2017 has been an extremely successful year for Nintendo, and it’s looking like it may be remembered as one of the all-time great years for gaming in general, like 1996 or 2007. Now that 2017 is coming to a close, one can’t help but wonder what 2018 has in store. Now’s as good a time as any to make some predictions as to what Nintendo will show off.
Switch Sports Resort/Nintendo Land Sequel
Nintendo seems to have learned from its mistakes with the Wii U by largely stepping away from the Wii brand. They’ve been pushing hard to release ambitious titles that appeal to the core gamer crowd, as well as marketing that appeals to older audiences rather than releasing commercials featuring mainly children and their families. That said, I’m not convinced that they won’t try to appeal to the casual crowd(and there’s nothing wrong with that, so long as it doesn’t dominate their marketing like it has in the past) down the line with an equivalent to Wii Sports or Nintendo Land that thrives on showing off the system’s hardware through local multiplayer.
I could definitely see an expanded Wii Sports Resort or, less likely, a Nintendo Land sequel to serve this function, and I think we’ll get some sort of announcement in the January Direct, with a release date set somewhere around Holiday 2018.
Smash 5 Announcement
I previously wrote an article on why a Smash port would be a terrible idea, and you can read that here. Due to the reasons outlined in the aforementioned article, I don’t expect the Switch to get a port of Smash. I predict that there will be a Smash 5 trailer unveiled in 2018, though that is obviously something that would be saved for E3 rather than the January Direct. It will be slated for a 2020 release, roughly two years out from its original announcement, as could be expected based on Brawl and Smash 4.
As to whether Sakurai will be directing or not, I can’t find any grounds to take a stance one way or the other. I will say that I don’t believe his involvement would affect Nintendo’s decision to push a new Smash game out; the franchise is too much of a hype machine. They’ll capitalize on it regardless of whether Sakurai is involved.
It’s been rumored that rather than release Pikmin 4, the series is going to see a reboot. While nothing is concrete, I don’t think the idea is far-fetched: Pikmin has always been a franchise with tons of passion put into it but with little return from a sales perspective. I believe that Nintendo is going to try and reboot the franchise with some fundamental changes to boost its mainstream appeal, and that they’ll try to market the heck out of it as a big release to test whether the Pikmin franchise is something they can put more support behind or not. It will have been six years since Pikmin 3 released, and we’ve already gotten word from Miyamoto that the series’ next installment is virtually finished.
I’m predicting an unveiling during the January Direct, followed by a release no later than Summer 2018.
Animal Crossing Switch
It’s been five years, and by the time this thing releases it will have been at least six. Animal Crossing’s popularity has exploded with New Leaf and the release of the mobile app; there’s no way they aren’t far along in the development of the next game. An Animal Crossing game is just the thing the Switch needs to beef up its 2018 lineup of games, and I’m sure Nintendo knows that.
I predict that we’ll see it unveiled in the January Direct, and that it will be scheduled for release in November of 2018.
Retro Studios Will Unveil a Third Donkey Kong Game
Is this outcome truly more likely than a new IP? I’m not sure. On the one hand, Nintendo does seem to be making a serious effort to push out new IPs, as well as ambitious games that market to the core crowd rather than casuals, so I understand the view that Retro Studios is working on an exciting new game. On the other hand, the Switch is lacking in 2D Nintendo platformers. But back to the other hand, we’ve got Kirby and Yoshi coming up to fill that gap. But then going back to the second hand, the new Donkey Kong Country games sold really well, appealing to both casual and core audiences.
I feel it could go either way, but I’m going to have to take the side of lower expectations and anticipate the completion of their Donkey Kong Country trilogy.
Skyward Sword HD
It’s the next Zelda game in line for a remaster. And I do mean REMASTER: they need to actually give the game a graphical overhaul and put some effort into fixing the game’s problems like they did with The Wind Waker HD rather than just pull a lazy port with HD functionality like they did with Twilight Princess HD. Nintendo’s going to want some Zelda content to hold us over until the next mainline game, and we can’t even expect a reveal for that until at least two or three years down the line.
Yes, the original game would have only released seven years prior, but keep in mind that despite doing fairly well considering the circumstances, Skyward Sword didn’t get nearly as much exposure as it should have; it released at the end of the life of a console that had a low attachment rate to begin with. Porting it to Switch would follow a lot of the same logic of porting something like Mario Kart 8; tons of potential buyers have yet to experience the game. As to whether we’ll get a January or e3 announcement… I’m not sure. If I had to guess I’d say e3, as it still might be just a bit too soon after Breath of the Wild to jump on board the next Zelda thing.
And yes, I’m predicting that they’ll find some way of letting you play without the motion controls, though naturally an option to play with motion controls via JoyCons will be included.
Xenoblade Chronicles X Port
Xenoblade Chronicles X was, in my opinion, the single best exclusive the Wii U had to offer. Sadly, seeing as how it was released on the Wii U, it didn’t get the attention it deserved. A massive, lovingly crafted open-world adventure such as this deserves to see a second life on the Switch, and I believe it will.
As can be read about here, Monolith Soft President Tetsuya Takahashi has expressed interest in the possibility of porting Xenoblade Chronicles X to Switch. That alone gives a substantial amount of hope, but on top of that Nintendo themselves would be likely to push for such a thing: they need to keep a constant stream of games releasing on the Switch, and they’ve shown an affinity for porting Wii U titles that didn’t get the attention they should have. In addition to this, Xenoblade Chronicles X was left open-ended, so there’s a good chance we’ll return to the world of Mira and its more open gameplay structure. They’ll want to port X over to the Switch before releasing a sequel.
I expect that at the very least we’ll get an announcement for a Xenoblade Chronicles X port in 2018, though most likely not in the January Direct, so as not to overshadow the Xenoblade Chronicles 2 DLC. An actual release seems unlikely given how recently Xenoblade Chronicles 2 released.
It’ll be fun to look back on this article and do a follow-up piece on which predictions, if any, turned out true.