At some point of the year, E3 feels awfully far away. When it is in the coming then, it feels like it´s been just a day since the previous one. Unneeded to say that pre-E3 time has hit hard four days ago, when – we´ll get to that. E3 2011 takes place from June 7th – 9th, with conferences starting on Monday 6th. When I wrote last year that E3 2010 was shaping up to become a great one, I meant it. What I planned to write in this entrance passage of this year´s prediction article was the c0mplete opposite. By no means did I think that E3 2011 would be a bad one, but a … rather boring show. An E3 of games, rather than shocking announcements and revelations. Again, this changed about four days ago. As in the previous years, I´ll mostly focus on Nintendo stuff, since that´s what I´m most interested in, and I´m no phoney to pretend excitement for things that I´m not excited for. So let´s start with the FlyingFisch´ predictions of E3 2011!
Fanboy´s Favorite: Nintendo
Shit – that is what would be a good single-word description of the Wii´s software lineup for 2011. There´s been nothing, and there will be more of that. Ah, well, we got Kirby and Mario Sports Mix, and we´re going to see Wii Play Motion. I guess that´s better than nothing? Not really. Reality is, the Wii is in a comatose state, both in software- and hardware-sales, though the software-side is off dramatically worse. There´s literally not a single promising third-party title to look forward to (except for DQ10, sigh), and the only Nintendo-titles to wait for are long-overdue localizations of year-old JRPGs and The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. I guess that releasing those three titles could somewhat excuse the shit first half of the year, but after these three games, it´s over, nada, finito, the end. And with all due respect: I don´t see Nintendo announcing enough totally unknown high-profile games for the Wii to keep it running in 2012. That is where the happenings from the past four days come into play.
Project Café, N6 or simply: Wii 2. Ever since Game Informer published information on a Wii 2-reveal at this year´s E3, together with a bunch of other informations, a non-fact-megaton took place. More and more reputable (lol) websites started to report on anonymous sources, claiming that indeed the Wii 2 is coming. That by itself isn´t news-worthy, but nobody would have expected Nintendo to show off their new home console at E3 2011 already, much less in-depth details. However, all these reports say that Wii 2 will be “a notch” more powerful than Xbox 360, feature a 6 inch screen and better motion controls than PlayStation Move. Also, big publishers are supposed to have development kits for months and and anonymous comment made it sound as if this would be a system that´ll please all self-proclaimed hardcore-gamers. That is it. What´s notable is that none of this is reported as rumors, but a actual facts. As for a launch-date of the Wii-successor, one source mentioned that Nintendo planned to launch these holidays, but delayed it back to Q1/Q2 2012 due to 3DS.
What can you expect of Nintendo´s E3-conference, then? You can see my mock-up of the N6 just below this blog entry. That is what I expect. Nintendo´s answer to take over all of our homes, introducing a 6 inch-tablet in addition to improved Wii-remotes. The actual system, that doubles as a docking station, streams content to the tablet. Even when you´re not fully engaged in some hardcore-game experience, where you´d use the wiimote and nunchuck, you can just grab the tablet and access all the other functions of the Wii 2, like social networking, entertainment stuff like movies, and playing smaller games that you purchased online, as well as accessing bonus-content from retail-games. Now, why a tablet, you might ask? Because that would solve one of the biggest staples of gaming: Destroying the boundary to a single place at home. Whenever someone wants to play a game, he or she has to sit down in the living room and devote time exclusively to that environment. That makes playing games a very luxurious experience for a lot of casual gamers. You´re probably familiar with “it´s just a game, leave it and come”, answered by you with an annoyed “let me just save!”. A tablet would make away with such limited occasions for gaming. Actually, there´s a great example of a single game where this matter applies to: Animal Crossing. When I bought the GameCube-version way back then, no matter how neat the game might have been, it was too boring to motivate myself to sit down in front of the TV. When the NDS-version was released, I kept playing it for hours. Because I could play next to the PC, while watching something on TV, or quickly close my DS if I had enough. The barrier of exclusive environment was shattered.
If it was a Nintendo-commercial, it´d go like that: You wake up in the morning, walk into the living room. You see the tablet, that´s sitting in the docking station, and a light keeps blinking. You pick up the tablet and the screen turns on: You have a new message from one of your friends. You smile and walk into the kitchen, make yourself a cup of hot chocolate, sit down at the table and touch an icon on the tablet to read the message. You decide to reply, so you type something on an up-popping virtual keyboard and click “send”. You look at the time display and realize that it´s a bit early, so you start playing Cut The Rope. After a while, you remember that you could use the time you have a bit better and after a few clicks through the tablet´s menu, you start Monster Hunter 4. You cannot play the full game – you´d need wiimote and nunchuck and the TV for that – but you can access your MH4-account through the tablet and organize your items, change your current equipment, make sure that the damn cats produce more honey, and so on. Then you see that a friend has come online, and, oh, it´s one of your fellow MH4-players, so start a text-chat with him or her, and so you plan for your next game-session. It´s finally time to leave the house, so you put the tablet back into the docking station. And just before leaving the house, you grab your 3DS. Fín.
