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 2013 – Crazy Prediction Time

April 4, 2013

This is just creepy how year after year I keep thinking to myself “Hm, E3 is approaching, should I write my predictions article already?”. And then I look up when I wrote the last one it´s been almost exactly a year since. Guess what, time for this year´s crazy E3 predictions. Though, will it really be that crazy? Sure, one could make the claim that predicting anything positive regarding the Wii U should be considered crazy, but … we´ll see. Anyway, this going to be a once-in-five-years big E3, with two new systems being fully unveiled and Nintendo being pressured into showing what they´ve got for Wii U to the public. I´d like to say that I´m not hyped, but truth to be told, I am. Because, let me be blunt about this, if Nintendo doesn´t deliver their A (AAAAA …) – game here, they´re better off just ending their current home console right now. So here they are, the FlyingFisch´s 2013 Crazy E3 Predictions!

Fanboy´s Favorite: Nintendo

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So here we are, Nintendo. Do or Die – your motto for this year´s E3. Yes, maybe a bit melo-dramatic, but even as a big time fan, I´m annoyed by their silence when meanwhile negative news after negative news arrives. Super low hardware sales for the Wii U and developers and journalists openly laughing about your new console. The Wii U is, at this moment, a Monster Hunter-machine. And there´s nothing on the system´s release lists that will change that anytime soon. Still, all hope is not lost. And while I might underestimate people´s lust for graphics alone: IF Nintendo can show a ton of high quality AAA-titles, they could win E3, even with their competitors showing brand-new consoles. What those games might be? Here´s my take:

The corner stone for the Wii U´s inofficial revival will consist of a three-hit-combo for 2013. One of them is Mario Kart U. After the letdown that was MK7, I hope Nintendo puts more effort into the next entry of the franchise. Miiverse should help the online-experience, though. Just put more focus on the actual racing instead of items; ya know, more Mario Kart 64, less Double Dash. The second important 2013-title will be Super Mario U. And for the love of god, this better not be another Galaxy-like Mario-game. Have this be the true “Mario 64 2”. Big, open worlds, maybe one gigantic world? And, of course, it´ll be called “Super Mario Universe“. No need to be creative here. And then there´s number three: RetroStudio´s Wii U-title. Let me say this: If they´ve been working on another Donkey Kong Country-game, I wish Nintendo death and doom. No, RetroStudios is Nintendo´s only first-party studio capable of producing visually mature games, so that´s what they should be working on. And it´s not just about having them make some run-of-the-mill first person shooter. Whatever they´ve been developing, it needs to be the Wii U´s showcase title, the “game to go”. I can´t even really imagine what kind of game I want from Retro, all I know is that it needs to be big. Beautiful. Overflowing of ambition. First- or third-person perspective – it doesn´t matter. Just be … GRAND. And don´t be a Metroid-title. I´d rather have them work on Eternal Darkness, Startropic or, even better, their own IP (yes, I´m a fool who still yearns after Raven Blade …). Mario Kart in summer, RetroStudio-title in October/November and Mario for christmas. Left, right, punch! Add to that smaller titles like the HD-remaster of The Wind Waker and you´ve got a nice first year.
Now, part of me wants Nintendo to release “X” this year, too, but I doubt it. If it´s anywhere near as big as Xenoblade Chronicles, development will take time, and two to three years might have not been enough. If anything, “X” would make for a great spring 2014-title.

