The Calm before E3 2017 – Crazy Prediction Time

April 23, 2017

This will be the first prediction article since 2014. Last year, Nintendo’s Zelda-exclusive entrance made it moot to speculate much. And I honestly forgot about giving my predictions for the year 2015. So here it is, the return to glory, my crazy predictions for E3 2017. It marks the first E3 post-Switch launch and there’s also Sony that has to prove a lot. Also, for the first time ever, I’ll have to put Microsoft on the back-burner. Their new philosophy of having no Xbox-exclusives and instead putting everything on PC, too, has made me lose any interest in their console. It doesn’t help that their first-party games output is on an alltime low point, unless you enjoy driving sims, which I don’t. But let’s look at what will hopefully be present at E3 2017!

Fanboy’s Favourite: Nintendo

Nintendo’s first and foremost task is to keep the current momentum of the Switch. It’s selling even better than the Wii did back then, but it’ll be hard to stay at that level of sales. But Wii-like success or not, quality games that drive hardware sales need to be announced!

That’s why I want to preface this section with a simple statement: I want ALL my games on Switch! This would have been fanboy-drivel in the past, had someone said “I want all my games on Wii U/Wii!”. But the Switch is different. Finally, I am free from the TV! I no longer have to sit in that one spot in front of the television, no, instead I can play my games wherever I wish. And that isn’t necessarily out of my living place. It also means I can play lying on a couch, chilling in bed, taking it with me into the kitchen while preparing a meal. And I can play it on the big TV-screen if I choose so. The level of comfort the Switch brought to the world of video games is unprecedented and can no longer be undone for my gaming tastes. So when I say “I want ALL my games on Switch!”, it means I want all my games to have this level of freedom and comfort. And it just so happens that Nintendo is the only company offering a hybrid system.

Since I’m already at it, let me talk about 3rd-party predictions. Western publishers will be disappointing. I expect two key showings at E3: Electronic Art’s FIFA 18 will be shown and made a big deal about. But I see two significant problems coming in: For one, the game will use a last-gen engine, emphasizing that EA is unwilling to seriously support the Switch, as in saying “it’s not worth it porting Frozenbite, because we won’t ever release any future games on this system”. And secondly, the game will be missing a couple of key features when compared to the PS4-/Xbox One-versions. Which will be unfortunate to the n-th degree, because despite those issues, it’s probably going to be a fun game, perfect for a handheld. But it’ll fail commercially and give EA an excuse to say “see, our games don’t sell on Nintendo-systems!”. The end. *sigh* Honestly, I’d love to be wrong about that prediction, but it’s the only outcome I can currently envision. And then there’s Bethesda’s The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim. Yes, it’s an old game that dozens of millions of gamers have already played. But I will say this: As long as it’s a good port, there’ll be plenty of hype for this version. I know because I’m kinda looking forward to it myself. I’ve played the game on both my old PC and laptop, but I never finished it. Having such a game on a handheld would immensely raise the chances of me beating the game. And nobody can say that the Switch-audience doesn’t love big open world-games, considering it’s number one-launch title. If this game can release in late summer/early fall, I could see it be a fantastic bridge title between Zelda and Mario, especially for gamers who prefer a more realistic artstyle (because there’s another big title announced for this year that will also satisfy fans of open world-games, except with a completely different art direction. But more about that one later). If Bethesda can maybe add some new Nintendo-exclusive stuff (like a Link-costume or a new dragon that’s called Volvagia or whatever), it would give even more incentive to Nintendo-fans to dig in.

Otherwise, I’m not sure what western 3rd-parties will be offering. If Ubisoft gave a damn about the Switch, they’d at the very least announce South Park: The Fractured but Whole for the system. If they’re fully committed, the new Assassin’s Creed-game should follow suit, too. But with them only having shown Steep, Rayman Legends and Monopoly so far, I’m not confident in them at all. The one semi-big third party-title that should be announced is Grand Theft Auto 5 from Rockstar. But rumors say that L.A. Noire is getting a port. Oh well … In terms of “it makes too much sense, so it’s probably not gonna happen”, I see Overwatch and Rocket League be ported to Switch. Both are social phenomena that could get even bigger by bringing them from online-only to local-multiplayer experiences. It’d be a good opportunity for these games to introduce offline-modes, too.

