If things go right, Nintendo could have an enormous 2022. Here are 10 things I would love to see from the company, some which are all but confirmed, while others being bold hopes and predictions.
It’s safe to say Nintendo’s best year for the Switch was its launch year back in 2017. It’s hard to compete with a year where The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle (highly underrated), Super Mario Odyssey, and Xenoblade Chronicles 2 all released. Those are all both different, but unique games, offering distinct and individual experiences and diversifying the Switch’s content as a whole. Since then, yes, the Switch has seen some other great games being released, but I feel all the content has been too far and in between. Nothing has been as consistent as 2017 was, and the four games I’ve mentioned are just some examples of the greatness we witnessed and played through that year. It’s time for Nintendo to kick it up a notch and start being a bit more frequent in terms of releasing quality content.
I’m not only talking about games either, since there are various fronts where Nintendo can improve in order to deliver the best to their dedicated fanbase. I’ll be discussing 10 things I want to see from the company, including already announced games, potential surprises, hardware and service ideas/upgrades, and so on and so forth. I would go into detail about Pokemon‘s next adventure, Pokemon Legends: Arceus, but it’s right around the corner, and I’ll more than likely review it when the time comes. So if you don’t see it on here, it’s not because I don’t care or I’ve forgotten about it.
10. Improve services (Nintendo Switch Online, better multiplayer features, more classic games, etc.)
When I say “improving Nintendo’s services,” I realize it can be a pretty broad statement since most can agree there are quite a few things the company can improve on. For one, its Nintendo Switch Online subscription service is decent, at best. I mean, yeah, I love the fact we’re able to play NES, SNES, Sega Genesis, and Nintendo 64 games through this service, but there simply needs to be more. There are so many games that still aren’t on the catalog fans would love to revisit, but Nintendo seems overwhelmingly slow pulling the trigger releasing them. Plus, there are many other classic console games we would love to see, such as GameBoy games, and even GameCube and Wii games. Of course, it would need to be optimized properly, but it can be done, it’s just a matter of Nintendo actually doing it. Some of the games already available on the service don’t run to the best of their ability anyway, so that’s another issue entirely. I don’t think it helps when Nintendo releases these games as part of collections, such as Super Mario 3D All-Stars, and people buy it at full price anyway. Then again, I can’t speak against it since I’m one of those people, and at the end of the day, if the sales are doing well, then Nintendo will continue on with these practices.
Speaking more on Nintendo Switch Online, I think the multiplayer features need some work as well. How is it there’s still no voice chat integrated into these games, other than some exceptions like Fortnite? We shouldn’t be forced to download a mobile app and have the ability to voice chat with our friends through there. I feel it’s an easy addition, but Nintendo seems reluctant to include it for some odd reason. The overall accessibility of it leaves plenty to be desired since inviting friends and joining up with others is often more difficult and confusing than it should be. The same goes for the connection issues. I’m sure with the new OLED Switch dock and being able to connect directly through an internet cable, it should stabilize connections a bit more, but only time will tell if it really improves the overall multiplayer experience. The fact of the matter is, Nintendo holds itself back by not prioritizing these features, especially when its competitors have already been implementing them for years. I realize it has a specific audience it caters to and it’s extremely successful in that department, but it really could take it to the next level by making some adjustments.
