Just eight months in to the Switch’s existence, Nintendo has already released critically acclaimed entries into both The Legend of Zelda and Super Mario series’. Add the steady release of games like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Splatoon 2, and ARMS, and it’s clear Nintendo has had their schedule planned out for some time. But what’s next for the Big N? With their two most acclaimed franchises out of the way, and only a handful of games announced for the future, where do they go from here?
There’s good news: they have more than just Zelda and Mario in their roster. Though there are a couple of big releases for the Switch left this year, Nintendo hasn’t given any definitive dates for titles beyond 2017. But, with a little research, we’ve been able to turn our crystal balls to the future and predict what their various first-party teams might be up to right this second. Don’t worry about the Switch going dark in 2018 – it’s clear that there’s still plenty of exclusive games to come.
Xenoblade Chronicles 2 (December 1, 2017)
Team: Monolith Soft
Less than a month away, Monolith Soft’s upcoming Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is coming just in time to take care of our impending Super Mario Odyssey withdrawals. Nintendo held a Xenoblade Chronicles 2 focused Nintendo Direct just last week and it looks like it’s shaping up to be another great addition to the Switch’s library. Though many doubted Monolith Soft would be able to crank out another massive RPG in just two years following Xenoblade Chronicles X, it appears that it really will be coming to us on December 1.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – Champions’ Ballad (Holiday 2017)
Team: Nintendo EPD
The four Champion amiibo went on sale November 10 as planned, but the associated DLC for Breath of the Wild, “The Champions’ Ballad,” didn’t come out alongside its titular statues. What do we know about The Champions’ Ballad? Not much. We know it’s story based, unlike the first set of DLC for Breath of the Wild. We know there will be a heavy focus on Zelda as a character, and on the four Champions. It will add a new dungeon and whether that means it’s a smaller dungeon like the Divine Beasts, or a more sprawling labyrinth like Hyrule Castle remains to be seen. It’s still set to come out this Holiday, and we’re set to play it until our eyes hurt.
Fire Emblem (2018)
Teams: Intelligent Systems, Nintendo SPD
Fire Emblem graced the 3DS not once, not twice but (technically) four times during its lifespan. Fire Emblem Awakening was heralded upon release as perhaps the greatest entry in the long-running series. Fire Emblem Fates gave us three unique versions with Birthright, Conquest and Revelations. Soon enough, Fire Emblem will hit the Switch in a big way (and no, Fire Emblem Warriors doesn’t count). It’s the first console entry in the series since Radiant Dawn came out a decade ago for the Wii. Of course, it’s also a portable game thanks to the Switch’s hybrid nature. Unfortunately, we don’t even have a proper title for the game, but it’s likely to make a big impact once it’s released. We’ll find out just how well Intelligent Systems can readapt the series to consoles in 2018.
Yoshi for the Nintendo Switch still doesn’t have a proper title, but it looks like it’s well into development. Lucky for us, developer Good-Feel has experience with the franchise and its playful tone – they made Yoshi’s Wooly World for the Wii U, and Kirby’s Epic Yarn for the Wii. Sure, some bemoan the easy nature of these games, but they’re called Good-Feel after all, not “pull your hair out for missing that jump for the tenth time”-feel. It would be nice to see Yoshi return to form similar to his outing in Super Mario World 2, but only time will tell if Yoshi stacks up to that seminal title’s unbridled creativity. They’re also focusing heavily on co-op this time around, which could be a great use of couch multiplayer with two joy cons. Yoshi is scheduled to come out some time in 2018.
Kirby Star Allies (2018)
Team: HAL Laboratory
Kirby Star Allies, much like Yoshi for the Switch, is a co-op oriented platformer that’s coming out in 2018. It looks to take Kirby’s hook of swallowing enemies and absorbing their powers and cranks it up a notch by allowing players to mix and match powers along with their co-op partners. It’s not one of Nintendo’s big three franchises, but everyone loves the pink puffball. HAL Laboratory’s history with the franchise is long, and they’ve recently released Kirby games like Kirby and the Rainbow Curse for the Wii U, and a trio of Kirby games for the 3DS throughout 2017. The franchise is hitting its twenty-sixth anniversary next year and Kirby Star Allies should keep the mascot going strong.
