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State of Nintendo 2020 – 7 month retrospective

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For those that don’t know, I like to take the time and analyze Nintendo’s studios and producers and look at their past to see where the company is headed in the future. I typically do an analyzation in January and go out on a limb with predictions. That thread can be seen here: https://www.reddit.com/r/nintendo/comments/ee2xav/state_of_nintendo_in_2020

Typically, around e3 Nintendo showcases its titles for the remainder of the year and this is when I see where my predictions were right and where they went wrong. However, e3 was cancelled and Nintendo has moved on the last two months without barely a word on its upcoming gaming schedule. There were system shortages throughout the pandemic as the system was in high demand. Nintendo has had bottle necks in both development and distribution of the system and its games throughout the pandemic. This is likely why despite being almost 2 months after when e3 is typically held, we have not heard a word about Nintendo’s later half of the year offerings, being cautious incase of development issues.

Regardless, I want to take the time to look at my January analysis and comment on rumors and speculation.

Nintendo’s current release list for 2020

Not many releases for Nintendo so for in 2020, and what has been released has been a focus in the RPG genre meaning there has not been much variety in terms of Nintendo releases. Regardless, many are quality titles with lasting appeal.

Tokyo Mirage Session #FE encore (Jan 17 – Atlus)

– An expanded release of the Wii U title which features Shin Megami Tensei gameplay and aesthetics and mixes them in with Fire Emblem trappings. Being able to summon ‘mirages’ in the form of your favorite Fire Emblem character and catchy dance tunes to battle against monsters.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons (Mar 20 – EAD Kyoto/Hisashi Nogami)

– First major Nintendo release of 2020. Instead of having all the events preplanned, monthly updates add in events and extra features such as being able to swim and collect special event items. Being able to terraform your island and design it your way was one of the most features to be added to the series. Look for updates to the game throughout the year.

Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition (May 28 – Monolith Soft)

– Released with extra content featuring Shulk and Melia which is up to 12 hours long and can be played from the start. It connects to other games in the Xenoblade franchise and ends Melia’s character arc from the main game.

Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics (Jun 5 – ND Cube)

– Surprise minigame collection and a sequel to the Nintendo DS game features local play for up to 4 players (depending on the game) and online play. Simplistic in its design, has 51 different minigames that use all the features of the Switch.

Paper Mario: The Origami King (Jul 17 – Intelligent Systems)

– Join Paper Mario in an all new adventure to rescue hidden toads and the Princess from the Origami King. Featuring an all new battle system where you have to line up enemies or traverse a board against bosses, this RPG is light on the RPG but very witty in the writing.

Nintendo DLC Releases

Nintendo has had a steady release of additional content for their older titles. Due to the ability to have quicker turnover and easier to program, the global pandemic has a less of an impact on Nintendo scheduled DLC releases as much of its DLC has released on time or early. Although we may feel the impact for the second season pass on Super Smash Bros. Ultimate as it currently only showcased one of six characters.

Super Smash Bros Ultimate – Byleth (Jan 28)

– New character, stage and music featuring male and female Byleth from Nintendo Switch game Fire Emblem: Three Houses

Fire Emblem: Three Houses – Cindered Shadows DLC (Feb 12 – Intelligent Systems)

– The Final wave of DLC includes new added characters, jobs, and a brand-new story line dealing with an unknown house (ashen wolves) and underground catacombs. The most substantial and final update to the game adding approximately 12 hours of content which can be added to your main game.

Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order – The Shadow of Doom (Mar 26 – Koei Tecmo)

– The final DLC package featuring characters from the Fantastic Four universe. This update also included more Danger Room levels, new gauntlets and additional outfits and voice overs. Lastly, it includes a secret 5 character that you also need to unlock.

Super Mario Maker 2 – final DLC

– This free update added new enemies, the SMB 2 mushroom which changes how Mario acts in the game (rides enemies instead of jumping on them and can pick up and throw them), new hats for 3D World, and the addition of snowballs.

Luigi’s Mansion 3 DLC (Apr 29 – Next Level Games)

– The first DLC pack was released March 4th and the second pack was released by the end of April. Promised by the end of July and the last of it came early. The DLC content was for the multiplayer only modes and nothing added to the single player campaign.

Pokemon Sword/Shield – Isle of Armor (Jun 17 – Game Freak)

– The first of the two expansion dlc packages for the Sword and Shield games brings back some older pokemon, some new pokemon, a practice dojo and a new area to explore in the Galar region.