9. Kirby and the Forgotten Land to be better than expected
This isn’t to say Kirby is a terrible series. In fact, it’s far from it. The glory days of this series started on the GameBoy with Kirby’s Dream Land, and then was followed by other great installments, such as Kirby’s Adventure, Kirby Super Star Ultra, Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards, Kirby: Nightmare in Dreamland, Kirby: Planet Robobot, Kirby’s Epic Yarn, and many others. All of these are great platformers and epitomize what’s best about the series. As of late though, there has yet to be a worthwhile Kirby game to recently be released on a Nintendo console, which is why I’m pretty excited about Kirby and the Forgotten Land. Not that I have anything against side-scrolling games. As a matter of fact, I love them. However, I do fancy the Kirby series returning to a 3D platformer/adventure-type game. From the trailers, it still has similar gameplay fans of these games are used to, but what attracts me the most is the setting. It all seems very The Last of Us-ish, and I’m here for this change of pace which may benefit the series as a whole. I’m not stating it’ll play anything like The Last of Us, but this post-apocalyptic setting is very intriguing and I’m hoping it revitalizes Kirby games and takes it in a new direction fans will enjoy. It helps the gameplay looks very entertaining and I’m also glad Nintendo hasn’t quite given up on this series and hopefully, this bodes well for other classic franchises to make their returns to Nintendo as well. Speaking of classic franchises…
8. Dormant franchises should come back to life
Nintendo usually stays true to the franchises that are considered fan favorites and are usually best sellers whenever they release. For example, there’s the Super Mario series, The Legend of Zelda series, Super Smash Bros. series, Mario Kart series, Fire Emblem series, and so on. Then again, there are so many other games Nintendo has under its belt, but some haven’t seen the light of day in years, and it’s unfortunate. I’m going to go through a list of some franchises Nintendo seems to forget about from time to time. There’s Kid Icarus. The last game in this series was Kid Icarus: Uprising, which released in March of 2012. In just two months, it’ll be exactly 10 years since the last time a Kid Icarus game released on a Nintendo platform. The last Punch-Out!! game released in 2009 on the Wii, which was almost 13 years ago. We still have the WarioWare series around, but what about Wario Land? The last entry, Wario Land: Shake It!, came out on the Wii in 2008, almost 14 years ago Even a new Wario World would suffice. Personally, I love Mario sports game, such as Super Mario Strikers and Super Mario Sluggers. Technically, we still get Mario Tennis and Mario Golf, but there’s so much more to take advantage of in that department.
What about Pikmin? We’ve been hearing about Pikmin 4 being in development for a few years now, but still nothing. Pikmin 3 released almost nine years ago on the Wii U in 2013, and it doesn’t help many people didn’t get to play it since the Wii U was a failure. Thankfully, people can revisit or play it for the first time on the Switch with Pikmin 3 Deluxe. The ones I really want to see the most are F-Zero, Star Fox, Golden Sun, and the infamous Mother/Earthbound series. Other than the handheld releases, the last true F-Zero release was F-Zero GX in 2003 on the GameCube, which was almost 20 years ago. At this point, I think most people only know Captain Falcon from the Smash series. I’m willing to bet people don’t even know he has his very own racing game. As for Star Fox, put it this way. The last Star Fox game we were able to play was Star Fox 2, which released in 2017, but it’s originally an SNES game, so is it really new since it was completed in 1995 but never released? I don’t think so. Before that, it was Star Fox Zero on the Wii U in 2016, but that was highly disappointing. I’m actually part of the few who, other than the original Star Fox and Star Fox 64, really enjoyed Star Fox Adventures and Star Fox: Assault. At this point, just give me more Star Fox. Golden Sun is a series of handheld games I feel would work wonderfully on the Switch, but again, Nintendo hasn’t made a new game since 2010 with Golden Sun: Dark Dawn on the DS. Lastly, Mother/Earthbound. Fans have been trying to convince Nintendo to localize Mother 3 for years, but it hasn’t happened, and I highly doubt it’ll do it anytime soon. A new game is also unlikely, but I can imagine a brand-new game in this series being wonderful since it’s so intriguing and has the potential to be a fantastic modern RPG.
Sorry for going on a mini rant, but I’m sure you get the idea by now. Nintendo has all of these franchises it seemingly refuses to make new games out of, and as a fan, it’s frustrating. I’m hoping 2022 is a turn for the better and we, as fans, get to see some of these, along with others I didn’t mention, make a return since it’s long overdue. Once again though, I feel like I’m beating the same drum every year, so it’s hard to stay optimistic about any of this becoming a reality.
7. Give me new IP’s
I love the standard Nintendo franchises as much as the next fanboy. Nintendo, please continue to bring me new Mario‘s, new Zelda‘s, and so on. Then again, I do want Nintendo to further diversify its content and lineup by continuing to create brand-new games to play on these consoles. There are only a few new IP’s I can think of that have come to Nintendo consoles the last few years, those being Splatoon, Astral Chain, DAEMON X MACHINA, and Little Town Hero. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure there are more, but then again, is there really a big demand for Nintendo and the developers who made these games to revisit them with sequels? I can’t speak for everyone, but I’m not entirely so sure. I want Nintendo to create something entirely new and ground-breaking, regardless of the genre. Of course, the bias in me would love another 3D adventure game or a big scale RPG. Maybe even an online multiplayer shooter. It could be first-person or third-person, but other than Splatoon, which is more of a party game, and the other ones that can be played on other consoles and platforms, that’s pretty much it. Not only do I want, but I feel Nintendo needs a new IP, maybe even a couple, to add to its ever-growing list of games. We need new games that can be compared to the likes of Mario, Zelda, the Super Smash Bros. series, and so on. Sure, it’s a tall task, but all of those games started somewhere at one point and ended up becoming the critically acclaimed classics they are today. It’s time to usher in the next era of Nintendo IP’s with something major.
