Just recently we ran a poll asking you which Nintendo games / franchises you'd like to see in the NX launch window, assuming that to be a period of around six months. Plenty of you pitched in, with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and a 3D Mario title being the leaders, with a new Metroid Prime title sneaking into third place. The format (allowing up to five choices) meant lots of close results, but ultimately it was an opportunity to see what some of the Nintendo Life community wants to see on NX. Poor old NX Fit got 0%.
This list, though, has a slightly different approach and won't necessarily reflect all of the community's preferences. We're listing ten games / franchises that could be an ideal line-up over the first year of the NX's time on the market. With the strong likelihood of NX being a unified platform (of sorts) that supports both portable and TV play, we can be confident that Nintendo will serve up more than ten games in 12 months; nevertheless, ten is a good number for our purposes.
The angle here is to consider which of Nintendo's IPs can satisfy a broad audience, keeping dedicated fans happy while also luring in those that drifted away following the Wii / DS era. The size of the 3DS audience bodes well for Nintendo, but nevertheless it'll want its hardware concept and software line-up to win back some of the audience lost to rival platforms, smartphones and tablets.
This list doesn't represent the ten games we most want, necessarily, but attempts to incorporate a range of genres and IPs that can tempt a broad cross-section of gamers. This writer's number one hope is for a Metroid title, ideally Prime IV, but that's not on the list. Maybe that's a franchise best-suited to year two or three. There's also no 3D Mario despite that being another of our preferences; the reasoning for this is in the top entry, and is also influenced by development timelines.
So what sorts of games could give the NX a strong start in year one? Some thoughts are below.
Super Mario Maker NX
It's understandable for the preference among a number of long-term and committed Nintendo fans to be a 3D Mario title; this writer agrees. Yet the cold, hard reality is that, in general, 2D Mario releases out-sell or match their 3D equivalents, while also being more accessible for less experienced players.
So why 'Mario Maker NX'? The level creation tool on Wii U felt like a game changer, despite some quibbles around the limitations in the sharing / searching of levels. It gave players the power to create their own Mario levels, and in the process some users produced fantastic stages, while the tool-set allowed for neat twists on the usual Mario formula. Having unlocked the toolbox to the world, can (or should?) Nintendo go back to releasing standard 2D Mario games? It could do that, but it has the opportunity to do something more exciting.
For one thing, a deluxe / upgraded Super Mario Maker could let creators setup their own 'Worlds' and groups of stages, as many try to do already through social media and custom websites. On top of this Nintendo could release its own new 2D Mario titles through the overall Mario Maker app, included on the cartridge and then as downloadable 'packs' in the future.
Imagine you buy Super Mario Maker NX and it has 'Super Mario Bros. NX' included, an eight world adventure that plays around with new ideas for the series, perhaps hopping between styles with a Sonic Generations-style plot twist. Or even official four world short games that use the retro engines, giving us the Super Mario Bros. 3 or Super Mario World direct sequels we've always dreamed of. The new Mario Maker could become a mini platform within the broader NX platform, with some of the later 2D Mario DLC packs also available at retail as code cards.
This could be a high-profile 2D Mario title at launch, giving early adopters the fun of creating their own Mario worlds while also playing the latest and greatest 'full' game from Nintendo's master creators. The big 3D Mario game we want could then be ideal for year 2 or 3 of the NX, especially as Shigeru Miyamoto has teased that a 'new kind of Mario' could be revealed at E3 2017 or later next year.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
This is the most obvious of the lot, as it's already confirmed and we know quite a lot about it from E3. It's up in the air whether this adventure will hit day one on NX, that's far from guaranteed, but Nintendo will surely hit 2017 as it promises. After a long time creating the physics engine and underlying systems, this will be one of the most hyped and significant titles to land in the NX's first year.
This one surfaced in recent reports, but even without some sources whispering about this franchise there's logic to it. When you combine the anticipated impact of Pokémon Sun and Moon on 3DS and the viral hit of Pokémon GO, the series is red hot right now. Despite the varied new features on the way in November, it's also worth noting that Game Freak has had the luxury of making Sun and Moon with an established engine from previous 3DS titles, likely easing the overall workload.
What form would Pokémon take on NX? Considering the likelihood that the new system is primarily a portable, it's not too outrageous to wonder whether a third spin on Sun and Moon could come in late 2017. Spin-offs are also an option, and there'd likely be a temptation to adopt some of the real world augmented reality success that's driven GO. It should be exciting to see what Game Freak has in store.
Another relatively safe bet, with Nintendo recently stating that development on Pikmin 4 is back on the agenda following downtime while other projects were prioritised. Once cited as far along in development, it's certainly not a push to think this one could be a key year one title on NX.
After the long wait for Pikmin 3, the franchise has at least enjoyed a current-gen revival, with a decent reception, DLC and even a few animated shorts. The biggest strength of this one is the fondness that Shigeru Miyamoto has for his creation, meaning he'll always go to bat for it. Importantly, too, it's a brand with an appealing concept and approach, which could fit well in targeting a fresh audience on an innovative new system.