Speaking of 2014: The most important part of their Wii U-showing has to be a vision for the future, beyond the current year. Part of that is offering a transparent, dependable release liste for at least the first half of 2014. The other part is to fill that release list with sales-igniting games. Since Nintendo´s forced to go all out, here´s what needs to be shown at E3: Super Smash Bros. 4. We know we´ll get “so-me-thing”, but whatever, it needs to be a trailer, followed by a “coming summer 2014!”. Dear Sakurai, stop turning Smash Bros.-games into Nintendo-encylopaedias. It was neat in Melee, it was nice in Brawl, but it´s unnecessary at this point. I mean, most of the data could simply be copy&pasted from previous games anyway. Focus on the fighting side of the game, make it as fun as 64/Melee and give us 40-50 great, unique characters. Definitely let us play as Ridley, Krystal and Shulk! Crom from Fire Emblem, too, while you´re at it (sorry, Ike, you´re out).
What then? It´s damn hard to come up with actual big titles that could turn the Wii U´s misery to success. Bayonetta 2 will be there. And that´s it, for all we know. Anything else is pure guesswork, speculation and fantasizing/dreaming. Have Capcom develop a Wii U-exclusive Monster Hunter MMORPG. Same gameplay as MH3U/MH4, but you´re playing in a big, seamless world, meeting hundreds of other hunters in lovely towns, oozing detail. Climb up everywhere, gather in bigger-than-four-men groups to hunt down the most dangerous monsters. Have there be lots of ingame-story bits, like monsters attacking a certain town, or non-action-events like a king visiting or a party going on. Have it be like “Sword Art Online” (anime) in terms of atmosphere. Convince Square-Enix to remake Vagrant Story for Wii U. Maybe make them release Versus 13 for Wii U, too, and FF15, while you´re at it. Similarily, pay Sega to finally give us Skies of Arcadia 2! Show Konami the middle finger and don´t bother with Sony-fanboy Kojima. Motivate Marvelous Entertainment to develop another game in the style of Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the moon. Ensure that Ubisoft makes Watchdogs for Wii U a worthy version of the game next to their PS4/720-versions. The big one: Get GTA5 on board! Make it happeneing, even if only as a later port.
Then there´s your promise to work together with 3rd-party studios on known franchises. Let Team Ninja make another Metroid-game. Screw the feminist-idiots, the game was fantastic and turned Samus Aran into my most liked video game character ever, showing her as a human being and not as your typical “super cool badass” persona. Give StarFox to Capcom, so they can develop StarFox Adventures 2. Hey, they were capable of making a Zelda-game afterall.
Returning to first party stuff, Nintendo, if you want to positively shock your entire fan community, announce F-Zero U. Featuring 30 player-online multiplayer, 60fps Full HD-graphics (of 720p, but go for dat 60fps). Announce that RetroStudios has been working on two titles and their other game is due for a 2014-release. Give us Chibi Robo U. And Endless Ocean 3/Forever Blue 3. And if you want me to orgasm during your E3-live stream, show Cosmic Walker as basically a space-version of the former mentioned Endless Ocean.
I´d hope for even a lot of more stuff, but I honestly can´t come up with anything else. Or at least anything that´s significant both in terms of sales and mainstream/press hype. Surprise us, Nintendo.

A system that isn´t in need of surprise that much is the Nintendo 3DS. What a freaking great handheld, and easily shaping up to be my favorite handheld ever. Fire Emblem: Awakening is merely two weeks away from its European release. Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate is awesome, and I´m definitely planning on playing Luigi´s Mansion 2 some time in the future, too. Unlike the Wii U, I don´t need a release list for 2014, as I´m sure this thing will keep offering fantastic titles. My main prediction for E3 is about Zelda 3DS. Here´s what I hope will be happening: Majora´s Mask 3D is announced for a 2013-release. At the same time, a trailer for a brand-new 3DS-Zelda is shown, graphically similar to Ocarina of Time/Majora´s Mask. It is revealed in said trailer that this will be the third Hero of Time-title, showing us what happened to Link after the events of Majora´s Mask. Showing us his life´s journey. Showing us how he ended up as an eternal skeleton, a Stalfos. I´m not expecting any Zelda U-details at E3, and honestly, I´d rather have Zelda 3DS to be focused on first, using it as a statement of proof that Nintendo´s still capable of making games that rival their timeless masterpieces for the Nintendo 64. Have th is bee the highest quality trilogy in video game history.
Leaving aside first-party stuff like Pokemon and Mario & Luigi, there´s lots of Third-party games I wanna see. Bravely Default being localized (and don´t you dare cut out the AR-app! She´s mai waifu afterall! 😐 ), Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney 5 being released this or early next year. Add Dragon Quest 7 and a new Resident Evil to that list and it´s ready to go. Oh, wait, a 3D-port of Skies of Arcadia Legends mustn´t be missing! How beautiful this game would look in 3D …
Non-gaming related, finally add Miiverse to the 3DS.