Super Smash Bros Ultimate – Min Min (Jun 29)

– New character, stage and music featuring Min Min from Nintendo Switch game ARMS

Other notable games released in 2020

Devil May Cry 1,2,3

Crysis Remastered

Streets of Rage 4

Ninjala

Deadly Premonition 2

Minecraft Dungeons

Borderlands Collection

X-Com Collection

Bioshock Collection

Mega Man Zero/ZX Collection

Notable upcoming games for 2020

*All upcoming games can be delayed and the 2020 release date is tentative

Doom Eternal

WWE Battlegrounds

The Survivalists

Axiom Verge 2

No More Heroes 3

Bravely Default 2

Skater XL

Pokemon Sword/Shield – The Crown Tundra

Currently, there is nothing big on the horizon from Nintendo and no major games officially announced outside the previously mentioned games. It is expected that Nintendo will have an official Nintendo Direct in August to showcase all their major releases for the remainder of the year, however; nothing has been officially announced yet. So we are going to look at the studios and EAD producers to see what they would likely be working on and whether my January predictions were accurate.

Nintendo Entertainment Planning and Development Tokyo

Yoshiaki Koizumi

– Prediction: Super Mario Odyssey 2

– Rumor: Super Mario 3D World/Super Mario 3D Collection

– Likelihood: all mentioned above

Coming off of a leak that included a Paper Mario game to be released in Summer, these two games were also a big part of the rumor. I have a feeling while they have also been working on Super Mario Odyssey 2, the fact that Peach’s Castle was highly praised for being in the first game means Nintendo is looking back on their heritage. For quicker turnover, I predict we will see the remakes if not a full remake collection (possibly sold separately) and SMO2 for 2021.

Koichi Hayashida

– Prediction: Super Mario Odyssey 2

– Rumor: Super Mario 3D World/Super Mario 3D Collection

– Likelihood: all mentioned above

Like with Koizumi’s team, they worked together with Super Mario Odyssey. It is likely they are working in tandem with the remakes/collection and the sequel to Super Mario Odyssey.

Takao Shimizu

– Prediction: Super Mario Odyssey 2

– Rumor: Super Mario 3D World/Super Mario 3D Collection

– Likelihood: Super Mario 3D World/Super Mario 3D Collection/SNES Online/NES Online

This producer helped create the NES Classic Edition and SNES Classic Edition. I am certain he and his team are responsible for the NES and SNES Online games. His team is smaller and they also assisted with Super Mario Odyssey to ensure they hit the holiday 2017. While I no longer think his team is on the Odyssey sequel at the moment due to it potentially being released after the 3D remakes, they are likely helping to finish off the 3D remakes

Nintendo Entertainment Planning and Development Kyoto

Eiji Aonuma

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– Confirmed: Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2 (under Fujibayashi)

– Prediction: 2D Zelda (under Shikata)

– Likelihood: only Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2 (under both developers)

Due to the amount of development Zelda takes and Nintendo has the character designers work in tandem with dungeon developers and overworld developers, they require a lot of time to be on the same page. With the global pandemic, I think it pushed Nintendo to take more time with the title, despite being in development 3 years already and having help from Monolith Soft with this title (and the first Breath of the Wild) so we will likely see it in 2021. I think any other Zelda titles from this group will be put on hold for the time being to solely work on the sequel to

Hideki Konno

– Prediction: Donkey Kong Racing

– Rumor: Mario Kart 9/Mario Kart Ultimate

– Likelihood: Donkey Kong Racing

This is one of the times where I don’t believe the current rumor going around. I think Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is selling too well for Nintendo to pull the plug on the title which is what they would do if they came out with Mario Kart 9 or Mario Kart Ultimate. The Crash and Sonic Racers show that there is room for more than one mascot racer on the system (whereas having the same mascot would deplete sales) and Nintendo is one to always comeback to old ideas (Look at the GameCube 3D screen attachment that they developed with Luigi’s Mansion). If not a Kart Racer, then I think they may have been developing another racer in a dormant Nintendo IP.

Hiroyuki Kimura

– Prediction: Pikmin 4

– Rumor: Pikmin 4

– Likelihood: Pikmin 4

This team is responsible for Pikmin and the 2D Mario games that are not Mario Maker. With Nintendo’s expectations of Super Mario Maker 2 to do better and its extended life DLC getting a final release earlier this year, I think this team moved on to the much requested Pikmin franchise. There have been rumblings of Pikmin 4 ever since they were developing Hey! Pikmin. Nintendo is not deaf to fan demand (except with Mother 3)

Kosuke Yubuki

This team previously worked on ARMS and was folded back into a team under Konno to develop a title. No predictions for this team except what is posted under Konno.

Hisashi Nogami

– Confirmed: Animal Crossing: New Horizons

This team just released the latest Animal Crossing game in March during the pandemic and it has sold more in its first month than the rest of the series has total to date (which was a large number to begin with). There is a monthly roll out of updates so the team is focusing on this title and may be starting something else in the planning stages. This team is also responsible for Splatoon so it is possible they may be starting Splatoon 3 in early pre-development.

