As I mentioned in Part 1, even with 3DS and Wii U games all releasing instead for the Nintendo Hybrid system, 2012 would still be a fairly bleak year in terms of releases from Nintendo.
Most, if not all of the games released for Wii and 3DS in 2012 would more than likely just release very similarly on the Hybrid system, except in HD. (Also one game featuring a certain lovable angel would probably be 100 times easier to play without getting tendonitis.) When thinking them through, I even had a hard time thinking any of them would even change their names from what the 3DS versions were given.
Those games in question include the previously referenced Kid Icarus: Uprising, alongside Rhythm Heaven Fever, Dillon’s Rolling Western, Mario and Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games, Mario Party 9, Mario Tennis Open, Art Academy: Lessons for Everyone!, and Crashmo. I could also probably say that Paper Mario: Sticker Star would also just be released as an HD version on the Hybrid console, but a naïve part of me hopes that an HD Paper Mario title at this point might have made Miyamoto not push Intelligent Systems to make a bad game. One could only hope.
Of course, I can’t forget the two games I had pushed from 2011 in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time HD the HD 3D Mario Game that may or may not even resemble what we came to know as Super Mario 3D Land.
Speaking of Mario! In 2012, two different New Super Mario Bros. titles released for two Nintendo systems. While I inevitably didn’t rule out a New Super Luigi U-type of game the following year, having what essentially amounts to the same game come out for the same system within a few months of each other made zero sense, so one needed to be scrapped. I made the obvious decision and decided that it would be New Super Mario Bros. U. Like I’d be foolish enough to turn down that much gold! Plus New Super Mario Bros. 2 is just an easier name to transition to an HD console that does not have a big “U” in its name.
And because of that cut, all of a sudden the studio behind 2D Mario and Pikmin suddenly had a whole development cycle to make something completely new. Or shift up the development of the new Pikmin game, since I guess that’s possible. But a year? Maybe a bit too far out so a new title it is!
Nintendo “Hybrid” Games 2012:
- The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time HD
- HD 3D Mario title
- Rhythm Heaven Fever
- Dillon’s Rolling Western
- Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games
- Mario Party 9
- Kid Icarus: Uprising
- Mario Tennis Open
- Art Academy: Lessons for Everyone!
- New Super Mario Bros. 2
- HD Paper Mario title
- New Title or IP from the developers of 2D Mario and Pikmin
Before I start on 2013, I just wanted to take a minute to reflect on what just happened with New Super Mario Bros. 2 and New Super Mario Bros. U in this alternate version of Nintendo’s 2012. In her article explaining why she thought that Nintendo could improve the output and quality of the content they will be releasing on NX in comparison to what they produced on Wii U and 3DS, she noted that developing for both systems had produced a number of redundancies. Since at least the GameBoy Advance, many companies releasing a game on Nintendo’s home console would also develop a version of the game for their handheld as well. What this meant is that developers would need to put in extra development time and energy to produce for both systems. And it wasn’t just 3rd parties like SEGA and their Sonic franchise releasing games like Sonic Colors and Sonic Lost World on both 3DS and Wii/Wii U.
Nintendo’s strategy for the longest time has appeared to be “release one game from each of a specific number of franchises on every console and handheld we produce.” This held true for the majority of Nintendo’s major franchises: Mario Kart, Super Mario, Animal Crossing, Mario Tennis, Mario Golf, etc. The last two are the most egregious in my own opinion because the Mario Tennis and Golf franchises are developed by the same studio– one with a release cycle of about 2 years (One if they’re lazy like they were with Mario Tennis: Power Smash).
With two consoles, that’s about 8 years to get through both systems, which is longer than the Wii U’s life cycle. This would be fine and dandy if this also wasn’t the studio known for developing Golden Sun. With most of the developer’s focus on Tennis and Golf, the last Golden Sun game to release was in 2010, and before that, 2002. The basic idea here is that if they only needed to develop games for one console rather than two, they could easily find themselves with time to make two extra games per console cycle.
Apply that to every franchise experiencing similar development cycles and suddenly there seems to be a lot of developers with a lot more time to make games other than the ones we see on every console. The result of this, if it wasn’t apparent, is best exemplified by the studio behind Animal Crossing and Wii Sports. In 2014, it would have made perfect sense for them to announce that they were producing a new title in either of those franchises or a sequel to Nintendo Land for a 2015 release. Instead, they showed up with a completely new idea in Splatoon and if you’ve paid any attention you’d know how unbelievably successful that game has been. That was a game that came into existence when the developers decided to hold off on developing another game from a more well-proven franchise. Imagine what they could do if an open opportunity were just there for the taking once more every console generation.
Just to give you a sense of all the games since 2013 for Wii U and 3DS whose development efforts could have been spent towards a new or different game if Nintendo didn’t feel the need to release games on both their systems and instead had a Hybrid system that only required one per generation:
- Donkey Kong Country 3D (3DS, 2013)
- Pokémon Rumble U (NWU, 2013)
- Super Mario 3D World (NWU, 2013)
- Mario Party: Island Tour (3DS, 2013)
- Yoshi’s New Island (3DS, 2014)
- Mario Kart 8 (NWU, 2014)
- Pushmo World (NWU, 2014)
- Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS (3DS, 2014)
- Ultimate NES Remix (3DS, 2014)
- Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars (3DS, 2015)
- Mario: Miracle Cure (3DS, 2015)
- Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash (NWU, 2015)
- Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games (3DS, 2016)
- Mini Mario and Friends: amiibo Challenge (3DS, 2016)
Now there’s 2 things I want to note about this list. Firstly, many probably see titles like Super Mario 3D World and Mario Kart 8– two excellent games– and might rethink the idea. And while it’s true that it’s possible that we miss out on certain excellent titles because we aren’t getting two of them per console cycle, I think the benefits of gaining more diversity in the game releases per generation far outweighs the chance that developers don’t release a title with as many bells and whistles on a second game in a generation if they don’t make the first. Especially since it’s still possible that developers add all of those bells and whistles to the game anyway. Consider how much cooler Mario Kart 8 might have been if Mario Kart 7 never existed. The underwater and flying sections would have been just as new as the anti-gravity feature.
The second thing I want to note is simply that the 2015 and 2016 games listed here don’t appear all that impressive. Most of them are small titles or those that aren’t well liked. But I want readers to understand that not only did an extra Animal Crossing get held off for Splatoon in 2015, but also that it’s extremely likely that other games that could have made this list are being held back from releasing on Wii U or 3DS and instead being released on NX. Based on development cycles, it’s not a stretch to say that Nintendo could get Pikmin, Mario Kart, Animal Crossing, and a 3D Mario game out of the way within the first year. After all, their release cycles line up almost perfectly with a 2017-2018 release date.
That kind of great release schedule is what makes up the most interesting part of this project: despite several years of amazing releases, I find myself running into up to 4 games a year that could be something new and interesting if Nintendo didn’t need to release the same game on two different consoles.
Oh yes, Nintendo Directs are going to start getting a lot more interesting.