That´s it for Wii 2. Maybe Nintendo won´t show anything about their next home c0nsole and all of these reports are revealed to be fake. But let´s hope that it´s all true, because nobody can want to live through the year of 2012 with the Wii. That´s not going to happen. What´s definitely going to happen is the announcement of dozens of games for Nintendo 3DS. We already know that Super Mario Galaxy 3 will be shown off at E3. Additionally, Mario Kart and Paper Mario are sure bets. Since they won´t be out by then, Ocarina of Time 3D, Kid Icarus and Starfox 64 3D will make an appearance, too. Add Resident Evil: Revelations, and you have all the known stuff for 3DS. But what about more?
The Wii 2-hype kind of ruins this prediction, because I believe it´d be overkill, but a Smash Bros. for 3DS would make for a great announcement. Honestly, it doesn´t matter for which system, a Smash Bros.-game would always be celebrated. Just make sure to add Ridley and Krystal as playable characters this time, Nintendo! Other than that, I want to see a new Fire Emblem-series for 3DS. I´m currently playing Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars and it is a perfect fit for a handheld. Your typical FE-story would blow that Tom Clancy-stuff out of cold water, though. I´m not doing any game-predictions for the Wii 2, since that´s a risky prediction in itself, but if it wasn´t for that rumor, a new F-Zero-game would be nice. But that´d probably be a better showcase for a new HD-system.
What I want to see from Third-Parties is the biggest support one could imagine. What this means: Give me Final Fantasy 15 exclusively for 3DS, Square Enix! Give me Monster Hunter 4 Portable exclusively for 3DS, Capcom (splitting the fanbase would be the best way to ruin the franchise, which is why I think MH-games should stick to one platform. Obviously, I´d prefer 3DS over PSP2) ! Give me Zone of the Enders 3, Konami, as well as full-fledged Pro Evolution Soccer (with online-multiplayer, sigh). Give me a high-quality Mass Effect-spin off, Electronic Arts! Give me GTA, Take Two! Give me Assassin´s Creed, Ubisoft, but not a shitty, dumbed-down version. That´s it for the big names. I hope to see a lot of new stuff, too, good new stuff.
It´s not dead, yet, but close to it. I expect to see localization announcments of Xenoblade and The Last Story for Wii. Zelda: Skyward Sword will be an early fall release or another dual-release like Twilight Princess, releasing in the holidays, both as a Wii- and a Wii 2-version. Add in the recently announced Kirby-game and you have the last breath of the Wii.
As for complete out-of-the-blue predictions, I won´t let go of a big, epic Berserk-game, that lets you control Guts and swing the sword by yourself, using a wiimote with motionplus. Other than that, I have little to predict here. Wii 2 consumes most of my imagination.
Microsoft´s effort machine
That is really just me, so don´t take it as me claiming that it is a fact for all of us, but the Xbox 360 is even more dead to me than the Wii is. There´s two games I´m looking forward to, and I might buy one of them for PC instead of my 360. The biggest title is Mass Effect 3, of course. The final part of the trilogy, showing us if (male) Shepard can defend the galaxy against the Reapers´ menace. The last DLC “Arrival” was disappointing, but latest informations about the third ME-game have been quite positive. My one and only expectation for ME3 is that it is fun to play (and re-play) and that the solution to defeating the Reapers is NOT bringing all alien races together and kill the enemy with a combined fleet. That´d be utterly unbelievable (in the negative sense). And boring. And show me Tali´s face. That´s it. That other game is Deus Ex: Human Revolution. I never played the first to Deus Ex-games, but from what I saw of this one, it looks like a game filled with options to interact with the world around you. I love non-linear challenges, so this should please me greatly. But it might be even more pleasing on my PC. We´ll see about that.
The Third Place: Sony
I´m (not) sorry, but i just don´t care.
Aaand that is it. Another E3 already, eh? I know it´s crazy with all these Wii 2-rumors, even moreso since the 3DS launched early this year. But it´s too exciting, too tantalizing to buy into all of that. The 3DS is a fantastic handheld and it´s destined to see a vast amount of great games. But a new Nintendo-home console, with another crazy feature? That´s the real deal, at least during these few days of conferences and hands-ons. It´s a hard wait, but in less then 1,5 months, we will know the truth about Wii 2. Is this another Nintendo ON-situation, or is it really happening? No matter how tiny the number of games worth playing, E3 is always the most exciting time for any gamers, and I´m happy that this year´s expo is shaping up to be more interesting than I had previously thunk.