Now for Japanese 3rd-party developers. Much brighter outlook, although many announcements could end up being withhold until Tokyo Game Show in early fall. But ignoring the latter, some of the titles I expect for Switch are as follows:

All the obvious ports should become a reality. The upcoming Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth – Hacker’s Memory has no reason to not be released on Switch. Same for Persona 5, which would be so much better on a handheld than a console. I actively decided against getting the PS4-version, because I simply cannot play a 100 hours story-focused JRPG tied to a TV. Persona 4 Golden was so great partly because I could play it on the PS Vita. Unless Sony pays Atlus to keep a Switch-port from happening, it’d be true madness not to make this port happen. Lastly is the Dragon Quest 11-version for Switch.  It releases at the end of July in Japan. No idea if the Switch-version is planned for a simultaneous release, but even if it isn’t, it needs to be shown. And it better be based on the PS4-version, unless Square Enix wants to become the industry’s laughing stock. As for an out-of-nowhere neat surprise, I’d love to see Nier: Automata get ported to Switch. Platinum Games was very postive about the system and the game deserves all the attention it can get. And there could be exclusive Nintendo-themed costumes for 2B. Sexy Link-tunic dress maybe? ;>

But Switch needs new game announcements, too, so let’s get to them. These are based on what I’d love to see, not on existing rumors.

First of all, From Software needs to materialize its promise and deliver a game for Switch. Worst case scenario is a port of any of the existing Dark Souls-titles, something that would be boring for most players, as Souls-fans already played them to no end. I’d like to see a new franchise that’s exclusive to Nintendo, similar to how Demon’s Souls is exclusive to Sony. I have two predictions to make about such a new From Software-franchise for Switch: 1.) A slightly more light-hearted fantasy-action RPG. Emphasis on “slightly”, as I wouldn’t want some silly cartoon game. But speaking of cartoons, the kind of atmosphere I’m imagining here is that of the old cartoon-series “Dungeons and Dragons”, where a group of teenagers visits an amusement park and somehow gets lost in a parallel universe where dragons and magic are real. Despite being a kids cartoon, the atmosphere was very serious, oppressive, and gave a constant feeling of danger looming somewhere. What’s best, however, was how full of crazy secrets that world was. So when I say that I want a more light-hearted game, I mean an action-RPG with less focus on scary, tough fights, and more focus on creating a surreal atmosphere, induced with sympathetic, voiced NPCs. Less focus on stats, more focus on actual effects of your skills. Basically: “What if the Zelda-team helped From Software creating a game”. 2.) The second option for a Switch-exclusive From Software-game would be to simply make a game based on BLAME! or Knights of Sidonia. It’d be a scifi-take on the Dark Souls-formula. Focus on long-range weapons over swords. Not much more to be said about that, just watch a trailer of these manga/anime to get a sense of it.

Then there’s Capcom. Oh Capcom. I’ll put aside my annoyance over Monster Hunter Stories being released on 3DS instead of Switch in the West, sigh. But speaking of which, the Monster Hunter-franchise is *the* big topic here. The problem is that Capcom historically likes to have their own announcement event for MonHun, so it’s unlikely to see it at E3. But be it E3 or TGS, I predict that there’ll be an HD-version of Monster Hunter XX for Switch released in late fall/early winter in Japan, followed by a spring release in the West. They’ll also announce Monster Hunter 5 at the same event for the following year. Basically, a 1:1 repeat of how it went on 3DS (MH3 Ultimate first, MH4 the next year). I hope those silly PlayStation 4-rumors turn out to be wrong (stating that the main-version of MH5 is made for PS4, while Switch gets a lesser portable-version), although I’d take the entertainment of “Capcpom” driving yet another franchise into the ground by trying to appeal to an imaginary western audience. Keep MonHun MonHun, for god’s sake! But Monster Hunter isn’t enough from maybe the most important 3rd-party publisher during the Switch’  hardware conception. Despite personally not beingt that fond of the game, I expect Resident Evil 7 to be ported in form of a “Complete Edition” with all the released DLC. Capcom already talked about how they might look into getting RE7 to run on the Switch, so that’s already a precedence. Adding to that the fact that RE7 wasn’t a mega seller like previous series entries, it’d actually make sense to get another couple 100k units sold, while at the same time preparing Switch-owners for RE8. Following that train of thought, a release of the RE4-6 collection for PS4/One also makes a lot of sense. I don’t see any new franchises being announced. If we’re lucky, there’ll be a new Phoenix Wright-game.