It was clear with Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer and Animal Crossing: amiibo Festival that these spin-offs were simply passing time. The former was a vehicle for amiibo cards and seemed to sell rather well on 3DS, especially in Japan; amiibo Festival, on the other hand, seemed to be a notable flop for Wii U. Plenty of fans of all types, it's fair to say, want another full entry.
Nintendo will feel confident about the prospects for a full entry, too, with Animal Crossing: New Leaf proving a hit and delivering a breakthrough in social media and sharing. The fact that this year will bring a smart device entry is also a bonus in the hopes for a 2017 NX game, not a negative; Nintendo has spoken of the ambition to have smart device games and apps interact with dedicated system games. Animal Crossing seems like a perfect candidate for that sort of connectivity.
A clever spin on the Splatoon name we've seen used a lot online, it seems like this should certainly be on the agenda. With major content updates on the Wii U title now done, it wouldn't be surprising if a sequel has been planned for a short while in light of the IP's popularity following its debut. The brand is particularly big in Japan, too, with plenty of concerts and merchandise, so that could be key to strategic thinking in Nintendo's Kyoto HQ.
Spla2oon could also help fill a genre gap for NX, much as it has in this current generation. A third-person shooter with typical 'Nintendo' twists, it's best loved as a competitive online game. There are multiple areas where a sequel could make improvements, too, such as increased communication options when playing online and somewhat simple features like stage selections. It should also be said that the final Wii U iteration does a lot of good things that can be carried on.
It may be a game enjoyed the most at home rather than on the go, but could be vital as a 'fresh' Nintendo game for a new generation.
Mario Party / Nintendo Party
This entry is really flying the flag for a Nintendo-made party / family game, though the Mario branding could make sense regardless. Mario Party 11 may not be ideal, so perhaps a different naming convention could be used like with the portable entries.
That said, the release of Mario Party Star Rush this year could lead to some concerns around brand fatigue, so perhaps Nintendo could have another go at producing a party game that features multiple famous brands. Nintendo Land didn't enjoy anything like the success of Wii Sports as a pack-in title, but we feel it offered a lot. A similar collection that makes the most of the NX concept could be a welcome release, whether as a pack-in or a budget retail title to tempt families and those that want to enjoy their new system with friends.
Super Smash Bros. Definitive Edition
This was actually cited as a Bandai Namco-led NX launch project by Dr. Serkan Toto, a respected analyst based in Japan. Bandai Namco was the primary development partner on the 3DS and Wii U editions, and we strongly suspect it'd be a 'definitive' edition that includes all DLC and maybe one or two extra goodies right out of the box. After all, Masahiro Sakurai is likely to take some time before we see another full numbered entry in the franchise.
In any case, it wouldn't be surprising to see a release like this in the launch year of the system. Enhanced remakes and ports can provide valuable padding in the libraries or new consoles, and if it boasts some extras alongside all existing DLC we suspect a number of players would take the plunge. As one of the slickest and most impressive Wii U games on a technical level, it could also be a good showcase for the potential portable powerhouse of NX.
We were hesitant about this one, but have included it as it would make a lot of sense as a Holiday 2017 title. Mario Kart 7 gave the 3DS a big boost around 7-8 months into its lifespan, while Mario Kart 8 missed the 2013 Holiday season for Wii U and that was, arguably, a significant blow to the home console.
We'd hope, all told, that this would be an all-new Mario Kart rather than a port of 8, especially as Nintendo could utilise the engine and lessons learnt from the first HD entry in the series. As the DLC on Wii U showed Nintendo is no longer afraid of bringing other franchises into the mix, either, so the shackles are off for what could be a diverse and exciting entry in the series. The building blocks from MK8 can provide a foundation for something special.
Art Academy Online
This scored poorly in the community poll, and we suspect many responses to this entry are "WTF" and "LOL", but hear us out for this wildcard addition.
Above you've got games covering platforming, action adventure, racing, fighting, strategy, social gaming and variations of those categories. As stated in our introduction, rather than a bucket list of the games we want, this is partly aiming to address key releases to tackle a wide audience - on that note a fully tooled, online enabled drawing app with sharing and even simple animation could be an exciting showcase for a device with portable and TV-based options.
As we've seen with Miiverse and Art Academy: Atelier, users are able to produce extraordinary art pieces and enjoy sharing them. Likewise Flipnote Studio was popular on DSiWare, before issues with sharing and inappropriate use meant that ambitious online plans in Flipnote Studio 3D were ditched. The latter was a pity, as Nintendo went to a lot of effort to work on an online infrastructure and reward system before dropping it at the eleventh hour prior to a release in the West.
A drawing app that uses a touch screen would therefore need moderating and parental controls to meet Nintendo's requirements, but the company will have surely learnt lessons from those aforementioned releases. Yet an impressive drawing app with animation features, with intuitive and fleshed out online features and perhaps some light-hearted minigames, could be a good showcase for any powerful new system. It wouldn't be as big a seller as the titles above or others that have missed out on this list, but would provide welcome diversity and an enthusiastic, active community of its own.
Those are some of our thoughts then - some obvious, some based on solid reports and others that are a little left-field. Let us know your thoughts, as always, in the comments!