Looking forward at 2021: Nintendo
The Switch’s momentum is better than ever, will that continue this year?
Out of the three major companies in the gaming industry, Nintendo is the most cryptic one. They don’t play by the same rules, or the same console generation, they move at their own pace and that can be a little frustrating sometimes. Last year seems to have affected Nintendo the most, since they didn’t have any new big announcements, updates, or major Directs.
This year, beyond the recently released Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury, Nintendo only has one first-party title with a release date. If other announced games actually release this year, we are looking at a very strong lineup of games for 2021. It’s worth mentioning that the Switch is already starting strong with exclusive second/third-party titles, like Bravely Default 2 and Monster Hunter Rise.
Regarding Nintendo’s approach to announcements this year, the company will probably shift back to doing Directs. These video presentations are usually revealed close to when they actually air. Nintendo, last year, was announcing things by simply posting them to Twitter and other social media without previous notice, this is a trend that might go away as things slowly shift back to normal.
As mentioned before, the only title with a release date is New Pokemon Snap and it’s set to come out April 30th. There are a lot of expectations from fans surrounding this game, since the first one came out in 1999 for the Nintendo 64. Taking pictures of Pokemon might sound simple but the original title went beyond that, having each stage as a puzzle and the player finding different ways to draw the Pokemon’s attention. Let’s hope that this new game is a step forward that evokes the past but evolves in interesting ways.
Well, that’s it. Beyond this point it’s all expectations and deductions, and Nintendo is very difficult to predict. There are a few things that will come out this year, but for the majority of already announced titles our hopes and dreams come into play.
Let’s start with something that is coming out in 2021, the next 3 DLC Fighters for Super Smash Bros Ultimate. The roster of characters in this latest entry is already unbelievable, and it’ll keep growing. There’s no point in trying to figure out what surprises Sakurai and Nintendo have in store, all we know is that the Smash team always delivers on great experiences. Let’s wait and hope that some favorite characters make into the game throughout the year.
This next title was announced all the way back in 2017 (like a few others coming up), and it’s Shin Megami Tensei V. Despite not being a first-party title, this is a high profile exclusive that’s worth mentioning. The latest entry in the series was released in 2013 for the 3DS and it was well received by fans and critics. Atlus, the developers, have a great track record and SMTV will be no different. The game is scheduled to be released in 2021 simultaneously worldwide. I believe it’s just a matter of time until we get a release date.
It’s time to talk about the juggernaut… the highly anticipated sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. This game was announced in 2019 and fans have been expecting news and updates ever since. Given the fact that the game engine is already in place, since it borrows from the previous title, it’s safe to assume it would take less time to develop than a completely new entry. Releasing this game in 2021 would make the Switch just as relevant as the new generation of consoles, if not more. I believe there’s a big chance this will indeed come out this year and I hope we hear from Nintendo soon.
While we are still discussing The Legend of Zelda, this year it’s the 35th anniversary of the series and that might translate into Nintendo releasing a collection on Switch. Last year, to celebrate Mario’s anniversary the company released Super Mario 3D All-Stars, and since Zelda is also a pillar when it comes to Nintendo titles, we’ll definitely be seeing some kind of celebration. Other Zelda games on Switch? Sign me up!
Now let’s go back to the year 2017, when Bayonetta 3 was also announced. This franchise was brought back to life by Nintendo and Platinum for a sequel in 2014, since then more people got to play the games and experience how good they are. This third installment is highly anticipated and the only news coming out of the developers was that the game was still in development. Recently, the director Hideki Kamiya mentioned in a livestream (translated by NintendoEverything) that the team hopes to give an update on the title during this year. In another interview, with VGC, the director suggested that fans “should all reset and forget about Bayonetta 3” so that when we do hear about it, it’s a surprise. I believe we could see the game being released in 2021, but it could easily be an early 2022 title.
The year 2017 still had one more announcement, a sequel to a loved trilogy, Metroid Prime 4. Looking at the amount of time since the reveal we might think that this game would be well into development, but that’s not the case, in January 2019 Nintendo released a video that updated everyone on the game’s status and how Retro Studios (the developers of the Metroid Prime trilogy) would start working on this fourth title. Given the scope of this game, and how Nintendo needs it to be amazing, there’s no chance it’ll be released in 2021. Let’s hope to learn about the game this year.
Just like the Zelda series, this year marks the 35th anniversary of the Metroid series. It will remain to be seen if Nintendo has something planned to celebrate this moment in the franchise’s history. This would be the perfect time to release a remaster of the Metroid Prime Trilogy on Switch, getting fans and newcomers excited for the future.
Beyond all these already announced titles we still have some things to look forward to, starting with the main games in the Pokemon franchise. Last year we saw the release of DLC for Pokemon Sword/Shield, which means this year will see another entry in the series. The new game will most likely be a remake of the 4th generation of Pokemon, Diamond and Pearl. It won’t be long until we see what the future of Pokemon looks like, with a release later in the year.
Another possibility, a little on the uncertain side, is the return of the Pikmin franchise. The release of Pikmin 3 Deluxe on Switch was a success, as it became the best selling Pikmin game in Japan. This triumphant return might signal Nintendo that it’s time to release the long rumored Pikmin 4, or at least go back to working on it. We have no knowledge if this fourth game really exists, since it was never properly announced, but 2021 might be the year we learn more about it, or even play it.
The year is looking good for Nintendo, and it’s safe to assume they have more surprises in store. The new generation of consoles, PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S, is bound to add fire to the industry and Nintendo won’t let them have all the fun, even if they play their own game. This year promises to be a good one for games, no matter where you play.