I expect a bunch of games from various other Japanese developers and publishers. Bandai Namco Entertainment ought to show a reveal-trailer of their Tales of-title for Switch. Announce Code Vein for Switch, sigh. Sega will show more of Sonic Forces. I’d hope Konami brings something to the table after Bomberman’s success. Pro Evolution Soccer and maybe, although that’s from the realm of dreams, but maybe a new Silent Hill-game. Ideally Silent Hill: Shattered Memories 2, because the first game for Wii was fantastic. Unlikely to be shown at E3, but I want to see all of those smaller niche-titles that would typically be released on the PS Vita. Visual novels and such. And I hope to see some surprise-title like Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon and Opoona, too. Again, many of those are more likely to be shown at TGS, if they happen at all. But that’s it for 3rd-parties. Now on to my 1st-party predictions.

There will be big blow-out of the Switch’s Virtual Console-service. Not only will the amount of instantly available titles surprise everyone (100+ games), but there’ll be various business models, offering both the traditional “buy and keep” option as well as a subscription service. Previously purchased VC-titles from 3DS/Wii U can be played on Switch without any upgrade-fee, showing Nintendo’s good will towards its loyal fans. Most importantely, though: There will be online-multiplayer for all VC-games with multiplayer. Welcome to playing Melee online!

Other then the obvious huge Splatoon 2-showing, Super Mario Odyssey will be heavily demoed. Breath of the Wild’s new difficulty-mode as well as the new story-scenario will be shown. Splatoon 2 will have a lot of presence, considering its July release. The three most shocking announcements, though, will be: 1.) Xenoblade Chronicles 2 atually releases this fall in Europe and the USA! It’ll prove why a 100% MonolithSoft-developed open world-game is even superior to Breath of the Wild. 2.) Pokémon Stars will be unveiled. First home-console Pokémon-game. Massive hype. 3.) RetroStudio’s game. This will be a sneak-preview into 2018. It’ll be a non-cartoony 3D-game, maybe a shooter, maybe an action-RPG. The type of game the rest of Nintendo’s development studios isn’t good at.

Another group of smaller scale games will be announced: 1.) Endless Ocean 3 by Arika, 2.) a revival of Cosmic Walker, 3.) Wave Race and 4.) the long wished-for F-Zero NX.

More interestingly, Nintendo will have a trifecta of 3rd-party collaborations. These ambitious prestige projects will encompass The Last Story 2, Beyond Good and Evil 2 and Silent Hill: Shattered Memories 2.

To smooth things out, Nintendo will announce a stream of Wii U-ports that will add value to the Switch’  line-up without being an excuse for a lack of newer titles. Pikmin 3 will be the first of these ports, accompanying the upcoming 3DS-Pikmin.

To end their E3-presentation, they’ll announce a new Metroid-game that is developed in collaboration with a 3rd-party developer. I have no idea which one, but it’ll cause lots of attention. Maybe From Software. Maybe Hideo Kojima. Maybe Capcom.

Still there: Sony

I have one big task for Sony which also happens to be my prediction for them: They need to show why buying PlayStation VR was a worthwile decision. For the past couple months, it got more and more quiet around Sony’s virtual reality-headset. The software you’d see for it consisted of small-scale experiences, Resident Evil 7 marking the one big exception. But that’s not enough. Unless Sony intends to cement their unreliability when it comes to all things NOT a PlayStation home-console (see the Move-controller or the Vita), they need to show at least one big, ambitious PSVR-game, ideally exclusive to PSVR. The only game I can think of that would cause a huge splash is Sword Art Online PSVR. A first-person action-RPG title built from the ground for PSVR. No, nothing like those shitty Vita-games. I’m talking about a huge, seamlessly connected open world, full of well-animated, voiced NPCs. Dynamic battles that make you feel like you’re really there. And just a really engaging story and presentation (with a character editor. Please no more Kirito …). Would such an ambitious, expensive game make profit for Sony? Probably not. But neither did Bayonetta 2 for Nintendo. It’d be a strongly needed prestige title, there to reassure fans and the world that Sony gives a damn about PSVR. Show us, Sony! And don’t you dare announcing another bunch of 5 hour-experiences.

