With a New Year set to bring fresh hardware and all of that goodness, there's much to look forward to for Nintendo fans in 2017. There's a major Switch presentation just days away, too, so momentum should start strong and hopefully see us through to the start of 2018.
In this feature a number of our writers share their hopes and dreams for the upcoming year from Nintendo.
2017 is definitely going to be a make or break year for Nintendo, especially considering that it's betting the farm on the success of the Switch. There's been a notion in the industry that Nintendo is increasingly becoming less of a major player in the game, and it seems to become more true with each passing year. If it wishes to retain its status as a significant, respected name within the field, it must reach broader audiences with the Switch, or there will likely not be another chance. It's not that the company can't financially take another failure like the Wii U, but it has to do with reputation and popularity. If Nintendo puts out two failing consoles in a row, it will be extremely difficult for it to prove from that point forward that its consoles are worth anybody's attention anymore, as the company will have proven that it's out of touch with what people want. If it reaches the point where the only reason to buy a Nintendo console is to play Nintendo games, then it begs the question: why doesn't the company just shift to software development?
I think the Switch has the potential to be exactly what Nintendo needs, but it also has the potential to be another albatross like the Wii U. The versatile nature of the hybrid console is something new in the industry and it seems to have attracted a lot of excitement, but it will have to properly deliver on that hype. If Nintendo pulls another NES Mini or Black Friday New 3DS with its stock supply, the Switch will fail. If Nintendo does not aggressively court third party developers and ensure that porting games is relatively simple, the Switch will fail. If Nintendo only releases major games once every four to five months, the Switch will fail. These are all problems that the company has not yet shown it's moved past, but there's still time for a change in course.
So, I'm cautiously optimistic for what 2017 will bring, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't worried about Nintendo's outlook. In many ways, the company is infuriatingly stubborn and backwards on things that should not be issues in 2016, and it can't keep doing that. If it refuses to keep up with certain industry standards, it will get left behind and people will stop putting up with the frustrations they have with it. Still, the Switch could very much represent a new future for the company. Couple that with the announcement of Nintendo films and of a new theme park, and it seems that the company is at the very least trying to make itself a relevant brand name once more. It hangs in the balance now, sustained only by its hopeful and loyal fanbase. If Nintendo strikes out again in 2017, that fanbase will shrink considerably, but I think there's a good chance that this next year will represent a bold new step forward for the company.
In 2017, I want to see Nintendo continue to strengthen its presence within the mobile games market. It is crucial to engage with this previously untapped mass audience in order to gain maximum brand exposure. With the likes of the Animal Crossing and Fire Emblem franchises on the way to mobile, both past and present IP can be used as a way for Nintendo to educate newcomers and reel them into more expansive offerings available via traditional platforms.
This is where the Nintendo Switch comes into play. I think the upcoming Zelda title for the Switch is a safe play that will encourage audiences to give the new console a go. Breath of the Wild fulfils the criteria for a next generation game - a vast open world that has cool survival elements, and it does it with a level of finesse that I don't feel we've seen from games of this type before. Not to mention - it'll have all the usual Zelda elements like dungeons to explore, towns to visit, a stack of weapons to unlock and giant bosses to slay.
My biggest concern is what will happen after the initial launch period of the Switch. With updated versions of Splatoon and Mario Kart also looking likely, I can only hope we see more familiar franchises arriving over time. How about a new F-Zero? If the Switch launch doesn't go to plan for Nintendo, I can see its newfound success in the mobile market possibly becoming the main focus and backbone of the company.
It's an interesting time to be a Nintendo fan. We've heard things about the Switch that suggest it's under-powered and the usual drivel from haters. In January we'll get to see exactly what Nintendo has up its sleeve. Personally, I would be totally okay with it being another GameCube type of system. It doesn't have to be as powerful as the PS4 or XBO — a lack of gimmicks is OK for me.
Nintendo would be wise to capitalize on the new Nintendo accounts to link all their systems together, and continue to release the Virtual Console games people want to see. Hopefully they make the Switch the definitive Nintendo console for fans. Let the other systems have the generic shooters; the Switch will be the only place to get quality Nintendo games.
Aside from the Switch, I hope 2017 is a year of revived franchises. I'd love to see a new, proper WarioWare game (we haven't had one since DIY on the DS). A real Metroid game would be fantastic, and a close-out to Retro's DK Country reboot series would make me giddy.
No matter the worries others have about Nintendo, I'm along for the ride in 2017. I didn't get a Wii U until well after launch, so this time I'll be getting the new system as soon as it's out. Here's to a 2017 where Nintendo is back with the crown they deserve!
I'd love Nintendo to display a new direction in terms of their creative ideas and how these manifest themselves in their first-party titles. Specifically I'd like to see the importance of younger designers (like Tsubasa Sakaguchi) grow so that the younger generation can put a larger creative stamp on the company. As a result of that, it would be very exciting to see new IPs arrive on Switch; with the merging of home console and handheld development teams, Nintendo could streamline themselves like never before.
It'd also be interesting to see Nintendo explore more storytelling in certain projects. Obviously not every game needs to have a narrative focus, but we've seen some brilliantly handled character stories creep in through the years like Rosalina's backstory in Super Mario Galaxy, and narrative arcs seen in the early Paper Mario games. If the Big N were to follow these aspects further for certain titles then they could strengthen another string on their gaming bow.
All in all, I hope that Nintendo include new ideas and approaches in design whilst maintaining their unique spirit and charm. With the Switch just over the horizon they have a serious opportunity to change the gaming landscape. And I hope they do it in a way that will leave us all gobsmacked.
Those are the thoughts of some of the Nintendo Life team. Share your hopes for the year in the comments below.