Summer is pouncing upon us and at the time of writing it's Independence Day in the US and a tad drizzly in this writer's part of the UK. It seems like a typical early July day, but we are shaking things up a little in this latest quarterly entry of the 'Biggest Games' series. We're combining the Wii U and 3DS line-ups into one.
The main culprit, in truth, is the Wii U, which isn't exactly overloaded with games due in 2016. As the year's progressed the emergence of fresh titles on the way hasn't kept up with quality titles that have arrived and, as a result, it seemed best to bring Nintendo's systems together. The list is split into two parts - 10 games with pretty banners and descriptions that we think are the most notable still to come this year, and then ten more 'Honourable Mentions'. Ultimately all 20 will be in the poll at the end, in which you can choose three favourites, so we'll see how these are stacking up in your wishlists.
We have a mix of major retail and promising 'Nindie' titles in the line-up, and lists like these are also a reminder that there are still some potentially fantastic experiences on the way this year. As an extra note, the inclusion of Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King in the 'honourable mention' category is not a shun, but an effort to have a little extra diversity in the top list and an acknowledgement that with Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past not out until September we're a little jittery over the 'later this year' window given to VIII months ago. A couple of other misses courtesy of regional release discrepancies are Disney Art Academy and Rhythm Paradise Megamix, which are both out in North America and still to arrive in Europe.
So, with all of that pre-amble out of the way, let's get on with it.
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Pokémon Sun and Moon [3DS] - 18th November (NA) / 23rd November (EU)
Since the announcement earlier this year The Pokémon Company has been cranking up the hype machine, unveiling plenty of details for these November titles. In recent-ish times we've seen the game's world, been introduced to its cast and quirky new take on the Pokédex, and also started to see a number of new 'mon. These games pretty much sell themselves, and Nintendo will certainly be hoping that's the case as they arrive in the crowded Holiday season.
Monster Hunter Generations [3DS] - 15th July (NA and EU)
The localised name for Monster Hunter X (Cross), this is a significant and ambitious entry for the series as it plays up to nostalgia with re-imagined past-generation villages and monsters, but also delivers a lot of new content. The 'Prowler' campaign allows you to fight as a Palico, while four distinct hunting styles speed up and evolve the core fighting mechanics. We just recently wrote an extensive preview to tell you all about it.
Metroid Prime: Federation Force (and Blast Ball) [3DS] - 19th August (NA) / 2nd September (EU)
Oh yes, we're standing by this one. This is a title that wasn't exactly warmly welcomed following its E3 2015 reveal, yet it is the latest project from Next Level Games, a studio that's done terrific work with Nintendo's franchises and most recently brought us Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon. The art style and the idea that the next Metroid Prime will be a co-op portable shooter starring chibi-style Federation Force troopers is hardly what fans had in mind, but this could actually be a good game at its core. Time will tell, and we're keen to give it a chance.
Paper Mario: Color Splash [Wii U] - 7th October (NA)
E3 can either be hugely beneficial or damaging to a game's pre-release reputation (just see our previous entry for evidence), and it seemed like this title enjoyed a slight uptick in fortunes. A flashy trailer that was full of madness and imagination helped to dent (if not completely ease) concerns around this one, and it undoubtedly stands as the biggest title left to come on Wii U this year. Yes, there are lots of Toads again, but it'll be worth giving this one a chance to win us over prior to release.
Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past [3DS] - 16th September (NA and EU)
This remake / port has been long in demand by Western audiences, and so Square Enix delighted many when teaming up with Nintendo to make it a reality. StreetPass will feature to add even more dungeons and a number of tweaks were made to make the title more welcoming ahead of its previous release in Japan, including the removal of random encounters. We were rather impressed in our recent first impressions article.
Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse [3DS] - Q3 (NA)
Perhaps a slightly controversial inclusion in the main list due to the fact that its localised version is only confirmed for North America so far, we nevertheless felt it deserved better than the Honourable Mentions list. Originally called Shin Megami Tensei IV: Final in Japan, this ties into events from Shin Megami Tensei IV, though you don't necessarily have to play that one first; it has a plot and characters that partially overlap. For fans of the series it also offers a few twists to the gameplay formula; we enjoyed a recent dabble with it at E3.
Mario Party Star Rush [3DS] - 7th October (EU) / 4th November (NA)
Sure, this one lifted its box art from SpagettiOs, but nevertheless it was a pleasant surprise out of E3. The focus of this entry and in particular one of its Toad-heavy main modes is to take away any sense of waiting around, appeasing complaints from other recent entries. The prospect of moving and playing at the same time as others, while elbowing them in the ribs during minigames, is promising. After all, a bit of extra chaos in a party is rarely a bad thing.
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Spirit of Justice [3DS eShop]- September
Once again Capcom is going the eShop-only route for this one's localisation, which is a blow to some series veterans, but that aside this looks like a rather stylish and promising new entry in the series. We have multiple settings and a mix of old and new cast members, with new styles of court battles and 'Divination Séances' coming into the mix. We had no objections in our recent first impressions from E3.
Shantae: Half-Genie Hero [Wii U] - 27th September
This one has endured multiple delays, but with a September date in North America (we suspect Europe won't be far behind) and even a physical retail edition, it's almost go-time for this new and first exclusively HD entry in the franchise. It draws on various mainstays and features from previous entries as WayForward targets a new audience, and we had positive things to say in our E3 hands on impressions.
Azure Striker Gunvolt 2 [3DS] - 30th September (NA)
Arguments can be made for some in the Honourable Mentions to nick this spot, but this writer loved the original so much that an executive decision was made. Its release date is a recent announcement, and it seems likely PAL territories won't be far behind, with the game coming to the eShop solus and to stores in a double pack with the original. Yacht Club Games is publishing and Inti Creates is developing once again, which gives us confidence, and it'll even have its own anime series later in the year.
- Sonic Boom: Fire & Ice
- Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King
- Yo-kai Watch 2: Bony Spirits and Fleshy Souls (NA only)
- 7th Dragon III Code: VFD (NA only)
- SEVERED (Wii U & 3DS)
- Jotun: Valhalla Edition
- Axiom Verge
- Runbow Pocket
So there you have it, and there are certainly some Nindie titles that can consider themselves hard done by to narrowly miss out. Just Dance 2017 and Skylanders Imaginators are also absent due to our prioritisation of intriguing download games, but we're sure Ubisoft and Activision will survive the omission.
Let us know what games you're most looking forward to in the poll, while you can also make your own lists and chastise us for titles we've missed in the comments.