Why so PC: Microsoft:

Sorry, but due to their “everything releases on PC, too” policy, I have no more interest in anything Xbox-related. I’ll eventually play it on PC, when I ever buy a gaming-capable one again.

Conclusion:

As one can see, I’m stoked for Nintendo’s E3 offerings this year. As I laid out in the introduction, I simply want to play as many games as possible on my Switch. Free from the TV, wherever I choose to play. It’s been a fantastic experience so far, truly revolutionizing the way we play. Considering all that, it makes sense that the one thing I care about in relation to Sony is PSVR, which also has the potential to revolutionize gaming, but has been held back by the lack of risk-taking so far. When I think of E3, about the future of gaming, it’s the things that are new, that I haven’t experienced before. I don’t care about graphically impressive open-world games like Horizon that give me a feeling of “been there, done that”. I’m also not convinced that Red Dead Redemption 2 will be anything ground-breaking. But the Switch, the potential games for it, and the promise of PSVR are the elements that keep me invested in this greatest of all hobbies. Come June 2017, I hope to see at least some of my predictions turn out true. I know I tend to be overly optimistic, but … come on, Nintendo and Sony, show us! And Microsoft … at least make sure Phantom Dust rulez!


The Calm before E³ 2014 – Crazy Prediction Time

April 8, 2014

An unprecedented calm even? This year´s E3 will either be one devoid of many news or one full of surprises, seeing how we hardly hear about any rumors for the upcoming gaming-mega event in Los Angeles. Especially as a big time Nintendo-fan, the wait for news is excruciating. A Smash Bros.-related Nintendo Direct later this day promises to soothe things a bit, but even the inevitable reveal of a playable Ridley, Shulk and Krystal cannot mask the dire situation of the Wii U. What´s going to happen? Let´s try to predict some – and fail badly at it!

Fanboy´s Favorite: Nintendo

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My past predictions of Nintendo´s E3-offerings used to be high in numbers and overly positive. Ever since the company´s treatment of its own new home console, the Wii U, it is clear that such optimism is unfit the situation. I´d love to go into this segment of ths article full-steam and write “Metroid 5 will be shown, as well as a 1080p60fps F-Zero”, but I cannot. This is a year where I have to take into account the circumstances and reflect Nintendo´s best and most realistic chances at delivering a high impact-E3-showing. Thus, I will focus on a few selected titles instead of listing dozens of wish games. Here I go:

The Legend of Zelda U will be revealed as promised by Eiji Aonuma. There will be some major changes to the typical formula, lon-needed changes as Aonuma himself admitted. Firstly, the focus of the game is on exploration to a never before realized degree. Aonuma already hinted at more non-linearity and this entry in the series will finally be the one that takes the original Zelda 1 for NES and makes it into a stunning 3D-game. The player is thrown into the middle of nowhere, surrounded by a beautiful, open, living game-world. You´re free to go anywhere. This where the next major change is revealed: Environmental interactivity is taken to the next level. Link can climb any surface that´s not entirely flat. No “gamey” specially marked surfaces where you can climb, but truly everywhere. Think of Shadow of the Colossus´ climbing mechanic, but with less restrictions. The movement of Link will be central to the experience, with additional items expanding your options of locomotion. Within a world that wants to b explored, climbing, jumping and more are integral to the gameplay. Of course, the jump-button will return to 3D-Zelda for the first time ever. A big change in its visual design is the renunciation of the blocky, almost grid-based layout of the world that existed to allow for an easier implementation of puzzles. Instead, the world will look believable, no more blocky, perfectly flat walls of mud. The environment wants to be experimented with, thanks to the non-scripted movement options. One change might cause a huge uproar to some conservative fans: Link will be able to be customized. At the very least will we be able to buy and change his clothing, and not just limited to 2-3 status-effecting armors, but real custom clothing. Get rid of the ridiculous hat, thank you! As for the visual artstyle, I´m expecting something close to the E3-demo, but not exactly the same. They can´t stray away from that too much, or we´ll have Spaceworld vs. TWW 2.0. Nobody wants that. Whatever it is, this is a Zelda-game that needs to prove that Nintendo is still capable of producing ambitious games, and not just minimum effort-cash ins like Super Mario 3D World or Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Something.

