Last year I reviewed Nintendo’s trends and tried to methodically look at what was realistic. The hope was to accurately predict what would be coming in 2017. Nintendo had kept the focus on one game and then did minor announcements. With Mario Odyssey coming out, it appeared as though it would be the Mario show. Largely this was true. I finished the article with this somber prediction: “Next year will be the year to expect big reveals, as the Switch enters its second year at E3 and will likely have no Mario or Zelda headliner. Till next year Nintendo Fans, when I will be anxiously awaiting a Metroid Prime and the Mario Kart 9 reveal.”

Then Nintendo dropped bomb after bomb, a core Pokémon game on Switch?! Metroid Prime 4!? Nothing but a title was shown for either game. Just acknowledging that these games were in the works was a huge deal. Neither game seemed like a possibility based on previous comments.

The question then becomes, will they have a tempered approach like previous years, or some big surprises? This time I am going to break this down into a few categories based on how likely the game is to appear.

 

Sure Fire Games and Announcement

Let us get the obvious ones out of the way first. If Nintendo has announced the game or service then it is a safe bet that they will be at E3. What is already on tap?

Online Plan:
Nintendo has to sell their upcoming online subscription plan. There are few details available currently so it stands to reason that Nintendo would want to unveil the service at E3. The second piece to the puzzle is that Nintendo needs to have something to motivate people pay to play online. This is likely going to be the theme of the E3, online multiplayer. What games will get people to play competitively online?

Super Smash Bros:
Smash bros switchAfter a surprise announcement a short while ago, E3 appears to be the big reveal for Smash. By the end of E3 we should know whether this is a remake or a brand new game. My bet is brand new title. What we are likely to get here will be a release date, some details of the characters, and even some game play footage. With previous installments of Smash, creators have slowly revealed the cast on a dedicated website. Look for something similar this go around. The big shock would be if Smash Bros. is not released at the same time (or near) as the subscription online.

Nintendo Labo:
Who would have ever thought cardboard creations would be a big buzz in 2018. With Labo being a hit with fans, it makes sense that Nintendo will reveal at least another kit during the show. The only question is what will the pack be? Some have speculated that it could be an arcade cabinet, which would include many of Nintendo’s old retro titles. This seems a little too basic as the joy of Labo is building a unique creation. Building what is essentially a TV is not interesting. I could do this with tape, scissors, and an Amazon box. What is revealed will likely be the level of intricacy of the piano or robot.

Third Party Entries:
Third parties are seeing the fruit of releasing games on the Switch. Even ports are performing well, meaning that companies will give more support. The big draw is that we can play the games we love on the go. With this in mind, look for several surprise third party games. I am going to indulge in some rampant speculation further down the list. The most likely candidate to show up at E3 is Bayonetta 3, with a possible a port of 1 and 2. Look for a surprise indie hit that no one expected to be on Switch. With Fortnite ported to mobile platforms, the switch becomes a possibility. This game would be another prime candidate for Nintendo to roll out with online services. PUBG could be a backup option if Nintendo is not able to secure Fortnite. The challenge with these options, and the ones I will list below, is making cross platform play optional.

Metroid Prime 4:
Metroid Prime 4 2In truth, I do not believe Metroid will be explored in depth at E3. The game was likely in the beginning stages of development and likely has little more to show. I would not be shocked to see a 2020 release date. The best we can hope for is a trailer and a target release window. Do not be surprised though if Metroid Prime 4 goes invisible this round.

Pokémon Switch:
2018 E3 pokemonUnlike Metroid Prime 4, Pokémon is likely much farther along in development. While it is likely a ways out yet, we could see some gameplay here. Wagering a guess for release date, I would say Winter/Spring 2019. I am sure a Holiday season release would be the dream, but with nothing shown so far it likely will need more time. There were leaks (if you believe them) that showed several screen shots. The art design resemble Pokémon on the 3DS. If Gamefreak decided to use the previous game engine then a short turn around for Pokémon on Switch is possible. This would be a huge disappointment to fans as the dream would be a massive open world game to immerse yourself in (Like Zelda or Mario) and catch Pokémon. The only trade off that would make this acceptable would be if all Pokémon generations were included.

Mario Tennis:
Mario Aces was previously announced. Nintendo will likely have Mario Aces skip any direct and be examined further in their Tree House presentations. Look for Nintendo to reveal more gameplay and possibly solve the mystery of how a Chain Chomp holds a racket.

 

Time to Roll the Dice

Nintendo usually has a few minor games that they announce at each E3. Yoshi and Kirby titles are great examples. A sports title featuring Mario are also another typical surprise. While we will likely see a few of the following titles at E3, we will not see all of them. Which ones will it be?

Mario Maker 2:
E3 Mario MakerThis is my odds on favorite for surprise game of E3. It simply is the perfect game to release this fall. It incorporates Nintendo’s new online environment and will motivate millions to join. It also will not take a great deal to update and add new features. Adding new backgrounds, new enemies, and possibly even a new tile set would be fantastic. Mario 2 could be an interesting addition and spice things up. Would Nintendo allow for creation of Super Mario 64 levels? Maybe they will let you create entire Mario games, which would capitalize on the rom hacks. If it does then it will be the talk of E3.

Mario Party:
When considering online game play, and portability, Mario Party checks both boxes perfectly. The quick mini games fit perfectly with multiplayer and could accomplish what 1-2 Switch wanted to. It also could be updated from previous entries to play games online with friends.