Other Nintendo Studios/Collaborators

Camelot Software Planning

– Prediction: Mario Golf

– Likelihood: Mario Golf

This team works on the Mario Sports titles and Golden Sun. With the success of Mario Tennis Aces, I expect them to be in the midst of the next Mario Golf game. The only question is whether it will be out in 2020 or delayed due to the pandemic into 2021

Game Freak

– Confirmed: Pokemon Sword/Shield DLC

I got a lot of hate when I first posted my prediction that Game Freak will only release the DLC for Sword and Shield and give the series a year off. So far, what has been shown and said seems to be exactly that. Adding in old Pokemon and new story elements, focus on the title for DLC their only other release is a port of Little Town Hero to PlayStation 4.

Grezzo

– Prediction: 2D Zelda akin to the Link’s Awakening remake

– Rumor: none

– Likelihood: 2D Zelda akin to the Link’s Awakening remake/other 3D Zelda port/new title

Responsible for the 3D Zelda remakes on 3DS, Four Swords Anniversary edition, Link’s Awakening Switch and Ever Oasis on 3DS, this team is likely to use their current Zelda engine for a new title or different 2D Zelda port. Hope to see the Oracle series but they develop what Nintendo plans for them and the 3D games sell better. Also with Shikata’s team rolled in with Fujibayashi, it is possible that this team may be preparing a port of a 3D Zelda title.

Good Feel

– Prediction: Wario Land/World

– Rumor: none

– Likelihood: Wario Land/World

Team behind the last few Yoshi games and with Crafted World still selling well, I foresee Nintendo giving this team a shot at a different 2D intellectual property. I think the Wario platformer series may match this team with their collect everything experience in platformers

HAL Laboratory

– Prediction: Kirby

– Rumor: Kirby

– Likelihood: Kirby

While I predicted a Kirby title in early 2020, they may have been taking their time and with the global pandemic things may have been pushed even further away. I expect to hear about a Kirby title at the next direct or for sometime in 2021.

Intelligent Systems

– Confirmed: Paper Mario: The Origami King

– Likelihood: Fire Emblem

I predicted this team was working on a Paper Mario game for 2021, it was correct except it was ready for release this year. This team works on Fire Emblem, Advance Wars and Paper Mario. I think their next game will be another Fire Emblem but will be a some time before it is released as they had two major releases back-to-back and major DLC for one of the titles that just finished. I say their next title will be a 2022 at the earliest.

Next Level Games

– Confirmed: Luigi’s Mansion 3 DLC

– Prediction: 2D Metroid or Punchout

– Rumored: 2D Metroid

– Likelihood: another Luigi’s Mansion game

They just finished the multiplayer DLC for Luigi’s Mansion 3 and have started their next title. They have worked on the cancelled Mario Strikers (soccor/football), Federation Force and Luigi games. With the success of Luigi’s Mansion 3, Nintendo is probably going to keep them on that franchise but they have expressed interest to return to Metroid or Punchout so they may be given a chance to develop titles in either of those IPs. Regardless do not expect to hear anything from this team until 2021 at the earliest.

NDCube

– Confirmed: Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics

– Prediction: Super Mario Party 2

– Likelihood: Super Mario Party 2

I went out on a limb and stated that we should hear about Super Mario Party 2 this year. With that title still selling incredibly well, even after a year after release, Nintendo had them develop a new game from an old DS game. Clubhouse games has been received quite well despite being very basic in the options department. I think with the quick turnover to develop Clubhouse games that the team is also working on Super Mario Party 2, but will see it next year rather than 2020.

Monolith Soft

– Confirmed: Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition/Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2

– Prediction: Xenoblade Chronicles 3

– Likelihood: Xenoblade Chronicles 3

One of Nintendo’s bigger 2nd party studios, they have just released Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition and are confirmed to be helping with the sequel to Breath of the Wild. While I originally thought BotW2 would release this year, the global pandemic and the amount of interaction a large Zelda game requires, looks like it will be a 2021 title. Additionally, they were working on a fantasy game like Zelda that they were hiring for in 2018 and that development has likely wrapped into the Zelda title they are assisting with. Regardless, some of the team will also be working on their next RPG in the Xenoblade franchise as well. Do not expect to hear about their developments until 2021 at the earliest.

Retro Studios

– Confirmed: Metroid Prime 4

– Prediction: Metroid Prime Trilogy

– Likelihood: both

It has been known that development of Metroid Prime 4 was handed back to Retro Studios in early 2018. I still believe they also developed the oft rumored Metroid Prime Trilogy and Nintendo is sitting on that title to use it to promote Metroid Prime 4. Either way, do not expect to see a title from them until 2021.

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