With Nintendo president Tatsumi Kimishima anticipating 20 million Switch sales in 2018, it’s fair to say Nintendo might be hiding some big guns up their sleeves. But here in early January, all fans can do is twiddle their thumbs and collectively await a rumoured but unannounced presentation about mostly unannounced games… Or we could humbly offer our 2018 predictions based on little more than guesstimation and selfish desire — as I have done below. I’ve also included a “backup” second guess just as inane and off-base as my primary guess.
All these silly guesses are listed in a month-by-month fashion in honor of Nintendo’s near-monthly megaton releases throughout 2017. Please sound off in the comments with insights, criticisms, witticisms, and maybe even a plausible dream calendar of your own. And if you’re a fan of Nintendo (and Mario in particular), check out the level-by-level analysis series for Super Mario Odyssey I’ve been working on here.
Mother 3 – The third installment in the Mother franchise is arguably the most hotly anticipated Western release that’s only a hop, skip, and translation away from happening. Whether Nintendo opts for an internal translation or simply adopts the widespread fan translation, localizing Mother 3 would be a simple and affordable way to satiate Nintendo’s most diehard fans already finished with Odyssey and Xenoblade Chronicles 2.
Backup: Since I don’t see Nintendo revealing and dropping any major games this early in the year, I’d wager another “Wii U Game” Deluxe or Mario Party Top 100-esque collection more likely. My pie-in-the-sky hope is for a Warioware compilation. The Switch can incorporate the system-specific gimmicks of past games while passing the quirky minigame torch from last year’s disappointing 1-2-Switch on to a more worthy successor.
Bayonetta 1 & 2 – Well, this one’s easy. It’s already been announced! And outside of some indies I don’t see much happening in February since it’s early in the year and they might as well wait for the Switch’s one-year anniversary for a larger release. I could see Nintendo marketing this collection of two stellar games as its monthly headliner, with no major first-party games to back it up.
Backup: But I could also see them releasing some additional content for the smash-hit Super Mario Odyssey, perhaps in the form of additional kingdoms rolled out over the next six months or so. It would usher Mario back into the spotlight without much effort, continuing to push sales of the game and system.
Super Smash Bros Switch – I suspect Smash for the Switch will be a vaguely titled entry that acts as more of a Smash 4.5, collecting the content from Super Smash Bros. 3DS and Super Smash Bros. Wii U while adding 10-ish new characters, 12-ish new maps, and some additional modes that take advantage of the Switch’s unique capabilities. With Smash 4 still a popular competitive game, this release could let Nintendo double-down on one of the serie’s best entries while also giving Sakurai the break from Smash he’s perpetually seeking. He’d probably use the time to give us Kirby Air Ride and Kid Icarus: Uprising sequels anyway, right?…
Backup: Alongside this major release, Nintendo will launch its online service and the long-awaited Netflix app. The online service will be barebones (mostly just a hub with a couple of “free” games available to subscribers), but it will be fleshed out throughout the year. There will also be a ton of indies and third-party games between February and April, possibly including Hollow Knight, Terraria, Runner 3, Super Meat Boy, Kentucky Route Zero, Shovel Knight: King of Cards, Dragon Quest XI, and Wolfenstein II).
Super Mario Maker Deluxe – It’s bound to be a 2D platformer-heavy year on Switch, and nobody deserves to kick that off more than Mario. It’ll be strange to have two Wii U re-releases back-to-back, but it would be nearly as strange to have Kirby and Yoshi side-scrollers on the system before their founding father. While this might burn some Wii U owners, it will (like Smash Switch) have substantial new content, including a Super Mario Bros. 2 palette,, a ton of power-ups and enemy types, and maybe even ramps. And this, coupled with Smash, is the perfect way to kick start their online infrastructure.
Backup: Even if we don’t get Mario Maker, we’ll get a new 2D Mario with significant online functionality. Let us not forget that while a new Mario movie might be coming out in the near future, followed by an entire theme park world, Mr. Jump Man will won’t be far from the spotlight this year. Plus, Nintendo knows that 2D Mario games sell like hotcakes and push consoles.
Kirby Star Allies – Initially teased at E3 2017 and elaborated upon in last September’s Nintendo Direct, this Kirby entry seems nearly finished. HAL Laboratory is incredibly prolific, and Kirby games come and go like the wind, so I wouldn’t be surprised if this dropped even earlier. I’m betting it releases before Yoshi, though, mostly since it has a proper title.
Backup: It’ll have been three years since Mario Party 10 on the Wii U, so a core installment in this franchise feels due for a return in the near future. Plus, the series is made for Switch’s pick-up-and-play co-op, and if it features the robust online play it should, it’ll help build confidence in Nintendo’s online platform.
Yoshi – Good-Feel have already announced their next title is coming in 2018, and by the looks of the trailer it’s fairly far along. As a fairly minor release, I see no reason to wait until later in the year unless it’s genuinely not ready, and the typically dry early summer season seems ripe for a Yoshi game. Plus, Wooly World was a June release, and this would allow Kirby Star Allies to divide a couple Mario-heavy months.
Backup: Early summer also seems like the right time for a game that caters to kids fresh out of classroom, ready to tend to virtual pets after they’re set hopelessly adrift by the lack of a schoolday’s firm structure. A Nintendogs game could scratch that itch, and co-op play allowing interaction between cats, dogs, and ferrets could capture the hearts and minds of those millions of early grade schoolers enraptured by shovelware pet sims. It’ll be region-locked, though, since ferrets aren’t legal in every state.
Pikmin 4 – It’s a bit hard to decipher Nintendo’s innerworkings since the internal shake-up a couple years back, but it sure seems like EPD Production Group No. 4 hasn’t released anything since Super Mario Maker. And since they’ll just Deluxe-ify that game, and Miyamoto has commented multiple times that the game is “progressing,” if not basically complete, the wait to accidentally drown more flower elves might finally come to a close.
