In our final First Party Preview, I cast my sights to Nintendo. An intriguing year lays ahead of the company with their promise to gamers that we will hear more about the impending NX (whatever that is), but there’s also the shining beacon that is The Legend of Zelda on the horizon as well. Nintendo 3DS is now getting a little bit long in the tooth at five years old despite the New Nintendo 3DS having a bit more grunt behind it, while the Wii U released in 2012 and never really kicked off. The company has also entered the mobile gaming space with Miitomo (the companies first mobile game) landing in March. The saddening passing of company President Satoru Iwata also has played a part in their recent direction, and generally quieter media presence as of late. Combine all of these factors together and there’s a massive air of the unknown surrounding the company, but it makes the prospects for 2016 all the more exciting. In this piece I will look at each of Nintendo’s studios, discuss their past, their present and what we know of their future, so let’s finish things with Part 2.
State of Play – Nintendo’s First Party Studios – Part 2
Their Past – The big guns of the Nintendo studios, EAD is by far and away the most renowned of all Nintendo’s first party studios. The studio was only founded in 2004, but it’s made up of Nintendo’s best and brightest talents. The studio (which is broken into 5 separate groups) has been at the helm of some of the best Nintendo games we’ve seen in years, helming games like Super Mario Galaxy and 3D World, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, The Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword, Mario Kart 8, Pikmin, Splatoon and the Animal Crossing series. The studio continues to churn out top tier content and furthers its case to be the best development studio in the world.
Their Present – Currently there’s little noise coming from EAD at the moment, and this will presumably be because all hands are currently on deck to get games ready for the launch of the NX. They are however hard at work on the newest iteration in the Legend of Zelda series, the new game for the Wii U which some speculate may also land on the NX. The game has been in development for many years and is expected to arrive this year regardless of the platforms it may launch on. The studio is also doing a fantastic job in supporting Super Mario Maker post release with consistent post launch content/updates.
Their Future – Obviously Zelda will be the priority for EAD in the immediate future, but they will undoubtedly be working on the next core Mario title and assisting studios in so many other ways. Shigeru Miyamoto has also stated that Pikmin 4 is nearing completion, so expect that we’ll be hearing more from that in the near future as well. We’ll know more as the year progresses
Nintendo Software Technology
Their Past – A lesser light in Nintendo’s portfolio of studios, the Software Technology team are responsible for extensions to many games such as Master Quest for Ocarina of Time as well as being responsible for games like Mario & Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars. The studio isn’t especially active in terms of developing their own games, but does lend their weight to assisting other studios in getting their games out the door.
Their Present – Little is known about the studio presently with their most recent work being the aforementioned Tipping Stars for Wii U and 3DS. With that game now close to a year old, the studio will be in the early stages of pre-production on their newest game.
Their Future – It’s likely that the next game we see from Software Tech. will be another entry in the Mario & Donkey Kong franchise, as that has been their M.O for the last few hardware generations. If we’re being ambitious then we could consider it a slim chance that we’ll see their next work at E3 or in a Nintendo Direct as the year progresses but the more likely scenario is that the studios next game will not emerge until 2017.
Nintendo SPD Production Group
Their Past – The SPD Production Group is a major collaborator with a number of first/second party studios. They’ve assisted with games such as Metroid: Other M, Game and Wario and Punch-Ou!! They’ve also delivered some of their own IP such as Tomodachi Life, Brain Age and WarioWare Snapped! The studio has been a major contributor since their formation in 2004.
Their Present – Fresh from assisting Monolith Soft with Xenoblade Chronicles X, SPD doesn’t have any announced games in the works but you can be sure that they’re already deep into development on a number of projects with a number of other internal teams.
Their Future – The future of SPD is dependant on the future of Nintendo’s other First Party studios. Expect to see and hear more from the studio as the year plays out but for now it is radio silence coming from them. E3 approaches, and so does the studios next big collaboration.
Their Past – Formed in 1998 the Texas based Nintendo studio has been responsible for the rejuvenation of two of Nintendo’s most iconic franchises in Metroid (Metroid Prime) and Donkey Kong (Donkey Kong Country Returns). The studio has released three Metroid Prime games and two DKC games in the time since their formation and have been acclaimed for their work.
Their Present – Retro are among the more intriguing studios in the Nintendo family. There’s a great deal of teasing that comes out of both the studio and Nintendo about what they’re doing next. Some rumours suggest more DKC, others suggest a return to Metroid, while a third group suggest neither of these will play out in favour of them working on a completely different IP – Nothing however is yet know about their future works.
Their Future – Given that their last release (Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze) was released in February of 2014, the studio has been deep into development of their next work for quite some time. We’re due to see what is next from Retro, regardless of the desired release platform so you should expect to be hearing more out of them in the near future. It’s anybody’s guess what they have in store.
And that dear readers is the end of our First Party Previews. Make sure you let us know in the comments or on social medial what has you excited for your gaming futures!