Following the quickfire Pokémon Direct that arrived in late February, we now have a full-fat Nintendo Direct to look forward to. With clear expectations set by Nintendo - Spring and Summer games for Wii U and 3DS - along with trademark postings and the obligatory 'leaks' that always precede any broadcast, there's plenty of chatter around what we can expect from the broadcasts in each region.
Having read the multiple apparent leaks and considered what's logically expected, we've brought together our usual list of items that we anticipate to be covered in the broadcasts. Some seem almost certain, others likely, and one or two are semi-sensible predictions.
So, without further pre-amble, the following are some of the key details and reveals we expect to feature in today's Nintendo Direct festivities.
Star Fox Zero Confirmed for April Release or Delay
Star Fox Zero has had an interesting history in development and in terms of its marketing and publicity. Announced in slightly bizarre style - with no clear footage - at E3 2014, it was finally shown in full at E3 2015, before being showcased with improved visuals and a North American release date in the November Direct. Yet despite that release date announcement being less than four months ago the lack of a firm EU / Australian date, and murmurings of localisation teams being concerned about the control scheme, have prompted chatter of a potential delay.
Well, time will ultimately tell on that, but whatever the case it'll surely feature with a fresh showcase - potentially with details on the amiibo and multiplayer support that have been cited on the game's official website for some time. Some say it'll bump back to the Summer, or Nintendo may simply reiterate an April arrival, but either way the Wii U title is likely to have a premium spot in the running orders for both Europe and North America.
Anniversary Shenanigans with The Legend of Zelda and Pokémon
With these franchises celebration 30th and 20th Anniversaries respectively, and being in the midst of high profile releases to promote those landmarks, we can expect both to feature. There's likely to be a final flashy trailer for The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD ahead of its release this week, in addition to similar treatment for Pokkén Tournament.
It's beyond those inclusions where things will hopefully be interesting. Perhaps The Pokémon Company will have sanctioned a short trailer for Pokémon Sun and Moon, while many will naturally hope to see some footage of The Legend of Zelda for Wii U. Both are big maybes, but may miss out due to the April / Summer release remit of the broadcasts.
Beyond that, it wouldn't surprise us if some promotional activities are confirmed, utilising social media and other opportunities to promote the brands and get fans involved. Rather like with Super Mario last year, we expect Nintendo to target our nostalgia and passion for these franchises beyond core game releases.
Nindies Showcase, with Unity New 3DS Games at the Forefront
There's always an eShop sizzle reel which in some cases leads to actual reveals or release dates that weren't previously known. It's always a highlight for this writer, too, as it can provide a welcome showcase of the gaming world beyond store shelves and Nintendo's major IPs.
In addition, we suspect the New Nintendo 3DS could be front and centre this time. Earlier this year Unity officially confirmed and began to roll-out tools for porting games to the New 3DS, though a number of experienced developers have been working on it for some time (there's even been a game release in Japan, already). Though Unity can technically support the original models, the word from Unity itself and developers is that it's not a realistic proposition, and that New 3DS exclusives on the eShop could become more common.
This is unlikely to sell New 3DS hardware on its own, but some enticing eShop games will at least provide added value for owners of the nifty portable. Unity and New 3DS could be a highlight for Nindie fans this time out.
New amiibo and Mini Mario & Friends
It was confirmed last year that Super Smash Bros. DLC characters will have their own amiibo, so models to look at and some release windows for the likes of Bayonetta and Corrin seem like a reasonable bet. The aforementioned Legend of Zelda and Pokémon anniversaries may be at the heart of some limited edition new amiibo too, though that's merely hopeful speculation at this stage.
Released in Japan in late January, Mario & Friends amiibo Challenge seems like a safe bet for release on the 3DS and Wii U eShop stores in the West. With the series having been common on a global basis for quite some time, along with the continued drive to promote amiibo through its own games in addition to others, this has a strong chance of featuring. As for what the game is, it looks like more Mario vs. Donkey Kong, yet with some twists depending on which amiibo you scan.
Beyond that, amiibo is a word we're likely to hear a few times - the series is a big money-spinner for Nintendo, after all.
Monster Hunter X Localisation, Again (again)
This featured in our equivalent article for November Nintendo Direct, and not without good reason. Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate on 3DS hit seven figures for sales in the West, representing a series breakthrough outside of Japan; on top of that Monster Hunter X (Cross) has been a huge success in Capcom's homeland.
A Monster Hunter trademark (the name of which you can see if you click here, which we won't spoil in this entry) has emerged to reinforce the sense that a localisation of Cross is inevitable. Of course, trademarks don't always equal game reveals, far from it, but the timing and the need for Capcom to continue strong Western momentum for the series certainly coincide. It makes a lot of sense, ultimately.
Small Surprises and Very Different Broadcasts Between Europe and North America
We've covered this in some detail in a recent editorial - once again we expect the European and North American broadcasts to be entirely different in their structure and approach, potentially only sharing some mutual trailers for the likes of Star Fox Zero. Release date discrepancies are at the heart of this, as each region will be promoting games long since released in the other. It's a pity, arguably, as there's less common ground to share for fans in each region.
Beyond that, we can certainly hope for some small surprises. Those of you that are most keen have no doubt been trawling the rumours on NeoGAF et al, but we're not fully convinced by those leaks - there's always room to be proven wrong, but many of these have failed to transpire in the past. Forgetting that speculation, there's normally one or two unexpected announcements (big or small) in each Direct; expect surprises to be small for this one, as any megaton announcements will likely be held back for the Wii U / 3DS segments at E3. There'll be release dates, at least, and we'll have a solid idea of the game line-up for Spring and Summer.
No Mobile or NX Details, So Stop Expecting Them...
Some really want to believe that there'll be snippets of information on the NX hardware or mobile apps this time, and we get it. We're all fans here, and we want to see what the next generation from Nintendo looks like.
Yet let's get real, it's not happening. Not even a 0.01% chance, it's 0.00%. There will be no NX or mobile content. Don't believe us? Nintendo of Europe and America each shared variations of this comment in their press releases.
The presentation will not include any updates on NX or mobile.
That seems pretty clear to us.
So there you have it, some of the details we expect to see in today's Nintendo Direct. Let us know what you hope to see, and be sure to join us for both the European and North American live streams before 2pm Pacific / 5pm Eastern / 10pm UK / 11pm CET; our blogs and live chat will be up and running in plenty of time before the broadcasts begin.