Monolith Soft´s X will be shown. For the first time, we will see a lengthy, story-centric trailer that gives an elaborate glimpse into the world, its characters and its circumstances. Personally, I expect a lot of people to be shocked by the true scale of the game, that might even exceed what we´ve seen so far. Xenoblade was all about exploring a gigantic world – with a flying mecha, you have to up the ante a lot to keep this sort of exploration, so even a huge continent might be too small to keep it up. Think bigger. Think … stars! Anyway, the game will be set for an early 2015 release in the west and a holidy 2014 release in Japan. Worst wait ever. Oh, and a short bonus-teaser will reveal that it is indeed Shulk who we saw at the end of the first teaser in 2012.

Super Smash Bros. 4 will have a big show-casing at this year´s E3. I expect more character reveals and and in-depth presentation of the games modes, especially the online-ones. Even in worst times, Smash Bros. managed to keep Nintendo relevant, as proven by Super Smash Bros. Melee, the only million-seller on GameCube in Japan. The game builds on its great foundations, no big surprises incoming (other than any newcomer being a surprise in itself, or course).

Two major new announcements will be made: One of them is Pokkén, the long rumored Pokémon-fighting game. The fantastic graphics and the exciting choices of playable Pokémon will make this appealing to the entire fanbase. Developed by Bandai Namco and the Tekken-team, it´ll have more than solid gameplay as well as a flawless online-component. The other new title will be from RetroStudios, and it´ll be in the tone that most of us whished for a long time: Some “mature”, non-cartoony looking, open-world 3D-game. Three possibilities: 1.) StarTropics, 2.) A Metroid-game where you play a Federal Space Trooper, not Samus Aran, or 3.) a new franchise. Whatever it is, it´ll look great, moody and be released sometime 2015 or even later.

The rest of the Wii U´s E3 will consist of known titles like Hyrule Warriors, Bayonetta 2 and Yoshi Yarn.

The Nintendo 3DS is hard to predict. Last year has been fantastic, this year is a lot quieter in terms of software. Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate might be shown. Lots of smaller titles. Hopefully, Fire Emblem: Awakening sees a sequel; afterall, the game hints that the story is not over yet AND it´d make sense saleswise, since this turned out to be one of the best-selling games in franchise-history.

The big wild card for Nintendo´s 2014 E3 will definitely be the QoL-device. It´s either going to be the laughing stock of the industry or something truly awesome, a must-have gadget. Not much in-between, really. Since I refuse to believe that Nintendo´s putting so much effort into a generic me too-fitness device, I think that their QoL-device will be something really cool. My personal speculation revolves around improved AR-capabilities and/or some highly evolved, endearing A.I./algorithm-“companion” that manage your daily virtual ventures and becomes more individual the more you keep using the device, thus bein able to automatically set or deactive the alarm, notify you of someone´s birthday or, as that´s part of the concept, tell you about your health. The AR-part could be seen as a reasonable counter to the current VR-hype. VR is all about a solitary experience at home, whereas AR is all about experience virtual content in the real world, so it´s automatically a more social experience, thus befitting Nintendo´s philosophy. We haven´t really seen what´s possible with AR at this point, both the 3DS´ and PSVita´s AR-capabilities are a glitchy, jittery mess. Think along the lines of that supercool Google-April fools-video, where you could see Pokémon interacting with the real world by looking through your smartphone. That sort of AR. As for the virtual companion idea, that´d be super-popular in Japan (think of all the anime that had A.I. partners for the hero) and is already touched upon by both Apple and Microsoft. Apple had Siri, and MS just recently published their Cortana-update for Windows Phones. Both are a nice start, but so much more would be possible, if you made it the focal point of a device. Maybe the QoL?

Microsoft´s effort-machine:

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Sony´s PS4 is currently beating the Xbox One´s ass, so Microsoft needs to show more than all those third-party multiplatform titles. While I have no interest in buying another system next to my Wii U and gaming PC, Microsoft managed to create some truly interesting first-party titles in the past. I´m looking forward to what they have in story.