Metroid Prime 4 (TBD)
Team: Unknown (a “talented new team”)
We all thought the Metroid Prime subseries had wrapped up with Metroid Prime 3: Corruption. And perhaps it should have. But still, Nintendo saw it fit to release Metroid Prime: Federation Force on the 3DS to middling reviews and low sales. Nintendo also announced Metroid Prime 4 and Metroid: Samus Returns during this year’s E3. Besides probably being in the first person and taking place sometime after Corruption, we know next to nothing about Prime 4. Unlike most other games Nintendo announced during the event, no release window was given. It’s in development, but don’t expect it to come any time before 2019 at the earliest. The “talented new team” assigned to the game isn’t Retro Studios, but it’s being led by Producer Kensuke Tanabe, a mainstay contributor to the series. This team is likely to be based in the West, as all Prime games have been. So it’s possible Nintendo’s primary Western developer, Nintendo Software Technology based in Redmond, Washington, will house this new team. They were responsible for making the surprisingly good Metroid Prime: Hunters over a decade ago. Hopefully they’ve got what it takes to produce a worthy successor to the Metroid Prime Trilogy.
Team: Game Freak
It sure was disappointing when Nintendo announced Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon for the 3DS earlier this year in a Nintendo Direct. The games will probably be great, but everyone and their mom was expecting the rumored Pokémon Stars game for the Switch. But, think about it rationally: do we really want the first proper console Pokémon RPG to basically be a copy of another game? That’s like Pokémon Crystal coming to the N64 or Pokémon Emerald coming to the GameCube. Yes, those would be objectively awesome, but a completely new game built from the ground up for the system is way more awesome. It’s going to take Game Freak a while to adapt to HD programing, so don’t expect the game to come out any time soon, but they’ve also got their A-Team working on it. The younger, less experienced staff members just finished up Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, and they’re likely to join the main team with more experience and a lust to go for the gold with the series. We don’t know what changes are going to come with a console/portable hybrid experience, but the Ultra games feel like a culmination of the traditional series. Let’s see what the team can really do from here.
Not Announced, but Possible:
Likely Team: Nintendo EPD
Animal Crossing is absolutely coming to the Switch. No, it hasn’t been announced. No, a proper Animal Crossing game never made it to the Wii U. But between the gluttony of amiibo released for the series, and the impending Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp for smart phones coming out later this month, Animal Crossing fever is hitting a peak. The Switch’s hybrid nature is perfect for the franchise. Smaller tasks like digging and farming are great for on-the-go gameplay and house customization would be wonderful to see on a bigger screen. Sure, Nintendo might not be making the game, but there’s really no way they aren’t. It’s likely Nintendo EPD have been put on the project and only time will tell when we’ll be able to sell couches for Bells and hate Tom Nook again. Just don’t expect it too soon.
Likely Team: Nintendo EPD
Shigeru Miyamoto confirmed back in 2015 that Pikmin 4 was not only in development, but it was nearly complete. That was only a couple years after Pikmin 3 hit the anemic Wii U. Well, the same span has passed since and Miyamoto has repeatedly confirmed the game’s existence. What they haven’t done is officially announce it, or even confirm it’s coming to the Switch. The Pikmin game in question wasn’t Hey! Pikmin, which was made by an outside studio and released earlier this year for the 3DS. It seems as though the game was originally planned for the Wii U and its shift over to the Switch likely drew out its development cycle – much like porting Breath of the Wild to the Switch did for its gestation period. Perhaps the game was touch-screen dependent like Pikmin 3, and re-configuring it for being on the TV may have thrown a wrench in its gears. Though details are basically nonexistent, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to think Pikmin 4 could hit the Switch sometime next year. But, then again, Nintendo moves at its own pace and nobody will ever be able to predict their timing exactly.
Donkey Kong Country
Likely Team: Retro Studios
We know Retro isn’t working on Metroid Prime 4. We know they’ve been working on something since the release of Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze in early 2014. So, it’s not unreasonable to assume they’re cranking out their third Donkey Kong Country game. Though Tropical Freeze didn’t sell through the roof, that’s not exactly their fault — the Wii U didn’t set the world on fire. Still, a change for the developer could be in order and they may try their hands at a new IP, or perhaps revive another dormant Nintendo franchise. They are, after all, quite good at it. But if there’s any single franchise they’re working on, it’s probably Donkey Kong Country, and it’s hard to complain about that.