And if all else fails, just scrap the Wii U and announce your hybrid-system that functions as both handheld and home console. We all want it. We all expect it. No need for secrecy.

Microsoft´s effort machine: 

ohgod

Rumors about always-online and no-used-games are growing in intensity with each and every day. Dear Microsoft, while I don´t intend to get another console next to my Wii U and gaming PC, I sincerely hope these rumors turn out to be fud and nothing more. Should they, however, be revealed to be true, I will forthon call everybody an idiot that buys your next generation system. And that won´t be an insult. It will be fact.

The Third Place: Sony

tom-cruise-tom-cruise-18576293-1280-960

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

Conclusion:

A hard to make predictions for E3. The 3DS is set to go, meanwhile it´s difficult to guess what even Nintendo themselves are about to announce for the Wii U, let alone third party-developers. All I can say is that it´s not really in the number of games, but in what the announced games bring to the table, both in visual appeal and gameplay ambition. This is not the time to play it savely, Nintendo. Show us your hand or fold and quit it.
While unimportant to my personal buying plans, I´m looking forward to see Microsoft and Sony show us their nextgen systems and what they´ve got in store for them. Is it all about shinier graphics or can they provided not-yet-possible gameplay experiences? Oh, and is any of them crazy enough to call for a 499$ or above price tag?
To conclude the FlyingFisch´s 2013 crazy E3-predictions: Have a nice E3 and don´t forget to play some more Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate!


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-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


The Calm before E³ 2011 – Crazy Prediction Time

April 18, 2011

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.

Conclusion:

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.


The Nintendo-show 2010

June 16, 2010

The big three´s press conferences are over. Time for reflecting on what new they brought to the table. But, actually, who am I kidding, let´s jump straight  into the most important game being shown:

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword was revealed. That´s the full title of the new Zelda-game for Wii. When Shigeru Miyamoto presented it live on stage, there seemed to be control issues, but as later reports seem to prove, those issues were due to all the light sources in the audience, so not something that will be a problem for anyone playing at home. But let me tell you that I´m disappointed overall. The graphics are what grabs your attention first when seeing that game, and it´s a weird mixture of good and bad design. Link looks fantastic. This is the perfect Link-design as far as I´m concerned. What´s really great, too, is how the game uses some kind of light cel-shading, very similar to the cutscenes of Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn. Basically, this is The Wind Waker mixed with Twilight Princess, and it´s glorious. But then there´s also the bad. First of all, the new Moblins (I assume these are the new Moblins) look horrible from a pure design point of view. They have ugly, round noses as if they were from a Bugs Bunny-cartoon. And while defending themselves not too bad, they have such short legs that it looks weird how they walk or “run”.  Secondly, I hate the environment. Don´t get me wrong, if you see a screenshot and just judge the visuals from that, it looks good. But I´m looking at the environment from a gameplay perspective. And what I see are non-interactive trees and, the worst of it all, artificial walls that encircle the whole area and that, most likely, can´t be climbed upon. The area in this E3-demo is supposed to be a forest, but it doesn´t feel like one. It feels like a forced playground, not a natural one. And when you see a big mountain in the far in one of the videos that is a perfect cone, it looks like a dumbed down game-world.  So that´s really disappointing so far, but, of course, we only know that one, small area, and I have to give Zelda the benefit of doubt.