Backup: Is it be too much to suggest yet another 2D platformer might launch this year? Maybe…but it’s totally possible Retro has been working on Donkey Kong: King of the Kremlin(g), the final (and oddly politicized) chapter of the Retro Studios reboot trilogy. If so, it could breathe some life into the console over the summer, since Tropical Freeze’s lackluster sales won’t position its sequel for a more competitive fall release. Plus, the Donkey Kong ride rumored as part of the Super Nintendo World as well as New Donk City’s ape obsession signal an interest in re-establishing the brand.
Fire Emblem Switch – With Fire Emblem Heroes a massive success, but Fire Emblem Warriors largely flying under the radar, late summer could be the sweet spot for releasing the Fire Emblem Switch. There was a three year wait between Awakening and Fates, and another three between Fates and now, so the stars are clearly aligned. And we’ll take just one game this time, Intelligent Systems; please focus your other efforts on the Advance Wars reboot.
Backup: This could also be a great window for indies to release so as to avoid competition with fall’s AAA titans. Project Octopath Traveller, which is so hotly anticipated it could probably carry a month on its own, could also sneak in here.
F-Zero SX – With Mario Kart 9 probably not releasing for another year or two due to the success of 8 Deluxe, this could be the year Nintendo brings back its punchiest speedster. My guess is it’ll be a collaborative effort (maybe once again with the folks at Sega, or maybe with the Fast Racing Neo devs since they’ve put their time in as tried-and-true Nintendo supporters). X released in November while GX launched in August, so I’ll average them out for a late summer/ early fall release.
Backup: Open your eyes. With Breath of the Wild DLC officially complete and the next major Zelda likely years away, Nintendo has to somehow capitalize off 2017’s Zelda-mania. And what better way than with a classic top-down adventure, possibly reusing assets from A Link Between Worlds? Whether an entirely new adventure or a reimagining of an old game like Link’s Awakening, such a game could easily see the light of day this fall.
Luigi’s Mansion 3 – Next Level Games’ last effort was Metroid Prime: Federation Force, a game that bombed harder than a five-power-bomb drop. *chortles and pushes glasses bridge further up nose* But they’re a very talented dev deserving of grand redemption, and it’s coming this Halloween when they revisit the ghost-vacuuming series they brought to 3DS. It’s a perfect fit for NLG, since it’ll allow them to transition to developing for more powerful hardware under an umbrella they’ve designed for themselves, and a seasonally appropriate Mario-franchise follow-up to Super Mario Odyssey, released a year ago this month. As the tenth highest-selling game on 3DS, there’s no way this series is going dormant for long, and though some suspect they might be working on a new Punch-Out! entry, I think ARMS has taken Punch-Out!’s place for now.
Backup: Last year’s shocking success Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle demands a sequel, but in the meantime, who would object to Ubisoft and Nintendo partnering for Super Mario RPG 2? The first proper sequel to the SNES paradigm, it’ll be fun, hilarious, and a reason to put Geno back on the map for an eventual playable Smash appearance.
Animal Crossing Switch – The last main entry in the Animal Crossing franchise was New Leaf in 2012, meaning that even if this were to drop in January, it will have been the longest gap between entries. And with New Leaf’s astonishing success, as well as multiple mediocre spin-offs and mobile game amping up hype, Animal Crossing Switch could be the biggest Switch game of the year. Rejiggering of studio personnel can make it hard to know who is working on what, but what we might tentatively call EPD Production Group No. 2 is extremely productive, having released nearly two games a year for the past few years. But, mysteriously, nothing is on their slate for this year, a year when Nintendo might be lacking in its heaviest hitters if Pokemon and Metroid Prime 4 are the 2019 or 2020 games many believe them to be. But this leaves the field open for Animal Crossing Switch to be front and center, a sales juggernaut with a history of November releases. And did I mention earlier that Tom Nook will be one of the 10-ish new characters in Smash Switch?
Backup: I said if Pokemon were a 2019 or 2020 game. But November is when the biggest of the big guns come out to play, and nothing is bigger than Pokemon. Not enough time for a new gen, you say? No problem, because we’re getting Red & Blue 2, featuring more alt versions of past monsters (like the icy Vulpix and long-necked Eggsecutor of Sun & Moon). This half-step could give The Pokemon Company some time to adapt to HD development without forcing them to work from scratch and miss a holiday season. The comparatively lukewarm commercial reception to Ultra Sun & Moon seems to ensure players want a break from that world anyway.
Retro’s new IP – Nintendo’s most revered and talented stateside developer, Retro Studios only makes fantastic games, and about half of those are masterpieces. Over the past decade, they’ve done a stunning job revitalizing the Donkey Kong franchise, but Tropical Freeze’s sales were meager. Since that game’s release in February 2014, they’ve had over four years to work on their next project, which seems like far more time than they would need on any sort of DK game. My guess is they’ve been hard at work on a new IP (if not also co-developing a trilogy-ending DK game), and that it’ll be a showstopper. Whether it’s an epic solo quest or a multiplayer bonanza, it would be the perfect Christmas gift for all their patient fans who have been waiting for the end of the BBQ like loyal pups.
Backup: Nobody really knows how long Bayonetta 3 has been in development. Though its brief Game Awards trailer would suggest it’s a nascent project, it could be significantly further along if Platinum started development shortly after Bayonetta 2. A third entry in the series could prove a bewitchingly perfect bookend to a year jump-started by the Bayonetta 1 & 2 collection. And the prolific Platinum Studios works in Witch Time, so anything is possible.