoken about our desire for Paper Mario, too.
In summary, we can expect a lot of Mario.
Star Fox for Wii U Finally Emerges
This is a definite, as Nintendo has previously promised that Star Fox will be shown at E3, and the most recent release schedule from the company has reiterated that it's a 2015 release. We've written in the past how impressive Nintendo's been in its secrecy around this title - we can desperately read between lines in Shigeru Miyamoto interviews but, ultimately, we know very little about this game.
That should change in a big way today, and it could be one of Nintendo's most high-profile announcements. Bear in mind that we didn't even see it properly at E3 2014, so today will bring our first real look at Shigeru Miyamoto's vision for the franchise not just on Wii U, but in general. Last year the talk was of cinematic gameplay and intuitive, innovative usage of the GamePad, and we'll see whether that comes through once again.
We're hoping for a spectacular reveal, a final name and maybe even a release date.
A Boost to the 3DS 2015 Line-Up
The 3DS (and now New Nintendo 3DS) remains Nintendo's go-to system for positive sales news and to generate profits. The portable family is entering - probably - its final 2-3 years, however, and sustaining momentum through the rest of 2015 and beyond will be a key challenge for Nintendo.
Though there are some promising titles confirmed to be on the way for 3DS, its release slate could do with some fleshing out. We anticipate the portable will have quite a focus in the event, and could be the source of surprises with surprisingly quick turnarounds.
Beyond that, there are known games yet to be detailed further - Fire Emblem If is heading the West in early 2016 but, courtesy of the game being finished and due imminently in Japan, could be outlined further. Likewise Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon, which is out this year in North America and next year in Europe. It's safe to say that we'll get localised information on the previously leaked Hyrule Warriors for the 3DS too.
The 3DS isn't short of RPGs and games to appeal to a dedicated crowd, but we feel that E3 will be the place for some titles with broader appeal. Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer will fall into this. We're expecting one or two major surprises, and the emergence of the Metroid-like Blast Ball will raise hopes for that franchise, too.
Release Dates and Details on Key Titles
This category is boring but important - Nintendo has a number of confirmed games without firm release dates. Providing solid dates will help gamers plot their Wii U and 3DS purchases, of course, and give us an idea of Nintendo's strategy for the Fall and Holiday seasons this year.
We expect dates for the likes of Super Mario Maker - rumoured to be 11th September - while the big one for this writer is Xenoblade Chronicles X. Already out in Japan for some time, this enormous RPG from Monolith Soft was a highlight of E3 2014, and we have little doubt that localisation teams have been working feverishly to translate and tweak many thousands of words in dialogue and menus, not to mention voice recordings. Another Wii U release is Fatal Frame: The Black Haired Shrine Maiden, which is pleasingly due this year, while Yoshi's Woolly World still doesn't have a date in North America. We may even learn more on the release plans and fate of last year's GamePad concept demos - Project Giant Robot and Project Guard.
amiibo, and Apologies (Again)
If there were 40 hours in every day in the past week your humble writer would have shared an editorial stating that Nintendo needs to stop apologising about amiibo stock issues and actually resolve the problem. Perhaps that Talking Point will still come, but we anticipate that - at some point - we'll get the usual expression of regret over amiibo shortages.
Once that's done, expect more amiibo to be announced. Nintendo of Spain earned the company's internal dunce cap by leaking an 8-Bit Pixel Mario and Animal Crossing figurines on a web page graphic, and they're certainly logical. It would have been a shock if Super Mario Maker didn't have an amiibo, while the AC figures merely perpetuate the instinct that Animal Crossing is coming to Wii U. The home console is due a full game in follow-up to Animal Crossing: New Leaf, and Happy Home Designer could be an accompaniment; on the flipside, perhaps the Wii U's experience will also have a heavy focus on the NFC figurines and cards, like the 3DS game. That's speculation, but there's plenty of logic behind it.
Beyond that, who knows? The concept of amiibo cards is coming with Happy Home Designer, and there's clear fan-demand for that to spread to Pokémon, which could double as a spin-off to the trading card game and bankrupt us all. Surprise titles could also have their own accompanying amiibo, too.
The NFC toys and cards are sure to appear - hopefully they'll appear in stores in decent numbers, too.
Big Brand Surprises
This final entry perhaps falls more under our hopes and dreams for E3, and like with any Digital Event there's hope that beloved brands will make an appearance, whether for the first time in a number of years or as the continuation of a series. We've already mentioned Animal Crossing on Wii U, and the Metroid-like vibe of Battle Ball - an impressive reveal trailer for Metroid Prime IV on Wii U or a 2.5D Metroid Dread on 3DS could certainly be a useful mic drop. Pokémon fans may hope for Pokémon Z or a similar main-entry series, and we'd also love to see Kid Icarus return, perhaps in the hands of a studio like Next Level Games. The list of franchises could go on and on.
Talking of developers and related brands, both Retro Studios and Next Level Games are working on mystery projects - hopefully the time has come to lift the lid on those titles, whether they've been guessed above or otherwise.
Those are the key areas we expect to be covered in the Nintendo Digital Event - what do you think, and what do you want to see the most? Let us know in the comments below, and be sure to join us on Nintendo Life for the live stream of the broadcast, live blogging, live chat and all of the post-broadcast coverage and reaction you can handle.