Super Smash Bros.
Likely Teams: Sora Ltd., Bandai Namco Games
Super Smash Bros. for the Switch is a huge question mark. Masahiro Sakurai, the series’ creator, has been frank about how much of a toll Super Smash Bros. for 3DS and Wii U have taken on him. He’s gone so far as to say he doesn’t think he can continue developing games if the stress of making them remains the same. The last couple of games were fantastic, and many expected the Wii U version to be ported to the Switch, much like Nintendo did with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. Of course a new game is always preferable, and if it’s being made, Nintendo’s relationship with Bandai Namco Games and Sakurai’s own Sora Ltd. is likely to be utilized once again. There’s no concrete evidence whether it is or is not being made, but Nintendo isn’t likely to just abandon their tent pole fighting series.
Mario Party 11
Likely Team: Nd Cube
Nintendo will never stop making Mario Party games. They’re relatively cheap to make and always end up being some of Nintendo’s best-selling games, despite not being critical powerhouses. Nd Cube is a fully owned subsidiary of Nintendo and has exclusively made party games for them since the Wii era. Considering they worked on Mario Party 9 and 10, they are almost definitely going to be tapped to make an eleventh game in the series for the Switch. Honestly, it’s not a matter of if, but when.
Not Super Likely:
Possible Team: Nintendo EPD
There hasn’t been a new F-Zero game in thirteen years. Just think about that for a moment. For a series that helped launch the Super Nintendo, having its creators flat out abandon it for nearly a decade and a half is just crazy. It’s been confirmed that Nintendo reached out to Criterion Games (responsible for the fast-paced and destructive Burnout Series) about making an F-Zero game for the Wii U in 2011. While an awesome idea, it’s unlikely Nintendo would reach out to them again with the same basic proposal for the Switch. Miyamoto hasn’t ruled out the possibility of future F-Zero games, claiming just a few years ago that they’d consider it if Nintendo could come up with the right controller interface for the game. Then again, in the same interview he brought up the then-upcoming Star Fox Zero, and that controller interface was bonkers. Hopefully he’d be down to let a couple of Joy Cons or the Pro Controller handle the challenge. Considering the franchise has been dormant for so long, there’s no obvious team to tap for the game. Nintendo EPD has, however, finished up Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and F-Zero sure would be a literal change of pace for them.
Mario Kart 9
Possible Team: Nintendo EPD
Then again, the Mario Kart 8 team is working on Mario Kart 9, more likely than not. No, there have never been two Mario Kart games for a single system, but Deluxe isn’t really a new game. Considering the franchise consistently tops each Nintendo console’s sales charts, another entry is a no-brainer. Sorry F-Zero.
Possible Teams: Nintendo EPD, Platinum Games
Although the world has collectively clamored for new Star Fox games for years now, Star Fox Zero for the Wii U was a disappointment. After Miyamoto himself put such a major effort into that game and saw very little pay off, don’t hold your breath for another one any time soon. Still, Platinum Games helped develop the last one and could theoretically be tapped again to help with a new entry. It’s a long shot, but it’s a shot.
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD
Possible Teams: Nintendo EPD, Tantalus, Grezzo
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD and The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD worked as great stop-gaps while waiting for Breath of the Wild. So, naturally, making The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD for the Switch would make sense to round out the trio. Though Skyward Sward had a unique control mechanic and required Wii Motion+, the Joy-Con would be more than up to the task of 1:1 motion control. Playing the game in handheld mode, however, would be tricky with a dual Joy-Con set up, and may have to be reconfigured to work in all forms. Wind Waker HD was made by the usual Zelda team at Nintendo, but that was more of a practice run to get the developers used to HD graphics. Twilight Princess HD was primarily made by the outside studio Tantalus. They’d probably be first on Nintendo’s list to work on this remaster, but Grezzo did such a fantastic job with Ocarina of Time 3D and Majora’s Mask 3D that they’d also be a natural fit. Sure, they have almost exclusively worked on handheld games, but the Switch is a handheld. And, while they’re at it, why not just port the other HD remasters to the Switch? There wouldn’t be much objection.
Possible Team: 1-UP Studio
Just kidding: we’re never getting Mother 4.