F-Zero:
2018 E3 FzeroF-Zero has been absent for several gaming generations. Nintendo has made no rumblings of it coming back. That is until recently when a studio confirmed that Nintendo approached them about creating a Wii U version. With this in mind, it appears to be the perfect time to drop the F-Zero bomb. Mario Kart is selling well and is not ready for a new version. With Nintendo announcing Metroid Prime last year, F-Zero seems like a strong candidate for this year.

Starfox:
One of the most likely ports would be Starfox. Late in the Wii U’s life cycle, Starfox got a new title that went largely unnoticed. Starfox Zero even came with a Starfox themed tower defense game called Starfox Guard. Porting both of these skipped over titles to the Switch makes too much sense for a title that did not get much attention. At the very least, Nintendo could port Starfox Guard to mobile platforms.

New Super Mario Bros.:
It has been several years since we got a New Super Mario Bros. game. With Odyssey making the huge splash last year, it seems unlikely that New Super Mario game will come out before Holiday 2019. It is likely though that the next title we see in the series will be a New Super Mario Bros. The big question now is when Nintendo decides to announce it.

Animal Crossing:
2018 E3 Animal crossingSince its inception in 2001, Animal Crossing has featured most prominently on portable platforms. With the Switch being both console and portable, it seems like the perfect time for Animal Crossing to release another core game. In recent years we have seen a mobile version and a mini game entry on the Wii U. A core game is over due!

DLC for Super Mario Odyssey:
This has been a no brainer since the release of Odyssey. If Nintendo wants to do DLC at all then adding kingdoms to explore and conquer will bring added value. Mario Odyssey also allows for new outfits to include and even enemies to take over. I for one will be shocked if Nintendo does not capitalize on this cash cow immediately.

 

Don’t Stop Believing

There are so many games that we would love to see Nintendo unveil. Two games that I would have put here last year, Metroid and Pokemon, astonished us all. I would not expect anything from the following list, but we never know when Nintendo will pull a rabbid out of its hat. Last year they brought out a game no one thought would ever happen, Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle. It was leaked before the show, but who would have ever predicted that crossover ahead of time. What surprises will Nintendo bring this year?

3rd Party Shockers:
Witness logoThere are a plethora of titles that could be dropped here. As Nintendo has doggedly pursued successful indie titles, it would not surprise to see a big title dropped. The big guess for me is The Witness. This puzzler on the go seems like a good fit. The second title that would not surprise me is Spelunky. Both titles would be a big grab for Nintendo and seems to fit with their audience and could be good in portable gaming.

The ideal fit for Nintendo consoles though is none other than Kingdom Hearts. Putting a collection of games onto the switch is an ideal way to build the audience and connect to young fans. This could pave the way before a release of Kingdom Hearts 3 on Switch (though it would have to be scaled down graphically). While this seems like a pipedream, it also could be a match made in heaven.

ni-no-kuni-2Another RPG that could be a great fit to port over would be the Ni No Kuni series. I highly doubt this would happen, hence in this section, but the style would fit perfectly. This would be a great way for Nintendo to build their RPG stable on the Switch.

One of the top games on many wish lists is Monster Hunter World. The big challenge here is that it would likely struggle to run on the Switch. Capcom has previously stated that it would be very difficult to port it to the Switch. While this game is unlikely, it is another possibility based on the history and success of Monster Hunter on Nintendo platforms.

Let’s go extreme before we move off 3rd party games. I mean huge. I am talking Red Dead Redemption or GTA5. Grabbing these titles would certainly capture the attention of adult gamers. With Skyrim and Doom coming, there is no reason why these titles could not make the leap. Keeping with my online theme of before, Blizzard’s Hearthstone also would make sense. Previous reports indicate this is a big NO. However, as Hearthstone is on mobile gaming, it would certainly be playable and enjoyable on Switch. The key here though is Nintendo’s willingness to allow in cross platform play. If that stays no, then this will not happen.

Mario Kart 9:
With the way the deluxe version of 8 is selling well on the Switch, it is highly unlikely that Nintendo will rush 9. I am guessing we will see this as a spotlight game at E3 in 2019. Any sooner does not make sense. Therefore, while we know the Switch will get a brand spanking new Mario Kart at some point, now does not make the most business sense.

Mother Trilogy/remaster:
2018 EarthboundWe have finally arrived at the ultimate Hail Mary shot. With fans clamoring, and even offering their services for free to make this possible, Nintendo has not budged. Releasing a collection for Earthbound (or Mother) with updated graphics (not remakes!) would be earth shattering news. Millions of fans would get a chance to play these great games on the go.

Mother 4:
Nothing like a collection of the old games to raise the hype for a new game. Use the graphical style of Ni No Kuni (or even Stardew Valley) and it will be a hit. The real question is whether we have a better chance of getting Mother 4 or any game with 3 in the title from Valve. Here is hoping I can be wrong again this year and Nintendo will drop this bomb.

 

My specific prediction list

After running through all the options and likelihood of each, it is time for me to wager a guess as to what is actually coming. Take the challenge and leave your prediction in the comments below and we will see who gets closer to the pin. I am excluding most previously announced titles like Mario Aces and Captain Toad.

1) Super Smash Bros. (New game)
2) Nintendo Labo (New kit)
3) Update on Pokémon Switch
4) Simple Trailer for Metroid Prime 4
5) Super Mario Odyssey DLC (New Kingdom or two)
6) Mario Maker 2
7) Mario Party
8) Animal Crossing
9) Bayonetta 1,2 Combo
10) Bayonetta 3
11) Spelunky