What was really cool and a positive surprise were the controls. My personal favorite: Link can now run! Or dash, or whatever you call it. By holding down the A-button, Link will run faster. It seems you can also run up walls and jump out of running, but I haven´t seen that myself, yet. The most important aspect of controls is, however, the sword. And really, they seem to use Wii Sports Resort-controls here. I´d say that there´s an intentional lag when you swing your sword, so it´s not totally as 1:1 as WSR´s sword-controls, but it´s good enough. And when you don´t swing too quickly, the sword really follows your own movement. Enemy-behavior seems to be built around this new feature, so now you have to find openings and slash vertically, horizontally or diagonally, depending on the enemy´s defense stance. The coolest addition to the sword´s skills: By holding up the sword, you can charge it. If you swing it now, it´ll send out a small energy wave that can cut grass. Great! But the sword isn´t the only item that got improvements. Bombs can now be thrown in two different ways, either like usual or you can roll them, much like a bowling ball. Also, there´s a mark that helps aiming bomb throws. The sling shot is back, too, and can be activated simply by pointing at the screen, not item change needed. Speaking of item change, you now simply press a button, draw the wiimote towards an item that´s shown in a ring-menu, and you have it activated. No slow pause-menu anymore. There also have been two brand new items. The whip lets you cut grass and grab items from enemies. Looks really smooth and can be controlled by doing natural movements with the wiimote. The best item, however, is the beetle. This is really like a spy toy. Link sends out a flying beetle. You will then play from the perspective of that beetle, controlling him by tilting the wiimote. Not only is that great for exploration, but the beetle can also grabs items from the ground. One video shows how you grab a bomb and then fly it to a stone wall, making it explode. The one implementation of controls the surprised me the most, though, was the bow and arrow. They really dared to include WSR´s archery controls here, or something close to it. With all my negativity about the environment and some of the enemies above, I´m really excited to see how that changes the game flow. Afterall, that means you cannot quickly shoot an arrow anymore. You have to strategize.

In the roundtable later that day Miyamoto told some more details about The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. It seems that Link is living on a floating island and will have to travel to a land below, because that land on the ground is befallen of evil.  The sword you saw is indeed the Master Sword. The game is in its final development stage, so it´s doubtful how much of my personal gripes will be addressed. At least it seems that there´s going to be orchestrated music, though Miyamoto didn´t say it clearly. To come to an end with the new Zelda, I´m sure it´ll be a great game. But I also fear that it might be more of the same, rather than the break up that the Zelda-series needed. Putting boss-enemies like that scorpion in the demo on the overworld is nice, but it´s not “shaking up the structure” of Zelda-games. And I really hope that the environments in the final game aren´t as artificial and constructed as in this demo. It looks a lot like Super Mario Galaxy, and while that´s okay for an abstract Mario-game, I want something different from a Zelda-game. Which is a natural, believable, lively world. But that´s not something I or anyone else knows about right now, so for the time being, I´m happy about the controls and movement-enhancements and look forward to seeing more about the world of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword.

The other Wii-game that now has my full attention is Disney´s Epic Mickey. Warren Spector himself talked about the game on-stage and showed the game. I have yet to find out how long the game is supposed to be and how big the realm of personal choice actually is, but what was shown looked great. The thinner-ability especially. Erasing parts of a level, creating new parts at another spot looked fabulous. And the highlight was when Mickey entered a so-called bridge-zone. Those zones are used to travel from one area to another. In the case of this presentation you had to guide Mickey along a 2D-platforming sequence that looked perfectly like the Walt Disney-classic Steamboat Willy. So even if the 3D-portions of the game wouldn´t be that good, the 2D-portions would easily make up for it. The E3-presentation focused on showing basic gameplay-mechanics, so we don´t know yet how exactly the evolution of Mickey between hero and mischievous mouse works. There is also a story-trailer that was released later on that showed prerendered scenes, introducing the story of the game.

The visual highlight for Wii, however, was Kirby´s Epic Yarn. Yeah, Nintendo finally showed a Kirby-game for Wii! The game uses a very weird look, where everything is made of lines/threads. Kirby can interact with the world, resulting in even more strange effects. Really has to be seen to be appreciated as much as this game deserves.

And that´s it for the Wii. Well, at least for what is worth to me. One of, if not the, biggest disappointments was Donkey Kong Country Returns for Wii. The game itself is fine, it´s classic Donkey Kong-platforming, fans will love it. But why does anybody need RetroStudious for developing such a game?! This game looks so standard-Donkey Kong, nothing has been influenced by RetroStudios. Nintendo could have had this game developed by anyone and it´d have been the same. But instead, they chose RetroStudious, who are famous for their incredible 3D-level design, and have them make a 2D-platformer. This simply sucks. A lot. Really hope that RetroStudios have been working on another game. Oh well.