The Third Place: Sony

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

Conclusion:

Games development gets more and more expensive as the industry turns more and more risk-averse. It is this year´s E3´s challenge to prove that creativity is not dead. All three big publishers and home console-manufacturers have to prove that you do not need a VR-headset for a fresh, fantastic experience. If they fail to do so, Facebook´s Oculus Rift might have them in for a bad awakening. It´s entirely up to each of Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony to prevent that from happening, though. An exciting E3, even without a plethora of new announcements.


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!


E3 2011-Hype-Trailer

May 25, 2011

Not a time for lots of words. I just finished creating a hype-video for the upcoming E3. Spent the whole time on it, but when is there a better time to unleash your full inner nerd than around E3? Yeah, right. Whatever, I hope you enjoy what I composed, here it is:

E3 2011-Hype-Trailer 


Five Things (and two more) the next Smash Bros. needs to do

May 24, 2011

All the rumor-talk about a next Smash Bros.-game gets my E3-hype only up all the more, so I took the time to think about what features, what kind of content I´d like to see in the next Smash Bros.-title for Café or 3DS. Below I listed five things that Nintendo needs to include to make me happy.

 

1.) Changeable Moves

A huge difference to the past three games, but the more I think about it, the less of a problem I see. Changing the moves of a character isn´t unprecedent, even fairly typical in a lot of anime-based fighting-games, such as Narutimate Hero for PS2 or the Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi-series. These games let you decide what move is executed by what button-press. As big in content Brawl was, the freshness in terms of controlling all these characters was lost. Smash Bros. 64 was a great first entry, Melee improved vastly on that by adding the directional-B-moves as well as the ability to defend yourself in midair. Brawl added … tripping. Lol, no, of course, Brawl added a bunch of new gameplay as well, but it was more about environmental improvement. The characters had pretty much the same variety of moves as before.

I could see this being the big new feature of Smash Bros Café/3DS. All characters start out with a standard set of moves, but as you play the game, you unlock new moves, represented by some sort of trophy-like collectible. There would be unlockable moves of different categories, one category for each button-combination. At the end of unlocking all the content, there would be character-specific moves, moves that can only be used on a certain character. Maybe have three such moves for each category of each character. And then there´d be general moves that can be chosen for all characters. This wouldn´t only allow for a f***ton of classic, recognizable moves to be included (imagine choosing between Samus´ normal Beam, Plasma Beam, Ice Beam and Wave Beam for the B-button, or choosing between Link´s boomering, hammer or  bombchus for the B+right/left-move), it´d also solve the problem of giving all fans what they want. For example, many fans want Ganondorf to have moves that he actually used in the games. Like using a sword, proper magic and stuff. But then there are long-time Smash Bros.-fans that want Ganondorf to stay exactly the way the grew to love fighting as him. Peace, baby!

2. New Characters

That is obvious, yeah. The two number one missing characters that I fully expect to see in the next Smash Bros.-game are Ridley (Metroid-series) and Krystal (Star Fox-series). Metroid really got shafted so far, with Samus Aran being the only playable character from the franchise. Yeah, we got Zero Suit Samus, but that´s hardly a new character per se. I mean, give us at least one enemy from each franchise so we have someone to fight, Nintendo. And Krystal would add both one more female character, not much of those, as well as introduce the first staff-fighter to the game. Speaking of staff-fighters, Nintendo could also add some Fire Emblem-character with a spear or such, and hopefully a series-villain, too. Other than those, the sky is the limit. There´s so many video game characters out there that would be tons of fun to have in Smash Bros.. I guess the most popular third-party-wish would be Megaman. But really, more important than adding new characters, Nintendo should concentrate on make the ones they already have as unique as possible.

3.) Trim down the Fat

Brawl has often been called “the ultimate Nintendo collection” or similar names, and it is true: The Wii-entry featured an encyclopedia´s richness of information, both in text and graphics and music. It also featured a singleplayer-adventure that by itself took around eight hours to beat a single time. And then we had a million of other game-modes. To be honest, I didn´t need all that. Especially the adventure-mode. The cutscenes were truly fantastic, but the mode itself was rather annoying and bland. And really, any true Smash Bros.-fan buys the game because of the fighting, not because of some sucky platforming.

