The Calm before E³ 2012 – Crazy Prediction Time

April 11, 2012

Just got done re-watching last year´s Nintendo press conference, then decided to take a look at when I posted the previous prediction-blog entry and found out that I´m right on time. Anyway, yes, it´s “that time of the year” again! Gamers´ christmas is almost upon us, with less than two months away.  From June 5th to 7th, publisher from all around the world will once again show off what they´re going to deliver in the near and far away future of gaming. Strangely enough, this E3 2012 is an odd one for me, personally. I was hyped beyond belief last year, which lead to a little bit of a let down. Wii U and its tablet-controller were unveiled, but we didn´t get to see any real, exclusive games, just smallish mini-game prototypes. Meanwhile, this year´s E3 is bound to feature a total Wii U blow-out. Yet, for the first time in a long time I´m unsure if I´ll get the new console at launch. But more about that in the next paragraph. No matter my personal hype-levels, predicting stuff, mixing the likely and crazy, is always fun. So let´s begin the Flyingfisch´ predictions for E3 2012!

 Fanboy´s favorite: Nintendo

 As I just mentioned in the introduction above, I´m strangely unhyped about the Wii U-system. It´s been clear for a long time now  that Nintendo´s nextgen-console wouldn´t be up to par with the supposed specs of Xbox 720 and PlayStation 4. But when rumors went from 4-5 times a 360, to 2-3 times a 360, to “on par”, and, as of lately, not even being as powerful as a 360 in certain areas of its hardware – that´s a bitter pill to swallow. By no means would I consider myself a graphics whore. I never understood how any enthusiastic gamer could let his fun be dictated by hardware, instead of software. When console gamers were still happy with the PS2´s SD-visuals, I was enjoying higher resolutions and smoother, more detailed graphics on my PC. At the same time now, I have no problem having fun with Radiant Historia, a 2D-ish Nintendo DS-game that I´m playing via my 3DS´s backwards compatibility, when I was playing Deus Ex: Human Revolution and Assassin´s Creed: Brotherhood, as well as Gears of War 3 not too long ago. The heck, I even tried playing Zelda II: Link´s Adventure, though I stopped that. Not due to bad graphics, but because it´s too frustratingly hard for me – shut up, you! What it all comes down to: I have no problems with enjoying games from any technological point in time, as long as they´re simply that: great games.

However, there´s a limit to it all. For me that limit is launching a brand new nextgen-console in 2012 that´s not even clearly more powerful than a 2006 console in every area of its hardware. It´s got nothing to do with actual game graphics. For me, it becomes a matter of principles. As much as I love Nintendo, I *do not want* to day 1-support a video game system that´s that disappointing in terms of raw power. And it truly is a matter of principles. I wouldn´t complain if the Wii U was only insignificantly stronger than a 360 in some areas. But it is absolutely unacceptable for it to be weaker in parts. Absolutely unacceptable. I do realize that this might sound like an unreasonable, irrational rant, but that´s just my very personal stance on these matters. I´m truly annoyed by gamers that´d rather play hardware than software – but there´s a difference between going for the blue ocean or simply taking a yellow stream of piss. Of course, all of those hardware rumors are, well, rumors. So I guess the above is something preemptive in its entirety. Let´s hope it wasn´t justified.