6. A new 3D Donkey Kong adventure
Listen, I absolutely love the side-scrolling Donkey Kong Country series, and I wouldn’t be opposed to a new entry at all. I’ve advocated for Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze since its release because I believe it’s one of the best games the Wii U ever produced. However, I believe it’s finally time for Nintendo to revisit Donkey Kong in a 3D adventure format, similar to Donkey Kong 64. DK64 released in 1999, which was a little over 21 years ago. It could be the nostalgia and memories talking, but it’s one of my favorite games of that era and I had so much fun playing it back in the ’90s and early 2000’s. I remember playing as all the different characters, meeting the sometimes witty and weird NPC’s, as well as enjoying the incredibly fun levels, collectables, and vibrant colors of the world you play in. Returning to something similar is what I’ve been clamoring for. Can you imagine what a new Donkey Kong game of that nature would like now with all the advancements the gaming industry has made in terms of hardware and specifications? Plus, it’s no secret the current state of gaming is a bit scarce with 3D platformers in general. I’ve heard rumors of the team behind Super Mario Odyssey working on a new Donkey Kong game. I can only imagine what they would be able to do with the Donkey Kong property. Here’s hoping it comes true.
5. Nintendo needs a more powerful Nintendo Switch console
I know Nintendo just released an upgraded version of the Nintendo Switch. It definitely looks nice, but let’s be honest about it for a second. Compared to the original Switch, it isn’t much different. The screen is a little bigger and brighter, which is always welcome, but other than some new color variants, a dock that brings an ethernet port, and more memory space, that’s pretty much it. If you compare the specs, there isn’t much setting the OLED apart from the base Switch. When it first released, the differences in hardware compared to the other consoles at the time weren’t as apparent. But, as time goes on, with the releases of the PS5 and Xbox Series X, as well as PC parts constantly improving, the Switch is becoming more and more obsolete in terms of performance. To specify, this has absolutely nothing to do with the games Nintendo is making. In fact, I know new and improved hardware would only make these games perform even better. When playing the Switch in handheld mode, the weaknesses and performance woes are immediately apparent. For example, framerate drops, some freezing and delays here and there, and so on. The Switch definitely runs much better when docked and playing on a TV. I think Nintendo needs to make some upgrades in order to further close the gap with the rest of its competition. I do realize it may not be trying to compete with others since it has a pretty good idea of the audience it’s trying to target and I’d be stupid to say it isn’t doing a good job in terms of sales. There’s always room for improvement, though. Upgrades to the hardware would be incredibly beneficial and I think it would only make the experiences playing these games even more worthwhile. Some upgrades to the RAM, CPU, and even more memory space would definitely help. While Nintendo’s at it, it should really try and fix that Joy-Con drift issue as well, just sayin’.
4. A new Mario Kart that reinvents the formula, but also doesn’t
As you can see, it’s a bit hard to put into words what I want from a brand-new Mario Kart game. Mario Kart 8 was such a fantastic game and one of the best in the entire series, if not the best. It’s hard to even think of what Nintendo can do differently in order to improve it with a new title. There are rumblings a new Mario Kart is in the works, but it’ll have a new twist. I’m not sure what that means exactly, but I have heard Nintendo may do away with the “Mario” in Mario Kart entirely, which is both interesting and concerning. In terms of its characters, most of the characters in the series come from Mario or Donkey Kong games. It’s only with Mario Kart 8 where we were introduced to Link from the Legend of Zelda series as a playable character, as well as the Inklings from Splatoon, and some Animal Crossing characters. Other than those, the majority of the characters are all from the Mario series. So, the rumor suggests Nintendo may just make “Nintendo Kart,” and in reality, it does make sense. Now, this is the part that’s a bit concerning. I’m open to change as long as it ends up working out, but I feel deviating from the Mario Kart name in exchange for a new one will also come with too many drastic changes to the gameplay itself. I mean, I could be wrong, and it could just be a name change since there are so many other characters from other Nintendo properties that would fit in pretty well with this kind of game. I mean, imagine playing as Star Fox characters, Captain Falcon, Captain Olimar, and so on. It actually sounds pretty cool, although I still think it could be done if you keep the Mario Kart name.