Get rid of this hour-long adventure-mode and if it has to be there in some form, get it back to Melee-proportions. And while I hope to see a big soundtrack and wealth of information about characters again, do we really need all these small modes? I admit that I sucked at it, but stuff like the boss-run-mode or cruel Melee (whatever it was called in Brawl) didn´t really capture my heart. Same goes for repeating the All-Star-mode with all of the characters. And event-mode was fun in Melee, but really sucked in Brawl. I finished it because I´m addicted to finishing my games, but it was more of an annoyance than a “yay, I´m so happy to play this right now!”. And guess what, there´s two modes that Brawl was even missing. I want the “Finish the platforms” from the N64-game and the “Reach the Goal” from Melee back. Those modes offered a truly different experience. Oh, and either get rid of Target-mode or give every character his own level. Target-Test in Brawl sucked hard. Anyways, sometimes, less is better. More focus on the fighting and the truly fun bonus-modes, less “it´s there because it was easy to implement”.

4.) Against the CPU-cooperative modes and 4 vs. 4-battles

The former would feature a few different missions where up to four players are fighting against CPU-enemies, but not in the usual arenas, but specially designed mission-levels. And the goal here wouldn´t be to simply kill other characters, but to pursue real taks, like protecting a ship that is sailing on an ocean, trying to conquer a castle, trying to build a tower by using certain items to reach a high up point while simultaneously defending against attacking enemies. There could even be boss battles, like when you´re sailing mentioned ship, a giant sea monster appears that you have to fend off by using the ship´s own cannon.

The latter would introduce a whole new level of multiplayer-action to the franchise, while at the same time not overdoing it. Four players during battle should remain the standard battle-mode, but for adding a lot of new potential, I´d love to see a raised player-count. I don´t know, if that was possible offline, but at least online, it should be doable.

5.) Return to a mix of 64/Melee-gameplay

This is a hardcore-fan´s wish, so I kept it for last. The main reason why Super Smash Bros. Brawl didn´t captivate myself for not even close to as long as Melee, was not only the lack of available offline-friends. It was also because of the floaty, party-game-like gameplay. Yeah, yeah, some ignorant gamers laugh about the Smash Bros.-series, “fighting game, lulz”, but for all those of us that put a lot of time and effort into the franchise, the depth was obvious and extremely motivating. What I loved about 64´s gameplay was how impactful each and every move felt. Hitting another character with Link´s sword really made you feel the contact between sword and character, even without rumble pak. This got worse in Melee, but then again, Melee introduced a speed and dynamic to all the fighting that made it just as engaging. Combine the two styles and I´m sure we would experience the best Smash Bros.-game of all times.

And a small 6.), because I´m too lazy to edit this article´s title: Different costumes for every character, not just color swaps. Seriously, that´s not demanded too much, is it.

And small 7.), lol, because I just searched for a nice image for the top of this text: Maybe change the artstyle from the realistic one we have right now to a more cartoony style, resembling the original game´s boxart. As can be seen above.


About “Café”´s Power

May 23, 2011

A new generation of home consoles is confirmed to be unveiled at this year´s E3. The Wii-successor, known as “Project Café”. There is a multitude of crazy rumors flying around, the most prominent being a built-in screen in every controller (which I believe was misinterpreted from those that reported it initially). But, of course, big part and big reason for a new generation of consoles is and has always been the jump in sheer processing power

 

The rumors about Café´s power go from “a little bit better than 360/PS3” all the way to “significantly more powerful (than the current HD-systems)”. Basically, will we face a repetition of the Wii-strategy, or are we going to relive a PS2-like situation? Both would put the Café in the third rank, compared to the expected power of Xbox 720/PS4, but the latter would enable Nintendo´s new system to enjoy long-lasting third party-support, while the former might give them superior versions of current gen-titles, and then suddenly support drops off like a cliff. Both is realistic, but I´m not going to talk about the likeliness of one over the other. I want to express how it just doesn´t matter. At all.

Right off the bat: The reason why I´m kinda tired of my 360 is not its visual shortcomings. I have a (still) modern gaming-PC that can run multiplatform-titles in higher resolution and with much more details than Microsoft´s system is capable of. Yet, I´d gladly play more often on my 360. The reason I don´t, is that there´s nothing of interest. To me, I will consciously add. There´s Mass Effect 3 that I´ll buy, so I can use my game saves from ME1 and ME2. And there´s Deus Ex: Human Revolution, though I might buy that for my PC instead. Other than that, nothing. And I´m not saying that there aren´t well-made, high quality games still coming out on the system. But only to me, they´re boring. They´re always the same. They´re … shooters.