 Now, on to happier topics: Games! The one Wii U-game I cannot imagine *not* to be at E3 2012 is Pikmin 3. In my mind, this has long been confirmed as one of the new system´s launch-titles. While being loved by the fan-crowd, the Pikmin-franchise isn´t Nintendo´s most powerful one, so putting it at launch would give it a nice boost. Also, I couldn´t imagine any more suited titles to show off the improved graphical capabilities, if only for HD. And aside from the visuals, there´s just a ton of ideas that the tablet-controller could be used for. Another title I´m looking forward to is RetroStudios´ nextgen-game. I really hope they´re working on a “hardcore” title with impressive graphics, and not being wasted on another 2D-platformer that could have been done by any of Nintendo´s many studios. In a perfect world, RetroStudios would be working on a western RPG (*cough* Raven Blade *cough*), giving birth to Nintendo´s answer to The Elder Scrolls and Dark Souls. More likely, though, they´re developing some kind of first-person shooter. Even so, I´m looking forward to seeing that shooter, because there´s really only two developers in the world that create shooters that go beyond the Call of Duty-archetype: Valve and RetroStudios. As for this year´s surprise franchise-revival, I´d like to see a new Startropics-game. I hardly know anything about the franchise, but I´ve been told that it´s something like Nintendo´s answer to Sony´s Uncharted-IP, so just like a RetroStudio-developed WRPG, stepping into the blockbuster action-market would make for another interesting move. Since I´m actually having trouble to come up with more first-party related predictions, here´s the one thing I want above all else: A first-party announcement that has the gaming world in awe, both from stunning visuals AND daring, revolutionary gameplay. For a faint, spontaneous idea, I´d like to see some kind of open world game set in a sky world. Yeah, something along the lines of Skyward Sword being done right …

There´s not much of interest to predict about third-party support for the Wii U. Basically, ports, ports, ports. Accompanied by some ridiculous excuses for why game XYZ won´t be released on the Wii U (“if we were to make game for Wii U, we feel like we´d have to make good use of the tablet-controller. Since game XYZ doesn´t do that, we´ll not release it on Wii U.” sigh). There´ll be Assassin´s Creed 3 and Darksiders 2. Maybe Resident Evil 6 and the new Call of Duty. But what will third-parties be offering beyond their multiplatform stuff? Well, there´s Ubisoft´s Killerfreaks, which looked surprisingly nice at last year´s E3. But you cannot shake of the feelings of this being another Red Steel-repeat, turning out to be some half-assed token-effort. Prove my doubts wrong, Ubisoft! Other than that … nothing. I totally expect Square Enix to announce Final Fantasy 13 Versus for other systems than just the PS3 (they´d deserve to go bankrupt if they keep it PS3-exclusive), but not at E3. That´s something for Tokyo Game Show. Same reason why I don´t expect a new Monolith Soft-title at E3. Generally speaking, though, I expect more Wii U-announcements from Japanese developers as the year proceeds, while the West keeps putting lazy ports on the new console.

The Nintendo 3DS is in a completely different situation. We already got announcements for Kingdom Hearts 3D and Theathrhythm, both being released in summer, with Mario Tennis Open coming next month already. Here´s hoping Monster Hunter 3G will be announced, featuring an added online-mode for European and American gamers. The latter half of the year will see Paper Mario and Fire Emblem: Awakening, and a new 2D-Mario platformer is heavily rumored to be shown. Beyond that, I´m hoping to get a first trailer for Super Smash Bros. 3D, with a release date for early 2013. Since it´d be dumb to release both the 3DS- and Wii U-version of the next Smash Bros. at the same time (at least, it´d be horrible for my personal sanity), spreading them out over at least a year makes sense. Sakurai hinted at the handheld-version being a more personal experience, while the console-version would set up the grand stage. So, I´m expecting Smash Bros. 3D to be announced at this year´s E3, missing an elaborate story-mode, but introducing new, exciting gameplay-mechanics and enough content to be happy anyways, while a Wii U-version will be released some time in 2014 for the Wii U – letting 3DS-gamers transfer their individually equipped handheld-characters to the console-version (yeah, Sakurai´s totally putting some Kid Icarus into Smash Bros!). The one franchise only I and like three other people in the world care about, is Endless Ocean/Forever Blue. This should look fantastic in 3D, with the diver hovering in front of the screen, fish popping out even farther and using the depth to present the … uhm, depths. And, of course, there will be Zelda. Between a brand new 3DS-Zelda, a Majora´s Mask-remake or a New The Legend of Zelda-game, anything is possible. We´ll get at least one of them.