The only major concern is the game feeling overly stuffed with content and additions it may not need. With all these new characters form different games, it would also mean the introduction of new items and tracks to play on. What worries me the most is the items since I think it can get a bit too complex. At the end of the day, I’ll always choose quality over quantity, and I feel having way too many items will only complicate everything and, in some ways, ruin what makes Mario Kart special. As for the big twist that’s being thrown around, I think it has more to do with the gameplay than the actual name. Similar to Breath of the Wild changing the conventions of Zelda as we know it, maybe Nintendo is trying to do the same with Mario Kart. What if it adds deeper customization options to the characters, such as skins, skill points, and even having dedicated abilities for each character? Again, I don’t want it to get too complicated, but it’s an idea to consider. Customizing and building your very own carts from the ground up is also an interesting concept, as well as creating custom tracks. It’s something Nintendo can experiment with. What about an open world setting where you can drive around a vast area and have impromptu races and meet up with friends and simply drive around? Of course, I would still want the Grand Prix format and the iconic tracks to return, along with some new ones. But, these would be some changes I think would benefit the series by reinventing some aspects, but also staying true to the formula that’s been successful all of these years. Personally, I would love the Double Dash feature to return where you can play with two characters on one kart and switch at your convenience. What was so cool about Double Dash was playing co-op with a friend and while one of you drives, the other is holding the items and throwing them. I can imagine this being loads of fun playing with a buddy online.
Online play needs to be a focal point for the next Mario Kart game. For the most part, Mario Kart 8‘s online mode runs fairly smooth, but there were a lot of disconnects while playing online races, and there really wasn’t much of an incentive to keep playing after awhile. A dedicated online mode with a ranking system, weekly tournaments, and the chance to earn in-game items will keep players coming back for more. Regardless of what the future holds for the series, I’m excited to see what’s next.
3. Something, really anything, on Metroid Prime 4
Before I breakdown the development Metroid Prime 4 has been through, let it be known there’s a part of me that thinks Metroid Prime 4 won’t see a 2022 release date because of Metroid Dread, which I feel was, in a small way, released to hold over fans of the series until Prime 4 is actually ready. I’m not knocking Dread at all since it’s a fantastic game. But, I do feel Nintendo wanted to give Metroid fans something new so the wait for Prime 4 doesn’t feel as excruciatingly long as it has already. However likely or unlikely a release date may be for Prime 4, I do think we’ll hear something about it this year, maybe even see some gameplay for it. Now, let’s discuss what I know about the development process.
The game was announced at E3 2017. In 2018, it was then revealed Bandai Namco Studios would be handling development, which included former LucasArts staff members who worked on Star Wars 1313 before it was scrapped. At E3 2018, Nintendo of America president (at that time) Reggie Fils-Aime said development was going well, but it was a no show at E3 2018. Then, almost a whole other year later, Nintendo’s Shinya Takahashi said development had completely restarted for Prime 4 under Retro Studios, who was responsible for creating the Metroid Prime trilogy, since the game wasn’t meeting Nintendo’s standards. In 2020, a job announcement was posted by Retro Studios and some people are alluding to it being about Prime 4, but no one necessarily knows. Since then, it’s been absolute radio silence. It’s now 2022, and I think it’s finally time we hear what exactly is going on with Prime 4. As mentioned, maybe it won’t release this year, maybe it will, and it would be awesome if it did. But, as a fan, I really just want to know how development is going and whether we’ll ever get to actually play the game. I’m still ignorant to how the whole development process goes, and I’m sure it can get pretty complicated and tedious for those working on the game. Plus, I know development was probably ongoing while the COVID-19 pandemic began to surge, which definitely delayed the process. However, the fan in me really wants to know something, and I have a good feeling we’ll hear something about it this year and possibly at E3.
