Nintendo: a transition 2021? - The Lakitu Sachet

Nintendo: a transition 2021? - The Lakitu Sachet


The Nintendo Direct of E3 2021 was full of games and presentations; however, it certainly cannot be said to have been exhilarating. We expected, as we wrote a few months ago, other important announcements; however, it was a revealing event. He revealed, beyond any doubt, how much and at what point the pandemic has hit Nintendo.

For many, the lack of internal games - in the second half of 2020 - was seen as a direct consequence of the lockdown; honestly at the time it was not a hypothesis to be discarded, but slowly a different reality is taking shape. Let's put the events in order, starting with the launch of Nintendo Switch. 2017 was undoubtedly - as released - the most prosperous year of the platform: a year filled with quality internal productions, which began with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and ended with Xenoblade Chronicles 2. In 2018 Nintendo focused mainly on multiplayer titles, and the peak of production was reached at Christmas, with the arrival of the mammoth Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

Metroid Dread: one of the most important announcements of Nintendo Direct at E3 2021. 2019 was the "portable" year of the hybrid, not only for the release of the Lite edition of the platform, but also for the publication of various titles previously relegated to a pocket size. A phase in fact ended in March 2020, in which Animal Crossing: New Horizons was released. This, in very few words, is the story - so far - of Nintendo Switch. We add that every year Nintendo has tried to break through the barrier of the occasional public with at least one product: starting from 1-2-Switch (2017), to get to the Videogame Laboratory (2021). The most original of these projects was Nintendo Labo (2018), the most successful - in commercial terms - Ring Fit Adventure (2019).

Animal Crossing: New Horizons, released during the first lockdown. We had arrived at Animal Crossing: New Horizons, the publication of which coincided, week plus week less, with the rise of the pandemic. Many, as we have already written, believed that the reduced releases of 2020 (we refer to Nintendo titles, developed internally) could depend precisely on the lockdown: months later, we can observe the situation more clearly. That transition year was expected, it would come in any case. Even in a parallel reality in which "Coronavirus" remained a word known only by health workers (or almost), the 2020 of Nintendo Switch would have been an interval between the first half of the life of the console and the second.

A year corrupted by the pandemic, in terms of releases, however it is serious: it is not 2020, but 2021. Now we will try to show you why.

Switch Pro and EPD7

Metroid Dread: The game is in collaboration between EPD 7 and MercurySteam. The quantity and authority of the rumors on Nintendo Switch Pro make it difficult to believe that it does not exist; That said, the rumors that heralded a pre-E3 presentation, and a release by September, turned out to be blatantly wrong. Assuming the project is still standing, it is likely to have been postponed: perhaps to create a suitable line-up. This choice, however, raises several questions.

Too many internal Nintendo teams are late, or very late, compared to the timing with which they usually publish. In a little while we will see in detail which ones: in the meantime, it is necessary to get used to the idea that many groups now need external support to produce works in quantity. We already knew that EPD 1 and EPD 2 were mainly supervision teams, and the same can be said for EPD 6, which historically relates to western teams (Retro Studios, Next Level Games): to this list, now officially, EPD is added 7. A team that, more than any other, paid for the generational leap from 3DS to Nintendo Switch: having developed mainly for pocket consoles, in essence it had to adapt to the new production values ​​(as did the other teams in the transition from Wii to Wii U) . It seems that EPD 7, direct heir of SPD and R & D1, has finally acclimatized in the new environment: after a long absence, this year it debuted on Switch with Famicom Detective Club, and will continue to be the protagonist with WarioWare: Get It Together! and Metroid Dread. Each of these titles is developed in collaboration with another team: respecting the previous order, we refer to Mages, Intelligent Systems and MercurySteam.

WarioWare: Get It Together !: in collaboration between EPD 7 and Intelligent Systems. Although the Switch library lacked the productions of this group, the least "miyamotocentric" of the entire company, the weirdest and at the same time gloomy, we refuse to believe that Nintendo has organized an entire fiscal year to enhance the products of EPD7. Also because these are brands that, Samus forgive us, often struggle to reach and exceed one million copies.


Splatoon 3: its release is scheduled for 2022. Pokémon Shining Diamond / Shining Pearl (developed by ILCA) and Pokémon Legends: Arceus (developed by Game Freak) are expected to arrive in November 2021 and January 2022. Both will be supervised, without great creative involvement - as always, in the case of the series - by EPD 1. It has recently been published Videogames Laboratory (here our review), most likely developed at EPD 4, the "casual" group of the company. . Well, excluding these, the other teams are almost all late.

The most justifiable among them is group number 5, that of Animal Crossing and Splatoon. To tell the truth, their pause is physiological: the inklings accompanied the launch of Switch in 2017, Animal Crossing: New Horizons arrived in 2020 and, except for moving, Splatoon 3 should be released in 2022. But, even if it were 2023, not there would be nothing strange.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2: like Splatoon 3, it is also scheduled for 2022. We arrive at the first team late, that of The Legend of Zelda, notoriously not on time. Breath of the Wild 2 (here our preview, you missed it) was shown at E3 2021 with a short, spectacular trailer: the project seems colossal, but Nintendo didn't have to develop a new engine to make it happen. Despite this, the period that will elapse between Breath of the Wild and the sequel will be at least equal, more likely greater, than the one that separated Skyward Sword and Breath of the Wild. It is difficult to think that the pandemic has not complicated development, even considering the involvement of Monolith Soft. Monolith Soft which, in turn (excluding remakes), will reach three years without new releases. Not considering the DLC, four: four sure, we mean, and it would already be a record for the company. In 2022, we would reach five.

EPD 10, which takes care of Pikmin and the two-dimensional Super Mario series, has been absent since 2019 (not considering the conversions). At the end of 2022, the animated feature film of the plumber, made by Illumination Entertainment, should be released: it is possible that they want to coincide the publication of the film with a new adventure in the Mushroom Kingdom. Even Next Level Games, recently acquired by Nintendo, is not particularly late: used to packing new works every two / three years, it debuted on the Switch with Luigi's Mansion 3, and will probably close with another title in 2022/2023. >
Super Mario Odyssey: is the latest game developed by the Tokyo team, which next Christmas will mark a record period without publications. And here we are with the two great absentees, of whom we have not heard from for years. We are talking about two of the most prestigious groups of the company: number 8, the Edochian one, historically linked to the three-dimensional Super Mario, and number 9, that of Mario Kart. The first ones had accustomed us to a fast pace of development: basically a new game every two / three years. Excluding Bowser's Fury, which they collaborated on but which was mainly made in the United States, they haven't been seen since Super Mario Odyssey. In essence, next Christmas they will vastly exceed their record without new publications.

If the Tokyo team is the protagonist of an anomalous absence, which can logically be explained only by the pandemic, we have some more doubts for the Mario Kart team. In their case, the good news would be that, well ... they were actually held back by the lockdown. They also routinely post every three years, they too have stopped since Arms (2017). I'm already twelve months late, basically. But there is another possibility: and that is that Mario Kart Tour actually took them longer than expected, as much as a home console title. If that were the case, we would only see them again in 2023.

However things go, it is likely that Nintendo is preparing something big, and is waiting for the right moment to announce it. Of this "second phase" of the console for now we only know Breath of the Wild 2 and Splatoon 3. By now we have the relative certainty that the pandemic, alas, that transitional year (2020) has concretely doubled it.

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