On the third-party side of new announcements, I´ll keep firm and demand Final Fantasy 15 to be a 3DS-title. That´s not just a fanboy´s wish, though. I truly believe that the only way to get the Final Fantasy-franchise back on track is by shrinking down its *glamour*. Get rid of Dragon Ball-esque attacks, forget about those fancy cutscenes that suck away so much of the game´s budget. Concentrate on what made the Final Fantasy-franchise popular: Creating a great, fun game. Maybe that´s just me, but Bravely Default (which is hopefully announced for a western release at E3) looks so much more charming and interesting than Final Fantasy 13 could ever wish to be. You don´t need to spend 5 years+ on high end-graphics to make a fun Final Fantasy-title. And maybe it takes putting the franchise on a Nintendo-handheld to realize that. Aside from a MH3G localization, I´d like to see Resident Evil: Revelations 2, or whatever it´d be named. Sales in Japan were good, though only solid at best in the rest of the world. Still, the first Revelations-game received lots of praise and 3DS-gamers from all over the world would love to get another entry of the RE-series. And while PSVita-fans are heralding it as the savior for their system, I´d actually be interested in a proper 3DS-version of the next Call of Duty, supporting the Circle Pad Pro as well as a Touchscreen-aiming option. Not expecting much from western developers generally, though, they don´t like money, so supporting the 3DS would make no sense, amirite. More Japanese games to be seen at, again, Tokyo Game Show or Nintendo´s fall conference.

Now, the one big surprise besides the Wii U blow-out would be a 3DS-revision that so many gamers are clamoring for. Honestly, I have no idea what Nintendo could change about the current Nintendo 3DS-model to make a revision appear as hot as the DS lite did when compared to the DS phat back then. There a some people that think the 3DS is ugly, but I don´t see what you could drastically change about its looks. Personally, all I want is better battery life and maybe a slide pad with better grip. Just for “the lulz”, I´d love for a revision to still lack a second slide pad, just to spite the silly, annoying “I´m waiting for a revision with two slide pads“-crowd. Anyway, the reason why I´m speculating about a 3DS-revision in such a casual way is that I honestly couldn´t care less about it. In times where idiots (yes, I think an ad hominem is justified here) spend 600 Euro/Dollars on a new tablet *every* year, a new 500 Euro/Dollar smartphone *every* year and a 300 Euro/Dollar handheld that´s got nothing announced for the near and far away future, in times like these, I can very well justify spending a measly 150 Euro/Dollar on a 3DS-revision. I would have never thought that I´d ever think like that -I bought a DS phat at launch and kept using it until I got my 3DS-, but all the insanity and neglect of crazy expensive prices for luxury devices changed my mind on that. So, uhm, … thank you?

Microsoft´s effort machine

I gave away my Xbox 360 during last christmas, so I have no Microsoft-console at the moment. I also don´t have any plans to get a Xbox 720. Being multiplatform doesn´t make sense for my software-likings, so having a 3DS, a gaming-PC and maybe a Wii U will do the trick. However, it´s going to be interesting what Microsoft is gonna do with their nextgen-system, and more importantly, when they´re gonna do it. Are they rushing it out to avoid giving Nintendo too much of a headstart? Are they going all out in terms of power to go for the kill move against Sony? And what´s going to be their lineup? Exclusives haven´t been Microsofts stronghold, but can they really beat the competition without these incentives? The new Halo-game will be a nice good buy-gift for 360-gamers. Maybe it´s time for Kinect to go *hardcore*?

The Third Place: Sony

I´m (not) sorry, but i just don´t care.

Conclusion: 

Phew, I guess that´s that then. Dunno if you got the same feeling during reading the above text, but it seems kinda … boring, doesn´t it? Even assuming we´ll get all the stuff I predicted, it´s all great, promising stuff, but nothing too revolutionary (well, except for where I predicted a “daring, revolutionary” game), but consisting of sequels and known franchises. Especially for the Wii U, it remains to be seen if Nintendo can successfully manage to make their first HD-system feel fresh beyond upped resolution. E3 2012 would be a good place for revealing new incentives and directions for this stale growing industry. With that in mind, I´d like to conclude this year´s crazy prediction with the following words: Have a nice E3 and fuck you, Apple!