2. An update on Mario’s next adventure
Bundling up Bowser’s Fury with Super Mario 3D World for the Switch, in my opinion, was Nintendo’s way of letting us know it’s working on Mario’s next adventure. In other words, Nintendo is saying, “here’s an appetizer to hold you over for the real meal.” Don’t get it twisted now, Bowser’s Fury, for as long as it lasted, is a lot of fun and a good indication of what Nintendo might have in store for a full game. The level design and freedom, similar to Super Mario Odyssey, is great and works extremely well for a Mario game. The gameplay felt a bit more like 3D World than Odyssey though, but it still feels like a Mario game that doesn’t stray too far from the formula that’s made it as successful as it is. Constantly fighting Fury Bowser over and over again became a bit redundant and, at times, boring, but it’s the world and how you play in it that really makes you appreciate it. Other than its length, I thoroughly enjoyed playing it from beginning to end. Maybe Nintendo has something completely different planned for Mario’s next game rather than expanding on what Bowser’s Fury establishes. It could be a sequel to Odyssey, which would be great, or it could be something entirely new and could take Mario to a place we’ve never seen before. Personally, a sequel to the underrated Sunshine would be an absolute dream come true, but the chances of that happening at this point are slim to none. Whatever it may be, I want news on Mario‘s next game, and I think there’s a good chance of hearing something about it this year.
1. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild sequel in all its glory
Barring any delays, we should finally be getting our hands on the Breath of the Wild sequel this year, and I’m very excited about that. The first game was met with absolute praise when it first released, and I was one of the many who agreed. But, as the years have gone on, there seems to be players being a bit more open about how they feel about Breath of the Wild, and although most of them don’t think it’s a bad game by any means, they do think it’s too much of a departure from what makes the Zelda series so great. I happen to fall in the category of those who think the game is still fantastic, but I also agree with some of the criticism about the game feeling too empty, not having as good of a story, and the dungeons being a bit lackluster. The sequel is still my most anticipated game of the year, without question. Then again, I do want Nintendo to make some changes for the better. I always wanted a sequel to this game from the moment I finished it since the world simply has way too much potential to just forget about it and make an entirely new game. Some things do need to change, and by change, I mean return. I still want that feeling of exploration and freedom to stick, but I wouldn’t mind a somewhat linear approach in some sections, especially the dungeons. I loved the feeling of prior games where you enter a dungeon and have to acquire a new weapon and learn how to use it in order to progress further and eventually complete it. I think it’s an interesting feature to implement even outside of dungeons and in the vast world of Hyrule.
For example, give us areas that aren’t as easily accessible unless you have a specific item. It gives the player something to strive towards and a big feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction once you’re able to reach that point on the map. Speaking of dungeons, I want a return to traditional dungeons. The first two Divine Beasts are cool to play through, but once you progress through the other two, you realize they’re all very similar in structure and design. Dungeons from previous games all had a different tone, theme, and structure, along with new bosses to fight and new puzzles to solve. I definitely miss that. Sure, Shrines were cool and they can also return in some capacity, but eventually, they become repetitive and uninteresting. As for gameplay, I loved how you can be creative with your attacks against enemies and how you can use certain abilities and the environment to your advantage, but maybe developing new skills and even more abilities would make the combat feel a bit more nuanced and versatile. I think the game should do away with the weapon durability feature, but if they do plan on keeping it in, it definitely needs to be tweaked. After awhile, it’s simply annoying and becomes a hinderance to the game. Finally, the story. The whole story in Breath of the Wild is mostly optional. There are some cut scenes if you do progress through the game the way it’s intended, but the game literally lets you go straight to Hyrule castle and face off against Calamity Ganon if you’re skilled enough and you’re feeling lucky, which basically makes the story useless. The only story I ever got from Breath of the Wild, other than the cut scenes, was collecting all of the memories. The story is an integral part of Zelda games and it shouldn’t be an afterthought because freedom and exploration is the main focus. There’s a way to make both of these features coexist and work together.
I have a lot of expectations for this sequel and if Nintendo is able to create another memorable experience by still changing the conventions of Zelda, but also returning to some of the formula that works, then this has the potential to be the best Zelda ever created.