The dominating factor of Nintendo´s press-conference 2010, though, was the 3DS. And it rocks. We don´t know yet all of the details about Nintendo´s new handheld. What it´ll cost, what the menu-structure will be like, what battery life is like and so on. But what we know sounds and looks great. For many gamers the most important thing: Graphics are fine, about GameCube-level, maybe a bit worse. But well enough for a handheld. I can already see myself spending most of my gaming time in the future with the 3DS instead if my Wii and 360. To allow for ideal controls, the 3DS features an analog-stick similar to the PSP´s, but initial impressions are that it´s a lot better than that one. As could have been predicted, only the top screen is 3D-capable, while the bottom screen remains a touchscreen. The size of the touchscreen is the same of the current DS, but has a slightly higher resolution. The top screen is in 16:9 format and features the same vertical resolution of 240 pixels like the bottom screen, but has 800 pixels in width, which will be devided by two to 400 pixels due to 3D. So one image for each of your eyes. And that 3D-effect appears to be phenomenal. As was predicted, it´s not 3D that pops out of the screen, but rather 3D that gives the screen depth, letting you “look inside the screen”. Something I really wanted also became reality: Nintendo works together with certain studios to bring 3D-hollywood movies to the 3DS. It remains to be seen how you get to see these movies. Buying movies on cartridges would suck, but we shouldn´t rule out that possibility. That´s it for the 3DS-hardware.

Kid Icarus is back! Nintendo finally did it and show a new Kid Icarus-game for 3DS. The full title is Kid Icarus: Uprising and is kind of a shoot’em up with hack’n slay-scenes. Very reminiscent of Sin and Punishment. Not my cup of beer in terms of gameplay, but it´s really nice to see Nintendo finally give the fans what they wanted. And they´re using Pit´s great model from Super Smash Bros. Brawl, too. Not to mention that the graphics will be really nice looking on a portable.

That was, however, but one of a ton of incredible announcements for the 3DS. Nintendo really has all third-parties´ support on this little system. Tecmo is developing Dead or Alive 3D, a franchise that never before was released on a Nintendo-system. Capcom works on a new Resident Evil-game and Konami has Metal Gear Solid 3DS in the works. Then there´s Splinter Cell from Ubisoft as well as an Assassin´s Creed-title. Square Enix has a new Kingdom Hearts-game and an untitled Final Fantasy-game in development. And many, many more. And now you´re asking how Nintendo can top this all? Not necessarily by releasing Animal Crossing 3DS, which looks like another cheap cash-in, but by developing The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3DS. Not just a port, but a remake that will be visually enhanced and even be improved in terms of gameplay. For example, Eiji Aonuma mentioned how changing the boots in the water temple will be a lot quicker in this version of Ocarina of Time.

That´s it for Nintendo. Normally, I´d go on to talk about the other two, Microsoft and Sony, too, but their conferences were terrible. Sony´s was a bunch of already known games and some hardly convincing Move-games, while Microsoft did what Nintendo did in 2008. I guess Halo Reach could be interesting. Unfortunately, no mentioning of Mass Effect 3.

To conclude, this was one of the best E3s in years, if you like games that are not HD. As disappointed as I am with Zelda: Skyward Sword, I´m sure that next time we see it, it´ll look much more interesting. And with an Ocarina of Time-remake in the works, I´m on the safe side anyways. What´s most surprising, though, is that I´m totally excited about a lot of third party-games for 3DS. It´ll be so nice to play games with GameCube-like visuals on such a small handheld, and I can´t wait to play Dead or Alive 3D or Final Fantasy on that system. My only doubtful hope now remains that the 3DS supports music-and video playback off an SD-card. If that becomes reality, the 3DS will be the perfect handheld. Ah, who am I kidding? It most likey already is.