In this Talking Point, Arjun gives his perspective on the ports vs. sequels considerations for the Nintendo Switch.

The Nintendo NX - erm, Switch - has finally been unveiled, and it's arguably the lion's roar that the big N needed after troubles with its last home system. The Wii U has suffered a similar fate to that of the GameCube - an awesome console with some timeless titles, but it's been marketed poorly, has struggled to capture the public's imagination and has thus been largely overlooked. The Switch, however, at least in terms of its marketing so far, is a step in the right direction. However, it could be said that Nintendo has found itself in quite a unique scenario, in that some of its best core titles are still relatively new or unknown in their respective Wii U outings; yet the Switch is set to launch right around the corner.

Back in January, it was rumoured that Super Smash Bros. would be a launch title for the system codenamed "NX". Like me, this got plenty excited, but it wasn't before long that many were scratching their heads at the idea. Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U launched in late 2014, and both remain staple games in the libraries of many. We've had some great DLC implemented into the game which only helped keep it going strong, and so the last thing the franchise needs is making the switch from Sm4sh to Sma5h. It's way too soon, and the game isn't even close to needing an overdue sequel.

With that said, it could be argued that a new Smash Bros. is likely to be nothing but a port for the Switch, initially, and will perhaps contain a few extra characters and stages to really generate the up-sell to those still perched on the fence. It seems logical, for we also now know that the Switch will not be backwards compatible with Wii U and 3DS physical media, at the very least (though that was pretty predictable from the get-go).

Image: DewyDGaming

Other examples come from the preview trailer we all feasted our eyes upon, albeit with Nintendo cautioning fans not to make too many assumptions on images added in post-production. In any case, concepts shown seemed to be sequels to or games based on Mario Kart 8 and Splatoon. Some believe it was a form of the Wii U's Mario Kart entry in the trailer, but the inclusions of King Boo - a character not playable in MK8 - and an additional item slot were cheeky little additions to the few seconds of footage we saw. The snippet of Splatoon footage also suggested that more new things are on the way rather than just a direct port, from Inkling hairstyles to spawn animations. If you take what was said about Smash Bros. above, it also applies here.

Of course, there are other possible explanations for both of these pieces of game footage. One option is both games being potential forms of 'Director's Cut' versions - a commonly used method to reinvent existing titles in a new generation, as seen with the many remasters on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Perhaps updated versions of Mario Kart 8 and Splatoon could have budget retail prices or reward Wii U owners who already own the original games with discounts.

It certainly isn't as outrageous of an idea as you might first think, especially when you consider the Wii U's lacklustre sales and short lifespan. Alternatively, these pieces of footage could also be forms of tech demos - much like both Zelda tech demos in 2001 and 2011 for the GameCube and Wii U respectively. Sometimes concept game footage in reveals do prove to be from a real game (like ZombiU initially appearing as a mysterious game in a pre E3-2012 presentation). In the case of these Switch 'games', all we have is the preview trailer and Nintendo's message advising fans not to bet the bank on assumptions.


Beyond this, another idea is that in the coming generation Nintendo could ditch numbers from their core IPs like Mario Kart altogether, and instead opt for regular DLC updates. Currently, it's unkown as to how the Switch will deal with the eShop, DLC and such, but it's interesting to ponder over the notion of consistent expansions being the evolutionary way forward in keeping games fresh and new, much like how Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros. 4 were handled. We've seen the growth of games as 'platforms', with Nintendo producing frequent paid and free updates to major titles in this generation, so it's worth considering.

If the rumours and footage are reflective of projects at least in the works, however, it's all simple, right? We're going to be getting ports of Super Smash Bros., Mario Kart 8, and Splatoon on the Switch as a way for us to continue to enjoy our favourite Wii U titles (as well as be up-sold to the new console). Well, not necessarily, at least in my humble opinion. If you look at Nintendo's past, core franchises such as Smash and Mario Kart have only ever had one edition per console. They're definitely not the types of games that need sequels in quick succession due to the plethora of changes and polish each successor receives. So does that mean that these ports (with a few additional features and perhaps constant expansions) are it for the Nintendo Switch? Or will the console's hopefully lengthy lifespan warrant Super Smash Bros. 5 and Mario Kart 9 as well? It's all speculation, but like I said before, Nintendo has found itself in a peculiar predicament courtesy of the Wii U's short lifespan and poor sales.


Before you say something along the lines of "What about Zelda? We got The Wind Waker AND Twilight Princess on the GameCube, as well as a port of Twilight Princess AND Skyward Sword on the Wii!" Well, my honest answer to that would be that you can't really compare single-player adventure games to multiplayer party/fighting games that are supposed to be played over and over. It probably doesn't need spelling out, but games like The Legend of Zelda warrant sequels due to them being single-player games with a definitive ending, whereas Smash and Mario Kart don't require sequels as often. This is why I've personally abandoned all sports and wrestling games. Can you imagine the lack of quality in titles such as Smash and Mario Kart if they took on the approach of games such as FIFA and 2K and were released on an annual basis? I shudder to think about that, but I digress.

The interesting point around all of this relates to Nintendo releasing three of its big guns in Smash Bros., Mario Kart and now Splatoon relatively late due to the Wii U's painfully short lifespan (though that wouldn't have been Nintendo's original plan). Will the company try to boost the first year or two of Switch sales with expanded remasters / Director's Cuts of Wii U games, with new names and some extra content? Is it going to shoot for full sequels? Will it be both in the coming years, thus breaking the 'one-per-generation' tradition of IPs like Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros.? Or perhaps in the modern gaming landscape of DLC and updates the very model of sequels and multiple releases won't be so much of an issue?

It'll be intriguing to see, especially if any of these games or concepts feature in the full reveal in January. Perhaps none of them will appear and the mystery will go on, but considering the fact that IPs like these are so bankable and important to Nintendo in pushing new hardware, that would be surprising.

Lots to think about, but let us know your thoughts in the usual place below!