People are waiting for a Halo: CE-remake. They´re waiting for Modern Warfare 3. For Gears of War 3. For GTA5 (which could turn out positively different, but …). But it´s not only shooters, sure. They´re also waiting for the cool MGS: Rising. For Dead Island. For Skyrim. For whatever. But even if you fail to see it: To me, these games appear oh so un-special. Maybe you can see what I mean when I put it like this: The reason why you are waiting for these games is because of their new setting, their new story, their gruesomeness, even. However, it is not because of they offer new in terms of gameplay. So it isn´t used in a too ominous way, let me explain what I mean by claiming such a seemingly bold thing. The two HD-console games that made me feel like I´m playing something that wasn´t possible in the same way on GameCube/Xbox/PS2 are Dead Rising and Assassin´s Creed. Dead Rising had all these zombies, all that interaction, all these objects – what happens when you try to recreate that on a power-lacking hardware can be witnessed in the Wii-port of the game. Assassin´s Creed similarly featured a high count of npcs, but more importantly raised the bar of environment interaction close to the limit of what is creatively doable. Climb up almost everywhere, freedom total. And they´re adding a grappling hook in AC: Revelations, “oh my god” is what I said out aloud. These two games actually felt like an effort to break the barriers of last generation and introduce gaming to a new world. And then that stopped.

The Wii 2/Café might turn out to be just a slightly more powerful 360, but I´d happily buy that system. Why? Well, because I feel like there´s currently two scouting ships sailing within the vastness of an unknown ocean of possibilities, obviously unable to explore it all alone. All that while the other ship-manufacturers  keep investing their money into adding fancy, shiny decoration to their big, slow ferry boats that keep driving between point A and point B, because it´s making them enough money to be content with, or because they´re too scared to enter the realm of unknown depths.

I am not claiming that it is safe to say that Nintendo´s entering the HD-era of gaming and instantly finding out about those unexplored possibilities. But I feel a strong disagreement for those people that beat down the Café already, only because of the potential that it might just be on par with the 360 and not introduce the next jump in power.  So much creativity went missing in-between all those shooters and “mature” aka kiddy “cool games” or games that tried to mimic Hollywood-movies instead of pursuing the medium of the video game (in before “but why has it to be either or?” Don´t ask me, ask the industry´s reality). Since I know that it is a favorite amongst a lot of gamers (not my favorite, teehee), I´ll end this opinion (and you´re free to disagree) by  throwing The Legend of Zelda: Majora´s Mask into this debate. Majora´s Mask was released towards the end of the Nintendo 64´s lifetime, yet it introduced a shockingly fresh gameplay-concept. And it was a smaller game than Ocarina of Time. It didn´t pursue the mantra of “bigger, prettier, better“. It dared to take an unexplored idea and that would later turn it into one of the fans´most beloved Zelda-games. It was released at the end of 2000. The same time when Sony´s Ps2 launched.

PS: I admit that I myself would be a bit disappointed if Café was just a slightly improved 360 in terms of power. You simply expect big things from a next generation console, and no matter the power, that´s what the Wii 2 is going to be in type. But not only is the above article my true view on the relevancy of processing power, it is also backed up by my current gaming reality. A superior gaming PC, a 360, a Wii, a N64 – all connected to a screen and still in use. Starfox 64 still rocks. Baten Kaitos Origins still wants me to finish it. And I´m not playing these games because of their looks, haha. Power is important. But power only can do so much. That´s what is the truth for me, when talking about whatever power range Nintendo shows up with their new system.


E3-conference times

May 23, 2011

Not much to comment on in these rumor-filled days. Or quite the opposite? Anyways, to keep you updated, here are the times for the three major companies´ E3-press conferences:


Microsoft: Monday/June 6th/10 a.m. PST (7 p.m. for Europe)

Sony: Monday/June 6th/ 5 p.m. PST (2 a.m. for Europe)

Nintendo:   Tuesday/June 7th/ 9 a.m. PST (6 p.m. for Europe)

 

Nintendo also published their own stream´s website already, which you can find here: Nintendo Press Conference Stream